Pat Summitt received countless different awards and honors during and immediately after her legendary coaching career. Luckily, just as her impact was beginning to fade out of the spotlight, ESPN Films released the special "Pat XO" to reinvigorate her story.
College basketball lost an all-time great coach when Summitt decided to step aside as she continued to fight health issues. Unsurprisingly, when she transitioned into a new role last spring, one of her main goals was ensuring the stability of the Tennessee program, as per ESPNW.
I've loved being the head coach at Tennessee for 38 years, but I recognize that the time has come to move into the future and to step into a new role.
I want to help ensure the stability of the program going forward. I would like to emphasize that I fully intend to continue working as head coach emeritus, mentoring and teaching life skills to our players, and I will continue my active role as a spokesperson in the fight against Alzheimer's through the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund.
What makes the film stand out is its ability to showcase her wide-ranging effect on Tennessee, college basketball and sports as a whole. Even in a less publicized sport like women's college hoops, she was an icon respected around the sporting world.
"Pat XO" illustrates that fact by not only getting input from her former players and counterparts from around college basketball but also people like Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. The Tennessee product talks about wanting a chance to play for Summitt.
Perhaps the most amazing stat from her coaching career—and there are plenty to choose from—is the fact she never had a losing season at Tennessee. Nearly four decades in charge of the program and not once did she fall below .500.
It goes back to her comments about program stability. Every team is going to go through some tough times, whether it is due to injuries or a brief recruiting dry spell, but the Lady Vols were built to overcome adversity because of the stable environment.
In today's sports world, where coaches and players change franchises or programs at a rapid rate, the type of sustained competitiveness Summitt established at Tennessee is quickly fading away.
Showing it's possible to stay in one place for an extended period of time and maintaining a high level of success is an important lesson. At first, honors like the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Arthur Ashe Courage Award helped tell the story.
As Summitt's unmatched coaching career gets further away in the rear-view mirror, however, it's important to have reminders about the story. That's where things like "Pat XO" come into play to make sure her legacy remains prominent.
Plenty of college basketball coaches will come and go over the years, but there will never be another Pat Summitt. Anything that helps tell her story is a positive.
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