Women's basketball lost its biggest champion this morning.  Pat Summitt, the coach with the most collegiate wins of either gender, passed away at 64 from complications of Alzheimer's. Summitt took Tennessee's Lady Volunteers to incredible heights over her 38 years at the helm. 1,098 wins and eight national titles. It was an amazing journey for a coach who started out making 250 dollars a month and had to drive the team bus and wash the uniforms after the games. Probably her most impressive stat, 100% of her players who completed their eligibility walked away with a degree!

After her diagnosis, Summitt became an advocate for awareness and treatment, saying her public profile allowed her to lead by example. It was the way she led her life.It was an attitude and commitment that earned her a Medal of Honor from the President in 2012. Today, the people who knew her best, her players, reflected on how their coach changed their lives.

“I don't think there are enough words to, obviously cover all Pat has done for women's basketball, for all of us individual players // and just her impact that she's made on women's basketball.  She's the reason that we're on ESPN, she's the reason that we're competitive and that we have a fire under us and that we want to win and that we cry when we lose and that we're passionate about basketball” -Andraya Carter, Player, Lady Volunteers

In the New York Times obituary, there was this quote:

"In modern history, there are two figures that belong on the Mount Rushmore of women's sports -- Billie Jean King and Pat Summitt.  No one else is close to third."

Joining Jim to reflect on Pat Summitt's legacy are Barbara Stevens (@BentleyWBball), a coaching legend from Bentley University;  Boston Globe sports writer Shira Springer (@ShiraSpringer); and another high achieving coach,  Laney Clement-Holbrook (@OAHSTigersports)  from  Oliver Ames High School in Easton- who just became the winningest High School in state history.

Springer started the conversation by echoing the sentiment written in the New York Times. “It was the way she placed women’s sports above all else,” Springer said. After, she shared an anecdote of Summitt, after years of success with the women’s program at Tennessee she was appoached to coach the men’s program. Summitt answered by asking, why she would consider that a step up? Her reverence for women’s sports, and her promotion of women’s sports, springer said, was her end-all be-all.

Stevens called Pat Summitt the giant of women’s basketball. Stevens started, “Number one: it was the tremendous success she had at Tennessee. The way in which she ran her program, for me personally I’ve tried to model my  program the way Pat has run her program.”

Clement-Holbrook as a high school coach would go to the college national championships. She shares a moment where she met Summitt. “The first time I ever went to the final four was in 1990. It so happened that it was in Knoxville. My first opportunity to see women’s collegiate basketball- at that level- was where she worked and where she taught.” Clement-Holbrook then goes on to share that she was on the way to see Summitt speak, when she happened to be on the same escalator as Summitt, and had a chance to speak with her.

Stevens believes that college women’s basketball is at the level it is because of Summitt’s contributions. She shares with Jim, and the panel that Summitt began her career at the age of 22, and that no one would get a job coaching today at the age of 22. Springer also reminded that panel that Summitt was born in 1952, 20 years before the passage of Title IX, and that she was the co-captain of the 1976 Olympic team. (Summitt has won an Olympic medal as both player and coach.) Summitt ushered the rise of women’s sports.

Jim asked if Coaches Stevens and Clement-Holbrook get the same credit as the men in their fields do. Clement-Holbrook said, “That’s not really where my effort is. My program and my girls are the most important thing. Having them have success in athletics translates into having success in life.” Clement-Holbrook does not spend her time thinking about that. But she added that their success is in part due to the contribution that Summitt made to women’s athletics.

Spring decided to answer the question of women coaches receiving the same credit as men, and the answer is no. Spring said to Coach Clement-Holbrook, “ you should get more respect, you should get more attention,” and turning to Coach Stevens, “as should you, Barbara.” What spring likes about all the remembrances of Pat Summitt is that hopefully it will turn more attention to the accomplishments of other coaches like Clement-Holbrook and Stevens.