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1st UTM gal coach Gearin dies

1st UTM gal coach Gearin dies
The first head coach of the University of Tennessee at Martin women’s basketball team, Nadine Gearin, died Sunday afternoon at VanAyer Nursing Home in Martin after a long illness.
Gearin was 73.
She coached the UT Martin Lady Pacers basketball team from 1969-78. One of Gearin’s former players was Pat Head Summitt (1971-74).
“Nadine has not been able to talk or recognize anyone since June 2,” said Bettye Giles, the former UT Martin women’s athletics director. “I guess it is true what they say about people rallying when they hear someone they know.”
Giles and friends have been putting Summitt on a speaker phone every day, but it wasn’t until Sunday that Gearin recognized the Lady Vols’ head coach.
“She laughed, and I mean belly laughed yesterday while they talked,” Giles said. “It was the first time she recognized us and Pat. She just had a good time.”
Just like any good coach, Summitt was able to get Gearin to rally. Gearin died just a few hours later.
“I heard her voice, and she sounded so good and upbeat,” Summitt said. “She was full of life, and she never lost her spirit. That’s the way I want to remember her.”
To Summitt, Gearin was more than a coach.
“She was a great friend, who cared about her players. Over the years she would watch some of the games and call me a few times, I supposed, with a coaching tip or two,” Summitt said. “The main thing is I don’t want her to suffer anymore.”
Gearin also coached the women’s volleyball team from 1969-73 and the UT Martin badminton club from 1968-70.
She served the university for 40 years, officially retiring June 30, 1997.
She was inducted into the UTM Athletics Hall of Fame in 1988.
Gearin’s basketball teams won the 1970-71 Tennessee College Women’s Sports Federation and won three Western Division titles.
Her 1971-72 team posted the most wins in Lady Pacer history and also became the only basketball team in school history to advance to the national championship tournament.
Gearin sported an overall basketball coaching record of 104-86.
When Kiwanis International allowed women to join its organization, Gearin was one of the first two women inducted into the local chapter in March of 1988.
She was the adviser for the local Kiwanis’ Aktion Club.
“Ms. Nadine was a very hard worker whether it was Kiwanis or athletics,” said Steve Lemond, the treasurer of the Martin Kiwanis Club. “She had a real interest in working with the adults in our Aktion Club. She would help with any project that we had if her schedule allowed her to do so. She will be greatly missed.”
Services for Gearin will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at Williams Funeral Home in Greenfield. Visitation is scheduled from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday.
Burial will be in Mount Hermon Cemetery in Greenfield.
The family requests contributions be made to the Gearin Endowment Scholarship at the University of Tennessee at Martin and the Martin Kiwanis Aktion Club.
Gearin was preceded in death by her parents, Jack and Viola Gearin.

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