Athletes may enjoy many accolades during their playing days. Players can be named to all-conference and All-America teams. They may even go on to earn a spot on the USA National Team. The ultimate tribute, however, is reserved for only a chosen few–the retiring of their jerseys.
Lady Vol basketball players have worn thirty-two different numbers over the years; five will never be worn again. Numbers 22, 23, 24, 30 and 32 have been retired to preserve the dedication and commitment that the last player to wear each of those numbers has displayed for Tennessee basketball.
Guard 1976-80 Hometown: Knoxville, Tennessee
The first Tennessee athlete, either male or female, to have her jersey retired was Holly Warlick. Number 22 was retired on Feb. 18, 1980, in a ceremony after Tennessee's 89-72 win over Clemson in Stokely Athletics Center. A play-making wizard for the Lady Vols from 1976-80, Holly earned All- America honors three times. At the time of the ceremony, she held UT records for most assists in a game (14), most steals in a game (nine), and most assists in a season (225).
Holly could not hang her uniform on the wall right away. She played six more games after the retirement party. The final time she donned No. 22 was in the AIAW National Championship game when the Lady Vols fell to Old Dominion, 68-53.
During her years at Tennessee, the Lady Vols produced a 118-23 overall record, three trips to the Final Four and a first-ever SEC Tournament title. She later went on to become a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team. Now a member of the Lady Vol coaching staff, Warlick's No. 22 hangs in the hallway outside the women's basketball office in Thompson-Boling Arena. Holly's mother, Fran, shared in the excitement of the jersey retirement.
Forward 1985-89 Hometown: DeLand, Florida
Ten years later, the second Lady Vol basketball jersey was retired. Bridgette Gordon returned to Thompson-Boling Arena after a stellar career at Tennessee to see her No. 30 retired during halftime of Tennessee's 76-70 win over Texas on Jan. 17, 1990.
Bridgette led the Lady Vols to a 115-21 record during her four years at UT. She was the driving force behind an NCAA-record four consecutive trips to the Final Four as well as two NCAA and two SEC Championships.
Bridgette was the first freshman ever to lead UT in scoring, and she earned co-SEC Rookie of the Year and All-SEC Honors. The next year she led Tennessee to its first NCAA title, earned All-SEC honors again and was named to the All-Final Four team. She copped All-SEC honors and was named MVP of the SEC Tournament as a junior. She also earned her first of two Kodak All- America honors that year.
After earning a gold medal as a member of the 1988 U.S. Olympic basketball team, Bridgette returned to Tennessee for her senior season. She led the Lady Vols to the 1989 NCAA title and was named MVP of the Final Four. She finished her career as the all-time leading scorer in NCAA tournament history. Bridgette graduated in 1989 with a B.S. in political science. She was basketball's nominee for the 1989 Honda-Broderick Award, which is symbolic for women's academic and athletic achievement
Center 1988-91 Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
When Tennessee hosted the SEC-Big 10 Challenge on Dec. 28, 1991, Daedra Charles became the latest Lady Vol to have her jersey retired. Charles returned to Knoxville from Como, Italy, where she was playing professional basketball with former Lady Vol teammate Bridgette Gordon. Charles came to surprise Lady Vol head coach Pat Summitt by announcing the endowment of the Pat Head Summitt Scholarship, presented by Charles, Gordon and another former Lady Vol, Lisa McGill Reagan. Summitt, who was unaware of the endowment, had planned the retirement ceremony as a surprise for Charles.
A two-time Kodak All-American at Tennessee, Daedra was the 1991 SEC Woman Athlete of the Year. She became the first player from the SEC to win the Wade Trophy, the highest honor in women's basketball. All this came after leading Tennessee to its third NCAA title in five years. She finished her career seventh on the UT scoring list (1495), sixth in rebounding (858) and second in shots blocked (97), despite missing her freshman season as a Prop 48 student. Still, Daedra graduated in four years, earning a bachelor's degree in child and family studies.
Forward 1995-1999 Hometown: New York City, New York
During halftime of the Lady Vols' 92-88 home triumph over archrival Connecticut on Feb. 1, 2001, the collegiate career of arguably the greatest women's player to ever play the game was officially closed when Chamique Holdsclaw became just the fourth Lady Vol to have her jersey retired.
The Naismith Player of the Century and one of only six four-time Kodak All-Americans in the history of women's basketball, Holdsclaw led the Orange and White to a 131-17 overall record and an unprecedented three consecutive national championships from 1996-98, while establishing herself as the program's all-time leader in scoring (3,025 points) and rebounding (1,295).
The NCAA Tournament's most outstanding player in 1997 and 1998, Holdsclaw still holds the record for points (479 points, 21.8 ppg) and rebounds (198 rebounds, 9.0 rpg) accumulated in tournament games.
The only two-time winner of the Associate Press Player of the Year Award, Holdsclaw garnered 34 individual awards during her career, including 21 player of the year honors from a variety of organizations. In 2006, Holdsclaw was name to the NCAA 25th Anniversary Team. She was previously named to the Kodak 25th Anniversary Team in 1999.
Forward 1997-2001 Hometown: Duncanville, Texas
The fifth Lady Vol jersey to be retired belonged to Tamika Catchings. From the moment she stepped on the court in the number 24 orange and white jersey, we knew from her contagious smile that she was a special person, and from her deadly baseline-to-baseline hustling for all 40 minutes, a truly phenomenal player.
This special six-foot, one-inch forward had the heart of a champion and could play anywhere on the court. Her UT career was shortened during her senior year when she went crasing to the floor with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in game 17.
Her list of awards was staggering, as she captured a slew of them while being tabbed as UT's second four-time Kodak All-American. What she accomplished in the span of her collegiate career is the stuff of legend. She played in 127 games as a Lady Vol. Her assault on the record books is legendary for both scoring, with 2,113 points, and rebounding, 1,004 boards - both marks rank her third all-time. She also finished her career second all-time in steals with 311 and blocked shots with 140. And remember, she missed half of her senior season.
Her teammates will tell you how special it was to earn a blue adidas headband after Catechings went out with the injury. Earning one meant they hustled like Catch would have. The Eleanor Roosevelt League for the Hard of Hearing honored her in 1998 - as a special role model for youngsters and adults with hearing impairments. Her UT academic counselors will relate stories about Catchings graduating ahead of her class in December 2000. People in the Knoxville community will tell you of the countless hours she put in with youths from all walks of life - from playgrounds to hospitals.
Now a WNBA All-Star for the Indiana Fever, Catchings added to her collection of accolades in the Summer of 2004 with a gold medal as a member of the USA Women's Basketball Team at the Athens Olympic Games.