Sylvia Hatchell, the iconic UNC Women’s Basketball coach, recently gave a rousing and memorable speech to Leadership Triangle’s LT Over Lunch alumni group. Over 30 Leadership Triangle alumni made it out to Squid’s Restaurant in Chapel Hill on August 30th for the event and it’s doubtful any one of them left disappointed.

For those unaware, Coach Hatchell was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in October 2013 and struggled for a year and a half with this aggressive and very dangerous disease. Her speech detailed how she beat cancer by fighting with a positive attitude, focusing on helping others and staying physically fit. Coach Hatchell put such a focus on fitness that she was able to convince the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at UNC Hospital to add fitness to their recovery regime.

Cyndy Yu-Robinson, a Leadership Triangle alumnus who was in attendance, recalled many quotes that Coach Hatchell used to accent her talk. For conquering big goals Ms. Yu-Robinson, who works with a local martial arts company, said Coach Hatchell used a quote that stuck out to her, “What did David say when he saw Goliath? He’s soooo big, I can’t miss!” She says she uses a similar thought for her smaller-framed karate students, telling them, do not “fear the bigger opponents because they are bigger targets.” This optimistic way of looking at big challenges helped many students change their perspective and defeat larger opponents, helped many UNC Women’s Basketball teams to victory and helped Coach Hatchell win an incredibly difficult struggle with leukemia.

Another key focus of the talk was teamwork. Doug Dickman, a corporate sales executive with the Carolina Hurricanes, was also in attendance and one particular metaphor made an impression on him. Coach Hatchell described how she would have all her players write their names on a popsicle stick. Then she would tie them all together with a rubber band and show how strong all the popsicle sticks had become when bound together. This was a visual reminder of how “teamwork makes the dream work,” another of the many relevant quotes that dotted Coach Hatchell’s talk. Mr. Dickman also recalled her discussing the “Be the Match” bone marrow donation program and how she knew her work there saved at least five others in her same condition. She saw the fight against cancer as a team effort and this made both herself and others in the same position stronger to fight it together.

As if that wasn’t enough for one lunch break, each person in attendance also received Coach Sylvia Hatchell’s book on this cancer battle, appropriately named “Fight! Fight!” The book has risen through the charts and is now the top-seller in Amazon’s cancer-related section. The Leadership Triangle program and their alumni were privileged to have this local hero in attendance and everyone there had their lives enriched through this message of perseverance and positivity. LT Over Lunch will continue to have excellent speakers that accentuate our greater mission of success and leadership, so please look for those on the calendar.  

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