Nelson On Summitt: ‘She Inspired Me To Be A Coach’

Karla Nelson remembers being at the 1999 NCAA Division I women’s basketball Final Four and carrying a book everywhere she went, seeking an autograph from a coaching legend.

The Minnesota State Moorhead women’s basketball head coach was hoping to run into Tennessee Volunteers head coach Pat Summitt.

“I carried her book around the whole day, hoping I would bump into her so she could sign it,” Nelson said. “I took it everywhere.”

Summitt died Tuesday, June 28. She was 64.

Nelson didn’t succeed in getting her book signed at that 1999 Final Four, but Nelson, through one of her former players, later got a book signed by Summitt.

“I always wanted to be like her,” Nelson said of Summitt. “She inspired me to be a coach. … It was just how she carried herself and how she handled herself. She was so humble for all the great things that she did.”

Nelson’s admiration for Summitt went beyond coaching.

“She’s a terrific human being who taught life lessons,” Nelson said.