Saturday, March 08, 2008

Summitt, like Boone, got rid of raccoon

NASHVILLE - The story will be much bigger in 20 years. The raccoon will become a bear, and Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt's dislocated right shoulder will become a severed arm or worse.

But the story is still pretty good right now. And Summitt didn't mind sharing it after her team's 92-61 victory over Florida in the second round of the SEC tournament Friday afternoon at the Sommet Center.

The story begins with a Wednesday night dinner at home for Summitt and her son, Tyler. The entree is germane to the story. It was salmon.

Raccoons love salmon.

After finishing dinner, Summitt watched the Tennessee-Florida men's basketball game on television, finished cleaning the kitchen and took the trash out to the back deck.

Moments later, Summitt heard one of her two yellow labs barking furiously on the deck. Six-year-old Sally was barking at a raccoon, which obviously had caught a whiff of leftover salmon.

"I didn't think the raccoon was that big until it raised up (on its hind legs)," Summitt said. "It was huge."

The raccoon was no longer focused on the salmon. Sally had its full attention.

"They say raccoons go for the eyes," Summitt said. "I was afraid he was getting ready to attack her."

It's probably worth noting at this point that Summitt knew more about the raccoon than the raccoon knew about Summitt. Otherwise, he would have realized a barking dog was the least of his problems.

While the raccoon fixated on Sally, Summitt sprung into action.

"I came on the other side of Sally and did this," Summitt explained, demonstrating a right forearm shiver to her listener. "I knocked him off the rail. That's a long drop (about 30 feet, Lady Vols publicist Debby Jennings estimated)."

And just like that, the raccoon was gone and the dog was OK. But Summitt wasn't. She forearmed the raccoon with such force that she dislocated her right shoulder.

"I was in dire pain," she said. "I looked down, and there was an indent. I knew (the shoulder) was out."

She then called Lady Vols team physician Dr. Rebecca Morgan, who made a late-night house call, and - with the help of Tyler - put the shoulder back in pre-raccoon position.

"It did not really hurt that much when they put it back in," Summitt said.

Tyler guessed that the raccoon didn't fare as well.

"It's still wondering what hit it," Tyler said. "She loves those dogs more than anything. She was going to take that raccoon out."

The team didn't pick up on the story until after the game.

"Daniel Boone!" UT player Candace Parker shouted as Summitt returned to the locker room from post-game interviews. "Where's your hat?"

Later, Summitt repeated the story for her team's benefit. In years to come, it surely will be told again and again - with considerable embellishment, no doubt.

In fact, I can imagine a couple of basketball fans discussing the legendary coach 20 years from now.

First fan: "Boy, that Pat Summitt was some coach, wasn't she?"

Second fan: "She wasn't just a great coach. She was a great leader. And she led by example."

First fan: "Yeah, remember the time that bear attacked Summitt's team. They all might have been killed if she hadn't wrestled it into submission. Almost lost her right arm in the process."

Second fan: "No, you got it all wrong. She didn't lay a hand on the bear. She just stared at it until it was hypnotized."

First fan: "That's right. I remember reading that she was an expert in hypnosis.

By the way, whatever happened to the bear?"

Second fan: Why, after Summitt hypnotized it, the bear became her friend. Still lives on her place.

"Folks say it gets along great with her dogs."

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