When the Going Gets Tough

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. That’s what Jimmy “Doc” Lee said to Pekin, Illinois high school classes in the sixties and early 1970s. He was the loved and respected athletic trainer. His lessons influenced many of the small town youth in the American way. The simple message still resonates today.

Another thing that Doc Lee and the athletic program taught us, was this: You Gotta Wanna.

when the going gets tough, the team stays tough too
Please excuse Pekin’s mascot name from back in the day: the Chinks. We (the kids) were oblivious and innocent as regards anything negative, and sincerely honored students of Chinese descent. The name has since been changed to the Pekin Dragons.

Doc Lee is front and center in this button picture from 1963-64.  Pekinites remember how different he looked (way short) and how outgoing and engaging he was (he made everyone feel important, almost a peculiar Mr. Rodgers). These characteristics contributed to his effectiveness; he was glue to the athletic program, and not just for the stars.

I think Jimmy Doc Lee and the Pekin athletic program were progressive. It certainly was positive. And the Pekin Chinks fielded winning teams – this might have been the year they won state!

Beyond Book Learning: Good Solid Principles of Behavior

In summary, these two messages (when the going gets tough the tough get going, and you gotta wanna) told young Pekinites to stand for what we believe in, and to be ready to work for it under any conditions.

We are fortunate to have received such lessons. Yes, they are important and instructive to individuals, but in the end, they are more deeply about teamwork and connectivity, about being stronger together, which is the nature of man.

In times of stressful challenge, we all need our “go to” coping mechanisms to get by, those things that strengthen us and get us through. This is how we overcome fear, and run to the fire, instead of away.