Bearden surprises Warlick by retiring her jersey

Before the Bearden crowd could chant “Let’s go Bulldogs” at Friday night’s game against Catholic, they started a different cheer. They were chanting “Holly Warlick.” The new coach of the Tennessee women’s basketball team was invited to lead the senior night ceremonies of her alma mater. Unknown to Warlick, though, the Bearden faculty had more planned for her than just hosting duties. After the seniors were recognized, Warlick was led to the 50-yard line, where she was presented with her framed No. 22 Bearden basketball jersey, which Bearden was retiring. “I’m stunned, but I’m honored because everybody that knows me knows I went to Bearden High School,” Warlick said. “I’m very proud of it, and I make sure everybody knows it.” Warlick was joined on the field by her family and friends, including current and former UT players, who all came to show their support of the new Lady Vol coach, and to honor her legacy at Bearden. “It really turned out a great night and an opportunity to really honor her and what she’s meant to Bearden,” BHS girls basketball coach Justin Underwood said, “because I don’ think enough of the public really knew that Holly went to Bearden and what she meant to the basketball program.” Coach Underwood, a former member of the Lady Vols practice team, said that Bearden has tried to retire Warlick’s jersey in the past. What prevented them from doing so, was Warlick herself. “Two years ago, I went over to her practice and asked Coach Warlick if she’d be willing to come back to have us retire her jersey, and as humble as she is, she kind of brushed it off,” Coach Underwood said. But Bearden still wanted to hold this ceremony. They realized that, with Warlick’s humility and busy schedule, they only had one option: surprise her. “When basketball season started, she got too busy with the Lady Vols, so we realized that the only way we could do it is if we surprised her,” Coach Underwood said. Although Warlick may not have requested the honor, she nonetheless enjoyed the unexpected Friday night excitement. “What a great night,” she said. “That was awesome.” Aidan Sears is the sports editor for The Bark. Follow The Bark on Twitter @BeardenBARK, and like The Bark (Bearden High School) on Facebook.