KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Pat Summitt was remembered as a loving mother, a loyal friend and a tireless fighter as well as a champion coach Thursday in a public ceremony honoring the person who built the Tennessee women’s basketball dynasty.

“She was the epitome of what being great is all about,” said Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings, one of the dozens of former Volunteers who paid respects to Summitt.

Catchings later added that “this is not a goodbye, but until we meet again.”

The ceremony gave the public a chance to honor Summitt, who won eight national titles and a Division I record 1,098 games in her 38-year tenure. A private funeral was held June 30, two days after Summitt died at the age of 64.

The list of speakers included recently retired quarterback Peyton Manning, a former Tennessee football star who called Summitt “someone who literally changed history.” Manning said the only pieces of sports memorabilia he keeps in his office are two basketballs Summitt signed for his children.

Manning discussed visiting Summitt late in her fight against Alzheimer’s disease, when she couldn’t remember Manning’s name. He talked about attending Summitt’s private funeral and hearing from former Vols star Chamique Holdsclaw, who told him that even as Summitt’s memory faded, the coach still could point to the screen when one of Manning’s games or commercials aired on television and would say, “That’s my friend who comes to visit me. There goes my friend.”

“Pat Summitt didn’t just change the history of Tennessee basketball,” Manning said. “She changed the history of the sport she loved – and of sports in general. She almost singlehandedly made women’s sports relevant well beyond mothers, daughters, sisters and grandmothers.”

The event attracted Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, and a star-studded list of women’s basketball coaches that included Geno Auriemma of Connecticut, who served as Summitt’s greatest rival. They were among several thousand spectators to honor Summitt at an arena where she orchestrated some of her greatest victories.

The stage included each of the Vols’ eight national championship trophies plus a stool and whistle used by Summitt, who coached Tennessee from 1974-2012.

Fans withstood an afternoon downpour as they waited to enter the arena. The distance traveled by many of them underscored the way Summitt built the program into a national brand.

Patti Stephen drove more than 700 miles from Teaneck, New Jersey, to pay her final respects. She packed a lunch in her car and arrived on campus more than seven hours before the ceremony to make sure she got a seat in the arena.

“I’ve been a Vol fan for a long time and it felt like I just needed to be here,” said Stephen, who wore a T-shirt, hat and set of bracelets bearing the message “We Back Pat.” “It wouldn’t be the same on TV.”

Speakers included “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts, current Tennessee coach Holly Warlick and former Volunteers assistant Mickie DeMoss as well as Summitt’s son, Tyler Summitt.

The ceremony had plenty of somber moments. A videotape showed Warlick and former Vols guard Michelle Brooke-Marciniak in tears as they described what Summitt had meant to them. The event opened with a bagpipe rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

“Tyler told me that’s his mom’s favorite song,” Roberts said. “How appropriate. Two words that describe her (so well): Amazing. Grace.”