Oct. 23, 2012
By Jon Cooper
Sunday November 11th already was going to be a big day on the Georgia Tech campus.
That was the day the women’s basketball team will kick off its 2012-13 season against perennial power Tennessee while making its maiden voyage in its new home, McCamish Pavilion. That will still happen — tip-off is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.
Big no longer suffices in describing the day.
When women’s basketball head coach MaChelle Joseph spoke on Tuesday afternoon at the Edge Center, following football coach Paul Johnson’s press conference, she didn’t even try to contain her excitement in anticipation of the day.
“The Tennessee game on Nov. 11 is a great opportunity. It’s become more than a game,” she said. “I feel like it’s becoming an event to celebrate a lot of different things.”
Besides her team making its McCamish debut — there are high hopes that the game will be the first sellout in the history of Georgia Tech women’s basketball — the day also will commemorate the 60th anniversary of Georgia Tech opening its doors to women and the 40th anniversary of Title IX.
The list of luminaries is quite long and includes famous Georgia Tech alumni, as well as women who have made an impact for women inside and out of the realm of athletics. Among the sports pioneers are Betty Jaynes, the longtime Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), and legendary UT women’s coach Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in college basketball history.
Summitt’s presence means a lot to Joseph.
“Pat Summitt forged a path and she opened up doors and opportunities that weren’t there before her,” said Joseph. “She also raised the bar very high for all of us. How she handled herself, not only on the court, a lot of the things I took from her was how she handled her team and her players off the floor. I think that was her greatest impact on our game.”
The 60th anniversary of women attending Georgia Tech will be celebrated with an initiative by the school’s first lady, Val Peterson and will recognize such important women as Jeni Bogdan of the Saxon Group, Kelly Barrett, vice president of Home Depot, Kathie Day of Days Inn, Dr. Annie Anton, Chair of the School of Interactive Computing, and Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, Dean of the Morehouse School of Medicine, among others.
Tech also will salute the inception of Title IX by recognizing Summitt, Lin Dunn, a longtime college and coach who recently led the Indiana Fever (including recent Tech alum Sasha Goodlett) to the WNBA title, Mickie DeMoss, another longtime college coach and an assistant with the Fever, and two-time Olympic softball gold medalist Michele Smith.
Preceding the festivities inside McCamish and adding to day’s excitement will be the premiere of “Nell On Wheels.” Featuring former Auburn women’s basketball coach Nell Fortner, the pre-game show will travel around the country in an RV and be to women’s hoops what ESPN’s College GameDay is for college football.
“I think that’s going to create a lot of excitement around that game,” said Joseph. “It’s going to make it a really special atmosphere for our student athletes and for our fans.”