From the moment I stepped onto campus in June 2008, I knew that I was embarking on the most influential and special experience of my eighteen years so far; becoming a Lady Vol. What I did not know, was that the next four years would be some of the most grueling, exhausting, grit producing, character-making years of my life.
I learned very quickly that becoming a Lady Vol, was a privilege earned not given. The first time I met former Women’s Athletic Director Joan Cronan, she communicated some very strong words to me: “To whom much is given, much is expected.” These words stuck with me throughout my experience as a Lady Vol, and continue to daily. You see, being a Lady Vol is about so much more than just putting on a uniform. As a Lady Vol at the University of Tennessee, you are given amazing facilities, world-renowned coaches and support staff, and more gear than you could possibly know what to do with. In return, being a Lady Vol means that you respect yourself, your teammates, your coaches, your professors, your support staff, your institution and your community. Every single day, you wake up and you give your all for Tennessee. When you’re in the weight room and your legs are shaking and you can’t imagine doing one more leg press rep, you grind it out because your team, your sisters, need you. When you’re on the line, and your lungs are burning, and you know that this next sprint is going to make you puke, you close your eyes and suck it up, because the last one’s a given and that’s the Lady Vol way. When you’ve just won an SEC Championship on a Sunday and are sore and exhausted, you get up and make sure you get to class Monday morning because you have been afforded the opportunity to receive an excellent education and you are expected to take advantage of that.
To be a Lady Vol is an honor, an honor that comes with many expectations. Lady Vols are not just fierce competitors in their respective sports; we are brilliant writers, compelling orators, devoted mothers, professional athletes and so many other things. The one thread that unites us all though, is the undying passion and commitment we gave to this great university as Lady Volunteers during our time at Rocky Top. It absolutely baffles me that anyone would want to take that away.
“Lady Vol” is synonymous with excellence wherever you go. It is offensive and demeaning that all of our sacrifices, all of our blood, sweat and tears that we gave to Tennessee will be taken away in one fell swoop. For what? A branding decision? By taking away a title steeped in history and tradition you are essentially saying that we don’t matter. All of the women who came before me, who fought and clawed their way to be taken seriously as competitors and viewed as equal to male athletes… they don’t matter? All of the little girls who came to every single soccer game at Regal Stadium, cheering us on until they lost their voices, attending soccer camp every summer saying they couldn’t wait to be a Lady Vol…they don’t matter? Guess what Mr. Hart? They do matter.
I strongly urge the powers that be to reconsider this appalling decision. The Lady Vols are a nationally recognized brand of greatness, one that the legendary Pat Summit worked tirelessly to establish. Please do not tarnish Pat’s legacy or the legacy of all the past, present and future Lady Vols by destroying what we have worked so hard to positively represent.
Lady Vol Soccer 2008-2012