DAVENPORT, Iowa — Legendary women's basketball coach Pat Summitt died at the age of 64 after a 5-year battle with early onset dementia, Alheimer's type on Tuesday. On the court, she was the winningest Divison I basketball coach in history; off the court, her impact on the disease that took her life will live on.
"I think when I was young, growing up, that was when she was in her prime so I was a huge Tennessee Lady Vol fan. I think every girl that loved the sport grew up wanting to play for Pat Summitt," said Krista Van Hauen, Head Coach of the St. Ambrose women's basketball team.
Coach Summitt started her 38-year coaching career at Tennessee when she was just 22 years old.
"The awareness of coach Summitt, of Pat Summit is, obviously brings it to the for front, what it shows is, this is a non-discriminatory disease," said Bill Horrell, Development and Communication Specialist for the Great Iowa Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.
The Alzheimer's Association wants increased awareness.
"There are people in their forties that are being diagnosed everyday, people in their fifties, like coach Summit in her late fifties when she was diagnosed. So, it's not an old person's disease it's a disease that effects everybody," said Horrell.
A disease that goes after anyone. A coach, who went after the disease in front of everyone.
"She's not only left her impact on the game of basketball but I think she's opened the eyes of every age every gender every race everything for this early on-set dementia," said Van Hauen.
Van Hauen said the Women's Basketball Coaches Association has done a lot to support the fight to fight a cure for Alzheimer's and raise money for Pat Summitt's foundation, The Pat Summitt Foundation.
"Maybe her time on earth was for basketball but now I think her legacy is going to live through medical research as well," said Van Hauen.
The Pat Summitt Foundation focuses on awareness, advocacy and research of Alzheimer's.