Even with Alzheimer’s, Pat Summitt still inspires

Even sports and caregiving worlds sometimes merge together. One such time is now, as March Madness is upon us, making it the perfect time to take a look at the inspiring journey of Pat Summitt, the legendary basketball coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2011.

During her 38 years at the helm of Lady Vols basketball team, Summitt’s accomplishments are second to none. For one, she became the winningest coach in the history of college basketball, men’s or women’s. Two, her squads won eight national titles, unmatched in women’s college basketball (and second only to John Wooden, who won 10 for the UCLA men’s team).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aw63zL3Ji8E

Only 60 years old, one could imagine Summitt would’ve only added to her 1,098 wins and likely earned a few more championships to surpass Wooden, but Alzheimer’s had a different plan for her.

“When I first was diagnosed, I was in disbelief,” Summitt told NPR. “But after that, I knew what I was facing, and I wanted to get it out there. And that’s exactly what I did.”

A disease that progresses over time — affecting memory, thinking and behavior — Alzheimer’s is incurable and results in eventual death. Still, as someone with a competitive spirit that could rival anyone’s in, well, history, Summitt is battling Alzheimer’s as only she knows how, by believing she can overcome. This makes it easy to be inspired by Summitt’s willingness to openly discuss her struggles. As such, below are motivational quotes from Summitt.

You can’t always be the strongest or most talented or most gifted person in the room, but you can be the most competitive. Competition allows you to influence your opponent.

Teamwork is what makes common people capable of uncommon results.

The willingness to experiment with change may be the most essential ingredient to success at anything.

If you’re ever in trouble think “left foot, right foot, breathe” and go forward.

For an in-depth look at Summitt’s life and her battles with Alzheimer’s, pick up a copy of her knew memoir, Sum It Up.

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