Thank you. Those are the first words that came to mind as soon as I found out Pat Summitt was stepping down as the Head Coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols last week.
Even though I usually root against the Lady Vols, I will forever be indebted to Pat Summitt and everything she has meant to college sports and specifically, women. The impact that Summitt has had on the world of women’s basketball will never go unnoticed. Even those who criticize women’s basketball know who Pat Summitt is and would never deny the impact that she has had on the sports world. And not only does Summitt own the record for the most victories in all of college basketball (Men and Women), no one is really that close to beating her either.
I have been lucky enough to see Summitt coach in person. The sidelines of a Tennessee basketball game l will never be the same. The energy and prowess that she brings to the court will probably never be matched.
Pat Summitt built the Tennessee Volunteers Women’s Basketball team into one of the biggest powerhouses in sports. The legacy that she leaves behind is one filled with championship victories and successful student-athletes. But she is not done yet. Summitt will still be a presence on the Tennessee Lady Vols team as Head Coach Emeritus.
In a week where I have seen countless articles about the struggle of women in the sports world, Pat Summitt has been the model of just how far women have come. She has elevated the sport of women’s basketball to what it is today and has also been integral in the elevation and status of women in the sports world. What Pat Summitt was able to accomplish during her 38 years at Tennessee, some people just hope for in their lifetime. She took the Tennessee Women’s Basketball team from a small gymnasium where they had to fight for practice time to a state of the art, basketball only practice facility. I had the opportunity to visit that basketball facility last year and let me tell you, its beyond amazing.
While the sports world has always been faced with scandals and violations, Summitt was never in that part of the spotlight. Pat Summitt has reached all of her accomplishments without controversy. She hasn’t needed violations to get to where she is today and her legacy is richer because of that.
No matter what, Pat Summitt will always be a part of sports history.
After being diagnosed with the early stages of dementia and coaching an entire season through this diagnosis, it was time. As any fan could tell you, there were times when she just didn’t look the same on the sidelines. Alzheimer’s is a tough disease for many reasons but what saddens me the most, is the effect that dementia can have on a person’s memory. Pat Summitt has so much to remember and be proud of that its a shame she might not always remember her accomplishments, accolades, and experiences.
But let’s not think about what Pat Summitt might or might not be facing in the future, because based on the challenges and accomplishments she has had in the past, she won’t be backing down from this fight either. She will continue to be a spokesperson for Alzheimer’s and work with her fund, the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund. Summitt has meant so much to the world of sports and while she has stepped down from being head coach of the Lady Vols, I doubt that she is done making her impact.
So from one woman to another, thank you, Pat Summitt. Thank you for everything.