The last few days have been a whirlwind, but my current situation involves me lying on my living room floor, icing my knees after just waking up from a nap. I believe we all dream more often than not, but a lot of times we don’t remember what our dreams consist of. Well, mine definitely woke me up searching and looking…
The stage set up : )
Thursday my stomach was complete knots all day. I stressed and stressed about how I was going to sum up Pat in just 5 minutes. I mean, like most of us that knew her, 5 minutes doesn’t truly justify what all Pat meant to us. And, now I had 5 minutes to pay tribute to her AND… it would be broadcast across the globe. I’ve done a lot of speaking engagements, and I always get a touch of nervousness, but this didn’t even compare. My Mom and Parnell kept telling me how great I would do, but I just had so much to share- and not enough time.
Pat Summitt's Celebration
The evening was absolutely amazing!! It started off with rehearsals, to receptions, to pictures and another reception. All of the Lady Vols, coaches, families, officials and fans came together to send Pat off the RIGHT way!! I know I wrote about it before, but the way that Pat has been able to bring so many amazing people together on and off the court is truly awesome. Her impact will forever be felt. And, her contribution to the game of basketball will always be remembered.
Here’s my speech:
Pat Summitt… the Best Ever
I was in 8th grade the 1st time I came across Pat Summitt indirectly. I was sitting at home flipping through the channels and all of a sudden I stopped- drawn into an icy blue stare of the one and only… I was hypnotized instantly and for whatever reason couldn’t pull away from the screen.
I remember thinking to myself then, “I just hope I get good enough to be able to play for that lady.” The passion, the stare, the determination, the will power, the FIGHT… that is what I wanted, that was what pushed me to take my game to another level. Fast forward to my sophomore year in HS, the first time I got a letter from the Lady Vols – signed by Mickie & Holly. I don’t know what it was, but I pasted that letter on the wall- next to my favorite player, Alonzo Mourning. Another one of my faves…
We can never prepare for a moment like this, although ultimately we know it will come. But, I don’t know why, Pat seemed invincible in every way. I knew coming to UT that I would be pushed, and that I would be challenged, but I believe that all of us Lady Vols welcomed that – some more than others (LOL) and were willing to be molded into the people that we are today.
Pat was more than our coach. She was our friend. She was our mentor. She was our leader. She was our mother. She was our father. And, for me, she was my quiet through my storms. While we didn’t speak everyday, there’s just something about knowing someone is just a phone call away. But, now I know she’s just a prayer away.
When I look out over the sea of our Lady Vol family, we are all brought together, joined in unity for this moment because of our wonderful leader, Pat. I can’t imagine how different our lives would have been if we had chose anywhere but here. WE came here to play ball and get an education, but we left with so much more! While she valued what we did on the court, but even more so she valued what we did in the classroom and community, and ultimately what we would each individually bring to the world. And, that we all have done to some capacity!
There have been a lot of tears shed over the past month as we watched our hero slip away from the earthly realm to the heavenly one. And, while it’s been tough, the amazing stories that have been shared over the past few weeks have made this celebration just a little bit easier.
I know Pat is looking down and continues to look down on each of us as we celebrate her life today and what she means and has done for so many of us. She gave us hope, she gave us direction, she gave us a sense of coolness through what we did on and off the court. She was the epitome of what BEING GREAT is all about, and that bubbled over to us through her expectations for each of us to be great!
Standing here today, I go back to the phone call Pat made to me back in 2012 when she was diagnosed with dementia. She said “Catch, don’t be scared. I am going to fight like none other.” Well, through her fight and continuous fight Pat has showed us how to be strong and how to be great once again!!” I dedicated the 2012 season to her and we finished strong with a championship with her in the building. The hug that I gave her that night, I will never forget. As we embraced in that moment, I swear no one else was there, and everything seemed perfect- nothing else mattered. That moment… the real Pat was there and was able to witness more than a basketball accomplishment, but a life accomplishment.
Tonight we celebrate Pat, and we all remember the greatness that she exuded in everything she did. Tonight we cry, we dance, we laugh, we sing to honor Pat and everything about her.
I’d like all of the Lady Vols to stand at this time.
To our leader… our mentor… our mother… our friend… our inspiration… our Angel. Thank you for being a faithful servant in all that you did and allowing us to walk the walk of life with you. This is not a good bye, but a “Until we meet again…”
We love you Pat for everything!!
Pat’s legacy in women’s basketball continues to live on today and will for years to come thanks to the impact she had on the coaching profession. Basketball sidelines around the nation, and at all levels, are filled with coaches who can point directly to Pat and her influence on the game as the reason why they are where they are today.
No one was more familiar with just how much she impacted those around her and grew the game of women’s basketball than those who worked closely with her and beside her for many years.
Please join me in welcoming two of Pat’s former assistant coaches and closest friends, Mickie DeMoss and Holly Warlick.
Legends always multiply... thank you Pat!
So, back to my dream… I woke up to the hymn “It is Well With My Soul” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zY5o9mP22V0) playing in my head and the image of Pat walking off the court, smiling & waving goodbye. I opened my eyes quick, not wanting to let go. But, in the moment I opened them, I lost her, but through the song, I can still feel her…
The Celebration was just that- a celebration of the life of Pat and all the people that she’s impacted. I’m so grateful to be one of them. One thing I know for sure, I will not let her down and I will continue to carry part of the flame that she passed on to 161 of us players, staff, fans, family and the world!!
Awesome Shirts from Debby Jennings- Once a Lady Vol, ALWAYS A Lady Vol
Pat… it is well, It is well with my soul… Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord.”