I had the opportunity to play for Coach Neely at East Ridge High School from 1989-1992. She was my basketball and volleyball coach all four years. Playing my high school career under her tenure taught me how to handle the challenges that might come along in life. Whether it be professional, personal, or athletics, I can honestly say that if it wasn't for her compassion and leadership, I do not believe I would be where I am today.
Coach Neely never accepted excuses but nurtured any thoughts of self doubt or lack of confidence into a belief that female athletes are second to none.
She spent every minute of our games, off days, and practices refining her craft whether it be through instruction, lectures, one to one meetings, road trips to see a Lady Vols game, or what I like to call the "nose to nose uniform twist" talks. She instilled in her ladies what striving for excellence really meant. No matter how hard she was on me personally, I never doubted how much she loved and supported me. I have fallen short at times, and have not met all of my goals since graduating high school; however, with my faith in God, family support and the lessons she taught, I know what it takes to persevere. She pushed me beyond my limits, and when I came up short, she was the first hand and inspiring voice reaching down to pick me up, dust me off, and remind me to keep moving forward.
Coach Neely, you have helped so many young women realize what they have to offer this world not only in sports, but in life. For all the extra time in the gym with me and the hours teaching me how to be a continuous student of the game, I thank you. The experience of being a part of your teams has been invaluable in every aspect of my life. I pray that my sons and all athletes in my current home town of Daphne, Ala., have a "Coach Neely" in their life, and that they carry with them that same lesson of excellence that you instilled in me many years ago. I pray that they recognize and appreciate the coaches like you, mentors and volunteers along the way that have unselfishly sacrificed for them. A simple thank you seems insignificant, but I know if I continue to be the woman I am today, I honor you, your legacy, and the lessons you have instilled in so many Lady Pioneers.
Susan (Roy) Scott-Johnson
Lady Pioneer #21 (89-92)