Prior to committing to becoming a Lady Volunteer I had verbally committed to Arkansas. I’m from a small town in the suburbs of Montreal, Canada, and I wasn’t familiar with the recruiting process. Fortunately, the Arkansas opportunity fell apart, giving me the chance to become a Lady Volunteer. It was grey and rainy on my recruiting trip, but from the moment I stepped on campus I knew I was a part of something greater than a team. It was a community- a family. It was evident that traditions had been passed down from one generation to the next, and I knew I couldn’t miss the chance of becoming a Lady Volunteer.
Being a Lady Volunteer gave me and the other female athletes at the University of Tennessee the platform that we needed to excel in the classroom and in the pool, on the court, and on the field. Being a Lady Volunteer not only meant performing at the highest level, with devoted and empowered teammates, it also meant following in the footsteps of great leaders and athletes that had built up a reputation. It meant showing our pride in our school work and becoming a better individual. Being a Lady Volunteer had nothing to do with being inferior to the men’s teams, in fact it allowed female athletes to feel empowered, having the attention from athletic trainers and strength and conditioning coaches necessary to become healthier and more powerful athletes. Lady Volunteers never take anything for granted, we all worked together to accomplish what other people would call impossible. Being a Lady Volunteer was more than a symbol, it formed a mindset that endures even after graduation, driving us on to continue seeking new challenges and always hold ourselves to a higher standard.
My freshman year before the first night of finals at NCAA Joan Cronan spoke to the team and said that being a Lady Volunteer was all about the 3 Ps: Pride, Power, and Performance. Those words have echoed in my life ever since, guiding even my daily actions two-and-a-half years later. I do things the Lady Vol way! My heart is filled with regret to see the Lady Volunteer logo be tossed away. While not the intention I’m sure, this decision makes it seem as if years of tradition, hard work, and dedication to give women the opportunity to compete at a high level and prepare for a life after sport wasn’t worth keeping.
I think I can speak for every woman who has gone through the program when I say: “Once a Lady Vol, always a Lady Vol!”
Gabrielle Trudeau, Diving 2008-2012