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Summer 2013

MEMORABLE IMAGES Photographers choose their favorite shots of the year

ALSO INSIDE: Commencement Student-athletes travel abroad Forthcoming athletic survey

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CONTENTS

JOHN RUSSELL

COMMODORES OVERSEAS

P.9 Year in Photos We asked the people behind the lenses to choose their favorite images from the year in sports and they responded with a sampling of the stellar frames that Commodore fans have come to expect from Vanderbilt Photography.

P.14 Commencement Degrees conferred to Commodores past and present.

P.16 Soccer in Brazil Team spent a week touring Rio in May.

P.2

P.18 Lacrosse in Italy Squad traveled across Italy for seven days.

Compliance Corner

P.3 National Commodore Club

P.20 Darien Bryant in China

P.21 Stadium Survey Athletic department seeks your feedback on Dudley Field improvements.

P.7

P.24

Inside McGugin

My game

P.23

Pitcher Philip Pfeifer.

It’s my turn Rod Williamson’s monthly column.

Football player studied overseas for Maymester.

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Connect with the Commodores http://vucommodores.com Editorial

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COMPLIANCE

CORNER The Vanderbilt Athletic Compliance Office would like to thank everyone who reads Compliance Corner. We’re glad to be a resource for you. In order to better serve you, we’d like to extend the opportunity for you to submit topics to be covered in this section. Please contact us by email at ncaacompliance@vanderbilt.edu or on our Twitter or Facebook pages. We look forward to hearing from you! Thank you again for your time, and GO ’DORES! Follow Vanderbilt Compliance @VandyCompliance Like Vanderbilt Compliance facebook.com/VandyCompliance

Publisher: Vanderbilt University Editor-in-Chief: Chris Weinman

Digital Image Specialist: Julie Luckett Turner

VU Photography:

Daniel Dubois Steve Green Lauren Holland Joe Howell Anne Rayner John Russell Susan Urmy

Contributors: Brandon Barca Andy Boggs Larry Leathers George Midgett Kyle Parkinson Weston Pletcher Emily Sane Michael Scholl Ryan Schulz

Administrative

Chancellor: Nicholas S. Zeppos

Director of Athletics: David Williams II

Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs: Beth Fortune

Vanderbilt University Student Athletics’ Mission Statement We prepare student-athletes to become leaders and champions in life by placing the highest values on integrity, character, sportsmanship and victory. Vanderbilt University is an equal-opportunity, affirmative-action university. ON THE COVER: Dramatic image of Hawkins Field by John Russell, VU Photography. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to National Commodore Club, 2601 Jess Neely Drive, Nashville, TN 37212. SUBSCRIPTION: To subscribe, contact Chris Weinman by e-mail at commodorenation@vanderbilt.edu

Compliance questions? Please contact:

ADVERTISEMENT: To advertise with Commodore Nation, please contact Vanderbilt IMG Sports & Entertainment Properties. Jeff Miller, general manager 615/322-4468; jeff.miller@imgworld.com

Candice Lee George Midgett Director of Compliance Compliance Coordinator 615/322-7992 615/322-2083 candice.lee@vanderbilt.edu george.d.midgett@vanderbilt.edu John Peach Andrew Turner Compliance Coordinator Recruiting/Compliance Coordinator 615/343-1060 615/322-4543 john.w.peach@vanderbilt.edu andrew.turner@vanderbilt.edu

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Commodore Nation is printed using (10% post-consumer) recycled paper.

Thank you

for your scholarship support through the National Commodore Club. On May 10, our student-athletes in the Class of 2013 graduated. Your gifts to the NCC helped them to become game changers. Your membership truly matters.

Thank you!

BLACK&GOLD

WEEKEND

April 12-14, 2013

GO ’DORES!

Black and Gold Weekend was filled with fun. Thank you to everyone who anchored down for football, baseball, lacrosse and women’s tennis. Thank you to everyone who joined us at our NCC tailgate, the select-a-seat event and the Kids Field Day. Thank you to everyone for supporting the Commodores.

Call us: (615) 322- 4114 Email us: ncc@vanderbilt.edu Visit us: 2601 Jess Neely Drive Nashville, TN 37212

Follow the Commodores in 2013 South Carolina Gamecocks  September 14 Tailgate location: Seawell’s at 1125 Rosewood Drive Tailgate price: $30 for adults, $15 for children ages 6-12, free for children ages 5 and under

UMass Minutemen  September 21 Tailgate location: Gillette Stadium Tailgate price: $36 for adults, $15 for children ages 6-12, free for children ages 5 and under A travel package will be available for this game, and it will include hotel accommodations and round-trip travel to Gillette Stadium from the hotel. More information will be announced soon.

Texas A&M Agg ies  October 26 Tailgate location: Kyle Field Tailgate price: $50 for adults (includes alcohol), $35 for adults (without alcohol), $15 for children ages 6-12, free for children ages 5 and under A travel package will be available for this game, and it will include hotel accommodations and round-trip travel to Kyle Field from the hotel. More information will be announced soon.

Florida Gators  November 9 Commodores fans are invited to gather at a local venue (TBD) before the game.

Tennessee Volunteers  November 23 Tailgate location: Calhoun’s On The River at 400 Neyland Drive Tailgate price: $20 for adults, $10 for children ages 6-12, free for children ages 5 and under

For more information, call the National Commodore Club at (615) 322-4114 or the Vanderbilt Alumni Association at (615) 322-2044.

The Commodore Tailgate Tour will drop anchor in Columbia, South Carolina; Foxborough, Massachusetts; College Station, Texas; Gainesville, Florida; and Knoxville, Tennessee this fall. The National Commodore Club and Vanderbilt Alumni Association invite you to kick off each away football game with other Commodores fans. See you there in your black and gold. Go ’Dores!

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By The Numbers

Inside McGugin

Notes from the athletic department

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l WNSR has reached a four-year agreement to carry Vanderbilt football, men’s and women’s basketball and baseball games produced by IMG College through spring of 2017. WNSR will begin broadcasting on 95.9 FM early this summer while continuing to use 560 AM as well, positioning itself as “Nashville’s SportsRadio 560 on 95.9 FM.” While 1510 WLAC remains the flagship station for Vanderbilt football and men’s basketball, the WNSR deal signals the return of those sports to the FM dial in the Nashville area.

VU baseball players chosen in the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft, highlighted by Detroit’s selection of pitcher Kevin Ziomek in the second round (58th overall).

10 STEVE GREEN

ight of Vanderbilt’s athletic teams have earned Public Recognition Awards for their latest NCAA Division I Academic Progress Rate (APR). The squads recognized include: bowling, men’s cross country, men’s golf, women’s cross country, women’s golf, women’s soccer, women’s indoor track and women’s outdoor track. The awards are given every year to teams scoring in the top 10 percent in each sport based on eligibility, graduation and retention each semester.

Lauren Stratton’s women’s golf team was one of eight squads honored.

l Vanderbilt Athletics will induct its fifth Hall of Fame class during the weekend of the Austin Peay home football game, Sept. 6-7. The Hall of Fame Dinner—the weekend’s premier event—will be held in Vanderbilt’s Student Life Center on Friday evening at 6 p.m. This gala occasion typically attracts a capacity crowd of approximately 400. The Class of 2013 will be announced at a press event later this summer. The group will be presented during the Austin Peay football game. n

Commodore football players named to Phil Steele’s 2013 Preseason All-Southeastern Conference teams, including first-team accolades for Jordan Matthews, Andre Hal and Carey Spear.

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home contests scheduled for the Vanderbilt women’s soccer team this fall, culminating with a Halloween night matchup against Tennessee that will serve as VU’s Senior Night.

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strokes for former ‘Dore Megan Grehan in a 36-hole U.S. Open qualifier at Algonquin Golf Club in St. Louis. Grehan made the field with a birdie on the first playoff hole.

Calendar

Upcoming events

July 15 Athletics Service Trip Approximately two dozen Commodore student-athletes will embark on a service trip to Tanzania to deliver shoes and clothing collected at various Vanderbilt events in conjunction with Soles4Souls. A number of athletic department staff will be part of the delegation, which will be headed by Director of Athletics David Williams.

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August 29

SEC Football Media Day The Southeastern Conference descends on the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala., in the third week of July for the league’s annual football media days. The Commodore contingent is scheduled for the third and final day of the event along with Alabama, Georgia and LSU. Vanderbilt Head Coach James Franklin will be joined by three student-athletes for the day of interviews.

Football vs. Ole Miss The Commodores and Rebels will open SEC play in front of a national television audience on ESPN with a Thursday night game (8:15 p.m. CT) at Dudley Field. This marks the second straight season the ’Dores have opened with a Thursday night ESPN game at home.

August 11 Women’s Soccer vs. Louisville With the SEC soccer schedule shrinking from 13 games back to 11 this season, Vanderbilt Head Coach Derek Greene found room for an exhibition game nearly two weeks prior to the start of the regular season. The Commodores and Cardinals last played an exhibition in 2011 in Louisville, with the game ending a 0-0 draw.

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The Year in Photos We are fortunate at Commodore Nation to rely on the expertise of the staff of Vanderbilt Creative Services. To encapsulate the year in pictures, we reached out to a number of our wonderful photographers to find out their favorite images of the past season.

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Photographer Spotlight

John Russell

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hree photographers from Vanderbilt Creative Service shared their insight into what makes a great image, how to capture that moment and more. John Russell starts the feature by talking about a football celebration picture. Commodore Nation: What makes this shot stand out to you? John Russell: The energy in that room was explosive. Coach Franklin was grabbing and hugging every player he could get his hands on. The expressions on the faces in that locker room make it stand out to me. Pure celebration. Nation: Do you remember the circumstances of that moment? Russell: Vividly. I remember we had just defeated Mississippi in a comefrom-behind win at [the Rebels’] field. I was photographing the players celebrating on the field and saluting the Vandy fans that had made the trip as they were exiting the field to go to the locker room. I tried to stay in front of the main group of players. That is when I saw Coach Franklin lift Mr. Commodore onto his shoulder and go running toward the locker room. I entered the locker room right behind Coach Franklin and Mr. C, and the room erupted! It was mayhem! Nation: What was it like in that locker room? Russell: Loud! Hot! Humid! That’s what it was like that night. My camera kept fogging up because of the high humidity in the room. I was clearing the lens every 10-15 seconds. The guys were enjoying the moment bouncing around the room. I felt privileged to be there to witness it and

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share the images I was able to get. [It was a] special time for the Vanderbilt football program. Nation: How is being on the road as the lone shooter different for you? Russell: Maybe a little more pressure. I take a different approach when I am shooting solo on the road. I try to position myself where I have the highest probability of getting good frames of a big play when it happens. Nation: Is the pressure ramped up closer to the end zone? Russell: Always. Even more so if it’s for a go-ahead score in the last minutes of a game. It’s always a guessing game as to where the play will go. Will it be a pass to the corner, a run up the middle, quarterback option? Sometimes you are in the right spot and can get a great shot, sometimes you are watching just like everybody else. You rely on experience so that you are in the right spot more often than not. n

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Photographer Spotlight

Joe Howell Commodore Nation: What is it about this photo that makes it one of your favorites? Joe Howell: This image of Zac Stacy running over a defensive player from Presbyterian College exudes an attitude of total domination and power. This photo epitomizes the fact that Stacy was the driving force of the Vanderbilt running attack. During his senior year Stacy became the all-time rushing leader for the Commodores. Nation: Is it different shooting on the new artificial surface? Howell: I don’t have to worry about grass stains on my pants (laughs), but I wear knee pads anyway. I do know that when the players hit or they drag their feet, that spray of pebbles really makes a cool visual, like when people water ski. It’s dramatic, like you can see the motion. Nation: When two photographers are shooting the same event, how are the responsibilities divided? Howell: We just talk about it. John and I, we’re both really easy-going. We get along really well, and we work together really well, so we don’t have a lot of issues. If he’s on one side, I’m on the other. Basically, we just try to stay away from each other. n

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Photographer Spotlight

Steve Green Commodore Nation: With the Music City Bowl happening in Nashville, we had a number of photographers at this game. What was your role? Steve Green: I was actually shooting crowd reaction, which is why I had such a wide-angle lens on my camera. John Russell and Joe Howell were shooting the telephoto action photos. Nation: How did this shot come about? Green: As I was walking around the end zone toward the Vandy student section, I looked up and saw the ball coming right toward me. I literally had to jump up and over the photographers on the sideline to catch that one-and-only frame of the ball in Boyd’s hand and his foot inside the line. Nation: That was a big moment. Did you know you had gotten it right away? Green: It was a ‘Hail Mary’ shot that I just instinctively took without thinking, but I realized soon afterward that it showed all of the excitement of that moment. The funny thing was seeing the ESPN replay later with my head and camera popping up from the crowd. As photographers, we work hard to be ready to capture whatever happens, so it’s gratifying when you are rewarded with such a moment. n

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CHAD DRIVER

COMMENCEMENT 2013

Director of Athletics David Williams poses on the morning of Commencement with the graduating class of 2013.

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place inside Memorial Gymnasium, and the Southeastern Conference’s most-historic arena provided a fitting stage for the Class of 2013 to receive the degrees they have worked so hard for over the past four years. Along with the graduating senior studentathletes, a few notable names returned to campus to receive the degrees they earned after leaving school early to pursue profes-

PHOTOS BY JOHN RUSSELL

anderbilt’s campus prepares 364 days out of each year for graduation day on the second Friday in May. So when Mother Nature decided that an outdoor commencement was not an option for this year’s graduates, ceremonies seamlessly moved from outdoor venues to safer interior locales. The main graduation ceremony, originally scheduled for Alumni Lawn, instead took

Football’s Zac Stacy

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Lacrosse’s Paige Cahill with Chancellor Zeppos

sional sports. Football players Casey Hayward and Sean Richardson concluded their eligibility on the football field with the fall 2011 season but spent the spring of 2012 preparing for the NFL Draft. Hayward has since completed his degree in sociology, while Richardson finished coursework for his human and organizational development degree.

PHOTOS BY STEVE GREEN

While over 1600 undergraduates crossed the Memorial Gymnasium stage and received their diplomas on May 10, a number of studentathletes were unable to attend that day’s commencement exercises due to athletic obligations. For a number of years, the university has done a wonderful job accommodating these student-athletes with a separate “Athletic Commencement” on the following Monday. The teams that participated in the special ceremony this year were baseball, track and field, women’s golf and women’s tennis. Just as in the general commencement exercises, Chancellor Zeppos confers degrees upon students and gives the day’s keynote address. Among the six baseball players that attended the alternative commencement was Sam Selman, who signed a professional contract after being drafted as a junior in 2012. Selman was not the only professional baseball player to receive a diploma this May—Jason Esposito, a 2011 MLB Draft selection, was given time off to walk at Friday’s graduation. n

Chancellor Zeppos gave the keynote address at the athletic graduation ceremony.

Members of the women’s track and field squad with academic advisor Katie Feyes.

Baseball’s Sam Selman

The women’s tennis team with graduate Megan Gornet.

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’Dores across the continents by Chris Weinman

In this issue of Commodore Nation, we discuss some recent and upcoming overseas travel. Three teams have made or will make foreign trips this summer that include international competition, while another contingent from athletics will embark on a service trip to Africa.

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n the day after commencement, the women’s soccer team departed Nashville for an eight-day tour of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The “Marvelous City” is preparing to host two major events in the next three years, as the FIFA World Cup visits Brazil next summer before the 2016 Summer Olympics take place in Rio. Soccer is simply a way of life in Brazil. Driving in from the airport to the hotel on Sunday morning following the 10-hour flight from Dallas, nearly every field—and, more commonly, every empty strip of pavement—was occupied by adults or children kicking the “futbol” around. The entire city of six million people, it seemed, was soccer-crazy. Overall, the week-long tour was a wellbalanced mix of soccer and culture. The Commodores had two opportunities to train with coaches from local professional clubs Vasco da Gama and Fluminense. The squad also played a pair of exhibition games—one against the Under-17 “Team Chicago Brasil” and a second against Vasco da Gama, champions of Brazil’s first division. The training days occurred at the respective clubs’ compounds, while the games were played on the CTLA Air Force Base in Rio. Even with four days that featured some work on the field, the cultural experiences of the trip received more focus throughout the week. On the team’s first full day, the group road a train to the top of the Corcovado to get an up-close

look at the iconic 125-foot statue of Jesus known as “Christ the Redeemer.” The breathtaking work of art is perched atop the city, offering spectacular views of Rio de Janeiro in nearly every direction. Another historic site visited during the week was Petropolis, the Imperial City of Brazil. Petropolis is a vacation destination for Brazilians highlighted by the former summer palace of a 19th century emperor. On the final full day in Brazil, the group traveled an hour outside of the city to witness the men’s U-20 Brazilian club championship between Flamengo and Fluminense— bitter rivals both located in Rio de Janeiro. A few thousand proud supporters of each side cheered throughout the game, barely having time to catch their breath between the constant dancing and chanting that took place for 90 minutes. In the end, despite losing 1-0 on this day, the group from Fluminense captured the championship hardware thanks to a 3-1 aggregate score—a result the Commodores had no problem getting behind after training with Flu just days prior. Blogs from every day of the trip, along with a number of extra videos filmed during the week, can be found on vucommodores.com. n

Games took place at the CTLA Air Force Base in Rio. The Commodores pose with Team Chicago Brasil following their Tuesday game.

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Vanderbilt also played against Vasco da Gama, a first division squad that featured a member of the Brazilian women’s national team.

The ‘Dores were on hand to catch the Brazilian men’s U-20 club championship. The squad trained outside of Rio one day at the home of club side Fluminense.

VANDERBILT AT USC FOOTBALL GAME!

Future International Trips TANZANIA After collecting shoes and clothing for the charity Soles4Souls at various athletic events throughout the 2012-13 season, Vanderbilt Director of Athletics David Williams will lead a group expected to include two dozen student-athletes on a service trip to Tanzania to deliver the items to those in need.

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MEN’S BASKETBALL TO GREECE & ITALY The men’s basketball team will embark on a 10-day excursion to Greece and Italy in the middle of August. The tour, which is scheduled to include stops in Athens, Naples and Rome, will feature four games for the Commodores. Head Coach Kevin Stallings last took his team overseas in 2009, playing games in Australia that summer. Along with the court time during the trip, the squad is allowed 10 extra practice days before leaving on its journey.

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Lacrosse in Italy

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he lacrosse team spent a week touring Italy earlier this summer. The seven-night adventure began in Rome and headed west toward Milan, featuring stops in Florence, Marina di Massa (the Italian Riviera) and Lake Como.

Vanderbilt’s first day in Italy featured tours of a few sites in Ancient Rome, including the Colosseum.

A day in Florence featured more spectacular sites as well as some welcome opportunities to shop.

While Italy is not known as a global lacrosse powerhouse, the Commodores did have an opportunity to face some international competition on their trip. Vanderbilt played a game against the national team from Ireland while in Rome, and the two squads combined to host a clinic for local Italian teams.

Coaches Amber Falcone, Cathy Swezey and Susan Ellis pose at the Colosseum. The Commodores also visited Vatican City during their time in Rome.

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After five days touring throughout some beautiful venues, one student-athlete was blown away by Lake Como. “We were convinced that [we had seen] the most beautiful and photographic places… [but upon arriving at Lake Como] we were quick to learn that we had greatly underestimated the beauty of Italy by assuming we had seen the best.”

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Darien Bryant: West End to East Asia by Chris Weinman

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XIANMIN LIU

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here may come a day when having an SEC football player spend nearly a month studying halfway across the world is not remarkable. But opportunities like the one enjoyed by sophomore defensive end Darien Bryant during his Maymester in China stand out in the 365-day-a-year world of major college football. A native of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, Bryant knew before he came to Vanderbilt that he wanted the chance to experience Chinese business and culture. So when the opportunity did not present itself directly, he took matters into his own hands. “I helped create this Maymester program, working with [Chinese Language Program Coordinator] Liu Xianmin,” Bryant said. “The ability to travel abroad to Asia was one of the reasons I came to Vanderbilt, but when I got here this Maymester program did not exist.” ASIA 236 was born. The course, titled “Inside China: Society, Business, and Culture in Beijing and Shanghai,” included topical seminars, language practicums and field trips centered around China’s capital city (Beijing) and its financial center (Shanghai). The program, designed “to provide students with a unique insider’s introduction to China’s economy, society, and culture through classroom instruction and real-life interaction,” spent 24 days between Beijing and Shanghai and featured side trips to well-known cultural and historical sites like the Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. The coursework required no previous background in Chinese, though Bryant would have been covered there. The rising redshirtsophomore has created his own interdisciplinary major at Vanderbilt—Cultural studies of East Asia—which he and advisor Brett Benson based around the two foreign languages he has studied at Vanderbilt. “Learning both Japanese and Mandarin, most of the credits going toward my major are language credits, and language is a large part of culture,” Bryant said. “But there are also some business, management and economics classes involved, too.” In China, Bryant spend time every day attending seminars from Chinese and American scholars on diverse topics, including current Chinese society, politics, economy, environment, and US-China relations. He and his

Darien Bryant with professor Xianmin Liu and two classmates on the Great Wall.

classmates also had the opportunity to discuss those issues with local college students. Bryant greatly appreciated the chance he was afforded in going overseas, especially because of how rarely opportunities like his present themselves to college athletes. “It was a great trip,” Bryant said. “But what made it even better was knowing that very few other people have the opportunity to do what I did. That made me cherish it even more.” Coming back to Nashville for the beginning of June, Bryant does not expect to be a month behind his teammates in terms of the Commodores’ off-season workout schedule. How did keep up from over 7,000 miles away? “Same as my teammates that went home for May—by lifting and running,” Bryant said. “I was just a little bit farther from Nashville than those guys.” Back on campus, Bryant is a member of defensive line coach Sean Spencer’s “Wild Dogs,” and is utilized mainly as a rush end

on passing downs. After splitting his true freshman season of 2011 practicing at both defensive end and tight end, Bryant played in nine games on defense last season and recorded a pair of tackles—including half a sack—against Presbyterian. As Bryant’s development on the field continues, so too does his development outside of the athletic complex, thanks in part to experiences like the Maymester he spent in China. Asked what he valued most about the trip, Bryant replied that it was the chance to “experience new ways of living and having my perspective on life broadened.” While not everyone can study abroad during their time in college, Vanderbilt continues to open up new opportunities for its studentathlete population to experience cultures across the globe, making stories like that of football player Darien Bryant’s Maymester in China possible. n

Athletics to conduct stadium survey in July If results indicate support for renovation, proposal would be taken to Board of Trust.

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survey is only one step in determining whether the stadium renovation will take place. If the survey results indicate support for renovation, the proposal would be taken to the Board of Trust for its review and action. He also stressed that should the board approve the project, it would be funded by philanthropy specifically for that purpose and no university funds would be used. Improvements to Vanderbilt Stadium have been the subject of sports talk for years. The stadium has largely stood untouched since a complete renovation took place in 1981 to the old facility, which was originally built on the same site in 1922 and dubbed “the largest stadium in the south” at the time. “The stadium is not just about football six or seven Saturdays a year,” Williams said. “We would hope it could become a greater resource for the community, whether that means hosting more high school games, concerts or special events. Revenue realized from an improved stadium would bolster the department’s finan-

cial footing and could allow us to contribute to other areas of the university.” Among priority items on a renovations wish list would be wider, more modern concourses that would feature additional restrooms, convenient concessions and souvenir areas. The survey will be able to determine fan interest in priority seating areas such as club sections and suites. Other universities have experienced a jump in attendance with improved facilities, sometimes with as much as one-third the season ticket base coming from new ticket buyers. “Vanderbilt Athletics has experienced unprecedented success in recent years,” Williams said. “And that success has been credited in no small part to the key facility enhancements that have benefitted the university’s 340 student-athletes and have helped attract not only fans but also elite high school student-athletes.” The survey is being conducted by CSL, a company that specializes in such studies on both the collegiate and professional levels. n

JOHN RUSSELL

anderbilt Athletics will survey a wide variety of alumni, donors, ticket holders, former student-athletes and others this July to gauge interest in an enhanced fan experience through a possible renovation of Vanderbilt Stadium, also known as Dudley Field. The survey is an exploratory step as part of a wider strategic plan being undertaken by the university to look at the entire undergraduate experience and enhance the overall Vanderbilt community. “This survey will be an important element as we pull together facts to determine the potential resources we might have as we consider renovations to our stadium,” said Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics David Williams. “We will need as much feedback as possible to help us make sound decisions regarding the future state of the stadium. That’s why we’re asking everyone who receives the survey in July to complete and return it as promptly as possible.” Williams emphasized that conducting the

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It’s My Turn By Rod Williamson

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e write our final Commodore Nation column of the school year while our tremendous baseball season is still in progress. We offer this disclaimer because we want you to realize that how the diamond ’Dores finish has not impacted today’s theme. Every once in a while, we get these fleeting thoughts (which probably comes as a surprise to former teachers and current colleagues) and we decided this one might be worth passing along for your own consideration, especially if you have been a long-time Commodore fan. The past few years have produced Vanderbilt’s most competitive teams in modern history. We are a nationally prominent and respected all-around athletic program; three-quarters of our teams qualified for NCAA Tournament play and we continue to improve our standing in the all-sports Director’s Cup standings despite sponsoring fewer sports than most of our competitors. We recently attended the annual Southeastern Conference meetings, where coaches and administrators gather to talk business. The Vanderbilt representatives could not walk into a room or down a corridor without someone stopping to comment on our strong, competitive status. This has not always been the case. We used to be the “Little Engine that Could,” the Avis to their Hertz. We would get a polite comment for almost winning a big game or nearly making the tournament. Except for academics or rules compliance, we were an afterthought. That was especially true when discussions turned to bowl games, television appearances and so forth. No more. While we have written many times that we continue to push hard toward those big, hairy, audacious goals that Director of Athletics David Williams has set before us, we have made unmistakable headway. We are not our fathers’ Commodores, nor are we even our older brothers’ ’Dores. We are in a golden age of success and our mission is to climb higher, achieve more. So that brings us to our original thought. Why do we veterans continue to couch our success in terms of our history? “Isn’t winning fun because I remember when we didn’t!” Almost all of us are guilty, especially this writer. Let’s not forget the wonderful men and women who have helped us reach this point but let’s agree to drop our long-time stigma of being the likeable losers. We can stay likeable, but we are no longer losers. Some of you have figured this out already and you are excused from this lesson. But the rest of us, let’s step it up! In virtually every other endeavor, when Vanderbilt University sets about to accomplish something one can be assured it will be first-class. Why should our athletics department be any different? Our core principles have never wavered. We have been a national leader in significant areas for a long time; our win-loss percentages are just now catching up. Commodore fans have every reason to feel good. Let’s walk down Main Street with our heads high. Be proud. These are the good days; let’s stop reminding ourselves of how tough it once was. Yes, there is much left to do, but won’t it be fun? See you this fall. Anchor Down! n

vucommodores.com

C O M M O D O R E N AT I O N

23

My Game

Philip Pfeifer

A

look behind the goggles worn by left-handed hurler Philip Pfeifer reveals a man with a ton of personality. Just days after earning his fourth win of the year in defeating Georgia Tech to propel VU to a Super Regional berth, the sophomore discussed his alter ego, Durik—who was put into hiding following this Nation photo shoot—and his dual-major in English and philosophy. Commodore Nation: What can you tell us about the skull kept in your locker? Philip Pfeifer: It’s a little bit of that alter ego that I take on on the mound. It’s the source of my power. Recently, I buried it. I wasn’t able to really control it and it started running amok. I was talking to Brother [Lance] Brown, who serves as our team chaplain, and he thought it’d just be best if we re-buried it, tried to put it away for a little while.

Nation: You grew up in Knoxville. How did you get to Vanderbilt? Pfeifer: I visited here when I was with Team Tennessee, and I just fell in love with it. It would have been the summer after my freshman year. I didn’t even talk to the coaches or anything. Our team practiced here and toured around the facilities. I always knew I wanted to come to a really strong academic school, and it seemed like the right fit. Nation: Why did you choose a philosophy major? Pfeifer: It answers a lot of broad questions, and it’s adaptable to just about everybody’s ideology. After trying to be an engineer, I completely recoiled from that idea, and I wanted to be able to explain the world in terms that I could grasp. n

Nation: So he currently is not in the locker room? Pfeifer: Right. We had to bury him in an undisclosed location. I can’t say where because I don’t want anybody digging him up and putting a hex on me or something. Nation: What was his origin? Pfeifer: When we tore up the field to put in the turf, there was a tomb that was located right under the pitcher’s mound. And he was buried within that, deep in the catacombs. When we took him out, arrows were shooting everywhere and a giant rock was chasing us out. Everybody on the pitching staff narrowly escaped, thankfully. Nation: Have you always been interested in archaeology? Pfeifer: Yeah. I really find it fascinating, especially when you find something heavily spiritual like Durik. Nation: You started wearing goggles on the mound this season. Have you always worn glasses? Pfeifer: I’ve always kind of needed glasses since middle school, and I really hated contacts. They just bothered my eyes. [On the mound] I’d sometimes have my contacts in, sometimes not. Maybe they’d “fall out” and I wouldn’t put them back in. Or I’d just have one in, so I’d be winking at the batter the whole game. It was weird. Nation: So why the rec specs? Pfeifer: The glasses that I wear on the mound, it’s just something I can keep with me at all times. I won’t forget them. It’s just an easy fix. Nation: What was it like having pitching without vision correction?

JOHN RUSSELL

Pfeifer: I’d just be stepping off like 30 times between each pitch, like I was trying to screw up the runner or something.

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SUMMER 2013

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Commodore Nation, Summer 2013