Randy Smith: The Lasting Legacy Of Pat Summitt

Wednesday, December 23, 2020 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith
It's been four and a half years since Coach Pat Summitt left us. When she passed away on June 28, 2016, she held the record for most career wins in NCAA history, men or women, with 1,098 victories. Since then, she has been passed by Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who now has 1,170 wins and just this week by Tara VanDerveer of Stanford, who now has 1,099. Other coaches will surely pass her in the future, but no longer holding that record doesn't diminish what she did for the game of basketball.

Before there was a Geno Auriemma, or even NCAA women's basketball, Coach Summitt was winning games coaching in the AAU ranks. She built her reputation quickly as she won eight NCAA championships to go along with her 1,098 wins.
Her most impressive stat of all, was the fact that every single player at Tennessee who completed their eligibility graduated with a degree. That's a 100 percent graduation rate. And that covers a span of 37 years, which could be her most amazing stat of all.

Coach Summitt influenced and touched more lives than we can possibility imagine. She wrote several best selling books, and was a fabulous motivational speaker as well. She was a mom, a daughter and a sister. She grew up in a tough environment in Cheatham County in Middle Tennessee, only to achieve greatness in her chosen field. She was the Elvis Presley of women's basketball. It was once said of Elvis, that he reached the top of the ladder of success in music and stayed there. The same could be said of Pat Summitt in women's basketball. After reaching the top of her ladder, she just scooted over.

I have always loved to quote Coach Summitt, no matter  what the topic, but especially when it comes to hard work and success. One of my favorites is, "Here is how I'm going to beat you. I'm going to outwork you. That's it. That's all there is to it." 

My favorite quote however is, "God doesn't take things away to be cruel. He takes things away to make room for other things. He takes things away to lighten us. He takes things away so we can fly."   

When Coach Tara VanDerveer  won her 1,099th career game, passing Coach Summitt, she was quick to acknowledge Pat's influence. In her post game press conference, she said, "She was a great friend and a mentor. I think she would be very proud of us."

The fact that Pat Summitt would be proud of Coach VanDerveer and her wins is a virtually accepted fact. That's why her legacy will live as long as there is basketball. She means that much.


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Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com

Pat Summitt
Pat Summitt

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