Monday, February 28, 2005

Who Is Sue Gunter?

Sue Gunter

Category: Sports

Yes, roll your eyes. Another topic in sports, oh, please. Eh? But trust me, my readers, this is the one that will make you feel good. It will make women feel they are capable of doing this on their own.

Sue Gunter was the Head Coach of Louisiana State University Women's Basketball team for more than two decades. Last year, during the mid-season, at 72, she encountered difficulties in breathing and was hospitalized. Then she found out that she had a se vere case of Bronchitis as well as other ailments. Sue realized that she has to let it go, she did not hesitate to turn it over to her assistant in Dana "Pokey" Chatman.

In 35 years of coaching business, Sue amassed more than 700 victories out of nearly 1,000 games -- not only that, out of 35 years, there were 3 seasons that were not counted because the records were simply lost. Sue did not start with everything. She started with cheap stuff that was allocated to her at Stephen F. Austin State University and Middle Tennessee State University. She made sure that there was something for her team at the end. In the days before Title IX, the women sports were largely ignored, hostile and marginalized by men. Sue is one of the pioneers who kept on going and going, even years after the passage of Title IX.

Sue , the Pioneer of Women's Basketball

She could have retire at 65, but she did not want to stop doing stuff that she loved -- coaching, she continued until she was 72. She coached in Southeastern Conference, the nation's most best sport for Women's Basketball. You have to endure dealing with eternal powerhouses in Tennessee, Auburn and Georgia along with frequent upstarts in Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Arkansas. Not only that, Sue had to deal with the neighborhood teams such as Texas, Louisiana Tech and Tulane over the years.

Often she did not amass a great wealth of talent on her team like Pat Summitt does at Tennessee, but Sue always found a way to bring the best out of her players.

She found one in Pokey Chatman when she was a senior at LSU. LSU was unranked going into the 1991 SEC Tournament. Sue bellowed that nobody in the country can stop Pokey. Apparently, she got the message. She was virtually unstoppable as LSU upsets Georgia, Auburn and Tennessee to win the SEC Championship.

Sue Gunter with Pokey Chatman

I love the way Sue Gunter applied her defense pressure on Tennessee. If you look at how it was being done, it was done in such a fashion, frantic pressures that totally rattled and ripped Tennessee apart in matter of few minutes.

Later, Pokey became her loyal assistant coach for more than a decade. Slowly, they built the talents for her program over the years.

Last year was the year that finally peaked for Sue's team as it reached the Top 5 in the country but her ailments had to sidetrack her off the court. Sue did not hesitate but told the LSU Athletic Department that Pokey has to take over her place, effectively.

Pokey, once again, got the message and blitzed through the SEC Tournament and ripped Tennessee apart and rolled into the Final Four for the first time in LSU's history.

Today, Sue continues to relax as her protege is settling in as Head Coach as she led LSU in dominating the nation with No. 1 ranking and a 14-0 unblemished record in the Southeastern Conference including the thrashing of Tennessee, heading into the SEC Tournament. They are also heavily favorite to win the national championship.

Coach Pat Summitt of Tennessee remarked recently, "Pokey is Sue Gunter, Jr."

If Virginia does not win anything in the NCAAs, I'm all for Pokey and Sue to win it all.

There is nobody else who deserved more than Sue Gunter.

The Portrait of Sue Gunter with Her Protege, #10 Pokey Chatman


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