Chuck Fleischmann speaks on House floor in honor of Pat Summitt
April 26, 2012
"I rise today to honor a woman who is a living legend in my home state of Tennessee. A star basketball player, Pat Summitt played at the University of Tennessee-Martin, and served as co-captain on the 1976 US Olympic Women's Basketball Team. Pat Summitt began coaching Lady Vols basketball at the University of Tennessee just before the start of the 1974-75 season. Starting as a graduate assistant, she was quickly promoted to head coach where she earned $250 a month and drove the team van. 38 years and 1098 wins later, Pat Summitt is now the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history for either a men's or women's team. She is the only NCAA coach with over 1000 wins and she has never had a losing season as coach.
"This is a pretty impressive record in its own right, but the legacy of Pat Summitt does not end there. Indeed, I could speak about her accomplishments for the entire morning hour. I could mention her 8 NCAA Championships and 16 Southeastern Conference season and 16 SEC tournament titles, or her unmatched career .840 winning percentage. While it is clearly evident that Pat Summitt is an unmatched coach on the field, her off-the-field accomplishments are even more impressive.
"In an era rife with college sports scandals, Pat Summitt has upheld a track record of uncompromised integrity while encouraging and maintaining a 100% graduation rate for her team. Coach Summitt produces more than just great athletes; she produces young women of character whose academic success prepares them to be good citizens in the world as well as great basketball players. Eleven of her former players were on WNBA rosters last year, and she has coached 2 WNBA MVPs. Sixteen collegiate head coaches have either played or coached under her. The success of her players both on and off the court is a testament the dedication she has given to the well-rounded development of her players.
"When I return back to the University of Tennessee- my alma mater - the legacy of "Coach Pat" can be found everywhere from the students in Lady Vols attire, to Pat Head Summitt Street in Knoxville, and the Summitt basketball court in Thompson-Boling arena. Throughout Tennessee her legacy is strong as well. She has a gym named after her at UT-Martin and at her high school. Pat Summitt's true legacy however is seen in the alumni who have succeeded due to her hard work, and in the thousands of young women who have pursued excellence in sports and been successful due to her example.
"Pat Summitt retired from coaching on April 18th, and will continue to serve the Lady Vols as head coach emeritus. She now faces a battle against early onset Alzheimer's disease. Like her coaching career, I know she will face this battle with courage and determination. We will be praying and thinking of her during this battle, and I know we will miss her imprint on the landscape of Tennessee.
"I yield back."