PRESTONSBURG – Prestonsburg High School football head coach John DeRossett is one of the many coaches from around the country who had the opportunity to learn a thing or two from legendary University of Tennessee women’s basketball head coach Pat Summit. Summitt passed away at age 64 on Tuesday morning, leaving behind a tremendous legacy. DeRossett and his two daughters, Alexis and Allyson, former PHS girls’ basketball players, made the trek to Knoxville, Tennessee for Summit’s annual basketball camp a family tradition.
“I took both of them for five years,” DeRossett confided, looking back at some of the experiences he shared with his two daughters. “It was our little getaway. Coach Summit always worked the camp hard and never left for a minute. She was a very hands-on coach and took great pride in teaching no matter a girls’ skill level. I have a notepad full of notes I took during the camps. She could have coached any sport. I just finished her book for the second time.”
Quite possibly the most important figure in women’s sports history, Summitt led the Lady Vols to eight national championships. She retired from coaching in 2012.
On Tuesday morning, Tyler Summitt, the son of the legendary women’s college basketball coach, issued a statement stating his mother died peacefully at Sherrill Hill Senior Living in Knoxville surrounded by those who loved her most.
“Since 2011, my mother has battled her toughest opponent, early onset dementia, ‘Alzheimer’s Type,’ and she did so with bravely fierce determination just as she did with every opponent she ever faced,” Tyler Summitt said. “Even though it’s incredibly difficult to come to terms that she is no longer with us, we can all find peace in knowing she no longer carries the heavy burden of this disease.”
Pat Summitt was born in Clarksville, Tennessee in 1952. Prior to her coaching career, Summitt played college basketball at the University of Tennessee at Martin and was an All-American. She won a silver medal playing for the USA team in the 1976 Olympics.
Steve LeMaster is the editor of The Floyd County Times. He can be reached at (606) 886-8506.