As far as the basketball game is concerned, Pat Summitt was a remarkable ruler in her day. Through her impeccable coaching skills, Summitt, head coach of an American women’s college basketball college, earned the respect of various sports officials and was placed on a high pedestal by her peers.
Prior to her retirement and death, she was the coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols women’s basketball team for 38 years. The iconic athlete held the challenging record of not losing too many until her retirement. It is worth remembering that the outstanding coach received two offers from Tennessee to coach the men’s team.
She was considered the toughest and strongest basketball player in both the men’s and women’s teams. Pat was widely known for her characteristic stern look she gave to her players when they failed to deliver. Often considered the unbeatable women’s coach, Summitt remains an inspiration to women in sports and men alike, given her outstanding performances. Pat Summitt was not only an athlete but also a writer; learn more about the life of the late basketball coach.
Pat Summitt Bio – Life and Death
She was born on June 14, 1952, in Clarksville, Tennessee, as Patricia Sue Head. She was the fourth of five children of her parents, Richard and Hazel Albright, and was born Patricia Sue Head. Summitt, affectionately known as Trish in her youth, found a connection to basketball at a very young age. Her love for the sport inspired her family to move to Henrietta when she was still in school, as there was no girls’ team in Clarksville.
She attended the University of Tennessee at a time when there was nothing better for women than athletic scholarships. Summitt enrolled at the school where she joined the Chi Omega Sorority and played for the school’s first female basketball coach, Nadie Gearin. Since she didn’t get a scholarship, she sold donuts and did other things like washing players’ uniforms – jobs that earned her about $250 a month.
Pat became an assistant at the university just before the 1974 season; at that time women’s basketball did not have NCAA accreditation. She then became head coach of Lady Vols. Summitt celebrated its first victory of the season when the Vols defeated the state of Middle Tennessee in January 1975. She was also co-captain of the U.S. women’s basketball team in the opening tournament of the 1976 Summer Olympics, and earned a master’s degree in sports education and training the same year. Women’s involvement in the NCAA began to become a reality in the 1980s, and Summitt participated in the first NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament in the 1981-82 season. On her way to the round of the last four, the Lady Vols finally lost in the game against Louisana Tech.
In the 1990s, Pat Summitt had won her 500th victory in the game against Ohio State at the beginning of the 1993-94 season. Summitt’s best records were set in the 1997-98 season, when the Lady Vols scored a 39-0 win, despite playing with top teams. The Vols also scored a 30-victory in the 1999 season, closing the curtain as co-team of the decade, a title the team won at the 2000 ESPY awards. Summitt was also named Naismith Coach of the Century at the awards ceremony. The renowned coach led the Lady Vols to her fifth consecutive victory in the 2001-02 SEC championship and her 1000th victory in the 2008-09 season after defeating the Georgia Lady Bulldogs.
Before her first NCAA tournament, Pat married Ross Barnes Summitt II in 1980. However, both divorced in 2007. The couple had a son – Ross Tyler Summitt.
The iconic coach announced her retirement for the 2012-13 season. That same year, her son Tyler became an assistant coach for the women’s team at Marquette University. Pat Summitt died on June 28, 2016, after her 64th birthday.
What Disease Did She Die of?
Pat Summitt revealed her diagnosis of early onset of Alzheimer’s disease in 2011, but this did not stop her from coaching her team until the end of the 2011-12 season. During that time, she left most of the work to her assistant, Holly Warlick. It seemed that her inactivity at the time was affecting the team, as she ended up losing to the champion Baylor Lady Bears. Summitt was getting weaker and weaker and had to take a bow sooner rather than later. She resigned in April 2012 and requested that her assistant take over the position. By the end of her coaching career, the cult coach had won 1098 games in 1306 matches.