North Carolina’s Roy Williams and Providence’s Ed Cooley have shared coaches’ junkets to Hawaii and a couple proved to be memorable, meaningful.
One had a humorous twist when, as Williams joked Friday, he discovered Cooley was “the worst guy I’ve ever seen in my life in a yoga class.”
And Cooley didn’t disagree, smiling and saying, “The worst in the history of yoga. It was awful. I was shaking all over the place.”
But on another Nike-sponsored coaches trip, Cooley said he saw Williams struck with a case of vertigo while swimming. It was that episode of Williams’ Cooley quickly recalled when he began to experience his own bouts of vertigo – the first two years ago, then again a few months ago.
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It was like, man, I couldn’t get my balance and I actually fell like three times.
Providence coach Ed Cooley on his first bout with vertigo
Williams, 65, has been affected by benign positional vertigo the past two decades, with sudden movements of the head causing intense dizziness and sometimes brief but scary blackouts.
“Your whole world is spinning,” Williams said.
Williams had an episode during the Tar Heels’ game at Boston College this season, forcing him to be taken to the locker room and turn the coaching duties over to assistant coach Steve Robinson.
“I had a sudden jump-up, sudden blood rush for two or three seconds and everything is black,” Williams said. “I’m trying to find the coach’s chair or scorer’s table. That’s five, 10 seconds. That’s all it is. It’s pretty dramatic for those five, 10 seconds. Then it’s okay.”
Cooley, 46, said he first experienced vertigo on a trip to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.
“It was like, man, I couldn’t get my balance and I actually fell like three times,” Cooley said.
A second attack came this January, nearly forcing him to miss a game.
“I knew I had it the moment I woke up,” he said. “I had the same feeling and it was brutal. It’s one of the worst feelings ever.”
Cooley said he contacted Williams, as he put it, to “check on some remedies.” Cooley said a therapist later performed an Epley Maneuver, in which repositioning of the head and body help alleviate the inner-ear problems that affect balance. He said that has helped, as has medication.
There were a few scary moments Thursday in Virginia’s NCAA Tournament first-round game when Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett felt woozy late in the first half of the game against Hampton. Bennett had to be helped to the locker room for treatment for what he later said was dehydration and was able to coach the second half.
Williams said his vertigo condition has been ongoing the past 19 or 20 years and there have been 15 to 17 episodes during that time.
“It’s pretty dramatic right at the start but after 30 minutes I’m better,” Williams said. “After four hours I’m a lot better.
“Eddie’s (vertigo) hung around for three, four days. I once had shoulder surgery and my arm was in a sling, couldn’t play golf for five months. I would rather have that than one episode of vertigo.”
Williams and Cooley will be on opposite benches Saturday as the Tar Heels, the top seed in the East Region, takes on the Friars in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at PNC Arena. As for that yoga experience in Hawaii, Cooley said Williams still razzes him about it.
“My wife asked me to take yoga for the first time in my life and at that point, I think I was about 370 pounds,” Cooley said. “We had been out pretty late in the evening, and we had some cookies and milk until about 4 in the morning and I tried yoga.
“I’ll never try it again. I am the worst yoga participant in the history of that exercise. And Coach lets me know about it every time he sees me.”