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1,000 reasons she's No. 1

Tennessee's next win will give Coach Pat Summit her 1,000th career

February 01, 2009|Associated Press

As partly evidenced by the AP award, Summitt's greatest achievement has been the national attention she's brought to the women's game. When she first started coaching -- pretty much as a volunteer while she prepared to play in the Olympics -- few games were ever on television. Now it's easy to turn on the television and find a women's game on some channel.

"When I think about getting to 1,000 wins, I think about the University of Tennessee saying yes to women's basketball long before it was a popular thing to do," Summitt said.

The Lady Vols' rivalry with Connecticut over the past 15 years drew some of the highest ratings ever for a women's game. About the only blemish on her unbelievable career might be letting that series end last season for reasons which still have not been revealed.

Even playing against their archrivals, Summitt would draw huge ovations from the Connecticut crowd as fans across the nation respected her and what she had accomplished.

"Whenever we played in the SEC we always would see everyone from that school would be at that game," Lawson said. "I'd talk to guys in the NBA now, and they'd say 'We watched you when you'd come to Florida, Alabama, Kentucky. We didn't go to many games, we always came to Tennessee games.'"

With all the wins and accolades, Summitt is still most happy just coaching and teaching.

"She taught us that being a lady and a wonderful person is way more important than anything that you accomplish on the basketball court," Catchings said. "Pat wanted all of us to be successful women, and have more character and class about ourselves than anything."

To that end Summitt already has more wins than even she could imagine.

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