Fans are behind Coach Summitt

By: Conroy Delouche Email
By: Conroy Delouche Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The good news here, Pat Summitt will still have a presence with the Lady Vols.

She'll also remain involved with Alzheimer's Tennessee.

Many fans were saddened and surprised that it happened today, but they weren't shocked by the news knowing the fight she's facing.

Coach Summitt is an institution not just on campus, but in the game of women's college basketball.

When she announced her diagnosis of early-onset dementia last August, she said she was determined to keep coaching despite the challenges she faced in her everyday life.

And as the "We Back Pat" t-shirts prove, a lot of people are behind her in her battle against Alzheimer's.

"She basically said I'm gonna live with Alzheimer's. I'm going to share it with everyone, and then I'm gonna go about my business. I'm gonna be Pat Summitt, I'm going to be the head coach at the University of Tennessee," said Janice Wade, executive director of Alzheimer's Tennessee.

Coach Summitt certainly did coach, leading the Lady Vols to the Elite Eight, a final curtain call to a championship-caliber career.

"I knew that she wanted to stay as long as she could. But I feel like she's already done as much as she can, she can't really do anything else. She's already accomplished everything," said UT fan Andrew Williamson.

During the season, she showed her fight on the court, but also off the hardwood, becoming a face in the battle against Alzheimer's.

UT fans and even opposing fans showed their support in many ways, like signing the billboard, and also buying 64,000 "We Back Pat" shirts.

"Helping people with this disease, understand this disease, educate them with strategies and research," said Wade.

"That's something you fight, and i think she'll fight it. She's a strong lady. She wouldn't be here for 40 years if she wasn't," said Alice Reid, a Coach Summitt fan from North Carolina.

Even though she's stepping down from the sideline, she'll always be "Coach"

"That's what Pat Summitt is. That's what she has been, that's what she is today, and that's what she'll be always be for us here in Tennessee," said Wade.


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