Friday, April 20, 2012

Pat Summitt: A Beautiful Legacy

This week we've experienced the ending of two careers. Icon Dick Clark, considered an ambassador of American pop culture, died this past Wednesday from a heart attack. And Patricia "Pat" Head Summitt announced her retirement from her 38-year coaching career at the University of Tennessee, due to her diagnosis of early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type eight months ago.

During her career, Summitt led her Lady Vols to 1,098 wins, more than any other coach in NCAA history -- in men's and women's basketball. This year, President Obama will honor her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

What can we learn from Pat Summitt's amazing career?

Do Not Despise the Day of Small Beginnings

Women's basketball has come a long way since Pat began coaching. During her first year, she earned a meager $250 a month. The program offered her few resources, but she worked well with very little. In fact, her first team wore uniforms purchased through proceeds from a doughnut sale. In the beginning she even washed her players uniforms.

Now that's humility.

And that's love.

And that's the kind of woman Pat Summitt is.

And we'd do well to follow her lead, using the resources God's given us (our talents, gifts and personal resources) to build on what we're given. Then trust Him to make the thing grow.

Work Hard

Pat didn't lead her girls to 1000 plus victories by sitting on her rump all day. She worked hard, and she encouraged them to do the same. No, she didn't encourage them. She insisted they do the same.

And they've got the NCAA championship medals to show for it.

But Pat hasn't only demanded hard work on the court, she's expected it in the classroom as well. Every single player that has completed her NCAA eligibility under Pat has earned a bachelor's degree.

Need I say more?

Discern the Changes of Seasons

Ecclesiastes 3 speaks of seasons in life:

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven."

During her press conference on Thursday in Knoxville, Pat said, "It was really a great ride for me. I just felt like it was time for me to step down... It's never a good time, but you have to find the time that you think is the right time, and that is now."

Pat's illness has dictated the ending of her coaching season, and she is wise to end this season now. We too must take heed to the ending of seasons.

As I type this, I am seeking direction in a writing project I began years ago. Do I close the season of this writing project and give it over to God? Or do I begin a new writing project that I feel Him nudging me towards?

Like Pat, I want to follow the seasons of my life with poise and grace. Let's learn from the life of this powerful lady, and live in the moment, in the season God has laid out for us.

Hats off to Pat Summitt and her beautiful legacy. She's slam-dunked the ball once again.

May we do the same in our own spheres of life.




  1. Lovely blog about a woman I have a lot of respect for. Several years ago I was covering an AAU basketball tournament where Pat was coaching her then 11 year old son. I just thought that spoke volumes for her character that she would make time to mentor him and these young boys as well, even though she was such a big time coach.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your personal story about Pat Summitt. You're absolutely right. It speaks volumes about her character. Thanks for sharing with me and Deep Waters readers!

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Carla. I've been focusing a lot on humility and working hard lately so this spoke right to that!

  3. Thanks for your comment Monique! So glad this spoke to you in areas that God's working on. Pat's legacy spoke volumes to me too!