Pat Summitt, the head coach for the Tennessee Lady Vols Women’s Basketball team, called it a career on April 19. For fans of women’s basketball in the NCAA Division I ranks, Pat Summitt is a household name.
After 38 years, Summitt stepped down from her job eight months after being diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type. Summitt handed over her whistle to Holly Warlick, a former player of Summitt’s and assistant coach for the past 27 years.
Summitt is the winningest coach in college basketball history, with her win-loss record standing at an impressive 1,098-208. Summitt’s Lady Vols won their sixteenth overall Southeastern Conference last month. The Lady Vols made it to the NCAA Tournament all 38 years of Summitt’s career, never being seeded lower than No. 5 and never finishing the season with a losing record. Summitt also led her teams to 18 Final Fours and eight National Championships. The 18 Final Four appearances are tied with both the UCLA and North Carolina men’s teams for the most appearances in NCAA history. Summitt even has two basketball courts named after her (UT Martin and University of Tennessee).Summitt’s time at Tennessee touched not only the players she coached, but also the nation. President Barack Obama has announced that Summitt will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Although Summitt is not coaching anymore, she will continue to touch lives through The Pat Summitt Foundation she created last year. The Foundation will give grants to nonprofit organizations that help to promote education about Alzheimer’s, give support services to patients and their caregivers and to research and eventually exterminate the disease. The Pat Summitt Foundation wants to prevent experiences similar to Summitt’s.
The Foundation’s marquee event this year was the “We Back Pat” week in the Southeastern Conference to raise awareness about the disease and the Foundation.
Pat Summitt has touched us in so many ways, it is truly sad to see her go from Knoxville. But she will continue to use her name to fight early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type until she can’t anymore.
Yes Pat, fight the same way you fight a bad call on the court. We will fight with you.