Summitt co-author talks about coach's new memoir

Summitt co-author talks about coach's new memoir

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Pat Summitt (source: utk.edu) Pat Summitt (source: utk.edu)

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - After stepping down as head coach of the Lady Vols last week, a publisher announced Tuesday that Pat Summitt has a book deal to tell her life story. It will be Summitt's third book with co-author and Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins.

Jenkins and Summitt are much more than writing partners; they're also very good friends. Jenkins was the one Summitt trusted to break the national news of her Alzheimer's diagnosis last August. She was also here in Knoxville for the news conference last week where Summitt talked about stepping down.

"We're very different. You know I'm a Yankee from New York City and she's this steel southern magnolia. I don't know, maybe the difference is why we get along so well," Jenkins said.

She came to Knoxville last week to visit Summitt and start working on her memoir.

"It's going to cover growing up on the farm in Henrietta, Tennessee, to this past year and everything she experienced with her diagnosis and coaching this team," Jenkins said.

The news conference was one of the few times the coach has spoken to the media since her Alzheimer's diagnosis.

"That wasn't a good day or Pat rising to a big occasion. That's how Pat is day in and day out," Jenkins said.

But she has noticed changes.

"She has trouble drawing which is why she can't manage the clipboard in the huddle anymore. She asks you more than she used to what time is it or what time do I have to be there? A little bit of a struggle occasionally with a sense of direction, you know do I go left or right here?" Jenkins explained.

They both knew it was time to tell this story.

"The path of this disease can be so unpredictable it's hard to know if she will be doing this well next spring. We don't know so let's take advantage of this year," Jenkins said.

"This book provides me with yet another opportunity to do what I love to do most, which is to get up and go to work on an exciting challenge every day," Summitt said in a statement.

A title hasn't been decided, but the coach's suggestion is "Summitt Up." It's scheduled to be released in time for next year's final four.

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