Maura Healey Pens Heartfelt Tribute to Pat Summitt for ESPN
Count Attorney General Maura Healey among those mourning the loss of legendary women’s college basketball coach Pat Summitt.
Summitt, who led the Tennessee Lady Vols to eight national titles during her 38 seasons at the helm of the program, died Tuesday at 64 after battling dementia. Her 1,098 victories made her the winningest coach in Division I history—men or women.
“Pat Summitt is rightly hailed as a pioneer, a trailblazer, a role model and an inspiration,” Healey wrote in a heartfelt tribute for ESPN. “She got the most out of her players, put women’s hoops on the map and profoundly changed the perception of gender across American sports culture. She broke records, pushed teams and players beyond what they even imagined was possible, and she showed that girls can play.”
Healey, who played basketball during her college years at Harvard, recounted a visit to Tennessee when she was 15. She dreamed to meet Summitt, who happened to be away on a recruiting trip.
“When I did my ball handling, shooting and zigzag drills in cold winter gyms and outdoors on playground hard-top under pelting summer sun, when I did fingertip pushups and sit-ups in my bedroom calculating that I’d play on four Olympic teams before I was done, my eye was on Pat Summitt,” Healey wrote. “Because when you were a young girl with big hoop dreams, when you thought you could do and be anything, you dreamed of playing for Pat Summitt in a Lady Vols uniform.”
Healey got the chance to scrimmage in front of Summitt a few years later during a tryout for the U.S. national team. “I remember at the end, before heading home, I wanted to go up to her and tell her how great she was. Instead, I got shy and merely mumbled something like, ‘Thanks for having me. I learned a lot.’ But, I’ll never forget, she looked at me with those steely blue eyes, and said, ‘Just keep working hard.’ That was it. No fuss, no muss. That was my first and only interaction with Pat Summitt.”
Healey described Summitt as genius and a leader, and said the country is a poorer place having lost her.
“I never got to tell her this: She mattered to me, and a whole bunch of people. And that’s a great legacy. Touching people you never knew you touched,” she wrote.
You can read Healey’s full tribute here.