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Getting a Kick out of Vol Soccer

By Jasmine Toy

In September, I attended the UT soccer game against Kentucky with the 1794 Sports Group. I chose to attend the soccer game with my 1794 cohort because of the promise of a behind-the-scenes tour of the facilities our women’s soccer team uses and to meet other students in my honors program.

During the tour before the game, I witnessed the huge movie screen that at first glance seemed to be a big entertainment room but actually is used to analyze game footage. The coach shows good and bad plays, trying to show the players the success and failures with the hopes that the successes are built upon and the failures minimized. This idea struck me as smart because I knew that teams watch old footage, but the huge movie screen allows for higher clarity—which can help our players get even better. The movie screen also shows regular movies, which the players watch to relax, an equally important aspect of a soccer players’ regimen.

Throughout the tour, our tour guide showed us the rest area for the players as well as the practice equipment and their uniforms. This surprised me as well, because so much of a player is their stats and how they perform; however, the soccer team management seemed to care as much about their rest and recuperation from games—which is just as important, if not more, for the player. This aspect of the tour made the team and management seem like a family whose members take care of one another and are just as focused on overall health and well-being as they are on winning.

During the game, I encountered the Regal Rowdies, the fan group of the UT soccer team. They play the drums during plays, make up ingenious chants, and run the social media page in an effort to bring more people to the games. I can still remember the leader of the group chanting “Regal Rowdies are Team Followback.” This means that if a person follows the team’s Instagram page the page will follow them back, a tactic to gain more followers on social media thereby reaching more people.

Smokey, our mascot, was in attendance, posing for pictures with the fans in the bleachers and playing games with the fans in the student section. The soccer team management ordered pizza for the Regal Rowdies to thank them for their continual support for the women’s team and recording the games.

Seeing the Regal Rowdies interact with each other closely made me realize how unfamiliar I was with my 1794 cohort. I did not really know their names or majors, so this was an extra incentive to make them my family for not just the next two years but throughout my University of Tennessee career and beyond.

I also got to know our graduate student assistant for 1794, Jaye Rochell, a lot better. The soccer stadium places horns on the seats in the student section as noisemakers. I was unable to use the horn correctly, so I stopped trying to use it and yelled the entire game. Mr. Rochell tried to use the horn quite a few times during the game without much success, to the amusement of everyone around us. Noticing everyone in my group enjoying themselves made me very happy to be a part of the 1794 family and eager to attend more events with them.