My name is Shelby Burchell and I played softball for your prestigious program from 2008-2012. During my tenure I played in two Women’s College World Series finishing 3rd and 8th in the country, and won an SEC Tournament Championship in 2011. I played for the best coaches and with the most talented teammates, who have gone on to play at the Olympic level. I feel I can state on behalf of all involved that we are completely disappointed in your decision to take away our identity as “Lady Vols”.
In knowing all of this, I was not always a Tennessee fan – if I am completely honest I grew up a die hard Alabama fan, so much so that I never even considered Tennessee as an option to play softball. However I decided to come on a visit and while at Tennessee, I was introduced to Pat Summit. The memory of meeting her is one of my most treasured from my visit, and I will never forget how she talked about being a Lady Vol. She explained that it is one of the best decisions a student athlete could make. And, not only would I be representing a long tradition of excellence in my sport, but the Lady Vol identity is a special bond that I would hold with only a handful of women athletes. This conversation along with the division of athlete departments at the time (Joan Cronnan and the women’s side completely blew me away as it was one of only in the nation) is one of the two sole reasons I chose Tennessee over Alabama.
I say all of this to commend this hard working university and athletic department on changing an avid, diehard, Alabama-loving softball player into a humble, proud, Lady Vol softball player and alum for life. The “Lady Vol” identity is what distinguishes all of the women’s athletic programs from the rest of the country – and now only the basketball program is allowed to continue this tradition? That is a complete slap in the face to the rest of the women’s sports. Does the basketball team deserve it? OF COURSE! No one will dispute that nor dare take it away from them, but to take that away from the rest of the women’s sports who have worked hard to retain the “Lady Vol” identity as something of prestige and honor does not seem fair at all. It truly saddens me to know that I was among the last few that got to wear a uniform with the beautiful blue and orange letters spelling out Lady Vols. Please don’t take this opportunity away from future women student athletes!!
I will forever be a Lady Vol for life and urge on behalf of all the past, current, and future Lady Vols that you please reconsider this decision and reinstate the honorable Lady Vol name and logo. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Lady Vol Softball 2008-2012
WCWS 2010 & 2012
SEC Tournament Champs 2011