By: ShaKiana Edwards-Teasley @shakiana
‘God doesn’t take things away to be cruel. He takes things away to make room for other things. He takes things away to lighten us. He takes things away so we can fly.’
-Coach Pat Summitt
Tuesday, June 28th 2016, royalty in the basketball community passed away. Coach Pat Summitt of the Tennessee Volunteers helped to create, mold, and inspire some of the most successful female athletes of all time. What comes to mind when you think about Coach Summitt? Is it Summitt’s 1,098 wins? Her 38 seasons as a coach and 38 consecutive post seasons? 8 national titles? Winning NCAA coach of the Year 7 times? Coach Summitt was way more than that. She was a woman who paved the way for women’s basketball and a person that selflessly used her influence to participate in the success of countless others. She is partly responsible for the success of 34WNBA players and 14 Olympians, some of which she coached to the USA’s 1st Olympic gold medal in 1984. Most importantly Coach Summitt had a graduation rate of 100%. She was an absolute force to be reckoned with.
But if you ask Summitt what her most prize possession is, she would not skip a beat and say her son Ross “Tyler” Summitt, who was always by Summitt’s side. The loved these two shared for one another was such an amazing bond. He is now following in his mother footsteps.
On a personal level Coach Summitt helped me find that internal passion to basketball. Growing up playing rez ball, I never knew my love for the game could expand. My first book purchase at 8 years old was Chamique. I didn’t know by reading this it would connect me with such an amazing coach. What Coach Summitt did and how she fought for Chamique was everything I wanted in a coach. I was all about this inspiring woman and loved the Vols as a child. Summitt was my dream college coach…I knew she wasn’t about the hype, money and fame. Summitt was all about the passion and love for the game! Coach Summitt was a coach who will fight for you no matter what your situation, she believes in you and believed in the game. It helped me believe in me, and I know that she helped a lot of female hoopers across the nation.
Coach Summitt’s answer when it came to an obstacle in life was, “It is what it is”. Meaning take your life and life it to the fullest. That’s what Summitt did with her fight with early onset dementia, “Alzheimer’s Type”. Coach Summitt sure did that and with grace and style just like she did on the court. Summitt is a legend who will truly be missed and is loved by many and has touched so many lives. Her spirit will be carried on not just in the Thompson-Boling Arena but every arena across the nation. So who’s got next????