Coaches’ Night offers dialogue between students and coaches

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Among Texas coaches’ recent achievements are a volleyball national title, three Big 12 rowing championships, an NCAA soccer tournament and a coaching position for the U.S. Olympic swimming team. 

But Jerritt Elliott, Carie Graves, Angela Kelly and Eddie Reese are just regular people. 

UT students had a chance to pick the coaches’ brains at the first ever Coaches’ Night, hosted by the Texas Sports Committee on Tuesday. The session offered an opportunity for dialogue between curious students and some of Texas’s most admired coaches.

“We want to give students insight into the coaches’ lives and how they ended up here,” Matt Montes, chair of the Texas Sports Committee, said.

Student Government vice president Wills Brown, who helped promote the event, echoed Montes’ statement.

“The purpose was to have an avenue to allow normal, everyday students to talk with coaches,” Brown said. “Unless you’re an athlete, it can be hard to talk to a coach.”

Elliott, the volleyball head coach, joined men’s swimming and diving head coach Reese, rowing head coach Graves and women’s soccer head coach Kelly, to answer students’ questions about their lives and careers, including how they got into coaching and how they arrived in Austin. 

Graves, who flocked to UT as soon as a spot opened up, has led the Texas rowing team to the inaugural Big 12 Rowing Championship in 2009, 2010 and 2011. 

As head coach at Tennessee, her prior station, Kelly finished with a 15-7 overall mark after guiding the Lady Vols back to the NCAA tournament in 2011. 

“I’ve been here one year, and it’s lived up to everything I’ve heard,” Kelly said.

For Elliott, coaching wasn’t something on his life checklist, but experience as a teacher was the seed that blossomed into a lauded coaching career. 

“I was never planning to be a coach. I was a school teacher,” Elliott said.  “It was really watching people grow that made me love coaching. You have to take a lot of things and reflect on the people you’re growing and impacting.”

Elliott won his first national title as Texas’ head coach this past season and the program’s first since 1988. 

Reese has won 10 NCAA team titles for UT in his 34 seasons in Austin. The three-time head coach of the U.S. Men’s Olympic Team, Reese, has also coached 29 Olympians who have won 39 total gold medals. 

“I never had a goal to be an Olympic coach,” Reese said. “My only goal is to get the swimmers to work hard... We’ve just talked about what it takes to get better. You only get better by doing more, or making it more difficult. I’m good at that.”

Published on February 13, 2013 as "Coaches share success stories".