SENIOR EDITOR Trisha Blackmar played basketball in college. She doesn't brag about this and it is not a requirement for running our college basketball coverage, but it helps. Her school was Division III, Middlebury, and the Panthers were strong, making the NCAA tournament her senior year. Middlebury was strong academically as well, and Blackmar had great teachers while majoring in political science and Japanese, but none more influential than Amy Backus (now a senior associate A.D. at Yale), who coached her as a sophomore on the varsity. Says Blackmar, "Playing for Amy taught me the value of working hard even if there's no immediate payoff."
This is an article from the Dec. 12, 2011 issue
Blackmar came to SI as a 24-year-old reporter and repeatedly found ways to take advantage of her abilities as a player, like trying out for the WNBA's Comets and playing with the Washington Generals against the Harlem Globetrotters. "I think all good coaches preach a similar philosophy: If you work hard all the time, good things will happen for you," she said during the close of this issue.
Which leads us to Tennessee's Pat Summitt and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, whom Blackmar first suggested as the 2011 Sports Illustrated Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year. Their careers are lapidary, like Gary Snyder's Riprap, laid down like stones to make a trail for the hundreds they have coached and the millions they have influenced. The voices of those who have been inspired by Summitt and Krzyzewski echo from everywhere, and what the two have achieved through their coaching and, more important, their teaching places them among sport's transcendent figures.
In the cover story senior writer Alexander Wolff, winner of the Basketball Hall of Fame's Curt Gowdy Media Award and founder of the ABA's Vermont Frost Heaves, writes that the legacy of Summitt and Krzyzewski goes far beyond their record-breaking victory totals: "More than that are the roads each has traveled over the course of careers that can be measured in Presidents Met on White House Visits with Team. For their endurance, for their adaptability, for their genius for hatching from adversity even more success, and for their willingness to take up causes beyond the comfort of their own campuses—indeed, for modeling what it means to be public diplomats as well as great coaches."
Summit and Krzyzewski join UCLA's John Wooden (1972) and North Carolina's Dean Smith (1997) to round out a Mount Rushmore of college basketball coaches who have received this award. In 1972, Wooden, who had won his eighth national title in nine seasons, was selected along with Billie Jean King. Smith was honored in 1997, the same year he set a NCAA Division I wins record and announced his retirement. SI is proud to honor them all.