BOOK REVIEW: CHANGING THE GAME: My Journey Through Life and Sports
By George Selleck with Wendy Fayles
Dr. George Selleck has led an extraordinary life. And he’s done it with sports as his internal compass.
In this rare and thoughtful memoir, Selleck – one of the all-time great athletes at Stanford University, starring in both basketball and baseball – writes poignantly that sports was not just fun for him as a child, but that they provided him with the emotional pathway to develop his self-esteem and ultimately his self-confidence to become one of the most accomplished and innovative psychologists and counselors of our time.
His resume of accomplishments? In basketball, he was named California Player of the Year in his senior year in high school. At Stanford, he was a star as well, averaging 14 points and six rebounds a game, even though physically he topped out at 5’8”. He was so good that when he graduated from Stanford he had the choice of either signing with the Philadelphia Warriors in the NBA or with the Pittsburgh Pirates for baseball. He opted to turn both pro teams down, and instead, chose to attend graduate school, including attaining a master’s degree in educational psychology at Stanford, a master’s in theology at Princeton, and a doctorate in counseling psychology at USC.
Along the way, he even found time to coach Brentwood High School to two Los Angeles City championships. Again, regardless of his educational pursuits, sports were always at the center of Selleck’s universe. At one point during his spectacular college career, he roomed with the legendary Bill Russell at a college all-star game. And as a psychologist, Selleck worked with baseball Hall of Famer, Ty Cobb.
He’s been inducted into the Stanford University Athletic Hall of fame, as well as the Pac-12 Hall of Fame.
When not on the court or on the baseball diamond– and Selleck played basketball well into his 70s – he has been at the forefront of educating and counseling young people on how to develop their own innate but unpolished leadership skills. His most recent leadership program, Leading2Play, is his most exciting program to date, and it’s already catching on in pilot programs in California.
All of this sounds like a wonderful All-American story. But as Selleck details in CHANGING THE GAME, it was anything but easy. George grew up in what he describes as a difficult family: parents with alcohol issues, a sister who had a hard time finding her way in school, and George’s twin brother, Butch, who had troubles from the day he was born due to physical and other assorted ailments. And even as a doting father himself, Selleck was crushed when his daughter Alison, a beloved physician, passed away from brain cancer.
But Selleck, somehow, was able to turn all of these tragic life events and transform them into a positive force that has continuously pushed him in his athletic and educational and counseling career.
Sports coaches and fans often talk about the life-lessons that athletics provide….terms like discipline, dealing with adversity, finding motivation, determination, and so on. For the most part, too many sports fans simply toss around these important terms in generic ways, and then unfortunately these vital lessons are forgotten.
But in George Selleck’s case, he’s one of those rare human beings who have fully embraced all of these key intangible life lessons – lessons that have to come to him through the hard-fought process of athletic competition.
And as a result, his new book, CHANGING THE GAME (published by Coaches Choice and available online and in book stores), is not only refreshing but also a real testament to how a life in sports can be so rewarding in so many ways. In short, Selleck is truly living proof that a life in sports can lead to great accomplishments in so many ways. — reviewed by Rick Wolff