‘We Back Pat in Iraq’ Documentary on Pat Summitt to Release this Spring

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Support for legendary coach Pat Summitt has gone international.

She will be honored at this Sunday’s Lady Vols basketball game with a special video message from her biggest fans in Iraq.

The video is the trailer for We Back Pat in Iraq, a full-length documentary about Summitt’s impact on girls and women in the Middle Eastern country.

From left, filmmaker Elisa Platillero along with UT assistant professors Sarah Hillyer and Ashleigh Huffman present Pat Summitt with signed banner from “We Back Pat in Iraq” tournament.

UT partner Sport 4 Peace is producing the film. It is scheduled for release this spring. To see the trailer, visit, www.webackpatiraq.com. The trailer will be shown Sunday, January 20, at the Lady Vols game.

Sport 4 Peace is dedicated to promoting cross-cultural understanding and empowering girls and women around the world using sports and education.

Shortly after Summitt announced her Alzheimer’s diagnosis last year, Iraqi girls’ coach Rizgar Raoof invited UT assistant professors Sarah Hillyer and Ashleigh Huffman to Iraq to help him host a “We Back Pat in Iraq” basketball tournament in her honor and to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s.

Hillyer and Huffman are director and assistant director of the UT Center for Sport, Peace and Society. The center is a collaboration between the university and Sport 4 Peace.

“I’ve heard that Tennessee fans wear Pat Summitt shirts, and when she comes inside the gym they all stand up and cheer, ‘We Back Pat! We Back Pat!’” Raoof said in the film. “If these guys want to do something for Pat, of course we want to do something for her, too. A tournament like this is nothing compared to what she’s done for basketball.”

During the November 2012 tournament in Iraq, Hillyer and Huffman, along with Knoxville filmmaker Elisa Platillero, captured footage of the game. They also interviewed players, coaches, and families. The footage will be used in the documentary.

On the final day of the “We Back Pat in Iraq” tournament, players, coaches and fans wore purple t-shirts in support of Pat Summitt and the Pat Summitt Foundation in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq.

Summitt has supported the girls’ basketball program in Iraq for several years. In 2007, Hillyer and Huffman shared with Summitt the need for basketballs in Iraq. Summitt and her team quickly sent suitcases full of basketballs, shoes, and training DVDs with Hillyer and Huffman to launch Iraq’s first basketball academy for girls – a project of Global Sports Partners and Sport 4 Peace.

In summer 2009, Summitt invited a team of Iraqi girls to Knoxville to participate in two sessions of the Pat Head Summitt Basketball Camp.

When the girls returned home, they were determined to share the lessons they learned from Summitt with friends, family, and teammates.

One mother said, “After (my daughter) came back, she was really strong…. She had a different perspective about America.”

Another mother reported to Hillyer and Huffman that her daughter had changed when she returned from the camp.

“Our daughter was so confident, she learned to trust in herself,” she said. “Everything she needed she gained from Coach Pat’s camp.”

Raoof, the Iraqi girls’ coach, also attended Summitt’s camp.

“She had a touch on my life that I will never forget,” he said.

For more information on the documentary, visit www.webackpatiraq.com.

To learn more about the UT Center for Sport, Peace and Society, the website.

C O N T A C T S: 

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993, lalapo@utk.edu)

Sarah Hillyer (865-974-8917, info@webackpatiraq.com)

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