Former Lady Vol Shelley Sexton Collier with a mural of Coach Pat Summitt inside the new Pat Summitt Suite at The Tennessean Personal Luxury Hotel. She was the first one to sleep in the new suite dedicated to her mentor. (Photo by Pam Rhoades.)
When the University of South Carolina women’s basketball team comes to Knoxville in February to play the Lady Vols, the Gamecocks’ head coach, Dawn Staley, will stay in the new Pat Summitt Suite at The Tennessean Personal Luxury Hotel downtown.
The team made the reservation last week shortly after the dedication of the beautiful new downtown lodging option.
Several other visitors who already had booked other rooms in the hotel on different nights have asked to be upgraded to the Pat Summitt Suite, as well.
What a good idea this was from hotel general manager Jan McCormick, who has seen other properties dedicate suites to big name personalities. Pat Summitt, who was head coach of the Lady Vols for 38 years and who passed away from early onset Alzheimer’s in 2016, is beloved and admired both inside and outside the world of sports. In 2005, she became the winningest coach in NCAA Division I college basketball.
Shelley Sexton Collier making remarks in a residence on the seventh floor of The Tennessean during a reception prior to tours of the Pat Summitt Suite.
Twenty percent of all proceeds from bookings in the Pat Summitt Suite will be donated to The Pat Summitt Foundation to fight and find a cure for Alzheimer’s.
The dedication last week was very moving to everyone in attendance.
“It’s always an honor to be a part of something involving Pat,” said Webb School’s head girls’ basketball coach, Shelley Sexton Collier, the captain of the 1987 team that delivered Summitt’s first national championship. “Pat always raised up everything she touched. I use something she taught me every single day,” Collier added. “I can still feel her staring at me.”
Collier, who has four daughters, said that after the birth of each one, the family’s first stop upon leaving the hospital was at Pat Summitt’s office for a visit. “Yes, they all cried,” Collier laughed. “They were afraid of her, too!”
Guests were very touched by Sexton’s remarks.
Kyle Hagerty, manager of The Drawing Room, the lounge in The Tennessean, fixing a “Pat Special,” the signature cocktail at the reception.
Pat Summitt’s favorite drink was Crown Royal and Sprite. This version features Crown Royal and a lemon-lime infused syrup. (A kind of homemade Sprite, if you will!)
Shelley Sexton Collier, right, with Janet McGee, left, and Ara Rickman at the reception.
Maria Cornelius of Moxley Carmichael, who wrote the book, “The Final Season,” about Summitt’s last season as Lady Vols coach. (Behind her is Gay Lyons, the editor of VIP Knoxville magazine.)
Varnell Benn passing appetizers.
The little spoons contain fried okra atop pimento cheese and scallions. The other appetizer is smoked olive tapenade on crostini with chives.
The hotel’s general manager, Jan McCormick, left, with Innkeeper Nick Cazana.
From left, Pam Rhoades and Scott Bird, both of Moxley Carmichael, with Gay Lyons.
Bob Lederer and Kay Clayton.
Danielle Hemsley of Johnson Architecture, left, with Patrick Wade of The Pat Summitt Foundation.
These were delish: roasted garlic and mozzarella bruschetta and Cajun blue crab with avocado cream.
The flowers were beautiful: a mixture of orange and white and purple, the color of the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
Anne Sprouse and I went to check out the rest of the condo, which is for sale. Here she is in the bedroom overlooking the World’s Fair site.
Here’s the Sunsphere as seen from that same window.
The News Sentinel was there. Brenna McDermott, left, is a reporter. Brianna Paciorka is a photographer (obviously).
Pat Summitt had a famous recipe for jalapeno corn casserole. That’s what’s in the tiny spoons. On skewers is some of the hottest hot chicken I’ve ever tasted! Loved it.
Alan Carmichael, right, with Nick and Rebecca Cazana.
Soon, it was time to tour the Pat Summitt Suite, located on the hotel’s third floor.
Yep. We are in the right place.
Coffee table in the living room of the suite.
The photo above the couch is of Pat Summitt cutting down the last net she would ever cut down. It was on March 4, 2012, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville after winning the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament. It would be her 16th and final SEC tourney title.
Here’s Heather King, the interior designer of the Pat Summitt Suite standing beside Summitt’s famous “Definite Dozen” sayings.
Table with “The Final Season” on it.
Of course there’s a signed basketball.
Laciena Del Aguaro admires two photos in the suite.
Mirror over the bar.
Haley Grace McCormick, left, and Angel McCormick.
The video running on the TV shows Pat Summitt accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles on July 11, 2012, accompanied by her son, Tyler Summitt, and presented by former Vol and NFL quarterback Peyton Manning.
The Arthur Ashe Courage Award is presented to individuals whose contributions transcend sports. Summitt was told she didn’t need to speak at the live television event, but she insisted and said: “It is time to fight. … I am going to keep on keeping on; I promise you that.”
If you’d like to see part of that clip, here’s a link: http://www.espn.com/video/clip/_/id/16491978
Drs. Denia Ramirez and Roberto Fernandez. He’s with The Pat Summitt Clinic.
The Sports Illustrated cover with Summitt’s famous stare is mounted in the bathroom! Ha.
The beautiful bedroom of the Pat Summitt Suite.
Here’s a video look at the Pat Summitt Suite:
If you’d like to book the suite, click here: http://www.thetennesseanhotel.com/knoxville_hotel_rooms/pat_summitt_suite/
Disclosure: The Tennessean Personal Luxury Hotel is a client of Moxley Carmichael.
(I think this event and this post have made me a little sentimental. They remind me that, during the first month of The Blue Streak, back in 2009, one of the first posts I wrote was about something Pat Summitt did. Click here to see it.)