Former players, rival coaches react to Pat Summitt’s passing

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UConn head coach Geno Aueriemma: “You can see how difficult it was back then for a woman to try and do something that no one had ever done before or thought could do. Trying to juggle being a mom and being a coach and being a representative for the game. From all the different aspects of looking at what her career was, there was a lot of things that she was the first. There were other people that did it, but nobody did it better or did it longer.”

“In the mid-70s when I was a high school girls and boys basketball coach in the Philadelphia are, and for me, it was a story that I didn’t know. It wasn’t until I got to Virginia in the early-80s that I became aware of what was going on. Then it was all-encompassing. It was all about Tennessee and the Lady Vols and all about Pat. That was what women’s basketball had become. There were others that were pretty good and they took their turns, but the game of women’s basketball was pretty much defined. Other people have defined it for short periods of time, but from the time I got to Virginia in 1981 to when Pat stopped coaching, she was the defining figure of the game of women’s basketball.”

“Lots of people coach the game, but very few get to define the game.”

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski: “There’s no question, [she] was really one of the greatest coaches of any sport. I can remember early in my career when C.M. Newton, one of the great guys in men’s college basketball, wanted to hire her to be a men’s coach. He said ‘Look, you should go to one of her practices because she knows how to coach.’ She really put women’s basketball out there, in other words, what she did with recruiting, accomplishments and championships really set the foundation for where women’s basketball is in our country right now. [She’s] really the gold standard of women’s college basketball. She produced so many pros and set the bar at a really high level for basketball.”

“[Knoxville] was the center for women’s basketball. If you wanted to really look at the start, you would go to Pat Summitt and you would go from there. Obviously, Geno [Auriemma] is doing an unbelievable job at Connecticut, but that would not have been without Pat. [She was] a tremendous person, teacher and competitor. We shared a great honor in 2011 where we were both picked as Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated. We shared a cover, and we joked over the years as we signed so many. Whenever I got one that someone wanted signed, I said ‘If it’s signed by you, then I’ll sign it. What a terrific person and coach.”

Tennessee coach Holly Warlick: “Pat was my coach, my mentor, my colleague and a very dear friend. It is impossible to put into words how much she has meant to me and so many other individuals here at Tennessee and beyond.”

“She played a very significant role in molding me into the person I am, and I will forever be grateful for the genuine care, guidance and wisdom she unselfishly shared with me and so many others through the years. I’ll always treasure the laughter we shared, the stories we loved to tell and certainly those stories we embellished.”

“Pat gave me strength and courage to face anything. She was driven to perfection and always remained true to her standards. That meant doing things the right way, no matter what. In my eyes, there’s never been anyone better than Pat Summitt. She entrusted me with her legacy, and I will continue embracing her passion and doing everything in my power to uphold that.”

Former Tennessee star Tamika Catchings:

ESPN analyst and former Lady Vola Kara Lawson: “I swore my last name was a four letter word there for about two years. She was constantly on me, every day, to get better, and every day, push myself to her standard. You always thought you were working hard, but her level of working hard was so much higher than your’s.”

“One of Pat’s greatest gifts was her ability to read ability and hone in on want made them tick. She did that with me in the recruiting process, understanding what type of person I was, how competitive I was, how I liked to be challenged. That’s what she went after and that’s what she touched in me. There wasn’t really another option in my mind for where I wanted to play.”

South Carolina women’s coach Dawn Staley:

Former Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning: “I’ve always been honored to call Pat Summitt my friend. She was always very supportive of my career and I enjoyed seeing her back at a Tennessee football game or when she would come to Indianapolis to see Tamika Catchings play. We would always get together and I made it a point when I came to Knoxville to see her. She was one of the people I consulted with following my junior year when I was deciding whether to turn pro early or stay in college. She gave me some very valuable advice during that time. My teammates and I went to a lot of Lady Vols games when we were in school, and I really enjoyed watching her teams play.”

Kentucky men’s coach John Calipari:

WNBA President Lisa Borders:

Former Tennessee football coach Phil Fullmer: “Pat Summitt was many things to many people. Pat was a great person, loving mother, passionate coach, and loyal friend. We shared a lot of years working together and spreading the word about Tennessee Athletics. We had wonderful personal times talking about life, our respective teams, or helping each other recruit. Her legacy as a basketball coach is iconic, but her greatest legacy may well be through The Pat Summitt Foundation and her role in leading the battle against Alzheimer’s!”

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey: “Pat Summitt transformed the lives of people she touched: her colleagues, her competitors, and especially her players. Through her character, passion and vision, she also transformed the game of women’s basketball, impacting the lives of countless young people and forever changing intercollegiate athletics. The championships she won resulted from the larger influence she had on the people who played for her, worked for her and were fortunate enough to associate with one of the most accomplished persons in the history of college sports. Pat will always have a place of honor in the Southeastern Conference and our prayers are with her family at this difficult time.”

And the kicker, this terrific story from current Princeton head coach Courtney Banghart: