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Tuesday, July 05, 2016


by Jill Crainshaw

Pat Summitt, who was at the forefront of a broad ascendance of women’s sports, winning eight national basketball championships at the University of Tennessee and more games than any other Division I college coach, male or female, died on Tuesday. She was 64. Her death was confirmed on the website of the Pat Summitt Foundation. Summitt stepped down after 38 seasons and 1,098 victories at Tennessee in April 2012, at 59, less than a year after she learned she had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. —The New York Times, June 28, 2016

she sits on the edge of her bed
and laces a pair of red converse
hi-tops the toe edge on the left one
scuffed for greatness she is certain of it
and proud of that work-worn abrasion
but no one else knows or even cares
about her dream or that she spends
two hours after sixth grade math class
every day in the backyard where her
springboard to stardom has been
hanging for the last year since she begged
and begged and her daddy gave in and
nailed it to an aging pine tree
not quite regulation height
above ground now made bald from
thousands of toe dancing dribbles
behind her back between her legs
ball leaping up from red southern clay
to stain her hands forever with a passion
no one else gave a second thought to
for a too-tall scrawny girl with a ponytail
who always sat alone at the very back
of bus 81 she tugs the laces tight
the way she likes them then grabs
her rawlings from the closet and heads
out the door for the old pine stopping
as she does every time she leaves her room
to rub her shooting hand over the lady vols
program she got that one time
her cousin took her to a game and
the coach even signed it for her

Jill Crainshaw is a professor at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. Her poems have appeared in *82 Review and Five Magazine and in an anthology by Wicwas Press. She is also the author of a number of books on worship and theology.