Basketball is no longer at the heart of what Cheryl Littlejohn does, the Hunter Huss and Tennessee Girl Vols basketball product owning prolonged place away her sneakers for an apron and ladle at her two Gastonia corporations, Smith’s Soul Food stuff Bistro and Legacy Function Middle.
She still clings to quite a few lessons figured out in many years on the hardwood, even though, main among the them that a team is only as very good as the sum of its pieces.
“Everything that was critical for us in basketball, company America, at a restaurant, an function heart, group organizer, it requirements numerous of the exact matters,” Littlejohn said. “You need to have a leader, you need an assistant and complementary gamers, a support personnel. Everyone has a purpose to participate in, and occasionally it usually takes stepping out on religion and reaching out to others.”
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With assist from staff and volunteers, Littlejohn created her latest aid earlier this spring, handing meat products by the bag comprehensive to autos at her Chestnut Street restaurant.
“You’re talking about 20,000 lbs of quality pork, you will need partners. It will take a crew,” she explained. “It was (7 a.m. Tuesday) and I was reaching out to men and women with a widespread mission and goal. We’re all on just one accord for the reason that we appreciate our group, we love our youngsters and enjoy giving again to our veterans.”
Far more than 30 several years in the past, her mission was a great deal different. Even as they pursued a countrywide championship, Littlejohn and her Tennessee teammates had been on the entrance line as sweeping adjust took hold in athletics.
When Title IX grew to become legislation as section of the Instruction Amendments of 1972, a lot less than 300,000 woman athletes participated in college and substantial college athletics. The National Federation of Condition Higher College Associations now estimate additional than 3.4 million women participate in superior school sporting activities, with far more than 200,000 girls concerned in higher education athletics.
Actively playing for a person of the nation’s preeminent systems a 10 years after the law’s passing, Littlejohn said Title IX’s affect didn’t strike home at the time.
“For us from an equity standpoint, I felt we have been at a fantastic university,” she mentioned. “There was a different athletic division in quite a few ways for women’s athletics and men’s, and they designed positive we got taken care of reasonably.
“Maybe some of my counterparts at other institutions didn’t have the exact same knowledge in terms of equity, or in how we traveled and exactly where we stayed. But staying No. 1 in the place and acquiring a mentor like Pat Summitt produced sure we stayed taken care of.”
In 39 seasons, Summitt gained 1,098 game titles and led Tennessee to 8 nationwide titles, with Littlejohn supporting the famous coach to her initial as a senior in 1987. Underneath her guidance the Woman Vols grew to become a dynasty and introduced nationwide reliability to the sport.
As critical to Littlejohn was the tenacity with which Summitt fought for causes she considered in.
“She was a leader in terms of Title IX not just for her players, but gamers and coaches somewhere else,” Littlejohn stated. “We benefited drastically from the work of a pioneer. She was a trail blazer and sparked a flame. Even although it took time and came just after she had won many nationwide titles, she labored hard and extended enough to see the fruit of her labor and that was gaining equivalent spend.”
A legacy even now being written
In her first time, Summitt experienced a wage of significantly less than $9,000. Prior to the 2008-09 period, she turned the to start with women’s basketball mentor to generate extra than $1 million in a year.
While her salary just isn’t in the vicinity of that threshold, Summitt’s influence is not shed currently on Gastonia indigenous Nicole Woods.
A standout at Hunter Huss, Woods attained fame at close by Belmont Abbey College or university. All through her 4 seasons, she tallied 1,641 details — fourth most in program background. Woods’ 676 details all through 2005-06 are the most scored by a Crusader in a single period, in addition to earning the program’s only triple-double on Jan. 6, 2005, towards Erskine, likely for 22 details, 10 rebounds and 10 helps.
“I don’t forget early on actively playing with the boys, and then going on and enjoying with ladies … I struggled,” Woods said. “Playing in opposition to boys you have to have a sure level of toughness, a specific stage of poise and a perception ‘I belong’ to even make it on the workforce.
“I experienced that combat, that chip on my shoulder from working day a person. But enjoying girls they weren’t tough, they did not press again or do items boys did. It allowed me to showcase a specified physicality that other women didn’t possess. It aided me achieve assurance and manufactured me imagine, ‘If I’m enjoying well against the boys possibly I can do some issues.’”
Woods played professionally for one season in England before starting to be a mentor, now with the Charlotte women’s basketball staff.
Admittedly, Title IX was not on Woods’ radar taking part in her way by way of large university and school. As a coach, the legislation’s impression has received clarity with each passing 12 months.
“Funding for women’s sports activities has increased, as has participation. As a result, fascination by enthusiasts has developed as well,” she claimed. “You see it in women’s basketball, other sports activities like volleyball and they are drawing a lot more followers. So when you have additional eyes and desire, extra bucks tend to appear as effectively.
“I’m thankful for Title IX, due to the fact it gave me the opportunity to play and have my schooling paid for. And it carries on to do good issues for youthful females, allowing for them to attain experiences they may possibly not have attained usually.”
You can get to Joe Hughes at 704-914-8138, e mail [email protected] and follow on Twitter @JoeLHughesII.