This weekend, the world took a break from all the football action to watch

as Lady Vol head coach Pat Summitt reached a new plateau in college


With Sunday's win over Wisconsin, Summitt gained her 700th victory, and

became the fastest women's coach ever to do so. Only Texas head coach Jody

Conradt joins Summitt in the women's NCAA basketball 700-win club.

After the game, her counterpart had nothing but praise for Summitt.

"She's an icon. She is the single biggest ambassador for this game, and if

she ever leaves, it will never be the same," Wisconsin coach Jan Albright

said. "The only people you can compare her to are John Wooden and Dean

Smith. No one else has had this kind of impact on the game."

When I met Coach Summitt for the first time this year, I have to admit that

I was completely in awe of such a huge figure in basketball. For the last

26 years, Summitt has graced the sidelines as a head coach, and because of

her accomplishments, she demands attention and respect.

But during our first meeting, it became evident to me why Summitt is such

an irreplaceable icon in her field. Not only does she have the knowledge of

basketball to run the court, but she has a way of teaching and nurturing

students few coaches can claim.

In fact, Summitt loves that aspect of the game. When asked last year why

she has yet to leave UT for a WNBA coach's position, she made it clear that

her biggest achievement is molding student-athletes to maturity.

Summitt takes each incoming Lady Vol under her wing, and becomes a sort-of

surrogate mother to them. Though she holds a strict demeanor on the court,

she takes care of her players and helps teach them lessons about basketball

and life.

Perhaps Summitt's knack for building up her players is exactly why she

holds so many NCAA records. Her players grow to love and respect her, and

raise their games to a new level as a result.

She isn't held in awe simply because of her 700 wins in 27 years. Her six

NCAA national championships are second only to UCLA's John Wooden. Her

squads have held at least 20-win seasons for the last 23 consecutive

seasons, and gone to the final four 15 times in her tenure as head


What impresses me most about Coach Summitt isn't necessarily her basketball

skills, but the span of her involvement in UT, the Knoxville community and

the rest of the country.

Her motivational skills continually put her in high demand as the featured

speaker around the nation. In the university, Summitt has a 100 percent

graduation rate for her Lady Vol athletes.

And even her off-court actions gain honors.

Over the past several years, Coach Summitt has received several awards

pertaining to her role as an influential woman. Her awards vary from being

named as one of the "25 Most Influential Working Mothers" to being a 1998

"Glamour Woman of the Year."

Too often in college athletics, it is only the action on the court or field

that garners attention. But when it comes to Pat Summitt, there is no way

to describe her as only a head coach.

Summitt is an icon of what a head coach should be: a teacher, a role model,

a mother figure, and a motivator. She's an all-round stronghold in women's

basketball, and now she's one with 700 victories at that.