June 28, 2016
A day that shook the women’s basketball, women’s athletics, and college basketball communities to the core - the passing of legendary coach Pat Summitt.
Pat Summitt coached the Tennessee Lady Volunteers from 1974 to 2012. In August of 2011, Pat Summitt announced that she had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Following the 2011-2012 season, she stepped down as head coach, although she remained close with program. Pat Summitt is the winningest coach in college basketball history with a record of 1098-208. She captured eight national titles. She possesses two Olympic medals - a silver medal as a player in 1976 and a gold medal as the coach in 1984 (1976 was the first year women played basketball in the Olympics). Her resume is untouchable. More than that, Pat Summitt did the immeasurables. She was a pioneer for women’s basketball. Summitt put women’s basketball on the map. By the early 2000s, Tennessee Women’s Basketball became a prevalent basketball program and every little girl that had dreams of playing basketball wanted to wear the orange uniforms. She made women’s college basketball relevant in a time when women’s athletics was just a blip. Pat inspired the next generation of young girls to believe in their athletic dreams, constantly proving that those dreams were real, valid, and absolutely possible.
Everyone has their own stories about Pat Summitt. Some knew her up close, most knew her from a distance. But everyone knew her. Growing up, Pat Summitt made me want to play college basketball. Seeing the women in orange stand on the stage hoisting the trophy in the air, Summitt at the helm, created dreams in my head of doing the same. Pat Summitt was the first college coach I ever wanted to play for. As a kid, I did not realize that I watched her take the women’s game and turn it into what it is today. Looking back, I got to witness the transformation of the women’s game into a sport that holds relevance in the athletic community - into something that I am fortunate enough to be a part of now. Although I never knew Pat Summitt, I am eternally grateful to her for sparking a passion and a dream within me that I have spent my life working to achieve.
Pat Summitt is a name that will always be remembered in athletics. Her contributions to women’s athletics are unmatched. Her impact on women’s college basketball are unparalleled. Her legacy is everlasting. Legends never die.
My thoughts go out to Pat's family, friends and anyone affected.