Pat Summitt Plaza Dedication

Nov. 22, 2013




    (Opening Statement):

    "Hello everyone. I think only the people up front heard what Pat [Summitt] said to Tamika [Catchings] when she dropped this on the floor- turnover, Tamika. It's my pleasure to welcome everyone to a much anticipated day at the University of Tennessee. It's a goose bumps day on Rocky Top, so we have an opportunity collectively to salute Pat Summitt. We will formerly dedicate today Pat Summitt Plaza and we will unveil the centerpiece- a beautiful statue of a beautiful woman. Today is a celebration of Pat's legendary career as a coach. Before I make a few opening remarks about Pat, I do want to recognize another woman who is with us today, who like Pat, positively impacted the lives of many many young women and became highly respected nationally for her tireless efforts, particularly on behalf of women's athletics. She made a difference in Tennessee and she made a difference for young women everywhere nationally- Joan Cronan would you please stand up?

    "I want to applaud a few people who were directly responsible for this beautiful plaza that we dedicate this morning. Merit Construction for many of us, myself and Donna [Thomas] and Dara Worrell and Chris Fuller and others- we can watch every day and it made you feel up with pride to watch it unfold and become the first class piece of construction that it is. We have a time lapse camera that has been up on that patio, so that we can appreciate for many many years the hard work that went into this exceptional job. Merit Construction and Marv House- thank you. Carol Johnson Architects and Sean Vasington and Studio Four Design and Mike Keller- let's give them a hand for doing an absolutely outstanding job.

    "I also want to recognize vice chancellor Chris Cimino for his leadership role in this historic project and obviously goes without saying that David Adickes and you'll see this in just a little bit- did an absolutely magnificent job sculpturing the statue of Pat. A debt of gratitude is certainly owed to the LaPorte and Hilleary families, Scott and Debbie Hilleary provided the lead gift for the plaza in honor of Scott's father Bill and in memory of his mother Evelyon. The LaPortes- Chris and Quinita, Joe and Hope, Sam and Marlo, Steve and Liz, provided the gift that made the statue possible from the funding perspective.

    "Many others here today contributed to the Pat Summitt Plaza. Many of you contributed to make this goal a reality and many athletics staff members worked tirelessly to make it come to fruition, especially people like Kevin Zurcher, Donna Thomas, and Dara Worrell spent countless hours for us to be standing here today.

    "Someone who is very very close to Pat shared with me that shortly after we announced our intentions to both Pat and Tyler that we wanted to build this plaza and have a statue bearing Pat's name and it would be constructed as the centerpiece of the plaza, that Pat's response was, `Can you believe they're doing this for me? I'm just a basketball coach.' Yes Pat, we're honoring you today in perpetuity for your unfathomable accomplishments as the winningest basketball coach to ever coach the game. However, we're recognizing you for much much more than that. These women here today- your former players, represent only a sampling of the women you've touched, the women you've impacted in such a significant way. You were their coach, so through that experience, they grew, and they grew immensely, but more than that, you were their mentor and through mentoring them, you literally shaped their lives, as you did thousands of young men and young women alike who wanted to emulate everything you stood for- the standard of excellence you set and the way you demanded it in an uncompromising manner, and you're much more than that. You're Tyler's mom. The man that that young man has become is a testament to you, his mother.

    "So Pat, with all due respect, you are not and never were just a basketball coach. Allow me before introducing our Chancellor to highlight this basketball coach's accomplishments for just a moment, and this is just again a sampling of what this woman has accomplished. Pat is the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history with 1,098 wins. She won 84 percent of the games she coached. Eight times, she was SEC Coach of the Year, five times she was a National Naismith Coach of the Year. She was named the Naismith Coach of the Century in 2000. She won 32 SEC Championships- 16 in the regular season and 16 tournament championships. She coached to a gold medal the 1984 US Olympic team. She's been inducted into numerous Halls of Fame- it's harder to find one she's not in than one that perhaps she's getting ready to go in. She was selected as the Coach of the NCAA's 25th Anniversary team. She was Sports Illustrated Sports Woman of the Year in 2011 at a wonderful ceremony in New York City. She won eight national championships and every Lady Vol basketball player who played for Pat Summitt and completed her eligibility got their degree.

    "So to say that Pat Summitt is just a basketball coach would be like me trying to convince you that Michael Jordan is just a basketball player.

    "It is now my pleasure to introduce the gentleman who is providing for all of us on this campus outstanding leadership, chancellor Jimmy Cheek."


    (Opening statement):

    "Thank you very much, Dave and before I get started, I would like to recognize the president of the University of Tennessee system, Dr. Joe DiPietro and his wife, Deb. Deb and Joe, we greatly appreciate everything you do for the University of Tennessee- Knoxville, your tremendous support for us and please stand and let's recognize them.

    "Today we honor the greatest basketball coach ever- Pat Summitt. All of us here today are here to honor her and we also call her, Pat. She wants it that way actually. She wants her friends and her family and her coworkers and her team members to call her Pat and Pat you're known worldwide. Matter of fact, I was in China recently and two or three people came up to me and said, `how's Pat?' I knew exactly who they were talking about. She's never stood on ceremony or demanded respect, but she's definitely earned it. She also has demanded excellence on the court and in the classroom. If you don't believe that, let me tell you a little story about a person who is an All-American and an Olympic gold medalist- Bridgette Gordon.

    "As the story goes, the team was in Hawaii, Pat. Pat was looking through the players' grades. When Pat got to Bridgette's grades, there were no grades recorded. As you can imagine this did not sit well with "Pat Summitt. She told Bridgette `I'm so mad at you I don't know if I will ever forget it. I'm gonna put you on a raft and send you back to the mainland and I'm gonna punch a hole in the raft.' Now that is pretty tough talk for one of the best players ever on our team, right?

    "Now for the rest of the story, it turns out that Bridgette had an overdue library book and a library fine. She had a hold on her grades and come to find out she did pretty well in the semester but as a result of that she didn't have to get on that raft. It would be funny with that hole in it- I'm not sure how she would get back to the mainland, Pat, I hope you have gotten over that situation.

    "Pat's commitment to academics is unmatchable. She is one of a kind. Pat Summitt is a Tennessean by birth and a Tennessee Volunteer by choice. And we are delighted you made that choice. This fantastic statue that you will see in just a few minutes will stand as an inspiration to everybody who passes by here.

    "Our students, faculty, alumni, staff and anyone that just comes on this campus and sets foot on our campus and sees this statue, that will be inspiring to them because of what she did. She inspires everybody by what she has accomplished but more importantly by how she did it. She did it by hard work, persistence, integrity, style, humility, and a great deal of extremely high expectations. Pat, we appreciate you for that. You have really inspired us greatly.

    "She has honored her roots, her family and her university, and it has never been about Pat Summitt. It has always been about her student-athletes and the University of Tennessee- Knoxville.

    "Pat, I am honored and humbled to be a part of this day, your day in history, and in the history of this great university. You have touched many more lives than any of us will ever realize and this statue, and your legacy, will inspire many generations to come. Yes, you are the greatest basketball coach ever, but you are also a great human being and we have really, greatly appreciate you being a Tennessee Volunteer. Thank you for staying with us a long period of time as our coach, thank you for all you have done for our university."


    "Speaking of being one of Pat's greatest players, and it would take a long time to go through that list, but we are blessed here today to have one of our most recent, this past year's as a matter of fact only a few weeks ago, one of our latest inductees into our Lady Vol Hall of Fame. She did not want to miss this and made every effort that it took to be here to be a part of this historicday as we honor Pat Summitt in perpetuity it is my pleasure to introduce, she needs no introduction- Tamika Catchings."


    (Opening Statement):
    "Thank you, it's definitely an honor for me to be here and knowing what this day represents I think all of us want to be here. I don't stand up here for myself, I stand up here for all the ladies behind me, for all the people that have worked underneath Pat and her leadership and just everything that she's brought not only to us as basketball players but even more important as people. I know for me personally Pat I just want to say thank you. This is an awesome day to see so many people here from so many different walks all of us here for one main reason and that's to celebrate you.

    "Pat is such an amazing woman, and I think when everybody asks me what is it that you've learned from her, it's not necessarily being a great basketball player, but yes, that is something I definitely learned about being a great basketball player, playing defense yes, number one on my list, it did take me a while but I got it. I think even more so, being a great person. I think when you look at all of us and all the things that we've been able to accomplished not only on the basketball court but even off the court, we've got coaches, we've got entrepreneurs, we've got mothers, we've got a little bit of everything and I think for all of us we learned about what it takes to be a leader, what it takes to be a great woman, what it takes to be a great lady, what it takes to have character, what it takes to have poise, how not to buckle under adversity. A lot of different things that we all learned and I think being here, this statue that we're about to present, it all embodies you.

    "It all embodies everything that you've given all of us and even for us standing here today and coming from all different places nobody wanted to miss it. Those of them that are overseas, that couldn't make it home, everybody is here, everybody is celebrating in this statue that represents you.

    "We just want to say thank you for all that you've done, thank you for all that you've given all of us, thank you for just the joy, this is amazing, this is awesome to look out and see all these people that are here for you, so thank you Pat, thank you for everything. I love you."


    "You know as we visited with the former players a little bit before coming over, I mentioned to a small group of them, you know, we have to hold the rain off. They said, Mr. Hart, this is Pat Summitt, it's not going to rain. And they were right.

    "This next young man, in all of my career in intercollegiate athletics meeting so many wonderful young men and women who are student athletes, this young man immediately struck me as being mature beyond his years. He learned so much from his mom not just about basketball, but about being a good person. And trust me when I tell you that if there's a greater pride in the world than watching an offspring meet his or her potential Pat has enjoyed that. It is my pleasure to introduce Tyler Summitt."


    (Opening Statement):

    "Every moment is a teaching moment. I'll say it again. Every moment is a teaching moment. A very common phrase that my mom used and still uses to this day. And I think that it was something instilled in me that I will never forget. Those that know mom know that she's a teacher. That's what she is, and I think I would get the stare today if I didn't use this moment as a teaching moment. Today is possible, in my mind, because of three values that my mom had. Three values that she was consistent with and instilled in everybody around her, and because of today, and because of this, those three values in her legacy will be remembered forever.

    "The first value is to compete, to be the best you can be not just on the court, but off the court. Not talking about the scoreboard or the national championships. Talking about being the best you can be every day. This is why people are successful after the program. I mean look at Holly, great career and dominating right now with her team.

    "Tamika and Mickie DeMoss- not only did they do well here, they went on and won a WNBA championship. Look at a lady like Michelle Marciniak, who thrived here and is now thriving in the business world. Those cows never took a day off, and we weren't allowed to either, were we? But that doesn't matter unless you have the second value, and that's character. Do things the right way Ty man, do things the right way. I think a lot of mom's definite dozen. The responsibility, the respect, loyalty, the communication pieces, all boil down to character. There was always somebody that we could look to that had that character.

    "An example of this is when I bypassed character and communication. The right thing to do when I was eight years old was to tell my mom when I would go and do something. So I go down to the dock to go fishing and did not communicate. My accountability was to get spanked for every step from the dock to the house. Now I could say that I was tough, and it didn't bother me, but there are 42 steps from the dock to the house. Most importantly, her third value, family. That's what she always instilled in me. Surround yourself with great people. I didn't fully understand that until I met my wife, Ande. Now I truly know, to surround yourself with great people and that's what it is all about.

    "There are many thanks in order. First and foremost, to Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Mom's favorite verse is Philippians 4:13- `I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.' Second, to our family and friends, and I cannot tell you how much loyalty there is with our family friends.

    "It is absolutely incredible, and we want to thank everyone who is here and everyone who was unable to be here. We want to thank Dave Hart and Joan Cronan and the entire Tennessee family, as well as past administers for making this possible and for always supporting mom. Thanks to the Hilleary and LaPorte families and so many supporters that made this possible. Thank you to mom's present and past staffs, and everybody that has ever helped her do what she does. Then the phrase that I heard after every single championship, to the greatest fans in the nation, thank you for always supporting her and supporting her still through the Pat Summitt Foundation. That means so much to us. But last, to the players. I never scored a point for the Lady Vols, I always heard that. It is these young ladies who did that hard work and not only is mom honored by this statue, but every single one of her players.

    "So I challenge you first to look at those three values in each and every one of your lives, whether it is sports or not. Family, who do you surround yourself with, competing to be the best you can be every day and then doing things the right way.

    "So to wrap, I want to reflect on what I know makes mom smile and light up more than anything. It is when she sees that when something she taught helped somebody else. This past weekend we went to Vanderbilt, and it made her happy that we won. As we were there with the Marquette team I told her that this happened because of you. I used what you taught me to make this happen. I saw her light up more than anything.

    "Now, because of today, everyone who sees this can remember what she stands for. They will have a Pat Summitt teaching moment, and nothing could make my mom smile more.

    Pat Summitt

    (Opening Statement):

    "This is a great day. Tyler and I, we have obviously been together for a long time and I just want everyone to know that for me, today is not about me. It is about everyone out here that loves the University of Tennessee. Just hope and pray that we can continue to do great things. Tyler has been a rock for me and I appreciate him. For that, I want everybody to know how much I appreciate what has happened here today. I don't think I will ever forget it. I love you all. Thank you."



    (On the honoring of his mom)

    It's just an incredible moment. I think what made it that is that all these people were here throughout mom's history and in the present. She'll be the first to tell you it's always about others, so it's great.

    (On the family Pat has established)

    It's incredible. She would tell me, "I'm not going to work, I'm going to my family" and that was every day. It made it very enjoyable.

    (On the statue)

    They've got her smiling. I don't know if that's an accurate representation of her coaching career, but it's great and she loved it, so I loved it.

    (On how Pat has prepared him)

    I think my mom prepared me to be a leader. That's what she did with all of her players, all of her staff. It was just a natural thing for me to step into a leadership role with out family.

    (On the turnout of coaches and players at the ceremony)

    The loyalty is just incredible. The loyalty to come back and I don't think I've seen so many current and former players together. It was an incredible moment.

    (On if he could have walked out of the Vanderbilt game without a win, with his mom watching)

    (Laughing) I'm sure. God had a plan for us there at the end but it was great that my mom and wife were there to see that win.

    (On the most important testament to his mom's character is)

    Always do things the right way. I spoke on that. The most important lesson is that character. Nothing else matters if you don't do things the right way.

    (On if he feels pressure to follow in Pat's footsteps)

    I think I'm going to focus on what I can control, which is something else she taught me. I know God has a plan and I'm just going to work hard every day and do things the right way.


    (On his thoughts of the plaza)
    "It's an inspiration to everyone who comes by here to see that for Pat Summitt. She really has the right idea. She believes in the student athlete. She believes they are students first, athletes second, and she believes in the University of Tennessee. She has been a mentor for numerous young women, and men as Tyler said."

    (On the Tennessee family)
    "I was here two weeks and was able to go on the court and congratulate her on her 1000th win. I felt like that was a tremendous tribute to her. Then something like this is even more."

    (On how the memorial plaza came about)
    "Dave Hart brought the idea forward. We all said that it was a great idea. We said we needed to do it quickly and he said we will raise the money quickly. We had some very significant donors step up and say that we will get this done. Then once that was done, we had to spend time with the contractor. We got the contractor tracked out and told him that we had to have it done by this date. I saw him recently and he said we are 18 hours ahead of schedule."


    (On getting picked to speak at the statue dedication out of all the former players)

    I don't know how they picked me, but it's definitely an honor to be able to represent all the players current and past.

    (On what this day means to her)

    I think this day is just an honor to Pat and just all the things she's done for all of us. To see that statue - this is what most people will see when they enter this campus, the welcoming she's given all of us, and her legacy here.

    (On the family that Pat has created at Tennessee)

    We're using the hashtag now. Once a Lady Vol, always a Lady Vol - and it's so true. This is a family, from one of the first point guards to ever play for Pat, to the current players that are still here. The family that we've been able to develop underneath her and her tradition has been wonderful.

    (On how Pat feels about the ceremony today)

    She's honored. Even just talking about it brought tears to her eyes, just what it stands for. She keeps saying "It's not about me, it's not about me." And I say yes, Pat, it is. We're all here, we're all having this discussion because of you. You're one of the main reasons this program has been as successful as it is.

    (Thoughts on the statue itself)

    The statue is awesome. This moment in itself - the statue, the wall, the purple, the layout, everything's standing out. I'm just so happy to be here.

    (On Pat's influence)

    Think about all the people who wanted to be here that couldn't. This place would have been packed and it's standing room only. It probably would have stretched back Just the legacy she's left - so many people have followed her from generations way back when to even the current ones now that have been on the program for all these years.

    (On former players that wanted to be here)

    Oh yeah. I know most WNBA players are overseas right now. A few are coaching. We had a few that flew in that didn't have to coach today or didn't have anything going on, but I think that every single player that has played for Pat Summitt would love to be here.


    (On what the statue means):

    "It's a very special day. It's just really special to be here and honor such an incredible human being. It's not about what Pat did as far as to mold you as a basketball player, it's how she molded us as people. You saw all of the former players and so many have come back to support. Pat's a special person. There's a reason it's raining now and not during the ceremony. She's just got a special touch that I knew the rain would stop just for the ceremony."

    (On all of the former players who showed up):

    "I didn't know who was going to show up. First of all, I'm not surprised how many showed up. It just shows you what she means. We all wanted to be here for this very special moment. As a former player I just can't thank her enough. I quietly thank her every day because I've turned the lessons she taught me as a point guard, as a basketball player at Tennessee into being an entrepreneur. All of us have gone on to do different things. For me, the characteristics that she carries - the resilience, the `don't ever give up, don't ever stop trying' - I carry those into the business world.


    (On her thoughts about the statue)
    "You know there's things that happen, and someone asked me and I said it's very difficult for me to think that little sophomore in high school had all those arms and each flower over her now has a statue. Honey, it's absolutely spectacular."

    (On why she flew out here)
    "First of all it's just a great friend. Also I think the fact that we became family and one of the best gifts she ever gave me is to be part of Tyler's life.)


    (On the Lady Vols over the years)
    "I think it's really appropriate that that statue is bigger than life because Pat's influence over our sport that we all love has been bigger than life. When we all started coaching, and that's been a long time ago, we did it because we loved the sport and we wanted to create opportunities for young women to experience the same things we had the opportunity to experience. If you look at that now, that influence that Pat has had, she set such a high standard that all of us everyday tried to get to that standard. I think that that legacy will live on forever. There has to be a start, and that start is Pat Summitt."

    (On Pat visiting her ceremony earlier)
    "I was very honored by that. It meant a great deal to me. When you're in a competitive business and you're playing to win and you have people on the other sideline that you want to beat that's one thing, but when the game is over we all share a bond, a friendship. Pat has been one of the most consistent people to give back and to share. I feel very blessed to be a benefactor of that."


    (On the ceremony)
    "Tyler said it so well; it was a teaching moment. It was celebration. It was goose-bump thing. I'm so proud and so thrilled to honor Pat who has honored so many of us for so many years. She is legend, but more important she is a legend that we love and she still cares so much about Tennessee and about of program."

    (On her thoughts of the statue)
    "Oh I think the statue is awesome! I was worried about the size when i saw it covered up, but it's just perfect. It's a great size. I love for you that have followed Pat and got autographs the autograph, the signature up there, is really good. The word that I use is Pat Summitt's plaza pops. It's exciting, it's packed, it's classy, it's done so well and what a wonderful way to honor a person of her stature."

    (On what pat has meant to her)
    "You can't put it in words. Working as Pat's colleague was so special, but what she has done these last three years battling this disease has taught us so much. She is now what I considered a woman of courage and has done it with such class and has faced this battle. She wants to be remembered not only for winning championships, not only just as a basketball coach, but she wants to be remembered as making a difference in this disease."





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