LSU women’s basketball coach Nikki Caldwell spoke Wednesday about the coaching change at Tennessee. The school announced legendary coach Pat Summitt will be moving into a coach emeritus role, while long-time assistant Holly Warlick will become head coach.
Caldwell played at Tennessee from 1990-94, and was an assistant coach under Summitt from 2002-08.
Caldwell, who gave birth to her first child, Justice Simone Fargas, six weeks ago, said she and Warlick will do a scaled-down version of their Champions for a Cause motorcycle ride for breast cancer awareness and research. They are working on a trip from Baton Rouge to New Orleans this summer, with plans to be announced later this week.
On Pat Summitt:
“You know how much she’s meant to the game and to so many of us. For her to be transitioning into a new role is going to be different, but any time you can still have coach around is going to be a positive.
“She’s been an inspiration for so many of us, and when I think of how she’s dealt with her own issues with the first stages of dementia shows how much she’s a giver and how much she wants to bring something positive to every situation.”
On Holly Warlick being named Tennessee’s head coach:
“I’m excited for her. Holly Warlick’s resume is that of coach Summitt, when you look at all the victories and the championships. It will be a smoother transition for the team. Holly is a huge mentor for these kids. Holly is definitely more than ready for this position. I know she will do an exceptional job.”
On Summit’s legacy:
“I know it will be different for the game not having coach Summitt right there, but I know her legacy and who she is will live on within that program. She’s still going to be an integral part of it. Holly, like a lot of us who have played or worked under coach Summitt, we have a tendency to take on coach’s tendencies. We may not have that stare, but we have that drive and competitive spirit. We still believe in defending and rebounding. Her footprint is still stamped on that program.”
Here is a statement from Caldwell on the Tennessee coaching transition released Wednesday through the LSU Sports Information Department:
“Coach Summitt is the reason I am a coach and why I am here (at LSU) today. She gave me an opportunity to go into coaching as a graduate assistant in 1998. More importantly, she has always been there for me since I was 18 years old. She’s my mentor, my friend and a part of my family and that will last forever. She has been a pioneer in opening doors for women in so many areas. Those who have played or coached for Coach Summitt always take a part of her with us wherever we go in our respective jobs. I’ve taken her with me in teaching young ladies to be the very best they can be. Her influence on this game, the University of Tennessee and the Southeastern Conference will always be impactful. That will continue in any role she plays.
“Holly is so deserving of this and she is going to do an unbelievable job. She is someone who shares the same resume, if you will, as Coach Summitt because she has been there for every practice, every workout and every championship. She has carried the responsibilities of a head coach. I’ve known Holly for a long time and she bleeds orange and white. She is going to be a tremendous leader as head coach of the Lady Vols.”