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My mother loved Pat Summitt. From the earliest days of my mom's feminist roots Pat Summitt was an example of a woman who took charge, did things her way and was successful. My mom followed women's basketball from the early days of Summitt's bringing it into greater prominence.
Growing-up in the pacific northwest my mom rooted for her alma mater, Oregon, with passion, but she also rooted for other Pac-10 teams and she ALWAYS rooted for Pat Summitt's Lady Vols.
That was until the great conflict arose in her life. Her son moved to Connecticut and started covering the University of Connecticut women's basketball program just as the rivalry between UConn and Tennessee began.
The conflict troubled her to no end. She wanted to root for UConn because she wanted her son to have the pleasure of covering a successful program. But she was conflicted. She was one of those long-time Pat Summitt fans who had trouble accepting the brash young coach of the Huskies as a usurper of Tennessee's long climb.
And then life takes cruel twists.
I lost my mother last year, after a five year decline due to dementia (albeit a different form that is playing a role in Pat Summitt's retirement from her post at Tennessee after 38-years) and we did not have much chance to talk about women's basketball for the last several years.
My mom would be sad to see Pat leave the game. It's only the more poignant to me that dementia took my mom from me and is taking my mom's favorite coach from the game.
My mother lives-on still in the memories of her loved ones and in the legacy of the work she did. Pat Summitt leaves coaching with a legacy not just of great players, great wins but having made a difference in the lives of so many women she taught and mentored over the years.
On an uneventful Tuesday afternoon I was driving Shore Rd. in Waterford on a typical feature hunt, looking for a photo for the next day's paper, when, shortly after passing the Seaside property I spotted a bird by the side of the road...