(We know National Women’s Sports Day was two days ago. But tonight, when University of Tennessee coach Pat Summitt’s Lady Vols secured for their coach her 1,000th win, we knew we just had to keep the celebration going. – Ed.)

by Elizabeth Willse, Contributing Editor

When I watch women’s college basketball, I cheer the loudest for a team
from a state I’ve never visited.  It’s because I’ve learned to love the
fierce, driven energy and sheer presence of their coach.  Pat Summitt
paces the sidelines, watching plays unfold with a raptor’s intense eye,
shouting to her players and slicing her hands through the air
vehemently.   When the Tennessee Lady Vols plays get disorganized or
sloppy, or a ref makes a bad call, blood rushes to her face as she
rages.  It’s impressive, admirable (makes me glad I’m safely watching
from a TV screen or the cheap bleacher seats!) and tremendous fun to
watch.

I know I don’t know everything there is to know about women’s college
hoops.  I don’t always know a pick and roll when I see one, for
example.  I started watching just after college.  After my friend
Jocelyn, a lifelong and avid fan, came over to my place to watch games (because I
had cable),  her loyalties rubbed off.  UConn and Rutgers for their
proximity, star players (Diana Taurasi and Epiphanny Prince, for
example), and  coaches.   And Pat Summitt’s Tennessee Lady Vols.

Last spring, I went down to Tampa for the NCAA Women’s Final Four, watching
from the most stratospheric seats in the bleachers.  I had to peer
through my binoculars as UConn, Stanford, Tennessee and LSU battled for
the championship title.  Throughout the stadium, I saw the vibrant
orange shirts of Lady Vols fans.  Pat Summit was a tiny blur far below
me as she drove her team to victory.

With, as Jocelyn reminds me, a
team full of freshmen this year, the Lady Vols may face a tougher
journey to the Final Four.   But Pat Summitt is now officially the most victorious coach in all of
women’s college ball— in all of college basketball, period.  We at WVFC
congratulate her on the milestone, and wish her luck with the season
ahead.

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  • Penny Hastings February 6, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Congrats to one of the most professional, dynamic coaches I’ve ever seen. I covered the Women’s Basketball Final Four in the early 90’s. Tennessee was not playing that year, but I happened to go into a bar near the venue one evening and who was sitting by herself but Pat Summitt, having a snack. We talked and I was more impressed with her than ever. She’s a pro, she’s a superstar coach, but she was as nice and welcoming as she could be. She’s a role model and mentor to athletic girls (and women) everwhere. Another coach I really respect and believe is Summitt’s equal is Tara VanDerveer at Stanford.

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