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'She was more than a basketball coach' | Remembering Pat Summitt 5 years later

Pat Summitt, the Lady Vols basketball coach passed from Alzheimer's complications 5 years ago, today.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Five years ago, Pat Summitt passed away from Alzheimer's complications. 

Pat Summitt was the head coach of the Lady Vols Basketball team from 1974 to 2012. 

In that time, she won eight NCAA championships and never had a single losing season. 

Summitt coached 21 all-American's, 39 all-SEC players and 12 Olympians. She also coached current head coach Kelly Harper.

For years, she was the most winning coach in college basketball history. 

Joan Cronan, the retired Athletic Director for the University of Tennessee, reflected on her memories of Summitt.

"She is the gold standard for coaches. She's had so much leadership," Cronan said.

In 2012, President Barack Obama awarded Summitt the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

"She was very focused," Cronan said, "She wanted to be a coach. Pat could have been governor, she could have run for president. She could have been head of any corporation she wanted to be. But, she wanted to coach young women and make a difference in their lives."

Before she passed, Coach Summitt made sure to continue her legacy through the Pat Summitt Foundation.

"We can talk about her championships, we can talk about her influence on Alzheimer's now. But you know, Pat Summitt was a humble person who really loved to make a difference," Cronan said.

The foundation aims to award grants that advance the treatment of Alzheimer's. 

Now, Cronan is the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the foundation. She knows that it is a vital part of Summitt's legacy.

"I know Pat would be so thrilled to know that every day that we're touching Alzheimer's patients' lives and their caregivers," Cronan said.

Although Summitt can no longer be present in the foundation's meetings, her steadfast love and passion for the foundation's mission remain strong in everything they do.

"Pat always said, 'you choose your attitude.' And Pat Summitt's attitude toward what we've been able to do over these past five years, I know would be outstanding," Cronan said.

More than her impact on the Lady Vols' game or even her hand in the progression toward a treatment for Alzheimer's disease, Summitt is remembered for her compassion in the community.

Since Summitt's passing, Cronan said she has had people stop her on the street to share memories of the coach. 

"I've had people stop me and say 'Pat called my mother when she was in the hospital, she signed an autograph for my child,'" Cronan said, "Pat stopped to do those kinds of things, to reach out and touch people." 

For many, those memories are cherished.

"That's what we remember."

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