Tennessee’s Summitt has early onset dementia

Knoxville, TENN (AP/The Loop)

DOUG FEINBERG,AP Basketball Writer

 

 

Pat Summitt made it clear. She won’t accept a “pity party.”

The winningest coach in women’s basketball just wants to focus on getting Tennessee back on top.

Summitt surprised the sports world with her announcement Tuesday that she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia — the Alzheimer’s type. The Hall of Fame coach appeared stoic during a minute-long video posted on the school’s website.

“I plan to continue to be your coach,” the 59-year-old said in the video. “Obviously, I realize I may have some limitations with this condition since there will be some good days and some bad days.”

There is no cure for the disease and even Summitt’s icy glare that has struck fear in many an opponent, official or Lady Vols player, won’t be able to stop its advances.

Still she said she won’t have her time at Tennessee turn into a “pity party.”

Summitt isn’t sure how much longer she will coach only saying that she would do it “as long as the good Lord is willing”.

Before Tuesday’s news, Summitt was trying to figure out a way to end a three-year drought of missing the Final Four — one of the longest in her 37-year tenure at the school. She does have one of the top recruiting classes coming in this year as freshmen.

She met with her team Tuesday to discuss her diagnosis. Junior guard Taber Spani said the meeting was businesslike, with Summitt telling the Lady Vols nothing would get in the way for their quest of a ninth national title this season.

“It’s shocking, just because you don’t expect that to happen to someone you look up to,” Spani said. “I admire her, and just seeing her just gave me more confidence in her as a coach. We’re going to rally.”

Summitt will rely more on her assistants — Holly Warlick, Dean Lockwood and Mickie DeMoss — but they aren’t sure exactly how things may change.

“We’re here to help Pat as far as coaching and will help this program continue its tradition. And I’m here for Pat as a friend,” Warlick said. “I know she’s going to be here coaching, but she is quick to say this is Tennessee basketball. We’re going to carry on the tradition no matter what.”

Warlick said Summitt also wanted to crush any speculation about her health after the announcement.

“We got on the phone immediately and called kids and commitments and had nothing but a huge amount of support,” Warlick said. “I think it’s one thing to see it on the (TV news) ticker. It’s another thing to hear from Pat Summitt that we’re here, we’re going to be here and nothing is going to change about Tennessee basketball.”

Summitt’s family and closest confidants have known about her condition since she first learned of it, but the Hall of Fame coach first revealed the news publicly to the Washington Post and Knoxville News Sentinel.

She also told her former players early Tuesday morning.

“As a player, we know coach is the type who’s not going to give up. She’s going to fight, she’s going to do everything she can,” said Michelle Snow, who played for Tennessee from 1998-2002. “She’s probably going to be the best patient they ever had. She’s a fighter and she’s been through a lot. She knows how to fight and she’s going to continue to do that.”

As the stunning news swept across the women’s basketball world Tuesday, the reaction was simple: she’ll meet the disease head on.

Indiana Fever coach Lin Dunn first met Summitt 40 years ago at Tennessee-Martin. The two used to play softball in the summer together and were sorority sisters. She was floored this morning when she got the phone call with the news.

“My first reaction was tremendous respect, how she was publicly acknowledging this disease. I know how tough minded she is, tremendous perseverance,” Dunn said by phone. “She will bring national attention to this disease and she can spearhead a move to try and fight it.”

That sentiment was echoed by former Lady Vols star Candace Parker.

“I don’t think she is going to let it affect her,” the Los Angeles Sparks star said. “I think she is going to continue on coaching as long as she can. She came out with (the news) and now we’re going to move forward.”

Summitt’s biggest rival, Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma was shocked and saddened by the news.

“You don’t necessarily associate dementia with people our age, so this announcement really put things in perspective,” he said.

Summitt has won eight national titles at Tennessee and is 29 victories short of 1,100 — that would give her 200 more than former Texas coach Jody Conradt, who is No. 2 on the list.

“It always seemed she had no vulnerability,” Conradt said. “She’s the solid rock everyone looked up to. … I’m very happy she’s not going to walk off the court at this point. When you have made it your life, there needs to be transition.”

Summitt has been bothered for a while by rheumatoid arthritis. Tennessee athletics director Joan Cronan said that the coach initially chalked up her memory problems to side effects from medicine she was taking to treat it.

The coach first consulted local doctors, who recommended she undergo a more extensive evaluation. In May, she traveled to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where doctors performed a spinal tap and other tests that eventually produced the diagnosis.

Summitt’s first reaction was anger, but that soon gave way to determination.

“She’s ready to fight this and move on,” Cronan said. “She had to come to grips with how she wanted to face it.”

Talking about it was a big step and her son Tyler was instrumental in making that happen.

“Tyler has been so courageous in this,” Summitt’s longtime associate head coach Holly Warlick said. “He encouraged her to come forward.”

Tyler has been supporting his mother throughout this process; he went to the Mayo Clinic with her in May. And though he has been a great sounding board, the 20-year-old said his mom’s revelation is a life lesson for everyone.

“It seems like she teaches me something new everyday, and she is currently giving me one of the best life lessons of all: to have the courage to be open, honest, and face the truth,” he said. “This will be a new chapter for my mom and I, and we will continue to work as a team like we always have done.”

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AP Sports Writers Beth Rucker and Jim Vertuno contributed to this story.

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Follow Doug Feinberg at http://twitter.com/dougfeinberg.

 

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Tennis Players from Around the World Come to UTC

By Jake Chapman

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (UTC/The Loop) – A positive environment and enthusiastic coach drew three tennis players from all over the world to UTC.

Trent Cobb, a Melbourne, Australia, freshman, said the relaxing and multicultural environment of Chattanooga was one of the key reasons he chose to play at UTC.

“It’s great to be in a not-as-fast pace city like home,” Cobb said.  “Melbourne is fast-paced all the time, but Chattanooga is more easy going and peaceful.”

Cobb said Chattanooga smaller population may be one reason.

“The population size here in Chattanooga is smaller and more spread out than Melbourne and I enjoy that,” Cobb said.

Cobb has played tennis since he was six years old.  He is a computer engineering major.

It was friends from back home that attracted Rick van de Bovenkamp, Oud-Beyerland, The Netherlands, senior, to UTC.  He said he started emailing coaches and visiting schools after his friends convinced him to come to America and play.

Like Cobb, Bovenkamp enjoys the relaxing area that is Chattanooga because he grew up in a fast-paced city.

“I enjoy the city life very much, but Chattanooga is more than just a decent sized city,” Bovenkamp said.  “It has more to offer than the city life like the outdoor activities here are really enjoyable.”

Bovenkamp has played tennis since he was 10 years old.  His major is Economics and plans on staying in the United States after he graduates.

Bovenkamp may have been drawn by friends from back home, but Roberto Vieria, a Bedfordview, South Africa, sophomore, said that his coach from the tennis academy he played at back home, Earl Langer, roomed with UTC head coach Carlos Garcia during his college years.  Granger also worked for UTC early on in his coaching career before he went to South Africa.

“My coach told me that coach Garcia was a trustworthy man and he loved his players,” Vieria said.

Vieria has played tennis since he was four years old.  He is a mechanical engineering and wants to go back to South Africa to help out his country.

Garcia’s love for his players not only drew Vieria to UTC, but Cobb and Bovenkamp as well.

“A coach that actually cares about his players is a big deal to us,” Vieria said.  “Coach’s enthusiasm and energy when he first met me drew me to UTC and the rest of the team will agree with me.”

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US Tax Cuts

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama met with Democratic congressional leaders at the White House on Monday, eager to seal a year-end bipartisan agreement to extend expiring tax cuts to all Americans and renew jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

The White House also has been floating the possibility of including a temporary payroll tax holiday in any agreement as a way to help stimulate the economy, officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss recent developments.

Democrats have been critical of Obama for signaling a willingness to bow to Republican demands that any tax cut extension apply at upper income levels as well as to the middle class.

The White House meeting took place shortly after Obama returned to Washington from a trip to North Carolina, where he said he and Congress must “make sure we’re coming up with a solution, even if it’s not 100 percent what I want or 100 percent what the Republicans want.”

Momentum for a year-end deal picked up after Obama met at the White House last week with Republican leaders for the first time since his party’s dispiriting losses in midterm elections, and accelerated again when the government reported last week that joblessness had risen in November, to 9.8 percent.

The flurry of negotiations is taking place with lawmakers eager to wrap up their work for the year and adjourn for the holidays.

Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky have all said in recent days they believe a deal on tax cuts and unemployment benefits is possible by midweek. If so, that would leave time for the Senate to hold a ratification debate on a new arms control treaty with Russia, which Obama has made a top year-end priority.

Senate Republicans have seemed more willing to hold a ratification debate in recent days as the negotiations over taxes intensified, suggesting at least an implicit link between the two issues in the talks.

Few details of the negotiations were available, including the length of a payroll tax holiday under discussion.

But it appeared increasingly likely that any extension of the Bush-era income tax cuts would be for two years.

Obama and Democrats have long insisted that tax cuts be allowed to lapse for incomes over $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples, saying that would cushion the impact on the deficit.

On the other hand, Republicans want all tax cuts extended permanently, arguing it made no economic sense to raise taxes with the economy still recovering from the recession.

Questions remained about how many concessions Obama could extract from Republicans in exchange for extending current tax rates for high earners, a proposal he opposed. But without action, lawmakers face the prospect of delivering a tax hike to all taxpayers at the end of the year, when the current rates expire and revert to higher pre-2001 and 2003 levels.

Negotiations between the Obama administration and a bipartisan group of lawmakers centered on a two-year extension of current rates.

At the same time, a jump in the unemployment rate to 9.8 percent is putting pressure on Republicans to accede to Obama’s demand that Congress extend unemployment insurance for a year. GOP congressional leaders had opposed an extension of benefits without cuts elsewhere in the federal budget.

“I think most folks believe the recipe would include at least an extension of unemployment benefits for those who are unemployed and an extension of all of the tax rates for all Americans for some period of time,” Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Senate’s Republican negotiator in the talks, said Sunday.

Central to the deal, White House officials and Democrats said, is an extension of unemployment benefits.

“Without unemployment benefits being extended, personally, this is a nonstarter,” said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking member of the Senate Democratic leadership.

Republicans have insisted that any extension of jobless aid be paid for with cuts elsewhere in the federal budget. The White House opposes that, saying such cuts are economically damaging during a weak recovery.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Republicans would probably cede that point to the Democrats.

“Let’s take care of the unemployment compensation even if it isn’t … backed up by real finances,” Hatch said. “We’ve got to do it. So let’s do it. But that ought to be it.”

About 2 million unemployed workers will run out of benefits this month if they are not renewed, and the administration estimates 7 million will be affected if the payments are not extended for a year.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday said discussions are still under way on a variety of unresolved issues.

Any deal would require the approval of the House and Senate, and the president’s signature. Obama told Democratic congressional leaders Saturday that he would oppose any extension of tax rates that did not include jobless benefits and other assistance his administration was seeking.

The short-term tax and spending debate is unfolding even as Congress and the Obama administration confront growing anxieties over the federal government’s growing deficits.

A presidential commission studying the deficit identified austere measures last week to cut $4 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade.

The movement toward a possible compromise came after Republicans blocked Democratic efforts in the Senate Saturday to extend the current tax rates on all but the highest income levels. Republicans prefer extending all the tax rates permanently, but that cannot win legislative approval either. Even if it did, Obama would be sure to veto.

Durbin and Kyl spoke Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” while Hatch appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” and McConnell on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

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Chattanooga Haunts Unveiled

Every city has its tales of ghosts and phantoms. The same goes for Chattanooga and the many historic landmarks where these ghostly beings still call home.

By: Corey Honeycutt

evenstar1@bellsouth.net

Chattanooga/Tenn.(UTC/LOOP)–Chattanooga has become quite a tourist attraction as it continues to build and expand. It’s come a long way from the city it started  back during the Civil War.  With such a history its only natural to have a few skeletons in its closet.

In 1867 Chattanooga was flooded when the Tennessee river rose 57-feet. Many lost their lives and homes as the waters continued to rise leaving downtown Chattanooga in ruins. Once the waters receded survivors picked up their lives where they could and rebuilt their town 20-feet above the original. The memory of the flood and old city were lost as the years past, until it was discovered by an archeologists and UTC Professor Dr. Jeff Brown.

Brown discovered that below the streets of Chattanooga lies a lost time with stairs leading to no where and doors opening into nothing. Old signs with peeling paint hang lopsided from the rotting ceilings as the old town attempts to hang on to what it once was.

With such a tragedy its not shocking that there have been numerous ghost sightings by visitors who find their way underground. From phantoms to ghost horses, it seems that the people of the past have not yet let go of their old way of life.

Stairs that go nowhere

Stairs that go nowhere (photographer unknown)

The Delta Queen a historic stern-wheel built in 1926  recently made Chattanooga her home and brought her ghosts along with her.

The Delta Queen has been  converted into a hotel since it docked in Chattanooga and has been entertaining guests ever since. However, some of those guests seem to have never checked out.

The best known of these is the ghost of Mary Greene, who is the main ghost on board but by far not the only one.

Mary B. Greene forbade drinking on the Delta Queen during her life there. However, after she died that policy changed and a bar was installed. Not long after, a barge crashed into the Delta Queen and destroyed the bar. The name of the barge was the Mary B, almost as if she was determined to keep her policy alive even after her death.

This photo shows what is believed to be the ghostly figure of Mary B. Greene standing in one of the lower deck windows. The inset picture shows a close up of the ghostly figure.

Ghost of Mary Greene on the Delta Queen

Ghost of Mary Greene on the Delta Queen(picture taken by Tamara Hancock 2010)

Chattanooga’s Read House hotel is another popular haunt for spirits of the past to hang around. It’s a popular stop on the Chattanooga ghost tours and many paranormal investigations.

The Read House’s history isn’t the happiest of ones. The original hotel that was built on the spot was in 1847 and called the Old Crutchfield house. In 1867 it was used as a hospital by the Union army and then burned down shortly after. Dr. John T. Read rebuilt the hotel after the old hotel was demolished in 1926.

Throughout its history many famous names have stayed there such as Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchhill.  One of the most famous names to have stayed, was Al Capone, who stayed in room 311 during his days in court where he was convicted.

Room 311 is the main source of the paranormal activity at the Read House as many who have stayed there have claimed to see ghostly shadows in the room or mirror and other unexplained happenings. There is no documented story of why there may be a ghost in that particular room but there are rumors of a young woman, who was either a prostitute or mistress who was brutally murdered there.

Sheraton Read House hotel

Sheraton Read House hotel

The most common occurrence of  paranormal activity is the appearance of orbs, said to be the manifestation of spirits. They usually appear to be balls of light caught on camera.

Chattanooga holds many past secrets and lives that refuse to let go and possibly live among us today.

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I love Pink

By: Mariah Brooks

mariah-brooks@mocs.utc.edu

Ten-year-old Parker Salinas considers herself one lucky little girl and a lifelong believer in the power of pink.

Mom Jules was diagnosed two years ago with breast cancer, enduring weeks of radiation, chemotherapy and, finally, a double-mastectomy that saved her life. Parker — the oldest of three kids — begged to get involved in the search for a cure and got busy making and selling bracelets from soda can pull tabs. Her total: 600 bracelets and $600 to support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

“I’m doing something fun but I’m also doing something to help another family, or somebody else,” said the fourth-grader from suburban Atlanta. “It was the thought of helping others to feel better and not die from it.”

Parkers large and small are trying to push back the most common form of cancer in women in their own homegrown ways, from two teachers who putt-putted more than 2,700 miles on scooters in “Dumb and Dumber” getups to a Minnesota family’s cookbook that raised $30,000.

Many do it year-round with help from a bump in online giving and the rise of Facebook. Others find shorter-term projects to take advantage of October’s designation as breast cancer awareness month, when bubblegum pink takes center stage during walks, corporate drives and the sale of special products that raise millions for research, education and support for patients.

“Finding a good give-back project is like finding that perfect pair of jeans,” said Christy Eichers, who nearly lost her mother, Joan, to the disease. “To give to something you really believe in is a gift.”

Eichers hit on her “Mixing Up Memories” cookbook idea while driving one day in Minneapolis two years ago, listening to the “Wicked” tune “Defying Gravity”: “Some things I cannot change/ But ’til I try, I’ll never know!” She embellished each comfort, party-pleasing recipe (Cowboy Salsa, Annie’s Cajun Yams) with its distinct family history.

“My mom said, ‘Oh my goodness, we’re not going to have any family secrets left,’” Eichers said.

Like Parker and Eichers, Carter Hoff’s mom is a breast cancer survivor. Hoff’s good friend Alan Landers has survivors in his family, too. Both men were teachers on a U.S. military base in the Azores in Portugal when they decided on their scooter ride across the United States in late June.

“It was an easy choice,” Hoff said. “We decided we could be just two guys on scooters or we could do it wearing the orange and blue tuxedoes from ‘Dumb and Dumber.’ We had canes, too, but we lost them in Pennsylvania. They fell off the hogs,” Hoff joked.

Averaging about 300 miles a day at 60 mph or slower, it took them 16 days to go Washington to Washington and raise about $4,300. “We went for the everyday grassroots people you meet on the street,” Hoff said. “A few dollars here, a few dollars there could add up and make a big difference.”

Nobody knew more about the personal touch than Mel Simmons, a suburban Boston mother of two and a flight attendant for 38 years who died of breast cancer after a fierce, five-year battle.

Frequent flyers on Delta Air Lines planes asked for her by name. Her friends nominated her to carry the Olympic Torch, and she did with her trademark grin. During treatment for breast cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital, Simmons liked to give her nurses and others colorful bead bracelets on elastic bands that a friend found for her in Turkey.

When Simmons died in 2005, the recipients of her token gift wore them in her honor. Soon others wanted them, too, and friends found 1,000 more of the bracelets. The supply quickly sold out, with proceeds donated to cancer causes. Her loved ones realized the bracelets could raise even more money in the fight against all cancers and formed the Friends of Mel Foundation. The group had a bad turn of luck in 2007 when they voluntarily recalled the bracelets due to lead, but it found a new source in January 2008 and the tradition continues. More than $2 million in proceeds from the bracelets and other fundraisers has been distributed.

“We were missing her and trying to channel our grief in a positive way,” said Pauline Alighieri, a close friend. “At the time people started asking for the bracelets, so we put a basket down on a table and said take a bracelet, give us $10. We didn’t know what we were doing. The whole thing was done out of the back of my car.”

Greg Moore in Chattanooga, Tenn., lost his mother to breast cancer 18 years ago. The mother of his oldest daughter died of the disease two years ago.

Moore co-owns a Volvo Rents franchise, providing heavy equipment for construction work. He painted one of his 45 cherry pickers pink and began last October to donate 25 percent of its proceeds to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Moore has turned over a little more than $2,000 so far.

“At the very beginning everybody wanted to rent it for what it’s used for but a lot of times just to aggravate their workers,” he said. “On the job site it’s a big conversation piece.”

Corporate marketer Nick Mavrick at Volvo Rents headquarters in Asheville, N.C., said other stores have done the same with pink, along with red, white and blue American flag designs to support military veterans, purple for the March of Dimes and a jigsaw puzzle look for autism.

“There are a lot of big guys in this business with soft hearts,” Mavrick said. “A lot of what they do doesn’t fill their hearts. This does.”

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Softball Team Hits Home with Family Atmosphere

By Jeremy Acree

E-mail to: Jeremy-Acree@utc.edu

CHATTANOOGA, TN (UTC/The Loop) – Upon first glance, it seems obvious why the Chattanooga softball team has been so successful in recent years. Jim Frost Field and the nearby indoor practice facility rival any Division I facility in the country, – they played host to the United States Olympic Team in 2000 – meaning UTC can show off one of the premier softball parks in the country to recruits from around the nation.

UTC softball coach Frank Reed stands up for his players inside the lines and out.

UTC softball coach Frank Reed stands up for his players inside the lines and out.

What isn’t so obvious is why the Lady Mocs are always up off their feet when one of their own is at bat or why they always have louder and more consistent chatter coming from the bench than their opponent. The secret to such team chemistry is Coach Frank Reed.

Reed’s family is currently close to 25 members deep. And 18 of them are girls that might fill up a cabinet or two with “No. 1 Dad” mugs for him if they weren’t economically challenged college students.

“He’s taken me in as one of his daughters,” Tara Tembey, an assistant coach and former player, said. “I’ve been a part of his family.”

Before a highly touted recruit sees the pristine ballpark, he preaches faith, family, academics and athletics, in that order.

“We sit them down and tell them that if you’re here to be a softball player 24/7, you’re in the wrong program,” Reed said.

After the initial shock of hearing about the family that is Chattanooga softball instead of the win-at-all-costs program that it’s not, most players – not to mention their parents – cannot wait to be a part of what Reed has to offer.

His method has proven to be successful, and not all of the results came with the Lady Mocs:

  • Junior College Coach of the Year in 2001 at Chattanooga State
  • 476-87 record in 10 years at Chattanooga State
  • Three-time SoCon Coach of the Year at UTC
  • Five-time SoCon Tournament Champion at UTC
  • Member of National Softball Association Hall of Fame

The Reed experience is exemplified by Tembey, who was drawn from her home in California five years ago, and still lives 3,000 miles from her parents because she loves the game and the new relatives that came along with it.

“It’s like a home away from home,” Tembey said. “[Reed] is all about faith, family, academics, and athletics, and he really stands by it.”

Tembey changed her mind at the last minute when she decided to come to UTC.

“I had originally told them no,” she said. “But I decided to give them a chance… and this has been the most solid place that I’ve been in a long time.”

She came on an official visit on her birthday weekend, and Reed – who coincidentally shares the same birthday – told her to call as soon as she made a decision.

“I think it’s because we cared about her,” Reed said. “She called me at three in the morning and said coach Reed we’re going to spend our birthdays together for the next four years.”

While another assistant coach, Brad Irwin, joked that Reed can be too nice at times, there is no doubting the results.

Reed took over the coaching job in 2002, and in eight years at UTC, he has claimed six Southern Conference titles and five trips to the NCAA regional tournament.

The Lady Mocs are on their way to yet another strong showing in the Southern Conference.

The Lady Mocs are on their way to yet another strong showing in the Southern Conference.

“The most important aspect [of coaching] is being able to relate to your players,” Reed said.

There has been some adjustment in his theories since he began coaching, and the family mentality has certainly grown.

“It used to be all about the sport,” Reed said. “I was probably a tougher coach to play for [early on]. “I’m probably still a tough coach, but I spend more time communicating with players.”

“You have to have discipline to keep respect,” said Tembey, who thought for a while but could not come up with a flaw of her former coach and now boss.

Reed doesn’t want the title of father added to his job description, but he thinks there is middle ground between disciplinarian and push-over father.

“Maybe father/authority figure,” he said. “They know how far I’m willing to bend, but at some point you just can’t bend anymore.”

Along with managing his own role, Reed has been able to find a mix between talent on the field and strong character off it. And it all starts with the atmosphere he has established.

“We found out the kids that we’ve recruited that come in and do the faith and the family are going do well academically and are going do well on the softball team,” he said. “Our kids understand that at the end of the day, softball is important, but softball is not the thing that runs the ship.”

Having Jim Frost Field to boast about doesn’t hurt either.

The Chattanooga area is stocked full of talented softball players, but Irwin and Reed both acknowledged that getting those players through the door can be more challenging than some from the west coast.

“It’s just plain ol’ UTC,” said Irwin. But after comparing the playing conditions at schools hours away, a new light is shed on the home-town team.

There are eight players on the current roster from Chattanooga and the surrounding area, proving that Reed’s coaching style – which doubles as a recruiting tool – is effective near or far.

The players who visit Chattanooga are impressed by the facilities then sucked in by the coach that makes a softball practice feel like sitting down at the dinner table for a home cooked meal.

“They tell me that I am [too nice],” Reed said. “But can you be too nice and still be somebody they respect? I’d hope to think I could be.”

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Lady Mocs fall short in NCAA Tourney

By Xan Gwaltney

TEMPE, Ariz. (UTC/The Loop) — The UTC women’s basketball team’s upset bid in the NCAA Tournament fell short Saturday night with a 70-63 loss to the Oklahoma State Cowgirls – a disappointing end to an otherwise great season for Coach Wes Moore and the Lady Mocs.

For the first half the shoe seemed to fit for UTC’s shot at becoming the Cinderella of the 2010 tournament, with the Lady Mocs holding an 18-point halftime lead at 37-19.

View Complete Box Score

In the first half, the Cowgirls struggled to find a rhythm offensively without guard Andrea Riley, the nation’s third-leading scorer, who was suspended for the game.  Also facing a solid defensive effort from UTC, OSU shot just 17.1 percent in the first half.

Mocs Senior Shanara Hollinquest

Mocs Senior Shanara Hollinquest

But after halftime shots began to fall for the Cowgirls, and they were able to apply a frenetic full-court press that forced the Lady Mocs into 17 second-half turnovers.

Freshman guard Kayla Christopher said, “We lost our composure when they went to the press, gave up a few too many turnovers and they took advantage.”

Toni Young scored 16 of her career-high 22 points and Tegan Cunningham scored 19 of her 25 in the second half to lead the Cowgirls’ comeback.

Christopher led the Lady Mocs with 15 points while two-time Southern Conference Player of the Year Shanara Hollinquest had 14 points and 11 rebounds in her final game.  Although this was the end of her college career, she said, “I’m proud of the team and how we performed down the stretch.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”

It was also the final collegiate game for Lady Mocs seniors Tagan Hatchett, Megan Rollins, and Jenaya Wade-Fray.

Keep up to date with all UTC sports teams on Gomocs.com

Back home in Chattanooga, fans gathered at Big River Grille on Broad Street for a viewing party.

A sparse crowd of enthusiastic fans left disappointed, but they remain faithful to the Mocs, though many did not attend the university.

Ken Hays, a local art and framing distributor, said he is not a UTC graduate but has supported the Mocs teams and regularly attended games for over 25 years.

Brandon Potts, Director of the UTC Mocs Club, was certainly disappointed with the game’s outcome, but was pleased with a solid turnout from fans at Big River.

The Lady Mocs finish their season 24-9, the program’s 11th consecutive 20-win season.

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Nurik Leads Lady Mocs as Freshman

By Jeremy Acree

E-mail to: Jeremy-Acree@utc.edu

CHATTANOOGA, TN (UTC/The Loop) — Senior Chattanooga tennis player Kate Ksiezopolski walked up to the fence where teammate Jenna Nurik was playing and talked calmly to her, trying to get her to relax. Nurik is a freshman, and she had dropped the first set and was struggling to get into a rhythm against an opponent from UAB in a match at the UTC Tennis Courts.

Freshman Jenna Nurik has excelled in her first season as a Lady Moc.

Freshman Jenna Nurik has excelled in her first season as a Lady Moc.

Nurik had fallen 4-6 in the first set, but she went on to dominate the next two and get the win, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.

These talks and reminders have become commonplace recently for Nurik, but they may be the difference between struggling through the first year of college tennis and being one of the top players in the Southern Conference.

It’s something to be expected in nearly all college sports. The freshmen get a little frustrated and need the calming senior leadership. But what was different about this situation was that Nurik was in the No. 1 singles spot, where she has been since she arrived at UTC less than a year ago.

To see the whole Lady Mocs’ roster, click here.

The Roswell, Ga., native was the third-ranked player coming out of the state in her 2009 class, but she came to Chattanooga with no expectations.

“My goal was to be .500 tops,” Nurik said. “And have fun and try to get through the semester. It never crossed my mind that I would play the one spot.”

In the fall, however, she earned the No. 1 placement and has not relinquished it since, compiling a 15-6 record over both the fall and spring seasons. Modest goals turned to carrying a team on her shoulders.

“I was just thinking I’m gonna come in as three or four and I’ll just work my way up and do what they need me to do,” Nurik said. “So when I got the one spot I was like, ‘I really need to step up.’”

A 15-7 doubles record to go along with her strong singles record shows she has been up to the challenge. But she has not done it without help.

When she talks about keys to her success, it isn’t a forehand or serve or backhand that gets mentioned first.

“Positive attitude is a huge one,” Nurik said. “[The team] can tell when I’m upset and they teach me how to be positive. Some of the critical losses we’ve had this season have hit me harder than it hit them. And they just told me to bounce back from it.”

Nurik’s talent was obvious to UTC coach Jeff Clark.

“She’s gotten a little better with each week and with each month,” said Clark. “She’s just gotten more well-rounded as a player and I’m not at all surprised by her success.

“I think she has the talent to be one of the top players in the Southern Conference every year.”

To see the rest of the UTC women’s tennis schedule, click here.

Nurik doesn’t often play like a freshman. But she is not shy about admitting there is still room to grow.

“I’m not as positive as everyone else,” Nurik said. “[When I drop a set] I’m thinking what changed, what did I do that didn’t work out as well.”

So when she is chasing down balls and out-working her opponents, there may be more behind it than talent and skill.

“[The team] is really like a family,” Nurik said. “Everyone is so supportive. It’s real easy when everyone is behind you.”

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Short Dance for Lady Mocs

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) – Toni Young scored 16 of her career-high 22 points in the second half and fourth-seeded Oklahoma State rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit to beat Chattanooga 70-63 in the first round of the NCAA women’s tournament on Saturday night.

     The Cowgirls were missing the nation’s No. 3 scorer Andrea Riley, who was suspended by the NCAA for the game because she hit an opponent in the back of the head in the first round two years ago.

     Tegan Cunningham scored 19 of her 25 points in the second half for Oklahoma State (24-10), which outscored the Lady Mocs 51-26 after the break. Riley, who averaged 26.6 points per game, cheered on the Cowgirls from two rows behind the team bench as frustrated

     Chattanooga committed 17 second-half turnovers. Kayla Christopher scored 15 and Shanara Hollinquest 14 for the No. 13 seed Lady Mocs (24-9).

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Lady Mocs Beat Samford for Socon Title

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Shanara Hollinquest scored 22 points, Michelle Davis added 16 and hit two key 3-pointers late, and Chattanooga rallied to beat Samford 72-67 on Monday to win its eighth Southern Conference title in 10 years.

The Lady Mocs (24-8) improved to 13-0 in league title games, but their latest trip to the NCAA tournament required a big comeback.

Down 11 points midway through the second half, Chattanooga turned on the defense while Davis got hot from the outside. Her 3 with 3:03 left gave Chattanooga its first lead of the second half, and she buried another 3 with 1:24 left to make it 64-60.

Hollinquest hit four free throws in the final 14 seconds left to put it away.

Savannah Hill scored 26 points, but a six-minute second-half scoring drought doomed the Bulldogs (22-10), who were seeking their first NCAA bid. Samford is assured a trip to the WNIT.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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