Holly Warlick 'thankful' for Summitt, 'honored' as next coach

Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt, right, and associate head coach Holly Warlick conduct practice at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, TN on Friday, Mar. 26, 2010. They will take on Baylor in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.

Photo by Saul Young, copyright © 2010

Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt, right, and associate head coach Holly Warlick conduct practice at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, TN on Friday, Mar. 26, 2010. They will take on Baylor in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.

SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL
Tennessee women's coach Pat Summitt, left, and associate head coach Holly Warlick watch their team in a game against Pepperdine on Nov. 13, 2011 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Photo by Saul Young, copyright © 2011

SAUL YOUNG/NEWS SENTINEL Tennessee women's coach Pat Summitt, left, and associate head coach Holly Warlick watch their team in a game against Pepperdine on Nov. 13, 2011 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Being a former point guard, Holly Warlick appreciates the value of a good assist.

Tennessee's new women's basketball coach said as much in a UT release on Wednesday, paying tribute to her mentor, Pat Summitt. She stepped down after 38 seasons to become a head coach emeritus.

"I'm very thankful for all Pat Summitt has done to prepare me for this opportunity,'' Warlick said. "She is my coach, mentor and great friend, and I am honored with the opportunity to continue and add to the great tradition of this program."

Warlick was unavailable for further comment. She will participate in a press conference today along with Summitt and other UT officials.

Warlick, a Knoxville native, was a standout guard for UT 1976-80 and was the first UT player — men's or women's — to have their jersey retired. She will be making her head coaching debut after 27 seasons as a UT assistant. Before that, she was an assistant for two seasons apiece at Nebraska and Virginia Tech.

Last season provided some challenging on-the-job for Warlick's promotion. With Summitt battling early onset dementia Alzheimer's type, Warlick took on a level of responsibility that befit a head coach.

"I think this past year was good for Holly to be in that spot to help prepare for this day,'' said former UT assistant Mickie DeMoss, who offered her own homespun take on the difference between being an assistant and a head coach:

"You can tell somebody what a strawberry actually tastes like but until you actually taste it, you don't know."

As the season played out, Summitt felt like she was on the receiving end of an assist for Warlick.

"She's done a great job from my diagnosis on,'' Summitt said. "I want

to support her."

Warlick will need all the support that she can get. DeMoss left earlier this month to become an assistant with the WNBA's Indiana Fever. Wednesday's transition created a second opening with spring recruiting looming for a program that currently has just six players on campus.

Based on its lofty standards, the program is at a low ebb, having failed to reach a Final Four the past four seasons.

In the meantime, DeMoss felt certain that Wednesday was a bittersweet day for Warlick, The opportunity of lifetime has been afforded her by someone she either played for or coached with for 31 seasons.

"Once she moves on from the emotional side of this,'' DeMoss said, "she's going to have to get her arms around everything."

Dan Fleser may be reached at 865-342-6288. Follow him at http://twitter.com/FleserKNS and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/fleser.

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Comments » 10

LiveFaith writes:

Pretty obvious for a year now who would be named CPS' replacement. The KNS has had her picture everywhere since the diagnosis. Orchestrated conditioning of the audience, like all major media with it's primary subject.

Good luck coach.

butch31 writes:

in response to LiveFaith:

Pretty obvious for a year now who would be named CPS' replacement. The KNS has had her picture everywhere since the diagnosis. Orchestrated conditioning of the audience, like all major media with it's primary subject.

Good luck coach.

I know right? LOL! I thought coach Summit would comeback for a couple more years, but today's athletes are just difficult to coach. Now I know why we were losing games like we did. Good Luck Coach Warlick

SummittsCourt writes:

Good luck Coach Warlick. There will be lots of pressure to win and continue the tradition Pat has established.

madrigal writes:

Good luck to Holly, she will need it. I can't imagine how hard it will be to walk in Pat's footsteps.

Longtime_Vol writes:

I wish Holly well and hope the best for the program but it is so very difficult to follow in the footsteps of a legend. The leadership characteristics and ability to influence others of those special, select few individuals are not easily emulated. I have watched these transitions in sports and in the business world. The successors virtually always fall short and generally fall far short. I hope for a better result for TN WBB but only time will tell.

underthehill writes:

Pat being present should mean attendance will continue to be good..Harrison, Kamiko, Burdick and new recruits give Holly a chance to be successful..hope she does it ..although I am one of those who would prefer a proven former Lady Vol such as Harper or Caldwell...

ModelMaker writes:

I wish Holly all the luck in the world. I hope she can do it. But I am also one of the ones that would have liked to see them go with Nikki Caldwell who has already proven herself as a head coach. Holly doesn't have any head coaching experience at all.

frblalack writes:

in response to ModelMaker:

I wish Holly all the luck in the world. I hope she can do it. But I am also one of the ones that would have liked to see them go with Nikki Caldwell who has already proven herself as a head coach. Holly doesn't have any head coaching experience at all.

Of course she doesn't have any head coaching experience; she's only been working for the best coach in history for the last 27 years! Holly Warlick set the gold standard when she was a player for UT! I believe she will be an exceptional head coach! Whomever she brings on board as an assistant to replace Micki is absolutely crucial for our success. He/she needs to be a solid recruiter. I hope she finds someone who played for Tennessee when we were champions, and will accept nothing less than the best. We need ladies on the bench who bleed Orange in the manner of Holly. Replacing the role held by Holly for 27 years is THE serious challenge!

All Vols - All the Time - Thank you Coach Pat!!!

topgun writes:

There are a lot of happy people out there regarding that UT/Pat selected Holly as Lady Vols coach---unfortunately, the VAST majority are SEC women's basketball coaches.

Nothing really new here, changes titles and pay schedules but it just makes the 2011 season official. A season filled with first worsts...most points ever scored on LVS team, teams who had never beaten the LVs, did, etc., etc.

A sad day for UT. How many UT fans really think that all of the high school prospects who were considering UT are now celebrating and doing hi-fives, tweeting with their friends saying, "OMG, WOW, I am so glad that the best coach in the world for UT was Holly Warlick, I can't wait to sign with UT."?

Welcome to the middle of the pack.

pcorange writes:

I can't believe some of the comments on here. CHW has given 27 years (plus her playing years) to UT. You can't judge her on last season's performance. No one could have done any better under the circumstances. Give her a chance to build her own program. If things don't improve in a couple of seasons, then start fussing, but for now she deserves a chance. Good luck, Coach Warlick.

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