President Obama praises Pat Summitt

I have tried my best to point out President Obama’s political and economic shortcomings but I have to give him credit for doing this today.

President Barack Obama awards Pat Summitt, former women's college basketball head coach, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 29, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Photo by AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

President Barack Obama awards Pat Summitt, former women’s college basketball head coach, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 29, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Obama hails Pat Summitt as role model in medal ceremony

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama paid tribute today to former Tennessee Lady Vols Coach Pat Summitt, presenting her with the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

At a White House ceremony this afternoon, Obama reflected on Summitt’s legendary career at Tennessee, her status as a role model to the young women she coached, and her tenacity in confronting the health problem that led to her retirement last spring.

“Anyone feeling sorry for Pat will find themselves on the receiving end of that famous glare,” Obama said.

Summitt was among more than a dozen political and cultural legends to receive the medal. The award is given to individuals “who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt raises her arm in celebration, after Tennessee defeated Stanford 64-48 for the NCAA National Championship at the St. Pete Time's Forum in Tampa, FL on April 8, 2008.<br /><br />
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<p>Photo by <a title=Saul Young

Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt raises her arm in celebration, after Tennessee defeated Stanford 64-48 for the NCAA National Championship at the St. Pete Time’s Forum in Tampa, FL on April 8, 2008.

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Summitt, 59, stepped down as the University of Tennessee women’s head basketball coach in April, just eight months after disclosing that she has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type.

Her remarkable, 38-year career included 1,098 victories and eight national championships. She was named NCAA Coach of the Year eight times and has been a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame since 1999. She now holds the position of head coach emeritus at UT.

Besides Summitt, others receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; singer and songwriter Bob Dylan; astronaut John Glenn; novelist Toni Morrison; Israeli President Shimon Peres; and retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, left, shakes hand with Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma before an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., on Jan. 7, 2006. Tennessee won, 89-80.

Photo by Wade Payne

Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, left, shakes hand with Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma before an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., on Jan. 7, 2006. Tennessee won, 89-80.

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More details as they develop online and in Wednesday’s News Sentinel.

Tennessee's coach Pat Summitt, left, reacts with her team as they pull ahead in the final minutes against Connecticut to win 68-67, in Hartford, Conn., Saturday, January, 8, 2005.

Photo by Steve Miller, Associated Press

Tennessee’s coach Pat Summitt, left, reacts with her team as they pull ahead in the final minutes against Connecticut to win 68-67, in Hartford, Conn., Saturday, January, 8, 2005.

President Barack Obama looks to Pat Summitt, former women's college basketball head coach, as he awards her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 29, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

AP

President Barack Obama looks to Pat Summitt, former women’s college basketball head coach, as he awards her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 29, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Freedom to former basketball coach Pat Summitt during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May 29, 2012. The Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor. It's presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the national interests of the United States, to world peace or to other significant endeavors. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

AP

President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Freedom to former basketball coach Pat Summitt during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May 29, 2012. The Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor. It’s presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the national interests of the United States, to world peace or to other significant endeavors. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Pat Summitt, former women's college basketball head coach, talks with Bob Dylan after they received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 29, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

AP

Pat Summitt, former women’s college basketball head coach, talks with Bob Dylan after they received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 29, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Pat Summitt, former women's college basketball head coach, looks on as musician Bob Dylan, right, and former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens shake hands after they received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 29, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

AP

Pat Summitt, former women’s college basketball head coach, looks on as musician Bob Dylan, right, and former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens shake hands after they received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, May 29, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

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