Highlights of the special issue include:
THE SISTERHOOD OF THE NATIONAL CHAMPS—KELLI ANDERSON
The day before the NCAA championship final in Tampa a reporter asked Pat Summitt if she had thought about how she’ll react when she realizes she has coached Candace Parker and four seniors for the last time. Summitt didn’t seem overly concerned about being staggered by emotion at the wrong time. “We all say, Once a Lady Vol, always a Lady Vol. They’ll come back, just like the others. They will always be a part of the family,” Summitt said. How many programs have players who yearn for the day they can reminisce with future players and swap coach stories? “I can’t wait till I come back in 10 years, when I’m thirty-something years old, telling stories about the Tennessee program,” said Candace Parker (page 10).
ROUNDS 1 AND 2: START OF SOMETHING BIG—ANDREW LAWRENCE
Win or lose, Tennessee’s 27th NCAA tournament was bound to draw to a bittersweet conclusion. The euphoria that would follow a successful defense of its 2007 championship would ultimately give way to the sadness of having to say goodbye to five key contributors to that run of back-to-back titles. How well will Tennessee fare without the nucleus of a team that has combined for 101 wins over the last three seasons (page 31)?
REGIONALS: EXPERIENCE COUNTS—ANDREW LAWRENCE
Three years ago at this time, Alexis Hornbuckle was a wide-eyes freshman starter on a veteran Tennessee team that had designs on reaching the Final Four. She had no idea what to expect. “I was so nervous,” said Hornbuckle, adding that she could’ve benefited from a little direction from her more experienced teammates. Fellow senior Nicky Anosike remembers being just as lost back then. “They kind of left us in the dust,” she said. Determined not to complete the cycle with this year’s underclassmen, Anosike and Hornbuckle convened an informal briefing session before the first round of the NCAA tournament at the team’s hotel to take questions and allay anxieties. “I feel like it’s the seniors’ job to step up in the postseason and lead the team, because we’ve been here and we know what it takes,” Anosike said (page 35).
THE HEROES: (pages 50-60)
- Regarding Candace: As anyone who has ever seen her play will tell you, number three is one of a kind.
“My experience here at Tennessee has been great. I look back at my growth, not only as a player but also just as a person, and I feel like it’s been the best four years of my life. I wouldn’t change anything.” – Candace Parker
- Rocky Top Journey: The long road to Tennessee ended with two national titles for Shannon Bobbitt.
“She’s the kind of kid that you root for because she’s small, she’s tough and she wants to be successful so bad.” – Teammate Alexis Hornbuckle
THE TITLE TEAMS: (pages 62-77)
- 1987 - Finally First Prize at the Big Dance: After eight tries the Lady Vols brought home the trophy.
- 1989 – Vols that Glitter Are Gold: With a wealth of talent, Tennessee was on the money once again.
- 1991 – Just tougher than the Rest: “Playing for Pat,” the Lady Vols gutted out an OT win over Virginia.
- 1996 – Bringing Up the D Word: Defense? Drive? Determination? Yes, but we’re talking dynasty.
- 1997 – Going Back-To-Back the Hard Way: The Lady Vols overcame injuries and adversity on the way to repeating.
- 1998 – “Meeks” Inherit a Place in History: Chamique, Semeka and Tamika led Tennessee to a third straight title.
- 2007 – Returning to the Summitt: After a nine-year drought, Tennessee reached the top again.
A Collector of Championships: It’s never just “another year, another trophy” for Pat Summitt (page 80).
As with all Sports Illustrated Presents commemorative issues, this special collector’s edition is separate from the current weekly issue of Sports Illustrated, which is dated April 21, 2008.