The next woman on my list of women that have impacted women’s basketball is Pat Head Summitt, the very successful women’s basketball coach at the University of Tennessee. Within the last couple of years Coach Summitt’s health has taken a crazy turn that has left her with some obstacles and led her to step down from coaching. However, before she stepped down she accomplished things that no other women’s coach has accomplished and in some cases things that no other coach has accomplished in the game of basketball.
Coach Summitt coached at the University of Tennessee for 38 seasons and she never had a losing season. She won eight national championships. She won over 1,000 games. She has been inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. She has been awarded many awards that honor her success on the court and they would fill up this whole page if I wrote them all out but some of her other achievements are worth mentioning. Forty-five of Coach Summitt’s former players have become coaches. I was fortunate enough to be coached by one, Kellie Jollly Harper, at North Carolina State. All of the players that completed their eligibility at the University of Tennessee left with a degree. As if she did not do enough in her coaching life she added another challenge in 1990 and gave birth to her son, Tyler Summitt. Coach Summitt did not stop there because she was constantly looking for more challenges in her life. She coached numerous USA Basketball teams, wrote three books, and promoted the game of women’s basketball.
Coach Summitt took the game of women’s basketball from something that was not so popular into a game that many young girls grow up wanting to play. She transformed the ideas people have about female athletes. She grew up in a farming family in Tennessee as the youngest child under three older brothers. She was treated as one of the boys on the farm and that transferred over to her coaching philosophy. She does not see her players as females playing a male sport she sees her players as basketball players and she wants them to be the most successful players they can be. Everyday she attempts to push the girls so hard that when they think they have arrived she shows them that they have a little more in themselves. Most importantly she wants to use basketball as a way to teach her athletes how to succeed in life after their basketball careers are over.
In her book Reach for the Summit: The Definite Dozen System for Succeeding at Whatever You Do she discusses twelve ways to become successful in life. She describes how each trait helps her, the University of Tennessee’s women’s basketball program, and each individual player become successful. I recommend this book to anyone that is interested in learning more about Pat Summitt as a person and how she approaches success everyday. In the book you learn how Coach Pat Summitt does it but she also emphasizes that she has flaws and that this is her formula and that in some ways you will have to examine yourself and what works for you in each of the categories. Enjoy the book and getting to know one of the best coaches in basketball history that has changed the game for women all over the world.
The Definite Dozen:
- Respect Yourself and Others
- Take Full Responsibility
- Develop and Demonstrate Loyalty
- Learn to be a Great Communicator
- Discipline Yourself So No One Has To
- Make Hard Work Your Passion
- Don’t Just Work Hard, Work Smart
- Put the Team Before Yourself
- Make Winning an Attitude
- Be a Competitor
- Change Is a Must
- Handle Success Like You Handle Failure