This is the final chapter of our story, and by far the most important.
Several members of Graff Golf’s founding team are student-athletes at Johns Hopkins University. Early morning on January 2nd, 2019, we received the shocking and sad news that our school’s beloved head coach, Jim Margraff, had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. He had been the central figure for the football program, an inspiration to each of us and a pillar in the Hopkins community for nearly 30 years.
We decided that we wanted to honor Coach Margraff and the way he led and mentored each of his players as athletes, students, and most importantly as people. He embodied the values and determination that are a hallmark of greatness. His wisdom and style brought his teams together and made the sum greater than the parts. And so we became Graff Golf in memory of someone who was a special mentor to each of us.
Margraff began his coaching career in 1982, coaching at numerous different schools before returning to his alma mater. Over Jim Margraff’s 29 years at Johns Hopkins, he compiled 221 wins and 14 conference championships. His impact, however, cannot simply be measured in numbers. Coach Margraff served as much more than just a coach over his successful tenure as head coach.
Coach Margraff taught life lessons through the sport of football. At the end of every Friday practice, it was his custom to share a lesson with the team. Each lesson was to prepare the team for the upcoming game, but, more importantly, each lesson was about life. One particularly impactful lesson came the evening before the team’s biggest conference matchup. Coach talked about the idea that there are three things in life that you can never get back: a spent arrow (get behind the wheel under the influence), a spoken word (say something hateful to someone you love), and a missed opportunity (the opportunity at hand was the chance to win a conference championship). Hopkins won the game and later engraved the quote, “spent arrow, spoken word, missed opportunity”, on the back of the championship rings.
Over time, Coach Margraff developed a number of simple and poignant quotes to remind us of these lessons:
- “Pride and Poise”
- “If not now, when?”
- “Pressure is for surgeons and soldiers... [football is fun]”
- “Don’t spend your time, invest it”
- “Your reputation is a Redwood Tree, it takes hundreds of years to grow and only 15 minutes to destroy”
Above all, Coach Margraff emphasized one simple, encapsulating reminder for what he wanted the program to be: “Good football, better men.” He would always tell his players very simply, “Do the right thing. If you don’t know what the right thing is, then call me and I will tell you.” While we no longer have Jim Margraff to call or text when we need help, we will always have the lessons he taught us through football.
As a founding team, we are proud to call ourselves Graff Golf in Coach’s memory and make the vow to dedicate 1% of our resources to charities close to Margraff’s heart. We would not have come together without him, and we value the impact that he had on us in much too short of a time.