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Everything Lady Vols HC Kim Caldwell Said In Her Introductory Press Conference

Photo via Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee introduced Kim Caldwell as the university’s newest women’s basketball coach on Tuesday afternoon. Caldwell becomes the program’s fourth head coach of the NCAA era and succeeds Kellie Harper who spent five years leading the Lady Vols’ program.

Caldwell comes to Tennessee after one season at Marshall and seven seasons at Division II Glenville State. The West Virginia native won a National Championship at Glenville State and made another Final Four before leading Marshall to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 27 years.

At her introductory press conference, Caldwell discussed leading a storied program at Tennessee, her teams’ unique style of play transitioning into the SEC and much more.

More From RTI: What To Know About New Lady Vols HC Kim Caldwell

Opening Statement

“What an incredible honor it is to be the head coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols. Danny White, thank you for believing in me. You have an incredible track record of selecting head coaches, and I appreciate being a part of the list. Chancellor Donde Plowman, thank you for taking time to visit with me and listen to me, and thank you for everything you do for our program and this university. Marshall Steward and Angie Boyd-Keck, you guys have been by my side every step of the way, and you’ve made this transition for me seamless, and I already feel like I am home because of you two. All of you guys are great, but did you hear that Peyton Manning texted me? I do really feel welcomed here, and I appreciate that so much.

“I’d like to thank Marshall University, Christian Spears, Brad Smith, Beatrice Crane Banford for making Marshall feel like home. You created a loving and supportive environment for me, and Marshall will always be a very special place in my heart. I also need to thank Glenville State University, Jessie Skiles, Ike Morris, Doug Cottrill and our entire loyal fan base there. You guys gave me my start, you will always be my family, and I love you. I really need to thank every single student-athlete at both of those institutions who helped me get here today. I love you. Thank you for helping me live this dream that so many people want to have. It’s not always fair that the coach gets the glory and the coach gets the reward for the work that the players have done. From the bottom of my heart, I love you and I appreciate you, and you will always have a place with me.

“Mom, thank you for coming all this way. Thank you for being my cheerleader, thank you for being my support system and my best friend. My dad would be so excited. He would be up here trying to take the microphone and probably sing the words to Rocky Top. I would not be here today if it was not for you and dad, I won the parent lottery. You’re the best team mom, and the Lady Vols will soon know that. To my husband Justin, thank you for being my hype man and humbling me when I need that, too. Not a day will go by that I don’t thank you for that. I can’t wait for my two older sisters who I’ve always looked up to see how amazing this place is. They’re going to be so jealous. When I told my 96-year-old grandma about the transition, her first response was, ‘Oh, I have a lot of friends in Knoxville, but I think they’re all dead.’

“I haven’t been here long, and I know I have a lot of history to catch up on. Thank you Joan Cronan for meeting me Sunday and for the advice that she gave me. Trust me, as soon as I’m done here, I’m going to get back to work.

“The part of history that I need no catching up on is Pat Summitt’s legacy and how powerful the Lady Vol family is. When I say I am honored and humbled to be here, there is not a single person who has gone through this program that I could even come close to beating one-on-one. It is a remarkable program. I can’t wait to connect with our former players and listen to their stories, hear their history and pass on what it means to be a Lady Vol and represent that in our program. Pat Summitt changed the game of basketball, and wouldn’t she love to see where the game is now? I will never be Pat Summitt; nobody can be. I will strive every day to be somebody that she would be proud of.

“I am so excited to get to work with this team. I got to meet them Sunday night. They are a great group with a big personality, and they are hungry to get back to the top of the SEC. We’re going to play an exciting brand of basketball. We want to play fast, we want to play up-tempo, and we want to be the hardest-playing team in the country. We want to give Lady Vol nation something very exciting to watch. I know what this job means, and I am honored to be here. I will work every day to make sure I can take care of this special program and give God His glory in the process.”

On what drove her to become a coach

“When I was younger, I loved basketball, and I always wanted to play basketball as long as I could. I was a 5’10” post player, so I learned pretty quickly in my career that there was nothing after college in my future, and I knew that coaching was the route I had to take. My dad was my high school coach. He coached us from the time that we were in elementary school all the way up, and I saw his passion. I saw how hard he worked, and I wanted to be exactly like him, so he’s the reason that I got into coaching. I was able to work with him. He was my assistant at Glenville State the entire time up until he passed away in 2021, and so I learned a lot from him. He did a great job of teaching me how to be a leader without ever having to say a word.”

On why she feels ready to step into the expectations that Tennessee Women’s Basketball holds

“You want to be somewhere where the expectations are high. I’ve had a lot of opportunities in my career to look at jobs and was never interested in a job that did not have high expectations, did not have a loyal fan base, did not have a hungry crowd that wanted to pay attention to what was going on, so I think that was something that makes this program incredibly special, and I’m going to work very, very hard to make sure that we keep it there.”

On if it’s ‘clicked’ that she’s the head coach for Tennessee Women’s Basketball

“It hasn’t really clicked yet. There are some times I have to just remind myself, ‘I’m really here. I’m really seeing what I’m seeing.’ It’s an incredible opportunity, and I’m so grateful for that but, no, it has not clicked yet and I will let you know when it does.”

On her timeline as the new head coach

“There’s a lot to do. We need to get a great staff put in place. I need to form relationships with current players that are here, and then we need to make some additions and get in the portal and start to recruit. It’s all hands on deck right now.”

On how her experience turning around a program at Marshall prepared her for Tennessee

“It’s helpful. It’s nothing that I planned. I was planning to be at Marshall for quite some time, and this was not something that we planned to do. It does help the fact that less than a year ago, I was doing a press conference, and less than a year ago, I was trying to recruit the roster that we had while recruiting another team and put a staff together. It’s familiar in that sense.”

On what her expectations are for this first year

“We want to be the hardest-playing team in the country. We want to establish our culture. We want to score a lot of points and be an exciting brand of basketball in the SEC. We want to make people proud. We want to make sure that we get back on top.”

On how she expects her style of basketball to translate to the SEC
“It looks like a lot of pressure and a lot of shots being taken. It’s playing a lot of players, trusting your players, giving them freedom and putting them in situations where they can make good choices and have a lot of athletes on the floor. We are going to cross half-court a lot but press almost non-stop. It’s a really aggressive and fun style of play.”

On how different she expects the recruiting process to look in the SEC
“Everyone I text has responded to me, so that’s the difference. It’s really nice, but it’s the same thing. Players are players. People who are transferring and high school players are looking for the same thing but at different levels. They just happen to be taller in the SEC.”

On whether her style of play can translate to a higher level

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think we could do it here.”

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