Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Rest in Peace, Pat Summitt (1952-2016)

On the first day of practice for the 1999-2000 college-basketball season, I was in Knoxville, Tenn., to watch the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers. The Lady Vols were coming off a season in which they had won 31 of the 34 games they played in, and you'd think that performance would be something to be happy about. But you'd be wrong about the 1999-2000 Lady Vols and especially their Hall of Fame coach, Pat Summitt, because Tennessee had won three national championships in a row before winning 31 or 34 but losing out in the previous tournament.

Practice has been going on for about 20 minutes, and a brand-new freshman Lady Vol passes the ball to one of her teammates. The teammate is on the run toward the basket, but she has to break stride to reach back and catch the pass.

"Erica! Erica! Erica!" Coach Summitt thunders, running onto the court from the sideline, yelling at the player who had passed the ball ("Erica" was not the real name of the freshman, who actually turned out to be a really, really great player, but I'm still not going to publicly call out the poor woman for a totally understandable lapse of concentration when she was 18 years old).

"Deliver the pass so that the receiver can be successful with the ball!”

Good advice in any job. Rest in peace, Coach Patricia Sue (Head) Summitt of Clarksville, Tennessee.


  1. 100% grad. rate for her players; hard to believe possible. So loved by Tn. fans one can feel their loss; nobody love their own more than Tennessee.

  2. It's something that Pat Summitt and Wilma Rudolph hailed from the same Tennessee county. Whoever was Tennessee's education commissioner (or whatever the position is/was) when that state decided to keep girls' sports in the public schools when Kentucky and other states were ditching them in the 1930s deserves some notice.

  3. Also, "Patricia Sue" is a beautiful name.