NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Belmont women's basketball team will honor long-time University of Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt by designating Thursday's matchup with USC Upstate as "We Back Pat" night. Belmont becomes only the second team in the state of Tennessee and is one of only a handful outside of the SEC to designate a "We Back Pat" game this season.
During warmups, the women's basketball team, and throughout the game, the coaching staff and official game workers will all be donning special limited edition "WE BACK PAT" orange shirts in support of Coach Summitt and the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund, which was launched November 27, 2011 by Pat Summitt, and her son Tyler, after her diagnosis of early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type at the age of 59.
The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund believes no family should have to hear a diagnosis like Pat's: early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. The fund will make grants to nonprofits which provide: education and awareness of Alzheimer's, its onset and treatment; support services to patients, their families and caregivers; and research to treat, prevent, cure and ultimately eradicate Alzheimer's.
"Coach Pat Summitt is truly a global sports icon and her impact on the world of women's basketball is so immense that it will continue to be felt for generations of players, coaches and fans to come," said Head Coach Brittney Ezell. "It would be nearly impossible to put into words how valuable her contributions to the basketball community have been but what I can put into words are a few of the values that she represents as a person and as a coach. Integrity. Respect. Hard work. Discipline. Commitment. Loyalty.
"Growing up in Tennessee, I always admired Coach Summitt and even competing against her in the SEC as a player and assistant coach, I carried the utmost respect for her, her staff and her program. Her competitive spirit and dedication to her players, program and University are unparalleled and something that I daily seek to achieve as a young coach and in our program. When I took my first head coaching job in 2005, Coach Summitt went out of her way to remind me that "we Tennesseans stick together no matter what" and that I could call on her at any time. And so now, as the head coach of the Belmont University Bruins, I hope that we, as a program and coaching staff, are upholding our end of the bargain by sticking by her through her difficult moments. It is our program's great honor to be one of only three schools in the state of Tennessee to host a "WE BACK PAT" night.
"Merely saying thank you and honoring her on one night during the season is nowhere near the amount gratitude that should be shown to this incredible woman but I hope that she, her staff and program know that we, as fellow Tennesseans, will stick together. We will back Pat officially on Thursday night but I know that our program and the Belmont community will back her in our thoughts and prayers every day."
To make a tax deductible donation to the The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund, visit www.patsummitt.org, or text PAT to 74700 to join and donate (Msg & Data rates may apply. Reply STOP to cancel or HELP for help. Donations benefit the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee [CFMT]).
Thursday night's game is slated to begin at 7 p.m. The contest can be seen live on ASun.TV and heard live via the internet on the Bruins Sports Network. Live stats and a Twitter feed (@BelmontWBB) will also be available. Residents of Williamson County who visit a special link and enter the promotional code: "WILLIAMSON" will be able to purchase tickets at greatly reduced group rate prices. With the code, tickets for adults are $3 while tickets for children are only $1. Click here to use the promo code to purchase tickets.