June 28, 2016

Pat Summitt: Legendary Coach, Dairy Farmer's Daughter

 |  By: Anna-Lisa Laca

In 1952 Pat Summitt was born to dairy farmers, Richard and Hazel Albright Head, in Clarksville, Tenn. Throughout her childhood Summitt worked on the farm with her three older brothers. She says her dad wanted her to “work just as hard as the boys”. Summitt is most known for her legendary coaching record. She served as the head coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team from 1974 to 2012. She’s won eight NCAA championships, was the first NCAA coach to achieve at least 1,000 wins. In 1984 she won an Olympic Gold Medal as the head coach of the women’s basketball team. She was named the Naismith Basketball Coach of the Century in April 2000.

Summitt ended her long battle with Alzheimer's on June 28, 2016.

Here are my favorite quotes attributed to Summitt.

On growing up on the farm:

“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.'”

“I worked with my dad on the farm a lot growing up and he was hard on me. He was one of the toughest most demanding people I’ve ever known.”

The best advice her mother gave her:

“You win in life with people: great people, people of good character.”

On being competitive:

"Back then, [when she first started coaching] there was no reward or reason for playing ball other than love of the game. There were no athletic scholarships for women, no money for decent uniforms, or hotels. On the road, we slept on mats in the gym of whatever campus we visited. But the thing about it was, I needed the game more than it needed me. I needed it to prove my worth in a family of brothers, who had never once cleared their own plates from a table or poured their own ice tea."

“Handle Success Like You Handle Failure. You can’t always control what happens, but you can control how you handle it.”

"Competition got me off the farm and trained me to seek out challenges and to endure setbacks; and in combination with my faith, it sustains me now in my fight with Alzheimer’s disease."