Two former Lady Vols visited the Baby Vols this week: Shelley Sexton and Melissa McCray. Sexton drove McCray, who is battling cancer for the second time. Maria Cornelius and Dan Fleser will write stories based on their interviews with both former players. But Cornelius did drop two McCray quotes on “the Summitt” board that are thought-provoking:
“I really just wanted to remind them of who we are, what the program means. It has a history. It didn’t start two months ago. And to remind them to fight because it’s who we are and it’s what we do. This is not a game. We say all the time, ‘It’s just a game.’ It’s not. It is really life. If you quit here, you will quit later.
“I think people don’t always identify with that but if they look at their own lives and be really honest at some point in their life they quit at something and then they continued that. What I asked them to do – and I would not accuse anyone of quitting – I said, ‘Only you can look at yourself and determine if at any point during the game you quit,’ but fighting is what we do. It’s who we are. It’s why this program is where it is.”
I know of at least five young women who have quit D1 college basketball over the last few years. It’s made me sad each time – both for the lost talent and potential, and for the quitting-as-mindset they’re setting in motion. Because I agree with McCray: quit once and you tend to keep quitting.
Myself, I never give up, which I suppose is why quitting bothers me so much. I always tell my students and athletes, if you keep trying, you have at least a chance for success, and keep trying long enough you will eventually succeed. Give up, and your chances of success go down to zero.
So I ask all the players out there in various programs, whatever the win-loss record: don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.