“You don’t know how strong you can be until strong is all you have.”

Sylvia Hatchell

A member at Carolina Club, Chapel Hill, N.C., since 1999
Who she is: The winningest active coach in women’s basketball, she was sidelined in 2013 when diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Now in complete remission, she is back coaching her University of North Carolina Tar Heels full time with more wins on her mind.

Hearing the diagnosis: “My world was at its peak. I had the No. 1 recruiting class in the country. I had just been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and just had my 900th win. I thought, ‘Just wake up. This is a bad dream.’ But it wasn’t a bad dream.”

Fighting back: During the “brutal” months of chemotherapy, Hatchell kept her strength by working out regularly and focusing on recovery. “Coaching helped me tremendously through this. It gives you a mental toughness that other people don’t have.”

Fresh perspective: Now in her 40th year of coaching, Hatchell says her battle with cancer has made her more passionate than ever about her role in the game and life in general. “Every day when I open my eyes, I say, ‘God, put the opportunities in front of me and I promise I will take advantage of them.’ ”

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