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Southside's Johnson thrilled for Summitt

Call Southside athletic director Dana Johnson's cell phone and you'll hear strains of "Rocky Top," the same tune you'll always hear at the University of Tennessee women's basketball games.

That tune fit today perfectly as Johnson and her fellow Lady Vols celebrated the 1,000th career victory of Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt, the first Division I coach -- man or woman -- to reach the milestone.

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In televised interviews after last night's victory, Summitt said all of her former players contributed to the milestone and Johnson feels that way too. She played for Summitt from 1991-95.

"I can't even put it into words. She's definitely deserving, truly someone who's worked hard for it and put in time and done all the little things. It's an honor, because I feel I was a part of it," said Johnson. "Those were four years that I will never forget. I learned so much and grew so much in those four years and not just basketball-wise. You definitely become a part of the family. It's a big extended family."

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Johnson's cell phone is burning up today with text messages to and from former teammates.

"We all feel the same way. We are proud of her and proud to be a Lady Vol."

Johnson, a high school All-American at Western before heading to Tennessee, now coaches the boys basketball team at Southside. She said she developed much of her coaching philosophy from Summitt's example.

"Definitely, the team concept. There is no star, but you definitely utilize your star. It takes more than one person and the hard work and defense aspect of it. Just the will not to quit, not to give up."

Johnson also said that Summitt beating all the men coaches to the 1,000 mark is also significant.

"I think it means a lot for other young women to know that if you are dedicated, you are truly dedicated and you're willing to do what you need to do and sacrifice, you can do it, but there's definitely going to be some sacrifice. She knew what she wanted, she went for it, but she didn't start off with the best team in the country. It took her some time, but she didn't give up."

Drop back in a little later and I'll have some thoughts from North Harford coach Lin James, also a Lady Vol and the winningest girls basketball coach in the Baltimore area.

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