Herald-News Publisher Sara Jane Locke

My family and friends know how passionate I am about the University of Tennessee, and yes, my blood runs Tennessee orange.

The news of the passing of coach Pat Summitt this week was a shock and it is really hard to accept that she is really gone from us.  I guess I thought that even with the horrible disease of Alzheimer’s she was invincible.

I did not have the honor of knowing her personally, but I felt like I knew her.  Being a fan and supporter of the university and even more as a fan of the Lady Vols family, one could not help but feel that way.  For all you UT Vol fans — don’t you?

So many wonderful things have been written about her over the past few days; I find myself reading and watching videos of her life and all that she accomplished every chance I get.  Haven’t you?

What an icon!  She really was! I so admired her faith, her character, her integrity, her humility, her compassion, her leadership and many more attributes.  But most of all I loved her tough, strong persona of a woman, mother, friend, mentor and coach.  And especially I loved that well known famous “Stare” of hers.  I would be watching a Lady Vols game and she would put “The Stare” on one of her players and I would sit up straight in my chair and knew that she wasn’t happy and someone better get their act together. I could feel it right through my TV. But more often than not, I loved it when she gave one of her players a hug or an “atta girl.”  Didn’t you?

For all the years I’ve watched her, I can’t think of a time that she did or said anything I thought was inappropriate — Can you?

She was a force of nature, even without trying.  I wonder if she had any idea how respected she was and was aware of the positive effect she had on so many people that she never knew. I hope she did.  I was one of those people — Were you?

I read her book “Sum It Up” years ago and loved every word of it.  If you haven’t read it, go get a copy; you will be inspired.  I believe the Lord puts people in our lives for many different reasons. Pat Summitt was a blessing from God to all who knew her or knew of her. Her legacy will be one that many will aspire to and it wouldn’t hurt a bit if we tried to emulate her in some small way as we go about our daily lives.  I’ll try — Will you? 

Of all the people in the world who are dealing with this terrible disease, who would have thought this would have happened to Pat Summitt?  But through all her trials and tribulations that came with this disease, she never disappointed us, did she? She showed us we are all children of God and our faith should be first and foremost in our daily lives. By her actions she showed us how to face adversity, be thankful for every day — good or bad — and how to attack our problems with a fierce determination and not give up no matter what!  She showed us how determined she was to be the best she could be no matter what! And by doing so, she encouraged others to do the same no matter what the circumstances are. 

Pat Summitt was an exceptional and inspirational role model — Don’t you agree?

I’m of the age now that I can say, “What in Heaven’s name is this world coming to?” — as each generation does. I can remember my mother saying the same thing about my generation. I worry what will become of my granddaughters in a world — and our nation — of so much turmoil and political upheaval. Where have our morals and respect of others gone? But the truth is: No matter what is going on around us, we can still continue to just do the right thing.  That is what Pat Summitt did. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more people would follow the example of the way Pat Summitt lived her life?  

Intergity matters! Character matters! Honesty matters!  Being respectful of others matters! Expecting the best from others matters! These things mattered to Pat Summitt.  

Wouldn’t our world and everyday lives be better if we had more people like Pat Summitt in it.  I think so — Don’t you?

I loved Pat Summitt — Didn’t you?

“Whatever it is that you desire to do in life, have the courage and the commitment to do it, and to do it to your absolute best.”

Rest in Peace Pat Summitt (1952-2016).

Sara Jane Locke can be contacted at sarajane.locke@rheaheraldnews.com.