When Ralph Weekly got the call that he and his wife, Karen, were the new softball co-head coaches at Tennessee, he was in Hawaii coaching the U.S. national team.
Ten minutes later, he got another phone call.
It was Pat Summitt.
“I want to help you all I can,” Weekly recalled Summitt saying. “And she’s been there for us every minute.”
Summitt talked about how she hopes to still have an impact on Lady Vols basketball players at a press conference last Thursday in which the reins were officially handed over to Holly Warlick.
Summit’s impact, however, isn’t exclusive to just her own players. Weekly sat among numerous Tennessee coaches that day in Thompson-Boling Arena who would attest to that.
“It actually choked me up a bit,” Weekly said. “She means so much to us.”
Sure, Summitt was a role model for little girls who hoped to be a Lady Vol, only dreaming of being on the receiving end of The Stare. But it was common for coaches everywhere, even ones on the other bench, to have outspoken respect for the legend.
“My colleagues across the country in softball worship her,” Weekly said.
“When we came to Tennessee, it was like, gosh, we get to coach in the same department as Pat Summitt does.”
This coming from a legend in his own right. Weekly’s been in the coaching game a while too.
He won his 1,000th career game last spring and is in his 25th year as a head coach. He and his wife have been at Tennessee since 2002, taking the softball program to new heights, including four Women’s College World Series appearances since 2005.
 But still, no matter how much anyone can stack on his or her resume, they seem to always look up to Summitt.
“The word bittersweet I am sure is across all of athletics because she transcends,” UT football coach Derek Dooley said. “She is not just women’s basketball. She is an icon for any sport. I think celebrating the success she had is there. I called her (the day she announced she was stepping down) and told her how happy I was that she was still with us and that she didn’t step down completely. She is just an amazing person and her impact will last forever. Not just on the people that she coached but all the people in athletics as a whole.”
Former Lady Vols soccer coach Angela Kelly, who took the program to nine NCAA Tournaments and five Sweet 16 appearances in 12 seasons, always made a point to get to her office in Thompson-Boling before Summitt and leave after.
Men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin, who was hired by UT in March 2011, had already developed a good relationship with Summitt, as many men’s coaches before him had done.
“She means a lot,” Martin said. “Just how she approaches it. You see all the wins, the success, the championships, but also the players she’s graduated over time. The success rate, the things her program has done on and off the court.
“It’s more than just putting the ball in the basket for Pat.”
Former Lady Vols tennis coach Mary Ellis Richardson remembered Summitt reaching out to her as she’s been known to do.
“During my tenure as head women’s tennis coach from the late ’70s to early ’80s, I’ll always remember being invited to a basketball practice and watching her ability, even back then, to teach mental toughness as well as solid basketball skills,” Richardson said. “Her commitment to developing excellence in her players helped promote not only women’s basketball but other women’s sports and ultimately women in general.”