Today: Jul 17, 2024

Sports Commentary: Top of the Summitt

PAT LONGOBARDISports Writer

Everyone has been given that icy stare at least once in their lifetime.

Not many can perfect it like a Lady Vol.

Former Tennessee women’s basketball head coach Pat Summitt left a legacy that very few can leave on any team and fan base.

Last week, Summitt stepped down from the position of head coach to deal with her early onset dementia, and turned over her whistle to long-time assistant Holly Warlick. Summitt will become an emeritus and continue to help the program in other areas. It will be a good way for her to stay active going forward.

Summitt is one of the best coaches ever. She built a program from the ground up and turned it into a national powerhouse.

When you think of Penn State, you think of the late Joe Pa. Indiana and Bobby Knight. North Carolina and Dean Smith. Duke and Coach K. The same can also go for Tennessee and Pat Summitt.

Summit started as a young woman in the athletic department at Tennessee. She earned their respect with her dedication and knowledge and was asked to coach the women’s basketball team in 1974.

Fast-forward 38, Summitt went on to win 1,098 games—the most ever by any NCAA basketball coach—and she won eight national championships, second to John Wooden at UCLA.

If you really look at it, the reason she gave that famous icy stare was because she cared so much.

Summitt helped pave the way for more female coaches to be like her, to win like her and to maybe even give that passion just like her.

Summitt will be missed not only because of her stare-down but because she cared so much to be one of the best.

For those who watch college sports, UConn-Tennessee was one of the best rivalries in all of sports at one time.

I also remember when she sang “Rocky Top” in a cheerleader’s uniform on their home court during the tenure of UT men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl.

While women’s sports are still growing, Summitt helped show many that all of that dedication will pay off.

There are not many who can do what she has done, not only in any sport but as a head coach, to transform a school into an elite with that name value behind it.

Now we can actually appreciate what she did for not only college basketball but women’s sports. She set a standard of excellence that not many schools can do at a consistent pace. She valued that year in and year out.

For many fans in sports, whenever someone has so much success, there is a sense of dislike towards that person without much of an explanation why.

Now, I finally understand why. That is something I would like to call a sign of respect. Best of luck Coach Summitt and Rocky Top.

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