Nicky Anosike to teach Pat Summitt leadership program

Maria M. Cornelius2MCsports

Pat Summitt regarded Nicky Anosike as one of the best leaders that she had ever coached. That was 14 years ago. Now, the former Tennessee basketball player and two-time national champion is going to teach a leadership program next week about Summitt to high schoolers through Kids U.


The course, called “Pat Summitt Definite Dozen Leadership,” is offered by the University of Tennessee as part of the Kids U summer camps. Information about the camps is here, and enrollment for Anosike’s camp from July 18-22 is here.

The Definite Dozen is part of the curriculum offered by the Pat Summitt Leadership Group and centers on the iconic coach’s 12 rules for success that can be read here. Summitt jotted them down as a young coach when she first started coaching at Tennessee, and the maxims became guiding principles and have been adapted for both business and youth.

“Pat Summitt imparted an immeasurable amount of wisdom on me during the years she was my coach,” Anosike told Knox TN Today. “I hope the children can take away a portion of the lessons she taught me, implement them in their lives, and become better people because of it.”

The coursework focuses on character building, leadership and success and includes video clips from the coaching career of Summitt, who passed away in 2016 from Alzheimer’s disease. Anosike can add personal experiences as a player who won two national titles in 2007 and 2008 and earned the trust of Summitt as a freshman, which was rare for any Lady Vol under the tutelage of the exacting coach.

Anosike graduated in four years in 2008 with three bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice, political science and legal studies and earned 2008 NCAA Woman of the Year honors for her academic and athletic success. She played professionally in the WNBA and overseas until 2012 and later became a schoolteacher at Azalea Middle School in St. Petersburg, Florida, with 95 percent of the students receiving reduced or free lunches and her classroom of children already pegged as struggling to read. Anosike’s students went on to outperform the district on final exams.

“As a teacher I learned how to structure lesson plans, apply specific techniques for increased learning and the importance of students knowing how much I care,” Anosike said.

Her mother, Ngozi Anosike, an immigrant from Nigeria, raised eight children by herself in a housing project in Staten Island, New York, put herself through school and worked multiple jobs. When Anosike’s teammates complained about being tired at a practice, she famously replied, “We’re not tired. My mother is tired.”

Anosike returned to Tennessee in 2018 to become a graduate assistant for the Lady Vols basketball team, earned a master’s degree in sports management with a 4.0 GPA and became the head coach of girls’ basketball at Anderson County High School. While there, she took a sledgehammer to the antiquated locker room – Anosike saw what the boys had and bristled at the message that sent to girls – and with the help of parents, players and the community transformed the facility.

A pregnancy in 2021 that forced her into a hospital bed for weeks after being told to terminate one of her twin sons – that long story by this author can be read here – set up a months-long medical ordeal for the family. That ultimately led to the decision to leave coaching and teaching for now to care for her sons, while her husband, Uzochukwu Chidinma Chima – everyone calls him Chima – works full-time and takes all the overtime allowed.

Cheluchi, which means wait for God’s time, and Chiemezie, which means God has really favored me, celebrated their first birthday in June.

Nicky Anosike, holding Chiemezie, with husband Uzochukwu Chidinma Chima, holding Cheluchi, for the family’s 2021 holiday photo.

When Kids U needed an instructor for this summer’s class, who better than Anosike to teach Summitt-level leadership? While she achieved success with Summitt, the former Lady Vol also learned perseverance and the courage to take chances.

“Don’t be afraid to make a mistake and never be afraid to fail,” Anosike said. “It’s through the mistakes and failures that you learn, grow, and eventually, if you don’t quit, succeed.”

The week-long day camp with a registration fee of $179 will provide unparalleled insight into Summitt by a former player who also has been a schoolteacher.

“Pat Summitt has had a positive and lasting impact on almost every aspect of my life,” Anosike said. “This is my opportunity to pay it forward.”

Maria M. Cornelius, a writer/editor at Moxley Carmichael since 2013, began writing about the Lady Vols in 1998. In 2016, she published her first book, “The Final Season: The Perseverance of Pat Summitt,” through The University of Tennessee Press. She can be reached at mmcornelius23@gmail.com.

 

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