Lots of coaches win. Lots of coaches impact players and those around them. Lots of coaches leave a legacy. What was so different about Pat Summitt?
I’ve often thought about why she became such an important part of my life. I never played for her. I never coached with her. I never even went to one of her camps. I did have an amazing opportunity to meet her once. As I sat in her office and we chatted for about 30 minutes I couldn’t believe I was there. I probably missed most of the conversation for being so awe struck. She was sitting there right in front of me. Pat, the woman who, from a distance taught me that defense wins games and rebounding wins championships. She taught me that it was ok as a girl to love a sport. It was ok to be good at sports. It was ok that I wanted to pursue sports as a career and that I had every right to be on that court with the boys. That the term “playing like a girl” could be seen as an honor not an insult.
While her stats are impressive and can not be denied, I don’t think that’s why so many women and girls loved and honored her. I believe it’s because she was the first woman we saw that was like us, the “tomboys.” Pat’s success showed us something we had never seen before. We saw a woman that was honored, loved and admired for being successful at something that we also were very passionate about and enjoyed. Society told us we shouldn’t love to play sports. Society told us we shouldn’t want a career in sports. Society told us we would never be as good as or as important as the boys in sports. Pat changed all that. Pat brought something to us that inspired us to never quit, never give up and keep believing. Simply put, Pat Summitt brought hope to a whole generation of “tomboys.” That’s what I love about her.
That’s what I would thank her for if I had a chance. She brought us hope that we could be successful and make a career for ourselves without having to change who we were. I learned so much about the game from her. However, Pat taught me so much more about life and hope and passing on what we have learned to the next generation. As a teacher that’s what I strive to do everyday. So thank you Pat. Thanks for paving the way. Thanks for embracing who you were. Thanks for your work ethic. Thanks for your character. Thanks for your knowledge. Thank you for hope. You will be missed but you will live on through the generations of ‘tomboys” still to come.
Written by Amy Rountree
Bio: I am originally from Winter Park, FL ( just outside of Orlando) but currently live in Maryville, TN. I am a wellness/PE teacher at Carter High School in Strawberry Plains, TN. After a 20 year career coaching girls basketball I retired after the 2014-2015 season. I am working on starting a free summer camp for middle school kids called “Dream Big: Pursuing Greatness with Humility” My passion now has shifted from coaching to teaching my students and my campers. My goal in teaching isn’t to change their lives. It’s to shape, mold and change their minds so they know and believe they have the power within themselves to change their own lives. I am grateful everyday that God has called me to work with kids. They inspire me to greatness.