One of the best players ever to suit up for Tennessee, Chamique Holdsclaw, wrote about her coach and friend, Pat Summitt, for theGrio.com, on the occasion of Summitt's retirement. It's a story about how basketball facilitates bonds that can be especially powerful in times of trouble, for instance in dealing with Holdsclaw's depression, or Summitt's Alzheimer's:
I remember being at your house in 2007, right after my suicide attempt. You didn't know I tried to take my life but you opened up yourself to me and talked about your divorce, family, politics and my well being now that my grandmother was gone. Then you said something I will never forget, "Mique just do what makes you happy and what is best for you."
Those words from the most respected person in my life gave me everything I needed. You had no idea but those words resonated through my body made me secure in my decision to step away from basketball and gave me the courage to take care of my inner demons.
That conversation at your house was the first time we ever crossed that coach-player boundary. It was the first time I saw you as more than the coach with the icy glare that made me run wind sprints, you were a woman and more importantly my friend.
Now we hangout at your house on the weekends, you invite my friends -- who you've never met -- to stay at your home and go out on your boat. We even share an occasional glass of wine together, even though I still feel strange drinking in front of my coach.
That's because in my mind, no matter how old I get, no matter what your title says, and no matter where you sit on the sideline, you will always be Coach Summitt to me.