“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou
Today the world lost a great one in Pat Summit. Some people will say she was just a women’s basketball coach. But she was much more.
I was blessed to meet Pat on several occasions when our girls went to camp there. She was always there helping kids learn the fundamentals and watching their games and helping coach. She was hard on her players but they loved her. They all STILL talk about how much of a friend she was to them even after they left Tennessee. She had a 100% graduation rate showing that she cared about them outside of basketball.
Her book, Reach for the Summit, had a great impact on me and I shared it with several coaches over the years. The summary of the book is that she got to know each of her players individually. She believed that you had to know how they responded to people. She knew some could get pumped up by being patted on the back; some by being yelled at; some by being ignored; some by being on the starting 5 and some by coming off the bench. She knew her player’s families, heartaches and what made them smile. She made them feel special.
When I met Pat, she was always so kind and acted like I was her friend. She talked every-day things with me. We learned we were sorority sisters (Chi Omega) and chatted a bit about that. She always autographed anything you requested. I have a sweatshirt with her precious signature on the shoulder displayed in my home. She truly loved people.
The last time I met Pat, she looked terrible. I found out later that her husband had just left her after having an affair. She was admitted to the hospital the day after we left. Slowly she went down hill and we were so sad to learn of her dementia and Alzheimer’s diagnosis. We feel like she was a friend.
She didn’t know my name. I’m sure she didn’t remember meeting me from one year to the next. But she made me feel like she did. She made me feel like she cared about me and my children. She had that way about her. She lived out Maya Angelou’s quote.
Our household is sad today. We’ve followed Tennessee women’s basketball for years. We’ve attended more Tennessee games than I can even count. We were fortunate to celebrate with the team in Tampa for Pat’s last NCAA Women’s Basketball championship.
She touched many lives – more than she will ever know. I hope today we can live out Maya Angelou’s quote and Pat Summit’s legacy and let people know how truly special they are.