Tennessee Head Soccer Coach Brian Pensky
Feb. 1, 2012
By Brian Rice
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- After initially announcing the hire on Thursday afternoon, Tennessee Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Dave Hart could have introduced new Tennessee soccer coach Brian Pensky on Monday afternoon.
Instead, the reason that Pensky ultimately took the job caused him to delay that introduction for a day. Pensky talked at length about both his family and the family atmosphere at Tennessee during his introductory press conference on Tuesday, one day after his twins, Will and Ali, turned 10.
"My twins were two months old when I got the call to come work for the University of Maryland, to come and be Sasho's (Cirovski) assistant on the men's side," Pensky said. "I told my team at Maryland that I was terrified to tell my kids, because you change their world. Sometimes I'm a little soft, but thankfully my wife is a bit of a hammer, she's like, `You've just got to tell them' and she was right and here we are."
"Brian Pensky fit the profile absolutely ideally in the sense that he's a wonderful person, a terrific family person, great husband, great father, deeply cared about the young women on his soccer team," Hart said in introducing his first coaching hire at Tennessee.
Pensky comes to Knoxville with a record of success that includes NCAA Tournament appearances in each of the last three seasons, with Sweet 16 appearances in both 2009 and 2011. Maryland was the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament in 2010, the season for which Pensky was named National Coach of the Year by Soccer America and ACC Coach of the Year.
Pensky said that he was drawn to Tennessee by the family and the people, and said that was further strengthened by the crowd of over 100administrators, fellow coaches, former players and his new team that gathered on the field at Regal Soccer Stadium for Tuesday's announcement.
"I'm here because of the people and the relationships," he said. "I look out around here today at all of the people who care, who are invested on a personal level, on a work level, a financial level in these student athletes as people, as players, as students. That's what it's about, these kids."
"Since December 17th, they've gone through a very difficult period of uncertainty, and the very first thing I said to them when I met with them on Friday was I'm happy for them that uncertainty is over. Having the relationships that you have with one another, the relationships you have with coaches, that's the best part and can be most fulfilling. Sometimes, when things change, it can be the most difficult."
He also announced that the primary figure in keeping the team together and informed during that period of change, assistant coach Joe Kirt, had accepted Pensky's offer to remain on the staff.
"One of the first things Abby and I did when we were on campus was meet with Joe and in the first five minutes of the conversation with Joe, it's easy to tell how genuine he is, how much he cares," Pensky said. "He wants what's best for the University of Tennessee soccer program, and that was so evident and apparent right away."
Kirt was applauded by the student athletes following the announcement and said he was excited about remaining a part of the Tennessee family and looking forward to working with his new boss.
"He's a phenomenal person, first and foremost, but also one of the best coaches I know," Kirt said after the press conference. "I'm really excited for the opportunity to have a chance to work with him and for him for the betterment of all of our student-athletes and the University."
Pensky said during his remarks that his wife Abby was quickly taken by the University of Tennessee and the people in Knoxville. But what sealed the deal for his kids, including the twins and seven-year-old Ben was something a little more tangible.
"They came to terms with it when I arrived home of Saturday night with a duffel bag full of gear," he said. "They quickly loved Tennessee, the orange, the baby blue, they loved it all. As a family, we're very, very happy to be here."