Normally, Erika Taylor writes this column. However, in light of a member of her team winning the Jesse H. Neal Award from our trade association, the American Business Media, I am stepping in just this once.

Pool & Spa News is experiencing “March Madness” a little bit late. March Madness refers to the NCAA basketball playoffs. It is huge nationwide, and here in Los Angeles whenever UCLA is in the finals, there is a lot of nostalgia as Angelenos remember how former coach John Wooden won an incredible 10 national championships in a 12-year period.

Many consider John Wooden the finest coach in all sports … ever. He has created his “Pyramid to Success,” a concept that contains all sorts of building blocks to achieve success. Examples include “Be fast, but don’t hurry,” “Failure to plan is planning to fail” and “Have faith that things will turn out right.” John NEVER said “we have to win this big game.” … Instead, he strove for excellence by having all the individual components of the team push themselves as far as they could. His steadfast rules were no swearing, be on time and never criticize a fellow player. My guess is that Bobby Knight didn’t idolize him.

It is with great pleasure that I can announce that Pool & Spa News writer Shabnam Mogharabi’s article "In the Minority" has won the Jesse H. Neal Award. This was our NCAA championship equivalent, and it occurred on March 22 in New York at the Waldorf Astoria. Good editors can go a lifetime and not even be nominated for a Neal. In an age of award proliferation where “President’s Club” and Platinum or Diamond awards are fairly common, March Madness came to our office when I announced that we had won a Neal because everyone in the publishing industry knows the Neal is the “real McCoy.”

Erika Taylor has worked with her team much like John Wooden. She has systems in place, expects them to be followed explicitly and knows good things will happen, just like the UCLA teams of the ’60s and ’70s. But a coach is meaningless without players. Pool & Spa News has an outstanding team of journalists, including Shabnam, who wrote the Neal-winning story about the fact that minorities are drowning at a significantly higher rate than the general population. I hope you’ll join me in congratulating Erika, Shabnam and the entire editorial staff on their success.