Aug. 10, 2012
By Brian Rice
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- A week away from the season opener, the Tennessee soccer team opened the doors to Regal Soccer Stadium on Friday night to meet its fans, another step in the community-building effort Brian Pensky has been leading since arriving on campus as head coach in February.
A crowd of over 200 fans seized the opportunity to meet the team and participate in a brief on-field clinic. Heavy rain in the Knoxville area let up just in time for Lady Vol players to lead drills before an autograph session in the museum inside Regal Stadium.
“It means a lot to us to see all of our fans come out and support us like this,” junior Caroline Brown said. “I don’t think this is common for a lot of college soccer programs. For us to get this many kids out here and to meet our fans means a lot to us.”
“We had no idea what we were going to get,” Pensky said of the crowd, which came out despite the rain that pelted Knoxville all day Friday. “This is just such a win-win for everybody. Our players love to interact with their fans, and for the fans, especially the little girls, they really look up to our players. It’s an absolute win-win all around.”
Prior to taking the field, Pensky introduced the team to the crowd inside the film room, giving a quick background story on each player. He said getting to know the players off the field was equally important to getting to know their skills on the field.
“We want to be great, we want to win,” Pensky said. “But also we want to see these kids get degrees and prepare themselves for their lives, for friendships, marriages, the future. It’s about people and relationships. I love all these kids and I think they’re having a good time.”
The event, the first of its kind for the Tennessee soccer program, was another step in the community-building approach that has been in full swing since Pensky’s arrival.
“Since February, we’ve been trying to connect with the community and connect with the local clubs,” he said. “We’re working on getting a good product on the field, and hopefully people are going to want to come out and support us.” Brown said having fans in the stadium had her even more ready to take the field next Friday against Samford.
“I’m very excited,” she said. “We’ve been working hard this week, all of camp, and will continue to next week. We’re really excited to get the season started.”