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The Final SeasonThe Final Season

The Perseverance of Pat Summitt

Maria Cornelius

Narrated by Deborah Kelley

Available from Audible

Book published by University of Tennessee Press

With 1,098 wins and eight national championships, Lady Vol Coach Pat Summitt has left a remarkable legacy of perseverance, leadership, and passion for the game—but her victories on the court aren’t the only legacy she has left in her wake.

Since the beginning of her career as Lady Vol head coach at twenty-two years old, Pat Head Summitt effectively established the University of Tennessee Lady Vols as the top women’s athletics program in the nation. The winningest coach in the history of NCAA basketball, Summitt overcame one obstacle after another on the road to every victory, but it is the lives she has impacted along the way that tell the story of her true legacy. Forever a role model for young women, expecting nothing but the best from her players and from those around her, her legacy has never faltered—not even during her final season as head coach, when she faced her fiercest adversary yet: the diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

In The Final Season: The Perseverance of Pat Summitt, Maria M. Cornelius tells the story of her final coaching season through the eyes of those who know her best, from players to support staff to Summitt’s closest friends and advisors. Beginning with the diagnosis that shook the Tennessee community in the summer of 2011 and continuing through to the final game of the 2011–12 season, The Final Season presents readers with a behind-the-scenes look at the conclusion of Summitt’s coaching career, detailing from the perspective of a sports writer how her diagnosis impacted her players and her staff as well as her fans.

With forewords by former Lady Vol Candace Parker and Swish Appeal editor Mike Robinson, The Final Season reveals how Summitt’s remarkable story of perseverance not only united a team of young women but also brought an entire sports following together, revealing an incredible support system that spanned far beyond Summitt’s Tennessee community. The coach’s determined spirit, selfless love, and sense of humor shine through the pages of Cornelius’s book, painting for readers the picture of a beloved leader and detailing the personal moments of defeat and triumph that make Summitt a true champion.

Maria Cornelius has written about the Lady Vols basketball program since 1998 for local, regional and national media. A freelance writer for Inside Tennessee, Cornelius lives in Knoxville and continues to cover the program. She works full-time as a writer/editor for Moxley Carmichael, a leading public relations and communications firm in East Tennessee.


The Final Season is a testimony to Pat Summitt’s uncanny ability to focus on others even when she is facing monstrous challenges with the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. This coach’s lifetime impact on her players, down-to-earth love for others, and her determined spirit to persevere through even the most difficult times are even more breathtaking against a public backdrop. Cornelius tells the story through her eyes as a sports reporter. With a blend of poignant emotion and the objectivity of a journalist, Cornelius takes the reader behind the scenes to witness Summitt’s final year as coach. Always the motivator, Pat’s struggle with this horrific disease generates inspiration and admiration for her unwavering courage.”

—Joan Cronan, UT Women‚Äôs Athletic Director Emeritus and author of Sport Is Life with the Volume Turned Up

“This book captures Pat Summitt in all her magnificent glory, coaching, fighting, and teaching throughout her brave finale. Maria Cornelius chronicles Pat’s last season and the start of her fight against illness with a sharp eye for detail and unparalleled inside knowledge of the great Tennessee program and the woman who built it.”

—Sally Jenkins, author of Sum It Up and Reach for the Summit, with Pat Summitt

The Final Season gives the fan up-close and personal insight on how the Lady Vol family came together for Pat’s final season—rallying around their Coach. Maria eloquently bridges the technical aspects of the game with the impact of a terrible disease.”

—Debby Schriver, author of In the Footsteps of Champions

All titles are published by:
University Press Audiobooks
an imprint of Redwood Audiobooks

University Press Audiobooks