Tennessee Alumnus

We Back Pat!

For We Back Pat week (Jan. 19-26), here is a post in honor of Pat Summitt.

A couple of issues ago, we had a nice piece about Pat written by Sally Jenkins. That story was based on the book Sum It Up that was published last year. It’s a memoir written by Pat. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. I got it for Christmas and finished it a week ago. It was one of those books I liked so much that I started to read slower so I would not finish it. There’s really not much more that can be written or said about how great Pat Summitt is and how courageous she has been after her diagnosis.

I’m sure everyone has their Pat stories, so I guess I’ll tell mine. First off, I’m in her book, page 316. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was a reporter for The Associated Press before I came to work in public relations at UT. From 2000-2007, I covered Vols football and basketball, Lady Vols basketball and other sports and news in the Knoxville area. My name is not in the book, but in the section about her divorce, it mentions a “local writer for the Associated Press” who called and asked about the status of Pat’s marriage. This is what reporters do, and I was asked by my editor to make sure I was on top of it. As a reporter, I had to ask all kinds of awkward questions like this. (I had to go to a funeral once just to interview someone attending the funeral. It was terrible.) Personally, I felt conflicted about whether a coach’s marital status was news. I don’t remember if we ever actually ran a story about it. What I do remember is an “off-the-record” conversation I had with Pat in her office a while after the divorce. The book accurately reflects the feelings Pat expressed in our discussion. I thought it was very brave of her to be so forthcoming in the book. When I left AP in 2007, I received a handwritten note from Pat welcoming me to UT. It is hard not to smile when I drive by the new Pat Summitt statue every morning on the way to work. When it’s really cold, I want to put a scarf or hat on her. But then I think, “No, she’ll be OK.”