Melanie Balcomb Press Conference Transcript

On Tuesday morning Vanderbilt Athletic Director Todd Turner introduced the new head coach for the women's basketball team, Melanie Balcomb.

Here is the transcript of their comments:

Comments by Vanderbilt Athletic Director Todd Turner

Good morning. Welcome -- and to some of you, welcome back. We're very pleased today to have you join us early in the morning to introduce you to our new women's basketball coach, Melanie Balcomb.

For our first look at Melanie's resume, the first thing on that resume said that her goal was to win a national championship the right way. I think that speaks very well to what she's all about. She's the daughter of a coach. She grew up in the gym. She played collegiately and has been a coach ever since. She's worked her way up from the ground level, serving nine years as an assistant coach at three different institutions. She had a very short stint as the head coach at Ashland University, and then in 1995 began a very successful seven-year career as the head coach of Xavier.

She won 135 games there, which made her the winningest coach in Xavier history. She won two A-10 titles, and she won Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year. Probably from our perspective, one thing that really is exciting to me is that she's 5 and 1 versus SEC opponents, including 1 and 1 against the Commodores.

Her 2000-2001 team was one of the finest teams in collegiate basketball during that season. Her 31 and 3 record led her team to an Elite 8 performance in the NCAA tournament with a win over the University of Tennessee.

One of the things that drew us to Melanie Balcomb was the reaction that we got from her players and from coaches around the country. From her players, both current and former, we learned that she has great balance in her life. She's interested in academic success and her students have all had exemplary careers as students. She gives them an opportunity to have a social life and at the same time play basketball at a very high level. She's demanding; she's a hard worker; she's a no-nonsense basketball coach. But she's fair, and she's honest. And that came from her players. Her coaching colleagues were a little more direct in what they had to say about her. They said Melanie Balcomb is a fiery competitor. She's driven to succeed, but again she has balance in her life. She has a great mind for the game and just plainly speaking, she is a phenomenal basketball coach.

She inherits a very rich tradition at Vanderbilt University, but I have every confidence that under her leadership, she'll take us to heights we've never before achieved.

It's my pleasure to introduce the head coach of the women's basketball team at Vanderbilt University, Melanie Balcomb.

Comments by new Vanderbilt Head Coach Melanie Balcomb

It's a great honor, a great privilege to be here today and to be a part of Vanderbilt University's program and their university.

I can't tell you how happy I was at Xavier. That's what so ironic about the whole thing. There weren't many programs in the country that I would have left Xavier for. The fact that the expectations are very high here was what I was looking for. That's the philosophy that I always had grown up with in my family, in a coach's family. That's why I coach.

I think a lot of people kept saying that this job would be hard. I think I became more and more interested when I heard that because I like hard. Some people run from "hard". I run to "hard". I've never had any job yet with a big name or anybody pulling strings for me. I had to work my way up. That's what I teach my players. I tell them, "You've gotta earn it. You've got to do it the old-fashioned way. You've got to earn it."

And I can't tell you how pleased I am to at a university that has not just an excellent basketball program, but just an excellent education. That's very very important to me and my philosophy. My philosophy when I recruit players is that it's very important to me what kind of person I bring to my program and to the school. What I tell them is: You have to have three things: You have to have academics first, you've got to have your priorities straight. You have to be a good student, so you have to have academics as your first priority. Then you have to be very very commmited to basketball. And the third thing is you're allowed to have a social life. During the season, it kinda gets tough to have that social life; you've got to know when to have it. But what I want to coach players that want a balanced life, that want a great college experience, not a basketball factory where after four years then you go to college when you're done playing basketball.

That's what interested me in the job here. I thought it was a great fit. I felt like I was a great match at Vanderbilt, and I have since the minute the job opened. I was thrilled to death when Todd called me and showed the interest that he did in me. When I visited campus, I just felt very very comfortable here. I felt like I may be a good match for them, too. And that's what we were trying to figure out. Are we both a good match on both ends? Am I what they're looking for? And I felt really good about that. I felt good about the people I met with.

I met a lady right here in front of me, Marshall Chapman, and as you know, this process was very thorough. I felt like I was running for political office or something. They checked me, and they checked me over, and I think they know about me than I know about myself. My first question was when I met Marshall Chapman, she handed me her CD which she happened to do live in a women's prison, which I didn't know. I sit down, and the first thing they asked me as, "Have you ever been in a women's state prison?" And I said, "I wouldn't be sitting here having this conversation right now with you if I had, because they've checked."

And to be honest with you, I look at it as I felt the more they checked me out, the more they were going to find out that I was the right person for the job, that I was the fit that they were looking for. It's ironic what happened, but in the end, I feel like because that happened, they really had to find out who I was and what I was, and that got them more interested in me, and that's how I chose to look at the process.

It was very tough leaving Xavier, and I'm very very thankful for the opportunity there. I need to thank the people that I worked for, because when I went in to get my very own first Division 1 head coaching job, I told them how I was going to do it. I was going to do it the right way. I always say that everybody has their own right way. My right way was to do it with integrity, to do it with class, not to win at all cost, and I wanted to see how far we could go. Now I get to take that and feel confident that I have been able to do that at Xavier, and now I get the chance to take a team that really wants and has the same goals that I do in winning a national championship. I felt like I proved that I did it at Xavier, and I could be successful there. I want to now coach at one of the best schools in the country, in one of the best women's basketball conferences in the country. And I'm very very excited to do that.

I hope that we can attract a big crowd. I appreciate everybody that's here today. I know it's early; press conferences aren't usually this early, Todd tells me, and I really appreciate everybody coming, and I hope you can be very supportive of our program. One of the biggest things that you'll see is that our kids will play hard and they'll play with enthusiasm, and we'll run up and down the court at lot. So I'm making a promise. It's exciting. Even when we lose, it's exciting, which is nice, and I think it'll be an exciting style for you guys to see.

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