It’s hard to explain the way it felt when I first got on campus in 2005. As an 18-year-old, you just want to make your parents proud, coaches proud and hope to win as much as possible. The focus for me was academics, of course, but for all of us D1 athletes, the specific passion was our sport which included working hard, winning championships and doing it, as we all call it, “The Lady Vol Way.” Except I didn’t know what The Lady Vol Way was until I bled, cried, cussed, and then kept going until I did it some more.
We won 2 SEC championships through my 4 years and not once looking back do I think of the trophies we won, or the exact goal that was scored, or even the rings we received for such a great honor. I do, however, remember the girls around me who slid to every tackle, the injuries that we endured, or the hardships we faced on fitness Tuesdays in hopes that maybe that last sprint will prepare us for the double OT in the championship game.
You see, The Lady Vol Way prepared us for excellence, not just as athletes, but as human-beings with the highest character whom participate in a very broken world. I never take the easy way out in my job, I don’t blame others for my shortcomings, and I always stay late to prepare for tomorrow. Do you think I taught myself these things? Well, I had amazing parents but I also know my strength to do my best, my courage to do what’s right, and my determination to never fail all came from being a Lady Vol. I know 100% of all the women who have been in the weight room, on the field, or on the court feel the same way.
Taking our Lady Vol logo not only is a disgrace but it will take away what we built TOGETHER. My coach at the time told us that we were the top 10% of the entire world because of our work ethic and our determination to become better every single day. I believed her, and still do today. The UT Women’s Athletic Department helped raise wonderful athletes who pushed the limit for the sake of the logo on our chest and not the name on our back. We knew we were part of something bigger than ourselves. We were part of a tradition.
That is why you cannot take this controversy so lightly. It is NOT just a logo. It is NOT just a graphic design for our uniforms. It is our past, it is our legacy, it made us who we are. Please don’t take our group’s image away; it is an image that will forever be our brand and has represented the most amazing group of women who bled orange for the way we know it–doing It “The Lady Vol Way.”
One who will always wear the logo with pride,
Leslie Vineyard Smith
Lady Vol Soccer
2 SEC championships 2005 & 2008
1 Triple Crown 2005
ADIDAS All-Scholar Team