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Kazee-Hollifield’s 1,000 win milestone stirs memories

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Coach Vickee Kazee-Hollifield following her 1,000 win.

(Feb. 25, 2014)– There was confetti, cupcakes and congratulations when Vickee Kazee-Hollifield ’83 registered her 1,000th victory. After the second win of a double-header (999 and 1,000) on Feb. 20, Carson-Newman’s softball coach heard accolades from President Randall O'Brien and Athletics Director Allen Morgan, among others.

Meanwhile in the stands, Libby Hudson Gardner ’68 and Dr. Jean Love ’83 watched with special interest. Gardner and Love go back to Kazee-Hollifield’s earliest days at C-N.

Love coaches the Eagles tennis team and teaches Health, Physical Education and Sport Science. She and Kazee-Hollifield began C-N as freshmen, had a number of classes together and were Butler Residence Hall roommates for a time. A retired C-N Physical Education assistant professor, Gardner taught many of those classes the friends shared.

As they watched Kazee-Hollifield from the stands, Gardner and Love reminisced about classes, some of which Love laughingly said they survived, like gymnastics. They noted that C-N’s sports offerings for women back then consisted only of basketball, volleyball and tennis.

When they graduated, Love went away to graduate school while Kazee-Hollifield remained at C-N as a grad assistant. She was hired fulltime in 1985 and became the first and only softball coach at Carson-Newman.

Watching the Eagles’ score five runs in the third inning, Love interrupted the stories.

“A thousand wins,” she said, with awe and a shake of her head. “A thousand wins; think about it. Now, she is in the right sport for it, but one thousand wins….”

Kazee-Hollifield is C-N’s first coach, and the first in the South Atlantic Conference, to reach the millennium mark in any sport. She is just the sixth NCAA Division II coach to amass 1,000 victories, and only the 22nd across all levels. Her career record of 1,000-329-1 (.753) is likewise remarkable.

Gardner scanned the game program in her hand, running an index finger on the roster. She counted states of players as a measure of her former student’s impact. “There are three Georgia girls, two from Kentucky and the rest from Tennessee. I think that is great.”

Minutes passed as their friend and colleague’s softball team rolled to a 10-run, mercy-rule victory.

“Yeah, a thousand wins,” noted Love. “This is a very big deal!”

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