Sum It Up: 1,098 Victories, A Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective
Pat Head Summitt, Sally Jenkins
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Pat Summitt, the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history and bestselling author of Reach for the Summitt and Raise The Roof, tells for the first time her remarkable story of victory and resilience as well as facing down her greatest challenge: early-onset Alzheimer's disease.
Pat Summitt was only 21 when she became head coach of the Tennessee Vols women's basketball team. For 38 years, she broke records, winning more games than any NCAA team in basketball history. She coached an undefeated season, co-captained the first women's Olympic team, was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and was named Sports Illustrated 'Sportswoman of the Year'.
She owed her coaching success to her personal struggles and triumphs. She learned to be tough from her strict, demanding father. Motherhood taught her to balance that rigidity with communication and kindness. She was a role model for the many women she coached; 74 of her players have become coaches.
Pat's life took a shocking turn in 2011, when she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, an irreversible brain condition that affects 5 million Americans. Despite her devastating diagnosis, she led the Vols to win their sixteenth SEC championship in March 2012. Pat continued to be a fighter, facing this new challenge the way she's faced every other--with hard work, perseverance, and a sense of humor.
telltale vagueness and uncertainty; had I understood it right? I peered into the lights and paused for a just a beat too long. Holly jumped in. “Mexican corn,” she said. By then I’d caught up. “Jalapeño corn,” I corrected. There were more questions, probing my state of mind. I discussed our freshmen and their energy and praised Vicki Baugh for her leadership. Someone kiddingly asked if I still knew how to yell at the officials. “Trust me, I remember the refs,” I said, to laughter. When I got
New York hard, and my mood lifted. We power shopped at Macy’s in the heart of Christmas traffic, and ate Italian and listened to Mickie stretch tales. One was a riff about going into Victoria’s Secret and having her personal dimensions announced over the store loudspeaker. Dean Lockwood took a turn: he had an uncanny ability to remember whole lengths of movie dialogue, and he loved to do the well scene from Silence of the Lambs. “It takes the lotion from the basket and puts it on its skin,” he
their floor. But now we’re at home—and we’re not losing. Guess what. It’s OUR TURN!” That sent them out the door flying. Meighan hit two huge threes and blocked a shot, Stricklen made a stunning spin move in the lane, and Vicki Baugh leaped up around the rim like she was on a pogo stick. We beat ’em by 40. We were back in the national conversation and had rescued our self-respect, and we were starting to look like a traditional Tennessee team again. Our problems weren’t solved by a long shot,
the next stage, candidly yet positively. “You have broad shoulders,” he said to me at one point, “and you can make this transition with a systematic game plan that plays to your strengths.” I believe we did that. The day after my “retirement with a small r” press conference, I put my sweats and sneakers back on and went back to practice with the Lady Vols. As of this writing, I’ve missed only two workouts. Holly tells me I don’t have to show up every single day, especially at the six A.M.
disappeared. Everyone in the room was tense, including the family dog. So I walk in, and something seems a little bit strange, everyone’s on edge. I didn’t have a clue, but I knew that things weren’t right. People were not relaxed. My dad’s sitting on the edge of the sofa jingling his change in his pocket, and my dog Frosty is running around like crazy. —MICHELLE MARCINIAK It was the most rushed, hurried presentation ever. Mickie flipped the pages and talked so fast that she sounded like she