Welcome! As a coach, I wanted to share information about my basketball interests. The reason for choosing "Massey Basketball" is to make sure people understand this is not an official blog of Galesburg HS. The blog is designed to provide information about the Streaks and basketball, motivation, and anything that interests me.
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Tyler Summitt Coaching
In August, Tyler Summitt was meticulously prepared --
his standard operating procedure -- to propose to his high school sweetheart,
AnDe Ragsdale. The fact that he'd recently undergone an emergency appendectomy
was of no consequence. Even with quite literally a tender side, he showed his
"He was still able to go on a walk with me,"
Ragsdale said of how Tyler popped the question. "He had this beautiful
Bible made for me, and he read a verse out of it. On the front of it he had
engraved, 'Mr. and Mrs. Summitt.' It was perfect; it was simple and sweet, and
that's what I love. He was great … despite having a really sore abdomen."
We all remember the photos of him
when he was little with his mom. I see the man he is now. I love the connection
he has to her legacy. … He'll do great things for us. And he's going to have
great success in women's basketball.
coach Terri Mitchell
Indeed, once Tyler has a plan, virtually nothing is
going to stop him from seeing it through. Remind you of anybody?
Tyler, the only child of Pat Summitt, is a young man
now: engaged to be married and off to a flying start in his career. Which
happens to be the same job his mother did for the last 38 years: coaching
basketball. Tyler is an assistant at Marquette in Milwaukee, forging a trail
all his own.
Women's hoops fans of a certain age remember baby Tyler
in his mother's arms after her Tennessee team won the 1991 NCAA title. They
recall the dapper little boy on the bench who took so seriously the chore of
placing an orange footstool in the middle of huddles for his mom to sit on
during timeouts. They watched him grow into a teenager who played basketball.
When he was in high school, Tyler realized that coaching
wasn't just something he felt an affinity for because of his mom. It was his
"I'd been watching film all my life," Tyler
said. "When I was a kid, I would really have no idea what my mom and other
coaches were saying when they were pointing to those 10 people on the court.
But as time went on, I could start seeing the same things they did. And maybe
even point out a few things myself. I could really understand it."
As Pat said, "Once Tyler started seeing things
exactly as I did on film, I knew he was ready to coach."
Tyler guided youth basketball teams and was a regular at
Tennessee's men's and women's summer camps.
"I knew I had a passion for it," he said.
"Basketball, and the lessons I learned from it, really helped me in my
life. I wanted to share that with student-athletes."
Tyler Summitt, an assistant to
Terri Mitchell, is responsible for developing Marquette's guards and helps with
Pat Summitt's coaching tree is vast and spread across
the country. Any number of her former assistants or players would have given
Tyler a foot in the door with their programs. But when Tyler began his job
hunt, he intentionally veered away from Tennessee roots to make his own way.
Marquette coach Terri Mitchell admired Pat, but they
didn't actually know one another very well.
"I'm not going to pretend we were great old friends
or anything," Mitchell said. "We'd chat cordially when we'd cross
Which didn't happen often, other than sometimes on the
recruiting trail. Marquette and Tennessee have met just twice: in 1996, when
Mitchell was in her first year as the Golden Eagles' head coach, and in the
2011 NCAA tournament second round.
Tyler did his homework on Marquette and Mitchell,
though, and was impressed with both. However, Tyler's odds when he contacted
Mitchell weren't good. She already had a couple of very strong candidates in
mind for her open assistant's position. And she readily admits she was wary
about Tyler's age. He had graduated from Tennessee in three years and was still
just 21 when he applied at Marquette in April. He wouldn't turn 22 until
"He called, and literally it took maybe 10 minutes
and I knew I wanted to bring him in for an interview," Mitchell said.
"I got over the age issue right away. I felt like I was talking to someone
in his 30s.
"I moved quickly. We talked Friday, and I brought
him in Sunday. Hearing what he believes, his philosophies, his views on offense
and defense … his eagerness to do the job was just pouring out of him."
AP Photo/Wade Payne
Once her son began seeing film the
same way Pat Summitt did, "I knew he was ready to coach."
What's so striking about Tyler is that he has so many of
his mom's characteristics despite having a significantly different life than
she did growing up.
Pat was born in rural
Tennessee in the 1950s to a farming family that raised tobacco
and other crops, along with dairy cows. Discipline and intense physical labor
were, frankly, requirements if you wanted to eat. Pat embraced relentless
expectations and maintained them after she left the farm. But you could say she
really had little choice but to work so hard in her youth.
By contrast, Tyler grew up in a spacious home in
Knoxville. His father, R.B. Summitt, is a banker, and his mother is one of the
most respected figures in college sports.
"Look, Tyler could have been a spoiled brat,"
said Tennessee coach Holly Warlick, who has known him since he was born.
"But he wasn't that type of kid, and Pat wouldn't have allowed it. He saw
how hard she worked and the results she got. No, he didn't have to throw hay
bales or those things, but he understood the value of work."
Tyler often has told the story of how, when he was cut
from his middle school basketball team, Pat told him that if he wore out a
couple of basketballs practicing, he'd make it on the squad the next year.
Which he did.
GROWING UP SUMMITT
Before Pat Summitt's historic
1,000th victory, son Tyler shared some of his mom's secrets with Mechelle
Voepel. For a look at the story from February 2009, click here.
Voepel also retraced Pat Summitt's roots in March 2012, and found that the
values were grown on her family farm in rural Tennessee.
Mitchell has found that Tyler never needs a nudge to get
going. To the contrary, he has to have gentle reminders to slow down.
"I had to actually send him home during the summer;
he was getting in at 5 or 6 in the morning," Mitchell said. "He is so
committed, but sometimes it's my job to tell him, 'OK, you need to relax just a
Pat was 22 when she was hired as Tennessee's head coach
in 1974. It was a vastly different era in women's athletics, but even in those
days that was a lot on the plate of someone so young.
"When I took the job, I had to learn on the
fly," Pat said. "I think that Tyler has been learning all his life.
But this experience at Marquette will prepare him to be a head coach, because
he's at a completely different program and in a different conference."
While at Tennessee, Tyler walked onto the men's
basketball team and played for both Bruce Pearl and Cuonzo Martin. So he has
spent a lot of time in the men's hoops world, too, and considered going that
route to begin his career. He had opportunities to do so at some prominent
But the relationship component of women's basketball was
the deciding factor for Tyler. There's no "one-and-done" aspect to
the women's game; players usually spend four (or five) years in school and
generally get to know their coaches well. Tyler saw how players from decades
past would still come to Tennessee practices to visit his mom, and how the time
in her program influenced the rest of their lives.
Plus, Tyler felt he had a good understanding of the
psyche of female athletes, and how their sense of self-esteem/self-confidence
is critical to performance. He mentions a saying that while not universally
true, probably has truth to it: Men have to play well to feel good about
themselves, whereas women have to feel good about themselves to play well.
He has an appreciation of not just Lady Vol history but
that of women's basketball as a whole. It's clear where Tyler's admiration for
strong women comes from, and that respect is a key part of both his personal
life and career.
"Somebody once asked me if I was ever jealous of
all the women that Tyler was always around at Tennessee," said Ragsdale,
who has been dating him for five years. "And I was like, 'No! They helped
him develop into this awesome man that I get to be around.' Definitely, that
was a huge attraction for me about him. He's really not like a lot of other
guys, especially his age, and I noticed that right away."
Ragsdale, like Tyler, is a native of Knoxville, and she
is finishing her senior year at Tennessee. On her holiday visit to Milwaukee,
she and Tyler -- two Southern kids enjoying a very different climate -- went
out one day to make snow angels.
"We were the only ones outside," she said,
laughing. "And we figured that was because everyone else there is just
used to it."
Tyler Summitt and fiance AnDe
Ragsdale have been together five years." She got to know my mom before
Alzheimer's, which is a big thing for me," he said.
Facing tough times
Ragsdale, who played soccer in high school, is majoring
in kinesiology and wants to be a physical therapist. She and Tyler are both
driven people, but she's the mellower of the two, which helps balance him out.
She's also the one to whom he can reveal the emotions he feels most deeply.
Tyler saw signs that alarmed him before his mother's
2011 diagnosis of early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type.
"There were things that somebody else who didn't
know her as well as he did maybe wouldn't have noticed," Ragsdale said.
"But he said, 'This isn't like her.'"
Tyler had hoped perhaps one day he and his mother would
coach together. Certainly, lots of Tennessee fans had that vision, too. But her
illness meant that a career most people figured would extend another decade was
altered. Pat moved into an emeritus role at Tennessee following the 2011-12
season, before her 60th birthday in June.
Tyler helped mom Pat Summitt
celebrate the 1996 national championship.
Tyler educated himself about the disease and tackled the
treatment head-on with his mother. He was heavily involved in the setup of the
Pat Summitt Foundation, which benefits Alzheimer's research. It would be
understandable for him to feel grief, melancholy and even anger about his
mother's illness and the changes it brought to their lives. But Tyler hasn't
succumbed to those emotions.
"People say that he shows a strong front, but it's
really not a front," Ragsdale. "He's the type of person who, if a
problem arises, even something as tragic as Alzheimer's, he doesn't mourn over
it. He says, 'Let's figure out how to deal with it.' That was what he was
showing to the world, but that was all I saw, too.
"But finally, I had to sit him down and say, 'OK,
you've got to tell me what's really going on inside your head and your heart,
because nobody can keep it this much together when you're
dealing with everything you are.' He couldn't let anything out, because he had
to be strong. So I said, 'You can cry around me. Or if you want, I'll cry for
Tyler said one of his mother's greatest lessons to him
was the way she balanced a demanding career in the public eye and still showed
so much devotion to her loved ones.
"It comes down to how you prioritize your
time," Tyler said. "My priorities are my faith, my family and my
passion for basketball. I'm not known for doing much else outside of those
And in Ragsdale, Tyler has someone who shares his
"We've been dating since high school, so she was
there when my mom was winning national championships and was at the height of
her career," Tyler said. "She went through my parents' divorce with
me. She got to know my mom before Alzheimer's, which is a big thing for me.
"Because she's seen the transformation that my mom
and I have gone through. Anybody who's a coach has to have somebody you can
sometimes lean on, because in our profession, the highs are pretty high but the
lows can be pretty low. AnDe is that person for me."
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Tyler Summitt, on hand when Pat
Summitt was presented the Arther Ashe Courage Award at the 2012 ESPYS, has
helped his mom tackle her treatment for dementia.
His own journey
Tyler said his X's and O's philosophies are an amalgam
of all he has experienced watching and playing basketball. As a coach, he's
definitely not a carbon copy of his mother. Although Mitchell jokes that she
has seen from Tyler "the stare" that his mom was famous for when she
wasn't happy with a player (or referee).
Tyler also has traits like his father, including an
affable, people-friendly confidence in communicating.
"Fair or not fair, the children of coaches get a
lot of spotlight," said Baylor's Kim Mulkey, who once sought out Pat's
advice about combining motherhood and coaching. "Tyler embraced that
spotlight; he wasn't afraid of it. His mother and his dad raised him well. He's
a natural, and he'll be a head coach at a very young age."
Mitchell agrees. She appreciates Tyler's
championship-oriented mentality. He was born a Vol, but his focus now is fully
on the Golden Eagles. Marquette, which has made seven NCAA appearances under
Mitchell, is 7-5 this season. The Golden Eagles have been hit very hard by
injuries and have just one senior, but Mitchell has an upbeat, "just keep
going" mentality. Tyler fits right in.
Associate head coach Michelle Nason and assistant
Christina Quaye, a former Marquette player, are also on Mitchell's staff with
Tyler. Just as Pat was known for empowering her assistants, Mitchell does the
same thing as a mentor.
"It is fun to watch Tyler coach, because I can see
him making the same changes in games that I would make," Pat said.
"Terri has obviously put a lot of trust in him and given him a lot of
responsibility, and he is grateful for the opportunity."
In December, Pat visited Milwaukee as Marquette had
a "We Back
Pat" promotion at the Golden Eagles' game against Toledo
to raise funds for Summitt's foundation.
"When his mom came out and spent the week with us,
I was so touched by his love for her," Mitchell said of Tyler. "It
told me everything about who he is. We all remember the photos of him when he was
little with his mom. I see the man he is now. I love the connection he has to
her legacy. He is very proud of her.
"But he's going to pave his own path. He's doing
that right now at Marquette. For however long that path stays at Marquette,
he'll do great things for us. And he's going to have great success in women's
Mechelle Voepel joined ESPN.com in
1996 and covers women's college hoops, the WNBA and additional collegiate
sports for espnW. Born in Los Angeles, she grew up 40 miles north of St. Louis
and is a lifelong Cardinals fan still basking in amazement over their 2011
World Series title.