On June 28, 2016, Ashley Carter went to work at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and lowered the flags outside to mourn the death of Pat Summitt.
One year later, Carter honors Pat Summitt by flying the banners at the Hall of Fame high, just like every other day of the year.
"Today, we woke up and we knew it was the anniversary of Pat's death. We did not necessarily do anything different," said Carter. "That is how Pat would have wanted it. She would want you to work as hard as you can every day and continue the mission she worked for."
Carter, a former basketball player at Martin Methodist College, joined the staff at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012 and grew to know Summitt first-hand.
"I knew I never had the talent to be a professional player, but still wanted to be involved in the game. When this opportunity came up, I knew it was perfect. Then coming here and working hand-in-hand with Pat, it was life-changing. The first time I saw her, my jaw hit the floor. I was star-struck. But she was a friend to everyone who worked here and you were part of her family. I think that’s what I think of more than anything on the anniversary of her death, is just not having that friend," said Carter.
Summitt’s extended family at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame said it is natural to think of her on the first anniversary of her death. However, they hope over time there will be less emphasis on the day she died and more focus on some of the other dates from Summitt's extraordinary life.
A display case in the museum includes several milestone dates from Pat Summitt’s career. There’s the original letter dated April 30, 1974, when Summitt accepted the job as head coach of the women’s basketball team at the University of Tennessee.
The date February 5, 2009, is also prominent as the day she became the first college coach, man or woman, to record 1,000 wins.
"We have the outfit she wore when she coached her 1,000th victory on display. When you first walk into the Hall, it's the Pat Summitt rotunda. You can't walk into the Hall of Fame without being a part of Pat Summitt," said Carter.
The WBHOF itself is a tribute to Pat Summitt. The venue was originally planned as an attraction in Jackson, Tennessee. When fundraising for the Jackson location struggled, Summitt worked with Knoxville tourism officials to bring the venue to the home of the Lady Vols.
"Pat said there's no other place it should be. Let's bring it to Knoxville," said Carter.
"She was adamantly against naming the hall of fame for herself. She said the game is more than just one person. That's truly who Pat was. She didn't take credit for anything herself," said Dana Hart, president of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
Hart said she believes Pat would want to be honored through employees who work hard to promote women’s athletics every single day.
"This morning when I got up, I said it's not a day to be sad. Pat would not want us to be sad. Pat would say thanks for thinking of me, but there's so much more to do. It is just another day. Get to work. Keep working to promote women’s athletics, to develop young women into leaders, and find a cure for Alzheimer’s. Keep working and keep going."
Pat Summitt’s life was a chronicle of success deserving of recognition on a daily-basis for raising the banner of women’s sports to new heights.
"Pat Summitt will always be someone we honor here at the Hall. No matter the day, because she is a part of our past and such a rich part of the history here at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame," said Carter.
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