The recent death of NCAA Women’s coach Pat Summitt at 64, has shaken the sports world. Summitt, the winningest NCAA basketball coach of all time, men or women, but lost her battle to early onset Alzheimer’s disease. There is no other name that should be placed higher on a list of what has made women’s basketball, or women’s sports in general popular and important than Coach Summitt.
The news of Summitt passing saddened not just the Tennessee Lady Vols community, but college and pro athletes nationwide took notice. Over her 38 year career has the Lady Vols head coach she achieved something no one else has, male or female. She amassed 1,098 wins. The next closest is Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski with 1043 wins. She would have had more if she did not have to end her career early due to the early onset of dementia.
While at Tennessee, she became an icon throughout the sports world. She was a coach to kids she did not even have on one of her teams. According to ESPN, She was key in the fight for Title IX, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of an individual’s sex. She placed women’s basketball on a level that forced the need for a professional league to be created.
According to Sports Illustrated, Peyton Manning, former NFL quarterback and member of the Tennessee Volunteer football team had reached out to Pat Summitt on various occasions, including if he should leave for the NFL a year early. He respected her advice, as did many players, and students throughout the years. She touched the lives of a lot more than the 161 student-athletes she coached at Tennessee.
News of Summitt’s death came just days after news broke that former players, friends, and family had joined her at the retirement home she was living at since the beginning of the year. According to a press release from her son, Tyler, Summitt died peacefully Tuesday morning, surrounded by her loved ones. Soon after, according to the university, her statue was being surrounded by flowers and balloons in memory of Coach Summitt
When she came to Tennessee, she started her coaching career before the NCAA was recognizing women’s basketball as a sport. She was 22, and would wash the uniforms of her players. At the end of her 38 seasons, she wore 8 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship rings.
A book could not be written on all that Summitt has done throughout her life. It would take a series of books to even come close to revealing her contributions to Tennessee, women’s sports, basketball, and so much more. For more CDA News, follow our tweets on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
By Cletus Dillwood