|Mon, Dec 09, 2013 09:20 PM
|Issue of November 27, 2013
A hope noteDr. Wayne Willis reflects on life and hope.
August 28, 2013 | 10:18 AM
She grew up on a tobacco farm in Henrietta, Tenn.
At 24, Pat Summitt stood on a podium in Montreal, having won an Olympic medal. Standing there, she felt imbued with the insight that "if you won enough basketball games, there's no such thing as poor, or backward, or country, or female, or inferior."
This Olympian coached 38 years at the University of Tennessee and won more basketball games (1,098) than anyone, male or female, in NCAA Division I history, including eight national championships.
Now, in her early 60s, suffering from Alzheimer's, Summitt has published her memoirs in a book aptly titled "Sum it Up." Here are some of her summary findings about basketball and life.
On Discipline: During the 38 years Summitt coached the Lady Vols, 100 percent of her players graduated. She required them to sit in the first three rows of every class. Missing class was not permitted or excused for any reason. "If you cut a class, you didn't play in the next game. Period."
On Motivation: She considered motivation much harder than teaching because "you have to give more of yourself, constantly rack your brain to think about how to start somebody's engine."
On Commitment: While most authorities on commitment emphasize risk-taking, Summitt says it's equally about tedium, "the willingness to persevere through problems without quitting and, more important, without demoralization."
On Focus: "If you chase two rabbits, you won't catch one."
Explaining her extraordinary lifetime achievements, Summitt channels Nora Ephron: "Above all, be the heroine of your own life, not the victim."
I've found myself especially mulling over one of her comments about Tyler, her only child whom she idolizes. Summitt proudly says that "his default disposition is thoughtfulness."
My troubling take-away from that comment is, "What is my default disposition?"
Dr. Wayne Willis