Over the course of her 38-year basketball career at the University of Tennessee, Pat Summitt coached and met an incredible number of athletes. In the wake of her death, some of those women shared stories about the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history.
Former Lady Vol Candace Parker shared a picture of a hand-written recruitment letter from Summitt in which she promised to “do my best to help you develop as a player, person and student. We could have a lot of fun in the process.”
Princeton women’s basketball head coach Courtney Banghart relayed an anecdote from the first time she met Summitt, early in her coaching career:
R&B singer Keri Hilson reminisced about the time she attended Summitt’s basketball camp in Tennessee while she was in high school. “I remember that you didn’t smile often but if and when you did, it was a great sign,” Hilson wrote. “Not sure I ever saw it though. Even camp was not a game to you. You were so serious & dedicated to improving players…..changing lives.”
Former Tennessee forward Tamika Catchings shared several memories of Summitt over a conference call:
“A whole bunch of memories have flooded my mind. The one that stands out the most right now was giving her the hug after we won (the WNBA title) in 2012,” Catchings said. “Just having her there. I wanted her to see, know what I stood for, the dedication that season stood for and having her actually there for the championship game.”
When Catchings showed Summitt her book, “Catch A Star,” released in March:
“I could see her looking at the picture (of me) and looking at me and looking back at the picture,” Catchings said. “She was kind of in and out of the conversation. You could tell she was present at times and, other times, knowing she was a little distant.”
Chamique Holdsclaw, another of Summitt’s former Lady Vols, wrote a remembrance for the Associated Press today that focused on how supportive she could be off the court:
When things spiraled out of control when I was in D.C., having these blackouts and things, Coach Summitt was knocking at my door. She spent time talking with me after the season. She wanted to make sure I was ok and getting the medical attention I needed. When I lost my grandmother, when I was really struggling with my mental illness, whenever I needed her, she was there for me. When she first went public with her battle with dementia, our UT family rallied around her, but we all believed that if anyone could beat the odds it would be coach Summitt.