March 6, 2014
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee volleyball head coach Rob Patrick has announced the addition of Erica Lear to the Lady Vols coaching staff.
Lear is a former Lady Vol standout who was Coach Patrick's first recruit. She donned the Orange & White from 1998-2001, and joins UT staff after serving as an assistant coach at Memphis since February 2013.
"I'm very excited to have Erica come back to the Lady Vol family and bring her many talents to our program," Patrick said. "She is someone who understands what Tennessee volleyball is about, and I'm confident that she will be able to impart Tennessee volleyball to our current and incoming players. She understands how special it is to be a part of the Lady Vol family.
"She was one of the most instrumental recruits I've ever had, and was one of the main reasons we were able to turn the fortunes of the Tennessee volleyball program around when she came to play here in 1998. Her competitive fire, her athleticism and her skill level propelled our team to our first NCAA Tournament bid."
Lear will be involved in all facets of on-court coaching responsibilities, as well as working specifically with the setters. In addition, Lear will assist with recruiting and film.
"Rob was a huge mentor in my life and a role model that I looked up to," Lear said. "I feel very blessed and fortunate to have this opportunity to be back where I learned to have the drive, competitiveness and strategy to succeed in all facets of life.
"One thing that Tennessee did for me was it didn't give me the option to fail. When I had struggles, quitting was never an option. Failure was never an option. There was always encouragement and `what can we do? How can we help you?' I'm excited about being a part of the now and future of UT volleyball. Not everyone gets an opportunity to be part of the program that molded them and guided them. I'm looking forward to being a role model for our Lady Vols, being able to take away from my life and college experiences, and mentor them the way Rob helped me."
Prior to Memphis, Lear served as an assistant coach at Emory University, where she specialized in training setters and middle hitters. With her guidance the Eagles won the University Athletic Association championship and advanced to the regional finals. Lear coached four all-conference players, including three All-Americans and the UAA Rookie of the Year at Emory.
A native of Columbus, Ind., Lear began her coaching career at Emory volleyball camps in 2003, and was later named the head coach of an A5 Volleyball Club team. She guided her team to a 16-2 mark with a regional final appearance, and in 2005, coached the A5 Volleyball Club 16s team to nationals.
She competed professionally in Denmark, and in 2006, led her team to the Danish Professional League Championship title.
At the completion of her collegiate career at Tennessee, Lear was the Lady Vols' all-time leader in assists with 5,069 career helpers. Over her four years donning the Orange & White, Lear averaged 12.87 assists per set, which still stands as the all-time mark in Tennessee history. She was a three-time all-SEC performer, and recorded at least 1,000 assists in each of her four seasons at UT. She is only one of two players to average 1,000 or more assists in all four years of her career. Lear boasts the top mark of assists in a single-season during the non-rally era, dishing out 1,523 helpers in 2000. She also holds the Tennessee single-match record for assists, handing out 88 helpers against Arkansas on Oct. 6, 2000. She was named an AVCA All-Region honoree in 2000.
Lear earned her bachelor's degree in English with a double emphasis in creative writing and technical writing.