Former Tennessee Vol Brittany Jackson says Coach Pat Summitt made her ‘mentally tough’

Pat Summitt
Legendary University of Tennessee women's basketball coach, Pat Summitt and Brittany Jackson. Photo provided courtesy of Brittany Jackson

Next month will mark two years since legendary Tennessee Vols women’s basketball coach, Pat Summitt died.

Summitt, a winner of 1,098 career coaching wins, won eight NCAA championships. She retired in 2012 when she was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

A five-time Naismith Coach of the Year, Summitt won 84% of her games as a coach and guided young minds to the next level, the WNBA.

Some of coach Summitt’s best players include Chamique Holdsclaw, Candace Parker, and Tamika Catchings.

Brittany Jackson played for coach Summitt at the University of Tennessee from 2001-2004. She helped the Vols reach the Final Four all four years and appear in the National Championship game in 2003 and 2004.

Jackson says that she’s often asked what Summitt is like and she gives them the same answer. “She was very intense and resilient,” Brittany Jackson told RESPECT Magazine’s Landon Buford.

“Now, looking back Pat pushed you and it was not like she was a person that would get in your face or cuss,” said Jackson.“She was more of the mind games type of coach, making you mentally tough and she knew that her players had a lot more to give than what we all were aware of at the time.”

Jackson’s best season under Summitt was her senior season, where she posted a shade under 9 points and shot 36% from downtown. “Pat just had a talent obviously with x’s, and o’s on the court, and her accomplishments speak for themselves,” she said.  

“But Pat was someone that challenged her players mentally. Also, she treated every one of her players the same. It didn’t matter if it was me or anyone else.”

After college at the U of Tennessee, Jackson played for the San Jose Spiders in the National Women’s Basketball League and later had stints in both the Turkish and Polish Basketball Leagues before having a cup of coffee with the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream.

These days she’s acting and modeling. Coach Summitt’s voice is still in her head as an adult, too. It had a lasting effect. “Pat would always tell us to worry about what you can control, and it is still a struggle in my everyday life,” said Jackson.  

“It is just something that continues to stick out and you can control your attitude and work ethic, but the things you cannot control are things you cannot worry about them.”


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