I don’t pretend to know Pat Summitt. I’ve never met her, and have honestly never even seen her in person.
But I can tell you that I know some of what Pat Summitt is like.
I come from a family of strong women. One grandmother who stood as a pastor’s wife not once but twice when my biological grandfather passed away and she later remarried another pastor. My other grandmother spent years working in the mills and raising five children, and now is fighting the same evil disease as Summitt herself in Alzheimers.
My mom, who has not only dealt with the under appreciated pressures of being a pastor’s wife, but also spent decades in the classroom teaching English to middle and high school students.
Two sisters, one in the midst of raising teenage daughters, a younger son, and also life married to a minister; the other sister spending her days and weeks working to ensure teenage girls in South Carolina have the brightest future possible, and this after spending years dealing with the unexpected ups and downs of the lives of college students in various capacities.
Then my wife, who could manage to quiet an entire classroom of 4 year olds with barely a whisper when she was teaching. Now she’s busy taking care of our two little girls during the week: no job ever quite as tough as that of a stay-at-home mom.
So with news today of Pat Summitt’s resignation, I couldn’t help but pause to think about the various qualities she has exhibited during her many years as a coach. A strong, courageous, at times brazen but always kind-hearted woman.
She showed absolute dominance as a coach, amassing over 1,000 wins, 18 Final Fours, 16 SEC titles, and eight National Titles. Perhaps her biggest accomplishment was having a 100% graduation rate among her players. Not bad for 38 years of coaching.
What I believe is most fascinating about Summitt is how we can relate to her. we all haves woman or multiple women in our lives that we look up to. Strong, determined women. Passionate, hard-working women.
And unless you were an opponent of hers, it’s difficult not to root for her. Summitt did so much for the game of women’s basketball, that her true impact on the game may never be known. There is a reason the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame is located in Knoxville. There’s a reason the basketball court at Thompson Boling Arena is named for Pat Summitt.
While it’s bittersweet to see her step down this way, it gives us a chance to reflect on her impact as a coach and a woman. And gives us opportunity to be thankful for those women in our lives that, while they may not be coaches, are strong, passionate, and determined women. Women whose impact on our lives are immeasurable.