Friday, July 1, 2016

What does agriculture have to do with Pat Summitt?

This week we said goodbye to basketball legend, Pat Summitt. Touted as one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time, her battle with early onset Dementia, Alzheimer's type, ended Tuesday, June 28th with loved ones close. She was known for her fierce presence on the floor, as she coached more than a hundred girls to 1,098 wins and 8 NCAA titles during her 38 years of coaching the University of Tennessee women’s basketball team.

Although she is revered as one of the winningest coaches in all of basketball, her story is bigger than that. Pat Summitt was known for instilling great virtues in all her players. To her, life was about winning on and off the court.

Many people don’t know that the values and integrity she exhibited on the court were first developed on the farm. Pat grew up on a tobacco and dairy farm in Clarksville, Tennessee where she was one of five children. She developed her driven nature working alongside her siblings and her father, doing chores on the family farm.

“I can fix a tractor, mow hay, plow a field, chop tobacco, fire a barn and call the cows” she once said. “But what I’m really known for is winning.”
                                                                                            -Pat Summitt
She took the lessons she learned on the farm to the court, teaching her players to not only be great basketball players, but leaders in society, too. Her student athletes had a 100% graduation rate and 45 former players went on to be coaches themselves. She was known for demanding excellence on the floor but cultivated one of a kind friendships with her players beyond basketball. She took a selfless approach to coaching, often saying it wasn’t about her but rather what she could do to help grow her student athletes.

It’s evident that Summitt earned the respect of those around her by her outstanding character.  Summitt’s upbringing on the farm is where it all began and led to the instillation of upstanding morals and unbreakable character in her players. As agriculturists raising families, we have the opportunity to raise great kids in our own fields. Similarly to how she graduated a new crop of young women into the world each year, the next generation of farmers is the best crop you will ever raise. 

By Casey Allison - Iowa Cattlemen's Association Eastern Iowa Membership Coordinator

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Iowa Cattlemen, for this recognition of our beloved Pat. She never failed to credit her farm upbringing in speeches, in her books, and even in her obituary. I'm a born and raised Tennessean, and was privileged to watch her grow the program from the early days to the national stage. Just as much as her presence on the court, we will remember her because of her graciousness and respect for the workers around her - the grocery store clerk, the janitor, those she walked through a funeral home line with, and anyone who helped the world function. This is a wonderfully written tribute - thanks so very much.