I have purposely taken my time to articulate the feelings I have about the change to what was arguably one of the most important decisions and experiences in my athletic career. As an emerging elite high school athlete in the 80’s, I was faced with a crucial decision as where to spend my four years of development towards my goal of track and field success. This decision was very difficult as I was highly recruited and had many options on where to “take my talents.” Watching Joetta Clark, Delisa Walton, Sharieffa Barksdale, Cathy Ratray and my hurdle idol Benita Fitzgerald take the track and field world by storm in their quest for greatness, inspired me immensely. I knew at that moment, I wanted to be just like them. To accomplish this goal, I had to make the only logical choice…. To be a LADY VOL!
The choice to align myself with what at the time was the greatest women’s track field team in the nation, turned out to be a magnificent decision as I flourished in becoming a multiple time national champion and All-American, along with many international accolades which culminated with an Olympic Silver Medal in the 100 meter hurdles at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. Although I had the pleasure of representing my country on multiple occasions, I always carried the Lady Vol spirit of success and pride within me. That is why my heart is vexed by the decision to minimize the immense honor I’ve always felt in being part of a special fraternity of women who have a unique commonality across the various womens sport at UT. To this day, I will proudly say to any stranger I meet wearing the Tennessee orange and white, “Hi, My name is LaVonna and I’m a Lady Vol!” The reaction is always the same in that I get to relive the “specialness” of being part of that club with a complete stranger who values the contribution of the many women athletes at UT.
Although I’m certain my words may fall on “deaf ears,” I need it to be known that no matter what changes are made aesthetically to the make-up of Vol Nation, I am forever and always will be a LADY VOL!!! And you will never take that from me.
LaVonna Martin Floreal
1992 Olympic Silver Medalist 100mh
1988 and 1992 US Olympian
Lady Vol 1984-1988