Life’s reflections: Hits and Misses

Published 5:58 pm Sunday, August 23, 2015

It’s been one of those weeks when things have seemed all over the place.  Sort of like Donald Trump (or was that just Trump’s hair?).  It gave me ‘pause’ as people like to say.  Not to be like the late, great Andy Rooney, but what exactly IS pause?

I always thought life had two speeds: stop and go.  Either you’re in motion headed somewhere (up, down, backwards, forward), or you’re not moving at all (and we know what the ULTIMATE not-moving is, right?).  That aside, here’re some reflections on things that have moved in the world, but stopped long enough for me to grab a quick look.

Danny Lotz passed away mid-week.  Lotz was the former UNC basketball player who played on Frank McGuire’s undefeated and national championship basketball team of 1957.  After Carolina, Lotz became a dentist in the Triangle. He had a late brother, John, who was on Dean Smith’s coaching staff in the early 70’s and later became head coach at Florida. He was also married for nearly 50 years to Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of the Rev. Dr. Billy Graham.  Lotz was found unresponsive floating in his family swimming pool in Raleigh on Monday.  He never regained consciousness.

There was something else Lotz did for more than a half-century: he worked with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and his wife on her web page called him, “God’s Gladiator”.  Lotz faced many health challenges later in life, but as Anne Graham Lotz also wrote: “(He) never complained, never slowed down, never gave up, and never stopped investing in the lives of others.”

Shifting gears, so to speak, Danica Patrick has found new sponsorship for next year, and will be back on the NASCAR Cup circuit instead of heading back to IndyCar.  GoDaddy, her sponsor since she came into the sport with Stewart-Haas Racing, is leaving the race game; but in stepped Nature’s Bakery, makers of health foods, to fill the void.

Danica is important to the sport, almost as much as Dale Earnhardt, Jr.; but in terms of success on the asphalt, they’re not even close.

The Sporting News drew an interesting parallel days after this news was announced: Clint Bowyer is losing his ride next season when Michael Waltrip Racing shuts down its Cup operations.  Bowyer was a driver who finished second to Brad Keselowski in the Cup chase three years ago.  Danica gets a full sponsorship and Bowyer’s scrambling to find a ride. It’s called “market-ability”.

Two new NCAA violations were found at UNC.  It was just a couple of weeks ago that I was siding with former Chowan assistant and current Montreat women’s basketball coach Meghan Austin in her defense of Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell, and now these new revelations appear.

For good measure, the Heels “self-reported” the infractions, but now this delays any finality regarding the NCAA investigation.

This week also saw a basketball player – a Chapel Hill native, no less – not only de-commit from another ACC school (Virginia), but turn around and commit to play for Kentucky beginning in 2016.  The longer this drags out, the more it has to hurt UNC’s recruiting.  I fear some ‘painful’ measures may be forthcoming in an attempt to blunt the worst of this.

Finally, a salute to one of my personal heroes on his passing: Julian Bond.  More than just a social justice advocate – whether with the Southern Poverty Law Center, or as past president of the NAACP – Bond was one of those ‘drum-majors for justice’. Bond believed in not just power to the people, but also in the power of the people. He liked to say change comes about person by person, step by step, and word by word.

When I look at everything from Ferguson, MO to the Confederate flag, I realize Bond was right that the struggle isn’t over.  Sure, America has obstacles, but we’re still great. And Bond would be proud to know that with enough ordinary people doing their part, we can – overcome.

You may now release the ‘pause’ button.

Gene Motley is a Staff Writer with Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or 252-332-7211.