This morning I listened to a radio show, hosted by Coach K called "Beyond Basketball". His guest for this particular show was Pat Summit, head women's coach at Tennessee University. During the conversation between Coach K and Pat Summit, many interesting topics were discussed, probably the most interesting topic in my opinion was when Coach Summit was explaining the difficulties she was having with her team 'learning how to win'.
As Coach Summit explained it, sometimes programs, such as Tennessee, who have long standing traditions of winning championships and excellence, the players sometimes beleive that all they have to do is 'put on the uniform' to win. However, recently that has not been the case with Tennessee, who has lost Candace Parker and a number of other key players to graduation. Coach K asked her what they do in the Tennessee program to teach young players how to win...
As Pat Summit explained it, in her program, it all starts with building a foundation. That foundation is made of up things that you have control over...
- How hard you play...defense, rebounding, protecting the basketball
- Your attitude
- Competing everyday
- Leaders taking ownership
The final segment of Coach K's radio show, "Beyond Basketball" always ends with a key word. The word for this segment that he spoke about was 'pioneer', which was very fitting considering his guest was Pat Summit. Coach Summit has been a 'pioneer' for womens basketball. She became the first and only head women's basketball coach at Tennessee University in 1974 at the young age of 22 (her first graduating seniors were 21 at the time). When she started, there were no chartered buses or planes to away games, no administrative assistants, no sponsorship deals, no top of the line basketball practice facilities or locker rooms. At the time when she started, she was the head coach, who also drove the team van to away games. When you look at where she started to where she is now and where women's college basketball is now, she is considered to be a 'pioneer'. Here are some of Coach K's highlights on what a pioneer is and what it takes to be a pioneer...
A pioneer is someone or some group who starts a movement through their hunger, vision and ability to drive success. Pioneers don't break molds, but are willing to go into unchartered waters to start a journey that defines the future for others who will follow, setting a precident. As Coach K explained, since pioneers don't have any traditions or past experiences to follow, they must have guts and courage. They must be committed to their vision and willing to take risks, without being afraid to fail. They must have passion and the confidence to follow their instincts. To be a pioneer, it takes a special person or a special group, willing to fight and sacrifice, willing to go above and beyond and willing to do the things that have never been done!
Other 'pioneers' for the game of basketball:
- John Wooden
- Will Robinson and John Chaney...pioneer for African-American coaches
- Don Haskins, Texas Western...1966 NCAA Champions; first coach to start five African-Americans
- Dr. James Naismith...invented the game of basketball
- Cheryl Miller, Lisa Leslie, Candace Parker...pioneers for women's basketball