Saturday, August 16, 2008

Coach Summitt reflects on her gold-medal experience

Many Americans are glued to their televisions to watch Michael Phelps swim his way to Olympic glory, and that includes one famous East Tennessean with gold medal ties.

Lady Vols Head Coach Pat Summitt has been watching the swimmer nab medal after medal, and she reflected on her own winning experience.

"To be able to win in Los Angeles, I've never, ever felt as much pressure in coaching as I did trying to bring home the gold in Los Angeles," Summitt said of the win.

The players got their gold medals, but the coach missed out on the bling.

"Coaches do not get gold medals, that hardly seemed fair," Summitt said.

However, she has a pretty good imitation that someone had made for her. Plus, she's got the real thing in silver.

Back in 1976, she played on the American team that won the Olympic silver medal.

This year, she's watching from the sidelines, tuning into women's basketball -- three former Lady Vols are on the team -- and swimming star Michael Phelps.

She recalled when she and her son, Tyler, met Phelps after the 2007 ESPY Awards. Summitt says the swimming phenom was the only sports star her son wanted to meet that night, but when it came time to capture the moment on camera, she had to try six times before the picture worked.

She now laughs at her son's embarrassment back then, but she says her persistence paid off, and now her son has a priceless memento from the most decorated Olympian.

"He's Superman, Michael Phelps is Superman," Summitt said. "I was sweating, I was worried about it. I was like, oh, he's got to make it, and I think everyone's pulling for him. I know all the USA team's gotta be pulling hard."

She says that's what the Games are all about -- the guts and the glory.

"It was incredible just being there, you know, it's exciting watching it, but having been there, I think I've got a better feel, you know, just for the energy, the intensity, the competitiveness of the Olympic Games. It's incredible, unlike any other sporting event you will see when you get that many people competing for gold medals."

Monday, August 04, 2008

Coach Pat Summitt makes $600K gift to Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Coach Pat Summitt will donate $600,000 to the University of Tennessee to be shared by the Knoxville and Martin campuses.

A spokeswoman for Tennessee athletics said Monday the donation will go to support the women's basketball programs at both campuses and includes a $100,000 endowed scholarship for a Lady Vols basketball graduate assistant in honor of Summitt's parents, Richard and Hazel Head.

Summitt has spent 34 seasons as the Lady Vols coach, leading the program to an unprecedented eight national championships. She played basketball and volleyball at Tennessee-Martin.

Two other coaches have made similar contributions. Men's coach Bruce Pearl endowed the Dane Bradshaw Scholarship Endowment in March 2007 and football coach Phillip Fulmer announced in August 2007 a $1 million gift for academics and athletics.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Dupree commits to Lady Vols

Another Webb School women's basketball standout is on the way to Tennessee.

Post player Faith Dupree is the latest Lady Spartan to commit to the Lady Vols. The 6-foot-3 senior-to-be informed UT coach Pat Summitt of her decision after attending UT's elite camp this weekend. She picked Tennessee over Kentucky, Georgia and Virginia Tech.

Glory Johnson, Dupree's former teammate, signed with UT last November and is enrolled in summer school classes.

"It's a dream come true,'' Dupree said. 'Since I was a little girl I've wanted to be a Lady Vol like everyone else. But it means more, this being my hometown."

Dupree, a PrepXtra girls' first-team honoree this spring, averaged 14.5 points 6.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.2 steals last season for Webb, the Division II-AA state runner-up.

Along with the PrepXtra honor, Dupree also was named to the Division II-AA all-tournament and all-region teams.

"She's worked hard,'' Webb coach Shelley Collier said. "She wanted to see herself at this level. Faith has come a long way in the last two years and she still has another year."

Playing with Johnson likely enhanced Dupree's recruiting profile with UT.

"They've been watching Glory,'' Collier said, "and Faith caught their eye as well."

Dupree is the second player from the class of 2009 to commit to UT. Kamiko Williams of Clarksville committed last fall.