Call it bittersweet.
The day one began, and one ended. The day that they both will always remember, and never forget. Tyler Summit, just 21 years of age takes an assistant coaching position on the women's staff at Marquette University. His mother, Pat Summit, 59 years of age, forced to step aside after 38 years of being with the Lady Vols and the institution at Tennessee University. The story however isn't about the beginning of an era, it is about the end. One of the game's biggest inspirations, leaders, and winning est coaches to ever coach the game, Pat Summit.
When the news was first released that Coach Summit was battling the early-onset stages of dementia, I remember it took my breath away. Yet I still never thought it would defeat her, EVER. I remember thinking, "how is this possible?", "why does this have to happen to one of the biggest icons in the world?", "how much longer will she coach?" Thoughts, just rolling through my mind. Still though, I never thought you be able to tell she has it, at least not during her coaching realm. And then I saw it, we all saw it. In January, February, March her coaching tactics during games were different. Stories about her composure and focus during practices, and even just everyday life were topic of conversation. This cruel, dangerous disease was attacking every ounce of her body; her memory, her thinking, her soul. To me though - that's not the only tough part to stomach. Pat Summit is the face of women's basketball, the winning est coach in NCAA history (1,098), and the answer as to why the game should be respected today. And that - to those who truly understand the impact of sports, family, and pride, is TOUGH TO STOMACH. 38 years of coaching, teaching, leading. 1,098 wins. 31 years in the NCAA tournament (every year since it was established). 8 National Titles and 161 players later - she is walking away from the only thing she has ever known; coaching!!
Still so shocking, in the blink of an eye it is hard to believe - One of the games most prolific teachers, leaders, and inspirations is forced to walk away. Over her coaching tenure, it is evident through the game of basketball many lessons were learned; Not just about the game, but about life itself. One in particular that I learned throughout playing/watching/learning the game is that life is not a right, it is a gift - if you don't understand just read about Pat Summit; her life makes it clear!