COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Alumna Pam Kilday returned to her old stomping grounds Tuesday evening to inspire the athletes of today and the CEOs of tomorrow as part of the Dr. M. Dianne Murphy Female Student-Athlete Leaders for Life Program. Not many women can say they grew up in athletics before Title IX and go on to become a CIO for SunTrust, one of the top banks in the country. En route to breaking the glass ceiling, Kilday took the lessons she learned on the court to the business world and became one of the most successful women in the country.
"I am you and you are me," said Kilday. "We are the same person. I'm just a few years older."
Kilday was a member of the Golden Eagle basketball team under Hall of Fame coach Marynell Meadors, and the memory of running through the tunnel with the screams of hundreds of fans still gives her chills to this day.
"Tech was a pioneer. Tech supported women's athletics long before the NCAA recognized it. We were one of the first schools to join the AIAW which is something you should really be proud of," Kilday said.
Kilday spoke of her journey growing up in a world where young girls didn't have many role models. There were even fewer opportunities for female athletes. She never saw a women's basketball game at the collegiate or pro level. Kilday was lucky to have grown up in a home where her father was a basketball coach. Despite the lack of interest around her in women's basketball, Kilday dreamed of a basketball career from an early age.
Kilday went on to become a pioneer in the first professional women's basketball league in the United States, the Women's Professional Basketball League (WPBL).
During her time at Tennessee Tech, Kilday was co-captain of the 1980-81 women's basketball team. Kilday graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Tech, and later earned a Master's degree from the University of Illinois in Chicago, Illinois.
"Athletics prepares you for really big things. You're going to go from the court to the board room if you want to!" said Kilday.
Kilday started from very humble beginnings and said "with a lot of hard work, team work, passion and persistence, you can go far. This is what athletics can do for you."