I attended my first Lady Vol basketball camp the summer I was going into 5th grade (10 yrs old) At that time- the age requirement was 12. My dad called and spoke to Pat directly and asked her to make an exception for me to attend the camp. She agreed- and we were off to Knoxville from Atlanta. We were in line on check in day- and I remember anxiously waiting to meet her. When it was our turn to shake her hand- she stood up, she pointedly stared my father down- and said to him-“if she cant hack it- you WILL come back to get her- you live in Atlanta, that’s 4 hours away- if I call you to come pick her up- I will give you 5 hours to get here”. I will never forget that day. I was scared but I was challenged- and I knew from that moment- I wanted to be a college basketball coach. I “survived” camp (even made the All Star Team) and I was drawn in like many… The story continues…
Years later I was in Atlanta one summer (early 90’s) recruiting at one of the big showcases- and she was sitting at the top of the bleachers- no one around her- It was like everyone was afraid to approach her. Being young and naive, I walked up to her and said “I’m sure you don’t remember me but I was the youngest person to attend your summer basketball camp”, she said to me- “I remember you- you were the lefty from Atlanta”- my heart swelled with joy! I shared with her that I was just getting started in the coaching profession and she invited me to sit with her for that game and we talked as 2 basketball coaches.
She touched so many near and dear to her- but I doubt she knows how many she touched from afar… #RIPPAT
Written by Kris Ruffo
Bio: Kris Ruffo has been a head coach on collegiate level 21 years- currently head coach at Palm Beach State College- have collected close to 350 career wins and Pat is reason I went into coaching!