Happy Easter, March Madness and Home Sweet Hardwood

I published a book and exposed my soul. Today, I stand on your steps, with a dimpled grin, vulnerable like a kid selling chocolate door-to-door for summer camp, soliciting your sponsorship of a dream.

Tall, smart, athletic -three strikes against me, I grew up being teased, but never bullied because, heck, I fought back. But I also wondered what was wrong with me for being so darn feisty, so damn driven. My story is the tale of a generation of girls who grew up feeling left out, girls who fought for the right to participate, girls who paved the way for the Lisa Leslies, Brittany Griners, Elena Delle Donnes of the 21st century.

More than just a basketball book, it reflects the bonds between parent /child, teammates/friends, coaches/athletes and about the compromises we make for love, family and career. It is about a crazy kid’s dream, filled with detours that carried a small town Midwestern girl from the cornfields of Illinois to the City of Lights, challenging stereotypes about gender, race, and nationality every step of the way.

Coach Hutchinson, coach Egner & Nat

Coach Hutchison, Coach Egner & Nat

It is tribute to Jill Hutchison, my Illinois State University college coach, who fought behind the scenes to help elevate women’s college sport to the levels we enjoy today. And to my former teammates like Cyndi Slayton, Vonnie Tomich, Beth Landis and the late Charlotte Lewis (1976 Olympian.) It salutes my old college rivals, Northwestern’s, Mary Murphy, a Big Ten announcer, and La Crosse’s, Shirley Egner. The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, two time DIII NCAA championship coach, also led my daughter’s team to a Final Four. It hints at the story of those who followed my path at ISU, Cathy Boswell (1984 Olympic Gold Medalist,) Vicki Vaughan, Pam Tanner, Kirsti Cirone, Jamie Russell and all the others.

Why now? Time is running out as the once invincible, Pat Summittt, the most revered coach in women’s basketball, fights her greatest battle against early onset Alzheimer. Home Sweet Hardwood acknowledges unsung heroes, women, who fought for change. And men who supported them like Jim McKinzie, who co-coached my younger sister’s Sterling Golden Girls Team to the first-ever Illinois State Championship in 1977 at a time when most fathers did not want their daughters getting dirty and playing ball.

So many stories were never recorded. Stories no one heard. Stories lost with each passing generation.

Four thousand miles away, I sit in Switzerland and wonder who will read my book? I need your help. Get the word out. Pass the link, not only to my generation, but also to the next one.  Home Sweet Hardwood makes an ideal graduation gift for the college bound, a wonderful homage to parents for Mother’s or Father’s Day, a great read for your local book club.

It’s entertaining, uplifting, fulfilling like a delicious chocolate bunny without the calories.

I never made a living writing news articles; today I blog for free. I pen my words in a cyberspace vacuum in hopes that, somehow, my ramblings will strike a chord and capture your heart. I write to inspire courage, break barriers, make connections. That’s my brand.Buy my book_2

This is my story. Please pay it forward. Now I will get off your front porch and shut up. Thanks for keeping a little girl’s dream alive, for passing the torch, for giving a voice to the Title IX pioneers.

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Posted in family, health, humor, inspiration, relationships, sport.

24 Comments

  1. Reading your book now, loving it, knowing some of what you went through but seeing from a different perspective. So glad Deb is using it for our book club. Hoping we can get together with you while you are home this summer. Love seeing your folks every so often and remembering times as you four McKinzies and my two Brown kids were growing up here and visiting at the lake. Keep up the good word, stay healthy and thanks so much for sharing.

    • Thanks Pat. I am thrilled to hear that you will be reading Home Sweet Hardwood in your book club. Yes, I have so many fond memories of growing up when we were neighbors. Sterling is a great place to grow up.

  2. Hey there! Home Sweet Hardwood just arrived in my mailbox today and I am already well into it. When I opened the package, it brought tears to my eyes……. I know the author……how awesome is that!!!! Love you, dearie!

    • Thanks, Jan, you have been a part of that story every step of the way even though we are 4,000 apart, the memories of chocolate chip pancakes, walks to school and slumber-less parties are deeply ingrained in my heart.

  3. Pat, You shout it from those mighty Swiss Alps girlfriend! You’ve got a story worth cheering about and you can count on me to spread the word. Keep on inspiring courage, breaking barriers and making connections. That is exactly what Home Sweet Hardwood does. I love it! Now let the games begin 🙂

  4. Congratulations on the book, Pat. Wonderful of you to write about such important topics as women’s basketball, commitment, courage, friendships and strong bonds and people you love. Good for you, girl! Simply marvelous.

    • Thanks, Cathy. The lessons I learned on the basketball court have carried over to help me fight my chronic health problems. I know you know how tough that battle is…I continue to follow your an empowered spirit blog for my daily dose of courage.

  5. Pat, as you know, I have read and reread your story many times and with each new reading, I am moved by something different. But mostly, I am filled with awe that you had the courage to take the journey and then had the courage to share that journey with others through your book. I KNOW that your words-and actions- have inspired others to never give up their dreams, to keep believing in face of adversity, to keep fighting for a more tolerant, compassionate world, and to be grateful for the blessings to be found in every day we are granted. I couldn’t be prouder to be your sister. Love you.

    • You especially know the depths of my despair when I faced setbacks, rejections and another disappointment. You pulled me out the hole so many times when I felt like giving up in teaching, writing, life. If I am courageous today, it is because I have known always, that my little sisters got my back.

  6. Pat, as you know, I have read and reread your story many times and with each new reading, I am moved by something different. But mostly, I am filled with awe that you had the courage to take the journey and then had the courage to share that journey with others through your book. I KNOW that your words-and actions- have inspired others to never give up their dreams, to keep believing in face of adversity, to keep fighting for a more tolerant, compassionate world, and to be grateful for the blessings to be found in every day we are granted. I couldn’t be prouder to be your sister. Love you.

    • You especially know the depths of my despair when I faced setbacks, rejections and another disappointment. You pulled me out the hole so many times when I felt like giving up in teaching, writing, life. If I am courageous today, it is because I have known always, that my little sisters got my back.

  7. Everybody thinks writing the book is the hard part — then they try selling it!! It’s not easy, is it, Pat? Still, you’ve got a powerful story — one that needed to be told — and I hope others will support you in spreading the word. We can ill afford to go back to those dark days when women couldn’t participate in sports the way you were able to!!

    • Thanks, Debbie, I appreciate your support. Like you said writing the book is only half the battle, then you have to hope, pray and believe that someone will pick it up and read that first page.

  8. Everybody thinks writing the book is the hard part — then they try selling it!! It’s not easy, is it, Pat? Still, you’ve got a powerful story — one that needed to be told — and I hope others will support you in spreading the word. We can ill afford to go back to those dark days when women couldn’t participate in sports the way you were able to!!

    • Thanks so much for your support Delana. It will be out eventually on Kindle but not for another 4-6 weeks. Writing a book is one thing, marketing is like opening a whole other can of worms!

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