Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tyler Summitt making his mark at Marquette

Tyler Summitt grew up with a basketball, celebrating championships, and meeting presidents.

As the son of the legendary Pat Summitt, Tyler grew up in front of thousands and thousands of orange-crazed fans.

If you could see the younger Summitt today, you'd see that he's all grown up.

"That's not loud enough! There's 4,000 people in those stands," Summitt barked out to his players during a practice, reinforcing the need for his team to communicate better.

Now 22 years old, Summitt is in his first college coaching job. He accepted a position at Marquette University in April.

It's a completely new life for Summitt, one he's still adjusting too.

"It's different not to have orange on," Summitt said.

The toughest part?

Summitt says, it's being so far away from the two women most important to him: his legendary mom and his fiance, whom he proposed to in September.

What's not so tough, Summitt says, is worrying about those who feel he landed a division one position because of the famous last name.

"It doesn't matter what I do in my career. I could be 70 years old and still coaching and people will say, 'Oh, he's just being successful because of his last name.' There's gonna be critics. My mom always told me to just have a thick skin. And if I'm confident it doesn't matter what the critics say."

Terri Mitchell is the head coach at Marquette. Tyler believes she had no intentions of hiring of him, that she simply called him as a courtesy to Pat Summitt.

But once Tyler was on the phone, landing the job was a slam dunk.

"He has said many things to me, but this one thing has stood out," Mitchell said.

"He said, 'there's only one environment I know. It's a championship environment and I will bring that to practice and to work and to games every single day.' He has absolutely delivered on that promise."

Mitchell has been the head coach at Marquette for 17 years. She knows the importance of surrounding herself with capable assistants. With Summitt, she recognized a unique quality.

"He may be young in years, but he is not young in his thought process," she continued. "He is not young in being a coach. His mom is the greatest living basketball coach ever, and he embraced that."

Leaving home is never easy. Now, imagine you're 21 years old and offered a job 640 miles away from home. A job ten hours from your mom. A mom that's battling a horrible disease. This was the decision facing Summitt. As it turns out, the young coach says it wasn't a difficult one to make.

"If my mom was struggling in her health and going downhill, I wouldn't have left. But she's not," Summitt said with a smile.

"Anybody that's seen her lately knows that she's fine. Nothing is getting worse. She has a great support circle in Knoxville. I felt comfortable going away."

And now at Marquette, Summitt is making his presence felt, and doing so with a coaching style that resembles his famous mom's. One filled with passion, intensity, and in constant pursuit of perfection.

"He's very demanding," Marquette freshman guard Brooklyn Pumroy said.

"He knows what it takes. He focuses on the little things."

And if you don't focus on the little things, then don't expect to find yourself on his court. Summitt will routinely snap "get off!" when a player doesn't show effort or focus during a drill.

"If you don't hold them accountable, nothing else matters," Summitt said.

"I'm not here to be their friend. I told them that. I said, 'there's 11,000 students at Marquette that can be your friend. I'm not your friend. I'm your coach.' I'm here to make them better."

And he's here making his first step.

Another women's basketball season has tipped off, and for a 39th straight year, a Summitt takes to the court.

No comments: