Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Legend

I woke up this morning to the news that Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt has been diagnosed with early onset dementia. The news actually broke yesterday, but I was too busy trying to track down relatives on the East Coast to make sure they were okay after the earthquake (they were) to have noticed. Of all the things I was expecting to happen this week, those two were not on the list.  Of all the things I was expecting to happen in the next decade, those two were not on the list.

For the last dozen years or so, Tennessee and LSU have been competing for dominance in SEC women's basketball, with Tennessee having the edge. After Pokey Chatman left as LSU's coach and Van Chancellor took over, LSU's teams struggled to compete. Now LSU has a new coach, Nikki Caldwell, who played and coached as one of Summitt's assistants at Tennessee. I don't think I'm the only LSU Lady Tiger fan hoping that Tennessee doesn't come looking for Nikki Caldwell as Pat Summit's replacement. Summitt has announced her intention to keep coaching, although she acknowledged that she will have to lean heavily on her assistants, but who's to say what the course of her illness will be. I wish her well.  

Pat Summitt has the most wins in the NCAA of any basketball coach. Not just any women's basketball coach, any NCAA basketball coach. Now, due to a cruel accident of neurology, she is likely to end her life not even remembering her achievements. It is up to her fans and players and those of us who, while not exactly fans, were certainly aware of her gifts to remember for her. 

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