Tuesday, August 23, 2011
I am astonished and saddened to learn that my basketball coaching heroine, the winningest coach in the college game, has been diagnosed with early onset dimentia. My prayers are with Pat Summitt--a coach I have watched through the years, from whom I have learned, and whose disciplinary coaching style I sought to emulate in my own coaching career.
The Associated Press reports:
Tennessee's Pat Summitt plans to coach "as long as the good Lord is willing" despite recently being diagnosed with early onset dementia.
In a statement from Summitt released by the university on Tuesday, the Hall of Fame coach said she visited with doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., after the end of the 2010-11 basketball season ended and was diagnosed with early onset dementia — Alzheimer's type — over the summer.
"I plan to continue to be your coach," Summitt said. "Obviously, I realize I may have some limitations with this condition since there will be some good days and some bad days."
Summitt, 59, told the Knoxville paper she plans to rely on medication and mental exercises to manage the progressive condition that destroys cognitive abilities over time.
She said longtime assistants Holly Warlick, Dean Lockwood and Mickie DeMoss will take on more responsibilities with the team going forward.
Summitt met with the Lady Volunteers on Tuesday to discuss her diagnosis with them. Junior guard Taber Spani said the meeting was business-like, with Summitt telling the Lady Vols nothing would get in the way for their quest of a ninth national title this season.
"More than anything she just emphasized that she's our coach and that she wanted us to have complete confidence in her, and we do," Spani told the AP.
Both UT-Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek and Cronan pledged their support of Summitt's decision to continue coaching.
"Pat Summitt is our head coach and she will continue to be," Cronan said. "She is an icon not only for women's basketball but for all of women's athletics. For Pat to stand-up and share her health news is just a continuing example of her courage. Life is an unknown and none of us have a crystal ball. But I do have a record of knowing what Pat Summitt stands for; excellence, strength, honesty and courage."
As college basketball's winningest coach, Summitt has spent 37 seasons at Tennessee and has 1,071 career victories and eight national championships.
Read more here.
God bless Coach Summitt and bring her complete healing and wholeness. She is an amazing coach, and I trust that she will be able to continue her winning, inspirational ways for many years to come.