University of Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma remembered arguably his biggest rival and friend Pat Summitt after her passing this week.
Summitt was the head coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers women's basketball team for nearly four decades. During her groundbreaking career, she had nearly 1,100 wins, eight national championships and appeared in 18 final fours.
Summitt, who is the winningest college basketball coach, pushed women's basketball onto the national stage and elevated the popularity of women's sports. Her impact on the game was undeniable, even to her fiercest rival Auriemma.
"She had the foresight, the vision, and the intensity level," Auriemma said. "And she made it like, 'hey, it's OK for women to stare you down on the sideline and be upset and show emotion.'"
Auriemma said Tuesday was a "sad day" for him and "everyone in the women's basketball community."
"One would be hard-pressed to name a figure who had a more indelible impact on her profession than Pat Summitt. Pat set the standard for which programs like ours dreamed of achieving, both on and off the court," Auriemma said in a statement on Tuesday.
Auriemma said women's basketball "reached new heights thanks to her success." He added that her success "came from an incomparable work ethic and a larger than life, yet, compassionate personality."
"But her legacy is illustrated most clearly by the Lady Vols who went on to achieve greatness in basketball and in life," Auriemma said.
In 2012, the hall of fame coach stepped down from her role with the Lady Vols about a year after she was diagnosed with early onset dementia. Summitt dedicated her life to fighting Alzheimers with research through her foundation.
Auriemma was not alone in the sports world for honoring Summitt.
"I think it's important we carry on her legacy and every little girl that plays basketball growing up knows what Pat Summitt has done for the sport," former UConn player Kara Wolters said.
Thank you, for being the pioneer. Thank you, for defining greatness. Thank you. Rest in Peace, Coach Summitt. pic.twitter.com/eUXKnrl9RF— UConn Women's Hoops (@UConnWBB) June 28, 2016
Former UConn player Meghan Pattyson called Summitt "an intimidating presence."
"She was larger than life and she was who we aspired to beat and sort of emulate," Pattyson said.
Former UConn star Swin Cash was heavily recruited by Summitt and remained close to her over the years.
A lot of emotion this morning. Got the news Late last night abt Coach Summit. #PrayForPat Praying for all my Tenn sis as well???? with y'all!— Swin Cash (@SwinCash) June 26, 2016
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