As Team USA women’s basketball opens its first game of the Rio Olympics this morning, there are many reminders of how Pat Summitt changed the game and just how far her impact on the game reached.
Then Pat Head, the former Tennessee coach played on the 1976 team, which took silver in Montreal. She was tapped as an assistant coach for the 1980 Games, which ultimately were boycotted, then won gold as head coach of the 1984 Olympics.
The United States then proceeded to capture seven gold medals in eight Olympic Games. Menlo School ’91 graduate, former professional basketball player, Stanford star and current assistant coach Kate Paye reflects on the influence Summitt had on her.
By Kate Paye ’91
Pat Summitt was a legendary coach and a transformative leader in sport and society. Her passion, competitiveness, and commitment to excellence were second to none and changed the way people view women in sport and women in leadership. It is one of the great honors of my career in basketball that I had the opportunity to play against her, coach against her, and know her as a colleague.
Every season since my freshman year at Stanford, I have circled Tennessee on the schedule – because under Coach Summitt and her infamous stare, the Lady Vols set the standard for excellence. Playing against her and coaching against her made me a better player, teammate, and coach. Getting to know her off the court and observe her graciousness, humility, and humor has made me a better person. Many of the opportunities I have been afforded as a college player, a professional player, and now a collegiate coach can be attributed to the doors that Coach Summitt opened and the paths that she blazed for women in sport.
I join the women’s basketball community, the sporting world, and our entire country in mourning her loss and celebrating her legacy through a commitment to provide opportunities for women to compete and lead at the highest levels.
“The ‘Single’Ingredient in leadership, according to Pat Summitt” (Jena McGregor-The Washington Post)