Long before William McCool became a Space Shuttle astronaut, he had earned a reputation for being competitive. Attending high school in the 1970s, he was part of the track team and liked running so much that he often ran to the local library to study. At least one classmate recalled that McCool wasn’t very good at basketball, but wouldn’t quit until he could beat his opponent. He could also take a joke. When he admitted to a teacher that he didn’t know what logarithms were, the teacher exclaimed, “Oh, no! This man is from a foreign country.” Once the laughing died down, the teacher took a time-out to explain logarithms and remembered that McCool seemed to grasp it almost immediately. He was smart and studied a lot, even when kids around him were having fun, but he somehow managed to not give the impression that he was a geek.


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