Character matters

by Captain Bradley

More than a tad bit of irony this week in American sports. On the heels of a big-time football coach being fired for just too much to go into, we had the first and second year “students” of the NCAA Champs of basketball grab their NBA draft brass-ring. The former is a liar and cheated his employer and the latter 5 Wildcat starters just faked being college students to cash-in as the system allows. Hey, we know about fakes, cheaters, and liars around here. Just google the last few University of Tennessee Presidents and most recent coaching departures. There’s a pretty depressing character-deficit in sports…with one glaring exception.

Pat Summitt is that one exception, since John Wooden is not with us. Even better, Pat has more wins than ANY NCAA coach ever! Even the God of UCLA did not win over 38 years like Pat did. She is unique, driven, passionate…and leaving us too soon.

I really thought that she would be the little old lady of sports as I become a big, old man. Although Pat and my Dad, Allen, never met, I can see that same look in each of their faces. That horrible thief of a disease is a sneaky S.O.B. All that we are left with are memories and that’s okay, I guess.

Pat Summitt embodies success, class, leadership, and, most of all, character that she transferred quite well to hundreds or thousands of young people. That’s her legacy. One that may never be repeated, just like far more trivial NCAA records.

I have watched and enjoyed the Lady Vols, thanks to Pat, since I was too young to remember. She started coaching @ UT when I was 5 years old. Just a few years ago, I met her for the first time @ our first Leadership Knoxville 2009 session @ Neyland Stadium…then again @ our Legacy Parks Foundation luncheon a year or two ago…what a positive force for a greater-good she was and is still.

I never quite thought that our families could have such a consuming disease in-common. Who does? It is what it is, as a friend of mine likes to say. I just wish it wasn’t quite as it is for Pat, her son, my Dad, and millions of others out there who are slowly saying “goodbye”.