As Pat Summitt closes in on her th career victory, her son Tyler reveals some of the Courtesy of Tennessee media relations .. of support from coaching counterpart Bruce Pearl, who had come to a women's game in orange body paint. Pat Summitt's peers remember what made her a legend. play . The connection was immediate and intense. Basketball shorthand was flying. Wayne Chism witnessed the relationship between Bruce Pearl and Pat Summitt firsthand. There were post-game practice chats and shared film.
That set up a meeting in December between then-No. But it was an even bigger success than anyone expected. So many people came that not everyone could get in, and the traffic snarled all streets leading to campus.
Even Summitt got caught in the jam and finally had to park her car on the side of the road and walk a half-mile to the arena. Tennessee even had made a huge vinyl facsimile of a record -- like an album -- that was torn in half to symbolize "breaking the record. Ever the competitor, Conradt took her team to Wendy's after the game for a celebratory meal. Ever the competitor, too, Summitt had the score of the game painted in 3-foot-high numbers in Tennessee's locker room to motivate the Lady Vols.
He was a high school coach in Dallas at the time and would go on to work at Louisiana Tech as an assistant before becoming a head coach at Stephen F. But I knew Pat was somebody. She'd throw an elbow here, a behind-the-back pass there. She just knew the game so well. It wasn't that she was the best player on the court; she was the best competitor. I learned a lesson right there. She could hold the room without being the center of attention herself.
It was the first any coach there had seen her, and she was better than the college players working the camp. Her name was Mary Ostrowski. Blair, who had to recruit against Summitt for so many years, sometimes wonders how she ever lost a recruit.
Whether you were a high school coach or a hanger-on or a fan or a big shot. It was just a strength. I said, 'Gosh, I want to be able to do that someday.
But he and Summitt connected. He was from small-town Louisiana, and she was from small-town Tennessee. They understood each other. Pat Summitt graciously met with every recruit we brought in on an official visit. And I mean every recruit. I'm not exaggerating when I say we wouldn't be where we are without her. I'll never forget Monica Abbott's visit. Pat spent 30 minutes with her; she knew Monica was a program changer. That's my vacation week, but I'll leave the beach.
And of course, Pat came to the World Series. Those things were just rooted in both of us. I respected her work ethic and she respected mine. Louisiana Tech won the first of those, in Then she turned the tables on us and started beating us.
At the time, his mother's program was at what qualifies as a nadir at Tennessee: Of course, nadirs don't have a long shelf life at the nation's most successful women's basketball program, and so, just six months later one of Summitt's sweetest victories arrived.
OTL: Growing Up Summitt
That March win was No. It brought Tennessee a third NCAA title and Tyler his first trip -- in his mother's arms -- up a ladder to cut down the most important of nets. Tennessee has eight championships now, and increasing that number is what drives Summitt. Her next win will be No. For more on her historic quest, check out "At the Summitt.
So you have to ask someone else, such as Tyler, what 1, really means. A boy now on the brink of manhood -- could Little Tyler possibly be 18 already? He knows it's important, almost a tradition. He has signed the same woman's autograph book for many years now.
She'd come in from after a game or practice and have to cook for me. She always does that. So it was a privilege to do things like carry the stool at games when I was little. I thought that was awesome. It was where Mom was going to sit at timeouts, so I felt like I was contributing.
Daedra Charles -- now an assistant coach for Summitt -- kissed the baby before each game for good luck, but she didn't get the chance to before the NCAA title contest against Virginia.
- Pat Summitt's peers remember what made her a legend
That had to be remedied, and it was when Tyler was passed down from the stands at halftime. Tennessee won in overtime.
That victory was sweet revenge for what had happened the previous season, when Virginia won the East Regional final and kept Tennessee from playing in the Final Four it would be hosting at Thompson-Boling.Tyler Summitt admits inappropriate relationship, resigns at Louisiana Tech
Summitt always has said that was her toughest loss, but she didn't really have a chance to grieve properly. She had to quickly pull herself together for two reasons: She wanted to send an upbeat appeal to Tennessee fans to still fill the arena for the good of women's basketball they didand she needed to focus on her health.
Courtesy of Tennessee media relations Both mother and son are popular targets for autograph seekers. But it was probably the best thing for me to know that I couldn't emotionally just cave in.
It really wasn't life or death; it was a basketball game. And as much as it hurt to have lost, knowing that I was going to have a child, it kept me in focus. She'd grown up on a farm in Henrietta, Tenn.
She says her mother was the hardest worker in the family and a very gentle person. But her father, Richard, was the never-satisfied task-masker.
He expected Pat to perform all the same grueling outdoor labors as her three older brothers. So while Summitt coached women, she definitely understood boys. And she knew from an ultrasound that Tyler was going to be a boy. But Tyler and I have a really special bond. I think mothers and sons sometimes have it, and fathers and daughters. He started traveling with me when he was 14 days old. I wanted him to experience as much as he could.
I got really close to Kellie Jolly.
Defining the legacy of Tennessee Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt
She was my second 'favorite' player. Vonda Ward had been my first. Mom would always come down to the end of the bench and talk to me during games, which I thought was cool.
It was my time to shine. You shouldn't have done that,'" Tyler says. There's about 40 steps down to the dock -- you'll see why that number matters in a minute. Anyway, I was fishing and she was cooking.
And then she came out and screamed my name. I didn't understand why at first. It kinda scared me that she was so emotional. She said, 'You can go anywhere you want.
You just have to tell me first. It was the worst.
But I always communicated after that.