Aug. 27, 2011
This is the first installment of "Dwight's Insight," a UTsports.com exclusive student-athlete blog authored by men's basketball player Dwight Miller.
Since the first day I set foot on to The University of Tennessee campus, I was sure that it was the place for me to be. I was always taught that home is where your heart will always reside, and this university has been home to so many people that you can almost feel the love from all the hearts of alumni who have roamed this campus through the years. It's a beckoning call that tugs on the heart string of anyone that sets foot on this campus; it reassures you that it's OK to leave your heart unguarded.
I decided to take on this journal to show my respect and appreciation for UT supporters, fans, alumni and staff for giving a nomad like me a place to call home. Since you all contribute so much to your school, I could no longer let myself get away with doing the bare minimum to show my gratitude. Just like you thank me and support me, I also want to take time on a regular basis from this point on to thank you.
This, my first installment, comes at a somber time for the UT family because Pat Summitt, a person that we all view as a tremendously influential figure, announced that she has begun a fight with dementia. I do not want to overshadow a moment like this (not that I ever could), but I find it necessary to take a moment out of my day to say a prayer for someone so great in the eyes of so many, a gift that God has blessed us all with. It may be extremely hard for anyone that has met Coach Summitt to find something bad to say about her. With a spirit and personality bigger than the globe, and a smile brighter than the sun, she has lit up the lives and careers of many and seems to be her very own planet with a gravitational pull that renders anyone that comes into contact with her powerless to resist her orbit.
One of my new followers on Twitter, @drvenner, wrote yesterday after hearing about Coach Summitt: "Knowing what we all know about Coach Summitt, I almost feel sorry for the Dementia." This tweet stuck with me the entire day and I knew that I had to start this journal earlier than anticipated. When someone has battled their entire life and has managed to constantly defy the odds, it is hard to imagine them doing anything else. It is the classic "protagonist against antagonist" tale where the superhero always ends up in the predictable plot twist, and it seems as if the villain has the upper hand. Maybe the first time we were introduced to this scenario we bit our fingernails until they were nubs. After a while, the story loses that effect because somehow that sneaky superhero always outwits his nemesis, further reassuring us that it's OK to put our trust in the forces for good 100 percent of the time.
There is no such thing as a losing superhero; we are used to this. No matter what, they always live on and outlive us. That is just the way all of the stories are written, and I refuse to accept anything less than that outcome. I have not known Coach Summitt for a long time, but we did meet and exchange greetings on occasion. You get more out of those chance encounters than most people ever get in their lives. If you are open and receptive and rub shoulders with great people enough, it is only a matter of time before some of that greatness rubs off on you.
On Wednesday, my coach, Cuonzo Martin, gave perhaps one of the most profound pieces of advice-- it was short and sweet, but carried enough weight to break the back of a horse. He said simply "respect the past." Today I hope to do just that. But in doing so, I want to acknowledge and appreciate the present as a gift and look forward to a future marked by milestones that will stand as pinnacles when they become someone else's past one day. I consider Coach Summitt a time traveler, because she has shaped our family through the past, she shapes us as we speak in the present, and her legacy will propel us into the future. Thank you, Coach Summitt, for teaching us to fight and reassuring us once again that it is fine to continue to place complete trust in our hero!
P.S. I love interacting with Tennessee fans, so tweet me your feedback and ideas @dmiller242. You might even give me inspiration for one of my future blogs.