Pat Summitt and the Power of Legacy

Pat Summitt and the Power of Legacy

“When you want to win a championship, you don’t focus on winning. You focus on the small tasks you have to do in order to win.” -Pat Summitt

Earlier today, University of Tennessee Women’s Basketball coach Pat Summitt lost her battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 64. My wife and I have lived in Tennessee since 2001, and I have spent a lot of time in east TN and the Knoxville area. People here definitely bleed orange. I remember the very first time I spoke in this state I pulled into a small town and in front of the church where I was speaking was an old VW Bug in complete UT orange and devoted to the Women’s Basketball team.

To many, she will be remembered as one of the greatest coaches in history. For me, her legacy will always be the girls whom she coached who became young woman and leaders all throughout the country. I remember getting off stage in Texas after speaking at three school assemblies, and as we were loading I remember one of the teachers and coaches from the school came up to speak with me. When she heard I was from TN, she was all ready for me to be GO VOLS (even though I really follow college sports that much). But I was happy to speak with her. Come to find out she, was the girls’ basketball coach, and she played under Pat Summitt.


It only took me about ninety seconds to understand that she was a leader. I took the opportunity to grill her about Pat, and the leadership and influence that she had on this young coach’s life. It’s not normally too hard to discover who played basketball in college. This teacher was definitely of greater height that anyone else in the room but what made her stand tall was the leadership principles Pat Summit instilled in her.

It was clear she was on a mission from Pat to raise up future leaders in the place where she was planted. Since I was in Texas, they follow a different UT there but there the legacy of Pat Summitt was already investing in future leaders even before Pat was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Today many people are remembering the impact that Pat had on Tennessee and basketball. I am aware of the that her legacy is much greater than a little orange ball and spreads farther than the state of Tennessee. There are countless girls who are now leaders that have never met her but were influenced by her leadership and legacy. Generations from now her legacy will live on far beyond the court. Will yours? What will your legacy be?

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