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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

FOR ALL WE'VE BECOME, THANKS BETTY

This past Monday, the sport of women's basketball lost one of it's greatest contributors with the passing of Betty Jaynes.  She was quite simply one of the most remarkable people I've met.  And what made her remarkable is that she could combine passion with compassion.  She so deeply loved this game that she made it her lifetime mission to grow it on all levels.  She did it without much fanfare -- but she did it at a level that is staggering.

Today, many of those coaching in women's basketball are too young to truly remember her sacrifices and too busy to discover what she meant.  But without reservation, women's basketball would be no where near where it is without her.

She was a head coach herself at James Madison when she gave up that career to start the WBCA at the urging of some of the games legendary coaches including Pat Summit and many others.  It is hard to imagine today how sparse the beginning days were for the WBCA when you see what a powerful organization they are today -- but such is the contributions of Betty.

My favorite memories of Betty would be when our LSU team travelled to Georgia. She would always stop by our hotel and almost always be with her sister Peggy.  Most of the time she would join us at dinner or at our pre-game meal so she could visit with her friend and fellow pioneer Sue Gunter.  I would so enjoy sitting at the table and listen to them tell stories -- stories about the history of our game.

If only those getting started in women's basketball today knew how difficult it was at the beginning and all the sacrifices made by so many.

After Coach Gunter had passed away I was fortunate enough to be on the LSU staff with another legend, Van Chancellor.  I will never forget Betty coming by for our pre-game meal, searching me out, sitting with me and telling me Sue Gunter stories.  It was if she knew it would be comforting to me.  It meant a great deal to me.  And Betty knew it.  That what she was all about.

An email we received from the WBCA regarding funeral arrangements for Betty asked that
in lieu of flowers that donations be made to the Betty F. Jaynes Internship Program, her pride and joy, in care of the WBCA office, 4646 Lawrenceville Highway, Lilburn, Ga., 30047.

I smiled and thought how appropriate.  Even as Betty is leaving us she it still giving back to the game.  My check is in the mail Betty, and I hope that all that coach this great game of women's basketball will make a donation as well.  It's a wonderful program and a great way to say thanks to a very special person in which we owe a great deal.