There's an unintentional but important lesson in the report the Deseret News published Thursday on the death at 69 of Harry James, perhaps the leading figure in Utah tennis until his retirement nearly five years ago.
Did you notice how the list of his accomplishments as head coach of the University of Utah tennis team for 26 years went on and on, including 12 Western Athletic Conference titles and five runner-up titles?Not until almost the very end of the account of Harry's energetic and productive life was it noted that this remarkable man achieved distinction after being crippled by polio.
But then the delay in mentioning that fact was probably as it should be, because there was much more to Harry James than the wheelchair he occupied since World War II.
So much more, indeed, that it's a mistake to observe that Harry was an inspiring example to other people with handicaps and let it go at that. Harry was also an example to plenty of people who never suffered a day of sickness.
More specifically, he was an example of what can be accomplished by tenacity, intensity and enthusiasm. That's why that wheelchair didn't keep him from entering the University of Utah as a freshman when he was 31. It didn't keep him from becoming one of the most effective coaches in college tennis. Nor did it keep him from serving others by working as a volunteer on public recreation programs and those involving the handicapped.
An accomplished tennis player himself until afflicted with polio, Harry was on firsthand terms with adversity. But he also was well acquainted with the joys of overcoming such trials.
The legacy of the late Harry James will persist at the University of Utah tennis program as long as it retains the grit, determination and love that he brought not only to the game itself but to life in general.