|(L-R)Tim Reese, Jim Bletner, Greg Mathien and Karen Minser|
Nov. 18, 2011
The University Tennessee Lettermen's "T" Club is officially honoring four distinguished members of the Volunteer family during its annual Lettermen's dinner Friday night at The Foundry. A special on-field ceremony for the honorees takes place at halftime of Saturday's UT-Vanderbilt game.
The club is granting Honorary Membership status to Jim Bletner, Retired Director of Concessions and Souvenirs; Dr. Greg Mathien, Team Orthopedic Specialist; Karen Minser, Diving Meet Official; and Tim Reese, Thompson-Boling Arena Manager. Honorary membership to the "T" Club may be bestowed on an individual for outstanding achievement reflecting favorably on the University of Tennessee and specifically its men's and/or women's athletic programs. Nominees shall not have been a letterman in any sport at the University of Tennessee and shall not have been previously awarded this distinction. The award is considered the club's highest honor.
JIM BLETNER -- Jim Bletner turned a $200 per month sport management internship into a fulltime position and big business for UT Athletics. At the time, Bletner was enrolled in the Sports Management program at Ohio University after graduating from Knoxville's West High School and then the University of Tennessee in 1971. A requirement for graduation was completion of an internship with a college athletics department. Athletics Director Bob Woodruff filled the bill and from there Bletner was hired fulltime in 1974 as Assistant Director for Promotions. One of his tasks was to expand UT's souvenir sales with proceeds going to the T-Club Athletic Scholarship Fund. He pioneered the trademark of the Tennessee logo. In 1982, Bletner was promoted to director of concessions and souvenirs. On a national scale, Bletner was highly recognized after having served as director of souvenirs at the Atlanta Olympic Stadium during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. In 2003, the TSSAA honored him with the A.F. Bridges Contributor of the Year Award. In 2005, he served as president of the National Association of Collegiate Concessionaires. He was honored in 1978 as winner of the Lady Vols Outstanding Service Award and in 2007 he received a Chancellor's Citation for Extraordinary Customer Service. The athletics department made a decision to outsource both the concessions and souvenir sales to a national company in 2007. Bletner continued to work until he retired in 2008. Since retirement, Bletner has spent the majority of his time in church and charity work. Also displaying a true passion for baseball, Bletner has served since 2010 as official scorer for the Vols baseball games. He and his wife, Donna, have one grown son, Michael.
GREGORY M. MATHIEN -- Dr. Gregory Mathien, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., attended the State University of New York in Syracuse for both his undergraduate and medical degrees. He remained in Syracuse to complete his surgical internship and orthopedic surgery residency. In 1991, Mathien came to Knoxville for a Sports Medicine Fellowship under the direction of Dr. William T. Youmans. During his fellowship, KOC recruited Mathien to remain as a KOC surgeon and help expand the KOC sports medicine program, enhancing the care of injured athletes. This evolved into an extensive program placing ATCs in all Knox County high schools. Mathien received the Tennessee Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Distinguished Service Award in 2011. Dr. Mathien currently serves as the Senior Team Orthopedic Surgeon for the University of Tennessee athletics programs, which involves caring for both UT male and female athletes in all sports. Mathien has more than 20 years' experience caring for UT athletes, including many Olympic medalists and future professional athletes. He is an active participant in national sports medicine research, the Multi-Center ACL Revision Study. He and his wife, Clara, live in Knoxville with their two children, Zachary and Rebecca.
KAREN MINSER -- Karen Minser has more than a 17-year career involvement with the University of Tennessee diving program. During this period of time, she helped to bring the official judging of diving events on UT's campus from pencil and paper tabulations to a sophisticated electronic automated system with computers, wireless judging consoles and integration with state-of-the-art scoreboards. The current diving facility at the Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center has allowed Tennessee the opportunity not only to host dual meet diving but to broaden into hosting national level competitions with Olympic caliber divers. As a diving official since 1992, Minser coordinates meet management aspects for all Tennessee home events as well as national competitions. She and her husband, Billy, have two girls, Bethany, a Lady Vols diver from 1998-2000, and Kate.
TIM REESE -- Tim Reese, a native of Manheim, Pa., graduated from Manheim Central High School in 1972 and Lebanon Valley (Pa.) College in 1976. Reese added a master's degree to his credentials from Penn State University in 1977. After graduation, he accepted a student activities position at Wake Forest, where he worked from 1977-81. In the fall of 1981, Reese accepted the position as director of student activities at UT under the direction of Phil Scheurer. In 1986, Reese received a Chancellor's Citation for Extraordinary Customer Service to the university. With the building of Thompson-Boling Arena in 1987, Reese was named to the position of arena manager and he has remained the sole arena manager its entire 25 years. Reese works tirelessly to bring quality entertainment to the community and to ensure that various athletics teams practice and perform in the best on-campus facility possible. The Tennessee Volunteers have no greater fan or advocate than Reese. He was named On Campus Volunteer of the year by the UT Women's Athletics Department in 2004. Reese and his wife, Jean, have two grown sons, T.J. and Andy, and one daughter-in-law, Paige.
SERVICE AWARD WINNER
In addition the T-Club honored one of its members with a service award to former letter-winner Hank Lauricella. The T-club annually honors members whose service to the University, the Athletics Department and the community has highly distinguished them.
Lauricella was "Mr. Everything" during one of the most prominent stretches in UT football history. While the 1948 recruits have been called the best freshman class in Vols history, Lauricella proved as much three years later. In the 1951 Cotton Bowl against Texas, Lauricella set up Tennessee's first score with a 75-yard run - perhaps the most memorable run in school history. The next season he was named All-SEC and All-America, averaging a school-record 7.9 yards per carry in leading the Vols to a 10-0 regular season. Tennessee was named national champion prior to its Sugar Bowl appearance and Lauricella finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting. Lauricella enjoyed a brilliant career in development and politics as a Congressman from Louisiana.