Thanks, Pat

Several years ago, my wife wanted to surprise me with an autographed Lady Vols basketball. She purchased a ball, display case, and when the package arrived after signing, there were two balls and cases—and an explanation. Always the perfectionist, Pat had signed the ball my wife purchased with the inscription: “To Doug Marshall, No. 1 Lady Fan.”

Realizing that I was probably not a lady, Pat got one of her Lady Vols basketballs and on it inscribed “To Doug Marshall, No. 1 Lady Vol Fan.” I will always treasure and proudly display side by side both of my autographed Pat Summitt Lady Vols basketballs.

My wife and my father-in-law, both Auburn graduates, now cheer for the Lady Vols and Pat Summitt. And my father-in-law proudly displays his Pat Summitt autographed book Raise the Roof.

There will never be another Pat Summitt.

–C. Douglas Marshall, College of Business Administration ’67, ’71

Dear Pat,
I am a 1973 grad (Food Science/Food Systems Administration) of the Home Ec College—that name has certainly changed many times—and a survivor of living in Hess Hall, room 204, all four years. My dad lost his job with the space program in Huntsville, Alabama, when Apollo first landed on the moon. That was just before my arrival on campus, and I had very little money, no car, and ate many cheap meals of ravioli or canned soup out of my illegal popcorn popper in the dorm. My other budget meal was a chilidog from the Mother Hen food truck, which parked in front of the dorm, but it was the best time of my life. Thank goodness for free sports! I got hooked on every sport and loved the Lady Vols!

I want to wish you the very best. You have been an inspiration to countless numbers of men and women. Thank you for giving Tennessee and the sports world your heart and soul in such a grand way with dignity and leadership beyond comparison. I am so proud of you and what you have achieved. It has been a treat to watch the Lady Vols and you throughout your career. Tennessee is lucky to have you as its personal ROCK STAR! You are awesome.

Go Vols, go Lady Vols!

Vicki Crittenden ’73

I worked under Debby Jennings in the sports information office in the late ’80s and early ’90s. I was known as “FiFi” in the women’s athletic department.

In 1991, we went to Pat Head Summitt’s house for a media cover shoot Reeling in a Winner for another championship year. My job was to keep the forty-some basketballs as close to the pontoon boat as possible. I put on waders that came up to my chest and corralled the balls as I was told. Not as easy as it seems since the wind was blowing hard and the balls wanting to go out deeper into the water.

I accidentally threw one of the basketballs too close to the pontoon boat where Pat was hovering over the side, and the lake water splashed in her face. Needless to say I received one of the infamous Pat “stares” and watched how I threw the balls from then on out.

I did things people only dreamed of doing. I was beyond blessed to spend most of my UT years in the women’s athletic department. I worked with Sweet Sixteens, Final Fours, and NCAA Championships while learning about all the behind the scenes with major networks and sports personalities.

Pat and Debby gave me so many special memories that I will remember for a lifetime.

Thank you!

Michele Foster Carson

You were a senior when I was a freshman at UTM and it has been stellar watching you excel. I wish you well and will miss you much. Blessings as you travel this road.


Jan Knox

You have left a great legacy for our sports program to follow. When I was a student at UT in the late 1960s, I never remember the basketball program being that great. Thanks for giving us all those good years of outstanding women’s basketball. We have come close a few times with the men’s basketball, but you reached the summit. No pun intended.

Alan Miller

Freshman year at UT, I found men’s basketball games to be a little too slow for me, so I decided to try women’s basketball. I’m so glad I did. Coach Summit outcoached any men’s coach I had watched, and the games were exciting and fun. I have followed women’s basketball ever since. What a legend!

Lynn Svoboda

I started attending Lady Vols basketball games when I first came to UT in 1978. They were always a lot of fun and even then, we had good crowds, usually around 3,000 to 4,000—which seems small today, but for that time, they were huge!

Coach Summitt (Head, then) always displayed grace, dignity, and class. After the game when she would shake hands with the opposing team’s coaches and players, you wouldn’t have known whether she had won or lost.

I was at Stokely in 1987 when we celebrated our first National title and was able to be in Tacoma in 1989 when we won our second. I’ve gotten to see the Lady Vols play in Athens, Auburn, Atlanta, Nashville, Chattanooga, Albany, Columbia, and various other places.

We at UT are lucky to have had such a great coach and person as Pat Head Summitt lead our program for so long and to be so successful. Thank you, coach, for all the memories, and good luck Holly. We’ll all be there cheering you on to continue the great Lady Vol tradition.

Danny Spencer

When I was a student at UT, Coach Summitt was just starting the women’s program, and she frequently ran my friends and me off the court at Alumni Gym so her team could practice. The players then were a bit smaller than today’s athletes.

Bill Sizer

Pat Summitt,

After admiring you and the Lady Vols for a long time, I finally got a chance to meet you at a book signing in Atlanta. As a UT Knoxville alum, I especially treasure my autographed copy of Reach for the Summit, and I wish only good things for you and in the future.

Adrienne Welch ’68, ’75

Those of us who have followed the Lady Vols and Coach Summitt from afar over the years have come to know her in our own way. We’ve watched her pep talks in the locker room, we’ve seen her fire on the floor, and we’ve been told of her tremendous influence in her players’ success in life.

But, as is the case of all those successful leaders that I admire, I’m left wanting more. I would like to have been in that locker room with her inspiring me to do more and be better. I would like to have been on the floor and have her fire directed at me. I would like to have sit one-on-one with her, getting her guidance on the way forward in my life. I “know” Pat Summitt, but I would like to have experienced, first-hand, knowing her like her players know her. For the part that I do know, Pat, I am grateful.

Marlon Yankee, Col (Ret), USAF, ’72, MS ’74

During my senior year at UT, I needed an elective and found a class called “Personal Safety and Self Defense, “which sounded interesting. Pat Head, who was spending much of her time getting a women’s basketball team off the ground, taught the class. Pat was only four or five years older than many in the class, but it was clear to us that she had more drive, focus, and determination than most. When she told us “yes you can” break that board with bare hands, we believed her—we didn’t dare question it! She was strong and confident; UT could not have found a better role model to lead that class. Later, as a Lady Vols fan, I was proud to have such an outstanding ambassador representing UT (not to mention the national championships)! Thank you, Pat. You influenced many, and not just on the court.

J. Hunter

Just sending a note of well wishes to Pat Summit…
Thanks, Pat for all of you’ve brought to the University of Tennessee.
You’re by far the best coach we’ve ever had.

Rodney C. Armstrong ’89

5 Comments on “Thanks, Pat

  1. I was most fortunate to attend UTK 1950 – 1954. We were National Football Champions my Freshman year and runner-up my sophomore year. I fell in love with the Big Orange…..I remember us being great in so many sports…I loved working on the Orange & White newspaper as Office Mgr. with the great Hox Ward..better known as the Voice of the Vols for many years. As the founder of the Atlanta Alumni Chapter since 1961 and charter member, I have continued to work for the Big Orange. I have been so proud of my University and especially for folks like Pat Summitt and Peyton Manning….what stellar role models they are!! Everyone who knows me knows my blood runs orange! Martha Griffin Randolph

  2. I was most fortunate to attend UTK 1950-1954..we were National Champions in Football then runner up the next year…just great in so many sports!! I fell in love with the Big Orange! I love working on the Orange & White newspaper with the great Hox Ward better known as the Voice of the Vols for many years! As Founder of the Atlanta Alumni Chapter in 1961 and charter member, I continue to work for the Big Orange. I am so proud of my University and especially for folks lik Pat Summitt and Peyton Manning….what stellar role models they are!! Martha Griffin Randolph

  3. Oops! That should be ’72 and ’75 behind my name– not ’68. My mistake.

  4. Wishing you the best on your journey. I have spent many years cheering on the Lady Vols and Pat Summitt and will continue, God Bless you and your family. You have made UT Ladies Basketball known throughout the country. Go Big Orange. Thanks for giving us your all. We will never forget you.

  5. Hey Pat, My family has always loved the vols and my Husband Ken and son Corey attended UTK. We lived close to the Alabama State Line and as fate has it some times we got jobs in Alabama but never left the loyelty for Tennessee. I Teach first grade in Alabama and when they have Bama vs, Auburn game day I always wear my Vols shirt. At first some of them would say why are you wearing that.Well as years has passed they all know why. I love the Vols., Now on open house night it is always brought up that they know I am a Tennessee fan. One night this dad said I know you are a Vols fan but my son is an Alabama fan., I replied with by the end of the year he will be a Tennessee fan,
    Thanks and good luck and thanks for all the wonderful memories,,,
    Gladys Hill Johns