Thank you, Pat

Torchbearer with Pat Summitt on cover
Fall 2016 Torchbearer (Photo by Patrick Murphy-Racey)

It’s been a year since the passing of legendary basketball coach Pat Summitt, who was taken from us far too soon by early-onset Alzheimer’s. After her death, I wrote this piece as a “Note from the Editor” for UT Knoxville’s Torchbearer magazine, which we dedicated to Pat and UT’s women athletes. I still choke up when I see this magazine laying on my desk. Those of us who were fortunate enough to have fallen in love with the game of basketball—or have our daughters do the same—know that we will never be able to repay her.

Note from the Editor

Watching my daughter play basketball is one of my very favorite things to do. RC (as she’s known on the court) is 12 and has played only for a couple of years, but in that time I have been amazed at the positive changes in her confidence and self-esteem.

That’s why Pat Summitt’s death hit me hard. I never met Pat—I saw her once downtown and I drive by her statue every day on my way to work—but in the weeks since her passing, I’ve learned that I have so much to thank her for. I played basketball throughout my school years in southwestern Virginia and grew up hearing stories of hometown legend Glenn Roberts, who popularized the jump shot. I knew very little about Pat—except that her Lady Vols were awesome. But without realizing it, I benefited from her accomplishments and tenacity every single time I took the court as a Lady Wildcat.

It wasn’t until RC fell in love with the game that I truly began to realize the impact Pat has had on girls’ basketball, especially here in East Tennessee. I can’t say enough about
the quality and passion of our coaches, who take very seriously the responsibility of helping these young ladies grow into not only great basketball players but also wonderful people—much as Pat did with her players. I’m so envious of the opportunities RC and her teammates have to regularly train with some of Pat’s best players through camps and workouts. In essence, they are learning from Pat—one of the greatest coaches the sports world has ever known. Needless to say, we knew this issue of Torchbearer had
to be special, and we could think of no better way to honor Pat than to dedicate it to her and other women athletes from UT.

As you’ll read in these pages, Pat’s reach extended far beyond the court. And that’s something I wanted my daughter to know and hear firsthand. We made plans to attend the Celebration of Life Service so she could understand the impact of this iconic woman to whom she owes so much. However, as luck would have it, RC had basketball practice that night and didn’t want to miss it.

And I think that’s the way Pat would have wanted it.

Originally published in Torchbearer magazine’s fall 2016 issue.


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