My name is Jasmine Brown, and I am a former Lady Vol volleyball player from this great university. I was born and raised in Chattanooga, TN. As far as college loyalty and fan base goes, Chattanooga is second to Knoxville. When I was in middle school, I had the great privilege to attend a few of the women’s basketball games. I also attended a Lady Vol basketball camp where I met THE Pat Summitt. Shanna Zolman was my absolute favorite basketball player of all time and one of my biggest role models. In my young, middle school eyes, I only saw the Lady Vol T. If you had shown me the power T at that point in my life, I honestly would not have known that it was legitimate.
In 2009 I was blessed enough to begin referring to and defining myself as a Lady Vol just like the strong, intelligent, hardworking women (i.e. Shanna Zolman) who had come before me. My teammates and I were honored to contribute to and become a part of the Lady Vol legacy and live up to the standard that those young women set for us. We wore that Lady Vol logo proudly and rightfully so.
Having two names – Lady Vols and Vols – does indeed acknowledge that there exists a difference in Tennessee athletics – there are women and there are men. But doesn’t the meaning of that Lady Vol logo support what society is fervently urging for? For intelligent, bold, fiery, determined young women to set themselves apart and step forward to lead? For women to stop cowering in the shadows of men? We have always been one Tennessee with all sports, women and men, and I know that that will never change. However, having our own sign to identify with encouraged us to be the powerful, dominant, strong women that we are at this very moment. It is a unique brand, and it troubles me to observe the ease with which it is being discarded.
Even more disheartening, our athletic department has chosen to remove this logo from every women’s team but basketball; I whole-heartedly disagree with this. I understand the logic behind having a unified brand but to strip this logo away from every women’s team but one and proclaim that we are “One Tennessee” does not meet that claim to logic. I am and always will be an avid Lady Vol supporter and with that comes the understanding of and true respect for what Pat Summitt and her team stood for and established for the women athletes at the University of Tennessee. However, I believe that Pat Summit did not just fight for her team, but she fought for ALL women’s teams at Tennessee. Women’s softball, track, soccer, volleyball etc. have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice their minds, bodies and time to win championships too and have done just that – won championships. So, yes, I agree that this logo should not be taken away from the women’s basketball team. However, due to logic and basic equality, I believe that no women’s team should endure the loss.
I urge the leaders and decision-makers of the athletic department and of this esteemed university to reconsider and reinstate the Lady Vol T.
Thank you for your time and consideration.