What it means to be a “Lady Vol”
What does it mean to be a “Lady Vol”? For me, it represents class, distinction, pride, respect, honor, work ethic, values, attitude and an identity.
When I read the headlines that the name “Lady” was to be dropped from women’s sports teams at Tennessee, the tears flowed. They flowed at shock; they flowed at a sense of loss: a loss of identity, a loss of what it stands for, and a loss of history. Former Lady Vols helped build a foundation, a model for the next generation. When Coach Summitt brought the change from the Volettes to the Lady Volunteers in 1976, it marked a point in women’s athletics that legitimized Title IX. This also spoke that Title IX is not just about equal opportunity for women in sport, but also for women in sport to define the terms in which and how we play determined by females, not males.
Coach Pat Summit coined the term “Lady Volunteers” to set forth a new tradition, one of respect and class and an ideal to uphold. A woman who herself went through adversity of playing sport in what was then considered a man’s world. Athletic Director Hart has said the Lady Vols basketball team will keep its name and logo due to their significant accomplishments.
I am truly happy that some of Lady Vol tradition will live on. But why only them? What about other Lady Vols championships? About other Lady Vol teams putting their female athletes on the Olympic team? As a former Lady Vol, I feel that this is a step back for women’s athletics. It’s a blow to other Lady Vol sports and their respective accomplishments as a team or individuals.
In the end, we may just end up losing that Lady in Lady Vol. As a sad and disheartening day it will be, our Lady Vol spirit and pride will remain. The spirit, the pride and the passion of the Lady Vols will not be broken, not now, not in the past and certainly not for the future Lady Vols.
So what does it mean to be a “Lady Vol”? For me, it represents class, distinction, pride, respect, honor, work ethic, values, attitude and an identity – and it always will.