When legendary Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt announced last summer she’d been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, Alzheimer’s-type, people took action.
Fans sent cards and packages and players put together a book of letters. Many found various ways to raise money for her Pat Summitt Foundation for Alzheimer’s Research, including running, selling T-shirts and hosting fundraisers.
Musician Jenn Marshall’s expression of love for the woman she considers her hero was to write a song, called “We Back Pat – Reach for the Summitt.” The tune, which she also sings, was released last week under the Ethel Grands label, and is available on iTunes for purchase. Proceeds will go towards the Foundation.
Though the project is a fundraiser, ironically, Marshall had been thinking of doing a tribute song for Summitt prior to her dementia disclosure.
“She’d been my mentor for a very long time,” Marshall said. “The impact she’s had on people can’t be overstated.”
Marshall said her family moved from California to Mississippi in 1997, when she was in middle school. Her stepfather was deployed in the military, and her mother was rarely home due to work. Marshall was left to care for her two younger siblings, which left no time to play basketball, which she loved dearly.
It was that year that HBO did a documentary on the Lady Vols, as they fought through a tough season and won a National Championship. Marshall watched the entire series, and it helped inspire her though challenging times. Since then she’s watched the episodes over and over again.
“I learned so much from that, and it got me through a tough transition,” Marshall said. “Since then I’ve always followed Pat Summitt and the Lady Vols.”
Marshall’s lyrics paint a picture of admiration:
She had us overcoming fears
Had us setting goals
Yeah, she set the tone
Most winningest –
Her victories are set in stone
Go ‘head and watch her throne
We need a hundred lettermans to
Put her patches on
Every time she comes around
Everyone latches on
To every word she’ll say
Check out her play-by-play
She taught us is we’re gonna talk, we better walk that way
I can’t wait
Wait, I can’t say CAN’T to her
The single has already received the support of several celebrity athletes, including former Lady Vol Chamique Holdsclaw, who posted a screen shot of the “We Back Pat” iTunes download on her Twitter profile for her followers to see. Retweets about the single have been flooding Twitter, including a few from basketball player Daniel Artest, who called for his followers to download the song.
Word is getting out about “We Back Pat,” but Marshall doesn’t know if Summitt has heard it yet.
“I have no idea,” she said.
“We Back Pat – Reach for the Summitt” can be found and purchased here. Proceeds benefit the Pat Summitt Foundation.