Photo: University of Tennessee
Pat Head Summitt is arguably the greatest female coach of all-time, and she has been a Tennessean her whole life.
She was born in tiny Henrietta, Tennessee, and attended Cheatham County Central High School and the University of Tennessee-Martin, where she played basketball and volleyball. In 1974, she became the women's basketball coach at the University of Tennessee. At the time the basketball program (and women's collegiate sports in general) was small-time; Coach Summitt herself got to drive the team van for several years. But, largely because of the success of the Lady Vols under Pat Summitt, the program grew to become the premier women's basketball program in the United States.
Summitt's success record is staggering. In her 33 years as Lady Vols coach, her teams have won 983 times and lost 182 times. Her teams have won the Southeastern Conference 14 times. And in April 2008 the Vols won their EIGHTH national championship.
Summitt's intensity during practices is famous. "During the game, she stalks the sideline, dressed immaculately and shouting instructions, chastising officials for 'blown' calls,' demanding more defense from her players -- and it doesn't matter if her team is trailing by two or leading by double digits," the St. Petersburg Times once said. But away from the game she shows a different side, and a sense of humor. A few years ago she was the guest speaker at a ladies club in Nashville. She showed up wearing a black and gold dress (black and gold being the colors of rival Vanderbilt, a school her team rarely loses to).