Pat Summitt · 390 pages
Rating: (3.1K votes)
“in the absence of feedback, people will fill in the blanks with a negative. They will assume you don’t care about them or don’t like them.”
“My short-term factual memory can be like water; events are a brief disturbance on the surface and then it closes back up again, as if nothing ever touched it. But it’s a strange fact that my long-term memory remains strong, perhaps because it recorded events when my mind was unaffected. My emotional memory is intact too, perhaps because feelings are recorded and stored in a different place than facts. The things that happened deeper in the past, and deeper in the breast, are still there for me, under the water.
I won 1,098 games, and eight national championships, and coached in four different decades. But what I see are not the numbers. I see their faces.
'Pat should get a tattoo!' The kids laughed. 'What kind should she get?'
'A heart. She should get a heart.'
Little did they know. They are the tattoos.”
“There is an old saying: a champion is someone who is willing to be uncomfortable.”
“God doesn’t take things away to be cruel. He takes things away to make room for other things. He takes things away to lighten us. He takes things away so we can fly.”
“very few people are able to organize and direct followers, which is a far more subtle and multifaceted skill. Leadership is really a form of temporary authority that others grant you, and they only follow you if they find you consistently credible. It’s all about perception—and if teammates find you the least bit inconsistent, moody, unpredictable, indecisive, or emotionally unreliable, then they balk and the whole team is destabilized.”
“But the truly ambitious teams find relief in honesty when they’ve lost, because it’s the diagnostic tool that leads to a solution—here’s what we did wrong and let’s fix it, so we don’t ever have to feel this way again. Great teams explain their failure; they don’t excuse it. Then they pay a visit to Charles Atlas and get stronger. When you explain a loss aloud, it’s no longer a tormenting mystery. I believed in that brand of honesty my whole career, and I knew at least one other coach who believed in it too.”
“life. It gives you vision. But you can’t acquire it if you’re afraid of keeping score.”
“I'm interested to see where a combination of faith and science will take me.”
“Someday, I suppose I’ll give up, and sit in the rocking chair. But I’ll probably be rocking fast, because I don’t know what I’ll do without a job.”
“I remember every player—every single one—who wore the Tennessee orange, a shade that our rivals hate, a bold, aggravating color that you can usually find on a roadside crew, “or in a correctional institution,” as my friend Wendy Larry jokes. But to us the color is a flag of pride, because it identifies us as Lady Vols and therefore as women of an unmistakable type. Fighters. I remember how many of them fought for a better life for themselves. I just met them halfway.”
“I didn’t leave her there for long. When a player makes a mistake, you always want to put them back in quickly—you don’t just berate them and sit them down with no chance for redemption.”
“Quit? Quit? We keep score in life because it matters. It counts. Too many people opt out and never discover their own abilities, because they fear failure. They don’t understand commitment. When you learn to keep fighting in the face of potential failure, it gives you a larger skill set to do what you want to do in”
“What Michelle didn’t yet know was that there is a vast difference between playing and leading. The point guard position in basketball is one of the great tutorials on leadership, and it ought to be taught in classrooms. Anyone can perfect a dribble with muscle memory;”
“I used to call players in and sit them down privately and say, “This is the deal.” I find myself doing it less and less, and here’s why: you know when they leave your office, they’re going to lie. You could say ten things and nine of them are “You are greatest in the world at nine things, but you suck going to your left.” They leave and say, “Coach says I suck.” I like to say things right in front of the team about reality. I like to say, This is what you’re doing and this is why it’s costing us, and does anybody have any questions? Because now they have to confront. They can’t go their separate ways and say, “He said …” No. Everybody heard it. And everybody on the team already knows it. They just want someone else to say it. You are just the voice of the team calling out that player—and now that player has to react. They have to either admit it, and fix it, or say everybody else is wrong. And if they do that, they further separate themselves from the team. College kids are still kids and are looking for direction. What gives you the stomach to do it is you know you’re right, and you’re only saying what they already know and believe. —GENO AURIEMMA”
“guy raised his hand and asked if I had any advice when it came to “coaching women.” I remember leveling him with a death ray stare and then relaxing and curling up the corner of my mouth and saying, “Don’t worry about coaching ‘women.’ Just go home and coach ‘basketball.’ ”
“Have Candace bring the ball up,” she said urgently. It was totally counterintuitive: Candace was our go-to player, on whom we counted when we needed a score. If Candace brought the ball up the court, that meant she’d have to pass it off. It meant someone else would take the last shot of the game. It meant that if we lost, everyone in the country would want to know why we hadn’t gone to the best player in the game. I nodded. It was a high-stakes decision. But I loved being the trigger puller. Loved it. I went into the huddle—and made the last critical call I would ever make in an NCAA Final Four. I looked at Lex, who would be our inbounder. “Get the ball in to Candace,” I said. I turned to Candace. “They will converge on you. Find the open player.” They all nodded and took their places. What happened next is a credit to the culture of a program in which players are taught to commit, to play all out, to attend to every detail no matter how seemingly unimportant, to never go through the motions, no matter how routine seeming, to finish with as much energy as they started with.”
“they don’t care how much you know, unless they know how much you care.”
“I want to ask you a tough question. Okay. If you could trade your championships for your health back, would you? Uhhhh. That’s not even realistic. I know. But I’d like to hear how you feel. [Pause] I would give back every one of my trophies to still be coaching. That says it’s the teaching you really love, more than the winning. That’s right. It also says that retirement is a deep wound.”
“I’d bring our big players out to the perimeter and make them run the play like a guard, so they saw the play from that angle as well as their own. When one of our bigs got upset if a guard didn’t make a play, I’d say, “Fine. You go play point.”
“It wasn’t just a job; it was my life, my home, and my family, and the players were the second-deepest love of my life.”
“What’s bothering you? Did you read that paragraph in Sports Illustrated? The one about life expectancy for people with Alzheimer’s? Yes. I read it. What did you think? Look, I think it’s a guess, and a bad one. It’s an average. [Crying] What upsets you the most? I want to see my son grow up.”
“Our team is young, but on the rise. Holly’s motto for them is “Same heart, same pride, same fight,” which I love. The”
“Our team is young, but on the rise. Holly’s motto for them is “Same heart, same pride, same fight,” which I love. The kids, who include my last recruiting class, tell me they want to represent everything Tennessee has ever been about: hard work, defense, rebounding, and doing all the little things right.”
“Yes. It is. —June 23, 2012, at night driving from Henrietta back to Knoxville with the tape recorder off, thirteen months after diagnosis”
“What this tells me is that facts are only the smallest components of memory.”
“about one’s life; memories are unreliable—they smudge, and fade, like disappearing footprints in the sand. We’re too busy standing in the middle of it all to remember everything perfectly,”
“We installed something Dean called “the persistence drill,” which tested their stamina: they had to make consecutive full-court layups for two straight minutes—and if they missed, start over. On the defensive end, they had to make seven straight defensive stops before they could get off the floor.”
“Kay very calmly and sweetly said, “You know, Pat, how much better do you think Lea Henry and Cindy Noble are going to get at this point?” She was saying ease up—it’s enough. I had reached the point of diminishing returns. “I think they are both trying really hard to please you, but how much more can they possibly do?” she said. “I just wonder if you’ve really thought about that.”
“To teach Shelley to be more forceful, I resorted to a method you wouldn’t find in any instructional. I made her plan and run a practice. She had to design the workout, set up the drills, push her teammates through them, and decide when something had been done well enough. I never said a word. For a good hour and a half she just stood there and watched. I was drained. Not only do you have to talk, you are in the drill. I just remember being mentally exhausted after that practice. But what a great way to develop leadership and ownership. —SHELLEY SEXTON COLLIER”
“Well,” he said, “you don’t take donkeys to the Kentucky Derby.”
“Just remember, a dark shadow need light to exist but light doesn't need darkness to be luminous.”
“This knowledge, so inaccessible, so formidable, the Fool, in his innocent idiocy, already possesses.”
“Dawns in the dormitory had a suspicious resemblance to happiness.”
“You want that girl you left behind. I’m not her! Don’t you get it? She’s gone. I’ve lost her. I made choices that made me an awful person. I’m not worth all this time and energy you’re wasting.”
Fuck. I took a step toward her, and she took a step back. “You’re wrong there. I don’t want the sixteen-year-old girl I left behind. I want the woman she’s become. The kind, compassionate, faithful, strong woman I watch from afar every day of my life. I want her. Nothing ever changed for me. Not with you.”
“Not if we kill them—” I began, only to cut off when a sudden rushing noise filled the air. And Ray grabbed my gun and went ballistic on something on the wall over our heads.
“Die! Die! Die!” he screamed, emptying the clip and causing spent shells to rain down all around us. And okay, maybe I’d been wrong about the calm thing. Because he was just standing there, trembling and panting and staring—
At the air-conditioning vent that he’d just shot the crap out of.
“—first.” I took my smoking gun out of his limp fingers and patted him on the back. “See? That’s the spirit.”
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