Editorial: Holly Warlick making strides as Lady Vols head coach
A year ago Holly Warlick was beginning her first season as Pat Summitt's replacement at the end of bench for the University of Tennessee Lady Vols.
A long-time assistant and friend of Summitt, Warlick knew she was undertaking quite a challenge.
Summitt is the most legendary coach in women's basketball history, having lead the Lady Vols to over a thousand victories and eight national championships.
Some predicted the pressure would be too much for Warlick.
But, as it turns out, she's flourished.
Warlick led the Lady Vols to the SEC championship in her first true season at the helm (she'd assumed many of the head coaching duties during Summitt's final season). The team had been picked fourth in the conference in the preseason.
This season, Warlick will be more comfortable in the head coaching role, and, hopefully, it will show with further improvement for the Lady Vols.
"This year I don't have to coach a lot of effort," the second-year coach said Thursday at SEC media days. "The practices we've had, just the energy and the work ethic has been unbelievable. I think you can get where you want to go with the help of your team being on the same page. I thought last year, I don't think I had to prove myself, but it was different for our players, it was different for me.
"Every day, every game, I learned more, got more comfortable."
That comfort should convert to more wins for the Orange and White.
"I think (this is) one of the most talented teams we've had in a while," Warlick said. "I think we've got pieces in place that could be special. I think for us it's a matter of staying healthy, staying focused and probably staying playing together."
Warlick has also proven a thorough communicator and champion for local causes. Just last month she spoke to the Boys and Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains and showed her humor, charm and passion for both the Lady Vols and East Tennessee.
The UT Athletic Department had tough choices to make when choosing a successor to Summitt — one of Tennessee's truly legendary personalities.
So far, it appears they made the right choice.