That’s what Coach Pat Summitt used to preach to us in practice all the time. As an adult, I find myself using that message in my daily life. That was the special thing about Coach Summitt and her lessons: They weren’t just lessons for the court — they were lessons for a lifetime.
She took pride in graduating all her players and turning them into productive women of society. She couldn’t care less if we went on to play basketball professionally, as long as we had a solid education. I think that’s why she and my grandmother got along so well. They both knew education was going to be my playbook for life.
Coach also knew the challenges we would face as women and prepared us for them, using the game of basketball. For example, we all experience doubt in our lives, especially playing sports, but Coach Summitt didn’t want to hear that. She would tell us that we had to quiet that “negative voice” on our shoulder that was saying, “You can’t do it.” She told us to knock that crafty little creature off and push forward. At the time, that metaphor seemed pretty weird to me, but like all her messages, I now get it. Every day I wake up with purpose and try not to let cynics or doubt cloud my thoughts. That’s the Coach Summitt way.
Not only did coach give us metaphors to build on, she also led by example. As hard as she wanted us to work in games, she worked twice as hard to prepare. That’s what I respected about her. I remember right before one of our Final Four matchups she was up watching tape until 4 a.m. to be ready for the other team. When I saw what she was doing for us, I knew I could not disappoint.