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On 3/14/2016 at 11:39 AM, DaveO said:

There is a powerful personal story behind that extraordinary record:  Ranked in the top 25; every week, for over 30 years.   Its the story of Pat Summitt, Tennessee's record breaking coach.  She had a 38 year coaching career:  She led the "lady Vols" to 1,098 basketball victories, the most victories of any coach in NCAA history.  One could go on and on about her legacy as a coach....but there is far more to the personal story.

 

Prior to the 2011-2012 season Pat Summitt announced she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.  She coached that season, being in the public eye...very remarkable.  She also turned over many of the responsibilities of coaching that season to her chief assistant.  Following that season she became "head coach emeritus".  In following seasons she was visible.  Probably not now:

 

Currently U of Tennessee and its sports teams are facing a Title IX oriented law suit connected to alleged rape by two former male athletes and the claim of sexual abuse by the athletes and the athletic administration.  In light of this situation a very recent article references Pat Summitt, her wisdom, her authority on that campus....and the loss the community faces without her leadership.   I'll merely quote from the article:

 

Quote

"What she said mattered,"� said Mickey Dearstone, voice of the Lady Vols. "If she said it, they'd take it to the bank."�

Dearstone can't be blamed for lugging around a certain sadness these days. He's doing play-by-play for a team that has fallen out of the AP Top 25 for the first time in 31 years. It's another sign that Summitt's dynasty seems to be fading.

It's another reminder his old friend isn't on the bench. They were besties, Mickey and Pat. All the battles, the championships, the strides made. That Title IX law that is so central to the lawsuit turns 44 this year. It prohibits sex discrimination in any federally funded activity.

You want to talk irony? Summitt was a Title IX pioneer, playing at Tennessee-Martin the year the law was enacted (1972). UT, a beacon of women's opportunity under Summitt, is doggedly fighting allegations it violated federal law.It's been four-plus years since Summitt was diagnosed. She soldiered on through that final 2011-12 season with equal parts determination and spunk.

"There's not going to be any pity party,"� she said that season, "and I'll make sure of that."�

Now "¦

"I'm not sure that she knows who I am unless I tell her,"� Dearstone said. "People that were really close to her, it's really sunk in."�

 

That final sentence is very tough.  2011 to spring 2012, Pat Summitt was all there, visible, courageous, and still coaching.  Now the impact of Alzheimer's has set in.  

 

In any case that 31 year record of excellence is mostly attributable to one courageous person.  A very moving story.

 

This is a fantastic post, and Pat Summitt deserves her own thread (as does Title IX). Every time I question humanity, I'm reminded of people like Pat Summitt, who I suppose can be compared to John Wooden in pure basketball terms, but Summitt had other obstacles that Wooden never had.

 

Thank you for posting this - it makes you wonder what the Lady Vols would have been like without Summitt. And it also makes Mickey Dearstone sound like one heck of a great person.

 

It should also be noted that in addition to her coaching, Summitt was an All-American player for the University of Tennessee - Martin, and played in several *major* international competitions including co-captaining the first-ever U.S. Women's National Team at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, winning a silver medal

 

As the "Summitt summit," she was a 2012 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award there is. Even more impressive: look at the company she keeps in winning this medal due to her achievement in sports - the *only* other female on the list is Billie Jean King. although since the award is generally given to people who transcend sports, the number of females on the list will surely grow going forward - before 2000, only 9 medals total were given out to athletes, so this is a relatively new trend. Still, Pat Summitt is only the *second* female athlete in history to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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Here is a nice piece on Pat Summitt from NPR  At the bottom of the story there is a link to a very nice excerpt from her biography.  Lastly the comments to the NPR piece are interesting and respectful.

I followed her a bit over the years and from afar.  She seemed like a no-bullshit straight shooter who was remarkably successful, and therefore must have been remarkably talented.

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