“Sum It Up: 1,098 Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life In Perspective.” By Pat Summitt with Sally Jenkins
Basketball, autobiography, college, women’s, coaching
March 5, 2013
Pat Summitt’s autobiography is written in the same manner as she coached. When she learned that she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s she didn’t let the disease knock her down. She was determined to keep coaching and while she privately wept, she kept up her work, her spirit and her life.
This book shows that this is typical Summitt. Whether it was her childhood on the farm in Tennessee with her parents and brothers, as a player at the University of Tennessee- Martin, on the 1976 Olympic team, or the head coach of Tennessee, she has always approached each task and challenge head on. The writing and recollections in this book illustrate this characteristic well.
I found the beginning of the book very interesting as she starts out with memories as “I remember” and other items that she doesn’t have clear recollection as “I don’t remember.” It was sobering when the reader remembers why she is no longer coaching.
I also liked how Summitt addressed subjects that would be troubling to her personally and also how she addressed matters that would be considered controversial at the time. For personal matters, not only did she write about learning of her diagnosis with grace, she also wrote about the end of her marriage, her miscarriages and her other medical conditions without any anger or bitterness. She simply wrote about what took place, what she was feeling, how she dealt with it and what came next.
As for controversial matters, the best example would be her writings on the feminist movement in the 1970’s. She never sounded bitter about being “in her place” especially as it related to her childhood. While she certainly worked toward the goal of women’s equality, she was not a rabble rouser or radical when it comes to this issue. She realized that her program at Tennessee benefitted by Title IX, the ground-breaking legislation that required schools and other institutions that received federal funding to ensure that programs for each gender were equal. In the world of college sports, that meant that many women’s sports programs had to now include better facilities, scholarships for athletes and other such improvements. Summitt realized what this meant, and wrote about it as someone who graciously accepted this, but also knew it was long overdue.
Yes. Too many to list each of them, but I would place at the top of the list learning about the coach’s childhood upbringing on the farm in Tennessee. She was certainly “one of the boys” on the farm, and despite the roles each gender played at that time, she was one who broke the mold early.
Good. It never dragged and progressed in chronological manner, as autobiographies usually do.
Through all of her ups and downs, the reader never really feels negativity through Summitt’s words. This is not to say she never expresses any sadness or anger – she states these in a manner that is more of the line that “this is what happened, this is how I felt, this is how I dealt with
There are no glaring negatives or weakness in this book. Summitt covers every aspect of her life, both personal and professional, without pulling any punches or leaving out chunks that would make readers feel like something is missing.
Do I recommend?
Yes! This is an excellent book for not only basketball fans, it is also a great read for anyone who is looking for a role model, a source of inspiration or for finding out how to do things the right way.
Hardcover. I was fortunate enough to receive a copy autographed by Ms. Summit.
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