BROWN: Summitt stands out among college coaches

Carolyn Brown

The month of March is always an exciting time in sports. Men’s basketball draws more attention during the month of March than any other sport and any other primetime TV show. The stakes are high, brackets are meticulously filled out and no one is ever ready for the surprises. All eyes are on this exciting tournament, and the women’s March Madness tournament premiering at the same time always seems to be forgotten, even when history is made. Pat Summitt, the University of Tennessee women’s basketball head coach, has won her 100th NCAA tournament game, the first coach to accomplish this feat in men’s or women’s Division I basketball.

Summitt has the reputation of success. She has led her team to 34 NCAA tournaments in the past 34 years. She has seven national titles and is on her way to lead her Lady Vols to another tournament championship. We have seen successful coaches like Summitt in every sport, for instance, Mike Kryzewski, the Duke men’s basketball coach, and Roy Williams, the head coach of men’s basketball at North Carolina. But we have seen fewer successful women coaches. How does a coach like Summitt achieve such accomplishments? You can be sure it’s more than just talented basketball players.

Summitt has a reputation not only in the world of basketball but the world of sports. Most sports fans out there can attest to knowing who Summitt is, what sport she coaches and the name of her team. Her successes as a coach have placed her on the map as one of the all-time greatest coaches and has helped her attract some of the best talent in the nation. When it comes to recruiting, the Lady Vols do not lack interested girls. Recruits work and practice in order to be a part of this team and be coached by Summitt.

Summitt has become reputable through the way she treats her players. She is the type of coach that players respect. Her players want to succeed for their coach – a type of respect that is hard for coaches to earn. Through her knowledge and skill of the game, Summitt is able to further develop the players. You can tell from watching her games that Summitt demands the best from her team, and when she is not getting the best, her players know she is not happy, and this motivates them to do better. That is one of the reasons why Summitt is so successful: she has the respect of her team and knows how to motivate them to perform at their best level.

Motivated players are key in order to be successful, and Summit is the type of coach that knows how to motivate but also knows how to hold a strict hand. She demands hard work from every player and demands her players to stay on top of not only their basketball but their grades as well. On and off the basketball court, Summitt tends to her players needs. The players know she is there for them to talk to for any reason, whether basketball or something else going on in their lives, she is also the type of coach that claims the title of role model.

There is a thin line in coaching when it comes to gaining respect from all of your players. And Summitt does not play with this line. She knows that in order to earn respect she has to also give respect. You can tell when the Lady Vols are playing that Summitt shows her players as much respect as they show her. A key to success on any team is unity. This includes the coaches being as much a part of the team as the players. ESPN filmed the Lady Vol’s practicing one day, and Summitt was just as much a part of the practice as the players. Instead of standing on the sideline, she took part in their drills and gave them one-on-one coaching.

It takes both sides of the game in order to be successful. The Lady Vols are one of those teams that have proven that great talent and a great coaching staff can lead to achieve the greatest accomplishments in sports. Summitt is an example of a coach who has the greatest of all worlds when it comes to sports. She has a team with great talent but has the respect for its coach and trusts that the coach has the best interests of her team. Summitt is the type of coach that all athletes should watch and hope that one day they will be able to play for and one of the best coaches in any sport – men’s or women’s.

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Carolyn Brown is a senior communication major from Oklahoma City, Okla. She can be reached at [email protected]