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Archive for September 13th, 2011

Below is a memory I have of meeting Pat Summitt for the first time, in conjunction with my weekly song feature.

Now playing on the porch: Nothing Lasts Forever by Brett Dennen

This song has always been one that I play when I am studying, going to sleep or just relaxing on my porch. I listened to it yesterday and all of a sudden it had new meaning. I don’t think I ever really listened to the lyrics. Or at least not fully. I always imagined this song to be a meditation on death, and how it is a natural, final step in life…and that, as Brett Dennen says, “Nothing Lasts Forever, not even the sun”.

This song is not about death. It is about Alzheimer’s disease. And having not been able to shake the news of Pat Summitt’s recent diagnosis, this song has never been more poignant.

I remember when Coach Summitt spoke to my school. I was 11, and determined to play Division 1 college basketball. I clung to every word she said that day. While the other girls in my class were passing notes, I was taking notes. When she finished, I circled “It’s important to give a firm hand shake.” I went to an all-girls school and Pat Summitt being the brilliant inspiration that she is, her speech was on the importance of confidence – in school, in life and on the court. So while the assembly gave a standing ovation, I scurried to the front of the auditorium and waited in the autograph line. But when I made it to the front, I didn’t ask for anything. I stuck my hand out to shake hers, squeezed as confidently as my 11 year old hand could, and said “My name is Nancy Sisk and I am going to play for you one day.” She squeezed back, gave me her infamous half smile and said, “Well then I look forward to seeing you in Knoxville Miss Sisk.”

I didn’t play for Pat Summitt. But I have carried the lesson she taught me during that speech and in our 5 second exchange forever.

So, listen, reflect and pray for her, and the Lady Vols family. And the next time you meet someone, give them a firm hand shake and exude the confidence that she is using to face her toughest competition yet. Because if anyone knows how to win, it’s Coach Summitt.

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