Cronan’s advice: ‘Plan ahead. Make your bed.’

Sandra ClarkPowell

Joan Cronan came to Powell, spreading wisdom and good cheer and selling her book as a perfect stocking stuffer.

Cronan knows a bit about leadership, having served as women’s athletic director at UT for 28 years. Her teams earned 10 NCAA titles and 24 Southeastern Conference tournament championships. She was Pat Summitt’s boss and friend.


“People ask what Pat taught me … and sometimes they ask what I taught Pat,” she said. “I tried to teach her to enjoy the journey.” She recalled once when they were downtown and Pat noticed the United American Bank Tower. “Hmm, a new bank in town,” she said.

“It’s been here 10 years,” Cronan said. Yes, Pat Summitt was intense.

“She taught us discipline,” Joan added. “Plan ahead. Make your bed.”

She told a story about Pat’s summer basketball camps. There would be a gym full of 12-year-olds. On the first day, Pat asked who had made her bed that morning. A few hands went up. By week’s end, every hand was raised for that query.

That stuck with Joan. And when Pat was terminal, the “team called a huddle.” Each had an assignment. On the morning of Pat’s death, Tyler Summitt phoned Joan very early. She leaped up and dressed. Her job was to handle the press – to give the family space. As she raced toward the door, she looked back at an unmade bed.

“I went back and made the bed,” she said.

Cronan’s book is “Sport Is Life with the Volume Turned Up,” available at Amazon. It’s a bit of biography, tips on leadership, and tales about Pat Summitt and UT women’s sports.

Cronan left the Powell Business & Professional Association with this advice: “The people who know you the best should respect you the most.”

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