Kim Caldwell makes Boost (Her) Club debut

Maria M. Cornelius2MCsports

Kim Caldwell made her Lady Vol Boost (Her) Club debut this week at a private event in Maryville where dozens of fans had a chance to meet the new women’s basketball coach, get photos and autographs, and bid on unique experiences such as a chalk talk with Caldwell before a game.

The ticketed event at The Walnut Kitchen, a farm-to-table restaurant with a popular following among locals and foodies, sold out quickly last spring and was wall-to-wall orange on Monday evening. Caldwell made it worthwhile for the fans by speaking to the attendees and staying more than two hours until the last photo was taken.

Knox TN Today was able to catch up with Caldwell after the event ended for a few questions about the benefit of having the Lady Vol Boost (Her) Club. Since being hired on April 7, the head coach has spent the last two-and-a-half months in a blender of basketball, hiring, recruiting, moving and settling into her new office as CEO of Lady Vols basketball as outlined HERE.

“This was great because you can see how much everyone cared,” said Caldwell, a native of West Virginia who led Marshall to the Sun Belt Conference regular season and tournament titles in her debut Division I season. “I got to hear everyone’s story. We had people with West Virginia ties and people that drove all the way from Ohio seven hours away to be here. It says a lot about the fan base and the heart of the fan base.”

Caldwell won a Division II national championship at Glenville State before taking the Marshall job. Other Division I programs had noticed, but it was the call from Tennessee that really got Caldwell’s attention.

The Lady Vols check all the boxes for a head coach, especially fan support. The Lady Vol Boost (Her) Club was started by the late Pat Summitt, dissolved with the merging of the women’s athletics department with the men’s athletics department, and reemerged with the arrival of NIL in 2022 and the support of revamped Boost (Her) Club founder Terri Holder as explained HERE.

Coach Kim Caldwell with her mother, Linda Stephens, and husband, Justin Caldwell. (UT Athletics)

“I think it’s incredible,” Caldwell said. “That’s one thing when I was looking at jobs throughout my career, I always wanted to take jobs that either had a fan base or had a fan base that you can create. I think I stepped into the best one in the country.”

In both of its iterations, the Boost (Her) Club has promoted all women’s sports at Tennessee and now represents athletes in basketball, golf, rowing, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field and volleyball.

“I think it’s amazing,” Caldwell said Monday. “What Pat Summitt did is to create equal opportunity for women and to make sure that women could play the same as men. Sometimes as female athletes, we still look across and see what the men have, and you don’t have that at Tennessee because of the support like we have tonight.”

NIL is in its infancy in college sports and changes on a regular basis. Caldwell also has been getting up to speed on all the particulars as NIL isn’t as prevalent in the mid-majors as it is in the power conferences.

“It keeps changing but I think tonight was a really good eye opener for me because it gave me more opportunity to learn and learn about the people that help,” she said.

Anyone who wants to learn more about the Lady Vols Boost (Her) Club or join can click HERE. By signing up for emails, supporters will be able to attend events and get advance notifications about ticket sales.

While Caldwell is fully on board with boosters – she had them quite entertained at her debut event – her focus remains on the court. July also is a full month of recruiting, and the current team is back on campus in July after June workouts.

“That’s my sweet spot,” Caldwell said. “I am the most comfortable on the floor. When we go work out when I get to be in the gym and be around my team, I feel like a coach again and I love being around them.”

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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