Aug. 1, 2003
Proposed New Home of Lad yVol Soccer
The University of Tennessee women's athletics department boasts some of the strongest programs in the nation, winning numerous SEC and NCAA championships. The anchor of the Lady Vols athletics program has been the women's basketball team. With its six national championships, the program has brought pride to alumni and friends of U.T., as well as a national reputation as a virtually unstoppable athletic program.
Numerous steps were taken that helped the Lady Vol basketball program grow to be the envy of the nation. Obviously, the first and most important step was the hiring of Pat Summitt as the head coach in 1974. Another important component was the building of Thompson-Boling Arena. The promise of this new facility helped lure the recruiting class that brought the first national championship to the Lady Vols in the 1986-87 season, and five more since.
Today, it continues to help in recruiting. "When we bring a recruit to our facility that first impression is powerful," Summitt said recently.
Because athletic facilities are so important to the success of athletic programs, the men's and women's athletics departments at UT are working jointly on the first-ever capital campaign for athletic facilities. Titled STEP UP - The Campaign for UT Athletic Facilities, this comprehensive capital campaign will directly impact 17 out of the 20 men's and women's sports and ensure that each of them have the necessary facilities to compete for SEC and NCAA championships.
One of the key initiatives of this campaign is to improve the facilities for the Lady Vol soccer team. Started in 1993, the women's soccer team has quickly ascended to the national level and their head coach, Angela Kelly, is drawing comparisons to Pat Summitt.
Kelly, a former midfielder as a member of the women's soccer team at North Carolina, has been with the program since its inception and was promoted in 2000 to head coach. Already, in the 2002 season, after only two years of coaching, her Lady Vols captured the SEC championship from Florida's six-year reign, charged through the third round of NCAA action only to be halted by UNC and finished in the top 10 in the country in attendance.
The University of Tennessee is proposing a permanent soccer stadium that can be enlarged as demand warrants. The new stadium will include a press box, rest rooms, concession stands and locker rooms. The stadium will be funded by donations to STEP UP - The Campaign for UT Athletic Facilities.
A new stadium will help bring the young soccer program to the national level of the women's basketball team.
There are many schools, specifically top-25 schools, that have made a firm commitment to their women's soccer program. In order for Tennessee to continue to attract top national recruits, it is imperative that we not only compete, but also surpass our competition.
"We want a national championship at Tennessee. The only obstacle I see in our pursuit is the lack of a permanent soccer facility." said Kelly.
For more information on STEP UP - The Campaign for UT Athletic Facilities, please contact Scott Rabenold or John Currie at 865-974-1218.