I can’t say that my heat wasn’t broken when I heard the news that Pat Summitt passed away. Growing up in East Tennessee, the Summitt name was a staple here. Everyone knew of the family residing in the small town of Knoxville, Tennessee. Pat was a special lady to thousands of people all over the country, but I’d like to say she was even more special to those of East Tennessee.
As a child, I grew up playing basketball from the time I was in 1st grade to 8th grade. At the age of 10, I admired the Lady Vols. I wanted to be a Lady Vol one day and I can’t say that Pat Summitt didn’t intimidate me, on and off the court. Pat recreated what it meant for women to play basketball. My ultimate favorite player to have ever walked the court for the Lady Vols would be Candace Parker. She was and still is the face of basketball. All I ever wanted to be was Candace Parker because Pat Summitt built her into this star athlete. I bought Nikes to play basketball in because Candace wore them. I always tried to call dibs on the number three because Candace’s number was 3 when she played for Pat. The athlete that Pat saw in Candace was the athlete that the rest of the world saw in Candace. I will forever be thankful for Pat’s loving heart for basketball because she coached some of the nation’s greatest athletes, all of whom graduated from the University of Tennessee. Pat has a 100 percent graduation rate, which no other coaches can boast.
I came across a post on Facebook that my past neighbor had shared from a friend of hers. The friend was Pat’s neighbor. He talked about the time he knew Pat and how his and his family’s lives were changed after meeting her. He discussed that her blue eyes weren’t as intimidating as they may seem on the court. He shared a few personal stories and experiences he had with Pat. He discussed a personal time in her life that he and her son Tyler were proud of — her baptism. Pat’s faith was something that made her so strong. By the end of his post, I found myself tearing up and my heart aching. Those that really knew Pat are hurting even more than I am, and I am only one of many Vol fans.East Tennessee is hurting for the Lady Vols and the Summitt family, but we know that she isn’t hurting anymore. She is in the hands of our Creator and Lord of Lords. My prayers are with the Summitt family. As a Volunteer, I will give my all for Tennessee and I will give my all for Pat. Go Vols!