Girls Basketball ABCs: Accomplish Goals, Build Confidence, Create Courage

At age 25, at the peak of my professional career, an accident forced me into early retirement, and I gave up playing basketball. Coaching abroad saved my life and kept my love for the game alive. Five years ago, I retired from coaching when repetitive lung and respiratory infections destroyed my voice. How can you coach basketball if no one can hear you?

team huddle

team huddle

Then, the program collapsed and students urged me to return to the gym. Common sense told me no, but my heart said, go!

My athletes are a mix of Algerian, American, Australian, Congolese, French, Greek, German, Haitian, Italian, Kenyan, Japanese, Polish, Senegalese, Scottish, Somalian and Swiss. A mini United Nations; we combine our talents to overcome challenges.

basketball builds lasting bonds

basketball builds lasting bonds

I silently applaud, watching my hyperactive forward focus for hours, perfecting her shot. My dyslexic guard deciphers plays on the court that leave honor students perplexed. We combine our strengths to compensate for one another’s weaknesses.

We miss free throws.
But make friends.

We lose ball games.
But win courage.

We shatter stereotypes
And build fighting spirit.

We learn every time we step on the court.

Dribbling, passing, picking, rolling
We grow together.
Singing boldly, laughing loudly, chanting mightily.

High achievers, headed for the spotlight,
Accustomed to success
We learn to battle back from defeat.

When senior teammates graduate
We will be sad
And proud!

As they trot the globe in high-powered careers
They carry the spirit of basketball
A game designed to bring people together.

Thirty-five years ago, in the infancy of women’s basketball,
my trailblazing coach, taught me to « BELIEVE! »
In a raspy whisper I echo her words, as my players step up,
Determined to be all they can be!

« To win the game is great, to play the game is greater, to love the game is greatest »


Woo Hoo! March Madness! My memoir is on the market!
HOME SWEET HARDWOOD, A Title IX Trailblazer Breaks Barriers Through Basketball

BookCoverImage“Pat McKinzie’s story captures the depth of emotion felt by a woman moving in a man’s athletic world. It is a must read for anyone interested in how we got where we are in women’s sports. We are forever grateful for our pioneer athletes whose passion for the game over-rode social mores of the day to bring much-needed change.”

Jill Hutchinson, co-founder & first President of Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, former Illinois State University Basketball Coach

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Posted in education, family, inspiration, relationships, social view, sport.


  1. Congratulations you did it-again! All the best with your new book, Pat. Head on over when you’re ready to share your journey at the forum for writers:)

    Abundance in all things!

  2. Congratulations, Sis! You really did it! Your hard work, perseverance and
    faith helped you achieve your dream! Even though I have read your book in its many drafts, I wanted to actually experience the thrill of ordering it off the website. It is as easy as clicking on the little purple tab at the bottom of this page….”buy my book now”. Your “baby” will arrive at our doorstep this week! I know that this has been a long, scary, frustrating, and at times, heart wrenching journey, but your story is meant to be shared. I know every one who reads it will be touched and inspired by your courage, your resiliency, your positive attitude and your fighting spirit. I am SO proud of you (and Gerald for helping you see this through). I love you!

  3. Woo Hoo,Pat, I’m doing a happy dance. Can you hear me hooting and hollering? I’m so excited and just bought your book. I will spread the word. Can’t wait to dig in! Congratulations. So happy for you 🙂

  4. Congratulations on getting your book published, Pat! And what a lovely tribute this post is to the importance of sports in young women’s lives. The lessons of teamwork, persistence, goal-setting, and becoming our very best are lessons we all need. Best of luck with your book’s success!

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