Pat SummittView 30 Photos
"I won 1,098 games, and eight national championships, and coached in four different decades. But what I see are not the numbers. I see their faces."
"Here's how I'm going to beat you. I'm going to outwork you. That's it. That's all there is to it."
"You can't always be the most talented person in the room. But you can be the most competitive."
"Players don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."
"When you grow up on a dairy farm, cows don't take a day off. So you work every day and my dad always said, 'No one can outwork you.'"
"We do not win championships with girls. We win with competitors"
"If I ain't happy, nobody's happy."
"Teamwork is what makes common people capable of uncommon results."
"I remember every player — every single one — who wore the Tennessee orange, a shade that our rivals hate, a bold, aggravating color that you can usually find on a roadside crew, 'or in a correctional institution,' as my friend Wendy Larry jokes. But to us the color is a flag of pride, because it identifies us as Lady Vols and therefore as women of an unmistakable type. Fighters. I remember how many of them fought for a better life for themselves. I just met them halfway."
"Individual success is a myth. No one succeeds all by herself."
"There is nothing wrong with having competitive instincts. They are survival instincts."
"Silence is a form of communication, too. Sometimes less is more."
"I want to continue to do is to help these young women be successful. You don't just say goodbye at the end of their playing careers and end it there."
"The absolute heart of loyalty is to value those people who tell you the truth, not just those people who tell you what you want to hear. In fact, you should value them most. Because they have paid you the compliment of leveling with you and assuming you can handle it."
"I'm not sure, when it got right down to it, I would have ever left Tennessee. It's hard to leave home."
"You win in life with people."
"You can't pick and choose the days that you feel like being responsible. It's not something that disappears when you're tired."
"If I'm not leading by example, then I'm not doing the right thing. And I want to always do the right thing."
"Most people get excited about games, but I've got to be excited about practice, because that's my classroom."
"There is always someone better than you. Whatever it is that you do for a living, chances are, you will run into a situation in which you are not as talented as the person next to you. That's when being a competitor can make a difference in your fortunes."
"Admit to and make yourself accountable for mistakes. How can you improve if you're never wrong?"
"Discipline helps you finish a job, and finishing is what separates excellent work from average work."
"Attitude is a choice. What you think you can do, whether positive or negative, confident or scared, will most likely happen."
Summitt's year-by-year record
1976-77: 28-5 (AIAW semifinals)
1977-78: 27-4 (AIAW regional first round)
1978-79: 30-9 (AIAW semifinals)
1979-80: 33-5 (AIAW runner-up)
1980-81: 25-6 (AIAW runner-up)
1981-82: 22-10 (NCAA semifinals)
1982-83: 25-8 (NCAA regional final)
1983-84: 23-10 (NCAA runner-up)
1984-85: 22-10 (NCAA regional semifinal)
1985-86: 24-10 (NCAA semifinal)
1986-87: 28-6 (NCAA champion)
1987-88: 31-3 (NCAA semifinal)
1988-89: 35-2 (NCAA champion)
1989-90: 27-6 (NCAA regional final)
1990-91: 30-5 (NCAA champion)
1991-92: 28-3 (NCAA regional semifinal)
1992-93: 29-3 (NCAA regional final)
1993-94: 31-2 (NCAA regional semifinal)
1994-95: 34-3 (NCAA runner-up)
1995-96: 32-4 (NCAA champion)
1996-97: 29-10 (NCAA champion)
1997-98: 39-0 (NCAA champion)
1998-99: 31-3 (NCAA regional final)
1999-2000: 33-4 (NCAA runner-up)
2000-01: 31-3 (NCAA regional semifinal)
2001-02: 29-5 (NCAA semifinal)
2002-03: 33-5 (NCAA runner-up)
2003-04: 31-4 (NCAA runner-up)
2004-05: 30-5 (NCAA champion)
2005-06: 31-5 (NCAA regional final)
2006-07: 34-3 (NCAA champion)
2007-08: 36-2 (NCAA champion)
2008-09: 22-11 (NCAA first round)
2009-10: 32-3 (NCAA regional semifinal)
2010-11: 34-3 (NCAA regional final)
2011-12: 27-9 (NCAA regional final)
President Barack Obama on Pat Summitt
Nobody walked off a college basketball court victorious more times than Tennessee's Pat Summitt. For four decades, she outworked her rivals, made winning an attitude, loved her players like family, and became a role model to millions of Americans, including our two daughters. Her unparalleled success includes never recording a losing season in 38 years of coaching, but also, and more importantly, a 100 percent graduation rate among her players who completed their athletic eligibility. 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. As Pat once said in recalling her achievements, "What I see are not the numbers. I see their faces."
Pat learned early on that everyone should be treated the same. When she would play basketball against her older brothers in the family barn, they didn't treat her any differently and certainly didn't go easy on her. Later, her Hall of Fame career would tell the story of the historic progress toward equality in American athletics that she helped advance. Pat started playing college hoops before Title IX and started coaching before the NCAA recognized women's basketball as a sport. When she took the helm at Tennessee as a 22-year-old, she had to wash her players' uniforms; by the time Pat stepped down as the Lady Vols' head coach, her teams wore eight championship rings and had cut down nets in sold-out stadiums.
Pat was a patriot who earned Olympic medals for America as a player and a coach, and I was honored to award her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was a proud Tennessean who, when she went into labor while on a recruiting visit, demanded the pilot return to Knoxville so her son could be born in her home state. And she was an inspiring fighter. Even after Alzheimer's started to soften her memory, and she began a public and brave fight against that terrible disease, Pat had the grace and perspective to remind us that "God doesn't take things away to be cruel. He takes things away to lighten us. He takes things away so we can fly."
Michelle and I send our condolences to Pat Summitt's family – which includes her former players and fans on Rocky Top and across America.