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Thursday, January 11, 2018, 2:20 pm

Rackham introduced at press conference

Tennessee’s new volleyball coach, Eve Rackham, was introduced officially here in Knoxville at a press conference this afternoon. You can watch a replay at the official website. Here’s what she had to say:

“I’m incredibly excited and honored to be the new head volleyball coach at the University of Tennessee. This is an amazing place with great people who have been so welcoming and warm. Knoxville is an unbelievable city. I’m just so excited to finally be here.”

“Tennessee volleyball is a program with great potential. Rob Patrick laid a foundation that I hope to build on and believe that we can. This is a great place and we’re going to do great things.”

“We have a great group of girls who are ready to get to work. I know they’re eager, they’re excited to improve. And I’m also just looking forward to building a championship culture where we can build strong women.”

On her plan: “I need to get in the gym with the kids and see where we’re at. We have a lot of work to do, I know. But I’ve also watched film of the girls and I have a good starting point. I need to get a staff in place. And we need to get to work. It’s going to take some time but I think we have the pieces here. Then it’s about recruiting and it’s about getting the highest level of athlete that we can to come to Tennessee and building from there.”

On being ready for this step up in her career: “When I started coaching I always knew I was going to be a head coach, so for me it was a matter of where and not if. So after this season I felt like I was going to look but I was only going to leave for the right place. And there was no doubt when this job came open that this was the place I wanted to be. Where I felt like you could be successful. Where I felt like the resources were there. And where they cared about female athletics and they wanted to see a program rise. And I felt like I could build on what was already there.”

On returning UT to a tournament-quality team: “I think the talent is here. Like I said, I’ve watched film. I know that the girls who are here have the talent to do it. And they were close last year. We had a 5-13 SEC record and there were five matches we lost in five. So if you turn that around and you win those matches, those really close ones, we’re 10-8 and the season looks a whole lot different. So we need to get to work. There’s some things we’ve got to change and some system things we need to work on. But in terms of the talent I think it’s here. And like I said, building from there with bringing in new recruits.”

On UT’s recruiting footprint: “The good thing about Tennessee is that it’s a university everyone knows. It’s got a national brand and we can go anywhere. I believe the best players in the state of Tennessee should come to the University of Tennessee. So that’s where we’ll look first. But I think we can reach out to the west coast, we can get players from the midwest, we can recruit it Texas, and in Florida. I’m not concerned about that. I know that this place will sell itself.”

On what she looks for in players: “The big thing for me first and foremost is I want kids with a ton of passion, who love to play. When I went to the facility yesterday to meet with the team the girls were in there and I thought that was a great first sign. I want kids who just love to play. And not, you know, when it’s the first day of preseason. I’m talking about on a Wednesday in October after a midterm. Are you still excited to play? So obviously there’s a certain talent level and a physical level we’re looking for. But when you talk about those intangible things, I want kids with a lot of passion, who want to compete, and they want to play hard, and they want to play for the team.”