Pat Summitt touched by support

Pat Summitt appreciates the feelings expressed since her announcement last week of being diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. And now the Tennessee women's basketball coach also has a better understanding of the scope of the sentiment.

She got an eyeful Monday, courtesy of her secretary, Katie Wynn.

"She was giving me all the emails and messages,'' Summitt said. "Her phone was blowing up."

Freshmen Cierra Burdick and Isabelle Harrison filled a flip camera last Friday, walking around campus and asking people why they were wearing orange in response to a Facebook-inspired initiative.

"I don't even know if she recognizes how many people actually wore orange that day to give her recognition and give her support," Burdick said.

"Just to go around to complete strangers, athletes or not, and see how much respect they have for a woman they have never even met. I mean that's tremendous."

Summitt's response to the outpouring of support was heartfelt.

"It's really been very touching,'' she said.

Since Tuesday was the first day of individual workouts, other considerations were in play, too. The business of preparing for the upcoming season unfolded for three hours at Pratt Pavilion. Summitt has a greater understanding of what that means.

"There's a time where: OK, I appreciate all of it; I've just got to get ready and focus on the season,'' Summitt said. "That's what's up next."

Tennessee's assistant coaches conducted the workouts, which consisted of three 3-player groups going through the essentials.

Seniors Glory Johnson and Shekinna Stricklen are getting the week off after playing in the World University Games.

Fellow Lady Vol Kamiko Williams is sidelined after undergoing knee surgery.

Much like recent years, Summitt floated around the court, offering encouragement, advice and conferring with her assistants.

Summitt indicated that she will gauge her involvement in the individual workouts as warranted.

"Depends on the day,'' she said. "Some days are better than others."

Any surprise factor was limited to Harrison, who wasn't expecting the coaches' presence.

"She was like: 'What, the coaches, they're here. I didn't think they were going to be here until the first official practice,' '' senior post Alyssia Brewer said.

"She was kind of nervous about that."

After last week, Brewer said that it was good to have everyone there and get down to work.

"I think it was kind of a relief in a way,'' she said. "It's like you have a job. The work schedule doesn't change.

"You're going to hear from a lot of people that we're a family and family sticks together. That's exactly what we're doing right now."

Notebook: Former Lady Vol Angie Bjorklund is back in Knoxville rehabbing her left foot. She said that a stress reaction in the foot, an injury similar to the one she suffered in her right foot last season, caused her to be cut by the WNBA's Chicago Sky. She plans to play overseas this winter. ... Freshman guard Ariel Massengale, who plans to major in communications, sat in on interviews conducted by ESPN and NBC Nightly News on campus last week. ... Lady Vols video coordinator Dustin Edwards is going to Ohio, where he will be an assistant coach on the staff of former Lady Vol Semeka Randall.

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Comments » 5

voloffaith writes:

Like it's been said a thousand times and a thousand+ coming we love Pat and we'll show it any respectable way that we can......

SummittsCourt writes:

Love Pat Summitt!

kazoo writes:

Everybody loves Summitt, but I'd hate to see the program continue to slide because she wants to coach too long. I realize this is a serious minority viewpoint. The Vols haven't been to the final four in at least three years; got knocked out in first round of tourney 2 or three years ago--unheard of. While PS may be ok to coach now, it's also true that the situation will become steadily more problematic for the program--make no mistake about that. Summitt is quoted today as saying she has "good days and bad days." Warwick says the same thing in a NYTimes article. And what happens if she's having a "bad day" on a game day--during a game? This means that the assistants will be making decisions, I presume. If she tries to hang on too long, the program will suffer. Indeed, I thought that one of the things that experts advise to prevent dementia is to do different things in your life--doing the same things day after day is not a good thing. PS has been coaching for 38 years, which is about double what most other veteran coaches have achieved. So it's not like she hasn't had a more than full career!

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to kazoo:

Everybody loves Summitt, but I'd hate to see the program continue to slide because she wants to coach too long. I realize this is a serious minority viewpoint. The Vols haven't been to the final four in at least three years; got knocked out in first round of tourney 2 or three years ago--unheard of. While PS may be ok to coach now, it's also true that the situation will become steadily more problematic for the program--make no mistake about that. Summitt is quoted today as saying she has "good days and bad days." Warwick says the same thing in a NYTimes article. And what happens if she's having a "bad day" on a game day--during a game? This means that the assistants will be making decisions, I presume. If she tries to hang on too long, the program will suffer. Indeed, I thought that one of the things that experts advise to prevent dementia is to do different things in your life--doing the same things day after day is not a good thing. PS has been coaching for 38 years, which is about double what most other veteran coaches have achieved. So it's not like she hasn't had a more than full career!

Continue to slide? Hello! Have you been in a comma for a couple of years. The 22 win team that got knocked out of the tournament was because she was forced to play freshman who were not ready. You do remember the previous 2 years they won the National Title and all five starting players were drafted into the WNBA.

That same team, the exact same team responded the following year with a 32-3 season because of Pat's coaching. Last years team also finished with 30+ wins with almost the same team.

One of the main problems the teams have had has been the lack of a true point guard. Not that Pat hasn't been trying to recruit them, she has. Well, this year the team will have a true point guard and you will see the difference.

The only worthwhile point you make is that her disease will progressively get worse. However, you fail to realize that Pat will stop coaching when she feels she can no longer do so effectively.

And as far as the good days and bad days, well we all have those so stop worrying about it. And as far as I am concerned she can coach as long as she wants to and I know the program will not suffer one bit.

So either, you are not a real fan of the Lady Vols or you are just an classless idiot. Which is it?

Titan writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

Continue to slide? Hello! Have you been in a comma for a couple of years. The 22 win team that got knocked out of the tournament was because she was forced to play freshman who were not ready. You do remember the previous 2 years they won the National Title and all five starting players were drafted into the WNBA.

That same team, the exact same team responded the following year with a 32-3 season because of Pat's coaching. Last years team also finished with 30+ wins with almost the same team.

One of the main problems the teams have had has been the lack of a true point guard. Not that Pat hasn't been trying to recruit them, she has. Well, this year the team will have a true point guard and you will see the difference.

The only worthwhile point you make is that her disease will progressively get worse. However, you fail to realize that Pat will stop coaching when she feels she can no longer do so effectively.

And as far as the good days and bad days, well we all have those so stop worrying about it. And as far as I am concerned she can coach as long as she wants to and I know the program will not suffer one bit.

So either, you are not a real fan of the Lady Vols or you are just an classless idiot. Which is it?

Both.

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