Current and former Lady Vols check boxes of joy

Maria M. Cornelius2MCsports

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for former Lady Vols with Candace Parker welcoming a second son with a nod to Pat Summitt, Cierra Burdick becoming an Olympian and Kyra Elzy returning to coaching. Among current Tennessee women’s sports, softball added two coaches – who are getting married this week – and rowing finished third in the country to set a program record.


Parker shared the news on her Instagram on Monday with a post that said “our starting lineup is complete.” With three children and two parents – Parker’s wife is Anna Petrakova – the family now can field a basketball team. Hartt Summitt Petrakov Parker arrived May 21, 2024, to join his little brother, Airr Larry, who is now 2 years old, and Lailaa, who is 15 and playing high school volleyball and basketball in Los Angeles.

The news of Hartt Summitt garnered national media as always, including People, and Parker shared an assortment of photos on Instagram that can be viewed HERE, including a video of Airr, whose nickname is Goose, not exactly thrilled about the little one.

Hartt Summitt Petrakov Parker

“We are so in love and grateful for our little brother,” Parker posted. “Goose is, um, adjusting, but he’s doing better. Mama is a rockstar and we love her so much.”

Parker retired from basketball in April as covered HERE. Since that story was published, she became the president of adidas women’s basketball after 16 years of representing the company as a basketball player.

“Stepping into this new leadership role is a deeply personal next step in my journey with adidas,” Parker said. “From high school to college to playing pro to now, this appointment by adidas symbolizes a shared commitment to making impactful change and setting new benchmarks for the future of women’s sports. It’s not just about products; it’s about fostering a movement focused on innovation, representation and access.”

Cierra Burdick


Cierra Burdick claimed a spot on the USA Basketball 3×3 Women’s National Team and will represent the United States at the Paris Olympics this summer. Her efforts to make the team in April were outlined in THIS STORY, and the selections were announced last week. She’ll join Cameron Brink, Rhyne Howard and Hailey Van Lith on the four-player team in a fast-paced, half-court version of basketball.

“This was something that I didn’t even think was possible when I was a young kid growing up,” Burdick said after being presented with her USA jersey. “You dream of it, but this was beyond my wildest dreams.”


Kyra Elzy, who played for Summitt from 1996-2001, coached with Holly Warlick at Tennessee from 2012-16 and most recently served as head coach at Kentucky since 2020, will be back on the sidelines for the 2024-25 season. Elzy won the SEC tourney title in 2022 but parted ways with the Wildcats in 2024.

This week, Duke coach Kara Lawson, also a former Lady Vol, announced that Elzy, her former teammate at Tennessee, would join the Blue Devils staff as an assistant coach.

“I am elated beyond belief to join the Duke family and the incredible staff that Coach Lawson has assembled,” Elzy said. “It is also a tremendous privilege to work with my sister and former teammate. Kara is a servant leader who embodies loyalty, family and greatness, and I am grateful for this opportunity to assist her and to inspire, impact and influence young women.”

Coach Kyra Elzy

“We are thrilled to welcome Kyra Elzy to The Sisterhood!” Lawson said. “Kyra brings great integrity, tactical ability and passion to Durham. She is one of the best relationship builders I’ve been around. She’s been an elite player and coach.”


Karen Weekly lost two softball coaches, Chris and Kate Malveaux, at the end of the season as Auburn hired the husband-wife duo to be co-head coaches for the Tigers. Weekly, who was a longtime co-head coach at Tennessee with her husband, Ralph, before he retired in 2021, has hired Craig Snider and Stephanie Sanders as assistant coaches.

Snider left his position as head coach at Texas Tech to come to Tennessee, which plays in the preeminent softball conference in the country. Sanders most recently served at Penn State as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.

The pair are getting married Friday, June 14, and then taking a honeymoon to Italy, so if anyone wants to give them a really Big Orange welcome, the registry is HERE.

Lady Vols softball has had a married couple on staff every season since 2002 when the Weeklys arrived at Tennessee, though not as head coaches since Karen Weekly took over solo at the top starting in the 2022 season.

Coach Karen Weekly (Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics)

“Craig is widely known as one of the best hitting coaches and offensive minds in the game of softball,” Weekly said. “He is a teacher who loves helping players reach their potential, and his players love working with him.

“Stephanie will make an immediate impact on Lady Vol softball with her passion, energy and sheer determination to win. The coaches she has worked with in her career rave about her ability to communicate and connect with everyone in their programs, as well as her tireless work ethic.


Rowing coach Kim Cupini had quite the debut season at Tennessee. She led the Lady Vols to a third-place national finish at the NCAA Championship – the highest ever for Tennessee – and earned Big 12 Coach of the Year and Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) Division I Region Three Coach of the Year honors. Tennessee competes in the Big 12 because the SEC doesn’t have rowing.

Tennessee earned the program’s 10th NCAA Championship bid all-time and just the second appearance since 2010, including 2021 when the team finished 17th. The previous best-ever finish was in 2007, when Tennessee placed ninth at Melton Hill Lake in Oak Ridge.

The 2024 rowing team celebrates its third play finish at the NCAA Championship. (UT Athletics)

The 2024 event was held at East Fork/Harsha Lake in Bethel, Ohio, and Tennessee finished just behind Texas and Stanford while besting Princeton, Washington and Brown to earn a spot in the top three on the podium.

“I’m so impressed with this team and coaching staff for all they have accomplished,” Cupini said. “From the very beginning, they believed in themselves, each other, their goals and the process. I’m so proud of how every one of them handled the changes and committed to what it took to reach the podium at the NCAAs.”

Five team members earned spots on the CRCA Pocock All-America Team. Meg Flanagan, Sarah Abrams, Alice Fahey and coxswain Sasha Radovanovic achieved First Team All-America status and Emma Seawright earned All-America Second Team honors. The last and only time the Lady Vols had first team selections was Chelsea Pemberton in 2004 and Kaitlin Bargreen in 2003.

For good measure, the team also posted a spring semester GPA of 3.5.

Maria M. Cornelius, a senior writer/editor at MoxCar Marketing + Communications since 2013, started her journalism career at the Knoxville News Sentinel and began writing about the Lady Vols in 1998. In 2016, she published her first book, “The Final Season: The Perseverance of Pat Summitt,” through The University of Tennessee Press.


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