USBWA Names Women's Most Courageous Award After Tennessee's Pat Summitt
Summitt, the Hall of Famer who has won 1,098 games, best for any male or female basketball coach, has been battling early onset dementia, Alzheimer type, which she publicly revealed in late August prior to the start of the season.
Upon presenting the honor, Mel Greenberg, the women's representative on the USBWA's board of directors, announced the award in the future will be known as the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award, making it the second such namesake in the past week placed upon the awards list of honors for women.
The national women's player of the year is now known as the Ann Meyers Drysdale National Women's Player of the Year and the former UCLA All-American who is a Hall of Famer as well as vice president of the WNBA Phoenix Mercury and NBA Phoenix Sun, was at the breakfast to make the presentation, which went to Baylor sensation Brittney Griner.
"We really wanted to honor Pat in some way when the discussion of putting namesakes on the women's awards began," Greenberg said. "In light of her tremendous courage to battle the disease in public while continuing to coach made it seem a natural that this was the most meaningful of our awards to be associated with Summitt's legacy."
"She's our John Wooden," said Baylor's Kim Mulkey, who earned the USBWAwomen's coach of the year award.
Summitt, who was here earlier in the weekend to be honored with all the past U.S. Olympic women's basketball coaches, was made aware of USBWA intentions to honor her with the namesake and expressed her approval.
"When Pat made the announcement, we didn't know what direction that was going to lead us as a team, as a staff, and the effect it would have on women's basketball," Warlick said. "And I will tell you this: the fans everywhere we go have been absolutely incredible as a tribute to Pat, just outside of basketball, her character. It's been an honor and privilege to work with her.
"When she announced she had the dementia -- her life has been an open book -- and it is just fitting she told the country that she had dementia, and we're going to deal with it, and let's move on. And that's what she has done."
Warlick praised the sportswriters who have covered the story of Summitt's battle during the season.
"The writers and the media have been very gracious to her and very sensative to her disease and how she has handled it and gone through this year. So I appreciate how you have handled her and she is going to continue to be a spokesperson for Tennessee -- I hope she is going to continue to oach. Right now, everybody asks, `Ia she going to continue to coach,' she is the coach of Tennessee and I hope to just continue to help her and have the opportunity to help our program win basketball games."