Photo via aaron vazquez/Flickr (CC-BY)
Pat Summitt, the trailblazing former University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach who holds the most wins in NCAA history, died Tuesday after a battle with early onset dementia. She was 64.
Over her 38-year career, Summitt helped put women’s basketball on the map and inspired an entire generation of female athletes both on and off the court. She coached for Tennessee from 1974 to her retirement in 2012 and won eight NCAA championships, logging nearly 1,100 wins.Summitt’s son Tyler highlighted the relationships she built and fostered outside of basketball, not just her career on the court.
“She’ll be remembered as the all-time winningest D-1 basketball coach in NCAA history, but she was more than a coach to so many—she was a hero and a mentor, especially to me, her family, her friends, her Tennessee Lady Volunteer staff and the 161 Lady Vol student-athletes she coached during her 38-year tenure,” Tyler Summitt said in a statement.
As more people learn of Summitt’s death, those who knew or were inspired by her are passing along their condolences, demonstrating just how profound an effect she had on the players she coached and other female athletes in particular.President Obama, who awarded Summitt the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, praised her life’s work and her bravery during the public battle with Alzheimer’s, but he also drew attention to her true legacy.
“Her legacy, however, is measured much more by the generations of young women and men who admired Pat’s intense competitiveness and character, and as a result found in themselves the confidence to practice hard, play harder, and live with courage on and off the court,” Obama’s statement reads.
Summitt’s family will be holding a private service and burial. A public celebration will be held at the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee. Details are still being finalized.