Good Morning, Big Orange Nation!
It’s August, which means our student-athletes will officially be back in action this month! Our first competition of the 2017-18 academic year takes place Wednesday, Aug. 9, when our soccer team hosts an exhibition against Wright State at Regal Soccer Stadium at 7 p.m. Head coach Brian Pensky’s squad then plays a pair of regular-season road matches before fall semester classes begin on Wednesday, Aug. 23.
Shortly after returning to the classroom for what I’m confident will be another banner year for our student-athletes academically, the volleyball team opens its 2017 season by hosting the four-team Tennessee Classic Aug. 25-26 at Thompson-Boling Arena. Rob Patrick, the longest-tenured head coach on campus, is entering his 21st season with the Big Orange!
FOOTBALL CAMP UNDERWAY
Team 121 has arrived and hit Haslam Field this past weekend. I enjoyed the opportunity to check out some of our second football practice of the year Sunday afternoon, on what was a postcard perfect day on Rocky Top! I am really impressed by the way Coach Jones and his staff have built an environment of energy and enthusiastic competition among players. I like the confidence and camaraderie of our squad, and it is clear that the summer was very productive from a strength and conditioning standpoint.
Also impressive was the job our Assistant AD for Athletic Facilities and Grounds Kevin Zurcher and his incredibly hard-working staff performed in working around-the-clock efforts to get our new additional full-length practice field sodded in time for camp. We have more work to do to complete the Haslam Field project, but thanks to our fans and donors, we will soon have a vastly improved practice complex.
VOL FANS READY TO PAINT ATLANTA ORANGE; NEYLAND INDIVIDUAL GAME TICKETS COMING ON SALE
Hats off to the Tennessee faithful who have once again scooped up all the Tennessee allotment for our season-opening showdown against Georgia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Monday, Sept. 4. As a reminder to all fans, all remaining 2017 single-game tickets will go on sale to GBO Insider subscribers (you can subscribe to that email newsletter for free at AllVols.com) on Friday and then to the general public next Tuesday, Aug. 8, via AllVols.com.
INDIANA STATE KICKOFF SET FOR 4 PM
Among those games with a few tickets remaining for sale is Indiana State, our home opener on Aug. 9, which happens to be sandwiched between the Georgia Tech game and our Sept. 16 showdown with the Gators in Gainesville. We encourage our fans to make a special effort to get inside Neyland Stadium early that day and make our 2017 home and SEC Network debut louder than ever!
INTERNATIONAL OPPORTUNITY ENHANCES STUDENT-ATHLETE EXPERIENCE
I believe wholeheartedly in the importance Chancellor Davenport places on international experiences to help prepare our graduates for the increasingly global nature of our society and economy. You have read about the incredible learning trip to Vietnam experienced by our VOLeaders program last month. And today, men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes embarks with our team on a three-game exhibition trip to Europe through Aug. 12. I’ve talked about our desire as an athletic program to provide our young men and women with an unrivaled student-athlete experience, and the opportunity to travel abroad and experience different cultures—primary stops on the tour are Valencia, Barcelona and Paris—stands as a prime example of our commitment to further develop our young people, athletically and academically but also socially as well. I visited with the team in Pratt Pavilion after practice Monday. They are excited and appreciative of the opportunity!
MORE VOLS EARN NCAA POSTGRADUATE SCHOLARSHIPS
Congratulations are in order for May graduates Sunay Bhat (men’s tennis) and Cameron Brown (track & field) on earning $7,500 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. Hannah Wilkinson (soccer) received the same postgrad scholarship back in March. Over the last two years, Tennessee student-athletes have earned $178,250 in postgraduate scholarship awards, which can be used toward any part-time or full-time study at a university or professional school!
NUMBER OF UT KNOXVILLE DONORS AT ALL-TIME HIGH
Monday, it was announced that UT Knoxville had more than 43,000 donors—an all-time high—in fiscal year 2017. With Chancellor Davenport leading the way, it’s an exciting time to be a part of the growth and positive trajectory of our campus. UT Knoxville continues to increase its stature and number of top-25 academic programs, and the $155 million in private and corporate gifts received this past year across campus is tremendously impactful in that pursuit. Thank You!
MANNING TO BE JOINED BY FELLOW NFF HALL OF FAMERS
If you missed last week’s announcement that the National Football Foundation plans to honor Peyton Manning at halftime of our home game against Georgia on Sept. 30, I’d like to draw attention to Peyton’s incredible gesture to invite each of our living NFF College Football Hall of Famers to join him on the field for that “On-Campus Salute” recognizing his December induction as Tennessee’s 23rd all-time honoree—more than any other SEC school. Having many legendary figures from throughout our football history gathered together on Shields-Watkins Field is going to make for an extraordinarily special moment.
Lastly, don’t forget to mark Aug. 21 on your calendar, as those of us in the Knoxville area will be treated to the first total solar eclipse in the continental United States in 38 years (Crossville, Spring City, Dayton and Lenoir City are prime viewing locations). Dr. Mark Littmann, who is the Hill Chair of Excellence in Science Writing in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media, spoke about the eclipse at one of Chancellor Davenport’s recent cabinet meetings, and the information he shared was fascinating. I can’t wait to see it!
Summer has flown by – I wish all the young Tennessee fans out there the best as they, like our children, embark on a new school year. As always, thanks for reading, and Go Big Orange!