On Monday night, JT and I watched the NCAA Women's Basketball tournament and cheered on the Lady Vols, our favorite team. I've been a Vols fan since I lived in Tennessee in the early 90s and I passed the condition on to my son. He knows all the facts about the Lady Vols and their coach, Pat Summitt. He knows that she's the winningest coach in NCAA Basketball. He knows that she was once offered a job coaching the men's team at the University of Tennessee (she refused, arguing that it wasn't a step up). He knows that the basketball court at the University of Tennessee is named for her.
JT has a bracket in a betting pool for women's basketball and he picked Baylor to win the game and advance to the Final Four. Even so, that didn't matter as he cheered on Tennessee. Ultimately, the Vols fell to Baylor, just missing the Final Four. We were disappointed when the team lost.
At the end of the game, as the Tennessee players and their coaches left the gym and Baylor celebrated their victory, my boy started to cry. "I want to see Coach Summitt again," he told me. Like many fans of Summit and her team, we're worried that she might not be back to coach next year (Summitt has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's). So I explained to him that while we don't know what Summit will do next year, we do know that women's basketball has a national audience thanks to her tireless advocacy of the game. That 12 year old boys in New Jersey are eagerly watching the women's game is a pretty terrific legacy. Thanks, Coach.
PS: For more on Coach Summitt, check out Mechelle Voeppel's story over at ESPN. com.