June 30, 2015
I started writing this letter in March. I suppose I thought that with petitions, rallies, and the big voice of alums about the rebranding of the athletic department that something would happen and the decision would be reversed. That hasn’t happened. Tomorrow effectively the Lady Vols will be history. As a Lady Vol, two-time graduate of The University of Tennessee and a woman that is making a career in collegiate athletics the decisions being made are extremely disappointing. I feel like I cannot add very much to the conversation. So much has already been said. I do feel that my voice is important and every voice counts as we move forward in trying to keep the Lady Vol logo issue alive. The deconstruction of a storied program will affect my daughters and future female athletes. I applaud the groups, alumni and current students who continue to speak out about the importance of the Lady Vol program and the Lady Vol logo. My hope is that all of our voices are not falling on deaf ears. Each of us has a story. Hopefully each of us will be heard and the people that make these decisions will understand how important the history and traditions of the Lady Vols are for women in sport past, present and future.
I grew up in Knoxville. I watched all UT teams growing up. I worked hard at school and at sports. I was a gymnast growing up and as a sophomore in high school I made the switch to diving. While in high school I watched the Lady Vol swimmers and divers train. I watched the coaches coach. I read and heard about the success of the Lady Vols. I saw it with my own eyes when they traveled and when they returned. I saw the sisterhood of the swimmers and divers on deck everyday. I wanted to be one of them. I am proud to say that I competed as a Lady Vol with the Swimming & Diving Team from 1995-2000. I also attended The University of Tennessee for graduate school and was a graduate assistant for the diving program from 2000-2001. I attended UT under the original program of split athletic departments. That was a great experience and truly elevated the women on UT’s campus who were participating in varsity athletics. This was a unique experience. My exposure and involvement with leaders who built a program that was 100% about women being strong, successful, student athletes led us to a place where we can be strong, successful leaders after graduation. My experience as a Lady Vol truly is the influence that guides my professional life still today. Being a Lady Vol propelled me into a male dominated field and I continue to practice all the things that I learned as a Lady Volunteer.
Currently I am the diving coach for Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. My main goal as a coach is to give my athletes an experience that makes them enjoy the sport, compete at a high level, push themselves to be the best that they can be and look back on a collegiate career that they can be proud of their hard work and the impact that they make as student athletes. All these things were modeled to me by amazing people who I crossed paths with while being a Lady Vol. There were women on campus that truly impacted my choices to go into coaching. Not to mention my own coach. When I attended UT, Dave Parrington was the only coach on campus coaching both men and women. The diving team was a close knit group of student athletes because of this. There was a separation because of the separate departments but I think we all recognized how great were together as a team. Now that the programs are combined under one athletic department I don’t think there is any harm having all women’s teams at The University of Tennessee being allowed to continue as Lady Volunteers. The logo is empowering, and recognized around the world as a program of greatness.
Being a Lady Vol is an honor. There is an expectation of excellence while training, studying, living, and representing your self, your teammates, your coaches and your university. This expectation becomes ingrained and at some point there is no separation. I am a Lady Vol. I am excellent. I will contribute. I will speak up. I will fight for others who will come after me to have the same great experiences and for my daughters who may one day have the chance to become Lady Vols too. I love The University of Tennessee. I love being a Lady Vol and want that opportunity to continue for all female athletes. It is who I am. It is who I want to be. It is a part of me that will NEVER go away.
Lady Vol for Life,
Alicia (Ball) Gorman
Lady Vol Swimming and Diving 1995-2000
*Alicia mentioned in her emails that, “At the old pool the 10 Meter had Tennessee and the 5 meter had Volunteers. As that shows we always were ‘One Tennessee’.”