August 23rd, 2011 had some big happenings. First, there was an earthquake in Virginia that was felt in places like New York and Philadelphia. Second, there was a tremor from the collective shock of Pat Summitt announcing that she has early onset dementia. I don't think anyone could have seen any of these two occurrences happening. I certainly didn't see it coming.
Pat has been a staple at UT and in women's college basketball. She is the winningest coach in college basketball, has 8 national championships and has coached players like Candace Parker to greatness. But the thing that has defined Pat more than anything is her toughness. In a time where women's basketball wasn't the most popular, Pat made it important. She took the women's game on her back to make way for all the coaching stars in women's sports like Tara VanDerveer and Kim Mulkey-Robinson. She made it a point to stand out at a time when not many women stood out. So, why should we expect her not to stand up and be tough in this situation?
Pat grew up on a farm and knew what toughness was and personified it daily. I expect Pat to take this battle head-on, like any other challenge she has ever taken on. She has said that she will not stop coaching during this time. She will undoubtedly have to depend on long-time assistants Holly Warlick, Dean Lockwood and Mickie DeMoss to handle more responsibilities. But, in typical Pat Summitt fashion, she doesn't want our sympathy. She just wants the focus to be on her team and on her players. Pat Summitt is truly a class act and I believe she will continue to have a profound impact on basketball.