Pat Summitt

Pat Summitt (Cover courtesy of Sports Illustrated / March 27, 2012)

With longtime Tennessee basketball coach Pat Summitt announcing today that she was stepping down, it's worth taking another look at Howard sports editor Carol Gralia's moving tribute to her in late March.


I’ve been wearing a purple and orange wrist band. Not my colors, not even my school colors.

The wristband was a gift from a University of Tennessee fan, hence the orange.

“Fierce Courage” is spelled out in bold letters on that side, and Pat Summitt’s signature is etched on the other.

Monday night, Baylor eliminated Tennessee from the NCAA women’s tournament. The Lady Vols were seeking a 19th trip to the Final Four.

The game wasn’t even close. Baylor, behind 6-foot-8 center Brittany Griner (23 points, 15 rebounds, nine blocked shots) and guard Odyssey Sims (career-high 27 points), was simply the better team, winning, 77-58.

But the outcome was sad, and not just because the season is over for Tennessee fans.

Many expect the game will be the final game for the winningest college coach of all time (male or female).

Before the season Summitt announced to a stunned public that she has early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type. She turned over most of the game-day coaching to her longtime assistants, Holly Warlick and Mickie DeMoss.

Although she has remained on the sideline, she isn’t the Pat Summitt we are used to seeing stalking up and down the edge of the court.

She sat.

Her face, the one known for its withering glare, was passive — even when the officials brought the coaches together to explain their decision following a scuffle with 40 some seconds left in the game.

Summitt and her family will meet to decide what her future is with the Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team, but know this: she has left quite a legacy.

In 38 years she has won 1,098 games, 8 NCAA titles and an incredible amount of respect. She has also started the Pat Summitt Foundation to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s and money to find a cure. That’s where the purple and orange wristband is from

In looking at the Foundation website, I found Pat Summitt’s Definite Dozen. The words bear reading; they explain why she is such a winner — both on the court and off it.



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