Today I found out Pat Summitt, Tennessee Lady Vols Basketball Coach and current all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history, has early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type.
This made me incredibly sad. I wrote about her prowess in a previous blog post, almost a year ago to date. She has always fascinated me – a woman at the top of the heap of the NCAA coaching roster, championed for her tenacity and fire at the helm of the Lady Vols program. She was offered the chance to become the Men’s Basketball coach and turned it down, calling it a “lateral move.”
Before I stepped foot on a court competitively (I played purely recreationally until trying out and making the team my freshman year in high school), I used to dream of playing at Tennessee, purely because of Coach Summitt. Sure, she scared the shit out of me, but that was part of the appeal. I respected her, and I felt like she could make anyone a winner – you just had to listen to Summitt.
To borrow from the USA Today article I linked to, “Summitt, 59, will continue to coach, and that’s the part of Tuesday’s shocking news that makes it seem as if she is staring down her disease with the same icy glare she made famous while winning eight national championships, 1,071 games and the respect of a nation that didn’t pay much attention to women’s sports in the days when she was growing up.”
“Summitt learned of her diagnosis at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Jenkins wrote that Summitt almost punched the first doctor who told her. When a second advised her to retire immediately, Summitt said, ‘Do you know who you’re dealing with?'”
Last week, I escaped the population density of NYC and flew south, landing in the small seaside town of Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. My family has been checking out the island for a while now, and it’s very possible that it will become a semi-permanent destination.
Ocean Isle Beach boasted a whopping population of 426 at the 2000 census. I think it’s been steadily growing since then, but there exists a calm sense of anti-development on the island. The canal side (see above picture) stretches out blue and green and tangoes with the Intracoastal Waterway, while the Atlantic Ocean laps at the sand on the other side. My favorite time of a beach day anywhere is low tide, when the sand takes a stand against the ocean, and low tide here created a city avenue-wide expanse of shore.
I came to North Carolina beaches almost every summer as a kid, and being there last week tugged at an old part of me. Now one of the adults with a beer in a koozie, hiding from the sun under an umbrella (melanoma is not for winners), I looked out at the Atlantic Ocean and remembered boogie boarding in waves I once thought were 10 feet tall, fishing with my dad and cousins, taking freckled pictures with my sister in coordinating summer outfits, and eating shrimp in restaurants built on top of piers.
Walking on the beach my last day in town, The Black Keys doing their thing inside my ears, I (gracefully) clomped and (inadvertently) splashed in low-tide puddles scattered across the beach, happy to be barefoot and on vacation, if only for a little while.
I used to live in Queens (GASP) in an overwhelmingly Spanish section of Jackson Heights. My building was near-brand-new, owned and watched over by a little Asian couple who referred to themselves as The Tings. Susan and Austin (in no way their real names) Ting were pretty intense about a few things – namely the elevator and the deck. The deck was always locked, possibly out of fear that one of us crazy tenants would accidentally launch ourselves onto Roosevelt Ave below, or more likely/god forbid we would touch one of the plants they had placed sporadically across the space. The deck weirdness can be summed up by the fact that they nailed down the tables and benches.
This rigidity was also found in the elevator. Susan often scolded/warned that if anyone should hold the elevator, it would break. I guess someone refused to heed her warning, and one day, a sign appeared. A few days later, this correction was made:
I believe I snorted the first time I saw it. I snapped that picture, and good thing, because Susan ripped it down shortly thereafter.