Oct. 23, 2013
Nicole Smith is a former Lady Vol golfer. Smith played for the Tennessee women's golf program from 2006 to 2009. During her Lady Vol career, Smith had one tournament championship, named a 2007 NCGA All-American Honorable Mention selection and a three-time All-SEC Second Team selection (2006, 2007 and 2009). Smith was also a three-time NGCA Academic All-American (2007, 2008 and 2009).
The native of Riverside, Calif., is currently a rookie on the LPGA tour.
You can find her website at: nicolesmithgolf.com
Q: Nicole, update us on what you have been doing since your days at Tennessee? A: "Currently, I am a professional golfer on the LPGA tour."
Q: You moved all the way from California to come to school at Tennessee. Can you tell us what that transition was like? A: "Just coming from California, I didn't really know what to expect. When I walked in to Tennessee, I didn't realize what all it meant to be a Tennessee Vol and the tradition that goes along with it. Honestly, I just didn't realize how awesome Tennessee has always been in all sports. They expect a high standard. I didn't realize how much Tennessee as whole stands behind its athletes and programs.
"Even now, I still have people who are fans of Tennessee that still follow me and will send me messages like `Vols for Life' or `Go Big Orange' or `I'm so proud of you' and I think that is really cool because they aren't just fans of me. They are fans of Tennessee and that's why they still support me."
Q: What were some of the things that stood out to you and you enjoyed about Knoxville when you first enrolled in school?
A: "I loved the small-town feel. Well big small-town. I thought that was neat to be able to live in a relative big city, but it still had the feel of a close-knit community."
Q: Do you have any fond memories from your days on the Lady Vol golf team? A: "I think it was neat when we used to travel in all of our orange. P.S. - I love our orange... It is the best orange. I still rock it today as often as I can. I think it was neat, no matter where we went or traveled, we always found Vol fans. There are Vol fans everywhere. When they would see us, they would always come up to use and talk to us and sing Rocky Top and I loved that. Even today, I still wear my orange and still have people come up to me. That's something to me. It always puts a smile on my face."
Q: Are you able to still keep up with what goes on at Tennessee? In particular, the Lady Vols? "Yes! I like to try and keep up with them as much as possible. I like to check in and see how basketball is doing and obviously I sit down on Saturdays when football is on and cheer for them. So I definitely still follow."
Q: What would be some advice you would give to the current Lady Vols? A: "I'm just laughing to myself. Judi [Pavon] would probably think, `oh what is Nichole going to say?' But honestly if I could go back and do something I little more different, I think I would have gone to more events and been more involved. Be as involved as you can with the university as a whole is what I would say. I mean I went to a cross country event and I went to one swimming event. I would just try and dive into following and supporting more of the teams. Those events are what I really remember when we would go and support other teams. I would just say don't forget to be a part of it all... being a Vol. I mean I went to some, I just wish I would've gone to more and hit every sport at least once."
Q: Are there any entertaining stories you could tell us about your time with the Lady Vols? A: "I think what I used to do to Judi [Pavon] was funny. Judi and Carrie Parnaby, who was an assistant coach when I was there, I could always drive them nuts. They always liked everything perfect. So I used to go into their office when they weren't there and move stuff around. If you just tilted something the wrong way, they would know it. So that is what I did."
Q: Nicole, is there anything else you would like to add? A: "There definitely is some nostalgia there. I sometimes want to go back because I miss everyone. I just want to send a hello to everybody back in Tennessee. Whenever I reflect back through all the ups and downs after all these years, I just really remember all the great things about being a Vol."
Watch Nicole's feature from the 2011 Golf Channel reality show "Big Break Ireland".