On Monday, the world lost a true pioneer as Pat Summitt, the legendary Tennessee Lady Vols basketball coach lost her four-year battle with dementia – a form of Alzheimer’s disease. She was the reason I even watched women’s college basketball. Her resume is unmatched as you could put up her’s against any basketball coach in history, men or women, she would hold her own.
In her 38 seasons at the helm, Summitt shattered record books while also forming a “dynasty” and instilling a brand into the Tennessee program. She has the most career wins (1,098) in NCAA history setting the standard for every college coach to chase after. The measuring stick for every coach is championships, she definitely accomplished that goal, cutting down the nets eight times in her record 31 NCAA tournament appearances.
Additionally, she was the National Coach of the Year seven times and the SEC coach of the year eight times. She not only transformed the University of Tennessee, but she also transformed women’s basketball in the Olympics, leading team USA to five gold medals and four silver medals. She did it all as a coach, carrying her legacy for decades after decades.
More importantly, she cared about every single player and person involved at the University – by demanding perfection on the court and in the classroom. Summitt achieved something that is unthinkable in today’s age where winning is all that matters. She achieved a 100% graduation rate, not only molding great basketball players, but well-rounded women.
Every college program should be modeled after what Summit created on and off the court in Knoxville. It was a sisterhood over the lessons Summit taught her players which will live on forever. The world and the game of basketball will not be the same without coach Summits’ wisdom.