April 21, 2016 by Cathy Brown
“Attitude is a choice. Think positive thoughts daily. Believe in yourself”. ~ Pat Summit
I began my career as a Health and Physical Education Teacher way before becoming a Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor. Fresh out of college and “hell bent” on changing the educational system to make a level playing field for the girls, I was hired mid -year to take over for the P.E. teacher on maternity leave at Mt. Gilead High School, a small country town school system.
Now that seems like ancient history, but I remember it as if were yesterday. My 1st week, I was thrown out of the teacher’s lounge and asked for a date by a Senior football player. Guess I looked more like a student than the staff.
It was quite a journey fighting for “equality for girls” in those days. One of my heroes was Pat Summit, legendary University of Tennessee’s Women’s Basketball Coach, Olympic Gold medal winner and all around “Kick Ass” coach. She was the first NCAA coach and one of only 4 coaches overall to achieve 1,000 wins. In 2012 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
She is now in the fight of her life as she battles Alzheimer’s. I have become more aware of this terrible disease and how it affects the families just as much if not more than the patients, after participating in the tele-summit… ”Raise Your Vibration about Alzheimer’s: How to Shift Your Emotions, Shine Your Light and Show Your Love”. Your invitation is below.
I am proud to share Pat’s short story, it shows her strength, humility, and love for her players.
I remember a Tennessee field with hay as far as I could see and a tall man standing in it, staring at me with pale blue eyes. My father had eyes that gave me the feeling he could order up any kind of weather he wanted, just by looking at the sky. If the tobacco crop needed rain, he’d glare upward, until I swore it got cloudy. I gestured at the acres of hay I was supposed to rake into bales and said, “Daddy, how long do I have to stay out here?” He said, “You’ll be finished when it’s done right.”
I remember a leaning gray barn with an iron basketball rim mounted in the hayloft. At night—after the chores were done right—my three older brothers and I climbed to the loft for ball games in which they offered no quarter. Just elbows and fists, and the advice, “Don’t you cry, girl. I better not see you cry.” I remember learning to hit back—hard enough to send them through the gallery door into a ten-foot drop to the bales below.
I remember the supper table crammed with bodies, children with clattering forks fighting over the last piece of chicken, and my mild, selfless mother, filling the glasses and plates with a close-lipped smile and a voice soft as a housedress, and then I remember watching her muscle a two-ton truck into gear and roaring off to pick up farm supplies.
I remember the searing smell of the ammonia that my college coach waved under my nose, and heavy polyester uniforms with crooked numerals, and the dark hotbox auxiliary gyms with no air-conditioning where they stuck women, one leaking light from holes in the roof, through which birds flapped and splattered their droppings on the floor.
I remember being young and wild with energy, pulling into joints that sold 20-cent beer.
“What’s your brand?”
I remember standing on a medal podium at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, imbued with a sense that if you won enough basketball games, there was no such thing as poor, backward, country, female, or inferior.
I remember every player—every single one—who wore the Tennessee orange, a bold, aggravating color usually found on a roadside crew, or in a correctional institution. To us, the color is a flag of pride, identifying us as Lady Vols and therefore as women of an unmistakable type. Fighters. I remember how many of them fought for a better life. I just met them halfway.
Pat Summit met them more than half way. She gave her all, 100%+. A true hero in my book!
“It is what it is…but it will become what you make it.” ~ Pat Summit
I chose my attitude…it is positive!
I am focused and give 100%