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Cheering for the St. Jude team

Josh Pastner

When we support the St. Jude team, everyone wins.

I had heard of St. Jude before I arrived in Memphis in 2008, but it wasn’t until I toured the hospital recently that I learned the magnitude of the great work being done there.

I came away thinking that the hospital was really a team atmosphere, where everyone works together and is willing to tackle any job. At practice, we talk about outworking our opponent, working harder than our competition. It’s a mentality of identifying our opponent and then resolving to beat them. Everyone has to roll up their sleeves, put on their work boots and hard hats and get to work.

Obviously, we are not dealing with life and death on the basketball court, but the clinicians and researchers at St. Jude have this same mentality in their fight against cancer and other catastrophic diseases. No job is too big for anyone there—and that’s how I believe a hospital, a business or even a college basketball program should be run. Everyone’s on equal playing ground. At the University of Memphis, our common goal is what’s best for the student-athlete. At St. Jude, it’s what’s best for the patient.

In college basketball, coaches look for players with elite-level talent to join their program. St. Jude offers elite-level talent in its staff, which contains some of the world’s best scientists and physicians. These staff members are like the Michael Jordans of their field; they are the best at what they do.

Touring St. Jude would be beneficial for anyone because it helps put things in perspective. I tell my players that there is no more rewarding experience than giving back and making a difference in other people’s lives. I explain to them that looking back on your life, it won’t matter how many points you scored or how many rebounds or assists you had. What is lasting is the direct relationship you have with people through giving back, and it can be as simple and rewarding as giving to St. Jude.

The kids at St. Jude are our future—there could be a President of the United States, a scientist, doctor or even a future athlete walking those corridors.

Visiting St. Jude was an eye-opening experience for me. I realized how important the hospital is to one day beating cancer, but in the meantime, giving children opportunities to live somewhat normal lives. My wife, Kerri, and I recently welcomed a new addition to the family, a little girl named Payten. We are thankful for her health, but it’s comforting to know that a place like St. Jude exists.

Josh Pastner is in his second season as the head coach of the University of Memphis Tigers men’s basketball team. Before becoming the Tigers’ head coach in 2009, he served as an assistant at Memphis for one season and the University of Arizona from 2002–2008.

Reprinted from Promise Winter 2011

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