Back in 2009, I was just wrapping up a job in Tennessee. I had been doing a UMTS expansion throughout the state for AT&T and was heading for home finally.
It had been a rough year. I had taken the job due to some troubles my bride and I were experieincing, both me in my previous career, and she with me. So I changed jobs. We’re still together so the change must of worked.
Anyrate, my daughter was becoming enamoured with Tennessee, part of what my bride has jokingly called “brainwashing” for several years…with a laugh.
So it was that on January 22, 2009 I took Critter to watch the Lady Vols, under Pat Summit take on the local Arkansas Razorbacks.
It was a big deal. She had just caught her 997th win and was heading towards 1,000. I won’t bore you with the dertails of the game. It was a close thing however, and Summit pulled the team together in the second half and beat Arkansas 76 to 67. Her 998th win.
I told Critter then she was watching history at the time. It seemed a lark, but proved all too true. Before the run was over she had become the most winning coach in the history of the NCAA organizations. Not just basketball.
There were rumors that she was not feeling well and she had been letting Holly Warlick, her heir apparent, do a large chunk of the coaching, many assumed as a grooming item.
What we didn’t know was how serious the illness was, or what it was. By 2012 we all knew. It was regular knowledge to those who followed the Vols or even college sports. Summit chose to setp aside, gracefully and with dignity that only she could muster in the face of something daunting.
Last night they told us that the end was near. I sat down with Critter, who has become a die hard orange wearing Vols fan, and talked to her about it. Older now as well, she appreciates what she got to see, experience and the people around her more. She wiped her eyes and we watched a brief broadcast on Summit last night.
This morning, we are told, we have all lost a legend. UTSports.com is running a full page memorial, and rightly so.
Summit did so much more than win games. It is important to note that in a day of politicians who lie, sports players who do drugs, actors who beat their wives, and musicians who cant keep their clothes on to find someone who actually is a role a model without a flaw.
Summit was a brutual coach sometimes to her teams, pushing them to their limits. But thats the sign of a good coach, a leader, to push you to your breaking point to learn what you are capable of.
Today so many people want to claim to be a womans role model for success. People who really have no business doing so.
While a lady who really was, has gone. A fan, a fan base, a state, a country, a little girl in Missouri are in mourning.
Rest in Peace, ma’am. We’ll miss you.
Go Lady Vols.