Tennessee’s Pat Summitt Changed The Game

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt changed the game – ESPN

This ESPN article is a great tribute to possibly the greatest coach to ever coach basketball, men or women’s — Tennessee’s Pat Summitt. Yesterday, she retired from coaching due to her nightmarish early onset dementia problems. She bravely battled through these over the past season, but you could see it taking a toll on her. She just wasn’t the same.

Summitt made women’s basketball the game it is today. We wouldn’t even be talking about it if it weren’t for Summitt. She won more games than any coach in history — 1,098. Every team of hers has made every one of the 31 women’s NCAA tournaments that exist. She’s won eight national championships, second only to UCLA’s John Wooden’s 10. And one thing many people don’t know, but I’m particularly impressed with — every player she’s ever coached has graduated with a degree! How many other coaches can say that? That’s right — none.

Last year, when it was announced that she’d come down with dementia, I was sitting in a parked car in downtown Chattanooga and just started sobbing. It was previously unthinkable. She’s one of the strongest people to ever grace the face of the earth. Why did it have to happen to her, at age 59? It seems rather cruel.

I knew, like most, she’d have to step down as coach soon, so her timing is good. One of her assistants is taking over, a coach who’s been with her for 27 years, and Pat will stay on in an advisory capacity, but the torch has been passed. It’s a sad day indeed, for women’s basketball, the University of Tennessee, and the entire state. I hope she can stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible for the remainder of her great life.