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I think I can help others just by my example.
– Pat Summitt
When you grow up on a dairy farm, cows don’t take a day off. So you work every day and my dad always said, ‘No one can outwork you.’
I lost my confidence.
Have you ever walked along a shoreline, only to have your footprints washed away? That’s what Alzheimer’s is like. The waves erase the marks we leave behind, all the sand castles. Some days are better than others.
In my case, symptoms began to appear when I was only 57. In fact, the doctors believe early-onset Alzheimer’s has a strong genetic predictor, and that it may have been progressing for some years before I was diagnosed.
Coaching is the great passion of my life, and the job to me has always been an opportunity to work with our student athletes and help them discover what they want.
The game is never over. No matter what the scoreboard reads or what the referee says, it doesn’t end when you come off the court.
We keep score in life because it matters. It counts. It matters. Too many people opt out and never discover their own abilities because they fear failure. They don’t understand commitment.
I can remember trying to coach, trying to figure out schemes, and it just wasn’t coming to me.
I’d wake up in the morning and I would think, ‘Where am I?’ I’d have to gather myself.
Winning is fun… Sure. But winning is not the point. Wanting to win is the point. Not giving up is the point. Never letting up is the point. Never being satisfied with what you’ve done is the point.
I was like, ‘I don’t know if I could be an Olympian…’ But my dad really influenced me to stay and be in the Olympics.
I’ve got a great staff and great support system, and I’m going to stick my neck out and do what I always do.
Competition got me off the farm and trained me to seek out challenges and to endure setbacks; and in combination with my faith, it sustains me now in my fight with Alzheimer’s disease.
Class is more important than a game.
I don’t want to sit around the house. I want to be out there. I want to go to practice. I want to be in the huddles. That’s me.
I hate to sound this way but, ‘Why me? Why me with dementia?’
I remember teaching a clinic to other coaches, and a guy raised his hand and asked if I had any advice when it came to coaching women. I leveled him with a death-ray stare, and said, ‘Go home and coach basketball.’
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 life. It gives you vision. But you can’t acquire it if you’re afraid of keeping score.
I think that a lot of people would perceive my style as being intimidating. And although I don’t want to intimidate kids, I am very demanding.
I’m not a good loser. I get sick physically… I take it to heart. I hate it.
Sometimes I draw blanks.
Sometimes I’m more stubborn than I am smart.
Most people get excited about games, but I’ve got to be excited about practice, because that’s my classroom.
I remember standing on a medal podium at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, imbued with a sense that if you won enough basketball games, there was no such thing as poor, backward, country, female, or inferior.