Pat Summitt is thought to be one of the most influential and meaningful coaches in the history of college sports. Vols nation and the world was a sadder after she passed away.
In Pat Summitt’s 64 years of life, she accomplished many things for the state of Tennessee, the University of Tennessee and the Vols nation. She was able to gain over a thousand wins over her career and showed a level of faith in her team that was unmatched. Her life was a fantastic journey, and we hope this article gives you future generations of Vol fans insights into the legendary Pat Summitt.
Pat Summitt was a Tennessee native, born in Clarksville, Tennessee. Her parents were Hazel Albright Head and Richard Albright Head. Her father was a tobacco farmer and a dairy farmer. When she was younger, her parents would call her Trish.
She had a house full of brothers and sisters. As many siblings as she had she was able to have a big family of supporters and people that she could count on no matter the situation. Her family was blessed with her birth and the birth of four siblings and one younger sister, who was the baby of the family. Her older brothers were named Tommy, Charles, and Kenneth while her younger was named Linda.
It seemed that her lot in life was to be an athlete or to be around sports because as early as high school, her family moved to Henrietta simply so she could play basketball.
Clarksville didn't offer a girl's team, but Cheatham County did, and Pat wanted to play basketball.
Summitt attended the University of Tennessee at Martin and, upon graduating in 1974, became head coach at the University of Tennessee's flagship campus in Knoxville. At 22, she was barely older than her players. In football country, she made $250 a month to coach basketball and attend graduate school.
She was a pioneer in women's basketball. A great example to explain this better is that while her brothers got scholarships for their athletics, there wasn't anything Pat could do at the time, but pay her way. Thankfully, her parents made sure she got her education.
It was here, and after that, her basketball career began to take off. In the 1976 summer Olympics, she co-captained the United States national basketball team as a player in the women's tournament. She won the silver medal. Just eight years later, she coached the United States team to a gold medal. That achievement made her the first person ever to win a medal in basketball and then be able to coach a winning team to earn a medal as well.
What became arguably her biggest accomplishment in women’s basketball history. When she became the assistant at the University of Tennessee and was then named head coach of the Lady Vols. Her career took off like a shot. In 38 years as a head coach of the Lady Vols, she was able to accomplish eight NCAA titles, 55 all-SEC performers, over a thousand victories, and was able to have perfect seasons where others couldn't.
She was the first female coach to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. At the start of the latest century, she was also inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. In addition to these accomplishments, she was able to be the best selling author and even starred in an HBO documentary. She is also a kind person who loves to help people and has done extensive work with charities. In 2012 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2012.
She is considered a pioneer not only in women's sports but in coaching as well. In 1980, she was even able to find love and marry R.B. Summit and have a child after being married for ten years. They named the baby boy Ross Tyler Summitt. Unfortunately, the marriage didn't last, and they divorced.
Her attention focused on her team, and they continued to win titles and show the world what they had to offer to the world. Through Pat's coaching, the players became better and stronger players and had even beaten teams that they hadn't before along with the players winning awards and accolades as well. In the year 2000, the team was named co-team of the decade, and Pat was named the Naismith Coach of the Century, and one of her players was named the Naismith Women's Collegiate Player of the Century.
It was in her later career that she began to have personal health concerns. In the 2010 season, she noticed that she had drawn a blank on an offensive set during a game and wanted to find out what had happened. She immediately went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Those closest to her had said when the doctor told her she was experiencing dementia that she almost punched him and immediately went for a second opinion before getting upset that they told her she should retire right away.
Even with the diagnosis, she completed the 2012 season but had to reduce the role with her assistant Holly Warlick. Holly had been her assistant since 1985.
After the 2012 season at age 59. , she retired and stepped down as head coach announcing Holly as her replacement. When she retired, she earned the title Head Coach Emeritus. She was not allowed to sit on the team bench but could still help with some duties for the team. When Pat finished her career, she had over a thousand games and wins.
Her coaching style was recognized by many as her being one of the toughest coaches in college basketball, whether you are a woman or a man. She was known for her looks as well. If her players made a poor play, she would have a look in response to this that was called "the stare." If you had asked Pat herself though, she would say that she had considerably softened later in her career, even saying that she didn't yell at them as much. She was asked to coach the men's team many times as well, which was another honor.
After she was diagnosed, she formed a partnership with the University of Tennessee Medical Center, and together, they established the Pat Summitt Clinic. The clinic opened three years ago, and its goal is to improve access to healthcare for patients and families dealing with Alzheimer's disease. They hope to find a cure and give support to the families that need it. It is a public charity and a community foundation that is created by and for the people of East Tennessee.
When she died at the age of 64, she was in a senior living facility in Knoxville, and the world instantly began to mourn her death. It hit Vols fans and her team hard because they had known her and loved her throughout her career, and she had meant so much to the sport. She left her entire estate to her son Tyler who loved her dearly and had often said that Pat was his most excellent teacher.
Throughout her life, Pat Summitt gave her all and helped those around her. She was able to give new light to women's sports and didn't back down from a challenge. She took women's basketball further than anyone thought it could go and will always remain in our hearts for being an amazing woman who had a love of a dream and made it happen.
Many would say that Pat Summitt discored her gift early in life and why she was put on this planet. She fullfilled her destiny.