Pat Summitt: 38 Years of Success | Trust in Sports
After 38 years, the Tennessee Lady Volunteers Basketball players, coaches and community had to say goodbye to the most competent and successful basketball coach, not only in women’s basketball but in NCAA history. Under Pat Summitt’s leadership, the University of Tennessee Lady Vols basketball program was the most elite the nation has ever seen. Young girls from fourth grade on up would attend Summitt’s basketball camps every summer in hopes of learning how to be the best. Any girl who has ever had a passion for the game of basketball has dreams of being a part of that 11 woman roster and the privilege of wearing the orange and baby blue jerseys.
Pat Summitt made an appearance at 31 NCAA Tournaments, 22 teams made it to the Final Four and eight won NCAA Championship titles. At the end of her career Summitt claimed the title of the Most Winningest Coach in NCAA history, above John Wooden and Mike Krzyzewski, with a record of 1098-208 (.841).
What makes Pat Summitt so great? Trust. Summitt’s life and career exude the Eight Pillars of Trust.
Clarity: Summitt had a clear vision and purpose. She “instilled a pattern of success in her players and constantly challenged them to reach their potential as a student and athlete.” Her program reinforces that a clear vision unifies and motivates.
Compassion: Ask any of Pat’s current and former players and each one will tell you that Summitt was the hardest coach but the most loving. “Her players speak of the opportunities afforded to them later in life with a degree in life lessons from Summitt…” Summitt was trusted because she was a selfless and sacrificial leader who thought beyond her own interests.
Character: Integrity is being the same in thoughts, words, and actions. Pat Summitt never boasted, although proud of her players she was respected for her humility. Her principles and values she carried with her at home, in practice and in games. Her accountability came from a staff that respected her principles and they supported her in them.
Competency: Pat was raised with the principles of hard work, and as a young girl after she finished her farm chores she would end up playing basketball in a hayloft. “ She was strong … had great instincts … was awesome on defense … took a charge like a greedy housewife … denied the ball all over the court … rebounded with authority … took the ball to the hoop … and then could knock the lights out over a zone defense.” These characteristics led her to playing on the Olympic Women’s basketball team, a four year career in the WNBA and landing a job as the UT Volunteers Women’s basketball coach at the age of 22.
Commitment: Pat is the ultimate picture of commitment. She played basketball for the University of Tennessee for her college career and coached there for 38 years. Summitt’s passion for the game was the reason for such great commitment to the team.
Connection: Pat was one of the best coaches in the NCAA not only because of her knowledge of the game of basketball. She knew that building a great team could only happen through connecting with her players and staff. She cared beyond herself, asked great questions, listened, collaborated, was genuine, was grateful, and made a rule to never complain.
Contribution: Pat was the pioneer of NCAA women’s basketball. She contributed her life to the game of basketball. She was known to deliver results, and not just in basketball. At the end of her coaching career she held a record of 1098-208, but one of her greater successes was that her program had a 100% graduation rate. She produced great athletes as well as great minds and leaders to society.
Consistency: Even after the retirement of Pat Summitt, because of the consistency displayed by the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers basketball team, the program still has a reputation to be the ideal place to play college basketball.
There are many good coaches and good sports programs. To be considered a great coach, which is trusted by the entire sports world, requires the characteristics of the Eight Pillars of Trust. Pat Summitt exudes trust in leadership. Even now as she begins to battle Alzheimer’s, the sports world trusts that Pat will still work hard, fight hard and never compromise.
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