Kickoff party Saturday for Cruisin' for Cause

Holly Warlick and Nikki Caldwell will host a motorcycle ride and post-cruise gathering this Saturday in Knoxville in an event that is open to the public. On Sunday, the pair begins a weeklong ride to the Florida Keys and back that is part of the coaches' ongoing campaign to raise money to combat breast cancer.

"We're passionate about raising money for breast cancer, and we're passionate about doing it," Tennessee Associate Head Coach Holly Warlick said. "This is our favorite way of doing it, and we have a lot of fun doing it. It's kind of easy for us to do."

Riders can join Warlick and Nikki Caldwell, who is returning to her home state from California to fulfill her commitment to "Volunteers Cruisin' for a Cause," by meeting at Wild Wings Café, which is off Campbell Station Road near Interstate 40 in West Knoxville.

The motorcycle convoy will leave from the café at 4 p.m. and return about 6:30 p.m. A post-ride party will be held at the café for a $10 entry price with proceeds going to breast cancer awareness. Both events are open to the public.

Details about pre-registration to accompany the coaches for the afternoon ride are available at TaTa Tour.

The coaches depart Knoxville this Sunday for the trip to Florida with the first stop in Columbia, S.C., ironically the site where Warlick has interviewed for the head coaching job for the women's basketball program. Caldwell accepted the head coaching job at UCLA after the 2007-08 season ended.

The two coaches are close friends, and Caldwell assured Warlick she would continue the motorcycle tours, which Warlick intends to hold yearly.

"I miss her," Warlick said. " We talk on a regular basis."

From South Carolina, the caravan heads to Florida with the return route to Tennessee routed through Georgia. The group will arrive in Knoxville on May 18. In between will be events to raise awareness in Miami, Naples and Tampa and a basketball clinic for children in Key West.

Details about the event are available at Cruisin' for a Cause.

Saturday will kick start the event with the afternoon ride and evening party at the Wild Wings Café. Official "TaTa Tour" T-shirts will be sold at the café and also are available at Orange Mountain Designs.

"It's not just for people who ride motorcycles," Warlick said. "There will be food and drinks. It's a social thing."

It's been a whirlwind end to the season for the Lady Vols, who won the program's eighth national title in April. The next day all five starters were drafted by the WNBA with Candace Parker going No. 1 to the Los Angeles Sparks.

Caldwell interviewed with UCLA shortly afterwards and was picked by the administration for the Bruins top job. Coach Pat Summitt has been in and out of Tennessee to accept awards – the Wooden Legends Award in Los Angeles and recognition by the Legislature in Nashville – and to fulfill speaking engagements.

"We have been running around with our heads cut off, and I've been looking at this South Carolina job so I've been in kind of disarray for a couple of weeks," said Warlick, who has conducted two interviews and toured the campus.

Warlick would say only that the South Carolina job was "an ongoing process" and didn't want to comment further. Warlick has been at Summitt's side for 23 years and for all eight national championships.

"If it works out, it works out," Warlick said. "I've got a good job right now."

(Later Wednesday, news broke that South Carolina had hired Dawn Staley, the head coach at Temple.)

The Lady Vols summer camps begin in June, and Warlick said enrollment has soared, the product of ending the season hoisting the trophy in Tampa.

"Everything has doubled," Warlick said. "It's been a whirlwind, and I'm sure it will continue to be, but it's a good problem to have."

The 2008 signing class also will begin to arrive this summer as the six players get a jump on college class work. They can also play pickup games with the returning players and get to know their new teammates before the official start of individual workouts and conditioning sessions in the fall semester.

Warlick said the coaching staff has high hopes for what the youngsters can bring to the team.

"Absolutely. We signed six kids and then we get Kelley Cain," Warlick said of the redshirt freshman who will play after rehabbing from surgery to realign her right kneecap. "I think they've got the ability to be special, and they're going to be very competitive. We're going to make sure that they have the skills and be taught to run our system.

"It's going to take awhile, but I think they're going to be very competitive as freshmen. They're going to be hungry, and they're going to want to represent Tennessee the way it should be represented."

Warlick will turn her attention back to basketball – summer camps and evaluation of prospective recruits – after completing the motorcycle tour with Caldwell.

"We're going to make it an annual thing," Warlick said. "We want to be doing this 10 years from now. I think we've got a good thing going, we've got a lot of attention going, and we're doing this for all the right reasons. We can use our positions to bring awareness to it."

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