CHAPEL HILL– A teary-eyed Coach Andrew Calder discussed his assumption of the lead on-court coaching role in lieu of Coach Sylvia Hatchell stepping away for an indefinite period to receive treatment for her leukemia diagnosis.
***Listen to the full press conference***
The press room in Carmichael Arena on Tuesday was filled with awkward reporters asking reluctant questions to an understandably grief-stricken man.
Coach Calder is now entering his 28th season as the right-hand man for Coach Hatchell. Much like Coach Smith’s Bill Guthridge, Calder has been alongside Hatchell, the coaching icon, every step of the way.
And now Coach Calder will be stepping into the driver’s seat in Coach Hatchell’s absence. But he says the entire coaching staff is well prepared for the situation with the aid of a master game plan.
“Each year she evaluates the talent she has coming in and with her philosophy, puts together a master game plan for that year. We’re just implementing that game plan. When she returns, we will be on schedule,” Coach Calder says.
Coach Calder says the players were greatly disturbed by the news of Coach Hatchell’s medical condition, but he says the team was more even more focused and energized to fight for her on the court in practice.
“They’re motivated. They were very, very enthusiastic yesterday and very focused on being the best they can be. Every day in practice Coach Hatchell wants our team to get better, and they got better yesterday, not only for themselves, but for Coach Hatchell,” Coach Calder says.
In regards to his coaching style, Coach Calder says it won’t differ much, if at all, from the second winningest women’s basketball coach of all-time’s coaching philosophy.
“We both have the same philosophy on the way the game should be played. And I think that’s the main thing we’re going to continue to play the game the way she wants to be played. We’re going to fast break. We’re going to pressure people. And it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Coach Calder says.
Coach Calder says he found out the news from Coach Hatchell last Friday evening via a phone call. It was hard for Coach Calder to put their conversation into words.
The timetable for Coach Hatchell’s hopeful return remains unknown.
The UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center has set up a portal at which you can leave a message for Coach Hatchell: click here.