It all started on the family dairy farm in northern Tennessee. That’s where Pat Summitt learned the discipline to do her daily chores and never missed a day of school. That’s where she learned to play basketball in the barn loft with her brothers and developed the work ethic and determination that made her an elite player and subsequently one of the most successful coaches in college basketball history.
Summitt played basketball and graduated in 1974 from the University of Tennessee-Martin – before the school had athletic scholarships for women. A few months later, just 22 years old, she became the head coach at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
She earned a spot as a player and co-captain on the U.S. Olympic team that won the silver medal at the Montreal 1976 Games, the first time that women’s basketball was an Olympic sport. The U.S. boycotted Moscow 1980, but when the Americans returned to Olympic competition at Los Angeles 1984, Summitt was the head coach, guiding the team to the gold medal.