Dan Fleser: Former players' bond with Pat Summitt remains

Dan Fleser

Tamika Catchings and Semeka Randall will be singled out later this month when they are inducted along with four others into the Lady Vols Hall of Fame.

The two women's basketball stars and classmates, who will be honored the weekend of Sept. 30, did their fair share to stand out. Catchings was a four-time All-American and a former national player of the year. Randall was a two-time All-American and one of the most ferocious defenders in program history. They, along with former teammate and 2010 inductee Chamique Holdsclaw, comprised the fabled "Meeks" who led UT to a national championship and undefeated season in 1997-98.

Yet as former players Catchings and Randall are almost indistinguishable from the rest of the basketball alums in coming to grips with coach Pat Summitt's announcement last month that she has been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type.

"Obviously, knowing it's something she's going to be dealing with; we're all going to be dealing with,'' Catchings said. "We all know she's going to go at this fighting hard. We'll all be by her side."

Despite a more maternal tone, Randall didn't deviate from the sentiment.

"If there's anything I could do to protect her, I would do so," she said.

Lady Vols associate head coach Holly Warlick, who played from 1976-80, has watched a procession of former players make the trek to Knoxville in the last month. Holdsclaw came the first weekend after Summitt's announcement. Michelle Snow visited on Thursday before heading overseas to play in Russia. Warlick estimates that "tons" more have telephoned or sent messages.

"I think everybody probably feels like I do,'' Warlick said. "She's their second mother. The program becomes your second family. She's your teacher. She becomes your friend when you graduate. I don't think you understand until you step away."

Warlick has noted that this personal outpouring seems to preclude a former player's experience at UT. Catchings and Randall are worthy examples of her observation.

Catchings achieved favored player status at UT with her blast-furnace intensity and multidimensional skill set. She departed as a sympathetic figure, her career cut short by a torn anterior cruciate knee ligament suffered during her senior season.

As a WNBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist, Catchings' post-Lady Vol career continues to be a compelling promotion for the program. The former forward visited last February to announce a plan to assist at-risk high school students in Knoxville through her "Catch the Stars" Foundation and then spoke to the team — all before catching a flight overseas to continue her playing career.

Before Summitt's announcement about her health, Catchings said the coach was on her mind.

"I had been thinking about her; I don't know why,'' Catchings said. "She was just on my mind."

Despite her achievements, Randall had a rougher ride. The former guard was suspended for two games early in her senior season, missing a trip to Maui as punishment for an impromptu Easter trip the previous spring to visit her boyfriend, who was playing basketball overseas. She didn't tell Summitt about her trip and missed some classes before returning.

She enlisted Warlick's help as a sounding board for her final season. In the end, Randall was one of the humbled spokespersons for an 80-65 loss to Xavier in the Mideast Regional semifinals — a stunning NCAA conclusion to a career that began in such spectacular fashion.

Despite all the history, Randall's loyalty is unwavering.

"No matter how much I was in her doghouse, I still loved her,'' Randall said of Summitt. "There's not a day where I wouldn't want to go through a brick wall for her."

As the head coach at Ohio University, Randall travels the same summer recruiting circuit as Summitt, which affords her more regular contact than most. Sharing the same profession likely has enhanced Randall's

appreciation of Summitt's influence, too.

"In her own way, she's imbedded something in all of us,'' Randall said. "We're almost like little Pats running around."

Still, there's nothing quite like being a former player — not under the circumstances, not with so many of them wanting to be at Summitt's side.

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Comments » 31

dvhill100 writes:

You can always get the true measure of a person by the opinions of their peers and subordinates. The fact that a lot of the football recruits want to meet her also speaks volumes. Pat is the best.

SummittsCourt writes:

Love the 3 Meeks!

drone#208075 writes:

The title to this article is a little creepy.

tennrich1 writes:

in response to drone#208075:

The title to this article is a little creepy.

Man, first thing I thought when I saw this....Editor, can't we be just a little bit more dareful?????

tennrich1 writes:

in response to tennrich1:

Man, first thing I thought when I saw this....Editor, can't we be just a little bit more dareful?????

of course should be "Careful"....but it helps make my point...

hcjournals#206623 writes:

LIttle Pats running around...What better legacy could there ever be?

Pratt56 (Inactive) writes:

"Pat Summit Remains" - who writes these headlines?

OldNumber7 writes:

in response to drone#208075:

The title to this article is a little creepy.

Yeah...somebody missed that huh?

SoddyVol writes:

"Former players' bond with Pat Summitt remains". With her "remains"??? I thought she still lives!

flatrock writes:

Absolutely the worst headline in the history of headline-writing...

bobbarbilly writes:

This headline will probably make that list of silliest headlines that circulates over the internet. Out of county circulation at your fingertips.

Liberal_Vol writes:

Idiotic headline and so obvious, how could anyone miss it? Answer: they did not miss it - a headline.... get it?

Very poor taste.
Very poor taste.

volcycle writes:

Someone needs to be fired for that headline!! That's ridiculous! Show a little respect kns. No wonder the hometown folks hate you guys.

voloffaith writes:

How about..Former player's bond remains with Coach Pat Summitt? Yes the other one was CREEPYYYYY...

tovolny writes:

CAREFUL WITH THE HAEDLINES. This may need re-wording...or maybe change a couple of words.

pridebone writes:

Unless the headline has been fixed now that I'm on here, I don't see what the problem is. I understand the meaning of the word "remains" when used as a noun, but the headline is grammatically clear in it's usage, and the word refers to the bond with the players, not Coach Summit. Otherwise, Summit would be possessive.

As it stands, it tells me that the former players' bond that they had with coach pat summit still exists. Remains is a better term for the headline than exissts, because exists is too neutral. Remains implies that there has been some distance between CPS and the players. The distance as a result of geography if nothing else, but despite that distance the bond remains.

I think some of you are fare too critical of the KNS, and seem to be really fishing for something to complain about. Therefore I suggest that you find something productive to do. Put down the computer and join me on the golf course, or go fishing, or take a walk in our beautiful national park. It would do you, and the rest of the world, a lot of good to get out.

On that topic, I'm going to go try out this new driver I found yesterday. Anyone want to play a few holes?

voloffaith writes:

in response to pridebone:

Unless the headline has been fixed now that I'm on here, I don't see what the problem is. I understand the meaning of the word "remains" when used as a noun, but the headline is grammatically clear in it's usage, and the word refers to the bond with the players, not Coach Summit. Otherwise, Summit would be possessive.

As it stands, it tells me that the former players' bond that they had with coach pat summit still exists. Remains is a better term for the headline than exissts, because exists is too neutral. Remains implies that there has been some distance between CPS and the players. The distance as a result of geography if nothing else, but despite that distance the bond remains.

I think some of you are fare too critical of the KNS, and seem to be really fishing for something to complain about. Therefore I suggest that you find something productive to do. Put down the computer and join me on the golf course, or go fishing, or take a walk in our beautiful national park. It would do you, and the rest of the world, a lot of good to get out.

On that topic, I'm going to go try out this new driver I found yesterday. Anyone want to play a few holes?

True if it had said with 'Pat summitt's remains' then contextually we would have really been upset with good reason. It was that the other didn't flow good in light of coach's recent announcement.

pridebone writes:

I feel like the headline flows quite well. Seems we have on here those who moonlight as both Monday Morning Quarterbacks, and Monday Morning English Professors. I'd tell most of you not to quit your day jobs, and find something more legitimate to complain about.

pridebone writes:

Still is not required in that context.

LiveFaith writes:

in response to Pratt56:

"Pat Summit Remains" - who writes these headlines?

That is the creepiest headline I have ever read. Got me to drill in here and read it, so I guess it work. :-o

Tester423 writes:

Whoever wrote this headline should be fired

Einstein writes:

Who is Michelle Snow playing for in Russia this year?

Einstein writes:

The headline did not bother me. Dome people have too much time on their hands. I understood the headline in its correct form and meaning. I guess some people are just too picky.

Smokey91 writes:

in response to Einstein:

The headline did not bother me. Dome people have too much time on their hands. I understood the headline in its correct form and meaning. I guess some people are just too picky.

"Dome people?????"

tennrich1 writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Problem for Dan is, and I dont know this happened here, writers usually do not write their own headlines or bylines...editors usually do that...

voloffaith writes:

in response to pridebone:

I feel like the headline flows quite well. Seems we have on here those who moonlight as both Monday Morning Quarterbacks, and Monday Morning English Professors. I'd tell most of you not to quit your day jobs, and find something more legitimate to complain about.

Poster name pretty much says it....pride....not humility. "I feel ilke it flows quite well." You aren't (apparently) sensitive to Coach's situation or you might SEE what others saw. Hope I'm wrong about that. Thanks,by the way,for being the JOB evaluator. Contact the President so you can help with the jobs plans....

ACWLY writes:

in response to Pratt56:

"Pat Summit Remains" - who writes these headlines?

You are so right, the headlines are pathetic, the most ridiculous I've ever read.

gortrtt writes:

It IS ridiculous, and a big reason you just have to take this paper, it's writing, and it's positions, with a grain of salt.

gortrtt writes:

in response to voloffaith:

Poster name pretty much says it....pride....not humility. "I feel ilke it flows quite well." You aren't (apparently) sensitive to Coach's situation or you might SEE what others saw. Hope I'm wrong about that. Thanks,by the way,for being the JOB evaluator. Contact the President so you can help with the jobs plans....

"vol4gzus writes:
in response to pridebone:

I feel like the headline flows quite well. Seems we have on here those who moonlight as both Monday Morning Quarterbacks, and Monday Morning English Professors. I'd tell most of you not to quit your day jobs, and find something more legitimate to complain about.

------------------------------------------

Poster name pretty much says it....pride....not humility. "I feel ilke it flows quite well." You aren't (apparently) sensitive to Coach's situation or you might SEE what others saw. Hope I'm wrong about that. Thanks,by the way,for being the JOB evaluator. Contact the President so you can help with the jobs plans...."

------------------------------------------

Nice response, v4g. I, too, look to the poster's name, but I think the operative part of it is "bone". As in "boneheaded". And I wouldn't doubt that "bone" is in close contact with our fearless leader and his so-called jobs plan. Just my opinion.

Regardless, the main point is that Pat is sick and has, over the past few decades, earned our respect and support. She's certainly got mine. We love you, Pat.

HoustonVol writes:

in response to flatrock:

Absolutely the worst headline in the history of headline-writing...

I don't know about that. However when I first saw the headline my first thought was "she ain't dead"

Liberal_Vol writes:

Why is this still on this site when so many people have commented that it is terrible?

Answer: This site and the paper don't care about your response. Only that you respond. Pull your sponsorship of the GVX pay site.

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