The Washington Post

Pat Summitt: A fan pays touching tribute to a legend

Pat Summitt steps down as the winningest basketball coach in NCAA history. (Mark Humphrey / AP)

The tributes to Pat Summitt, who will step down as the University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach today, have come from elite athletes like Peyton Manning and fellow coaches, like Doc Rivers.

But one of the most eloquent and touching was sent by Dan Donovan, creative director at a New York ad agency, to the University of Tennessee’s athletic department. It was forwarded to ESPN and The Post’s Sally Jenkins because, as Jenkins notes, “it says everything about Pat Summitt that needs to be said.”

[Quiz: Can you name the successors to these legendary coaches?]

I’m nobody significant. I have almost no Twitter followers. I don’t blog. I’m just a guy raised by good parents who believed in and appreciated the good that people do. My Dad died when I was a kid and my Mom was never a basketball fan, but at some point in my life I learned about Pat Summit. I followed her on ESPN. I read the articles about her and her teams, and I’ve developed a long appreciation for what she has accomplished. I never hung her poster on my wall as a kid, but I was a fan. I am a fan. I have been blown away by the way she has built remarkable teams and helped produce even more remarkable women.

I’m going to be a father in 3 months. We’re having a girl. And like many parents, I’ve allowed myself to dream about my little girl one day becoming a great scholar, or athlete or contributor to society. But as I watch Coach Summit leave (and I completely understand why), I can’t help but think that all I really want is for my daughter to one day learn from a woman like her. A woman who won against odds, lost gracefully and made being great and being modest at the same time seem not only possible but reasonable.

I know Coach Summit will go on. This is not a eulogy. This is a thank you note. And a promise that even the young girls who grow up miles away from her legacy will always know her name, and more importantly, her story.

Good luck, Coach

A fan.

Follow us: @CindyBoren | @MattBrooksWP

More from Washington Post Sports

An emotional tribute from Doc Rivers

Pat Summitt through the years

Summitt to step down as coach

Sally Jenkins: Summitt still much more than disabled

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.


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