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On this day, eleven years ago, Coach Summitt became the first men's or women's coach in NCAA basketball history to reach 1,000 wins when Tennessee trounced Georgia 73-43 in Knoxville. Just days before, TIME Magazine interviewed Pat and published the Q&A of that interview as a feature in that February’s edition. In that interview leading up to her record win, Coach Summitt was asked a question that elicited a response that has since become legend.
You started coaching at Tennessee in 1974, two years after the passage of Title IX, the landmark legislation that created more athletic opportunities for women. What was it like for a women's basketball team then?
“I had to drive the van when I first started coaching. One time, for a road game, we actually slept in the other team's gym the night before. We had mats, we had our little sleeping bags. When I was a player at the University of Tennessee-Martin, we played at Tennessee Tech for three straight games, and we didn't wash our uniforms. We only had one set. We played because we loved the game. We didn't think anything about it.”
Coach Summitt’s relentless attitude and toughness were hallmarks of a coaching style that would define the 8 NCAA National Championships she built, and her history-making win total of 1098 NCAA games won. Coach Summitt paved her road to championship success through tough experiences that she transformed into grit and character.
Remember that you alone control your attitude and your effort. So even if life leads you down a road where you find yourself sleeping in a van, on a gym floor, or somewhere you wouldn’t have expected, never give up on yourself or your teammates.
Pat Summitt's Definite Dozen Principles #6 | “Make hard work your passion.”