TCU director of intercollegiate athletics Chris Del Conte discusses the hot topics around the Horned Frogs
Since Prentice Lewis came to TCU in 2002, the volleyball program has exploded exponentially. The team has made appearances in the Conference USA Tournament three years in a row and posted back-to-back 20-win seasons -- a first in program history -- including a school record 23 wins in 2004. Under her watchful eye last season, the Frogs marked the program's 100th win, Coach Lewis' 50th career win, 33 school records, and five players on all-conference teams.
The 2004 lineup tied for second in C-USA, earning its first-ever second round bye to the conference tournament. With five players on all-conference teams (Szabo - first team, Talaya Whitfield - second team & all-freshman, Erin Ludeke and Anna Vaughn - third team) and a school record four players of the week (Ellen Rehme, Szabo, Ludeke, and Vaughn), the team's talent began receiving new attention. The school best record of 23-9 and 10-3 league record indicated the potential of Lewis and her squad.
The 2003 team ticked off its goals one by one as it reached for new heights in Lewis' second campaign. First the group earned the school's then-best record ever with a 20-16 mark, then the squad forayed into the second round of the C-USA Tournament, a first for any TCU volleyball team, and it had a pair of players earn all-conference honors (Szabo and Anna Vaughn).
The 2003-04 off-season posed a series of personal challenges for Lewis. In early March, Lewis became disoriented while on a recruiting trip and was rushed to the hospital when she returned to Fort Worth. Four days later, she had surgery for what appeared to be a brain tumor. What the doctors found, though, was not a tumor, but rather an inflamed abscess pressing against her brain. Never one to be sidelined for long, Lewis was back in the office two weeks after her surgery. And armed with a helmet to protect her head, she was coaching again just a short month after brain surgery. A plate will be implanted to permanently protect her brain in early August. The challenges have only strengthened Lewis' fierce drive to get TCU volleyball to the top of the pack.
Lewis had a fairly successful first season with TCU, which featured a squad that posted the third-best all-time record in school history with its 12-18 finish, as well as competing in its first conference tournament since 1998, and posting its first members on an all-Conference USA team (Dominika Szabo) and on a Verizon Academic squad (Stephanie Watson).
Lewis was named the head volleyball coach at TCU on February 5, 2002. She had served as an assistant coach at Florida prior to being named head coach of the Horned Frogs.
Lewis accumulated much success as a player and a coach during her career. She spent the 2000 and 2001 seasons on the Gators' staff, serving as the team offensive coordinator, assisting in all areas of recruiting, serving as the staff liaison to the Office of Student Life and the team and summer camp coordinator. Florida posted a 28-2 record in 2001 while advancing to its 11th consecutive Sweet 16 showing. Florida placed a record five athletes on the all-SEC first team squad and on the AVCA All-South Region team.
Lewis, who played under the name Prentice Perkins as a collegian, helped Long Beach State to four Big West Championships. She is perhaps best known for her contribution as one of the nation's marquee defensive players to the 49ers' 1993 National Championship squad on which she led the Big West Conference in service aces. She went on to become the only defensive specialist ever to be selected to the U.S. Junior Olympic Festival that year.
Lewis received her bachelor's degree in arts and history in December, 1995 and received the Big West Scholar Athlete of the Year award in 1994. During her final semester at LBSU, she coached the Newport Harbor High School junior varsity team to the Santa Barbara High School J.V. Championship. She returned to her alma mater and earned her California Teaching Certification in 1996.
Upon graduation, Lewis was an assistant at UC-Irvine for three years. She was responsible for recruiting, scouting, travel arrangements, scheduling, summer clinics coordination and fundraising. Additionally, she taught physical education at UC-Irvine for three years. She accepted a position as the defensive coordinator and assistant coach for the Oregon Ducks in 1999 and spent one season in Eugene before being named an assistant coach at Florida in January, 2000. In addition to her coaching experiences, Lewis has been an instructor at several volleyball camps and clinics over the years.
While Lewis spent time in the area prior to arriving as head coach of the Frogs, she has now settled in to the Metroplex.
"Jeff and I have really made Fort Worth `home'," said Lewis. "It's a great place to live and a great place to recruit to with so many excellent athletes in the area."
Prentice was married to Jeff Lewis on July 29, 2000. The couple resides in Fort Worth.