Pat Summitt, the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history and bestselling author of Reach for the Summitt and Raise The Roof , tells for the first time her remarkable story of victory and resilience as well as facing down her greatest early-onset Alzheimer's disease.
Pat Summitt was only 21 when she became head coach of the Tennessee Vols women's basketball team. For 38 years, she broke records, winning more games than any NCAA team in basketball history. She coached an undefeated season, co-captained the first women's Olympic team, was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and was named Sports Illustrated 'Sportswoman of the Year'. She owed her coaching success to her personal struggles and triumphs. She learned to be tough from her strict, demanding father. Motherhood taught her to balance that rigidity with communication and kindness. She was a role model for the many women she coached; 74 of her players have become coaches. Pat's life took a shocking turn in 2011, when she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, an irreversible brain condition that affects 5 million Americans. Despite her devastating diagnosis, she led the Vols to win their sixteenth SEC championship in March 2012. Pat continued to be a fighter, facing this new challenge the way she's faced every other--with hard work, perseverance, and a sense of humor.
Patricia Sue "Pat" Summitt was is a women's college basketball head coach. She served as the head coach emeritus of the Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team. She is the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history of either a men's or women's team in any division. She coached from 1974 to 2012, all with the Lady Vols, winning eight NCAA national championships, second only to the record 10 titles won by UCLA men's coach John Wooden. She is the only coach in NCAA history, and one of three college coaches overall, with at least 1,000 victories.
Sum it Up is the memoir of Tennessee Lady Vol Coach Pat Summitt, who recently lost her battle with Alzheimer's. I have been following the Lady Vols for over twenty years because one of the players mentioned in this memoir attended my high school before transferring. Additionally, I had the privilege to attend one of the Lady Vols' tournament games in 1997 en route to championship number five. Even though these games were in Iowa, the Lady Vols amassed a large cheering section because by this time they had become nationally known, which, of course, was a testament to their coach.
Fast forward another fourteen years. Coach Summitt was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease. By this point, my grandmother's cousin had succumbed to the disease, and my grandmother was slowly falling prey as well in a battle that she would later lose. World famous disciplinarian coaches who are four years younger than my parents do not get Alzheimer's, but, unfortunately, I was indeed mistaken. Coach Summitt did have early Alzheimer's and within a year was forced to become Lady Vols coach emeritus. Then she decided, with the help of collaborator Sally Jenkins, to pen her memoirs before her brain erased her memories forever. It takes courage to write a memoir while battling a disease that takes away brain cells. Coach Summitt may be a hall of famer, but this book ranks among one of her more important achievements.
Patricia Sue Head was born to Richard and Hazel Head of Henrietta, Tennessee in 1952, the first girl after three boys. Richard, a strict disciplinarian and farmer, raised his children to be upstanding individuals and treated all five of his children the same. In order that they should not get into trouble after they completed their chores, he built them a basketball court in the rafters of the family barn. It was there playing two on two against her older brothers that Pat learned her love for a game that would last for her entire life.
Upon graduating Tennessee Martin University in 1974, Pat accepted the offer to become head coach of the University of Tennessee at the ripe old age of 22. She would hold this position for 38 years, win 8 national titles and 1098 games won overall. More importantly she imparted a tough love to her players and developed as many outstanding people as basketball players. Additionally, her players maintained a 100% graduation rate and went on to be coaches, teachers, professors, police officers, all productive members of society.
A pioneer to promote women's basketball in the early days of Title IX, Coach Summitt fought that her players should have the same treatment as their male counterparts. She forged relationships with other female and male coaches throughout the NCAA and eventually had the basketball court renamed in her honor. Yet, her crowning achievement beyond the 74 former players who went on to be coaches: her son Tyler who is an up and coming coach in his own right.
I enjoyed reading Sum it Up as it brought back memories of watching Lady Vols basketball over the years. Unfortunately, it hit close to home as I am reminded of my family history of dementia and Alzheimer's. Coach Summitt gave everything, including her battle with this disease, 150%. In terms of sports memoirs, this is one of the better ones. For the courage to write this while fighting this debilitating disease, I rate this book 4.75 shining stars. Basketball season is starting soon, and it will not be the same without Coach Summitt's presence at games. She will be missed by all fans of the game, myself included.
Through my job, I have met some amazing people. Some in passing and others I got to know well.
Pat Summitt was someone I interviewed a couple of different times while I covered the Rutgers women’s basketball team from 2005-2007.
In all, I wrote eight articles for The Press of Atlantic City that included Pat Summitt, including one in 2011 when Summitt had stopped doing post-game interviews.
To me, she always seemed larger than life. In control of it all. Summitt was the face of women’s college basketball. The first and last person you thought about when it came to the topic.
The last article on Summitt was the toughest. The all-time winningest women’s college basketball had publically announced she was suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s disease. She was in New Jersey to have her Tennessee Vols face Rutgers and C. Vivian Stringer, one of her best friends.
That night gave me goose bumps and I had to stifle a few tears. The Scarlet Knights wore t-shirts honoring Summitt during pre-game warms ups: “We Back Pat.”
The entire arena of about 6,400 that night cheered even when Rutgers lost. This was not just a basketball game, but also a moment to reflect on Summitt’s career and all those people she influenced throughout four decades as a coach.
Summitt talked about that night in her book briefly. It was tough for her as she met privately with a New York Times reporter where the two talked about his father who suffers from the same disease. The passage got me to pause and reflect at that night. While Summitt patiently waited a half four for her team in hopes of ending an emotional night, I worried about hitting my deadline that night. Seems trivial now.
The book “Sum It Up: A Thousand and Ninety-Eight Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective” showed me a different side of Summitt – fun, wild, caring, passionate, intense, but she also showed her vulnerabilities and insecurities. For someone so put together, Summitt revealed just how much she questioned many of her decisions and showed she didn’t always have the right answer.
Even though the book mostly recounted her life, it was easy to read. She made fun of herself as well as called out her faults. But some things she kept private.
Summitt was a little Tennessee farm girl who turned into one of the iconic figures in sports.
It was great to see how Summitt handled all of the challenges thrown at her – and there were many – all the way through her latest with Alzheimer’s disease.
Extraordinary! This Virginia girl is now a Tennessee fan. I ran through the emotions with this one. Pat made me laugh, cheer and cry. She has been my companion this week and, now that I've finished the book, I find myself with a heightened interest in March Madness!
This is so more deserving than just 5 stars. This memoir felt so honest. I am a University of Tennessee graduate so I feel somewhat close to this extraordinary coach. Through tears and laughs I loved this book from page 1. If you love the south, basketball and extremely strong women with no regrets, this is THE book for you. I actually listened to the audio and reader Sally Jenkins convinced me I was listening to Pat Head Summitt herself. This one is going on my favorite shelf.
Toward the end of this moving book, Summitt writes, "How to sum it up? Perhaps with the realization that makes me happiest: my Tennessee legacy is not some flat, dry record on a piece of paper, but a beautiful tree with living branches."
What came across most vividly in this book was her commitment to developing her players into strong women both on and off the court. Did you know that she had a 100% graduation rate for her players? She made sure her players worked hard in all aspects of their college careers.
Coach Summitt had a demanding father, and her upbringing had a huge impact on her coaching style. She reflects on this in the book in a very honest way. She also gives us great insight into how she developed her coaching style and the techniques she worked out to get the best out of her players.
I was really impressed by her story. I was so moved by how her own autobiography is focused not so much on her, but on her relationships with her family, her fellow coaches, and most especially on her players. Coach Summitt is a tough woman (have you seen her death ray stares? Scary!) - this book does nothing to dispel that impression - but it also leaves us with a clear sense of the commitment she made to the relationships with her players. They have definitely benefited from some of those death ray stares.
I don't feel like I have the words to express how much Pat Summitt has meant to me in my life. She and I have never interacted but her first book Reach for the Summit has been read over and over again and she's been a role model for my life. Now that I know a little more about what happened to her in her life and during some of those tournament games I watched (some even in person!), I respect her even more.
She built women's basketball into probably the most popular women's sport in the US from the ground up. Her legacy lives on among the many, many alumna that coach the game at all levels. She may not call herself a feminist, but she fought the struggle and made so many breakthroughs for women and girls in sports possible.
How do I "Sum It Up" to write a review for this book???? Incredible! Amazing! Inspirational!! You do not need to be a Tennessee Vols fan to enjoy this book. Heck, you don't even need to be a basketball fan to enjoy this book. Pat Summitt is a one of a kind woman, coach, and mentor. When you read this book it will become clear as day why she has the most wins in NCAA basketball history (more than any men's coach). Her impact on the institution of basketball and the development of women's basketball changed the course of history. The program would not be what it is today without Pat Summitt.
I still remember my First Lady Vols game. I was fortunate enough to attend The University of Tennessee and had several classes with some of her Lady Vol players. They truly are a class act. I also had several classes with football players, and the difference between the two is like night and day. That's a testament to the character and integrity Coach Summitt put into and required of her program. She had a 100% graduation rate. Education first, basketball second.
Pat Summitt you are deeply, deeply missed. I encourage anyone who is looking for a great autobiography to pick up her book to read. You will join the rest of VolNation in saying "Pat, I got your back"!!
A "must read" on so many levels. She's an awesome individual and role model for us all. I learned a lot that I didn't know about what a good player she was as well as a good mother, daughter, friend and wife. We already knew she's a great coach!
If you weren't a women's basketball fan before, you will be now! This is an extraordinary tale of not only the life of Coach Summitt, but the history of women's basketball as well. She is the reason I am a basketball coach. Amazing woman.
I devoured this book. I grew up in an era when women's sports was in its infancy. I was a part of our high school women's basketball team my senior year in high school; it was the second year for our high school to have a women's basketball team. I loved it! I participated in intramural women's sports all through high school and loved it! I got hooked on University of Tennessee's Lady Vols for the first time, however, in 1997 when I watched them beat everybody they encountered and go on to win a three-peat championship. That was I believe in 1997. 1997 was a year of emotional struggle for me and God used Pat Summit to challenge me to press through and break out of the emotional struggle I was in ... just WATCHING her coach helped me re-capture the competetive edge that I had lost in life and come back fighting. She will never know how many women she influenced ... just watching her intensity and passion and drive to win !! I saw in her someone who was involved in sports ... was driven to win ... but never lost the truly feminine touch of compassion and caring and devotion to her young players. She isn't a masculine woman ... she is just a classy lady! When I heard that she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type, my heart broke ... and then when I saw she had written her memoirs I snatched it up immediately! She REMAINS a fighter, a classy fighter ... against an opponent that she has acknowledged she will never completely overcome, but she will hold out as long as she can! As an RN I work in the dementia unit of a wonderful nursing home ... I know where this disease takes people ultimately and my heart breaks, but I know that Pat Summit will keep it at bay for as long as it's possible to keep it at bay. Go Coach Summit; I'm cheering for you !!
Pat Summitt served as head women's basketball coach at Tennessee for 38 years and amassed a record unequaled by any division one coach, male or female. Collaborating once again with Sally Jenkins, Pat reveals those incidents in her life and career that have special meaning and in so doing gives us a rare glimpse into what drove her to the absolute pinnacle of success. I laughed at some of the stories she related and at the same time, I was choking back tears, realizing that even the great and mighty can be laid low by a diagnosis like the one she revealed to the world at large two short years ago. This was a very personal book, filled with anecdotes of the trials and tribulations of demanding, and most of the time getting, excellence from the incredibly talented and sometimes heavily burdened young women who came to play for the Wizard of Knoxville. 1098 victories, 208 losses, eight national championships, and a life utterly devoted to preparing young women for life, and that is just the beginning of who Pat Summitt is. As she said, her finest achievement came off the court and away from the gym, birthing and raising her son, Tyler, who has begun his career as a women's basketball coach, and leaving behind a legacy of 161 women who wore the Tennessee uniform under her tutelage, many of whom have gone on to serve in the coaching ranks themselves, but all of whom credit her with helping them to achieve their full potential as players, but also as people. And that is the true measure of success.
Fantastic! I listened to this book on audio. It was like listening to an old friend tell her life story. I was very sorry to see it end. It was so beautifully told. While basketball is the vehicle Pat uses to tell her story, this is a love story. Pat's love and passion for the game, its players, her role in their lives and theirs in hers; of her son and ex-husband; her parents and siblings; her role as a teacher and the importance of education. 100% graduation rate in 38 years of coaching! Remarkable. It reads like a who's who in women's basketball and demonstrates just how small and elite the women's basketball community is. It's a story of triumph, even in darkness, and conveys a strong message about hard work, following your dreams and never giving up. The anecdotes Pat shares about some of the women who came through her program are priceless. Candace Parker and "Ralph," Bucky (Alexis Hornbuckle) and the game winning shot. Kara Lawson and "I don't miss math problems." Pat is one of the very fortunate few who can leave this earthly world, knowing she made it a better place. She invested in people (young women in particular) and made an indelible mark. She taught her players to pay it forward, a theme I think we now see ingrained in the WNBA athletes. She had an opportunity to shape hundreds of players over the years and those players have gone on to spread her legacy. An inspiring read for any woman.
I'm not a basketball fan, by any stretch. But I had heard Pat Summitt's name through the years - associated with Olympic teams, and University of Tennessee's Lady Vols. I knew she was a damn good basketball coach and player, but that was it. I'm a fan of women's collegiate sports, and a good story will hook me every time.
I saw the book on Barnes & Noble's website and jumped on it. WOW. Pat takes the reader through her early life growing up with brothers who never cut her a break (which served her well later in life), a traditional mother and a father who wasn't physically demonstrative in his love for his family, but it showed in his deeds. They had a very nice house, and because the local high school didn't have a basketball program, Pat's father, Richard, moved the family to the next county - so his daughter could follow her dream.
You can feel Pat's intensity practically vibrate off the page at you. She demanded excellence from herself, her teammates, and from her players through the years. She recounts how she built the women's basketball program at Tennessee from the ground up, and the struggles that went with it. Her players learned that from freshman to senior year - and beyond - they were Lady Vols. This isn't a book just about a basketball coach - this is the story of an educator.
There are giants within their respective professions in sports...John Wooden, Knute Rockne, Vince Lombardi, etc. Pat Summitt is that person for women's college basketball. No other person has done more for that sport. Summitt was the ambassador that brought women's basketball to the forefront by winning 8 national championships, amassing 1,098 victories over 38 years, and teaching valuable lessons about life to hundreds of women AND men.
This memoir is a lasting testament to the legacy that she will leave behind for the game, and for the University of Tennessee. It is deeply thought provoking, as well as personal. I have always had tremendous respect for Summitt, but this book brought out more than just the coach in her. She tells countless personal stories ranging from her family to other fellow coaches.
This book is definitely worth the read for any sports lover, especially those who are fans of women's basketball. Hopefully, Summitt will continue to fight through her Alzheimer's Disease, and even though she is retired, there is no doubt that she is, and always will be, the greatest women's basketball coach of all-time.
- Fascinating life story of an ultimate competitor who achieved incredible success but also struggled with plenty of challenges along the way (miscarriages, divorce, eventually Alzheimer’s) - Had the ability to get the most out of people by always demanding more - More about the people than any records in the end… but eight championships including a 39-0 season is quite the record - Shows massive impact of title IX — she started out sewing on her own jersey numbers and sleeping in sleeping bags in the gym the night before away games because there was no budget for hotels
Fantastic. I've never been a big fan of women's basketball, or of team sports in general. I knew who Pat Summitt was, but not much else. I found this book by searching for Alzheimer's memoirs, so the fact that I read it at all is just a fluke.
Only a small bit of this book is about Alzheimer's, but I'm now searching schedules for women's basketball, I have looked up and researched every player Summitt mentioned in her book, I am all set to hate Virginia with a passion, I'm now a big fan of Pat Summitt, and I just might even go buy a basketball.
I'm 48 years old for gosh sake.
This book covers SO MUCH. Pat Summitt was literally raised in a log cabin, and went on to start women's basketball, shape & form the sport, head to teh Olympics, raise it up to the caliber it is today, and has raised and developed several female role models. She was there from the beginning, so this book covers Title IX, the very beginnings of college basketball for females and the battles it took to get anyone to take it seriously.
It is also SO well written. I know she has a co-author, but it certainly sounds like her voice, and regardless it's a fascinating read that had me glued from page one. It's also quietly and intermittently heartbreaking as tiny breaks are taken throughout the book to talk about her disease.
Having Alzheimer's does not sum up Pat Summitt's life, and she does not let it sum up her memoir. She lived a tremendous life before her diagnosis, and she will continue to, but she will not let the diagnosis define her or take away from her accomplishments. Whether you love her or hate her as a coach, she is a women to look up to. FIVE STARS and I would recommend this book to anyone, you don't have to care about basketball to love the book - but you might find yourself newly engulfed in her passion for the sport. I certainly am.
I listened to the audiobook, and it was incredible. Normally, I don't enjoy driving long distances, but this book made me look forward to the traveling I'm doing each weekend. I would say, "it's fine; I've got Pat to keep me company."
Any teacher or coach should read this. The main things that resonated with me were her stories about growing up and learning what it really means to work hard. Current generations, mine included, are soft compared to her father's methods.
I loved her personal journey, transitioning from adolescent to adult.
I loved how much she loved her players. She did what was best for them, even if that meant some of them wouldn't like her. That's what we do as teachers: love our kids, even when they're frustrating. We are their mentors, not their friends. Friendship can come later.
I loved her personality, which came through in the book.
I loved what she stood for and all that she did for women, both in the workplace and in sports. Not just what she did, but how she did it. She had a big picture in mind, and she worked towards it her entire career.
I wish I could have known her. She said the best way to kick Alzeimer's Disease was to write a memoir. Thanks to the many who helped her, she did.
I never write this long of a review on here; that alone should tell you to read this book!
P.S. Lady Volunteer fans should definitely read this. It will be fun to hear the names and stories of the players they watched in games. I was taken back to 7th grade when I heard certain stories because I was in the crowd then.
Now that I'm finished with this book I guess this review is my attempt to SUM IT UP...do you get it
I listened to this on audiobook while knitting a baby blanket at warp speed and really enjoyed it. I grew up a Vols fan and went to UT for my masters, so am I biased as to the subject matter? Absolutely. Objectively though, I still think this is better than a lot of sports autobiographies in that you can really hear Coach Summitt's voice come through in this. My only complaint was that at times there was almost TOO much detail, especially in the 70s-80s decades (which for a memoir about someone suffering from early-onset Alzheimers seems ironic, but when I read at the end of the book that much of the information in here was taken from interviews done in the late 90's, almost 15 years before her diagnosis, it made more sense). I think this may have been more of an issue of listening to it on audio than reading it though-when you read it's easy to skim if statistics or stories about players become tedious, but on audio you're a captive audience and have to sit through all of it, so maybe that was more of an issue than the content. Recommended either way.
Excellent book on the life of Pat Summitt, long-time coach of the U of Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team. Very interesting read and entertaining. This is not Ms. Summitt's first published book; there have been others that document the story of the magical 1996-1998 seasons with the three-peat national championships for the Tennessee women. This book details her long coaching career and includes information about her life since being diagnosed with Alzheimers. I enjoyed reading about Pat's coaching methods and learning more about her personal motivation and the ways she motivated her players to 1,098 victories and 8 national championships.
Definitely recommended for sports fans, particularly women's collegiate basketball, and fans of strong, inspirational mentors and leaders. Great role model for young women.
Wow. An amazing story. The book is a fairly quick read and is not easy to put down. Coach Summitt's story is amazing. While it helps to have an understanding of basketball, it's not all basketball in this autobiography. I really appreciated the glimpse into the life of a hard-working family and this very talented athlete growing up in a pre-Title IX world. Practice facilities and court time were hard to come by, no option for athletic scholarship assistance to attend college for a woman. Dealing with people in an honest and straightforward manner, getting more from student athletes when they didn't realize they had more to give and insisting on them getting their education. A 100% graduation rate! Dedication to her students and the good people she surrounded herself with.
I'm a little biased as Pat Summit is my idol. So you may want to take the 5 stars with a grain of salt. However, if you are a female athlete who has ever had to travel with your team to games in a van the resembles the Mystery Machine, kept playing even though you knew you were seriously hurt, worked your way from next to nothing or feel you are more competitive then the average human being - you should read this memoir.
This was absolutely fabulous -- not just for Coach Summitt's own life, but for all the incredibly sharp insight into the women's game and the way it has change, and how instrumental Tennessee was in changing it. Lots of great stories about almost every notable women's coach out there, including Sylvia Hatchell, who I didn't know was one of Coach Summitt's first grad assistants at UT. (It makes our cats' names even better knowing that.)
Realistically this book could have been filled with blank pages and I would have still given it 5 stars but it is truly the best memoir I've ever read!! I put off reading it for years because I knew it would make it cry and it did.. a lot.. But it was worth it!