Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summitt-Wooden Room Dedicated

NCAA Names Room At New Building After Two Legendary Hoops Coaches

INDIANAPOLIS -- Among her incredibly lengthy list of career honors, Tennessee Women's Basketball Head Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt has two basketball courts, a gym and a campus street named after her. Now the eight-time national champion coach has a room at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Headquarters named in her honor as well.

The NCAA formally dedicated a new building at its national office as the Brand Building in honor of the late President Myles Brand, who served as the Association's chief executive from 2003-09. Located within that facility are rooms named after NCAA sports icons, and Summitt and UCLA men's basketball coaching great John Wooden were jointly honored with the dedication of the Summitt-Wooden Room on Tuesday.

Summitt amassed eight national titles and an NCAA-best (men or women) 1,098 basketball victories over 38 seasons at the helm of the Lady Vols. Wooden, meanwhile, directed UCLA to an NCAA-leading 10 hoops championship trophies and 620 wins during his 27 years leading the Bruins.

Among the dignitaries in attendance at the private event were Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.

Also recognized at the dedication were other NCAA icons with rooms named after them, including James Frank, Judy Sweet, Christine Grant, Charlotte West. Family members or representatives for Theodore Roosevelt, John Wooden, Jesse Owens and Althea Gibson also were present.

Pat Summitt

Matthew Mitchell’s days at Central Holmes Academy High School were busy.

In the mid-1990s, he was the head coach of boys and girls basketball teams, the golf teams, and the track and field teams. Mitchell was also the defensive coordinator for the football team. He even cleaned the floors.

Mitchell didn’t have time to think about Pat Summitt.

In 1996, a friend of Mitchell’s, who was also an assistant coach at Mississippi at the time, told him he could help out at a women’s basketball camp at the University of Tennessee. Always in the market to learn more about coaching, Mitchell headed to Knoxville. It didn’t take him long to find out who Summitt was. And how selfless she is.

“That’s where I first noticed how giving she was,” Mitchell said. “There were 100 coaches from all over the country, and she would spend time with all of them.”

During the summer of 1999, his fourth working at Summitt’s camp, he was offered a job as a graduate assistant on Summitt’s staff. Although his stay in Knoxville lasted just a year before his career took off, eventually landing him at the University of Kentucky’s as head coach of the women’s basketball program, the confidence he developed from working with Summitt still stays with him.

Summitt’s been a pioneer in women’s basketball longer than her players have been alive. She was hired in 1974 as a graduate assistant at Tennessee, when women’s basketball was still governed by the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW). Before the 1974-75 season began, the head coach quit and Summitt was quickly promoted to head coach, starting a 38-year run with the Lady Vols that included eight national championships,18 Final Fours and 16 Southeastern Conference crowns. She was named national coach of the year seven times and was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2000.

If that’s not impressive enough, her career coaching record is 1098-208.

But no amount of championships, honors or statistics could keep Summitt from thinking she was above the sport that ran through her blood. It wasn’t uncommon for her to walk into Tennessee’s student union, step onto a table and promote the women’s basketball game that night – even at the height of the Lady Vols’ success. When it came to advancing women’s basketball, she was second-to-none. Often, Summitt volunteered to move the time of Tennessee’s games if it fit the TV network’s schedule better.

If a Kiwanis or Rotary club asked her to speak, Summitt never said no.

Michelle Perry, the director of the Division I women’s basketball championship, said Summitt was always available when the NCAA needed someone to speak to corporate sponsors. In 2008, the NCAA hosted its sponsors in Tampa, the site of that year’s Final Four. Summitt took the stage in front of a crowd of sponsors, the majority made up of men.

“You could hear a pin drop,” Perry said. “Every person was absolutely mesmerized. I saw grown men climb over each other to shake her hand. She transcends not just women’s basketball, she transcends sports.”

But her priority is Tennessee and her student-athletes.

“Pat has been the No. 1 ambassador for the University of Tennessee, for women’s athletics, for women’s basketball,” said Joan Cronan, the former Tennessee Lady Vols athletic director who has worked with Summitt for 29 years. “She’s always been, not only a great representative but also a person who wants everyone else to be the best they can be. The most important thing to her is the team she’s dealing with.

“The fact that we lead the nation in attendance isn’t something that just happened. Pat Summit has always been willing to get out among the student body, among the community and help promote the game.

It’s all of this that made it so much harder on women’s basketball – and sports in general – when Summitt announced in August that she was suffering from early onset dementia. Summitt coached through the 2011-12 season and then handed over the helm of the most successful program in women’s Division I college basketball history to Holly Warlick, a former player and assistant coach for 27 years.

“The team always came first,” Cronan said. “But what she’s done with other coaches is also incredible.”

Mitchell’s story is one of hundreds, if not thousands, of coaches who have benefitted from some form of Summitt’s help. Usually it’s a coach just calling about an opponent or with a question about strategy. Sometimes it’s a coach stopping by one of Summitt’s practices, which are famously open to any coach who asks.

And other times, Summitt’s selflessness extends to helping a coach ascend the ladder, as was the case with Mitchell and former players such a LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell and Warlick.

“She’s always put everybody – coaches, players – in front of her,” Warlick said. “She always puts the game and everything she does in front of her own personal success and in her life. You can’t just say it enough.”

No one has seen it happen more often than Tyler Summitt, Pat’s son.

Phone calls from coaches and game film became the soundtrack for Pat’s home. Tyler said other coaches would call often for advice on opponents, an offensive or defensive scheme or even a job. And he doesn’t remember his mother saying no when asked to recommend a fellow coach for a job.

“That’s a pretty strong recommendation,” Tyler said with a laugh.

Yet, Tyler didn’t ask her for one when he started searching for his first coaching job.

“Just call my mom, she would be a good reference,” he said with a mighty laugh.

In April he was hired as an assistant coach at Marquette University, but it was his basketball IQ, not his last name, that helped land him the job. At first, Marquette coach Terri Mitchell told Tyler she didn’t have room for another coach on her staff. After about 45 minutes on the phone about X’s and O’s and coaching philosophy, Mitchell was so impressed she flew Tyler up for an interview. She hired him on the spot.

It wasn’t quite Pat’s influence that helped Tyler land a job, but instead years of listening to his mother dissect game film as a bedtime story had an impact only the two Summit’s could share.

“That’s not all I got from my mom, there’s so much more,” Tyler said. “It’s deep down inside, the value of selflessness.

And Pat got her value of selflessness from her father.

When Pat was a child, her father, Richard, would give out loans to people around Henrietta, Tenn., their hometown, and never made them pay him back. He wanted to help them get back on their feet. At his funeral in 2005, Tyler remembers people, sometimes total strangers, telling Pat and Tyler about her father’s generosity.

“Her dad was feared among a lot of people, but he was still a very giving person,” Tyler said. “Mom brought that style to every area of her life.”

The success never changed Pat. Some of Tyler’s earliest memories were of the national championships in 1996, 1997 and 1998.

“I grew up thinking you just win a national championship every year,” Tyler said. “And then once we didn’t win there for a few years, I really saw what my mom was doing and how much she was helping others and putting herself aside for anybody who walked through the door. It really shaped me as a person.”

While Summitt would help anybody who asked, she cherished helping young women in the sport. As a high school student, Summitt had to transfer schools just to get an opportunity to play on a team, Tyler said.

Even as her coaching career came to a close last spring, Summitt isn’t going to stop helping others. And she’s certainly not going to let her pay-it-forward mentality go away.

As she combats early onset dementia, Summitt is already letting the world in to watch her cope with hopes of helping others.

“I think you can see it through her illness because she’s opened up her personal struggles and personal life for the community,” Warlick said. “She didn’t have to do that. She didn’t have to open up. She chose to do that because that’s the type of person she is.”

Jannah Tucker chooses Tennessee

No. 8 prospect in 2013 class says she's eager to help recruit other elite players

There is a swift breeze moving across the Tennessee Valley that can unofficially be attributed to Lady Vols Nation and its collective sigh of relief. The uncharacteristic lull in recruiting that seemed to coincide with the legendary Pat Summitt's announcement of her battle with early onset dementia is officially over. And it seems what Tennessee fans thought they knew -- that new head coach Holly Warlick is more than capable of leading the program to a similar standard of excellence -- is real.

Jannah Tucker, who is ranked eighth in the ESPN HoopGurlz Super 60 for the class of 2013, verbally committed this weekend while on an unofficial visit. The commitment of the 6-foot wing ends what seemed like a considerable drought in elite recruiting.

Admittedly well aware of the drought, Tucker had no reservations of being the first underclassman to commit in the post-Summitt era.

"I had good relationships with all the coaches and I knew what the standards were," Tucker said. "I'm excited to rebuild the tradition under Coach Holly and make Coach Pat proud."

Now Tucker moves on to her final summer circuit, which includes an August trip to Puerto Rico, where she will compete for a FIBA Americas gold medal with the USA Basketball U18 national team. But she also knows there is some work to do on the recruiting front and she can be a major cog in the rest of the Lady Vols' 2013 haul.

"I don't think it's a mandatory role, but you want the best players with you," Tucker said. "Subconsciously you have pride in your team and you want to play with and against the best."

Tucker won't have as much direct contact with Lady Vols targets as she did a year ago. Her selection to the U18 team places her on a roster with primarily 2012 players and only one uncommitted underclassman, Kendall Cooper of Carson, Calif.

Tucker is aware of the Tennessee needs in recruiting and knows Mercedes Russell, the 6-foot-5 post from Springfield, Ore., along with Cooper, are considering the Lady Vols. While not on staff just yet, she has no qualms about reaching out to those standout players and putting in a good word.

In the bigger picture, Tucker's pledge means more than simply replacing the perimeter scoring of the program's upperclassmen. It stabilizes what many of the perennial SEC power program's competitors hoped was weakness and opportunity to surpass Rocky Top quickly. While one player doesn't mean that the program will ascend to the very peak of the game, it does mean passing them up will have to be earned.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tennessee Lady Vols Head Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt has been given a Lifetime Achievement Award from the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition

Tennessee Lady Vols Head Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt has been given a Lifetime Achievement Award from the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition.

Summitt was unable to attend the original ceremony May 1, so the Director of PCFSN came to Knoxville to give her the award on the court that bears her name.

Here is more on the award from the University of Tennessee:

At a venue hosting youngsters engaged in the physical rigors of this week's Lady Vol Basketball Camp, Tennessee Head Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award Thursday afternoon at Thompson-Boling Arena from the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (PCFSN).

PCFSN Executive Director Shellie Pfohl, who was appointed to her post in Feb. 2010 by President Barack Obama, made the trip to UT to personally recognize Summitt on the court that bears the hall of fame coach's name. Summitt, who was unable to attend the awards ceremony at the organization's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on May 1, took time out from basketball camp Thursday to accept the award on her birthday.

One of five individuals chosen in honor of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, Summitt received the Lifetime Achievement Award based upon her contributions to the advancement and promotion of physical activity, fitness, sports, and nutrition-related programs nationwide. Recipients are selected by members of the PCFSN based on the span and scope of an individual's career, the estimated number of lives they have touched and the impact of his or her legacy.

"We are honored to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Coach Summitt for her unparalleled contributions to collegiate athletics as the most victorious coach in NCAA history, and a prolific advocate for equal access and opportunities for girls and women in sports," said Pfohl. "Coach Summitt is the embodiment of passion, brilliance and class, and she has left an indelible mark on the physical activity landscape for aspiring athletes and coaches across America."

Summitt won more games than any other coach in NCAA basketball history, earning eight national titles and 1,098 victories during her 38-year career as head coach at Tennessee. She also directed a program that won a combined 32 Southeastern Conference tournament and regular season championships, made an unprecedented 31-consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament and produced 12 Olympians, 20 Kodak All-Americans named to 34 teams, and 77 All-SEC performers.

The other 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award recipients include founder of Aerobic Dancing, Jacki Sorensen; FITNESSGRAM® founder Dr. Charles Sterling; SPARK co-founder, Dr. Thomas McKenzie; and Dr. Linn Goldberg, the Chief of the Division of Health Promotion & Sports Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University.

2012 PCFSN Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients

Linn Goldberg, M.D. - Dr. Goldberg is Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Health Promotion & Sports Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. His groundbreaking programs for young athletes (ATLAS for boys and ATHENA for girls) utilize exercise and nutrition alternatives to prevent the use of alcohol, performance enhancing and illicit drugs.

Thomas McKenzie, Ph.D. - Dr. McKenzie is Emeritus professor in the San Diego State University School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences. Dr. McKenzie has authored or co-authored over 170 publications and co-founded SPARK -- a nationally recognized research-based public health organization dedicated to improve health through physical activity. In March 2012, he was awarded a Hall of Fame Award from the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

Jacki Sorensen - Sorensen is the originator of Aerobic Dancing -- the complete fitness program that combines health and toning benefits of jogging with the fun of dancing. Sorensen is the President and founder of Jacki's Inc.

Charles Sterling, Ed.D. - Sterling is Chairman of Youth Initiatives at The Cooper Institute and Chairman of the FITNESSGRAM Board of Trustees. Dr. Sterling is best known professionally as the founder of the widely-used FITNESSGRAM®, a health-related testing and feedback system for youth.

Pat Summitt - Summitt is Hall of Fame University of Tennessee Head Women's Basketball Coach Emeritus. Summitt has won more games than anyone else in NCAA basketball history, winning eight national titles and 1,098 games at Tennessee.

About the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition: The President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition educates, engages, and empowers all Americans to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and good nutrition. PCFSN is a committee of volunteer citizens who advise the President through the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Through its partnerships with the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, PCFSN promotes programs and initiatives that motivate people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities to lead active, healthy lifestyles. For more information about the Council, visit

Friday, June 15, 2012

Another national award for Pat Summitt on her 60th birthday

The awards kept rolling in Thursday for Pat Summitt on her 60th birthday. Two more were recognized in campus ceremonies for Tennessee's women's basketball coach emeritus.

One came from the government, the other from ATHENA International.

The President's Council of Fitness, Sports & Nutrition bestowed the Lifetime Achievement Award. Executive director Shellie Pfohl made the presentation.

"Coach Summitt,'' said Pfohl, "is the embodiment of passion, brilliance and class, and she has left an indelible mark on the physical activity landscape for aspiring athletes and coaches across America.''

Summitt was one of five Lifetime Achievement honorees are selected by the council based on span and scope of an individual's career, the estimated number of lives they have touched and the impact of his or her legacy.''

The 2012 Global ATHENA Leadership Award was presented by ATHENA International founder Martha Mertz.

The organization celebrates and advances women's leadership.

Summitt is the 28th recipient of the Global Award, which recognizes professional excellence and service to the community and assistance given to help women realize their full leadership potential.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Happy 60th!

Happy 60th birthday to Pat Summitt! Happy Flag Day!

Friday, June 08, 2012

Pat Summitt Knocks In First Hole In One

Tennessee Women's Basketball Head Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt has turned in yet another first. The Hall of Fame hoops coach demonstrated her deft touch with a golf club Friday afternoon, knocking in her very first hole in one.

Playing the par-72 River Course at Sevierville Golf Club in a group that included Hall of Fame college and Olympic coach Billie Moore, television analyst Debbie Antonelli and former Lady Vol basketball player Lisa McGill Reagan, Summitt aced the par-three, 112-yard No. 17 with a seven iron.

Jeremy Cason, an assistant pro at the course provided confirmation, adding that Summitt's drive was over water to what he described as "an island green."