There will be many instances in a sports coach’s career where they’ve asked themselves, “What could I have done differently?” I would like to say; I am no different. As a coach of people, I’m always looking for ways to improve and it starts with, “Am I doing things the right way and for the right reason?” This leads me to speak about Pat Summitt. Coach Summitt is one of the GREATEST coaches – either man or woman – to have ever walked a sideline. It was a great loss for her former players and to the entire sports community when she recently passed away.
Coach Summitt was a pioneer in many ways and is the most decorated basketball coach in NCAA Division 1 history with the most victories. There are countless examples of her achievements in the form of championships, accomplishments, and accolades. On many occasions, I remember watching her coach games and asking myself, “What is it about her that makes her so great at coaching?” Not about basketball, but people! There was something about how she communicated with her teams, how she demanded perfection and how she worked for perfection. She was dedicated to her players both on and off the court and guided them not only to be great players, but also to be athletes of character.
We know that most successful people in life work tirelessly to become great, to become better than everyone else. It’s a desire, a passion, an energy and a work ethic that most cannot match. Listening to former players, coaches and competitors reflect on Coach Summitt as a person has brought my thoughts about her full circle. She believed in herself, she believed in who she was as a person and a coach; she believed in her system. But, most importantly, she believed in those countless players she recruited and coached. She delivered on her promise and in turn, they delivered on theirs. Her dedication to doing what is right by her players is a trait that all of us can take away from her legacy.
I never had the privilege of meeting Coach Summitt, yet I have learned many things by observing her and others like her. She has validated my thoughts as a coach; believe in yourself, believe in who and what you stand for. Most importantly, deliver on your promise to be the best coach that you can be and work hard for those under your care and guidance. Coaching is not just about the sport, its about guiding the players to work hard, play harder and strive to excel in all areas. If we as coaches follow the paths that many great coaches before us have walked, if we stay passionate about what we believe, and we do it for the right reasons, we should never have to ask ourselves, “What could I have done differently?”