Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pretty shocking day

Much of my day was spent getting reaction from tennis fans and players after the Jelena Jankovic/Elena Vesnina match at the New Haven Open was suspended for nearly 2 1/2 hours when the ground shook shortly before 2 p.m. at the Connecticut Tennis Center.

However, shock waves were sent through the women's basketball world with the news that legendary Tennessee coach Pat Summitt has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia.

Summitt said that she plans on continuing to coach the Lady Vols.

Reaction was swift from all parts of the women's basketball world.

Geno Auriemma issued a statement commenting on Summitt's long fight ahead.

"I was shocked and saddened to hear about the news regarding Pat Summitt's diagnosis. You don't necessarily associate dementia with people our age so this announcement really put things in perspective. Pat has great support from her family, friends and staff and I know they will help her immensely. There is no doubt in my mind that Pat will take on this challenge as she has all others during her Hall of Fame career - head on. I wish her all the best."

Connecticut Sun guard Kara Lawson, a Tennessee grad, had this to say:

"Coach Summitt has an incredible passion for basketball and an incredible passion for life. She has been, and will continue to be, a mentor and a major influence in my life. As heartbreaking as the day has been for myself, the fans, and all those associated with the Lady Vol program, we can take comfort in knowing that this disease has never crossed a person like Coach Summitt before. We can take comfort in knowing Coach Summitt will continue to lead, continue to pioneer, and continue to be a role model for all of us. My sincere love and prayers go to Pat, Tyler, and their entire family."

Obviously Summitt was at the forefront of the decision to discontinue the incredibly-successful non-conference series between Tennessee and UConn and many people in this state have strong opinions about Summitt because of that. However, there can be no disputing that she is one of the most influential coaches not only in women's collegiate basketball or evenin women's sports but in sports period. My dealings with her over the years have always been extremely cordial and like others, I am impressed with the passion she brings to her craft. I can only hope that this works out for the best for Pat, her family and circle of friends.

On a personal note, my grandfather was one of the most amazing people I have ever encountered and the later stages of his life were impacted by Alzheimer's. It can be a brutal process seeing a loved one deal with a syndrome like Alzheimer's. Many years have passed since my grandfather's passing and I can only hope that medical science have made and will continue to make the strides to help those with Alzheimer's, early on-set dementia and other syndromes which affect memory and cognitive thinking.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mother also suffered from Alzheimer's for a decade. She displayed personality changes well before she was finally diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I wonder if some of the more bizarre elements of Coach Summitt's behavior the past few years wasn't related to the early effects of Alzheimer's. Her decision to stop the UConn-Tennessee series was strange, as was her refusal even to talk about UConn, and her filing of accusations. Other elements also remind me of my mother's early struggle with the disease. Coach Summitt is a giant of the game, she and her team represented the pinnacle of the sport, and the team that had to be defeated for UConn to prosper. No UConn fan can fail to express his sadness at the revelation of Coach Summitt's illness. We all wish her the best.

9:16 AM 
Anonymous Joe said...

She never did quite seem to understand that Geno's "evil empire" comment was comparing Tennessee to the Yankees and UConn to the Red Sox.....

11:33 AM 

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