My name is Chris Walker, and I was a member of the football team at UT from 2007-2010. Growing up in West Tennessee my entire life, I was very familiar with The University of Tennessee. Not being a huge fan of the football program, but always admiring the Lady Vols basketball program. My mother was a women’s basketball coach in Memphis for 20+ years, so I came to respect women’s sports. Even at a young age I was impressed with the Lady Vols not just for their play on the court, but how they carried themselves on the court, and off! I just put it off as, “Coach Summitt recruits some high character girls!”
It wasn’t until I came to the university that I discovered that the class that I saw from those ladies all those years ago wasn’t just some fake routine, but it was EXPECTED from them! I also found out that it wasn’t JUST the basketball players that operated that way, but it extended to every female athletic team at The University of Tennessee!
In my time at UT, I became extremely close with numerous Lady Vols. Not just basketball, but soccer, tennis, golf, track and field, swimming, rowing and softball. What I came to learn was that being a Lady Vol meant so much more than just playing a sport at Tennessee, but it was a way of life! I learned that to be a Lady Vol, you WILL do things the right way, you WILL carry yourself as a LADY, you WILL compete in a way that represented yourself, your family, your coaches, and The University of Tennessee with integrity, dignity, sportsmanship and class! For most universities, they can get away with having one logo, one brand because quite frankly, they aren’t The University of Tennessee! They don’t have the tradition that we do!
Being a Lady Vol made you apart of a distinct and respected family. In every female sport at UT, the ladies can look back at an unbelievable, unprecedented legacy that was left for them to continue. Lady Vols like Kelley Cain, Taylor Rotella, Brittany Napoli, Lauren Spurlock Winchell, Vicki Baugh, Sarah Van Sickle, Jasmine Brown, Alyssa Hilby Taber Spani, Meighan Simmons, Tanya Emerson, Leslie Cikra, Kylie Marshall, Rebecca Watson, Anna Van Vilet and countless showed me what being a Lady Vol was all about. This is NOT just a logo, or brand, it’s a WAY OF LIFE!
I am disappointed in the fact that our university is erasing a lifestyle that meant so much to so many! Getting rid of the Lady Vols tells the ladies that came before, that they didn’t matter to the university and that is not the case! Tennessee is such a tradition rich school, and it baffles me that we are taking away one of the foundational pillars of our tradition! I appreciate the friendships of my sister and I stand firmly with them in this fight! Let’s get this right UT!