Several years ago when I was on my first walk through advising Sorority and Fraternity Life at UT, I had the honor of teaching a leadership class using Pat Summitt’s book, “Reach for the Summit” (Summitt,1999) with the Head Recruitment Counselor at the time, UT & Alpha Chi Omega Alumna, Drue Hackney Allison. Throughout the class, we explored Pat’s philosophy on leadership as she outlined it in the Definite Dozen and we saw how applicable these leadership principles were to sororities and fraternity leadership, not to mention a success-filled life.
On the last class, Pat joined us and spoke about her own experience as a sorority woman in Chi Omega at UT Martin and the journey of her life’s work through women’s basketball. One of the comments she made that day stood out to me. She told the group that she was often asked, “Would you ever consider coaching the men?” On a campus that longed for success on the men’s court the way she had dominated the women’s game, that seemed like a decent question. Pat said, what always puzzled her when asked this question was “why people considered that a promotion.” Pat provided focused uncommon thinking to common assumptions in this world. It is that kind of thinking that changed the face of women’s basketball, sports and some might argue, the role of women in the world.
Each morning as I arrive on campus, I pass by Pat’s Statue. Many mornings when the sun hits her bronze face, it catches my attention and I reflect on her legacy….1098 wins, 8 national championships, 100% graduation rate for ALL of her players, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Arthur Ashe Award for Courage in her battle against Alzheimer’s and the many powerful gifts she gave to our great University as a leader in women’s basketball. I humbly hope that tucked inside of this place her legacy of uncommon thought is a gift that is alive and well on Rocky Top.
As you finish this semester, I encourage you to pull inspiration from Pat’s Definite Dozen and I would challenge you to lead the way in our community and all the spheres of influence you have in the world around you.
- Respect Yourself and Others
- Take Full Responsibility
- Develop and Demonstrate Loyalty
- Learn to Be a Great Communicator
- Discipline Yourself So No One Else Has To
- Make Hard Work Your Passion
- Don’t Just Work Hard, Work Smart
- Put the Team Before Yourself
- Make Winning an Attitude
- Be a Competitor
- Change is a Must
- Handle Success Like You Handle Failure
Finish Strong and Go Vols!