Lady Vols assistant coach talks about "Pat XO"
"Pat XO" co-director talks about film
Making a documentary about the life of women’s basketball coaching legend Pat Summitt involved some risks.
The reward was the final product: “Pat XO.” That’s the opinion of those who helped produce the film and have seen it.
The film airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. on ESPN as the second installment of the “Nine for IX” series — nine films directed by women about women’s sports subjects.
“Pat XO” co-directors Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern Winters took a broad view of their subject, sending video cameras across the country to gather as many interviews as possible about the former University of Tennessee coach. They relinquished some control over the production process in hopes of capturing more heartfelt, genuine moments. John Dahl, the executive producer of the “Nine for IX” series, thinks that they succeeded.
“In a way, it’s a risky approach,” he said. “It’s not going have the polished look that you normally might see. But what it brings in return is revealing, personal, poignant moments and stories that you really haven’t heard before.”
Summitt announced in August of 2011 that she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type. She stepped down as head coach at Tennessee the following spring after her 38th season. She’s now the Lady Vols head coach emeritus and the face of her foundation, which raises money to assist Alzheimer’s education, research and support services.
“I think it’s told in a beautiful way, from a lot of different perspectives,” foundation co-founder Danielle Donehew said of the documentary.
The film features a wide range of emotions. At one point, Summitt shares a story and a hearty laugh with a former college teammate. Then she sheds tears while recounting for her son, Tyler, her reasons for stepping down as head coach.
“I think if this had been done in a conventional way, it wouldn’t feel as revealing, as personal, as fresh as it does,” Dahl said. “It’s a really nice tradeoff.”