Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pat Summitt: Changing the Game & Changing the World

March Synchroblog: All about Eve In honor of Women's History month, posts for this synchroblog will be "all about women". See list of synchrobloggers below.

Legendary Coach Pat Summitt can almost single-handedly be credited for changing the face of women's basketball. She is a leader with determination not only to win, but to win on a repeated and consistent basis.

Pat grew up with 3 older brothers(1 younger sister) and states that she can remember her mother doing everything for them and her dad. One example she recalls is her brothers holding up their tea glasses when they were empty and shaking them. A sign to her mother that they needed more tea. Pat would watch as her mother would serve them and she remembers thinking, "This isn't right!"

Was this a motivating factor to her success? Maybe. But, even if it wasn't, Pat Summitt has definitely changed inequality in NCAA basketball and now has begun to change the world with her foundation to increase awareness of Alzheimer's Disease.

The Numbers

Pat Summitt has had an extraordinary career as the head coach of the University of Tennessee (UT) Lady Volunteer's women's basketball team.  Her achievements are in the hundreds.  Here are just a few:

-She is the all time winningest coach in the history of men's and women's NCAA basketball.  Last count on her UT bio is 1071 wins to 199 losses (.843).  Mike Kryzewski, coach of the men's basketball team at Duke trails her at 833 wins to 274 losses (.752)
-She has coached 8 NCAA championship teams. Trailing only John Wooden with 10 NCAA titles
-She has 16 Southeastern Conference (SEC) titles and 14 SEC tournament titles
-She was named the Naismith Coach of the Century in 2000
-72% of her players have been Olympians, All-Americans, Academic All-Americans, and members of the U.S. National Team
-In 2009, The Sporting News named the 50 Greatest Coaches of All-Time.  She was 11th on the list and the only female on the list
-She was the first female basketball coach to earn a contract over a million dollars (compared to her salary as a coach in 1974 which was $8900)

The Motivator

Pat's peers describe her as well-respected, an educator, a role-model, a pioneer, ethical and a motivator.  Her players describer her as intense, determined, competitive, tough, demanding, strategic, caring and also a motivator.

"She genuinely thinks we are going to win every ball game.  She projects it.  She could say, 'Here's the game plan.  We're going to run backward down the court, and take our bras off, and swing them around our heads' And they'd(her players) nod their heads and say, 'Sounds like a winner, Coach. When do you want us to start running?'" -Mickie Demoss(assistant coach)

Pat believes ethics, principles and success should be inseparable.  She has developed her own set of principles that is called The Definite Dozen.  About these principles Pat states, "Long-term, repetitive success is a matter of building a principled system and sticking to it.  Principles are anchors; without them you will drift." 

The Definite Dozen (more description of each principle is found at 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
This system has definitely proven to be a motivator for her players on the court.  Off the court, this has proven true as well.  Pat has a 100% graduation rate for all Lady Vols who have completed their eligibility at Tennessee.

The Courage

On August 22, 2011 at the age of 59, Pat Summitt announced she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. In her true competitive and courageous style, she is determined to take on this disease. She started her own foundation dedicated to raising awareness and money for education, support and research of Alzheimer's. On November 27, 2011 her foundation gave $75,000 to the UT Medical Center and $75,000 to Alzheimer's Association of Tennessee. This foundation has had such a tremendous impact that the Mayo Clinic thanked her for her efforts and stated they would "wholeheartedly support her foundation".  (See The Mayo Clinic's Letter to Pat)

I really can't say enough about Pat Summitt. I would have to write an entire book to even begin to describe her role in the change of women's basketball and the change she has had in the lives around her.

As I type this, it is "March Madness" and ESPN and ESPN2 are televising the women's NCAA basketball tournament (it used to be that only the men's tournament was televised).  And, the Lady Vols are in this tournament.  Pat has had multiple appearances in the tournament with a record of 109-22(.838).

Lastly, one of Pat's recent accolades that I believe is definitely worth mentioning in light of Women's History month:

Pat was awarded the Alliance of Women Philanthropists' Brenda G. Lawson Legacy of Leadership Award at the group's annual Women and Philanthropy Symposium at the Knoxville Marriott on March 10, 2012.

The Awards Criteria:
• Committed to furthering the goals of the Alliance of Women Philanthropists
• Supports the University of Tennessee through contributions of talent, time, and financial means
• Dedicated to supporting UT in its instructional, research, outreach and fundraising initiatives
• Educates, empowers, and inspires women to be philanthropic leaders at the University of Tennessee
• Encompasses a variety of ideals including volunteerism, generosity, sacrifice, compassion, sensitivity, and humility

Pat is continuing to coach her team as her diagnosis was considered "mild".  I have no doubt that she will continue to succeed both on and off the court.  She has already left an insurmountable mark in the history of women's basketball.  And, I believe her mark on the world has only just begun. 

Links to other synchrobloggers:

Michelle Morr Krabill – Why I Love Being a Woman
Marta Layton – The War on Terror and the War on Women
Ellen Haroutounian – March Synchroblog – All About Eve
Jeremy Myers – Women Must Lead the Church
Carol Kuniholm – Rethinking Hupotasso
Wendy McCaig – Fear Letting Junia Fly
Jeanette Altes – On Being Female
kathy escobar – replacing the f-word with the d-word (no not those ones)
Melody Hanson – Call Me Crazy, But I Talk To Jesus Too
Glenn Hager – Walked Into A Bar
Steve Hayes – St. Christina of Persi
Leah Sophia – March Syncroblog-All About Eve
Liz Dyer – The Problem Is Not That I See Sexism Everywhere…
Sonja Andrews – International Women’s Day
Sonnie Swenston-Forbes – The Women
Christine Sine –
It All Begins With Love
K.W. Leslie – Undoing the Subordination of Women
Carie Good – The Math of Mr. Cardinal
Dan Brennan – Ten Women I Want To Honor

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Paralysis in His Presence

[This post is part of a group synchroblog. This month the bloggers will share stories of epiphany. I will add links to the other synchrobloggers below as they come in.  Check out the way cool blogger's links below!]

It was March 11, 2006 and I began the day skiing with a few friends at Breckenridge(Colorado).  Just a normal day of hitting the back bowls early and trying to catch "fresh powder"!  It was our second run down the Imperial Bowl and to this day, well, I don't know what happened.  NO trees around me, no other skiers/snowboarders.  I either "caught an edge" or hit ice and began an end over end crash that whip lashed my neck extensively.  I remember lying in the aftermath, and everything becoming a "slow motion", just like you experience/hear about when someone describes being in an auto accident.

I was lying face up and STILL can picture in my mind the sky and the clouds as if they were floating by slowly.  My friend Carter came to me first and I said, "Carter, you HAVE to start praying, I can't move!"  He did...AND, I did!  You have to know, I am a VERY private person with prayer and ESPECIALLY with my prayer language.  In fact, NO ONE, except my Savior has heard my prayer language.  However, that day, I'm pretty sure most everyone in Breckenridge heard it!

It was about 5 minutes into the recovery process that I started moving my legs a little.  I started sliding my heels up and down and was so excited, tears started rolling and the ski patrol even had to tell me to STOP moving them!  They were trying to be very cautious of my neck and not move it/me.  I have to say, the Breckenridge ski patrol did a phenomenal job!  One patrol did nothing but hold on to my helmet to keep my head and neck from moving as one dug out snow from underneath me to place a neck collar on. Then, as most of you may have guessed I began the "fun" ride down the hill in the patrol's toboggan!

At the base, I was immediately taken to Breckenridge Medical Center, x-rays were taken(no fractures), but then, the doctor came in and talked to me about my spinal see, even though I had movement in my legs, my arms were still not moving AND, they were in extreme burning pain!  The doctor looked at me and said, "I don't think we have to fly you, we are going to get you to Swedish Medical Center(Denver, CO) by ambulance.  But, I'm worried about your spinal cord.  I'd like to start Sol-u-Medrol before we transport you."  To that I honestly said, "PLEASE!" (yes, the doctor seemed surprised by my response)  However, I'm a physical therapist, and THAT day I remember that one of our neuro professors made a comment in class about wanting to get a tattoo on her body that said, "If I have a spinal cord injury, please inject steroid immediately!"  Crazy, the things that you remember in those times!  You see, research has proven that if you get steroid started with a spinal cord injury in a 3 hour window, the better the recovery!  AND, the REALLY amazing thing to think about is the time frame from the VERY top of Breckenridge, to the base and the quick decision by the doctor to do so, was an absolute miracle!

At this point, I had hope.  However, the remaining question was why my arms weren't moving.  I remember the ambulance guys talking to me.  One was giving me a "hard time" trying to make me laugh and the other one responded, "You better be careful, she's going to be able to slap you in a few weeks!"  hmmm...hope?  What were they talking about?  Yea, one of those times/injuries where maybe it's BEST not to know too much about the nervous system.  But, they had hope so, at the time, it helped!

I eventually had CAT scans and MRI's done at the hospital in Denver where they found spinal cord damage from a complete herniated C5/C6(lower neck levels) disc and a C4/C5 disc bulge.  The MRI's that day showed a squiggly line across the spinal cord which the doctor's pointed out to me as damage.  AND, with TWO of my follow ups with Neurosurgeons, I had a "panel" looking at MRI's, scratching their heads, and making me get up and walk down the hall!  Still not moving arms, but they were surprised by the damage that I was even walking!

The decision was then that I had NO choice but to have a fusion surgery on my neck.  They waited 8 weeks in order to allow some of the swelling to decrease.  THEN, another set of MRIs!  The amazing thing...this time...NO squiggly line, just some damage left on the front part of the cord!!!  Yea, it IS kind of fun to watch God leave doctor's scratching their heads!  AND, well, as you might have guessed I had some of my arm movement back!  Don't get me wrong, this part took A LOT of hard work with therapy and exercises, but the movement came!  AND, the cool thing some of the fine motor skills returned with practice on a keyboard/piano, journaling, knitting AND, water coloring! 

As I continued my healing, my total time of intense stuff lasted about 5 months!  No driving, lifting, working...VERY hard for a very independent person!  So, even MORE miracles seemed to "surface" during this time!  Visits and rides from church, to get groceries, a get well card with a grocery gift card in it, my Alma Mater providing computer work for me to do from home, AND, MANY, MANY, MANY times of powerful contemplation and intimacy with my Savior!

Some might say it was "shock" and well, the human body does do that with trauma, but that was probably only a small part when I was being cared for on the mountain.  After that, I believe it was MY epiphany/manifestation of His healing, provision, rest and ROMANCE!  You can't explain the "3 hour window" miracle, Neurosurgeons unable to explain damage vs. function, decreased damage across the spinal cord 8 weeks later(the nervous system is SLOW in healing), walking, return of arm/hand movement(my livelihood), provision and AMAZING calmness of heart and peace in my soul!  I remember times when I could spend HOURS in contemplation, praise or even doing my artwork without a single care or distraction!

His presence in my paralysis seemingly CARRIED me through one of the worst things that I've had to go through!  If this manifestation was a "wilderness by default" well, I don't care, He was THERE!  And the beautiful thing NOW!  I REALLY KNOW what my patients are going through!  I can relate to severe neurological hypersensitivity and PAIN!  I now carry that understanding and compassion into every patient room I walk into.  And my prayer is that they would SEE that compassion as Christ in me!  For I am and THEY are His Beloved!

Here is a list of participants with links to their contributions:

Ellen Haroutunian - Stories of Epiphany

Kathy Escobar - Orphans

Mike Victorino - What To Do?

Beth Patterson - A Robust Universe Includes The Botched and Bungled

Jeff Goins - The Manifestation of God

Jeremy Myers - Pagan Prophecies of Christ

Mark Smith - Manifestation of God

Minnow - When God Shows Up

Alan Knox - A Day I Saw Jesus

Liz Dyer - God Breaking Through Moments

Josh Morgan - The Manifestation of God

Steve Hayes - Theophany: the manifestation of God

Sarah Bassey - In which Annie opens the door of her heart

Katherine Gunn - Who is God

Christine Sine - Eve of Epiphany-We Have Come, We Have Seen, Now We Must Follow

Peter Walker - Epiphany Outside Theophany (Outside Christianity)

Annie Bullock - God With Us

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dance Beloved, Dance!

I love my Father in Heaven. However, I periodically forget how much He loves me and that He SO wants to romance my heart AND have ALL of it. Have I given Him ALL of my heart? Well, sadly no. I WANT to, I sit before Him and TRY to. But, how do we really surrender ALL of our heart to Him? And, how do we GUARD our hearts(Proverbs 4:23)? If you're anything like me, you're somewhat too quick to give it to just anyone almost?! I'm not proud of this, but in my past I would say this is true. But, I believe in the trials and errors I've learned a few things a long the way! Valuable life-long lessons that have taught me to pray blessings on everyone...and, I mean EVERYONE...even my "enemies", those who have hurt me, those I have hurt, etc. After all, we all have been hurt, wounded and cursed. We all could use blessings...His blessings! It is these very blessings that change us and change who we are in our Spirit and this I believe CAN flow into the soul AND the body! Yes, even the body...the temporal temple CAN be healed! What an amazing thing to think about! His healing flowing into our bodies and allowing us to move paralyzed arms, arthritic joints or broken bones!
"Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice." -Psalm 51:8(NIV)
"Tune me in to foot-tapping songs, set these once-broken bones to dancing." -Psalm 51:8(The Message)
Wow! Don't you just love The Message version...'dancing'! Can I dance before Him and give Him all of my heart? I don't know. I CAN dance. I CAN dance before Him! And in that dancing, I can only hope and pray that He would give me the strength and the courage to surrender...surrendering all of my heart to Him. And, in that surrendering, I pray that He would hold my heart and guard it. So many times I have failed to guard, I NEED Him. I need Him to take my heart and hold it, protect it, fill it and keep it...all the days of my life! That is my prayer. Not only for me, but for you, my brothers and sisters. May we all surrender our heart and dance before Him. And, in that dancing, He WILL bless the Beloved! For YOU are His Beloved!