This is the story of one game, one basketball, one gift, and one girl. But it’s also your story. And my story. And the story of thousands of young girls and women who aspired to be like the greatest coach of all time. A winner. Not just on the court, but in life. It’s the story of a legacy. The legacy of a woman from a small town in Henrietta, Tennessee, who would grow up and change the world. And ultimately, in her relentless pursuit of excellence, inspire an entire generation to do the same.
This story begins in 2007. The world was an interesting place. War raged in the Middle East. School shootings dominated national headlines. Political tensions swirled around the U.S. presidential election. And the winningest coach in basketball history, Pat Summitt, celebrated her seventh national title.
For two University of Tennessee doctoral students, Sarah Hillyer and Ashleigh Huffman, all of these seemingly disparate ideas were completely intertwined – the world needs peace and sport can be the vehicle. Using their connections as graduate students and basketball camp coaches, Hillyer and Huffman approached Coach Summitt with one simple request – basketballs for the girls and women of Iraq.
What happened next was the beginning of an epic journey and an unlikely friendship between a forgotten generation of girls and the greatest basketball coach of all-time.