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Pat Summitt's lesson on competing

It was one of the first timeouts of the game and Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt gave each of her players her trademark icy-blue stare.

The Lady Vols were struggling in the start of their Sweet 16 matchup with Notre Dame and Summitt challenged each one in the huddle, asking one by one "Are you going to compete?"

That was it. No discussion of strategy. No offensive plays drawn up. No diagramming how to defend the high post screen and roll that gave Notre Dame easy points.

Just a question of heart.

Coaches are fond of saying that winning, particularly in March, comes down to who wants it more. Sounds odd at first since, well, doesn't everyone want to win?

You may want to win, but the intangible lies in if you're willing to sacrifice in order to get the win. The particulars for the Lady Vols in their NCAA tournament win over Notre Dame included playing defense and rebounding which translates into throwing your body all over the court to get possession of the basketball.

Sometimes sacrifices are really just choices -- decisions we make every day. Is it really a sacrifice to get up at 5 a.m. to get my first training session completed? To pass up going to a Sabres game as fan in order to attend master's swim practice? To eschew the easy, fast food inspired meal and instead take the extra time to cook something healthy?

Aren't those really just choices I make? And the more I make those choices part of my daily life, the less they feel like sacrifices and the more they feel like part of who I am.

And when they do feel like a sacrifice, when the easy, lazy choice looks so tempting, I now trott out my all-purpose motivational line:

June 8.

That's the date of the Keuka Lake triathlon. That's the goal. That's the proverbial prize I have my eye on. June 8 is what will make all the difficult choices (and sacrifices if you will) worth the effort.

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