Jim Boeheim swiveled the chair beside his desk in the Carmel K. Anthony Basketball Center and reached for a drawer to his left. With both of his hands, he scooped out two dozen orange pocket-size notebooks – decades of history, piled on his desk.
Recruiting visit itineraries dating back to the 1990s. Family vacations. His children’s schedules. For over 40 years, all of it has stayed in the same place.
After placing the schedules on his desk, Boeheim pulled out his current notebook from his back pocket.
"They're usually orange, but this is the first gray one I had," Boeheim said as he opened the notebook.
For the entirety of his 43-year career coaching, Boeheim has written down his old-school daily schedule, pocket size, vinyl calendar notebooks. Each of Boeheim's notebooks are filled with the brim with scribble.
"I got something every day, it doesn't matter what month it is," Boeheim said. "Every day is something. Recruiting is all-year around. There are very few off days. We don’t take long vacations. Two or three days, here or there. You're busy at this job. "
Boeheim, who turns 74 on Saturday, is old fashioned. He doesn't have a computer. He reads almost no emails because only a handful of people know his email address. To reach him, you have to text or call. A pair of locks in the Melo Center were digitized, meaning entry requires the swipe of an SU ID. But Boeheim ensured two doors on the north side of the building required keys.
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Syracuse Director of Operations Kip Wellman said Boeheim's schedule is so packed that he sees his boss draw arrows and fill the margins with notes. Boeheim prefers paper over technology because he doesn't want to start his day with 20 emails to read, whether they are about practice, recruits or upcoming events. He'd rather spend that time reading the newspaper, watching cooking shows, preparing for that day's practice or chatting with his coaching staff and players.
"Lot of notebooks," Boeheim said, with a laugh as he looked at them sprawled on his desk. "They include everything I want to do, really. Every day, I have a few things written down. In coaching, you can focus on coaching and eliminate the other stuff, the better you´ll be. "
He gets the calendars from the Orange Club Athletics Program, the primary fundraising arm for Syracuse Athletics. A month spans on two pages with tiny squares for each day. Boeheim thinks converting to the calendar on his Samsung phone would be complicated his scheduling matters. "I can´t quite do that," he said.
The program includes team practices, games, recruiting trips, charity golf events, his childrens' college games, speaking engagements and functions related to his foundation. His groundwork includes to his twice-per-week Pilates regimen and trips to see his daughter, Elizabeth, to fish in Montana. While the Boeheim family plans, vacations get booked until Jim has checked his pocket calendar.
"I don’t know how he does it," said his younger sister, Barbara.
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There are no practice outlines, player observations or game plans in the notebooks – just his scheduled appointments for the day. In the offseason, much of his notebook centers on recruiting or meetings related to the Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation. During the season, it's mostly Syracuse basketball events and those of his three children, all of whom play college basketball. In his notebooks, he jots down the games of his children he can get to. This season, that means all of Buddy's games, some of Jimmy's Friday games at Cornell and Jamie's games at the University of Rochester.
Jim Carrick, a longtime friend and member of the Boeheim Foundation's board of directors, said he asked Boeheim to schedule a meeting a few years ago. The coach reached for his back pocket and pulled out the planner, jammed with appointments related to Coaches vs. Cancer.
Seemingly everyone who knows Boeheim well knows the role the calendars play in Boeheim's life. SU assistant head coach Allen Griffin said he picked up the habit from his boss, too. Once, Boeheim was fishing with assistant coach Gerry McNamara, who had not previously seen the notebooks. But when he fired a future fishing date for the next month, Boeheim pulled out to notebook from his back pocket. There was only one day on the calendar that Boeheim had open. He asked McNamara if they could fish that day.
"Coach, my schedule is not filled as yours," McNamara told Boeheim. "That day is fine with me."
Tom Coughlin, the legendary NFL coach and current Jacksonville Jaguars executive vice president of football operations, has known Boeheim since they played against each other in high school basketball. He said Boeheim's commitment to pocket calendars reflects his do-it-all approach to his life.
Coughlin recalled a chance encounter with Boeheim at Syracuse Hancock International Airport, where Boeheim waited for a plane with his 1986-87 team. Coughlin, then a broad receivers for the Green Bay Packers, was in Syracuse to scout a player. He struck up a conversation with Boeheim, who rattled off a number of his arrangements.
Said Coughlin, who was Boeheim’s resident advisor at Sadler Hall. "Same guy, same mind, with insight. That calendar seems to really help him in that sense. "
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Boeheim's wife of 21 years, Juli, knows to repeat herself if her husband doesn't have his notebook out. When she's telling him about an event on a future date, she asks him to take out the calendar. Otherwise, he’ll probably forget.
"These days, how many people actually use them other than him?" Said Juli, shaking her head. "Every day is filled. Speaking, recruiting, whatever. The guy is 95 miles ahead. "
Published on November 13, 2018 at 10:26 pm