|espnW.com: Athlete's Life|
Now the questions have been answered. All this year, people have been asking, "What's Pat gonna do? How is she gonna do it?" and in a span of one day, it feels like this has all been answered.
I think everybody was shocked yesterday when Pat announced she was stepping back as Tennessee basketball head coach and taking the title of head coach emeritus. I know I was. But I'm happy for her. People have been watching her every move, every practice and every game, and now she can relax and just live her life.
Even though we all know that change has to happen at some point, when it does happen, it's tough. But the legacy Pat has left will always be there. She is the epitome of women's college basketball and all that it has represented in the past 38 years. Everybody will remember her forever for this. She is one remarkable woman.
I've said it so many times over the years, but Pat was more than just a coach to us. She didn't just focus on us as basketball players; she wanted us to become great all-around women. The charities I'm involved with and the things I do in my community are because of Pat's influence and what she taught me about going beyond yourself to help others. My most lasting memory is of my first practice at Tennessee. Pat corrected me on a number of the things I was doing defensively, and I got ... well, defensive. It didn't go so well from there. That practice has stuck with me, though, because it was when I realized that she believed in me and how much better I could be. And I've always believed in her and what she was capable of doing. It's why I chose to play for Tennessee.
I think it's so great that Pat will still be around for the Lady Vols. Sure, she's not the head coach, but she will still make an impact. New head coach Holly Warlick is hardly new, too. She has been at Tennessee for more than 30 years as a player and coach, and she definitely knows the program and what it's all about. She's part of the family, and she has everyone's respect. She'll be able to step in and keep the tradition going. I don't think it will be easy -- and there will be ups and downs -- but she will be fine.
When I think of Pat, I think of a fighter, a warrior. Even when I think about practices and games at Tennessee, and all we went through together on the courts, I think about how she always told us to "fight through this." She's said the same about her diagnosis. I know she'll continue to fight and continue to be the person she's always been. And the impact she's had on basketball will also continue, no matter what position she holds at Tennessee.