Sum It Up: A Book in Review

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Sum It Up: A Book in Review
May 6, 2013

Pat Summitt is a name synonymous with winning, fighting and persevering. Millions have seen her storied legacy on the court as she sculpted women’s basketball into what it is today. However, there is a side of Pat Summitt that few know. A side that not only makes her a hall of fame coach, but also a hall of fame mother, friend and human being.

With the help of Sally Jenkins, Pat Summit tells her story in her memoir, Sum It Up. The book takes readers throughout the life of one of the most inspirational figures this generation will ever know.

From the fields of Henrietta, Tennessee, where Summitt grew up, to the court in Thompson-Boling Arena on the campus of the University of Tennessee, where Summitt coached for four decades, Sum It Up serves as a tell-all for the life of Pat Summitt.

It begins with her upbringing, living in a structured house where she learned discipline, responsibility, and that “never give up” attitude that would become so well known over the next few decades.

It takes you through her college playing days at University of Tennessee at Martin, where she would experience life outside of her small hometown for the first time.

The book travels through the Olympics, the eight National Championships, the 1,098 career victories, and then finally the diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease that Pat Summitt refuses to let dictate her life.

The book also discusses Summitt’s turbulent relationship with the University of Connecticut’s Women’s Basketball coach Geno Auriemma, who she said pushed her to be her best and was one of the few people who matched her intensity on the sidelines. Over the years, Connecticut and Tennessee’s rivalry would pack stadiums and be featured on national television, which is why it was so shocking when Summitt said she would no longer play Connecticut because she believed Auriemma was turning it into something it shouldn’t be. Summitt shares some of the words exchanged over the years that put their relationship on rocky ground, but insists they’re friendship has been renewed.

But perhaps what this books teaches best is the importance people in your life can make, a lesson Summitt has been teaching for many years. The book tells of individual player and team stories: stories of tears and laughter, winning and losing, ecstasy and heartbreak. The book may be a memoir, but Pat Summitt and Sally Jenkins make sure it is also a tribute to all those people who were involved in Summitt’s life in one way or another.

It is the personal stories and connections with people that allow you to see a side of Pat Summitt in this book that was rarely visible to the public. Summitt says that her diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease affects her memory of games and scores, but not of players. This book is a testament to that.

One of Summitt’s favorite things to say is “you win in life with people.” If that is the case, Sum It Up shows that if every person in this world were like Pat Summitt, we would all be undefeated.

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