At the close of this month's blog topic about influential women, the women of Shamrock came up with their most-admired list and asked me to choose one to focus on for this week.
First, there is Spanx's Sara Blakely, who developed Spanx women's undergarments. I'll let the women of Shamrock suggest why she's so admired. It should be noted that Ms. Blakely is the youngest self-made woman to join Forbes' World Billionaires list, so she's obviously worthy of admiration.
Another woman on the Shamrock most admired list is J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. According to Wikipedia, "Rowling has led a 'rags to riches' life story, in which she progressed from living on social security to multi-millionaire status within five years." In March 2011, Forbes estimated Rowling's net worth to be $1 Billion. I'm sure it's more than that by now.
Pat Summitt, however, is the woman I most admire among the three most admired by the women of Shamrock. This week, Ms Summitt, the former head coach of the University of Tennessee’s women’s basketball team, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom
(wikipedia.Presidential_Medal_of_Freedom) from President Obama. She led the Lady Vols to eight national titles, as well as an amazing 32 Southeastern Conference tournaments and regular season championships.
In addition to that, Summitt, the "winningest" coach in basketball history, recently announced her retirement after coaching the Lady Volunteers for 38 years. And finally, Summitt, a highly visible spokesperson for the disease, was diagnosed less than a year ago with early-onset Alzheimer's.
Of course, I admire Coach Summitt for her outstanding career wins. More so, I admire Ms Summitt as a true leader. I admire her willingness to speak so openly and courageously about her battle with Alzheimer's. And most of all, I admire her for a 38-year record of student-athletes' productivity in the classroom, including a 100 percent graduation rate for all Lady Vols. The mark of a true leader is her ability to inspire others to succeed. Coach Summitt wins that hands-down.
ONE LAST THING...
My friends will tell you that I'm a self-proclaimed sports nut. Football, baseball, basketball, golf... I'm an avid fan of all. Of course, I love the games for the sheer sport of competition. But I also believe that sports teach all of us -- especially participants -- how to overcome many of the obstacles life puts on our paths. Pat Summitt was shaped by the challenge of the game. It is such challenge that helps her accept the challenges of life. She is a true hero.