For Pat Summitt, win No. 1,000 is something special. After the Lady Vols' 73-43 win over SEC rival Georgia had concluded, Summitt dusted all of the confetti out of her hair and could only smile.
Summitt's first win was January 10, 1975. It was a 69-32 romp over Middle Tennessee State, in front of about 35 people, at the old Alumni Gymnasium in Knoxville.
999 wins later, Pat Summitt is college basketball's winningest coach, and her Lady Volunteers play in front of sold out crowds at Thompson-Boling arena in Knoxville.
Summitt has more wins than any other women's program. In her 35 years on Rocky Top, there have been four head football coaches and eight men's basketball coaches. During that time, all Summitt did was keep winning.
Summitt is only the second non-baseball coach to win 1,000 games with the same team. The other is Jerry Sloan of the Utah Jazz.
To put it in perspective—if a coach averaged 33 wins over a 30 year career, she would still be 10 wins short of Summitt's total. That is how successful Summitt has been in her time at Tennessee.
No one has come close to her .842 winning percentage. With a little luck, Summitt could reach win No. 1,200 before she loses No. 200.
It is not like Summitt has scheduled cupcakes every year either. The Lady Vols play one of the most difficult schedules every year, and that experience pays off. In 1997, the Lady Vols lost ten games, but because of the rigors of a difficult schedule, they still made a run and won the NCAA title that year.
Speaking of titles, the eight Summitt has won is second only to John Wooden's ten in college basketball. If she keeps bringing top recruiting classes to Knoxville, she might even be able to pass Wooden.
1,000 wins means so much, not only to Summitt, but to women's athletics as a whole. Just ask any little girl who plays sports, and odds are she will know who Pat Summitt is.
Summitt knows what is good for women's sports as well. After Tennessee was eliminated in the Elite Eight of the 1990 NCAA Tournament, Summitt was disappointed because the Final Four was being played in Knoxville that year. However, she still wanted all the Tennessee fans to come to the Final Four for the good of women's basketball. They did, and the arena was sold out each night.
Summitt will keep coaching and winning. While this Lady Volunteers team is young and has taken a few lumps, look for them to be a force in the NCAA Tournament this year.
Pat Summitt will go down as one of the greatest coaches in sports history.
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