There are so many people that contributed to who I am and so many that I hold dear as personal heroes. So many that taught me what I wanted out of life and showed me how to get it. Those who demonstrated to me — a little girl that wouldn’t even grow to stand 5 foot tall — how to live unapologetically. I don’t back down from what I believe in, and I certainly don’t ask a man for his opinion before I form my own — and I definitely don’t sit around and wait for one of them to do anything for me. I believe that if my toughness or independence hurts your feelings — well, that’s your problem.
I believe, wholeheartedly and enthusiastically, that anything a man can do, a woman can do — and better.
And I damn sure don’t believe being female makes me inferior.
One of the reasons I believe that, one of the main reasons that I am who I am, is because of Pat Summitt.
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Tennessee — or Nashville, rather — was recently voted as the best place for a woman to open a business. It may simply be coincidence, but I don’t often believe in coincidences. I prefer cause and effect. And if the effect is women in Tennessee dominating, the cause was Pat Summitt.
I’m one of the generations that grew up underneath Pat. I saw what she taught this state and I know what she meant to me. She’s the reason so many little girls, wearing orange and dreaming big, never thought that they had to take a backseat to anyone. She has stated one of her best accomplishments as the fact that 100% of her players received their degrees. No one who stepped on the hardwood for Pat Summitt left the University of Tennessee without their education.
That’s just part of her uncomparable legacy.
I would say, without doubt, that her best accomplishment in education was that she gave all of us, those who didn’t have the blessing of playing for her, the gift of knowing why “I will cut you!” was a thing long before we ever heard it, and why “I will come for you!” is a sentiment that we lived here in the volunteer state.
And don’t get me started on the power of a stare.
I don’t even have the words to say goodbye to you yet, Pat. So I won’t try.
I’ll just say thank you.
And I promise to love you until I die. Every orange-wearing day. And, most importantly, I promise to do my part so that the generations of little girls that come after me will know how you changed the game of life.
Rest well, Coach.