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Tuesday mourning

June 30, 2016
BRANCH

BRANCH

 

BLAKE BRANCH
News Editor | mbb029@latech.edu

Tuesday, the sports world lost a pair of coaching legends in former Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summit and Buddy Ryan, defensive coordinator of the famed ’85 Chicago Bears defense.

Both brought tenacity unmatched by their coaching peers, and both changed their respective sports for the better.

Summit found her success through sheer determination and an ability to get the most out of her players. She harked on outworking opponents and playing defense with eyes and feet, a formula that led the Lady Volunteers to eight national championships, 22 Final Fours and an all-time record for wins in men’s or women’s Division I college basketball (1,098).

Ryan was a fiery personality, known  for embracing  the  physicality  of football, something he passed on to twin sons Rex and Rob.

Buddy accepted a job as the Chicago Bears defensive coordinator in 1978, where he concocted the 46 defense. The 46 relied on sending more defenders than the offensive line and running backs could block one-on-one, and at the time, it was unstoppable. Ryan earned love and admiration from his players, as evident when they carried him off the field following the Bears Super Bowl XX win over the Patriots. The ’84 Bears defense set an NFL record for single season sacks with 72. That record still stands.

In today’s ever-evolving coaching landscape, the player-coach relationship is harder than ever to navigate, but these two pioneers wrote the proverbial book on how to treat players. In the college ranks, Summit did it with an arm-around-you approach, often taking on the role of mom. Throughout Tuesday, as news of her passing began to spread, players lined up to give their accounts of how Summit cared for them beyond the basketball court.

On the flip-side, Ryan gained respect from the burly bunch of Bears by embracing the gladiator role. He treated every player as equal, and instilled a them-or-us approach. To Ryan, only one team was walking off the field in one piece, and it was going to be his team.

The sports world mourns these iconic figures and innovators of their craft. They touched countless people, even some they never met and some who spent their lives in the shadow of their success.

That is the true measure of a champion, and it goes far beyond sports.

Blake Branch is a senior journalism major from Minden who serves as news editor for The Tech Talk.

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