JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - Each Sunday during the 2017-18 school year, the Carson-Newman athletic communications department will shine a spotlight on a current or former Carson-Newman student athlete to tell a tale of life outside of his or her respective sport. This is Vickee Kazee-Hollifield's story.
For this Sunday Conversation, Hollifield's friends, athletic department coworkers, former and current players, plus her family reflect on her career, and what she means to them ahead of her December induction into the NFCA Hall of Fame.
LAS VEGAS - Carson-Newman head softball coach Vickee Kazee-Hollifield will be inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame Friday night at the organization's annual convention.
"I think I speak on behalf of the entire Carson-Newman family when I say I can't think of anyone more deserving than Vickee for this tremendous honor," C-N Director of Athletics Allen Morgan said. "Vickee has been an outstanding coach. So many young women have gone through the Carson-Newman softball program and on to exceptional things in our communities. What an outstanding representative. We salute her on this tremendous honor."
The Eagles' 33-year head coach is already a member of the Carson-Newman and South Atlantic Conference Halls of Fame. She has guided Carson-Newman to 25 SAC titles, 13 NCAA tournaments, and has been named the league's coach of the year 12 times.
"What a tremendous honor for Coach Hollifield," Carson-Newman University President Dr. Randall O'Brien said with gusto. "Carson-Newman offers a standing ovation for our coach. And she's taking the school into the NFCA Hall of Fame with her. You gotta love it!"
With 1,135 career victories, Kazee-Hollifield ranks 18th in all divisions for victories. Her .742 winning percentage is the sixth best in Division II among active coaches. It's top mark among Division II coaches who have coached at least 25 seasons.
Kazee-Hollifield was hired in 1985 by legendary Carson-Newman football coach Ken Sparks, then the Eagles' AD.
"Vickee was an easy hire," Sparks said before his passing in March. "I watched her as a player. She was an unbelievable competitor. She's done the same thing as a coach. She has an unbelievable work ethic and an unbelievable desire to do it for the Lord. That's what sets her apart from other coaches. She couldn't be more deserving of the honor."
Among all-time coaches in Division II, Kazee-Hollifield's winning percentage ranks fourth, while she is fifth in all-time wins among coaches at the Division II level.
Kazee-Hollifield's tenure at Mossy Creek has seen her tutor 17 South Atlantic Conference Players of the Year, 17 All-Americans, 29 All-Southeast Region selections, 151 All-SAC picks, six CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, five SAC freshmen of the year and four SAC scholar athletes of the year.
The Eagles' most notable run came from 2004-11 when C-N made seven straight trips to the NCAA tournament.
In 2009, Hollifield guided the Lady Eagles to the most successful postseason run in program history. After entering the SAC Tournament as a No. 6 seed, C-N defeated four straight opponents, including a 2-0 win over Wingate in the championship game, to claim its second-consecutive SAC Tournament title and ninth overall.
The Lady Eagles then swept through the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Tournament, defeating Lenoir-Rhyne 2-1 in the finals to earn the program's first-ever trip to the Super Regionals. C-N's run ended in the Super Regionals as it fell in a best of three series to No. 1 North Georgia. The Lady Eagles finished the year at 32-17.
In 2008, the Lady Eagles turned in one of the best seasons in SAC history, setting a school record with 49 wins, clinching the SAC regular season and tournament titles, en route to earning the top seed for the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional.
The 1983 C-N graduate has been involved in athletics at C-N for three decades. The successful association began as she starred for the Lady Eagle basketball team after leading the Tennessee prep ranks in scoring as a high school senior. Her name still appears in the C-N record book several times, and she was named to the Lady Eagle Basketball Team of the Century in 1995.
After finishing her playing career, Hollifield worked as a graduate assistant at C-N. During that time, she earned her Master's degree from the University of Tennessee. Recognizing that the C-N alum was someone who had a passion for C-N athletics, the administration hired Hollifield to head the volleyball program and to assist with women's basketball.
Hollifield, who now coaches only softball and is Senior Woman Administrator, relinquished her duties as volleyball coach after guiding C-N to a 59-21 record (.738) in three seasons and a District 24 title in 1985.
Hollifield is married to Matt Hollifield of Norcross, Ga.
The Hollifield File
NCAA SUPER REGIONALS: '09
NCAA TOURNAMENT: (12) 1991 (NAIA), 1995, '96, '98, '01, '05, '06, '07, '08, '09, '10, '11, '15
SAC TITLES: (15) 1990, '91, '93, '95, '96, '97, '98, '00, '01, '02, '03, '05, '08, '15, '17
SAC TOURNAMENT TITLES: (10) 1991, '92, '94, '95, '96, '98, '05, '08, '09, '17
SAC COACH OF THE YEAR: (10) 1991, '93, '95, '96, '98, '00, '01, '02, '15
NAIA DISTRICT CHAMPS: 1988, '89, '91, '92
NAIA DISTRICT RUNNER-UP: 1986, '90, '93
NAIA TRI-DISTRICT CHAMPS: 1991
Winningest Coach in South Atlantic Conference History
25 South Atlantic Conference Titles
2009 NCAA Super Regional Participant
4th in Career Win Percentage and 5th in Wins in NCAA Division II History
13 NCAA Tournament Appearances
17 SAC Players of the Year
12-Time SAC Coach of the Year