Summit Passes the Torch to Warlick

Holly Warlick has some big shoes to fill this season after she took the reins as head coach of the vaunted Lady Vols from retiring Head Coach Pat Summit.

In a career that spanned 38 years, Summit racked up a record that will be difficult, if not impossible, to beat.  Before passing the torch to her long-time assistant coach Holly Warlick at the end of the 2011 season, Summit had spent years with Warlick grooming her for the eventual  assent  to the helm as head coach.

Summit ended her career with a daunting 1,098 victories and eight NCAA titles.

Warlick posts an impressive resume as well. She played for the Lady Vols from 1976-1980 as a guard. , Warlick went 118-23 and helped the Lady Vols make three trips to the AIAW Final Four. She was a three-time All-American.  Originally Warlick came to Tennessee on a  scholarship as a track athlete, specializing in the 400 meters. But basketball proved to be her real forte. After graduating in 1980, she went to Virginia Tech for two years as an assistant then spent the next two at Nebraska.

She returned to her roots in Tennessee in 1985 when she accepted the position as assistant coach to Summit.  She was an integral part of the Lady Vols coaching staff during all eight of the NCAA titles. Warlick was named the WBCA Assistant Coach of the Year for 2007.

Now, with Summit accepting a role as emeritus, Warlick assumes the starring role in a drama about one of the hardest acts to follow in sports history. Warlick is known for her unwavering loyalty and devotion. During the transition in April, Warlick became emotional and had to fight back tears when she spoke of her mentor who had become a cherished friend that was now facing her toughest challenge ever.

Warlick stepped into the head coaching position well prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. She is surrounded by experienced, qualified associates whose professionalism and expertise will help ensure success for the Lady Vols.

Warlick quickly recruited former Lady Vols player Kyra Elzy as an assistant. Next, Warlick hired Jolette Law who will join Elzy and Dean Lockwood — who just completed his eighth season with the Lady Vols — on the Tennessee brain trust.

Like Warlick, Law spent several years as an assistant to her mentor. In Law’s case, that was C. Vivian Stringer at Rutgers. Law had played for Stringer at Iowa. Law is coming off five years as head coach at Illinois, where she was let go after a record of 69-93. That experience didn’t work out as well as Law hoped, but her ability to recruit was well-proved in her time at Rutgers.

Warlick realized her first two hires had to be accomplished recruiters. Tennessee can’t make the playoffs  without  top-shelf talent.  Warlick was faced with the loss of two top talents this year with the loss of Shekinna Stricklen and Glory Johnson.

After 27 years at the side of Summit, Warlick is ready for the challenges that lie ahead. Even though she has been around Tennessee for decades, people will  get to know Warlick in a different role. After the mentoring she received from the legendary Summit, Warlick is ready to continue the Tennessee tradition of winning.

By Michael Williams

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