Pat Summit was the winningest coach in Division 1 college basketball history. In 2011, she was diagnosed with early onset dementia but refused to step down from coaching and even went on to say she wanted to coach for another 3 years.
If there is any moment that could describe Pat Summit as a coach and person, that would likely be it.
Pat Summit was a fearless competitor.
On Tuesday, her son Tyler Summitt announced that she had died peacefully, 5 years after suffering from onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type, surrounded by those who loved her most.
She took her first coaching job at the age of 22, yet despite her young age and lack of experience, she would not back down and ultimately become the winningest coach, in the male or female category, in NCAA basketball history.
Pat Summit’s overall record is 1098-208 (. 841). She was always ahead of schedule, a disciplinarian, and drove her players to aspire to new heights. Pat Summit was always seeking to be better, full of energy, and she led her players along with her. Her determination was the key to always having a winning record.
Her teams always made it to the NCAA tournament. She won 6 Southeastern Conference regular season titles and the same number of conference tournament titles.
She changed the game of women’s basketball in her 38 years of coaching at Tennessee and coached the 1984 team that won the gold medal in the Olympics in Los Angeles.
She was hard and employed a “tough love” mentality to keep her athletes on their heels. Her training was so demanding that Holly Warlick, Tennessee’s point guard back in the ‘70s thought to herself that “she was crazy.”
This was an approach she had learned from her own relationship with her father. Looking back, “If I made a mistake, I got whipped. If I cried, I got whipped harder.” Pat Summit recalled.
Pat Summit’s list of achievements is long, glittery and will continue to stand for years to come.
But above all, she was a good friend. She was beloved by all.
“No matter who needs her- from the last person on the bench to a manager to whoever — she knew everybody by name and treated them as if they were her own.” 3-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker said during an interview with ABC news.
She always made people around her better. She was 64 years old.
Photo courtesy: Aaron Vasquez/Flickr