Whether or not you are a sports fan, Pat Summitt's journey will inspire you and her legacy will leave a lasting impact. The winningest coach in NCAA basketball history, Summitt stepped down as head coach of the Lady Vols in April, eight months after revealing her diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's. After 38 years at the helm, she walked away from the game she had changed.
For those doing the math, that means Summitt started her career as a head coach at Tennessee at the ripe age of 22. That was eight years before the NCAA recognized women's basketball as a sport. Perhaps more impressive than the 1,0098 wins, 8 national titles and 16 SEC championships is the fact that in 38 years of coaching, every single one of her players earned their degree.
If you didn't watch the ESPYs, you missed a touching tribute to a woman who has impacted generations of players and who now faces a tougher opponent with the same grit and resolve that defined her on court success. Watch the video below.
Pat has always been the face of her sport. Now she is the face of something even greater. For years, we admired her from afar-- the coach with the icy glare who dominated opponents and demanded the best from herself and everyone around her. In the last year, we witnessed a vulnerability as she chose to fight her battle on a public stage. Perhaps this is where we learn the greatest lessons on courage and grace.
In honor of Pat, here is a reminder of "The Definite Dozen," the principles that were the foundation of her program for decades. Keep a copy at your desk, in your wallet or on your bulletin board, but keep them present in your life!
The Definite Dozen
1. Respect yourself and others
2. Take full responsibility
3. Develop and demonstrate loyalty
4. Learn to be a great communicator
5. Discipline yourself so no one else has to
6. Make hard work your passion
7. Don’t just work hard, work smart
8. Put the team before yourself
9. Make winning an attitude
10. Be a competitor
11. Change is a must
12. Handle success like you handle failure
Which principle speaks the most to you and why? Send us your comments on Twitter @MollyFletcher.