Basketball Coach Pat Summitt Turns Author after being Diagnosed with Alzheimer's
Basketball coach Pat Summitt turned to writing after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, and is all set to release her memoir titled "Sum it Up".
Pat Summitt was head coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team for 38 years. During that time, she coached the team to more victories than any men's or women's basketball team had ever won. Then, in 2011, she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Summitt admits that at first, she was in disbelief. However, once she found out what she was up against, the coach, known for her fierceness, decided she wanted it out in the open and so went public about her illness.
Her diagnosis is one of the first stories she narrates in her memoir "Sum It Up". Along with co-writer Sally Jenkins, they try and capture her life as her memory slowly fades. The memoir narrates incidents of Summitt growing up on a farm, the transformative power of Title IX, and her life post-diagnosis.
"Growing up on a dairy farm, we had cows - we had to milk 'em 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.," the coach says. "My parents, they just really made all of us aware of what we had to do every day when we went to work. And so, you know, I think it was a good thing for me."
Jenkins, who has been writing about Summitt for over a decade now, says the coach's competitiveness has her "trademark" in both her fight against the illness as well as in her career. "What she does better than anybody in the world is fight," Jenkins says. "Her brothers would tell you that. Her players would tell you that. And her opponents would certainly tell you that."
Summitt was asked in her memoir if she would trade her trophies for her health. She hesitated and finally said, "I'd give up all my trophies to still be coaching. I love the game," said the nostalgic coach. "I miss it now - not coaching, but I am moving on in that regard ... I go to practice every day. I love being around the student-athletes. That's something that I'll always like."