The 2021 season will be my 15th year covering Tennessee volleyball. To put that in perspective, I’ve been around longer than every Lady Vol head coach but one! Put another way, seniors on the first team I covered are now just a couple of years away from 40!
In all those years I’ve only missed one home match. (Got stuck in traffic — if the game had gone one extra set I would have made it!) That’s 193 of the last 194 matches here in Knoxville where I’ve been in the stands. And according to my count, I’ve also travelled to at least 54 away games in that time. I think I can safely say no one other than long-time coach Rob Patrick has seen the Lady Vols play more matches than the 247 I’ve seen in person since 2007!
I bring that up not to brag, but to articulate how much I love the sport and this team. I’ve seen the ups of 6 NCAA Tournament bids and an SEC Championship to the downs of an unexpected talent-drain and back-to-back single win conference seasons. Through it all and everything in between, I’ve kept this site going. As I hope you can see, it would take a lot for me to decide to stop supporting Tennessee volleyball, both in person in the stands and here online, because I absolutely love doing it!
That said, 2021 will be my last season.
Sixteen years ago I moved back to Knoxville with my wife and kids after years away so that we could be close to family as my oldest child was beginning kindergarten. She’ll be getting her college degree next year, and my youngest will be graduating high school. It’s been wonderful having their grandparents, aunt, and uncle around for their formative years. But about four years ago, my wife and I started thinking about what we might want to do with ourselves once the kids were no longer kids. And we came up with an idea that got us very excited for the next chapter in our lives. We decided we wanted to move to Florida and live the vacation life year round: sun, theme parks, palm trees, beaches, and more all the time! We set a date of June 15, 2022 as our goal and we’ve been counting down to it every day for almost 1,000 days now. (There are currently just 414 days left to go!)
As I said above, it would take a lot to drag me away from Tennessee volleyball, but this dream of a future with my wife in Florida is one of those few things.
When I started this site back in 2007, I said in the very first post that I wasn’t sure how viable a fan site about a woman’s college volleyball team would be but that I’d “give this idea a shot this season and see how it goes”. I would have been stunned to know that 15 years later this page would still be going strong. Back then hardly anyone was doing anything like this — Hawaii and Nebraska maybe. Today there are even fewer. (RichKern.com has a list of sites like this he’s compiled over the years. This is the only one still standing.)
I’m still here because of all the support fans, families, players, and coaches have shown me over the years. Without you guys, I probably would have thrown in the towel years ago! Being a small part of Tennessee volleyball, even just unofficially from the outside, has been an absolute privilege. I will cherish all the memories I’ve made, new friends I’ve met, and experiences I’ve had while doing this site for the rest of my life.
Thank you so much for allowing me to do this… or at least putting up with it! I am very much looking forward to having this final upcoming season with you all doing what I love here on TennesseeVolleyball.net.