Friday, March 25, 2005

Pat at the Summitt

If you need a good example of a steely gaze, find a typical picture of Pat Summitt. According to a Knoxville newspaper, when she started her career in the fall of 1974 she decided to pursue it with this basic approach: "Go in and be tough. You can always let up."

The philosophy worked well for Summitt, who has achieved just about everything that can be achieved as a college basketball coach, having reached the pinnacle on her home court in Knoxville Tuesday night.

Summitt's 880th career coaching victory (75-54 over Purdue, for the record) gave her the most coaching wins in Division 1 college basketball history. The occasion prompted UT to rename her home court "The Summitt."

Summitt was already an icon of Tennessee sports: inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the Naismith "Coach of the Century" in 2000, coach of the women's gold medal basketball team at the 1984 Olympics.

Her University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers were named the "Team of the Century" for the 2000s. She's mentioned as a possible replacement for every UT men's coach who moves on and would probably put up a credible statewide political campaign if she wanted to give that a try. The next UT athletic director? Sure, why not?

Whether she chooses to move on eventually or spend the rest of her career on the Lady Vols bench, Pat Summitt has carved out a unique place of honor in Tennessee lore.

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