KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Few knew Pat Summitt Better than Lady Vols Head Coach Holly Warlick.
Warlick played for Summitt for four years as a player and spent nearly three decades at Coach Summitt’s side as an assistant coach, before taking over as head coach. She says not a day goes by where she doesn’t think about her former coach.
“I think Pat was extremely passionate about what she did. I love sports, I love basketball and I thought that was unbelievable that someone could put that much love and that much passion into the game,” said Warlick. “That resonated in me probably more than anything.”
When she played for Summitt, Warlick was point guard,the captain on the floor and as such, took her fair share of challenges from the iconic coach.
“Pat’s first impression of me was like, she needs to stick to track, and my first impression of her was this lady is crazy,” laughs Warlick. “I remember my first practice leaving Stokley and thinking ‘what have I done? this lady is crazy,’ but I came back the next day and I think that’s what everyone’s experience with Pat was. It was hard, it was difficult, but you kept coming back, because you knew she was gonna make you better.”
She says Summitt is still impacting not only basketball, but the people that love the University of Tennessee and the Lady Vols. Even after her death, Warlick says her foundation and program and the lives of people with cancer and Alzheimers.
“Kids are better, they’re stronger, there is more opportunities, we’re on TV. What we’re enjoying is because the pioneers like Pat said we’re good. We can play this game as well as everybody else,” said Warlick.
Remembering Summitt’s famous spine tingling stare, Warlick says she could get her confess any sin.
“She would stare at you and say, you’d better tell me the truth because I already know and you’d start singing,” said Warlick. “I always said, past the stare she had eyes in the back of her head and she saw everything and she let you know.”
Former University of Tennessee women’s athletic director remembers Summitt
Joan Cronan gets credit from most people for being the person who hired Pat Summitt as head coach, but in reality, that didn’t happen. Cronan likes to say she’s the one who got to keep her.
Cronan was at the University of Tennessee from 1968 to 1972. She came back a decade later to lead the women’s sprots program to new heights with Coach Summitt working her magic. The two were a team.
“I learned from Pat so many things. I learned discipline, courage, how to focus and all of those things but really about people it was always about people,” said Cronan. “We worked together for over 30 years but I hope I taught her to enjoy the journey.”
Every once in a while, Cronan said she would stand back and say ‘Pat, let’s enjoy this. Isn’t this special?’ Over the last year, Cronan hopes that she’s been able to help fulfill Summitt’s legacy and some of her dreams.
“I miss her coming in my office and saying ‘Joan, we gotta get this done. Let’s do it.’ and that stare and those eyes and the dreams and it was just a great, great journey,” remembers Cronan.
She says what Summitt taught her the most is that people are important and it is important to surround yourself with great people.
“She would say we won eight national championships but I didn’t score a goal,” said Summitt. “It’s about the kids and what can we do to help our athletes be the best that they can be.”