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Pat Summitt| Winner

“Here’s how I’m going to beat you. I’m going to outwork you. That’s it. That’s all there is to it.” –Pat Summitt

More wins in college basketball than ANY coach in history, man or woman. Thirty-eight seasons without a losing record, gold and silver Olympic medals and an extraordinary legacy, Patricia Sue Summitt was the definition of “winner”.

The beloved head coach of the women’s basketball program at the University of Tennessee, Pat Summitt, died early Tuesday morning after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s five years ago.  In May 2011 upon announcing the diagnosis publicly, Summitt surprised most anyone who knew anything about her when she didn’t step down from her head coaching role in Knoxville.  Summit remained for, yet another season at the school where she almost single-handedly built the program.  Instead, she faced this opponent with the same tenacity and determination which made her a success on the court as player and coach.  Surrounded by a rabid fan base, emotionally motivated players and her assistants, the iconic coach pushed on to finish what she started.

In a statement issued from her son, Tyler Summitt said, “It is with tremendous sadness that I announce the passing of my mother, Patricia Sue Head Summitt. She died peacefully this morning at Sherrill Hill Senior Living in Knoxville surrounded by those who loved her most.”

Tyler Summitt continued, “She’ll be remembered as the all-time winningest D-1 basketball coach in NCAA history, but she was more than a coach to so many – she was a hero and a mentor, especially to me, her family, her friends, her Tennessee Lady Volunteer staff and the 161 Lady Vol student-athletes she coached during her 38-year tenure.”

“God doesn’t take things away to be cruel. He takes things away to make room for other things. He takes things away to lighten us. He takes things away so we can fly.” –Pat Summitt

Summitt’s record of 1,098–208 (.841) speaks for itself.  The love shown by her Lady Vol players, coaches, staff, faculty members and fans of the Big Orange speaks louder.  The tough-as-nails woman who broke records, barriers and opponents with her patented piercing stare, folded arms and iron will, was feared, respected and loved.  The heart and true love for those who battled for her was evident, as well.

Coach Pat SummittSummitt, a Clarksville, Tennessee native who enjoyed a storied playing career at UT- Martin, and who first became the head coach at Tennessee in 1972, would eventually receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, along with the Congressional Gold Medal, as the nation’s highest civilian awards in the same year she finished her coaching career.

This was a long way from when Summitt earned $250 monthly and washed the players’ uniforms, the same uniforms purchased the previous year with proceeds from a donut sale. A February 2009 interview with Time, Summitt revealed, “I had to drive the van when I first started coaching. One time, for a road game, we actually slept in the other team’s gym the night before. We had mats, we had our little sleeping bags. When I was a player at the University of Tennessee–Martin, we played at Tennessee Tech for three straight games, and we didn’t wash our uniforms. We only had one set. We played because we loved the game. We didn’t think anything about it.”

Obstacles never seemed to waiver Summitt’s spirit or deter her from accomplishment.  When she coached the USA to gold on August 8th, 1984 at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, she became the first individual in U.S. Olympic basketball history to be part of medal-winning teams as both player and coach.

There is no doubt why she was as revered by other coaches, just as she was by her players and the orange clad UT Faithful. She settled for nothing less than the best, because Summitt believed if you wanted to win at life, you must give your best… always.1946325213_fdb85460c9_b

Vince Lombardi, John Wooden, Don Shula and Bear Bryant are all legendary names expected to easily make the list of Top 50 Coaches of All Time.  There is only one woman listed. Her name is Pat Summitt …and she is a winner.

CHAMPIONSHIPS
NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championships (1987,1989,1991,1996–1998,2007,2008)
16× SEC Champions
(1980, 1985, 1990, 1993–1995, 1998, 1999–2004, 2007, 2010, 2011)
16× SEC Tournament Champions
(1980, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010–2012)

 

AWARDS
SEC Coach of the Year (1993,1995,1998,2001,2003,2004,2007,2011)
NCAA Coach of the Year (1983, 1987, 1989, 1994, 1995, 1998, 2004)
Naismith Coach of the 20th Century 
2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom

 

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