Coaches stunned by Pat Summitt’s dementia news
Pat Summitt’s announcement that she has early onset dementia shocked the world of women’s college basketball and reverberated throughout the sports world.
Small wonder. The Tennessee women’s coach is a legend, and perhaps the greatest coach in any sport. She’s 59-years-old, yet has won 1,071 games – the most by any men’s or women’s coach in college basketball – eight national titles and turned the Vols into one of the few women’s teams that resonated nationally.
She’ll still coach, but will reduce her duties with the team. Here’s a sampling of reaction from other coaches, as compiled by the Associated Press.
“It always seemed she had no vulnerability. She’s the solid rock everyone looked up to. ... I’m very happy she’s not going to walk off the court at this point. When you have made it your life, there needs to be transition.” - Former Texas coach Jody Conradt.
“She’s our John Wooden. If you are a Tennessee fan or not, there’s no denying her place in women’s basketball. ... I played for the woman. She’s as tough as nails. People think I’m tough. I’m a pussycat compared to Pat Summitt .... Pat Summitt will fight. Pat Summitt will be on a crusade to help people with dementia. Pat said it best: It won’t be a pity party.” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Pat will take on this challenge as she has all others during her Hall of Fame career - head on. I wish her all the best.” - Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma.
“When you’re a basketball fan, or a person who played basketball or someone who hopes to coach basketball and you are from the state of Tennessee, you know who Pat Summitt is. You’ve followed her career. You’ve learned from her. You’ve had books signed by her. You’ve sat and listened to her many times as you possibly can. It feels personal to everyone, though. Pat is a powerful figure in Tennessee, but what she’s done on a nation level to gain notoriety for the sport is amazing.” - Florida coach and Mt. Juliet, Tenn., native Amanda Butler.
“It takes great, great courage to fight health issues; it takes even greater courage to fight them in front of the world. Pat’s willingness to share this private battle speaks volumes about her strength and her character. She’s modeled tenacity and endurance and optimism and faith for generations of athletes on the court. I know those athletes, we coaches, women’s basketball fans, and sports fans in general will join in returning those gifts to her during this time of need.” - Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale.
“She’s a classy lady and we’ll be praying for her and her family. She’s just all class. That’s all you can say. She’s always helped with anything I’ve needed, and if she needs me she knows I’ll be there.” - Middle Tennessee coach Rick Insell.
“When I heard about Coach Summitt, I was stunned. Pat Summitt transcends her sport. She is more than just a coach & a leader in her field.” - Kentucky coach John Calipari.
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