KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Pat Summitt not only inspired her team, but she inspired young women across the nation.
Five years ago she stepped down as Lady Vols Coach. After her death, many remembered her “larger than life” personality, but five years after Summitt turned over her whistle, the coach still has lessons to teach.
On April 19, 2012 Summitt detailed how she became coach at the University of Tennessee.
“I want you to listen to this,” said Summitt. “I received a letter from Helen B. Watson of the University of Tennessee asking me if I would be willing to coach the women’s basketball team. Now listen to this, all Dr. Watson offered me was $250 dollars a month… I mean I was bouncing checks all over the place…. and the opportunity to teach and get my master’s degree.”
“She said that the team had excellent potential. Haven’t we heard that? And that they would be happy to have me as their coach,” she continued. “I can say that I have been happy to be your coach.”
In her early days at the University of Tennessee, women’s basketball games weren’t televised and attendance was poor. The Lady Vols were so strapped for cash that Summitt washed her players’ uniforms at home and drove the team to games, but she continued to work hard.
“I remember nights I was driving the van and I’m about to go to sleep, and I’d just roll down the window and stick my head out,” Summitt told ABC’s Robin Roberts.
She attributed her hard work ethic to her humble beginnings growing up on a dairy farm in Henrietta, Tennessee.
“When you grow up on a dairy farm, cows don’t take a day off. So you work every day and my dad always said, ‘No one can outwork you,'” Summitt told ABC News’ Robin Roberts in a 2011 interview.
From barely scraping by make ends meet to coach a team to becoming a legendary coach who inspired thousands, Summit encouraged others to work hard and follow their passion. Players agreed she lead by example.