Kellie Harper receives rousing welcome at reception

Lady Vols Head Basketball Coach Kellie Harper and UT Director of Athletics Phillip Fulmer.

Even though it’s not football or basketball time in Tennessee, local stores may have noticed a run on orange clothing and accessories recently. That’s because five area companies banded together to host a community welcome reception for new Lady Vols head basketball coach, Kellie Harper.

The fun evening, held at The Mill & Mine in downtown Knoxville, was sponsored by Pilot Flying J, Cherokee Distributing Company, Prestige Cleaners, Hickory Construction and the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

Harper, who arrived with Director of Athletics Phillip Fulmer and members of her coaching staff, was a big hit. She immediately connected with the attendees with her poise, wit and warmth. During an on-stage interview with longtime sportswriter Maria Cornelius (who also works at Moxley Carmichael), the coach talked about her new staff, expectations at Tennessee and her love of Lady Vols basketball.

Stepping into the top spot at Lady Vols basketball comes with the weight of expectations and pressure to win. The program also offers an engaged fan base and unparalleled facilities, which Harper referred to as amazing.

Coach Harper with sponsor Jeff Knight of Cherokee Distributing Company. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

“Kellie understands every aspect of Lady Vols basketball,” Cornelius said after the event. “She has lived it as a player. She arrives with 15 years of experience as a head coach in college, so the learning curve will be very short for her at Tennessee. Kellie is not just a coach. She is a teacher. While the comparisons to Pat are inevitable – and there are multiple similarities in dialect and mannerisms – Kellie will forge her own identity and style of basketball. At the same time, Kellie will never forget where she came from and how much Pat influenced her life. She is Tennessee to the core.”

Harper also said what fans wanted to hear – Tennessee will play fast offensively and aggressive defensively. She wants the fans to see a high-octane brand of basketball and players that get after it on the court. When a new staff arrives, transition time is always needed as players learn new systems and form relationships with the coaches.

Harper will need a year to sort out the roster – two players left after the coaching change – and recruit players to her style of basketball. But she also will maximize the talent she has on the team. At times last season, Tennessee looked uninspired, which is baffling for any player stepping foot on “The Summitt,” the name of the basketball court at Thompson-Boling Arena. Harper won’t tolerate such.

She was at ease throughout the festive evening and stayed on her feet for more than two hours to greet every attendee, sign autographs and pose for photos. Harper and her entire staff were the last ones to leave the building.

(Note: Moxley Carmichael was in charge of the event. Thanks to Maria Cornelius for helping me with the basketball aspects of this post!)

A huge illuminated basketball hoop was the centerpiece of the decor. It was designed by M&M Productions USA, a great Moxley Carmichael client. In the foreground are News Sentinel photographer Saul Young, left, and City Council candidate Charles Thomas. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

Coach Harper with some of the evening’s sponsors. From left Bruce Hartmann of University of Tennessee Medical Center, Eddie Mannis of Prestige Cleaners and Burke Pinnell of Hickory Construction.

From left, John Knight, Dwayne Light and Blair Reath, all of Cherokee Distributing, which generously provided all the beer for the evening.

Prestige Cleaners’ Eddie Mannis, right, greeting Phillip Fulmer.

At the start of the evening, WVLT’s Rick Russo stopped by for a quick interview. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

From the Lady Vols staff, from left, Catherine Greene, Lacey Goldwire, Jon Harper, Jennifer Sullivan, Jessica Jackson and Alex Varlan. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

Tank and Terri Strickland with U.S. Judge Tom Varlan, the father of Alex Varlan, who is in the previous photo. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

Flowers were by Crouch Florist. Fabulous food was by Holly Hambright.

I loved the decorations on the cookies!

The cheese options were amazing.

The colors of the evening were orange, white and light blue, of course.

Coach Harper with Michael and Knox County Commissioner Evelyn Gill. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

From left, Daryl Johnson of Johnson Architecture, Polly Fisher, Charis Kraski and Art Clancy. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

David Hall, executive vice president of University of Tennessee Medical Center, introduced Harper and sportswriter Maria Cornelius, who would interview her on stage.

Coach Harper makes her entrance to a rousing reception. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

The interview was fun. Cornelius asked Coach Harper to give her best version of Pat Summitt’s legendary stare. She looked to her husband, Jon Harper, for motivation to get angry — to much laughter. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

From left, Regina Dean of WUOT-FM, Dan and Kathy Hamilton, Associate Athletics Director Dara Worrell and Jeannie Dulaney.

Dr. Doug Leahy, left, and Jerry Hall of Summit Medical Group beneath the big hoop. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

Jacque and Cliff Hawks with Bruce Anderson, right. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

From left, News Sentinel President Frank Rosamond, Patrick Birmingham of Covenant Health and Coby Cooper, general manager of WATE-TV. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

Maria Cornelius asking insightful questions.

Coach Harper with insightful answers!

Lynne and Dr. Walter Fain with state Rep. Gloria Johnson, right. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

From left, Rick Turner, Gay Lyons, Jennifer Holder and John Craig. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

From left, Eddie Mannis, Jerry Askew and Charles Thomas.

Susan Brown, left, with Michell Witt and Alan Carmichael.

Coach Harper with the whole Hickory Construction family. Ben and Sara Hedstrom Pinnell, left, and Lezah and Burke Pinnell, right.

Marilyn and Patrick Roddy in appropriate attire. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

From left, Janet Testerman Crossley, Bill Regas, Grady Regas and Jenny Williams. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

From left, Patrick Wilson, Tiffany Gardner, Corey Ostrowski and Patrick Birmingham. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

Former Knoxville Mayor Daniel Brown and his wife, Cathy. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

From left, Pace Robinson, Patrick Roddy and Eddie Mannis talking sports, no doubt. Or politics. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

The members of the Leadership Knoxville Class of 19 who were in attendance gathered for a picture. From left: Randy Fields of Hickory Construction; Lauren Miller of Moxley Carmichael, Kim Ciukowski of Pinnacle Bank; Derwin Hagood of Knoxville Utilities Board; State Rep. Rick Staples; David Hunt of WBIR-TV; and Stephen Deucker of Cirrus Aircraft. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

Megan Venable, left, was covering the event for VIP Knoxville. She’s with Chad and Melissa Tindell. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

University of Tennessee staff members, from left, volleyball Head Coach Eve Rackham, Senior Associate Athletics Director Donna Thomas, volleyball Assistant Coach Gavin Watt, Senior Associates Athletic Director Janeen Lalik and Associate Athletics Director Dara Worrell. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

Jerry Hall and Kathy Darnell, both of Summit Medical Group, with Moxley Carmichael’s Lauren Miller, right. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

Donna Kelley, left, and Lavonda Cantrell, both of Hillcrest Healthcare Communities. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

From left, Jerry Askew, Art Clancy, Kim Henry, Tom Wolf and City Council candidate Janet Testerman. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

From left, Bruce Anderson, Daniel Lee, Tyvi Small, Monique and John Anderson. In his younger days, John was a practice player for Coach Harper when she was at N.C. State. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

Bonnie Ledbetter and Jack Hammontree. Great outfits! (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

Denise Ledden, left, and Keri Tibbals of The Trust Company of Tennessee. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

From left, Andrea White, Jim Decker and Sandy Martin. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

Carolyn Jensen, center, with Cindy Atchley, left, and her mother, Sue Atchley. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

From left, UT Associate Athletics Director Angie Boyd-Keck, Terri Holder and Becky Lewis. Terri and Becky are with Orange Mountain Designs. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

Here’s the vehicle in which Terri and Becky arrived!

Blake Gibson, left, and Eddie Mannis, both of Prestige Cleaners, greet former Knox County Commissioner and current state Rep. Dave Wright, right. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

Carolyn Jensen, left, with Marigail and Tom Mullin. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

Will and Rebecca Wolfenbarger. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

Vanesia Cohan and Knox County Criminal Court Clerk Mike Hammond. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

From left, Lamar and Patti Shuler, Danielle Hemsley and Maria Cornelius. Looking good in that orange, ladies! (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

From left, Brooks Bailey, former Knoxville Vice Mayor Joe Bailey and Knox County Clerk Sherry Witt. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

David Martin, center, with Jim and Rhonda Clayton. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

News Sentinel President Frank Rosamond, left, and Executive Editor Joel Christopher. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

Charles Thomas, left, and Duane Grieve of the East Tennessee Community Design Center. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

Tom and Deanene Catani with Janet Testerman, at right. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

Eddie Mannis of Prestige Cleaners, chatting with Moxley Carmichael intern Jake Brown. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

Some of the hard-working Moxley Carmichael staff helping with the event. From left, Shaun Fulco, Amy Barger, Tina Knight and Maria McHale. Thanks, folks! (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

Katrina Roberts and John McCulley, also of Moxley Carmichael. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

Alan Carmichael and Charley Sexton of Team MoxCar.

The fabulous Moxley Carmichael interns. From left Jacob Teetzmann, Margaret Hamilton and Jake Brown. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)

The interns also shared what they learned as event planners for the “In Any Event” blog. Read that HERE.

Kellie and Jon Harper. (Photo by Charley Sexton.)


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5 Responses to Kellie Harper receives rousing welcome at reception

  1. Maria Cornelius, on June 26th, 2019 at 2:41 pm said:

    Great turnout and one of the easiest interviews ever. Kellie connects naturally with people and is very engaging.

  2. Gay Lyons, on June 26th, 2019 at 8:06 pm said:

    Great reception. It was my first time meeting Kellie. She seemed engaging, charming, & ready to get to work.

  3. Monique Anderson, on June 27th, 2019 at 8:55 am said:

    I think Kellie is great. It was fun for John to see her again. Thank you.

  4. Marti Townsend, on June 27th, 2019 at 2:07 pm said:

    Thanks, Charley and Cynthia, for the recap and great pictures. Enjoyed seeing many familiar faces… and past and present mentors. Especially Jack Hammontree!

  5. Cynthia Moxley, on June 27th, 2019 at 3:06 pm said:

    I agree with everyone’s comments. Coach Harper is going to do great things here. Can’t wait to see it!

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