Author Maria Cornelius, left, with Lady Vols basketball coach Holly Warlick. Warlick is a former Lady Vol player and was Pat Summitt’s assistant coach for 27 seasons. (Photo by Pam Rhoades)
I was lucky enough to receive one of the first copies of “The Final Season,” the new book about University of Tennessee Women’s Basketball Coach Pat Summitt’s last season coaching the legendary Lady Vols. The early copy was a gift from its author, Maria Cornelius, my friend and colleague at Moxley Carmichael.
As you surely know, Summitt, the winningest coach in NCAA Division I basketball, passed away this summer after a five-year battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
I tore into the book the first Saturday after I received it. By page 13, I was weeping. Pat Summitt is not only an inspirational basketball coach, but an overall inspiration. Maria, who covered Summitt and her teams for many years as a reporter with the Knoxville News Sentinel and Inside Tennessee, was privy to Summitt’s inner circle and that’s where she got most of her insights.
She worked on the book for about three years. “The hardest thing I’ve ever done was to go back through 302 pages and change every reference to past tense,” Maria said regarding the changes necessary after Summitt passed away in June.
Assistant coach Dean Lockwood said that, to Pat Summitt, Holly was always “the player,” assistant coach Mickie DeMoss was “the peer,” and he was “the cousin.” A former assistant coach to the men’s program, Lockwood left Tennessee for a while and returned to coach with Pat Summitt.
Maria talked about the process of writing — and updating — the book.
Everyone loved the stories. (Photo by Pam Rhoades)
Pam Rhoades, Moxley Carmichael’s digital storyteller, documented the goings on.
Maria and Holly share a hug. (Photo by Pam Rhoades)
Then Maria got to work signing books. That’s Linsey Perry from UT Press with Maria. (Photo by Pam Rhoades)
From left, Joey Creswell, Janet Testerman and Debby Jennings, longtime sports information officer for the Lady Vols. (Photo by Pam Rhoades)
From left, Scott Bird and Amanda Jennings with Moxley Carmichael and our friend Angie Wilson of Visit Knoxville.
The food was a hit! (Photo by Pam Rhoades)
Maria with Meshia Thomas who provided security for Pat Summitt. (Photo by Pam Rhoades)
Former Gatlinburg Mayor George Hawkins, right, with his guest Leland Wykoff, left, and Moxley Carmichael’s Scott Bird. (Photo by Pam Rhoades)
Moxley Carmichael’s CFO, Shaun Fulco, with Mark Koss.
Eric Trainer, left, of the University of Tennessee Athletics Department, and Patrick Wade of the Pat Summitt Foundation. (Photo by Pam Rhoades)
Former Lady Vol and current grad student Andraya Carter with Maria. While Carter did not get to play for Summitt, who retired after the 2011-12 season, she was Summitt’s final high school recruit, and Carter’s scholarship papers are affixed with the legendary coach’s signature. (Photo by Pam Rhoades)
Longtime News Sentinel sports reporter Dan Fleser, left, with Dean Lockwood. Fleser covers the Lady Vols for the paper. (Photo by Pam Rhoades)
Knoxville Vice Mayor Duane Grieve, left, with Bruce Anderson. (Photo by Pam Rhoades)
Alan Carmichael, left, with Richard and Dawn Ford. (Photo by Pam Rhoades)
From left, Narda Cappuccilli, Helen Harb and Mickey Mallonee.
Michael Higdon, left, and Moxley Carmichael’s Katrina Roberts.
Municipal Judge John Rosson, left, with Joey Creswell.
From left, Georgiana Vines, Amy Nolan and Amy McRary.
Traci McDonnell, left, and Sheila Kohl.
Moxley Carmichael’s Savanna Howie and her boyfriend, Camp Arnett.
Phyllis and Jim Nichols. (Photo by Pam Rhoades)
From left, Moxley Carmichael’s John McCulley and Charley Sexton, Gay Lyons and Jonathan and Christopher Ford. (Photo by Pam Rhoades)
Dean and Holly. (Photo by Pam Rhoades)
Janet Testerman and Mariane Whittemore share affection.
At left, Crystal and John McCulley with Michelle and David Henry. Michelle is with Moxley Carmichael, too.
Bob Griffitts from Congressman Jimmy Duncan’s office, left, with Charley Sexton, our creative director.
Becky Hancock with Judge John Rosson.
Moxley Carmichael’s Amy Barger and Scott Bird.
Maria and Pam Rhoades.
John takes a Moxley Carmichael selfie! From left, Crystal McCulley, John, Pam and Shaun.
The first print run of 4,000 books sold out in five days. (Maria said it was the power of public relations. I agree!) A second print run is underway now.
Maria has two signings scheduled this weekend: Orange Mountain Designs in Maryville at Foothills Mall on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Andraya Carter also will be there to meet fans); and Barnes & Noble in Knoxville on Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. Both stores have the book in stock.