Home is where the heart is.
Especially if that heart belonged to an assistant coach in Mickie DeMoss, who had been with Tennessee and a part of a coaching staff that put together six NCAA Championship titles, 12 NCAA Final Four appearances and a record of 554-77 overall in the 18 years they were together.
DeMoss returned to the Lady Vols coaching staff this spring after spending seven seasons away at Kentucky as head coach and Texas as an assistant coach, returning to where it all began for her.
"It's a really special place," DeMoss said of UT. "The people here are very welcoming; they've been very warm and very friendly, and it's just like coming back home."
Summitt, who had coached with DeMoss for those 18 years, was ecstatic about the return of the Lady Vols assistant coach.
"It's great to have her back," Summitt said.
From the time DeMoss last left Knoxville, in 2003, to 2007, she was head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats.
"I told the people at Kentucky that I was coming there to get (the program) rolling, to give it a shot in the arm," DeMoss said.
The Tallulah, La., native's "shot in the arm" was just what the Wildcats needed.
Kentucky went 71-56 in the four years with DeMoss running the sidelines, winning twice as much as the four years before her tenure (35). In those four seasons, Kentucky racked up back-to-back 20-win seasons, three years of postseason play in the NIT and NCAA tournaments and an upset of top-seeded Tennessee in 2005.
However, DeMoss needed a coaching break after her tenure at Kentucky, so she took some time off.
"If you talk to anybody that's been in the coaching profession, you know that it is a grueling job, particularly if you're building a program," DeMoss said. "I took three months off and then (Texas head coach) Gail (Goestenkors) called me from Texas and said, 'I'd hate to see you retire; would you come to Texas and help me get that program going' so that's how that transpired."
Goestenkors, however, had other plans for the former Kentucky head coach. Three months after DeMoss retired, she took the assistant coaching job with the Lady Longhorns and helped Texas to an 83-50 record with three consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament from 2008 to 2010; the Horns assistant coach was relishing another successful tenure.
In April 2010, former assistant coach Stephanie Glance took the heading coaching job at Illinois State, and suddenly, DeMoss saw the possibility of a return to Rocky Top in the making.
"Pat had called me and said she thought Stephanie was going to get that head job; would I be interested if she leaves," DeMoss said. "And I said 'Sure, I'd certainly be willing to. Let's talk about it.' So when Stephanie got the job, that's when Pat and I started discussing the possibility of me coming back, but we had to hammer out some details."
Not long after Glance took the job, DeMoss took advantage of the open position and returned to Rocky Top.
"I'm so invested in this program, so it was an opportunity for me to come back home," DeMoss said.
Since DeMoss has been back, she's been able to start right where she left off.
"I think the one thing that stands out is that she hasn't missed a beat on the floor," Summitt said. "Holding people accountable, she's a great teacher (and) she's passionate. I think the players responded to her as if she had been here for 18 years, and I think she's a tremendous asset."
Most importantly, DeMoss is back home.