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Sum It Up by Pat Summitt

New memoir from legendary basketball coach

Sum It Up by Pat Summitt

Sum It Up

Pat Summitt with Sally Jenkins
  • Imprint: Crown Archetype
  • On sale: March 5, 2013
  • Price: $28.00
  • Pages: 416
  • ISBN: 9780385346870
Contact: Tammy Blake


Legendary Basketball Coach Shares Lessons She Has Learned During Her Extraordinary Life On and Off the Court

Facing a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s, Pat Summitt reveals the grit behind the glory, recalling her hardscrabble childhood and the roots of the fearsome determination that has made her a legendary leader.


From her childhood as a country girl to her record-breaking career as the NCAA’s winningest basketball coach, Pat Summitt has been on a remarkable journey, one marked by endurance and triumph. Now, for the first time, she tells the complete story, revealing the origins of that unquenchable thirst for victory and candidly discussing her recent diagnosis with Alzheimer’s-type dementia at age 59. The sum total of an extraordinary life, SUM IT UP (Crown Archetype; On Sale March 5, 2013; $28.00) explores all the factors, including:

 Life lessons from a tough-as-nails yet big-hearted family: Raised in the 1950s and ’60s on a farm near Clarksville, Tennessee, Summitt and her roughhousing brothers worked day and night to meet the exacting standards of their father, whose fierceness was matched only by his generosity. She transports us to a household where the value of doing a job right—in any kind of weather, no matter how much raw strength was required—was instilled early on. In poignant scenes, Summitt pays special tribute to her mother, who did triple duty, on the farm, in the house, and at the store she and her husband owned.

Summitt’s own rise as a college athlete—before Title IX: “I remember the searing smell of the ammonia that my college coach waved under my nose,” Summitt writes, “and heavy polyester uniforms with crooked numerals, and the dark hotbox auxiliary gyms with no air-conditioning where they stuck women.” She went on to transform hundreds of female athletes into champions, and now she recounts her own college experience as she followed her dreams at the University of Tennessee at Martin. She also revisits her student life off the court, which included pledging to the Chi Omega sorority. Slowly building an inner strength that matched her powerful physical strength, she emerged with an unstoppable drive, leading her team to a silver medal at the 1976 Olympics.

The love of the game: In exhilarating, you-are-there recollections, Summitt reveals new details about her 38 extraordinary years at the helm of the Tennessee Lady Vols, including the rise of numerous superstars such as Chamique Holdsclaw, Alexis Hornbuckle, and Candace Parker. From recruiting in the early days, when many high school basketball programs restricted girls to half-court games, to going into labor on recruiting trip (she overruled the pilot’s decision to land in Virginia; her son would not be born in the home state of a rival team), Summitt lets us in on the challenges behind the wins—particularly the Cinderella season of 1996–97, which rocketed the team to superstardom. She also charts the course of her nearly lifelong friendship with Holly Warlick, who joined the Lady Vols when Summitt was the new head coach and is now taking the reins in the wake of her mentor’s retirement. 

Motherhood, including her transition to life as a single mom: Tracing Summitt’s 26-year marriage to banker R.B. Summitt, from their courtship to their shattering breakup in 2006, SUM IT UP captures a lifetime of emotional transformations. Yet her struggle to become a mother, enduring six miscarriages, is the chapter of her life that ultimately brought the greatest reward: her son, Tyler, who is following in his mother’s footsteps as an assistant coach for the Marquette women’s basketball team. In moving prose, she celebrates the immeasurable gifts of raising a child.

 Her courageous approach to Alzheimer’s: From her first symptoms of early-onset dementia to the diagnosis and its aftermath, Summitt has wise words for patients and caregivers alike, including her intensive regimen of brain exercises (which may slow the progress of the disease) and her new role as a champion of research through the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund.

 As a woman who has always strived to be the best and to do her best—in both her personal and professional life—Summitt stays strong, no matter the odds. Written as she faces perhaps her greatest challenge yet, SUM IT UP is a rousing memoir of resilience.



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