VOLume: Student-Athlete Blog
Dec. 5, 2013
Blog From The Dog: Rowing's Unofficial MascotBy Hal-i-fax H. Doggie Booger Tennessee Rowing's Unofficial Mascot
I'm Hal-i-fax H. Doggie Booger! I'm the unofficial mascot for the Lady Vol Rowing team. I live with four rowers and love them very much! We do lots of rest and recovery together. I got to go to all of their regattas to cheer them on! I hope to meet you all in Oak Ridge this spring!
Dec. 3, 2013
Holiday Season With Friends & FamilyBy Hannah McDonald Sophomore Softball Player
Hey Vol fans! My name is Hannah McDonald and I am a new member of the Lady Vol softball team. This semester has been more than amazing. I have never been on a sports team with so much chemistry. Practices ended last week with the Oklahoma City challenge and my team won! Events like the OKC Challenge make us so competitive with each other but, at the end of the day, we all go home so excited that everyone did their best and improved. After the OKC challenge ended, I headed back home for Thanksgiving break. Once I got home, the first thing I did was say hello to my parents and my dog, Zoe, and then headed straight to the barn where I keep my horse, Jazz. I had missed him so much! Jazz is a 7-year-old Tennessee Walking horse. I have had him since he was four months old and trained him myself so he is my baby. Sure enough, he came running to the fence as soon as he saw my Jeep pull up.
Aside from eating the wonderful Thanksgiving meal that my Grandma Shirley cooked, my family spent time together by going shopping on Black Friday, going to church, and watching one of my favorite movies, Up. I also got to go watch Catching Fire with some of my best friends. I absolutely love the Hunger Games series and the new movie was so good! Aside from spending time with Jazz, my outdoor adventures included breaking in a new shotgun! My dad bought me my first shotgun as an early birthday present this weekend so I could go deer hunting. Although I think I missed the deer, I love my new gun and enjoy the bonding time I get to spend with my dad when it comes to shooting skeet and hunting.
After a long trip back to Knoxville in traffic, it was nice to be back with my teammates. On Monday night we had our Christmas party at Ralph and Karen's house. We all bought $15 dollar gifts for a teammate we had drawn the week before. All the gifts were perfect and hilarious! Even though a lot of the gifts were gag gifts, each gift really showed how much we know about each other. Lexi got me really good by getting a Ted hat and gloves that make me look like fluffy teddy bear (they may come in handy for some cold games in the future). I would not change a single thing about this semester spent with my new team, but now I've got to focus on the future. Which involves finishing this blog and studying for my Calculus II final!!
Dec. 3, 2013
All Eyes On LPGA Qualifying SchoolBy AJ Newell Junior Women's Golfer
Hey everyone! AJ Newell from Lady Vol golf here and ready to give you an update with what's going on with the golf team! November and December are usually our offseason but we have one very special exception this year. While most of us are looking forward to heading home for Christmas break, Chessey Thomas is getting ready to start the final stage of LPGA Qualifying School. She made it through stage I & II earlier this year, and now is in Daytona Beach, Fl. to play Dec. 4-8 to hopefully make it through! Depending on how well you play, there are different criteria for status levels on the LPGA and Symetra tour, and we are all rooting Chessey on to play her best and represent Tennessee well!
Also representing Tennessee are Erica Popson, Nicole Smith, and Jessica Shepley. Follow their progress at our twitter account @LadyVol_Golf!
Have a great holiday season!
Nov. 26, 2013
Protect. Project. Respect.By Grace Anne Sanderson Senior Women's Swimmer
Protect: Protect the "T". Protect your team.
Project: Project our values.
Respect: Respect the "T". Respect your team. Respect yourself.
These three words were the pillars established at the beginning of the year in order to set the foundation for our team. Creating this foundation lays the groundwork for each of our values and allows our members to hold ourselves to the greatest standard, and make us successful in the highest levels of competition.
As we talked about the foundation of what will make our team great this season, we realized that what was being said made sense. However, the words didn't quite create an image.
As our first away meet in Louisville approached, we were asked to talk about what would make our team great at the meet.
"Take up space. Make it our house."
This would set the foundation of protecting, projecting and respecting our team in order to open the doors to our best performances. As we went through the meet is was apparent that Louisville was not going to go down without a fight. Their stands were packed, their team was loud, and they were executing some of their best performances in the pool.
As a team, we recognized this and could have backed down, but we continued to fight the fight. Our team continued winning flip-turns, and beating Louisville to the finishes! We also out-swam them in most events!
Before the fight came to a close, the biggest battle ensued during the men's 4X100 freestyle relay. The men found themselves neck and neck with Louisville, and as the last leg of Louisville's relay stepped up, their swimmer turned to stare down our team. As the Louisville swimmer glared our men down, our freshman Luke Percy (who had just pulled himself out of the water after his outstanding swim on the relay) stood between him and our last swimmer, sophomore Sean Lehane. Luke stood tall, arms crossed, and eyes bearing into the Louisville swimmer. Sean noticed what was going on and stood on the block behind Luke to stare the Louisville swimmer down as well. On the pool deck our team went wild as Sean and the Louisville swimmer turned away from one another and dove off the blocks. Not once did Sean back down from that race and when he touched with a first place finish all that was heard throughout Louisville's natatorium were the powerful words, "It's great to be a Tennessee Vol!"
That relay created the image that gave our foundation life. The rest of this season will be filled with many more competitions. Sean and Luke set the standard in Louisville, and the Tennessee Swim & Dive team will uphold our foundation, and never back down from a fight to protect the "T"!
Nov. 21, 2013
Changing Of The SeasonsBy Ambika Pande Freshman Women's Tennis Player
Hi everyone! I'm Ambika Pande, and I'm a freshman on the lady Vol tennis team.
I'm from India, and people have asked me what the biggest difference is between here and India. The answer, without a doubt, is the weather. We Indians, come from a country where the climate ranges from warm to really hot. So it just stays on one end of the spectrum. Occasionally during the winter months, it goes to the other end, but not very often and nothing compared to here. To put it in perspective, 1 degree Celsius (about 30 Fahrenheit I think) is the coldest day in the year for us.
It is very disheartening to walk out of class, wearing about 20 layers, gloves and a hat and still feeling cold, and seeing people just walking around in shorts and a t shirt and remarking on how pleasant the weather is. One day the temperature hit about 6 degrees (Celsius of course), and I was standing on the sidewalk freezing to death. My teeth were chattering; it was that bad. I casually mentioned to the girl next to me how cold it was. She turned to me with pity in her eyes and said "Oh honey, it's only going to get worse!" and then turned and walked away with her ominous words still echoing in her wake.
Winter is coming people. Winter is coming.
Nov. 21, 2013
Continuing To Work Hard For Next YearBy Maddie Gangi Freshman Soccer Player
It's only a few days away from Thanksgiving break and not too long till Christmas break. Before you know it, it will be time for the spring season to start. We had to end the season earlier than expected this year, and that was a bit of a shock to all of us. We all hoped to go to Orange Beach and be the SEC champs that we know we deserved to be, but it only gives us the drive to be better and to work harder because we know that we will be in that tournament next year.
Now that our season is over, we are still continuing to train and have conditioning sessions with our athletic trainer and our coaches. We have been practicing two hours a week and lifting weights and having conditioning sessions for almost two weeks. These sessions are very good for us because it helps us stay in shape and it keeps the team ready for spring season. The transition is very different from playing every Friday and Sunday to now not having any games at all.
Another transition that is different is not having the seniors here with us at training. They brought so much character to this team that it feels like a big part is missing. We will all miss them very much.
After Thanksgiving break, the conditioning sessions will become voluntary due to the NCAA rules and the fact that finals are during that time as well. Spring season will be tough, but it will all be worth it in the end!
Nov. 19, 2013
Jake The PilotBy Shealyn Kolosky Junior Volleyball Player
This past weekend we flew to Texas A&M on Thursday, and came back to Knoxville on Saturday. The majority of our Saturday was spent flying back to Knoxville from College Station. I'm not sure how many people have been in the College Station airport, but saying it is small is an understatement. The airport is so tiny it only has two gates. Being such a small airport, we had to fly from College Station to Dallas to Knoxville. We had a two and a half hour layover in Dallas that ended up being three hours due to our flight being delayed. Needless to say, we had a pretty long day traveling!
By the time our flight to Knoxville rolled around, we were exhausted. It was getting late and we were all looking forward to being home. A few minutes before we boarded, our pilot got to board. And do you know who our pilot was? The one and only Jake Pavelka from The Bachelor!
If you're not an avid Bachelor and Bachelorette watcher, I highly recommend Googling him. The picture our team got with him does not do him justice. Our team was pretty excited to have a celebrity pilot, and all tried to take pictures with him in the background when we boarded. Jake was a great about taking a group picture with us after and joked around with our team. It was the perfect way to end a long day of travel.
Nov. 19, 2013
The Life Of A PitcherBy Trevor Charpie Sophomore Baseball Player
The life of a pitcher at the University of Tennessee differs from what many might think. Pitchers are usually called PO's or "Pitcher Only". This is the case for all pitchers at UT with the exception of Andrew Lee, who also plays first base. While many position players can work on fielding ground balls and taking swings, pitchers do not have that pleasure. Due to the wear and tear pitching has on the arm, throwing a bullpen every day is not an option.
Do not let that fool you, however, because pitchers find many other ways to work on their skill. The first way is running. When 6 a.m. conditioning rolls around every other day, position players often work on sprints and other exercises that will help with their sprinting speed. Pitchers, on the other hand, focus on running longer distances. The average 6 a.m. conditioning for a pitcher consists of running four to five miles. This not only helps with endurance so that we can pitch longer into games and pitch on fewer days rest, but it helps with the mental side. Temperatures usually vary from 30-40 degrees on the track at 6 a.m. and pitchers have to push themselves mentally to finish these runs. The running in itself is difficult but the mental side is even tougher. Pushing yourself to run lap after lap around the track can become very tedious. For us, however, we know that it is much more than running. It helps us become mentally strong. Mental strength is a component that is very important in baseball for both position players and PO's.
Another way pitchers get work in is by doing PFP's or pitchers fielding practice. Many forget how important it is for a pitcher to be able to field his position. As pitchers, we work endlessly on our fielding and also our pickoffs. Being able to control the running game is an important part of our pitching philosophy here at Tennessee. So while it may appear that the practices for pitchers may be easy, we push ourselves to get as much work in as possible.
The main part of being a pitcher comes from the unity of being a staff. The whole team here at UT is very close, but the bond the pitchers share is unlike any other. The pitching staff does everything together, from PFP's to running to lifting to even catch play. The pitchers are more than a staff, we are a FAMILY. We all have our certain roles that make the pitching staff different from all other baseball players. We root for each other and push each other to be the best. It has been said that defense wins championships, and pitching is the central point in defense. We thrive on this idea, if one pitcher does not have his best stuff, the staff knows that the next guy coming in will pick him up and be there for him.
We often get picked on as "un-athletic", and frankly "weird." We as pitchers know we are athletic, and being weird is something that makes us who we are! We embrace it. So the next time you look at a pitcher, know that it is much more than just what you see us do on the mound. Being a pitcher is a lifestyle, and it is something much different than any other thing in sports.
Nov. 14, 2013
My Reptile FriendBy Andraya Carter Redshirt Freshman Women's Basketball Player
Hey everyone! My name is Andraya Carter, and I am a redshirt freshman on the women's basketball team here at the University of Tennessee! Over the past year, everyone from my teammates, coaches, other athletes, and even some fans have caught on to the fact that I am a pretty out-there individual. I am in love with music from the 1960's-1970's, I could watch Disney's The Hunchback Of Notre Dame every single night if I wanted to, I love to read and write essays, Calculus is my favorite subject, and so many other things just make me seem a little different than most. However, the number one thing that my teammates and friends here at school say makes me the MOST unique is my pet snake, Nothing (yes, his name is Nothing!).
Nothing is a very handsome ball python. He is a little bit over a year old, and I have had him since late February 2013. When I first got him, he was probably right around half a foot long (he was a precious little baby snake), and now he is almost two feet! He is literally growing right before my eyes and I love it. I take him everywhere: Kroger, WalMart, AutoZone, Sequoyah Park, all my friends' houses, around campus, into the basketball offices and more. I even snuck him into Thompson Boling Arena to sit with me and my teammates and watch the Volleyball game! Unfortunately, Nothing is not allowed to stay in my apartment because of campus housing rules, BUT I have a great friend who keeps him for me and gave me a key to her house, so I can go see him any time I want to.
Most people are afraid of snakes or think that they can't be affectionate at all or show love, but I promise you they can!! Nothing loves me, and anyone who sees me with him can totally tell. A lot of people also think that snakes aren't any fun, but to me they are fascinating! The way he moves and feels and the personality that he shows is so awesome. He is very well behaved and great with people. He has not ever struck at anyone- even when he is shedding his skin and that is when most snakes are aggressive! Not my boy though, he is so calm and relaxed all the time (I've raised him the right way haha).
I always get asked how I got to liking snakes and being so comfortable with them, and it actually started when I was little. I had a ball python when I was very young, and then I also had a red-tail boa constrictor when I was around 5. :) It's safe to say I am a snake lover, especially when it comes to my snake. So, any time I am not on the court or in the classroom or whenever I have some downtime, you can bet your money that I am hanging out with my amazing ball python, Nothing.
Nov. 14, 2013
Men's Golf Gets A Taste Of The Golden CoastBy Marshall Talkington and Chad Merzbacher Senior & Sophomore Men's Golfers
Just recently, the University of Tennessee men's golf team went to Newport Beach, Calf., for the Gifford Collegiate. The tournament was played at the Ocean North Course, which is known for its spectacular views. But not all of the fun happened on the course. We got to experience things specific to the West Coast that we couldn't experience in Knoxville, such as restaurants and the beach. When we got there, we checked into a 5-star resort where the Pacific Ocean was visible from our villa. We also went to a restaurant specific to the West Coast called In-N-Out Burger. After the tournament, we had the chance to go to Laguna Beach. At the beach, we walked along the shore and played beach volleyball. Then, we walked along Highway 1 and stopped through multiple shops near the beach. Also, we had the pleasure of eating at an authentic Mexican restaurant similar to Chipotle near Laguna.
Nov. 12, 2013
Tennis Team's New TeammateBy Brandon Fickey Junior Tennis Player
The Fall of 2013 is coming to a close as the Men's Tennis program enters its 8-hour per week practice schedule, as opposed to the normal 20 hour per week practice schedule. Running and lifting has continued as normal and the team is physically shaping up. The Vols came away with three titles this fall including the ITA All Americans doubles title (Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese), the USTA Clay Court Invitational doubles title (Brandon Fickey and Jarryd Chaplin), and Ohio Valley Regional singles title (Hunter Reese).
Off the court, the team has continued to develop a strong relationship with the Breedlove family and their son Ryan. We've adopted Ryan as an honorary member of our team. Ryan is 10 years old and has battled retinoblastoma, a form of eye cancer, since he was four months old. It has truly been an eye opening experience to get to know Ryan. Last year, Ryan attended many of our home matches all while sporting his orange and white tennis gear. He has even come to practice with the Vols throughout the fall! We look forward to continuing our relationship with Ryan Breedlove and his family. As the fall semester of classes, running, lifting, and practice quickly comes to an end, the team has their mind already on the spring season beginning in January. We hope to see many of you at Goodfriend Tennis Center very soon! Go Vols!
Nov. 12, 2013
The Postseason AthleteBy Daniel Tobin Senior Cross Country Runner
I recently was informed that we are in the midst of UT's homecoming week. Now, I knew Saturday was the homecoming football game, but I just figured all the fuss and celebration during the week was because it was cross country regionals week. Campus is covered in banners, a parade charges down Volunteer Boulevard, special events are popping up in everyone's Facebook newsfeed from people they've never heard of. Homecoming week is great and all, but as an in-season athlete, it is necessary to remove yourself from all the madness. Especially being an in-post-season athlete.
Coming up on Friday is the NCAA South Regional meet, which, for me, is the most important race of my 9 year career. This meet is what determines the qualifiers for the national championship meet. I can't think of anything more important in the last 4 years to me than qualifying for the national championships. So amidst all the hustle and festivities this week, there is one thing on my mind: regionals. Some people comment that avoiding things like homecoming detracts from the `college experience'. There is something different we get to experience as student athletes that doesn't even compare. For me, it involves an orange jersey, a start line, a finish line, and a whole bunch of guys who think they can beat me.
Nov. 7, 2013
Toth: Clagett Brings UNITY to UTBy Allison Toth Junior Rower
In addition to the team issued Adidas gear each year, student-athletes get excited about the UNITY t-shirts from the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. These shirts always flaunt a creative design that incorporates all sports, and show that all athletes represent One Tennessee. Rae Clagett, a senior coxswain on the Rowing team, has been the artistic genius behind the UNITY shirts for the past two years.
Clagett's artistic skills range far beyond the UNITY shirts, as she has designed everything from business cards and posters, to advertisements and packaging. Furthermore, her Graphic Design curriculum included several fine arts classes, and you can find many of her sculptures, drawings, ceramics, and paintings decorating the art building on campus. While Clagett hasn't always had her sights set on design, she enjoys the "creative problem solving" aspect of her field, and hopes to work her way up to becoming an art director after graduation this May.
While the two may seem very different, Clagett has found many places where her studies and her sport overlap. For example, Clagett says, "Rowing has taught me so much about working as effectively as possible with my teammates" and she uses the teamwork and communication skills to work with clients in finding a design to help them achieve their goals. However, Clagett also sees ways design has helped her become a better coxswain. She says, "Design has influenced rowing in that I have developed my eyes to be very observant and critical of the small details, which is important when I'm helping my rowers achieve the best strokes possible." Her sharp eye, along with her intensity, competitiveness, and athleticism make Clagett a strong leader on our team. She can always be counted on to push us forward!
With her graduation approaching this spring, this year's UNITY shirts are the last to sport Clagett's designs. Be sure to keep an eye out for them on campus, and if you ever have a free minute, venture into the art building to see some of her other work!
Nov. 7, 2013
A Day in the Life of a Lady Vol Softball PlayerBy Hannah Akamine Junior Softball Catcher/Infielder
Hi everybody! My name is Hannah Akamine and I am a junior on Tennessee's Lady Vol Softball team. We currently are about to wrap up our 2013 fall season and WOW what a fall it has been! Our team is so young and new. It is honestly really weird switching from being an underclassman and being able to look up to those familiar faces, to being an upperclassman and trying to set an example for the new girls coming in. We, as a team, are rebuilding our strength and that comes with rebuilding a bond that our team always seems to have.
Karen has our team go on these `dates' (Ralph hates them being called dates haha) , and I love them! You learn so much about each player and it's on a personal level not just as a girl on the field. I honestly think that it makes us better at the end of the year; cause we aren't just playing for ourselves but honestly for the girls that we have learned and grown with all year.
Hands down, I'd say our favorite part of fall is our Lady Vol Softball Retreat. For our fall break, we as a team go up to Gaitlinburg, Tennessee and have a quick get away. It is really fun cause we break into teams and have mini competitions during the break. The games vary from egg toss to Pictionary to a talent show. And believe me, we get COMPETITIVE! I'm sure you guys reading this can imagine. We taunt and tease and bark at the opposing team. And it gets serious. Even on our days off we like to hangout together.
It might be us watching a movie and falling asleep cause we are so tired but we somehow find ourselves being around each other as much as we can. We have become a family. Now fall season isn't all fun and games. Fall is the time that we are broken down from the old team and built back up as the Lady Vol Softball team of 2014. We learn that we might not have the Raven Chavanne, who can run down the line in 2 point whatever seconds or we might not have the Lauren Gibson who can hit homeruns pretty much by demand.
No we might not have them on the team and I know people wonder what we will do without them and that is exactly what we learn in fall! What role do I, Hannah Akamine or whoever it is, play on the team and what can I do to make our team be the next Women's College World Series Champions. That's our goal as a team, to be Champions, but it is also Florida's and Oklahoma's and Arizona's goal. Fall is about bonding and learning and forming. Fall is when champions are made.
Nov. 5, 2013
Seeing The World With Women's GolfBy AJ Newell Junior Golfer
Hey everyone! My name is AJ Newell, and I'm doing the first Lady Vol golf post for VOLume. I am a junior, and I am also the SAAC rep for the golf team. When I first was looking at Tennessee, I fell in love with Knoxville. I knew that I needed to find a school where I would want to live for 4 years, and Tennessee and Knoxville really seemed like the perfect place.
What I didn't factor in was how much we would be travelling! The golf team plays 4 tournaments in the fall, and 4 in the spring plus the SEC championship, NCAA regionals and then Nationals. With all this travelling, I have been lucky enough to see some pretty unique and cool places. I wanted to share a few of these with you all for our first post!
My freshman year we were lucky enough to go to Hawaii for Spring Break! We played the Anuenue Spring Break Classic on one of the most beautiful courses I have ever seen. You could see other islands in the distance, and could see the ocean from almost every hole! The only downside was the wind, when we played the practice rounds our golf balls wouldn't stay still on the putting green.
Before the tournament even started in Hawaii, we had one day where we went snorkeling in an underwater volcano, and then drove up to the top of another volcano. The volcano named Haleakala, which means "house of the sun", is the tallest point in Maui.
Now, it's hard to beat Hawaii, but we come close each year when we go to Hilton Head Island, SC. We play the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate, which yes, is hosted by Darius Rucker. He plays a private concert for all the golf teams, and we each get a minute to meet him and take a picture! He is an amazing live singer, and my teammate Chessey Thomas always makes sure we are listening to his music before the tournament so we know his songs.
Each team gets to stay in a private house on the beach, and since I am from Florida, it really feels like home to be so close to the beach. We have been lucky the past few years and stayed in some amazing houses.
I hope y'all enjoyed reading about where we have travelled too. All of us on the golf team are extremely grateful for the opportunities we've had to travel to these amazing places.
Oct. 29, 2013
Fresh Faces For UT TennisBy Joanna Henderson Junior Tennis Player
Hi everyone! Joanna Henderson here, looking to give you an insider's view into the lives of the student athletes here at UT!
Starting out this semester, we welcomed six fresh new faces to the team. To join our already international based team, we introduced two girls from Canada, one from India as well as three Americans. We knew from the beginning that it was going to extremely important to create a bond within the team and to make everyone feel welcome, so the decision was made to go hiking in Gatlinburg as a real "team bonding" experience. Many of us "foreigners" had never been so it was definitely an adventure for us all. We set off on our 5.4 mile hike, which initially seemed like it was going to be easy with everyone thinking that it can't be harder than our grueling workouts or our three hour tennis matches, but we were wrong. As a couple hours started to go by, there were the odd "are we there yet" comments and all of us found ourselves asking any person that came past if they knew if the end was near which brought a lot of laughs. But finally we reached the top and it was well worth the wait. The hours of walking and joking around meant for a lot of laughs, and it was definitely a great way to meet and get to know our team members better by taking everyone out of their usual environment.
It is safe to say that in these past three months I have learned a great deal about my teammates and they have become some of my closest friends. Establishing this bond from the beginning was important because of the countless hours we spend together on and off the court, in the weight room and even studying at the Thornton Center. We had a great fall season as a team, and I am really looking forward to what this team will accomplish this coming spring when we start our duel match season! Stay tuned! And GO VOLS!
Oct. 29, 2013
Striving For More, Daring to DREAMBy Cierra Burdick Junior Basketball Forward
When people think of October, they many times think of the pink ribbon symbolizing breast cancer awareness month, or the candies and costumes that are associated with Halloween. But what many people don't realize is National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week is also in October. In fact, it was just last week: October 20-26th. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries. In my opinion, that is 1,825 too many. I'm not ignorant to the college life-style. I realize college students are going to drink. However, how much you drink and how responsible you are with your drinking habits can make an astounding difference.
While in college, more than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem. These aren't just numbers on a piece of paper. These numbers represent individuals that are struggling with a serious problem that is many times just thrown to the back burner of everyday life. For those who haven't seen the effects of alcoholism or alcohol related health problems firsthand, I can see how the severity of the issue may be underestimated. But I'm here to say that these problems are nothing to be handled lightly with.
So why do I care so much? I'm just a 20-year-old, female hooper who has been blessed with the opportunity to play the sport I love on one of the biggest stages for women's basketball in the world. Well, the truth is my story runs far deeper than just putting a ball in a basket. I grew up going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings with my mom, who is now 29 years sober. Some of my earliest memories were sitting on a cold, hard chair in AA meetings listening to these strangers share their stories and their hardships. As a young adult, my mom dealt with severe alcoholism and addiction. However, instead of keeping that part of her life a big secret, she chose to live her life as if it was an open book. It was her showcased resiliency, courage, and strength that has shaped me into the woman I am today. Her openness and her gift of sharing her mess as her message is what has led me to live a clean lifestyle. However, my choice to live clean isn't enough for me. I want to be a positive example for today's youth and my peers and that is why I have launched the first university DREAM Team in the country.
DREAM Team is an acronym for "Daring to Role model Excellence as an Athletic Mentor," and it is a group of 12 student athletes who are committed to being drug, alcohol, tobacco, and violence free, while upholding a high standard of moral excellence. We serve as role models and mentors in the Knoxville community, working with neighboring elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and youth programs. We will also do several positive outreach programs on campus with our peers. I truly believe that it only takes one positive encounter or one positive mentor to lead our youth in the right way. We may not be able to influence everyone to live healthy lifestyles, but we do have the platform to educate and encourage, which I think it's vital that we take advantage of that. Simply put, DREAM Team is a group of humble student athletes who are looking to make their mark on more than just their sport.
I have many dreams I would like to accomplish before I graduate. Hanging up two national championship banners in Thompson Boling Arena would be ideal. But if all I did was win ball games, I would know that I was not reaching my full potential. As student-athletes, we are blessed with tremendous platforms to make a difference and I want to do exactly that. I want to be remembered as a great ball player, but moreover, a well-rounded person. An individual that gave her all to lead others, especially today's youth, in the right direction. Everyone has his or her own calling in life. I believe I've found mine.
University of Tennessee DREAM Team Members:
Cierra Burdick- Basketball (Captain)
Dalton Saberhagen- Baseball (Co-Captain)
Ellen Renfroe- Softball
Caroline Duer- Track/Field
Jammer Strickland- Baseball
Hannah McDonald- Softball
Jacob Thulin- Swimming
Caroline Brown- Soccer
Derek Reese- Basketball
Harper Lucas- Rowing
Andy Cox- Baseball
Cherelle Thompson- Swimming
For more information on the University of Tennessee DREAM Team contact: UTDREAM13@gmail.com
Oct. 29, 2013
Earning The RightBy Trevor Charpie Sophomore Baseball Pitcher
If a fan were to attend a Vol baseball fall scrimmage or practice he or she would notice that none of the players have Tennessee or Volunteers on their uniform. This is not a mistake; this is a new mentality adopted by our team. The decision to keep the uniforms blank was made because as a team, we have not earned it yet. It serves as a reminder to each player that every day is a day to get better. It is a reminder to not count the days, but to make the days count.
While it may look funny, the players take this very seriously. The team knows we not only play for our teammates, coaches and school, but for the whole state of Tennessee. While it may not seem like much to have Tennessee written across our shirts, it is. Many great players and coaches have come before us, and made it possible for us to have the great facility that we do.
Players like Todd Helton, Yan Gomes and many others set a tone for the University of Tennessee baseball team that we as players respect and strive to match. That is the exact reason why we don't have anything written across our chests. We have not earned the things that players like R.A. Dickey and others did before us.
Their hard work and sacrifice is what got this program to a championship level. This is what we strive for each day. Until every player can say that they gave their all for Tennessee, we won't have it written across our chests. We continue to work to get Tennessee back on our shirts. We work for the spring and we work for the Vols that came before us. We work for Tennessee.
Oct. 24, 2013
Running, Traveling And More RunningBy Daniel Tobin Senior Cross Country Runner
Daniel Tobin from Tennessee Men's Cross Country here, bringing you an inside scoop of the exciting lives of the Vol distance runners. With our sub 4-minute miles, we could run a marathon, but don't worry--we don't! For those that are unfamiliar, cross country races are 8000 or 10000 meters, roughly 5 and 6 miles. We train a lot, including weekends, and even on our own outside of practice. The fun part is waking up at 5:30 am to run and lift weights, because then you have time to eat before racing across campus clutching your backpack on the way to that 8am you can't be late for.
This past weekend, we represented UT at the Adidas Invitational in Madison, Wisconsin. The trip consisted of a cab ride to the airport where our boys in orange were chomping at the bit to get to Wisco and line up with a plethora of the nation's best distance runners. Check out this picture of them getting ready to go through the grueling security checkpoint in Knoxville's McGhee-Tyson Airport (please arrive 4 hours before departure to ensure getting through on time... just kidding there's never a line).
Once aboard, the lovely stewardess was sporting an all pink get-up, promoting awareness for breast cancer research foundations. I liked it and got a pink lemonade for donating two bucks! After touchdown in Milwaukee, coach haggled his way into a free upgrade at the rental car place and scored a pair of black 2014 Cadillac Escalades for us to roll up to Madison in (again, kidding, but we did get some nice Yukon's or something). After our coach and director of Operations endured that hour long car ride in a metal box full of distance runners, we got to the course, and it was our turn to endure.
Traveling with the team is always enjoyable, and even more so with a group of men as tight-knit as ours. Cross Country is certainly one sport where team unity is paramount in inciting success, and we are lucky to have a band of brothers that get to toe the line each weekend standing next to one another. We are certainly the luckiest to be able to do it while wearing Orange.
For the next couple weeks the team will be preparing mentally and physically for the SEC championships and the NCAA Regional meets. This will include a decrease in volume of training to help our bodies taper for the races. We will strive to produce some results worth reading about and leave a good foundation for upcoming seasons. Until next time, Big Orange Country, GO VOLS!
Oct. 22, 2013
Swimming's Wonder WomanBy Grace Anne Sanderson Senior Swimming Freestyler
October 7th was the first day of the swim team's epic Orange White week competition. Swimming against fellow teammates is always a different approach, and this year was by far the most competitive! Lance Asti, our assistant coach and most spirited staff member (due to being a White team alumni), designed competitions that incorporated land activities such as stair runs, rope exercises, and jump rope duels. He also incorporated water competitions that didn't include the typical swimming back and forth as fast as you can. Instead, he dug a rough rope dating from the 80s out of storage and hung it off the 5-meter platform and challenged us to climb. Whichever team climbed the fastest got the points. But the creativity didn't end there. Our coaching staff gave us the opportunity to compete in a swimmer's version of tug-o-war. So we chose our best kickers, and threw a rope in the water, ending in an Orange victory!
While the competition raged on during the week, each and every one of us, (no matter which team) had a very special person in mind. Kim Kredich, our head coach's wife, is "Wonder Woman". You could even call her "Kim Possible". She is the best mom who has raised the coolest kids around. She is the greatest wife and the ULTIMATE supporter of the Lady Vol and Vol family. This powerful woman was diagnosed with breast cancer recently, and instead of letting this diagnosis bring her down, she rose to the challenge and decided that she was going to defeat it. Her first round of chemo was the day of the final orange and white meet competition. Our team took off our orange and white and put on our bright pink caps that read "Kim Possible". While Kim began her competition with cancer, our team fought with her. Kim even showed up to the meet (of course chemo wouldn't keep Kim Possible away from the pool deck), and high fived every single one of us behind the blocks. This special woman is and will always be an inspiration. As our head coach Matt Kredich says, "My wife's name is on your cap, and that's a name worth fighting for." Those words couldn't hold more truth.
Oct. 17, 2013
Volleyball AdventuresBy Shealyn Kolosky Junior Volleyball Middle Blocker
Hi Vol fans! My name is Shealyn Kolosky, and I am a junior on the UT volleyball team. I am pleased to be one of the first blog writers for VOLume! Check out an inside look to some experiences that make me proud to be a Lady Vol!
This season, we welcomed 10 new Lady Vols to our team. One of the greatest challenges we have faced with so many new players is making sure everyone feels connected and bonded with the team. We started out our team building this summer when we went white water rafting. It was a great experience, and we successfully made it down the river without anyone being thrown overboard. We all had a blast screaming through all the huge rapids, and even had some pretty awesome action shots taken!
A few weeks later we headed up to the mountains in Gatlinburg where we stayed in a cabin for the night. We were able to focus on team building activities with our coaching staff. The mountains and the cabin were beautiful. Our retreat every year during preseason is one of the longest standing Lady Vol traditions. It is a perfect time for all of us to continue to get to know each other and take a break from the two-day practices that we have the few weeks before school starts!
And what kind of team would we be if we didn't give our five freshmen a little bit of a hard time when we travel? On a road trip earlier this year we pulled a fantastic prank on Jamie Lea, a freshman outside hitter. We convinced her she was being interviewed, and in middle of answering the question, Ashlyn Sunseri came around the corner with a handful of frosting from a cupcake and smashed it in her face!
We love joking around with each other off the court when we aren't busy in classes, lifting or study hall. Stay tuned for more inside looks to the student-athlete life at UT!
Oct. 17, 2013
Taylormade Tour Van Hits KnoxvilleBy Marshall Talkington Senior Golfer
The Taylormade Tour Van can regularly be seen on site at PGA Tournaments, but its most recent visit was to the Mack and Jonnie Day Golf Facility. This allowed the members of the Tennessee Men's golf team to be fit for new clubs by the same people who fit PGA Tour players. Each player received a one-hour, one on one fitting with a professional club fitter. The process starts with the player hitting balls on a Trackman in front of a club fitter. After the club fitter determines your tendencies, such as ball flight and spin, he personally builds clubs that will better suit your game. After the clubs have been built and you have tried them out, other minor adjustments may be maid in order to make the club feel perfect for the player. Club fitting is very important in the game of golf and accommodations such as these, allow the Tennessee Men's Golf team to compete at the highest level.
Oct. 15, 2013
Tennessee Soccer TraditionsBy Julie Eckel Junior Soccer Goalkeeper
To kick off the season, Coach Pensky and the soccer staff host a team dinner the night before preseason starts. This allows the team to meet new faces and come together before the blood, sweat, and tears begin.
Along with the meet and greet, the Tennessee soccer team has a tradition that has lasted many years. On our first away trip, new players and or staff members are strongly encouraged to prepare a tune to sing in front of the team. Not only do they get to pick a song of their choice, they also have to wear noise-canceling headphones. This makes it so the individual cannot hear his or her own voice. Did I mention this singing occurs on the bus?! The individual is also asked to sing into the bus microphone so the back of the bus passengers can hear! This creates a fun atmosphere and allows the "newbies" to come together for the first time in the new school year and season.
During our 2013 season, the soccer team has begun a new tradition, created by our strength and conditioning coach, Greg Adamson. Our team's theme this year is to be relentless, strong, fit, and mentally tough. Our goal is to outwork any opponent. That being said, one girl from the team each week is awarded a "Weight Room Warrior" status. Along with this status comes a great, big sledgehammer (decorated of course). This sledgehammer represents our relentless pursuit of excellence and fight on the field. Yes, we do travel with the sledgehammer everywhere we go! The sledgehammer is a part of our team, even in airports and hotels. We hope this new tradition carries on for years to come!
Men's Tennis Off To Great StartBy Brandon Fickey Junior Tennis Player
The 2013-2014 year is underway with Tennessee Men's tennis, and we could not have asked for a better start! The team is handling the running, lifting, and practice with an extremely positive attitude.
The new individual rankings were recently released from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, or ITA, and Mikelis Libietis, Junior, was ranked the number one ranked singles player in the country and teamed up with Hunter Reese, Junior, to earn the number one doubles team ranking in the country. Mikelis returned to his home country of Latvia to play in a Davis Cup match against Finland. Mikelis won his doubles match in straight sets to help Latvia win 3-2. Upon his return, Libietis and Reese teamed up to capture the ITA All-American doubles Championship.
We took on three new freshmen this year: Sean Karl, Markus Kerner, and Sunay Bhat, along with Andrew Dromsky, who is a transfer from Georgia Southern. Sean Karl is doing fantastic after overcoming months of chemotherapy and beating Ewing Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Recent graduate of last year's sixth ranked team John Collins has taken on a new role this year as a student assistant and is doing fantastic. The team continues to look forward to the coming months and season and look to make VOL nation proud!
Oct. 10, 2013
Tennessee's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) is happy to introduce a new blog: VOLume. The feature will include entries from the student-athletes giving an inside glimpse of their lives.