Women’s Roundball Teams Swaps Gratitude with Coaching Legend Pat Summitt
Like most people who care about basketball, members of C-N’s women’s basketball squad have long been awed by the legend of Pat Summitt, head coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols. Meeting the most successful coach in the college sport following Tuesday’s exhibition game only served to polish the luster on their image of her.
While coaches rarely darken the door of their opponent’s locker room, that’s exactly what Summitt did on the heels of her powerhouse’s 105-40 preseason victory. She spoke to Eagles players and acknowledged the team’s compelling support in the wake of her diagnosis of early onset dementia (Alzheimer’s).
The few minutes spent together amounted to an impromptu mutual admiration society meeting. Summitt thanked C-N team members for their interest and warm regard, which had included shooting warm-ups while wearing “We Back Pat!” t-shirts before the game. In turn, the Eagles and first year head coach Mike Mincey thanked Summitt for scheduling exhibition games for several years and for her general support of the “We Back Pat!” program. They presented to her a plaque complete with team photo.
“We wanted to thank her for allowing us to come,” Mincey said. “The money that Tennessee provides to us certainly helps our budget…We’re all fans of coach Summitt.”
An added bonus was unexpected. Summitt autographed each shirt, which Mincey said left his players “all giddy. She stayed there and signed every one. I’m telling you… For our girls, man, it was a dream come true.”
The goodwill bounced well beyond Thompson-Boling Arena, making its way into television sportscasts and on the Internet. Blogger Abby Greenhill mentioned it in a Wednesday morning post, noting, “… fans of Coach Pat Summitt showed their love and support at yesterday's first Lady Vols Basketball game. It was an exhibition game against Carson-Newman, from Jefferson City, Tennessee. And get this; the visiting team wore the (“We Back Pat!”) t-shirts during their warm-up in honor of Coach Summitt. How cool is that?”
To learn more about the game click here: Lady Eagles Basketball