The longtime Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt is being remembered with another statue in Tennessee, but this time in her hometown of Clarksville, Tennessee.
The legendary coach is a well-known name in not only the women’s basketball world but also the sporting community as a whole for being a trailblazer for women’s hoops and creating a championship program for Tennessee women’s basketball.
“As her birthplace, Clarksville-Montgomery County has a unique opportunity, over and above any other city or county, to capture the comprehensive story of Coach Summitt,” park architect Bradley Martin III of Lyle Cook Martin Architects in Clarksville said.
Chairman of the Pat Head Summitt Project Committee Richard V. Stevens said this about the legendary coach:
“Pat Head Summit was so much more than a sports figure. She was an American cultural icon whose leadership reshaped the sports landscape for women,” Stevens said. “Her success pulled our society forward, and she bent the curve of history toward justice and equality for women athletes. She blazed a trail that led to more opportunities for women, more scholarships, better facilities, more well-paid women coaches and ultimately a successful women’s basketball league. That’s quite a legacy.”
During her career as a head coach, she accrued 1,098 wins — the most in college basketball history upon her retirement at age 59. She won eight NCAA championships leading the Lady Vols. Her retirement came due to a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and passed away in June 2016 at the age of 64 with the women’s basketball nation mourning the loss of a pioneer of the sport.
Summitt was previously honored with statues in Knoxville and Tennessee-Martin, where she played in the 1970s. The Clarksville statue’s sculptor was Brett Grill of Grand Rapids, Michigan. He said in a news release it is fitting that Summitt is remembered with the new statue in her hometown.
“Our sculpture hopes to embody her passion and fire,” Grill said in the release. “She was a rare talent, quickly ascending to the highest reaches of her field, which she dominated throughout her career. It’s fitting that she is now enshrined permanently in bronze in her hometown.”