New Lady Vol coach Warlick was two-sport star at BHS

Aidan Sears

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With Pat Summitt’s resignation on Wednesday, she leaves behind quite the tough legacy to follow. During her 38 years with the Lady Vols, she won 1,098 games, 16 SEC Championships, and eight national titles. She is one of the most accomplished coaches not only in women’s college basketball, but in all of sports. In order to fill the void left by a sports icon and legend, the Lady Vols have chosen Holly Warlick, who graduated from Bearden in 1976. “Today I feel like the luckiest person in the world,” Warlick said in a press conference Thursday. “This has always been my dream, and this is my home.” The hire means plenty for Bearden. The administration is honored to have a graduate fill a position of such national recognition. “It’s a source of pride for Bearden High School to have one of our own be placed in a prestigious position like this,” Bearden athletics director Scott Witt said. Warlick was an All-State point guard and a two-time state champion in track in the 400-meter race. Her track prowess earned her a scholarship to UT, and she walked on to play basketball under Summitt. By the time she finished her career, the one-time walk-on had made enough of a contribution on the program to become UT’s first athlete to have her jersey retired when she graduated. Warlick joined Summitt’s coaching staff as an assistant in 1985, becoming associate head coach in 2003. Although Summitt’s contributions to the university can not be replaced, Warlick’s 27 years with the program should help with the shift in leadership. “I think she’s the easiest transition that you could have, because she knows (the team) better than anybody else," said Bearden girls’ basketball coach Justin Underwood, who played under Warlick when she coached the Lady Vols’ practice team. Summitt’s announcement Wednesday gave Coach Underwood another chance to point out the impact that she has had not just on her university, but the sport as a whole. "Coach Summitt is the reason women’s basketball is where it is today," he said. "Without Coach Summitt, I probably wouldn’t be coaching girls’ basketball at this time." Warlick was an exceptional leader as well as a great athlete even in high school. She ran on the same track team as Bearden track coach Steve Prince, who said that she was the perfect teammate. “She was very fast, and she did have characteristics of leadership at the time,” Coach Prince said. “She was a lot of fun to be with, everybody liked her, and she was just a lot of fun to be around.” Because of Warlick’s Knoxville roots, her passion for the Lady Vols is unquestionable. As one of the trailblazers for women’s basketball along with Summitt, her devotion to the sport is what makes her such a good fit for the team. “I don’t think you’ll find anybody that cares about UT more than Pat, but next to that you would find someone like Holly,” Coach Underwood said. Warlick was named “Most Athletic” at Bearden the year she graduated, a title she shared with the Vol Network’s Bert Bertelkamp. With Bearden grads making contributions like these, the administration hopes that the school can continue to grow and gain recognition. “I would consider Holly Warlick to be a distinguished alumni, much like Bert Bertelkamp,” Mr. Witt said. “It’s something we can use to promote the school, and the athletic department as a whole.” Aidan Sears is a staff writer for The Bark. Follow The Bark on Twitter @BeardenBARK, and like The Bark (Bearden High School) on Facebook.

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