There is no place like home

The warm reception that I received from my hometown after the release of my book, Home Sweet Hardwood, was magical and filled with surprises.

My old college roommate planned to drive out from Chicago, but her  job interview ran late and she knew she would miss my talk at the library. Amy drove out anyway and came to the house after my speaking engagement. We picked up right where we left off 25 years ago.Image 2

Rocky, a Native American, was the first journalist to write about the first sanctioned girls’ basketball games in Illinois in the early 1970s, at a time when media coverage was nonexistent. He read the book and rated it right up there with his favorite book,  To Kill A Mockingbird

My friend, Phil, told me that he stayed up all night to read it. « The Willie Mayes story and the Pat McKinzie story were the only books I ever finished. » He ranked me right up there with the greatest.

Ray Torres saw the write up about me in the paper, called the house, and asked if he could bring his 12-year-old granddaughter, a talented softball player, out to meet me and sign a book. He brought the whole family. Madison told me about how she trained year round for her sport and  I got to shake hands with an AAU champion, who reminded me of me at that age.

At a lunch date at Angelos with the friends I made in gradeschool – and still keep in contact with today – my oldest, most loyal supporters cheered for the success of my book in the same way that they once applauded my efforts on the court.

the Home Team

the Home Team

My family attended every function with me. One sister drove out from Chicago, another from Minneapolis. My parents, in their 80s, beamed from the front row as I spoke. Sue ran the powerpoint, Karen sat at the back of the room and waved if my voice faded. They made cookies for the library social, carted books to events, picked out my wardrobe, listened to me stumble through my speech umpteen times and shared in the joy and celebration of my life long dream.

The members of the Rotary Club and Kiwanis Club honored me by inviting me to speak at their organizations. It tickled my funny bones to think that the very groups that had denied women access  until the 80s gave me center stage to recount my history of growing up in the 1970s and being excluded from America’s playing fields, but today’s members were welcoming and supportive.

Readers of all ages and walks of life told me how they laughed and cried as they turned the pages and felt inspired by my fighting spirit.

“You can’t know where you are going until you understand where you have been.”  I said in my speeches. “In all my wanderings I have always known that I am a McKinzie, a Sterling Golden Warrior, a product of the Land of Lincoln.

After hearing me speak, reporter Ty Reynolds wrote in the Sterling Gazette, “Meet the woman. Read her story. Tell me she wasn’t as good a storyteller as she was basketball player. I dare you.”

All these touching tributes reminded me that the real reward in writing a book is not the fleeting fame or  any financial success, it is about connecting with people one word at time.

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

54 Comments

  1. What a special article. I am so sorry that I missed you when you were home. I didn’t realize you we’re coming. Im thrilled that the book and you are such a success.

  2. What a special article. I am so sorry that I missed you when you were home. I didn’t realize you we’re coming. Im thrilled that the book and you are such a success.

  3. You make me wanna cry on my Sunday read of your blogs time after time… So warm, heart-filled and sincere. You deserve every golden moment my dear. Go Patty Go! From the courts to the podium. Hugs, Rach xx

  4. Dear Pat, I so wish I could have been there in person but you make me feel like I was! I’m thrilled about your well-deserved warm reception and for the glowing reviews of your memoir and your powerful message about perseverance and resilience. Your photos and slideshow say it all. And what a beautiful family picture. Enjoy every precious moment! I’m cheering you on from afar:-)

    • Thanks, Kath. Feel like you have been with me every step of the way. I have finally escaped to Wisconsin and look forward to delving into your memoir.

  5. Dear Pat, I so wish I could have been there in person but you make me feel like I was! I’m thrilled about your well-deserved warm reception and for the glowing reviews of your memoir and your powerful message about perseverance and resilience. Your photos and slideshow say it all. And what a beautiful family picture. Enjoy every precious moment! I’m cheering you on from afar:-)

  6. How wonderful – congratulations, Pat! There’s nothing like a hometown crowd. I love the review: “Tell me she wasn’t as good a storyteller as she was basketball player. I dare you.”

  7. How wonderful – congratulations, Pat! There’s nothing like a hometown crowd. I love the review: “Tell me she wasn’t as good a storyteller as she was basketball player. I dare you.”

  8. What an honor to meet you again Pat, especially since the last time was nearly (wow) 40 years ago! You have accomplished so much and I know your family is so very proud of you! I can’t say enough about your book, Home Sweet Hardwood, other than a movie should be done on it. I “Highly” recommend your book to all athletes participating in sports and to those who love to watch! Once you start reading this book it will be hard to put down! I hope to see you again in the future and I hope you continue to write! Your # 1 fan..Rocky!

    • Rocky, meeting you was one of the highlights of my trip to Sterling. It think it is very telling that one of the first people that dared to covered girls’ playing basketball was a Native American. I will be sure to give you a call the next time I am back visiting my folks.

  9. What an honor to meet you again Pat, especially since the last time was nearly (wow) 40 years ago! You have accomplished so much and I know your family is so very proud of you! I can’t say enough about your book, Home Sweet Hardwood, other than a movie should be done on it. I “Highly” recommend your book to all athletes participating in sports and to those who love to watch! Once you start reading this book it will be hard to put down! I hope to see you again in the future and I hope you continue to write! Your # 1 fan..Rocky!

    • Rocky, meeting you was one of the highlights of my trip to Sterling. It think it is very telling that one of the first people that dared to covered girls’ playing basketball was a Native American. I will be sure to give you a call the next time I am back visiting my folks.

  10. So sorry I missed you Pat! I have been struggling with bug bite allergies all week! I heard you were wonderful! I still want a copy of your book! I will call Mama Lenore and see if she can hook me up with one! Lol glad you enjoyed you Sterling visit! Marilyn

    • Yes, Marilyn, I missed seeing you too. My folks our up North escaping to Wisconsin with me, but I will sign a book for you that they can deliver on their return to home. Thanks for your support.

  11. So sorry I missed you Pat! I have been struggling with bug bite allergies all week! I heard you were wonderful! I still want a copy of your book! I will call Mama Lenore and see if she can hook me up with one! Lol glad you enjoyed you Sterling visit! Marilyn

    • Yes, Marilyn, I missed seeing you too. My folks our up North escaping to Wisconsin with me, but I will sign a book for you that they can deliver on their return to home. Thanks for your support.

  12. Wonderful to have “Roots”, to have a place we know we belong…the connections never disappear…they just spread across the oceans and through the years. Yea for “Small Town America”…no large city can every duplicate.
    Wonderful family photo….the love and pride just bursts forth…Sue, thanks for sharing your family with me !

    Pat, your book is so important for current/future female athletes…one can only appreciate today if we know the past. Congratulations on giving life to the past, through the written word

  13. Congratulations Pat! Nothing better than a warm welcome. I have been loving following your journey and am so happy for you!

  14. Congratulations Pat! Nothing better than a warm welcome. I have been loving following your journey and am so happy for you!

  15. Sounds like you had a great visit – and you got to eat at Angelo’s! Let me know if your book tour brings you to California.

  16. Sounds like you had a great visit – and you got to eat at Angelo’s! Let me know if your book tour brings you to California.

  17. It was so great to see you and “the home team”. I’m not surprised that so many others are also eager to share in your celebration. Thanks for letting me keep you up late – even when you had an early book tour event the next morning. I hope you have a great restorative time up at the lake and ENJOY every moment with all your family! (((((Pat))))) xoxamy

    • Amy, I am still gob stopped as my British colleagues would say, that you drove all the way to Sterling even though you knew you would miss the speech. Was magic seeing you again!

  18. Oh, Pat, I am so glad to have bought your book and can’t wait to start reading it. But I want to first give you a high-five for your statement, “the real reward in writing a book is not the fleeting fame or any financial success, it is about connecting with people one word at time.” Brava, my friend!

    • Thanks, Lynne. As a fellow writer, I know you know what I mean about connection. So glad we connected through words and look forward to meeting one day.

  19. Oh, Pat, I am so glad to have bought your book and can’t wait to start reading it. But I want to first give you a high-five for your statement, “the real reward in writing a book is not the fleeting fame or any financial success, it is about connecting with people one word at time.” Brava, my friend!

    • Thanks, Lynne. As a fellow writer, I know you know what I mean about connection. So glad we connected through words and look forward to meeting one day.

  20. Sista, Super Proud Patty Pizza! for the book, the book tour, the trail you have blazed for women and the obstacles you overcame along the way! Your embellishing storyteller has you in a little hot water however….overhead Mom state “I need to pick a bone with her, I am NOT 80…yet!” :}

    • Thanks for being with me every step of the way. So great to know my baby sister’s got my back. Yes, I have been reprimanded by Mom Lenore, who will only be 79 this summer.

  21. Pat, I’m so happy for you! All of your hard work and sowing seeds for others, is thanking you in abundance! Enjoy the fruits of your labor, ex-pat and don’t forget when the movie comes out, I have first dips at the premiere:)

    Blessings,
    Clara.

  22. Pat, I’m so happy for you! All of your hard work and sowing seeds for others, is thanking you in abundance! Enjoy the fruits of your labor, ex-pat and don’t forget when the movie comes out, I have first dips at the premiere:)

    Blessings,
    Clara.

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