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Tierney Price and Luke Kornet Discuss Their Time at Vanderbilt, Coaching Changes, and NYC

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Tierney Price and Luke Kornet are former Vanderbilt athletes. She was a conference level triple jumper, and he started on the basketball team. Both now live in New York City where Luke plays for the New York Knicks. Tierney is an analyst on the foreign exchange sales team covering US corporates for Deutsche Bank. They are recently engaged to be married.

Photo courtesy of Tierney Price

Tierney competed at SEC Conference Championships her freshman, sophomore, and senior years. During her junior year, she tore her ACL and was out for the season. Tierney was SEC Honor Roll all four years.

Luke is the all time blocks leader for Vanderbilt with 210. He was named to All-SEC Defensive Team 2015-16 and 2017-17. He made the 2016-17 All SEC Team and was the 2016-2017 SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year. He was named to the 2016-17 CoSida Academic All-District Team and was a 2016-2017 CoSida 2nd Team Academic All-American. Fun fact: he holds the NCAA record for most 3 pointers by a 7-footer with 150.

He went undrafted in the 2017 NBA Draft but was signed by the Westchester Knicks, the NYK G-League team where he made 3rd team All NBA G-League. His contract was a two-way contract, allowing him transition between the developmental team and the Knicks. He was subsequently signed to a standard contract with the Knicks.

I reached and asked if they would be willing to do an interview. Both are thoughtful, candid, and whip smart. Tierney is full of energy and optimistic. Luke is mellow and self deprecating. They discussed life at Vanderbilt, being a couple in the Athletic Department, NYC life hacks, and the joys of wedding planning.

SA: What was the hardest workout/practice you had at Vanderbilt?

TP: There are a few that I always will remember: 90 second circuits when we first got back from summer and the track was 100 degrees, Barton Hill has some good memories, and there are definitely some good stadiums stories. It’s fun now because we still laugh about hard workouts when we get together. It truly was great bonding time, and created opportunities to grow and see how far you can push yourself (easier to say this after the fact!).

LK: Too many to choose from! I had quite a few practices early on that I remember sitting in the locker room for a good two hours [after practice] before wanting to move again. There was a conditioning session my junior year where we got up at 5:30 am or so and had this long morning running around campus and doing different drills for a couple hours which I’ll never forget.

Photo Courtesy of Tierney Price

SA: What was it like being a couple in the Athletic Department?

TP: It was definitely fun having each other’s events to go to and always having someone to support you and understand what you’re going though. We actually got hurt junior year around the same time and had some quality time in the training room. Luke took me to the hospital while he was on crutches at one point, when i had to get an MRI. That was a funny scene.

LK: It was great, although definitely a little awkward early on if our teams were lifting at the same time and place. It was great that our schedules often aligned and that most of our friends were in that same community. I did feel like a bit of a traitor the first time I left the team at Hendrix Room to go eat and talk to her. I’m still sorry fellas!

SA: Who was the person who influenced you the most at Vanderbilt? Why?

TP: This is tough. Honestly, I had a really good relationship with my coaches [Track and Field Associate Head Coach Clark Humphreys and Assistant Coach Donnie Young] in college. They were both extremely influential in that they really pushed to get the best out of you on the track, but wanted you to have fun doing so. They also took the time outside of practice to develop us as people. Robin [TF support staff] was incredible as well. She is one of the most genuine and caring women I know, who is in the absolute perfect job for her. She was like a mom away from home for a lot of us.

LK: There are really too many to choose from. Coach Stallings [Former Vanderbilt Head Basketball Coach], Richardson, Cage and his whole staff definitely had a huge impact in my development especially at that age and time in my life for which I’m thankful. Coach Drew and his staff, although for only just a year had a different worldview that helped me a ton in addition to our strength coach Jeremy Anderson teaching me a lot that I still use today in taking care of my body now being a professional. Then again there’s still others--Professor Roth in the Computer Science department was my advisor and helped me balance my academics and so many teammates, friends, and Tierney of course--the list of people who helped me along the way is too long to mention here.

SA: Favorite thing/Worst thing to eat at Hendrix?

TP: The best was General Tso Chicken. The worst?… maybe the fish?

LK: A little hard to remember but favorite was probably the fresh fruit which was great to have available and the worst was (what’s the statute of limitations on coaches being able to run you?) the desserts, gotta stay away from those.

SA: T, you had a significant injury during your career. How did you deal with not being able to compete?

TP: It was really tough sitting out and having my team gone a lot that year traveling. It forced me to change my mindset and rehab became my new sport. I mean a few days after surgery I couldn’t even lift my leg off of a table. It went from that to walking without crutches to doing single leg squats (with a lot of items in between), and each milestone felt like huge accomplishment.

SA: Luke, what was it like being in a program during a coaching change? That can be a transition that many would find difficult to navigate, or at least don’t know how that works in big time college basketball.

LK: It was a little strange. You come in having been recruited by one whole staff and then having to adjust to another. It took some time to get used to the change of personnel and styles, but having the same teammates there throughout brought stability to it. You just have to stick with it and give some time for the trust and connection to build, which I thought our team let happen. We had a memorable year and group that I’m proud of in the end which is the most I could ask for.

SA: What has been the biggest change/challenge leaving your sport or moving on to a new level?

TP: Hands down the biggest challenge leaving my sport is not having my team around. I really took for granted seeing those girls at least 6 days a week. Our team was truly so close and the friendships we developed are unlike any other friendships I have had. They are still my best friends - we just have to plan trips to see each other.

LK: It’s really quite similar but with a higher talent level and more individual responsibility. Obviously the level of play is the best in the world and finding your spot in it is not easy, but it requires the same discipline and work habits just to a greater extent. The biggest transition is just the increased amount of responsibility. In college your days are pretty full and scheduled, but now you have to find constructive ways to spend your free time and to best take care of yourself to be prepared to compete.

SA: Luke, what is it like being on a two-way contract? How do you approach the fluidity of the teams? How did you respond when you offered a standard contract?

LK: The two-way contract worked well for me. It was not too difficult as my season was split pretty evenly without too many transitions between the teams. We also ran similar offenses and had similar schemes so the curve was not as drastic as it could be. I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to have a lot of game action in New York and be able to acclimate myself to that level. I’m excited to move on to a standard contract as it’s the opportunity to continue on from where I left off last year and keep moving forward.

SA: How is wedding planning going? What is most unique thing at the wedding, and where has the biggest disagreement over the silliest thing taken place?

TP: Good! My mom has been super helpful, with so much going on right now between my job and the move to NY, I am not sure I would have the capacity to do everything. She’s been really incredible managing everything but always asking for my input. It is unreal how much goes into a wedding... i am so thankful for her help!!

Most unique thing/special to me, we were trying to figure out a way to incorporate Vandy since it was such a big part of our lives and us meeting. I think what we (my mom J ) came up with is going to be a really cool touch – you’ll have to wait for pictures.

Biggest disagreement….. Luke doesn’t really disagree with anything so far, it’s been pretty smooth sailing. He did suggest a chocolate wedding cake at one point... I kindly smiled and nodded and it was never brought back up again - ha!

LK: “Yeah that sounds great, Tierney!”

Lightning Round:

SA: What is your favorite place to eat in NYC?

TP: Wall Street has a ton of good lunch options. I haven’t explored much for dinner but some of my favorite lunch spots so far are Dig Inn and Dos Toros.

LK: I have not explored too much in the city, but Friedman’s and Jacob’s Pickles are two places I’ve really enjoyed.

SA: Best NYC life hack?

TP: Being that I have been here only about a week or two, I would say downloading google maps. That app is lifesaving. It is incredible the features that thing has. Run your commute home. My subway commute is about 20 minutes, but i only live 6 miles. So i like to squeeze my workout in and just run instead.

LK: If the subway is full you want to stand in the middle section because the ceiling there is about 7’3” but on the sides it’s about 6’9”.

SA: What’s on your Spotify list?

TP: Really liking For King & Country right now, but always have 90s and 00s country music.

LK: 90s and 2000s punk rock, Wicked the musical soundtrack, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rae Sremmurd

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SA: If you could do one thing differently at Vanderbilt, what would it be? What is one thing you’d do again?

TP: Different: Go to more events on campus. The Melodores are incredible. The Original Cast is great too. It really is the only time of your life you have sporting events, concerts, plays and incredible speakers all at your fingertips so often. Do again: I would love to go back for the senior year Tennessee game. That was our last home football game and it was such a fun game, such a special memory. I changed my flight last minute to come back from Thanksgiving break early to make sure I could see it and I am so glad I did.

LK: I am not much of one to think about regrets, so maybe branch out with some of the electives I took. If there was one thing I could do again it’d probably just be getting brunch at Rand on a Saturday with the squad or something simple like that.