Sunday, June 26, 2016
Pat Summitt "struggling" as family prepares for worst -- SUNDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
NO OFFICIAL STATEMENT YET ON 64 YEAR OLD COACH
We normally try to present the joy and excitement of UofL women's athletics here at CARDINAL COUPLE, but today we'll reflect on the sad news out of Knoxville, TN.
Reports are that Pat Summitt is "struggling" in a Knoxville nursing home and family and some former players were with her Saturday, preparing to make public statements on her conditions when necessary.
An unnamed source reported:
"I don't think anybody knows whether she'll last a day, a month or a year."
Robin Roberts tweeted Saturday morning:
"Hope you don't mind that I ask for prayers for a dear friend close to the end of her journey. Would mean a lot to her fam. Peace be w/you."
Summitt coached the Lady Vols for 38 years...starting in 1974. She won 1098 games and 34 SEC Championships.
I met Summitt in 2010. We hadn't been doing CARDINAL COUPLE very long...not quite a year yet. She and her Vols had come to the KFC YUM! Center to open the Louisville women's basketball 2010-11 season. They defeated the Cards 63-50...a freshman guard by the name of Meghan Simmons had an eye-popping performance for UT to lead them to the win....leading the Vols to a closing 19-6 run. This was before Summitt knew she had the dreaded, unforgiving onset dementia, Alzheimer's type.
She entered the KFC YUM! Center media room and had a bit of difficulty climbing up to the podium. She joked about that...remarking that she wasn't getting any younger. She commented on several different things...spending more time on the podium that visiting coaches usually do. She had this to say about Jeff Walz:
"He's excellent. He's really, really good and he's going to continue winning and he's going to continue to get great players. I think he does things the right way and I'd like to try and continue to keep the series going."
After all the interviews had ended, I went to the Vols locker room to see if I could get a bit more from the legendary coach before they left the arena. I got there just in time. She was actually standing outside the locker room, near the floor entrance...gazing one last time at the interior of the KFC YUM! Center. She offered before she headed to the bus:
" I hope you can fill this place like it was tonight each and every game. Places like this are good for women's college basketball. We really like going to places like this, to play in environments like this. It makes us work hard and try to find a way to win. If we lose, we go home and learn from it. I'd love to play in here again. I'm not sure what the schedule looks like in the future...but tonight was special."
It was the last time Pat Summitt coached in the KFC YUM! Center. I hope I can remember that sight for a long time...this veteran, heralded, wonderful coach gazing out with almost a childlike, innocent wonder into our arena.
Thank you for that memory, Pat. Rest easy.
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Our weekly broadcast of THE CARDINAL COUPLE RADIO HOUR has been archived on the Crescent Hill Radio Soundcloud and you can hear it at the link below:
LINK: THE CARDINAL COUPLE RADIO HOUR 6-25-16
A fun show, indeed. We got into a variety of subjects and Worldwide tanked badly on the weekly quiz. We stress working hard even in the off-season and if he can't pick his game up...we're just going to have to cut his air-time back.
Like that would go over well...