(Guru's Note: From the AP on Sunday Afternoon)
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Pat Summitt’s stone-cold, intense stare was
talked about often, but noticeably absent from her face on a day when
she was honored.
Smiles and occasional moments of blushing were the expressions of
the day Sunday for college basketball’s all-time winningest coach.
The University of Tennessee hosted “Pat Summitt’s Day of 1,000
Stories” at the Tennessee Theatre in downtown Knoxville.
For more than two hours, Summitt found herself surrounded by past
and present players, along with family and friends, to relive some of
her 1,005 career victories at Tennessee.
“It’s all about family, friends and us coming together toward a
common cause,” Summitt said. “To do something very good to make a
difference in this world for young women. It’s huge.”
It also was another chance for the 56-year-old icon of women’s
basketball to reiterate she’s far from finished.
If anything, the frustration of a 22-11 record in 2008-2009 —
including an unprecedented first-round exit for the Lady Vols from the
NCAA Tournament — has fueled Summitt’s passion.
“I’ve been on a mission and I’m going to stay on that mission,”
she said. “I’m going to continue to recruit, inspire and teach at the
To the outside world, Summitt has nothing more to prove.
She has powered Tennessee to eight national championships and a
career record of 1,005-193 in her 35-year tenure with the Lady Vols.
Summitt reached 1,000 victories with a 73-43 romp past Georgia on
Feb. 5 on the Thompson-Boling Arena floor that now bears her name “The
It was then that Tennessee women’s athletic director Joan Cronan
began planning Sunday’s celebration.
“Today’s a special day because we’re not only honoring someone who
has made great accomplishments,” Cronan said, “but we’re honoring
someone who has made a difference in all of our lives.”
Summitt’s first victory came when she was barely older than some
of her players, a 1975 win against Middle Tennessee State University.
Since then, Tennessee has made 28 NCAA Tournament appearances and
won a combined 27 SEC Tournament and regular-season titles.
Assistant coach Holly Warlick and former assistant Nikki Caldwell
— now head coach at UCLA — acted as the early emcees.
Caldwell pretended she was Summitt getting a call from President
Barack Obama and being put on hold.
“This man better hurry up,” Caldwell said. “I’ve got things to
Past players didn’t talk nearly as much about championships as
they did the fear they had when Summitt’s well-documented temper was
aimed in their direction.
Apparently, 3 a.m. practice sessions after particularly ugly
losses were the norm back in the days prior to NCAA restrictions on
practice time per week.
After one particular loss to Vanderbilt, Summitt told her players
they were not to talk the entire three-hour ride home. There also
wouldn’t be any post-game dinner that night.
“She told us we weren’t allowed to eat because we might choke on
it,” former guard Shelley Sexton-Collier said. “We got back to
Knoxville, watched film of the game we’d just lost, and Pat said we
had two minutes to get our uniforms back on and get out on the
“We finally finished up about 4:30 that morning and it was made
clear to us we would all be at our 7:50 a.m. classes.”
Player after player related similar stories. Player after player
each finished their times with the microphone thanking Summitt for
their life lessons learned.