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UT’s Cronan addresses Chamber Breakfast


They might as well have been awaiting the start of a Lady Vols basketball game.

Attendees to the Farragut/West Knox Chamber speaker series breakfast featuring Joan Cronan, University of Tennessee women’s athletic director, created a buzz anticipating Cronan’s speech while mingling prior to the start of the event.

Chamber president Bettye Sisco introduced Cronan, who began her speech by likening her job as athletic director to that of the chamber. Her job, Cronan said, is to help coaches do their best. The chamber’s job, she said, is “to make business owners the best you can be for your customers.”

The remainder of Cronan’s speech was filled with words of wisdom, tips that could apply to everyone, business owner or not –– standards for anyone to live by.

As business owners, Cronan suggested, “we all want to be Pat Summit,” UT women’s head basketball coach. Cronan, who has worked with Summit since coming to UT 22 years ago, posed, “What makes Pat Summitt successful?” Cronan offered three tenets.

Cronan said that first and foremost, successful people have goals. “Know where you’re going and what you’re going to do,” she explained.


Cronan said it’s important to be focused and used her Lady Vol basketball team as an example, sharing that the team already knows the date of the NCAA championship and expects to be there. “It’s important to visualize and see where you want to go,” she said.

Second, she said, successful people know whom they are working with, including fellow employees, customers and competitors.

Cronan pointed out that she adamantly believes in the importance of being competitive and read a selection entitled, “I thank my competitors.”

Also important, Cronan said, is good financial management. She shared that the successful Lady Vols were not always financially secure. “You know that saying, ‘fake it until you make it?’…We spent out money well.”

Cronan reminded the audience that UT women’s athletics consists of more than Summit’s team. It is made up of 250 female athletes competing in 11 sports including: soccer (currently ranked No. 8 in the nation), volleyball (ranked No. 15), golf, tennis, swimming, softball, cross-country (ranked the highest in 14 years at No. 10), indoor and outdoor track, rowing and basketball.

As for the Lady Vol basketball team, Cronan noted freshman Candace Parker who has been touted as the best basketball player to ever play. Parker recently has had knee surgery and may not be able to play this season, but Cronan said, “we have some good things coming.”

Cronan was honored this June when the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletes named her the Athletic Director of the Year from the Southeast. Cronan was the second woman ever honored with the national award.

While leading UT women athletics, Cronan finds time to give back to the community. She serves on the boards at First Tennessee Bank, Knoxville’s Promise, the YMCA and Baptist Hospital. She is active with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Athletes in Action.

Martha Chill, Baptist Hospital West and Baptist Hospital for Women administrator, commented on Cronan’s contributions to Baptist’s board. “Obviously she’s a business leader,” Chill said.

Chill mentioned Cronan’s involvement as deacon at Central Baptist Church in Bearden. “She helps support our Christian mission,” she said.

According to the UT women’s athletics, Cronan has served nationally on the NCAA’s Executive Committee, Manage-

ment Council as well as the NCAA’s Council and is a member of the NCAA Championship Cabinet.

About her active role, Cronan quoted her favorite Bible scripture from Luke 12:48. “To whom much is given, much is expected,” she said. “I’ve been very blessed at UT.”

Cronan expects the same from her athletes. “We develop the total person … by preparing their resume for life.” That includes, she said, academics, athletics and community service.

A native of Louisiana, Cronan is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in physical education. She is an avid tennis player and is a former state and southern doubles champion.

Cronan served as UT women’s basketball coach from 1968-1970. She left Tennessee to coach basketball and tennis at the College of Charleston in South Carolina before heading up the women’s athletic department there.

Cronan, who lives in East Knoxville, said about this end of the county, “Let’s make Farragut continue to be one of the best communities in the state of Tennessee and America.”

She left chamber members with a lofty goal: “My challenge to you is to be Pat Summit.”

 

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