By now, most of you have heard University of Tennessee’s coach of women’s basketball, Pat Summitt, share with the world that she has been diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The news rocked the sports world and was the primary topic of sports radio call-in shows for several days, particularly in the southeast part of the country. She has coached the Lady Vols since 1974 and has won more games than any other basketball coach in NCAA history. She has eight national championships earned under her leadership and her teams have never known a losing season. Even sports fans who never claimed much allegiance to women’s basketball took notice of the amazing work that Summitt did on the court year after year.
Pat Summitt intends to coach the 2011-12 season, although she knows that she will have to rely more on her assistants this year. As she prepares to face a health battle in addition to the one in which she leads her team of young women in basketball arenas, one of her former players wrote some thoughts on what she learned from Coach Summitt.
Michelle Marciniak played for Pat Summitt in the mid-1990s and was a member of one of the national championship teams. She is now an entrepreneur and thanks her coach for instilling in her the belief that an “it’s not good enough” mentality is essential for both athletic success and business success. Marciniak writes that Summit saves her congratulatory words for her players once they win the title. After all, isn’t that the goal every year? You must push beyond what is comfortable and challenge yourself to be outstanding in every aspect of your work.
It is assumed that Summitt will take this same attitude to her disease through efforts to raise awareness, advocate for more research, and make the most of every day she has. She still has a lot more to teach us as she begins this new journey. Her leadership model and track record of success is one to study no matter your profession.