The Brand of Pat Summitt
I was privileged to meet and get to know many of the basketball coaches of the day in a sport just beginning to feel its oats with Title 9 funding.
This was so many years ago that Pat Summitt had yet to win her first NCAA title. In my second year in business, that all changed and Pat’s Lady Vols cut down the nets. I was there for that game.
I will leave the tributes to others and there will be many well deserved accolades. She was as gracious in private as she was tenacious in coaching (and as a player years before). I don’t claim to have known her well but just meeting with Coach and spending a short time with her was an unforgettable moment.
She was legendary before she was at the pinnacle of her sport and EVERYONE knew it was just a matter of time before Pat’s teams dominated her sport. I know now why that was. It was the Pat Summitt brand.
Joining the Vols
To become part of that brand, to have the Tennessee Lady Vols logo on your jersey MEANT you were a relenteless and hard as nails competitor who worked tirelessly to be the best you could be.
Players improved and grew under Coach Summitt’s tutelage. But she also recruited and won better athletes. The good ones wanted to be part of that brand. No matter how great they were in high school, they believed they were going to a special place and were going to be coached by greatness. The brand was a reflection of Pat Summitt.
What did that mean to the athletes? Everything.
Why the Pat Summitt brand was so powerful
The basketball court was a microcosm of the world of Pat Summitt. She believed in the transformative power of PRESSURE. There was the pressure to become better. There was the pressure to eliminate mistakes. There was the pressure to be a complete human being and there was the legendary pressure of her man-to-man defense.
Everyone was subjected to her pressure. Especially the poor NCAA victims of her teams rise to greatness.
Pat Summitt was indeed a brand with a capital B. It meant identifying yourself as a player with that brand. It was your identity and it was lived with great dignity and charm by the woman who created it. She did not invent it.. Its just who she was.
Rest in peace Pat Summitt. You are missed.