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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

SOFTLY CALL THE MUSTER, LET COMRADE ANSWER "HERE"

Yesterday evening I had the tremendous privilege of speaking at Muster for the Liberty County A&M Club.  It is one of the most sacred traditions for us Aggies and the responsibility of delivering a message worthy of Muster has occupied a lot of my time recently.  I am entering my fourth year as a member of the women's basketball staff at Texas A&M so without question I was the "youngest Aggie" in attendance last night.  I opted to speak of the great Aggie traditions and how they impact our basketball team -- or any other team, family or organization.  And today I thought I'd share the words I shared with my fellow Aggies last night:


Howdy!

First let me thank Jim Sterling and the Liberty County A&M Club for affording me the incredible honor of speaking at this year’s Muster.  Please know that I appreciate the magnitude of speaking before you today.  I am heading into my 4th year at Texas A&M and I have never felt more like an Aggie than I do today.

In 1988 a commemorative coin was designed by Randy Hester, Class of ‘74 to recognize the Muster tradition.  The coin was inscribed with the following:

“When I am finally alone
In the shadow of my days
I’ll hear a mustering of Aggies
And the echo of my name.”

 What an amazing thing to know that you are a part of something special — and that you will be a part of it forever.

Softly call the muster,
Let comrade answer, “Here!”

As a women’s basketball coach, my job is not so much to win championships as it is to “build champions.”  Building Champions is what Texas A&M is all about and I’m speaking beyond the athletic arena.  It is the “Building Champions” mantra that separates the Aggies from all others.

The most important word in building successful athletic teams is “culture.”  You don’t want to have a great team — you want to have a great program.  You want to build something that will sustain both success and failure.

“Culture” means a way of life...it is an accepted and understood set of standards and core values.  In our women’s basketball program, we refer to it as “The Aggie Way.”

We constantly talk to them about their legacy.  Legacy and culture go hand in hand.  Legacy is about what you are leaving behind to those who follow you.

Legacy is what makes Texas A&M an amazing institution.

"There's a Spirit can ne'er be told..."  And it really true.  People constantly ask me what makes being an Aggie so special and I tell them it is so difficult to truly explain unless you are one.  By the same token, as someone who has worked at four other universities, I truly hope you know how different, how unique Texas A&M is.  Sometimes, being someplace for an entire lifetime can lead to a blurred vision as to its greatness.

When people ask me why our athletic teams are also so successful I tell them because our students our Aggies.  That they are part of an institutional culture of excellence

Texas A&M has the greatest of traditions because they honor all that is important in being an Aggie and what should be important as a human being that walks on the face of the earth.

The start of an outstanding program is recruiting...targeting the best players...get them on campus and then indoctrinating them with The Aggie Way...and for Aggie students, Fish Camp, serves the same purpose...think about it? 1,100 counselors willingly give up time and effort in order to welcome Texas A&M’s freshman to teach them greatest and most important traditions: Our Freshmen Class. No school goes to the extent to do this.

The Corp of Cadets — The men and women of the Corps form the largest uniformed body of students outside the service academies.  A time-honor group that has indeed changed the course of history.  As someone who has a father that served in the Army along with two grandfathers in World War II, one, a Marine that was wounded at Pearl Harbor and another in the Navy who served in the South Pacific, I have an appreciation for the ultimate sacrifice made for our Nation.

George Patton once said: “Give me an Army of West Point graduates and I'll win a battle... Give me a handful of Texas Aggies and I'll win a war.”

 It is that type of courage and sacrifice that we want to instill in our teams.  Please don’t misunderstand me — we aren’t asking them to “hold Corregidor” — be we are asking them to understand those qualities displayed in the Corps.

Understanding your role is one thing, owning it is another.  Is there a greater role than the 12th Man.  We want the young ladies that sit out bench awaiting an opportunity to help their team to do so in the same spirit that Earl King Gill did in 1922.

We want our players to understand the value of selfless service...there is no better example than TheBig Event — the largest student-run service project in the nation.  Over 20,000 students giving up a day to and volunteering to do 2,500 jobs in the Bryan/College Station community.

Ring Day...we just had five of our Aggies women’s basketball players receiver their rings last Friday — what an amazing day. What an amazing symbol to be shared by Aggies everywhere.  The Aggie Ring itself represents what is important in coaching and teaching — attention to detail.  The 13 stripes, the 5 stars, the Seal of Texas.   The fact that the ring is specific in its design provides uniformity, a team symbol — “We are the Aggies, Aggies are we.”

No successful organization, team or society can survive that does not take the opportunity to remember it’s fallen...Silver Taps is another tradition at Texas A&M like no other...it speaks to another quality of excellent teams — loyalty.

Muster    It is more than a ceremony; it is a responsibility that is handed down from one generation to the next. What an amazing day to marry the past with the present.  A chance to honor those who have made Texas A&M.  “The Roll Call for the Absent” not only allows us to pay homage to those we’ve lost but also to send a powerful message to those who will lead us into the future. 

Our team in many ways plays at a high level because of how they view the alumni that have worn the uniform down through the years.  We just celebrated our 40th anniversary of women’s basketball at Texas A&M with a year-long celebration of our past.  It included alums constantly stopping by and speaking to our team and sharing their own stories.  But every day are walls are plastered with photos and memorabilia of past teams, players and moments.

It’s about bridging the past with the future:

Corregidor! forever more a hallowed name
To countless sons of Texans yet unborn

Again, thanks Jim and The Liberty A&M Club for bestowing this honor upon me.  And I’d like to close with the word of Randy Matson, the keynote speaker at the 2000 campus Muster, vowed that "we're here tonight to pledge that none of you will be forgotten as long as there are two Aggies left in the world.”

Gig ‘em!