Race for the Summitt to be held March 23

March 14, 2013 at 1:17 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Make your plans to be part of the inaugural Race for the Summitt on Saturday morning, March 23.  There will be a 4 mile run/walk course that begins at Health Sciences Park, across from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. If you’ve been hiding under a rock and missed all the controversy about the renaming of the park, yes, it is The Historic Site That Was Formerly Known As Forrest Park. Even having the sign stolen and being fodder for punch lines everywhere couldn’t stop the powers that be from changing the name of the park…as if changing the name of it will change the hundred years of history that goes along with it.  But I digress.  That is a rant for another day.  This day is for getting out the word about the fundraiser for The Pat Summitt Foundation.

Race for the Summitt Logo 1

For anyone who may not know, Pat Summitt was the head coach for the University of Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team for 38 years, until her diagnosis with early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type, cut short her legendary career.  She now serves as Head Coach Emeritus and is still very much involved in coaching and teaching. The mission of her foundation, which was founded in November 2011, is “to advance research for prevention and a cure, to provide hope, care, and critical support for patients, caregivers, and families, and to educate the public on the impacts of Alzheimer’s disease and the urgent need for a cure”.  75% of proceeds from Race for the Summitt will go to the Pat Summitt Foundation.  The remaining 25% will go to the co-sponsors of the event, the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) chapter at The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Pharmacy (wow, say that  fast three times). 

The cost for registration is $25 between now and March 21, and will be $30 on race day. Packets can be picked up a various times prior to the race, as long as you register at least 24 hours ahead. If you want to show your support, but are either unable to run or will not be able to attend, you can register as a Memory Donor for $15. That will get you a cool shirt and you’ll know you were being supportive as well. The race packet has the aforementioned cool shirt, along with your race bib and race tracking system, raffle tickets for post-race drawings, and a few other goodies.  The day of the race, registration and packet pick-up begins at 7:30am and ends at 8:45am. The race begins at 9am. The post-race party begins at 9:30am with the awards ceremony and raffle beginning at 10:30am. I’m told that if it rains, the post-race events will likely be held at the Student Activity Center at UTHSC, 800 Madison Avenue. Get your running (or walking) shoes on and come show your support.  For additional information, check the Race for the Summitt website, with information and support provided by Start2Finish Event Management. 

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Dinner with a Legend

June 10, 2012 at 8:58 pm (inspiration, Personal, sports, ut) (, , , , )

Pat Summitt and CC jpg

I hope I will never forget one of the greatest moments of my life: I had dinner with Coach Pat Summitt. It means even more to me now, since her battle with Alzheimer’s Disease has forced her to step down from her head coaching position at the University of Tennessee, where she is now Head Coach Emeritus. President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom last month, the highest civilian honor one can receive. 

But back to our dinner.  It was a fund raiser of some sort, the details are lost to me now. But I went with my father, who is a UT graduate, and has always been active in university affairs and a member of various boards. So, we arrived a little early to the event, and I was looking around to see where Coach Summitt was going to be sitting. I remember telling Daddy that I hoped she was close enough that I could see her. He just smiled a little and said he thought I’d be able to see her just fine. 

Just as I was making my way to the table, I heard a familiar voice call out from behind me.  “Hey, Leonard, how are you?” Daddy turned and said, “Well, hello Pat. It’s good to see you again.”  I’m not usually one to get star-struck, but I absolutely could not find any words as I found myself face to face with Pat Summitt–well, not quite face to face–she is quite tall.  But still. I just stood there while Daddy made introductions. She shook my hand, warmly and firmly. She asked me a few general questions as we walked toward the table. She stopped at a seat, smiled at me,  and said, “Well, it looks like we’ll be having dinner together tonight”.  I looked at Daddy, who was sporting a mile-wide grin.  He said, “Oh, did I forget to mention that to you?”  I nearly fainted.  I giggled, then hugged him, then hugged her. She was laughing, too, and told me to “just relax. I put my pants on one leg at a time, just like you do”. 

I did begin to relax and the next couple of hours flew by in a blur. We chatted like old friends as we ate. We taIked a little about basketball, but mostly about other things: our shared love for our four-legged friends and driving fast, fond memories of the peace and quiet of farm life and country cooking, a well-played game, and a well-played prank (the sense of humor came thru). I could not possibly come up with enough adequate adjectives to describe her over the course of that two hours.  She was at times the most engaging, generous, funny, warm, witty, intelligent, kind, successful, determined, courageous, self-deprecating, humble, and considerate woman I have ever met. She left a lasting impression on me that night, the night Pat came to dinner. 

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Summitt notches first ace

June 9, 2012 at 8:18 pm (inspiration, sports, ut) (, , )

Ku xlarge

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Coach Pat Summitt. I was a fan before she became a legend, before she became basketball’s winningest coach, before she was forced to retire after 38 spectacular seasons at the University of Tennessee after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  She holds dozens of records and has done just about everything imaginable in sports…except carding a hole-in-one. Until yesterday. Now she can add that to her list as well.  

Pat admits she has been practicing her golf game now that she has a little extra free time since retiring from UT. She was playing in an impressive foursome which included Lisa Reagan (a former player), Billie Moore (who coached Summitt at the 1976 Montreal Olympics), and Debbie Antonelli (ESPN sports analyst). The ladies had gotten together on the eve of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony and were playing at a course just outside of Knoxville. 

The day had apparently been relatively uneventful until they got to the 17th hole par 3.  Summitt hit a blind tee shot (meaning she couldn’t see the hole from where she hit her shot). When the foursome got to the green, they couldn’t find Summitt’s ball. They were looking behind the hole, thinking it had rolled past the cup, when Antonelli happened to look into the cup and said, “You’re never going to believe this”. Summitt said she knew she’d hit the ball pretty good, using a 7-iron for the 112 yard shot, but had no idea it was that good.

It’s just another milestone for Pat Summitt. I wouldn’t write her off just yet. 

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Pat Summitt Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

May 29, 2012 at 9:48 pm (inspiration, sports, ut) (, , , )

Pat Summitt PresMedalofHonor

Pat Summitt received the Presidential Medal of Freedom earlier today in a ceremony at the White House.  President Obama presented Summitt with the award, which is the nation’s highest civilian honor.  According to a news release by the White House, the award is given to honor those who have made especially notable contributions in their field to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

When she was first announced to be a recipient of the prestigious award, President Obama said, “Coach Summitt is an inspiration – both as the all-time winningest NCAA coach, and as someone who is willing to speak so openly and courageously about her battle with Alzheimer’s. Pat’s gift has always been her ability to push those around her to new heights, and over the last 38 years, her unique approach has resulted in both unparalleled success on the court and unrivaled loyalty from those who know her and those whose lives she has touched. Pat’s coaching career may be over, but I’m confident that her work is far from finished. I look forward to awarding her this honor.”

During her illustrious career, Coach Summitt has become the all-time winningest NCAA coach, male or female. She has racked up more awards than can be counted, including Naismith Women’s Collegiate Coach of the Century. The court at Thompson-Boling Arena is named ‘The Summitt’ in her honor.  She played on the silver medal team in the 1976 U.S. Olympics, then coached the U.S. to a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics.  After 37 seasons coaching, all at Tennessee, her record was 1071-199 (84.3). She had 18 Final Four appearances and won 8 National Championships. She was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. 

Although her coaching career has officially ended, and the wins and losses won’t be tallied any longer, Summitt will continue to make a difference.  She will still be the spokesperson in the fight against Alzheimer’s through her own Pat Summitt Foundation and she will still mentor the student-athletes whom she so loves.  

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