Pat Summitt's life chronicled in film 'Pat XO'

FILE - In this April 25, 2012 file photo, former Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt speaks to a reporter before receiving the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup by Athletes for a Better World at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. Summitt laughed and even shook her head at times. The Hall of Fame coach, who is suffering from early onset dementia, was part of the audience watching a screening of a new documentary about her career _ 'Pat XO,'  at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

FILE - In this April 25, 2012 file photo, former Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt speaks to a reporter before receiving the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup by Athletes for a Better World at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. Summitt laughed and even shook her head at times. The Hall of Fame coach, who is suffering from early onset dementia, was part of the audience watching a screening of a new documentary about her career _ "Pat XO," at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Pat Summitt smiled, laughed and shook her head at times.

The Hall of Fame coach, who has early onset dementia, was part of the audience watching a screening of a documentary about her career. "Pat XO."

"It's a wonderful film and they did a great job with it," Summitt told The Associated Press. "It was really incredible to see all those people share their stories."

The show is part of ESPN Films' Nine for IX documentary series. It debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival on Sunday and will air July 9.

Summitt's son, Tyler, was the lead storyteller, spending time with his mother on a couch in their home going through a scrapbook of her life. The film starts from Summitt's earliest days and goes through her retirement last April.

The 60-year-old former Tennessee coach acknowledged in her recently released book that at times she may not remember all the milestones of her career. This project will provide a reminder.

To tell Summitt's story, the filmmakers sent cameras to those who knew her best and had them record testimonials.

Former players Tamika Catchings, Chamique Holdsclaw, Michelle Marciniak and Candace Parker all told stories of their mentor. Longtime friends and rival coaches, including Connecticut's Geno Auriemma, also talk about Summitt.

"It was an honor to be a part of this film," Catchings wrote in an email. "For all that Pat has done and continues to do, it's a blessing to give back to her and celebrate the great things she has done on and off the court."

Catchings called the filming technique — using a camera to self-record her thoughts — "kind of a weird but neat concept."

"It's not hard to talk about someone who has helped mold me into the woman I am today," she said.

Marciniak and her parents recalled the famous story of a pregnant Summitt breaking water as she was paying a recruiting visit to their home. Summitt left the recruiting trip early and wouldn't let the plane land anywhere but Tennessee.

In one the most poignant moments, Summitt was talking to Tyler about having to step down from coaching last year. She called it the right thing to do.

As the two were discussing it, Summitt started to tear up — one of the rare times she has shown emotion about her decision. Her two dogs, Sally Sue and Sadie, sensing their owner was saddened, came over to the couch to console her. Summitt wound up providing the consolation, petting the labs and letting them up on the couch.

Summitt received a long ovation from the crowd when she was introduced before the premiere by executive producer Robin Roberts. Roberts called the project a "labor of love to produce and a testament to her lasting friendship" with Summitt.

Summitt devotes much of her time now to the Pat Summitt Foundation, which works to provide grants to nonprofit organizations to help educate, fund research and fight Alzheimer's.

___

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Comments » 11

Goodvol_1 writes:

Pat has played a huge part of my life. I started as a freshman back in 1981. Some of the guys headed over to Stokely to watch the Lady Vols play one day so I went with them. We sat right under the goal by the Lady Vol's bench. There was only a couple hundred people in the stands. It was almost a cult-like following but it was like a requirement to be at the games. The crowds slowly increased and I got to play ball with many of the lady Vols, including Holly over at the HPER! Lea Henry would stop by and play and Bridgett Gordon, Melisa McCray, Shelley Sexton, and many more. They were all awesome people. Pat knew how to recruit the right kids to play for her. My father began to follow them, too, and it got where that's all we talked about. He loved the fire that Pat brought to the game. He taped every game that was on TV. During the off-season, he would watch the games again. He would call me and say, "I watched the 1987 championship game and Pat really had them playing hard." Luckily, before his death 3 years ago, he got to see several games on tv each season. I now proudly have his recorded games going back to the mid-1980s. He loved the Lady Vols and loved watching Pat make them all winners. I know my father would have had a tough time watching Pat retire. That's all we ever knew! I want to thank Pat for taking care of my father for many years and I know he loved watching and reading about his Lady Vols and their awesome coach, Pat Summitt.

AWOLVol writes:

in response to Goodvol_1:

Pat has played a huge part of my life. I started as a freshman back in 1981. Some of the guys headed over to Stokely to watch the Lady Vols play one day so I went with them. We sat right under the goal by the Lady Vol's bench. There was only a couple hundred people in the stands. It was almost a cult-like following but it was like a requirement to be at the games. The crowds slowly increased and I got to play ball with many of the lady Vols, including Holly over at the HPER! Lea Henry would stop by and play and Bridgett Gordon, Melisa McCray, Shelley Sexton, and many more. They were all awesome people. Pat knew how to recruit the right kids to play for her. My father began to follow them, too, and it got where that's all we talked about. He loved the fire that Pat brought to the game. He taped every game that was on TV. During the off-season, he would watch the games again. He would call me and say, "I watched the 1987 championship game and Pat really had them playing hard." Luckily, before his death 3 years ago, he got to see several games on tv each season. I now proudly have his recorded games going back to the mid-1980s. He loved the Lady Vols and loved watching Pat make them all winners. I know my father would have had a tough time watching Pat retire. That's all we ever knew! I want to thank Pat for taking care of my father for many years and I know he loved watching and reading about his Lady Vols and their awesome coach, Pat Summitt.

Nice reflections...thanks for sharing!

rogatl2002#222395 writes:

in response to Goodvol_1:

Pat has played a huge part of my life. I started as a freshman back in 1981. Some of the guys headed over to Stokely to watch the Lady Vols play one day so I went with them. We sat right under the goal by the Lady Vol's bench. There was only a couple hundred people in the stands. It was almost a cult-like following but it was like a requirement to be at the games. The crowds slowly increased and I got to play ball with many of the lady Vols, including Holly over at the HPER! Lea Henry would stop by and play and Bridgett Gordon, Melisa McCray, Shelley Sexton, and many more. They were all awesome people. Pat knew how to recruit the right kids to play for her. My father began to follow them, too, and it got where that's all we talked about. He loved the fire that Pat brought to the game. He taped every game that was on TV. During the off-season, he would watch the games again. He would call me and say, "I watched the 1987 championship game and Pat really had them playing hard." Luckily, before his death 3 years ago, he got to see several games on tv each season. I now proudly have his recorded games going back to the mid-1980s. He loved the Lady Vols and loved watching Pat make them all winners. I know my father would have had a tough time watching Pat retire. That's all we ever knew! I want to thank Pat for taking care of my father for many years and I know he loved watching and reading about his Lady Vols and their awesome coach, Pat Summitt.

I was probably right beside you. I used to sit in the folding chairs behind the baskets at Stokely that ran along the baselines. The end of the court nearest the LV bench.

Goodvol_1 writes:

Yep, sounds like we were there at the same time and the same place! Remember when they gave away "previously owned cars"? They gave away a 1974 Vega and some other real winners. Remember Yum Yum that threw hotdogs to those that bought them? I really enjoyed those days.

SummittsCourt writes:

I count meeting her and getting her autograph as one of my best moments in my life. Many people who don't follow women's basketball have missed out on a true National treasure. She is a cut above and will always be the person who put women's SPORTS on the map.

Though it is sad that she had to retire early with this disease, she will always be remembered for what she accomplished off the court more so than what she accomplished on the court. Her success in raising young girls into being smart, strong & confident women is greater than her accolades as a coach.

Think about it 70 former players & coaches are coaching today. She had 100% graduation rate her entire time as a coach. She demanded her players get their education and not just graduate, but excel in their learning.

EVERY away game she would come out after her team meeting and press conference and sign autographs for the fans and wouldn't leave until everyone had their item signed. I remember standing in line behind 40 people and when it was my turn she was just as happy to speak to me as she was the first person. She is truly a wonderful woman and person. One who I count as a hero of mine.

ps11824 writes:

I guess one of my fondest memories of Pat would be at UT Martin. I really can't remember the year without getting into all my Lady Vols memorabilia, and I do have tons of it. But after the game, Pat came out as always to talk with Micky and the crowd. It took her a while to get thru all her homies who were waiting in line to give hugs. One could just tell they were folks she had been acquainted with and made friends with when she was there. Knowing she was scheduled to be on the mike for the PS Show, she hurriedly but still speaking to and touching hands with all who extended the gesture.

After the show, she was again greeted by throngs of people gathered 'round to talk to their friend Pat. they had stories to tell, and mentioned folks by name as this went on forever. I sat in the bleachers and recorded much of the post-game celebration because the court was absolutely covered with fans wanting to see, hear and experience Pat Summitt, the hometown hero's home spun charm.

I can't remember the score. I have it on tape too, but the game wasn't even close as Pat had to rein in her scoring machine in a way that would not be so obvious.

This is one of hundreds of times I have enjoyed watching the fans reactions thinking wow, she's simply a country gal making the best of any situation that presents itself, yet she's adored by the public, the media and players past and present.'

I consider myself blessed to have experienced decades of enjoying the Lady Vols and the greatest head coach college basketball has ever known, Pat Summitt.

Wayfarer writes:

Before Stokley, there was the Alumni Gym and yes I watched my first Lady Vols from those bleachers. I was either 14 or 15 when she became coach and I will admit that I had a huge crush on her. I was one of the first members of the BoostHER club and when TB opened my seat was six rows behind the Lady Vols bench. I heard her tell Bridget Gordon that if she didn't want to play defense to take a seat, otherwise get it going. I have several autographs, pictures, shirts, posters and such but my fondest memory is her thanking me for helping Shelia Frost by the pool at the Regional in 1987. Shelia was stuck on a Stat problem. The one thing that I truly admire about Pat is she never got above her raising. She was and is a country girl who learned the value of hard work and surrounding herself with the best help available to help achieve her goals...making the Lady Vols the best, and making her players the best women they could become.

johnlg00 writes:

Thanks to all for sharing their precious memories! I can't claim personal acquaintance with Pat. The closest I have ever come to being in the same room with her was in the seats at a Lady Vol game. However, I always felt a kinship to her. My father grew up just a short distance from the Heads. His stories of his childhood sounded just like those Pat recounted most recently in "Sum It Up", even though he was nearly 40 years older. His work ethic and other values might just as well have been learned in Richard Head's fields and in Hazel's kitchen. It was always clear to me how Pat was able to do what she did because I could feel how she was molded. I think many others who have never met her feel the same way.

madrigal writes:

Can't wait till July 9! I have the date circled on my calendar.
I've been a Lady Vols fan since shortly after I moved to TN in 1973. For a number of years before I moved to VA I had season tickets and I think I might have missed one home game in all those years. We always stayed for the post-game show and I was lucky enough to have Pat answer a couple of questions for me in those. She always cared about the fans, and that made us care about her.

PeytonWM18 writes:

I, too, go way back with Pat to the very beginning of her career, doing my practicum (yes, the term ages me, ;-) with the Lady Vols athletic department as the editor of their first newsletter back in the late '70s when I was a UT student.

Pat Head Summitt was then and always will be a beacon of greatness on The Hill. She's the best, and it appears Tyler is poised to follow in her shoes. He's her Rock, as she says in her book.

If you haven't read the new "Sum It Up" bio, run today to the bookstore and grab a copy. It's beautifully written and a page-turner. Sally Jenkins did an amazing job. Pat even talks about her complicated, but now smooth, relationship with Geno. It's quite the read.

Love me some Pat Head Summitt and always will. We're blessed to have Pat and Peyton represent our beloved Alma Mater so well.

Go Lady Vols forever!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to PeytonWM18:

I, too, go way back with Pat to the very beginning of her career, doing my practicum (yes, the term ages me, ;-) with the Lady Vols athletic department as the editor of their first newsletter back in the late '70s when I was a UT student.

Pat Head Summitt was then and always will be a beacon of greatness on The Hill. She's the best, and it appears Tyler is poised to follow in her shoes. He's her Rock, as she says in her book.

If you haven't read the new "Sum It Up" bio, run today to the bookstore and grab a copy. It's beautifully written and a page-turner. Sally Jenkins did an amazing job. Pat even talks about her complicated, but now smooth, relationship with Geno. It's quite the read.

Love me some Pat Head Summitt and always will. We're blessed to have Pat and Peyton represent our beloved Alma Mater so well.

Go Lady Vols forever!

Another in the string of great posts on this thread. I read "Sum It Up" last month, and my dear wife--who doesn't know a football bat from a golf racquet--is reading it now. Pat's story truly transcends sports, gender, or any other arbitrary category in which we group people. We are so lucky to claim her as one of our own!

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