Her childhood on a Tennessee farm lent Summitt a rural hardiness. When she gave birth to her only child, Tyler, in 1990, she went into labor while on a recruiting trip in Pennsylvania and urged the pilots to fly her home so her son would be born in Tennessee.
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She was born Patricia Sue Head on June 14, 1952, in Clarksville, Tenn. The fourth of five children, she slept in a baby bed until she was 6. Her farmer father, Richard Head, was a disciplinarian who, she recalled, admonished his children that “cows don’t take a day off.”
During the day, she joined her three older brothers in baling hay and chopping tobacco. At night, she played basketball against her brothers and neighbors.
“I was the only girl,” Summitt once said. “They beat me up, but it made me tougher.”Summit began her career coaching the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers when she was just 22 years old. I cannot help wonder if her toughness, bluntness and focus was a reflection of her rural, working class upbringing.