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Associated Press
Pat Summitt


This is not the way you want to get your day started, with the morning coffee still blowing away the cobwebs.

The notion that a mind and a will as forged from steel as Pat Summitt's could ever be prey to the maladies of lesser mortals literally gives you pause this morning, but there it is.

Summitt, the winningest college basketball coach of all time, has early-onset dementia, at the age of 59. She will fight it, of course, vowing to coach as long as she is able. The shock comes when you hear those last six words, because there was never a time when you could conceive that Summitt, one of the ablest people breathing air, wouldn't be able.

Certainly any of the hundreds of players she coached over the years would find it hard to conceive -- including former Wawasee standout Shanna Zolman, who went on to play in the WNBA after playing four years for Summitt at Tennessee.

"Her discipline and her work ethic ... You don't really understand and appreciate it until you actually go through it with her," Zolman said two years ago when Summitt put up her 1,000th career victory. "She gets very good players, but she also outworks everybody that she's in competition with. And she never forgets her roots, never forgets her family, never forgets anything that helped her get to where she is."

The irony of those words, on this day, needs no elaboration.

Ben Smith's blog.