Kyra Elzy, like many people across the world, has a special connection to the late Pat Summitt.
The current head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats Women’s Basketball Team was a four-year player under Summitt’s legendary run as the coach of the Tennessee Lady Volunteers. Elzy spent five full seasons learning under Summitt, who passed away in 2016 after a long battle against Alzheimer’s disease. Together, they won two National Championships as player-coach in 1997 and 1998 and nearly won a third in 2000, finishing as the runner up squad.
However, their relationship didn’t end once Elzy graduated from Tennessee with a Bachelor’s in psychology and a Master’s in cultural studies and education. Summitt eventually brought her former point guard back to the Volunteer program, this time sitting alongside the Hall of Fame coach on the bench. From 2012-16, Elzy was an assistant coach for three seasons and the associate head coach for one more on Summitt’s staff at UT, posting a combined record of 108-34 over a stretch that included three Elite Eight appearances.
This week-long initiative is the 10th annual We Back Pat Week, where the Southeastern Conference and all 14 of its programs play games in honor of Summitt and her mission to raise awareness and find a cure for Alzheimer’s. If you’d like to learn more about the Pat Summitt Foundation and what they do or how you can donate, you can find all of that information by clicking the link here.
No. 12 Kentucky will play in its “We Back Pat” game later on Sunday at 5 p.m. on the SEC Network against the Vanderbilt Commodores where they’ll honor the woman who Elzy calls her “mentor”. Fans planning to attend Memorial Coliseum in Lexington are encouraged to wear purple in support of Summitt.
— Kyra Elzy (@CoachLZ) January 17, 2021
It’s a special week for Elzy, who said during her introduction as UK’s interim head coach back in November that she hopes she can be “half the woman” that Summitt was.
“Coach Pat Summitt, rest in peace, Coach,” Elzy said. “I hope that I am making you proud today. If I can be half the woman and half coach that you were, I would be doing something with myself. Thank you for believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself, for instilling a mental toughness and work ethic in me that has helped me succeed.”