Home Sweet Hardwood

A Title IX Trailblazer Breaks Barriers Through Basketball

Non-Fiction - Sports
206 Pages
Reviewed on 10/27/2013
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

As a pioneer for women’s basketball, Pat McKinzie is the first female athletic scholarship recipient in Illinois and first female player to score 1,000 points at ISU. She is one of the first Women’s Professional Basketball League draftees and female inductees in the Hall of Fame at Illinois State. After a 1983 car accident in France ended her playing career, McKinzie began to focus her energy on coaching. With thirty years of experience in coaching, teaching, and writing, she has cultivated an impressive career from hall-of-fame coach to basketball agent, student advisor, columnist, and blogger. McKinzie has a bachelor’s degree in education from Illinois State University. She is married to a Frenchman with whom she raised two Third Culture Kids, and she currently resides in Switzerland.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Bil Howard for Readers' Favorite

Battling to make women’s basketball what it has become today was not an easy journey and Pat McKinzie’s story, Home Sweet Hardwood: A Title IX Trailblazer Breaks Barriers Through Basketball, shows exactly how difficult it was. From early in life, Pat was more comfortable running, jumping, throwing, and shooting, than she was playing with dolls and easy-bake ovens. In a time when there were both racial tensions and struggles with gender roles, Pat continued to fight for the game that she loved. After the passage of Title IX, which was the beginning of equalizing sports programs for women, Pat got her chance to move forward, doing what she loved. She was the first female athletic scholarship in Illinois and built upon that victory, though many challenges still lay in her path. Without faltering, Pat continued to pursue her dream and was one of the inaugural draftees in the Women’s professional basketball league. Her resilience and determination have been an inspiration to countless people through the years.

It is impossible to be anything but inspired by Pat McKinzie’s account of her battle as a pioneer of women’s basketball. Home Sweet Hardwood is an interesting, informative, and enlightening story. Observing the courage and determination with which Pat pursued her dream goes beyond gender and racial lines to reach a much deeper place within us all. This is a profound story of the strength of the human spirit in the face of extreme challenges. Inspiring, illuminating and awesome; Home Sweet Hardwood is certain to have a profound impact, not only on women of all ages, but upon anyone who has ever aspired to overcome all odds for something or someone that they love.

Lorena Sanqui

Just like the time when women weren't allowed to vote, there was also a time when women weren't given the same opportunities as men when it came to sports. No scholarships or any other benefits were given to female athletes. In fact, playing sports could get girls called some derogatory names. That changed when Title IX was passed in 1972, and women were given equal opportunities in public education. Home Sweet Hardwood: A Title IX Trailblazer Breaks Barriers Through Basketball is the story of Pat McKinzie-Lechault, one of the first Title IX athletes. She tells her story of how she came from the sidelines to the court with the help of the people who supported her all throughout her career in basketball and a lot of hard work and determination.

Pat McKinzie-Lechault went from watching basketball on the bench to playing it professionally to playing it internationally and then back to watching other people play, but this time coaching. It wasn't an easy task for Pat to be so in love with basketball back in the days. Her story is not just inspiring; it’s cathartic. Her dedication to the game at a time when it wasn't welcomed is so strong that she was able to beat all the troubles that came her way. I’m very glad she wrote her story. Home Sweet Hardwood is not only the story of Pat but also of all the other pioneers and female athletes that experienced gender inequality. It is a book rich in history, life lessons, and nuggets of wisdom.

Joy Hannabass

Author Pat McKinzie-Lechault’s love of sports comes from growing up with a father and grandfather who were basketball coaches. Her setbacks were because she grew up when females only played basketball for fun, and not for the attention given to pro sports players today. Ms. McKinzie-Lechault had the determination and persistence to give women a place in pro sports. In her book she tells of the circumstances, and family and other people who came into her life to help along the way. She has a unique style of writing about her journey, being completely honest about the struggles and difficult times as well as the better times, using a bit of humor throughout to make it fun and interesting.

This was such an enjoyable book. Reading Pat’s journey from high school to college and on to professional women’s basketball was a most amazing journey and well worth the time it took me to read it. Pat didn’t just hit the sports world for women when everything was booming; she was part of the growth of acceptance in women’s sports as it is today. Pat made the story fun to read, yet loaded it with history about women and their place in sports from the time it all started to where they are today. There is so much in this book you just have to read it for yourself. It was really sad that this author had to leave basketball early in her career because of an accident. However, she didn’t let that stop her from mentoring many young women with the same love of basketball that she had. If you love women’s sports, then you MUST pick up a copy of Home Sweet Hardwood.

Mamta Madhavan

Home Sweet Hardwood: A Title IX Trailblazer Breaks Barriers Through Basketball by Pat McKinzie-Lechault is about an athlete and her love for the game of basketball. It is the courageous memoir of a person whose basketball career ends because of an accident but it does not cripple her spirit; and her passion and love for the sport still continues. The poignant story is an inspiration to many athletes to excel in the world of professional basketball. It speaks about the immense strength of a player who meets and conquers all the challenges put forth by the game.

The book is honest and the author takes you through an engaging story about her love for this sport. Her courage, determination, discipline, and passion for the game make her overcome all the hurdles and gain many accolades in basketball. The book is not only about the game, but also a woman's perseverance, battles, and personal growth that enable her to explore her inner strength even after meeting with an accident which leaves her unable to pursue the sport.

The book is motivating and inspiring. It has some lighthearted moments too. The breakthrough the author makes into a man's world with the sport is an encouragement to all women. The book is very personal and it touches a chord within you. Her success and struggles, and her honest sharing of those with readers make the book appealing.

Lit Amri

Deeply inspirational, fascinating, and heartbreaking, Home Sweet Hardwood: A Title IX Trailblazer Breaks Barriers Through Basketball is a moving memoir by Pat McKinzie-Lechault. A pioneer for women’s basketball, Pat McKinzie’s personal pursuit to simply play the sport she loves is a hard journey that paves the way for women’s participation not only in basketball, but sports in general.

Whether you play basketball or not, anyone – both women and men of all ages – will connect with Pat’s memoir. This is a story about overcoming adversities in life and to keep pursuing the goals that makes one’s life meaningful. I was very much immersed in Home Sweet Hardwood, and it was hard to stop even for a needed break. Labeled as a tomboy when she was young, Pat's prose is charming, candid, and hilarious. Readers can definitely relate to her frustration on the prejudice regulations and society’s intolerance regarding her passion for basketball back in the days. It is interesting to revisit those times when everything was much harder for a young woman to break tradition and just be herself.

I also enjoy reading about her experience in the foreign league. Pat’s resilience in trying to settle into a foreign country is endearing. As difficult as it was to read about Pat’s struggle in the sport, it was even more difficult to read about her accident and her miscarriage. Even so, she always conquered her obstacles, regardless of how long it took for her to do so. All in all, this is not just about basketball, it is about life in general; priceless lessons that we could learn from Pat. It is a truly enlightening book.

Belinda Nicoll

You don't need to be a sportsperson to appreciate Pat McKinzie's passion for basketball--it's trendsetters like her, with courage to tackle obsolete bureaucracies that don't belong in modern society, who make the world a better place. Home Sweet Hardwood is a story about gender discrimination, despondency, perseverance, expatriation, emotional distress, physical injury and tremendous loss. But Mckinzie triumphs through sheer perseverance and, ultimately, it's her personal growth that you have to admire.

As a recent nationalized citizen of the US, I learned a lot from the author's story as she shares her personal journey from being the granddaughter of a famous basketball coach to becoming a promising player herself, only to be let down by simple-minded regulations that go contrary to America's reputation as a democracy.

Seeking opportunities in Europe means McKinzie has to say goodbye to her family, and even there disaster stifles her potential to the point of leaving her body broken after an accident. The author rises to the challenge with new insight, though, and graciously accepts her fate.

Kathleen Pooler

Home Sweet Hardwood is an inspirational, gut-wrenching and captivating story of a determined young woman's journey into the world of professional basketball under Title IX legislation. As a pioneer and the recipient of the first Title IX scholarship, Pat McKinzie breaks down barriers and paves the way for all women to participate in organized sports through her fierce determination, her natural, inherited athletic prowess and her sheer love of the game.

Once I started reading this memoir, I had a hard time putting it down. I was fascinated by this story as well as by the author's engaging, honest and, often times, humorous writing style.

She takes the reader on a journey through a childhood filled with colorful characters that come alive on the page -- her devoted parents, her siblings, her renowned paternal grandfather, fondly known as Coach Mac-- and we see how they shape her courage, determination and skill in playing basketball and in life.

This foundation serves as a launch pad for her ascent into the tumultuous and fledgling world of professional women's basketball. When she follows her dreams to France, we become a part of the Professional Women's Basketball League and travel with her through the series of challenges that left me cringing at the painful realities of the experience. Pat's perseverance through poverty, debilitating injuries,distance from family,difficult team members and managers and language barriers is a testimony to her strength and courage in her role as a trailblazer.

A car accident at the age of twenty-five ends her basketball career but not her love of the sport as she goes on to contribute her talents as a high school basketball coach In the meantime, a handsome Frenchmen steals her heart and she decides to marry him. One wonders how leaving her family who means so much to her could be tolerable but she maintains close contact with them and visits her beloved Wisconsin woods as often as she is able. Translating her skills on the court to her life, she makes it work.

Although I've never played basketball, I am an avid fan of the sport so I immediately connected with Pat's detailed descriptions of the game. But, even if you are not a basketball aficionado, this memoir will stir you and leave you in awe and admiration for a woman whose willingness to pay the high price it took to establish women's place on the court has blazed a trail for all women.


After having taken several years off from reading for pleasure, I picked the right book to bounce back with! This captivating story describes the journey of an ambitious young woman, determined to earn her spot on the court, despite emotional and physical challenges. The author's resiliency is inspirational as she comes back fighting each time she is knocked down. This page-turner kept my attention through historical details, personal stories, and snapshots of what it was like to be invisible in the world of sports. Thanks for an awesome read!

Joe King

Pat's journey takes the reader through memories of growing up, family, goals, disappointments, achievements, supportive family and friends, and the desire to be successful. We learn from Pat's story about her father and grandfather that greater than their success was their significance in the lives of those they coached and taught. Pat does a great job sharing her life and the lives of others who made an impact on her. She has gone on to be a person who contributes a great deal to the young men and women she mentors in the classroom and on the court.
Pat takes us to wonderful locations like Sterling, Illinois, Europe, and a place I love--Summit Lake, Wisconsin. The places we grow up, live, and find relaxation and solace help form our character and our contributions to the society in which we live.
The reader will be taken on a journey of reflection that will enrich one's life. Enjoy the smells, sights, and sounds of her experiences. Experience a wonderful family and the love of sport.

Greg H

Pat swished a ball through the net from the far side of the court. This is an inspiring story of courage and resilience in overcoming prejudice and the status quo. Buy this book today. You will devour every page.

Lynne Spreen

Patricia McKinzie was born into an American sports dynasty, but unfortunately she was born female in the days before Title IX required gender equity in sports. Even though her family was fiercely loving and supportive, life wasn't easy for a basketball phenom who lived to pound the hardwood in those days when men were the athletes and women were expected to stick to cheerleading.

Pat didn't fit into the narrow mold prescribed for women at the time. Here's a sample of her introspective thoughts:

"I strummed my guitar, alone. I wished I could have been happy wearing dresses in 7th grade, make up in 8th, class rings in 9th, that I could have been satisfied having a boyfriend who was All-American instead of having to be the All-American, that I could feel fulfilled by being married, making babies, joining a bridge club. But I had to be different: wear pants to church, laugh when my sweetheart offered his class ring, and play out my dreams on a basketball court long after my classmates started playing house."

HSH is more than basketball, although the descriptions of the game are breathtaking. It's a story of a young girl's frustration with trying to mature outside the proscribed and, at the time, narrow strictures of femininity, but still wanting to be a girl. Patty was tall, graceful, gorgeous and athletic, and she lived for basketball. It was her celebration of life and her meditative center. She didn't just crave the game, she needed it to be healthy in body and spirit. This drive compelled her to put up with poverty, near-homelessness, hunger and humiliation. She played through horrific injuries, and mental and physical pain.

Caroll Fitzgerald

Pat McKinzie's passion for basketball radiates through the book. I am amazed how many hardships, self-doubts, injuries, and other challenges she faced and then went right back to the court. I could really see and feel that it's a personal home for her. It was so interesting to hear about all the economic challenges of the women's teams and the players. It really helps to highlight the differences between women's and men's teams, since, in most sports, men's sports are SO well-financed.

I especially enjoyed the European parts of the story. It was fascinating to me, a more collaborative and less competitive person, to see how much less competitive the European's attitudes towards their sports teams were, for example. And as a non-sportsminded person, I learned a lot about how important sports can be to others.


Ultimately, this memoir is a gripping story of Title IX's triumph. At the same time, it is so much more. McKinzie-Lechault has led an extraordinary life, but she tells her story at the most personal level. I appreciated her honest retelling of both her successes and struggles. It's a terrific read!

Dick Carlson

Home Sweet Hardwood is a MUST read for anybody supporting and believing in Women's sports at any level.
This book is humorous, historical, insightful and inspiring! Readers WILL NOT be disappointed by Pat McKinzie's story!!


Pat, your book brings back many memories of my early days of coaching girls in the 70s and 80s. It was difficult to get any field space, money for any equipment or uniforms, support and when we did get the practice time-it was usually late at night or early AM.
Very interesting to read of your situations and questioning your future while chasing your dreams so far from family and friends.
Thanks for sharing.


Home Sweet Hardwood captures the life of a young girl's love for the game of Basketball.Pat Mckinzie lived and breathed the sport of basketball, learning from and following in the footsteps of her dad and granddad. It wasn't until the 1970's that the ban restricting girls from playing the sport lifted,allowing women the same rights as men to play the game in schools and professionally.Pat Mckinzie was finally able to spread her basketball wings and fly.

Home Sweet Hardwood speaks to the heart and soul of girls with a passion and a dream to become the woman she wants to be. This book shares true stories of racial and cultural barriers, personal struggles and obstacles, pain, injury, loss, rebounds, camaraderie, love and endurance. This is a great read for anyone who love the sport of Basketball, but, definitely a memoir that will empower girls with a passion for the game.


Don't let the title fool you, this book isn't only about basketball. Instead the sport is a vessel for telling a story about personal growth, perseverance and exploration against the backdrop of female empowerment and changing social norms. Being a basketball fan is a plus, but what you'll really get out of this memoir is a glimpse into a transitional period in US history, an insight into how women accessed historically male institutions thanks to the tireless, and often thankless, efforts of a few innovators. With its amusing anecdotes and profound honesty, this highly personal narrative is a valuable read for anyone that has experienced setbacks, felt exclusion or even who enjoys learning about other cultures. On the surface, this is an account of the development of female sports in the US but it is also much more. It is an inspiring personal tale that enhances our understanding of history while providing a vicarious experience for any of us that at one time did not dare to pursue a dream.

Ann & Bill

The book Home Sweet Hardwood is a wonderful tribute to the ground breaking women of Title IX. The readers, young and old, male and female, will be inspired to dream big and to never give up the pursuit of those dreams even if it means changing courses. The author's life is like a bouncing basketball- full of ups and downs, but in the end, it is the main character's fighting spirit and determination that prevail.

Tina Qucick

I thoroughly enjoyed reading through the incredible journey of one woman's battle not only for the right to play what was once considered an all-men's game, but also for her fight and spunk to survive all that chosen way of life threw her way. "Home Sweet Hardwood" is the story all girls and women who enjoy playing competitive basketball today need to read to understand and appreciate that it is a hard-fought right and privilege that was earned by pioneer women like Pat McKinzie - one that isn't to be taken for granted.
The story takes another faceted twist when her love of the game takes her across oceans and cultural barriers to meet the love of her life. Anyone who has ever made a cross-cultural adjustment will appreciate the candid and heartfelt scenes of what it is like being a stranger in a strange land. My own uncomfortable memories of dealing with the consequences of making cultural faux pas and the vacillating emotions of culture shock rose up from the recesses of my psyche as McKinzie recalls her own struggles to fit in and make a bi-cultural relationship survive. A must-read for any women of sport and any international sojourner.


I have to admit, my first thought was, why would I want to read a book about basketball? But, because Pat was a high school classmate and neighbor, I thought I'd at least read a few chapters to see if I was interested. Well, I couldn't put it down. I just love her writing style and she kept my attention the entire book. It wasn't just about basketball. It was her life story, her heritage, her perseverance, her family and more. Even though I can't relate to her in regards to sports, there were several things in our lives that we had in common. I enjoyed it very much. She painted many pictures with her words and will keep you interested all the way through.


Home Sweet Hardwood: A Title IX Trailblazer Breaks Barriers Through Basketball is a fast paced, captivating, and inspirational read that is so much more than a story about basketball. It is a story of one ordinary woman's extraordinary journey to pursue a dream-a dream that takes her across the U.S. and then across the ocean. Pat McKinzie-Lechault must fight gender inequity, overcome stereotypes, play with injuries, and rise up against adversity in order to chase her dream. And yet, she never gives up. She teaches us invaluable life lessons about compassion, tolerance and believing in one's self through her courage, her humor, and her wonderful outlook. Pat is a champion in every sense of the word, and you will find yourself cheering for her from the very first page.

Kathryn Barton

I met Pat at the National Senior Games this year in Cleveland and so impressed by her enthusiasm for the game. Since I played in high school before Title Nine I've seen the difference in skills and achievement that younger women can attain now. This is a great chronicle of of those changes.