Katie Collier is facing a daunting and what most people would label an impossible task, but she’s more than ready for the challenge in front of her.
Collier has been named the new head coach for Soddy Daisy girls basketball, taking over for Kayla Burse, who had been in that position for the past two years.
Collier is an energetic 24-year-old who has no high school coaching experience, but she’s been around basketball all her life and it didn’t take long for her to convince Soddy Daisy athletic director Jared Hensley and assistant principal Jennifer Williams that she was the right person to fill that position.
Collier is a Knoxville native where she graduated from Knoxville Webb in 2015 and was the starting point guard on a team that won state titles her last three years there. She then played basketball for coach Rick Insel at MTSU before graduating in 2019 with a degree in exercise science.
Her mother Shelley Collier was a Lady Vol and was a senior on Pat Summitt’s first national championship team in 1987. The mother is currently the coach at Webb. She and Katie have worked together coaching AAU teams, so the 24-year-old daughter has been around some high-level coaches for most of her life.
Katie was on the list of potential coaches for the Soddy Daisy job two years ago, but it just wasn’t the right time. It appears to be the perfect fit today.
“Katie interviewed two years ago, but the timing wasn’t right. She reached out to me this time before I could contact her, but I had a good feeling that she might be the right fit for the job almost as soon as I started talking to her,” Hensley said Tuesday morning during a break from his busy schedule.
“I wanted Jennifer to interview her because I knew she was the right person for the job if she could pass the “Curly Test.” Jennifer told me real quick that we needed to offer her the job.
“She appears to have the answers and the drive to do a great job for us. I know she doesn’t have any high school coaching experience, but she knows a lot about the sport and will be a good fit for us. She met the girls on Monday and everyone is excited to get started,” Hensley added.
Collier has been working for State Farm Insurance and Rodney Allen most recently, but she’s resigning that position on Friday with plans to get started with the Lady Trojans as quickly as possible. She’s currently a student at Lee University as she acquires her teaching and masters degrees.
“I’ve been around basketball all my life and have been blessed to learn from some of the best in the business,” Katie expressed before lunch.
“My mother was a Lady Vol and I got to know coach Summitt before she got sick. I even got to celebrate my 13th birthday at her house. I was able to develop a special relationship with her.
“I feel like the timing is perfect for me as I’ve never been more ready for such an exciting opportunity. And I’m young enough that I still have the ability to demonstrate what I’m trying to teach.
“I walked into the Soddy Daisy gym and noticed all the banners from championships that other teams had won and my plan is to hang a banner up there for girls basketball. I know it might take a little time, but I’m in it for the long haul and have great plans for these young ladies.
“My boyfriend Andy Wright is a Soddy Daisy graduate and he let me know when this job opened up. I texted Jared to let him know I was interested. Basketball means a lot to me and my family.
“I know what it takes to win a championship and I’m ready to start working toward that goal. I plan to turn this program around to make it reputable with the idea of being the toughest and scrappiest team in town. I plan to instill my toughness in them, but I want to help these young ladies become independent and strong young women and to make a difference in their lives.
“We’ll have an open gym for three days coming up for tryouts and I plan to hit the ground running on June 1,” she concluded.
So there you have it. A young lady with a lifetime of basketball experience is getting ready to get her feet wet as a first-time high school coach.
Soddy Daisy High School has produced state championship teams in many sports and Katie Collier is ready to add girls basketball to the list.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)