CROSS COUNTRY ACROSS TOWN ALSO INSIDE: Williams’ way with words Jelesky jumps across line Hendrix walks into starting spot Fuller: better, faster, stronger
Liz Anderson leads VU’s SEC title defense on home course
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P.9 Cross Country Hosts SEC Championships
P.13 David Williams David Williams speaks from the heart. Athletics Director has gift for connecting with wide range of constituents.
Coach Steve Keith’s cross country squads welcome the other 13 Southeastern Conference schools to Percy Warner Park for the 2012 SEC Championship meet. Both the men’s and women’s teams are excited for their 2012 prospects. The women will look to defend their 2011 title on a course that was recently enhanced by a pair of new bridges made possible by generous donations and community teamwork.
P.19 Soccer • Kendra Hendrix Walk-on earns starting spot.
P.2 Compliance Corner
P.21 Basketball • Kyle Fuller Hardship strengthens junior.
P.3 National Commodore Club
P.7 Inside McGugin
Football • Josh Jelesky
It’s My Turn
Starting offensive lineman began career on defense.
Rod Williamson’s monthly column.
P.24 My Game Football’s Karl Butler.
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A hot topic in NCAA news this year has been student-athlete vehicles, and how these automobiles have been procured, insured and what additional benefits may have been provided along with the car or SUV itself. Specific rules prohibit the procurement or usage of vehicles between boosters and our prospects, current student-athletes or their families.
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We had a great turnout at our first NCC tailgate! Thank you
for coming and supporting the â€™Dores. See some of the fun we captured.
Tailgate with the NCC Kick off Vanderbilt football games at the National Commodore Club tailgates.
NCC members and their guests are invited to join us every home game on the lawn outside Gate 2 of Vanderbilt Stadium. Come early and soak up the game day atmosphere - play cornhole, eat and drink, and meet fellow Commodore fans. To reserve your tailgate spot, visit NationalCommodoreClub.com. We look forward to seeing in your black and gold. Anchor Down!
Upcoming NCC tailgates October 13 Florida R.S.V.P. by October 11
October 20 Auburn R.S.V.P. by October 18
October 27 Massachusetts R.S.V.P. by October 25
November 17 Tennessee R.S.V.P. by November 15
NCC tailgates open three (3) hours before each Vanderbilt home game. Space is limited. You may R.S.V.P. for tailgates at NationalCommodoreClub.com. For more tailgate information, contact Kendal Duncan at (615) 343-4067.
2012 Tailgate Tour heads to Columbia
Two (2) hours before kickoff
Vanderbilt vs. Missouri
Lowry Mall between Hitt and 9th
The Commodore Tailgate Tour dropped anchor in Evanston and Athens in September. The next tailgate stop is October 6 in Columbia, Mo., when the Commodores face a new SEC opponent, the Missouri Tigers. The NCC and the Vanderbilt Alumni Association are hosting a pregame tailgate party, and you are invited. Walk-ups are welcome - see you there!
By The Numbers
Notes from the athletic department
games against teams which reached postseason play in 2012 on Head Coach Melanie Balcomb’s women’s basketball schedule for the 2012-13 season.
wo coaches at Vanderbilt led their squads to Southeastern Conference championships during the 2011-12 academic year and both have been recognized as Vanderbilt Coach of the Year. Cross country and track & field coach Steve Keith and men’s basketball coach Kevin Stallings shared the prestigious honor last month from Vice Chancellor David Williams. l For the fourth straight year, Vanderbilt University holds the No. 17 position on U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best national universities. Vanderbilt also earned nods on U.S. News’ lists of Great Schools at Great Prices, undergraduate research and economic diversity. The best national university rankings were determined by weighted measures of quality, including undergraduate academic reputation, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, finances, graduation rates and alumni giving.
42 Steve Keith
l Former All-Southeastern Conference linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer is Vanderbilt’s selection to the 2012 class of SEC Football Legends, conference officials announced recently. Hillenmeyer, a product of Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville who went on to enjoy a long career with the Chicago Bears of the NFL, will be honored in Atlanta at the SEC Championship Legends Dinner on Nov. 30 and during pre-game festivities of the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 1. n
points scored by the women’s cross country team to win the 2012 Commodore Classic at Percy Warner Park by a margin of 42 points over second place Ole Miss.
yards rushing for Zac Stacy against Presbyterian, including a touchdown on VU’s first play from scrimmage that went for 86 yards—the longest rushing play in school history.
minutes played in the opening weekend of Southeastern Conference action for the women’s soccer team in a pair of doubleovertime draws at Georgia and Tennessee.
Oct. 10 Vanderbilt’s swimming program, under the direction of Head Coach Jeremy Organ, will host its first dual meet of the 2012-13 season on Wednesday, Oct. 10, when LSU visits the Centennial SportsPlex pool at 3 p.m. CT.
Oct. 26 Oct. 21 Head Coach Derek Greene will honor the Vanderbilt women’s soccer team’s graduating class during a pre game ceremony before the Commodores’ home finale against Florida on Sunday, Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. CT.
The men’s and women’s cross country teams kick off Reunion Weekend by playing host to the 2012 Southeastern Conference Championships on their home course at Percy Warner Park. The women’s squad will be defending its 2011 SEC crown.
Oct. 27 This year’s homecoming football game features a matchup against the University of Massachusetts. Game time is expected to be announced on Oct. 15. Check reunion.vanderbilt.edu for a complete list of Reunion Weekend activities.
C O M M O D O R E N AT I O N
Chemistry created SEC champs By Michael Scholl
hen Allie Scalf came to at Vanderbilt in the fall of 2009, Steve Keith was starting his third season at the helm of the men’s and women’s cross country programs. After leading Johnson City’s Science Hill High School to Tennessee state titles in cross country and track as a senior, Scalf moved on to a Vanderbilt program that was building from the ground up. Four years later, freshman Vanessa Valentine came to Vanderbilt to run for the defending SEC Champions (who will look to defend their title on their home course this month) as part of a team that is fully funded. The simplest way to exhibit the progress of the program is to look at the team’s finishes at the SEC Championships. After finishing eighth out of 12 teams in 2008, the Commodores came in sixth in 2009 and third in 2010 before winning the event last season. Apart from those numbers, Scalf can provide a first-hand account of the development of the program. “It’s impressive to see the determination, discipline and focus on the team, when you have four years of everyone being recruited and everyone comes in with the same goals,” the senior said. The one common thread from that time to now, according to both Scalf and Valentine, is the chemistry built up by each team. The most visible sign of that chemistry can be seen in the hair ribbons the team wears for each race. The tradition has its roots in the team’s preseason camp, where last year each runner had “synergy” on one side and a personal word of motivation on the other. This season, senior Liz Anderson made the same ribbon for everyone based on the cheer, “Vandy! Vandy! Oh hell yeah!” “It shows the hardcore attitude we want to take into every race this season,” Anderson explained. Scalf also added that some of the graduated athletes from last year handed their ribbons down to other returning team members. She is quick to point out the ribbon itself is not necessarily the most important part. “When you put that on, it gets you in the zone,” Scalf said. “[They are] words that really get us ready to run and into the race.” The other important aspect of preseason camp each season is developing
trust and a support system for freshmen. The returners make sure all of the new team members know they have people to lean on as they adjust to life as collegiate student-athletes. With activities ranging from relay races to making s’mores by the campfire, the annual retreat at Natchez Trace State Park helps develop the sense of community that has become so important to the program. “The whole reason behind the camp is team bonding,” Keith said. “It’s less about training and more about getting comfortable and trying to accelerate the new kids getting to know the team.” Keith has always emphasized running as a team, making chemistry even more important. “Our ability to race together has only happened in the last couple of years,” Keith said. “A couple years ago, we started to get within a 20 or 30 second grouping. This past year, we stayed together as a group and got low numbers. The ability of our kids to work out together, be cooperative and be a part of the team is what we try to recruit.” Valentine was one of the beneficiaries of team camp this season, learning more than she anticipated. “I thought I knew what teamwork was, what being a good leader was and what hard work was, but really I came here and learned I had no idea,” Valentine says. “The example that the seniors, juniors and sophomores set for the freshmen is unbelievable.” The combination of hard work and teamwork is exactly what has turned Vanderbilt into a program that is contending on a national level. “I’ve never seen a team work so hard and have so much fun while doing it,” Valentine added. Now that the expectations are there, just how has it changed in the four years between Scalf’s freshman season and Valentine’s rookie year? While she knows the expectations are higher, Valentine is most thankful for the depth of the Commodore roster, which allows her to adjust to college without the need to score low immediately. “I definitely want to play a role on the team, but they allow us room to be freshmen,” Valentine explained. “At the same time, the freshmen all have the drive and determination to contribute to the team.” To open the 2012 season, the Commodores won the Belmont Opener and the Commodore Classic at the same Percy Warner Park that will host the SEC Championships on October 26. If the Commodores can repeat, they will become the first Vanderbilt team to successfully defend an SEC Championship since women’s soccer in 1994. With their top-10 national ranking already solidified during the first part of the season, the Commodores also have their sights set on the NCAA Championships to be held in Louisville on November 17. n
New bridges completed on Vaughn’s Gap Cross Country Course
PHOTO BY DANIEL DUBOIS
Fans heading to Percy Warner Park for the 2012 Southeastern Conference Cross Country Championships on October 26 will be quick to notice two new bridges on the course. “These bridges desperately needed attention,” VU Head Coach Steve Keith said. “We got an initial gift from an alumnus and used that as seed money to start on the project. With support from our administration, parents, other local schools and the Nashville/ Davidson Metro Parks Department, we were able to get it done.” The two new bridges on the course will not only help the aesthetics, but also will contribute to the level of competition. “The first new bridge is 400 meters from the start and it’s a lot wider than the old one,” Keith explained. “Now we won’t have that first big bottleneck of the Crace O Muntil M Owe Dget O RtoEthe N first AT turn.” ION
VU’s best-kept secret: men’s cross country By Weston Pletcher
Many fervent Commodore supporters probably don’t know all that much about the Vanderbilt men’s cross country team. Like how it is the only non-scholarship sport at Vanderbilt. So why put oneself through grueling workouts and miles of training for very little in return?
PHOTOS BY DANIEL DUBOIS
“People ask us that a lot,” said sophomore John Ewing, who runs an average of 60-70 miles per week with his teammates. “Coming out of high school I felt like I wanted to see what I could do with a college training regimen; what I could do if I had to train at the next level with a team of like-minded, good athletes who are motivated, running more miles in harder workouts and competing against that next caliber of competition. “To me, it’s just all about seeing how good I can get. That was my personal motivation, but I think as a team this is an exciting time to be a Commodore.” The 11 men that make up the Vanderbilt men’s cross country team go out every single day striving to reach that next level, the same as other Vanderbilt sports teams. And just like the football team made it to a bowl game last season and the men’s basketball team won the SEC Tournament championship, the men’s cross country team has exciting goals for itself, as well. Ewing believes goals like winning an SEC championship—a feat his female counterparts achieved last year— are not impossible to reach. “It’s like every team is moving upwards and onwards,” Ewing explained. “Just speaking for our team, we know we’re not on scholarship, but we want to be a part of that (athletic success). We’re out here working hard to get there. We’re representing the school well. We rely a lot on each other and you have to in this sport.” Veteran Billy Malmed always has known that running cross country for Vanderbilt would not garner the attention of more high-profile sports. But he takes a great deal of pride in the bonds formed between himself and his teammates. “I know that running might not be the most fun to follow and I know that we don’t win the most, but I do know that we are the best ‘team’ at Vanderbilt,” Malmed explained. “There is no glory in what we do. We do it for each other. People assume that running is an individual sport, because you can’t complete a pass or throw an alley-oop, but I assure you that no team depends on each other like the men’s cross country team.” Malmed admits that it isn’t easy going out there every day. Just like any other athlete he has moments where he feels like calling it quits. “After not being hurt once in high school, I have gotten hurt each year
that I have been at Vanderbilt,” Malmed said. “I would never give up though. I care about my team and my teammates too much. Through Vanderbilt I have found a second family in my team, and no matter how much I might feel like giving up on training, I would never abandon my family.” Even with their distinction as a non-scholarship squad, Malmed and his Commodore teammates do enjoy most of the same perks taken advantage of by the remainder of the larger Vanderbilt athletics family. “Vanderbilt athletics has a lot more to offer beyond giving scholarships to athletes,” said Malmed, who hails from Deerfield, Ill. “I have a great academic support system and access to top-level trainers. The best part though is being part of a team. Being on a team made the transition to college that much easier.” That is why these 11 guys, who come from nine different states, go out there every day striving for excellence. They came to Vanderbilt to be a part of a team, even if they don’t get as much public recognition as the football team or basketball team. “I would like to see more support for the men’s team and I will do everything in my power to help get my team more support, but I made the decision to join this team knowing all of the facts,” Malmed explained. “Despite not being on scholarship, I have been given many opportunities that I would not have had access to otherwise. Getting to go to Vanderbilt and having the opportunity to be a student-athlete has been amazing.” Asked about the fondest memory of being a Commodore, Malmed— now a senior—does not look back on his. “It hasn’t happened yet,” Malmed exclaimed. “It will be on October 26 when the Vanderbilt’s men’s cross country team beats the most teams at the SEC Championship in school history.” n
X cross country
2012 SEC Cross Country Championships Hosted by Vanderbilt University Date: Friday, October 26, 2012
Location: Vaughn’s Gap, Percy Warner Park, Nashville, Tenn. (Eight miles southwest of Vanderbilt’s campus, on Highway 100 just before Old Hickory Blvd.)
PHOTO BY JOHN RUSSELL
Time: Women’s 6k race at 10 a.m. CT, Men’s 8k at 11 a.m. Defending champions: Vanderbilt (women) and Arkansas (men)
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PHOTOS BY JOHN RUSSELL
David Williams speaks from the heart By Chris Weinman
s a teenager in Detroit, David Williams remembers spending every summer in the same place: summer school. Williams says his parents were tough on grades. “Even if I got a ‘C,’ I had to go to summer school,” he explains. “And they knew I would get a ‘C.’” Every year, that is, until Williams took a speech class in high school. “I was up there speaking with all of my notecards, and I got a ‘D.’” So back to summer school he went to re-take the class. Having already gone through it once, Williams decided against keeping notes with him during his talks. Instead, he says, “I tried to get connected to the subject. I went over stuff and planned it, but I would go up and talk from what I believed in. I was speaking from the point of feeling.” He got an “A” in the summer school course, and again when taking public speaking at
Northern Michigan University. These days, whether speaking to Commodore staff members, student-athletes, boosters or recruits, the vice chancellor and athletics director rarely uses notes when speaking, and he is still receiving high marks. “If you’ve had the opportunity to hear David speak, he does a really good job of expressing a story and connecting it with Vanderbilt, with the experience and his history,” Head Football Coach James Franklin said. Franklin has asked Williams to speak to recruits during many campus visits. “It’s impressive,” Franklin added. “If you’re a parent and you’re looking to send your son to a place where he might have some role models and people to look up to that will inspire him and that you can respect as a parent, he can blow some people away from that standpoint.” Williams tries to make himself available to meet with any prospective student-athlete. Head Men’s Tennis Coach Ian Duvenhage, who
calls Williams “one of the great orators I’ve ever heard,” gets his recruits in front of Williams whenever possible. “The latest recruit that committed to us said that he didn’t even get to meet the associate ADs at the other places he visited, never mind the athletic director,” Duvenhage said. “It shows that this recruit matters to us from a departmental perspective rather than just to the coach involved.” Williams invests in these one-on-one opportunities in the same way he does largescale speaking engagements, learning all he can about a subject in order to connect on a personal level. Before he met with Chris Yee, now a freshman on Duvenhage’s squad, Williams read Yee’s award-winning essay on Arthur Ashe. The pair discussed Ashe’s legacy in-depth during their meeting. “He’s really, really good at talking to the kids, and he obviously likes it,” Duvenhage said. “It sells not only our program, but our university,
C O M M O D O R E N AT I O N
“It’s really valuable for us to have someone sitting at that leadership table every single week who has both the intellectual horsepower and the passion for the institution,” Associate Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Jen Howe said. “This is a really ambitious, aggressive group that David has helped us access, and one of the things that [Executive Director of the National Commodore Club] Mark Carter and I have both appreciated, particularly in the last 10 months or so, is how well we’ve been able to work with all them.” The Recreation Center and Multipurpose Facility Expansion is the perfect example of how Williams’ clout on campus has benefited athletics. “That facility does not happen if he doesn’t have good relationships with the other vice chancellors sitting around the table,” Carter said. “Forget philanthropy, it doesn’t happen without their support. The way they partnered with him, I don’t know if that happens anywhere else.” After teaming up with the Provost and other vice chancellors to secure more than half of the funding for a project that will be useful to every facet of the university community, Williams had a big hand in helping the NCC lock down donations for the remaining $15 million. “When you have a project that has so many different layers of engagement and impacts the entire Vanderbilt community, it’s extraordinarily valuable for us to have David be able to discuss it from every angle,” Howe said. “With this donor, you talk about it in the way that it impacts student-athletes, because that’s their passion; over here you may talk about how it will impact Coach Franklin directly.” Williams sees the projects’ far-reaching benefits as one of the main reasons that funding came through in such a short amount of time. “It’s really valuable for us to have someone “From the day we sitting at that leadership table every single decided to do it until the week who has both the intellectual horseday we break ground will power and the passion for the institution...” be less than a year, and that just doesn’t take place medical center,” Williams said. “Or how the much,” he said. “It was difficult because we fastest growing major at this university—mediwere trying to do something that generally cine, health and society—was started by one takes a longer period of time in a short period student in arts and science who walked into of time. It was easy in the sense that there were the dean’s office and said, ‘this is what I want to certain people that were interested in that projdo.” So you can make your own major here, and ect because of the multi-use facet of it. It was here’s how you go about it….” bigger than just one thing, and they saw it as Williams’ connections around campus also an opportunity where they could give to a pashave been a great asset to the National Comsion that they have—maybe football, maybe modore Club, especially his role among the athletics—but they would be helping a whole general officers of the university. bunch of people.”
PHOTO BY JOHN RUSSELL
to these kids. It’s sort of an ace that we have up our sleeves.” Part of Williams’ ability to connect with prospective student-athletes and their families comes from his experience with his own family. Williams is the father of four children, three of whom have graduated college. His youngest son, Nicholas, is currently a high school senior being recruited to play soccer. “I have a son now who’s going through this, and I have kids before him that have gone through it,” Williams said. “So I’ve gone through it from the parent’s side. That is reassuring to many parents. We had a young man and his parents in here last week, and I actually showed them the picture of my kids and told them who did what and where they went to school.” His oldest daughter, Erika, is a grade school teacher in Detroit. David Williams III is an academic counselor at Michigan State University. Samantha recently graduated from Brown University, where she was a varsity swimmer. “It’s tough, leaving your kid,” Williams said. “When I left my daughter at Brown and got on the plane, I cried all the way home. I thought, ‘Have I lost my mind? I just left my daughter in Providence, Rhode Island.’ And I’d had two that had already gone through school. And you know what? It’s gonna be worse next fall. So, I understand. I want them to know it’ll be okay.” Having a personal connection to that experience gives Williams a unique perspective. And after serving as the university’s general counsel for the past 12 years, Williams has a unique perspective on most every aspect of Vanderbilt. “Someone will come in and say, ‘I want to go into engineering,’ and I can talk about how our engineering faculty have some joint ventures with our medical faculty, and engineering undergrad students get to do research at the
Just like his meetings with prospective student-athletes, Williams does a wonderful job of relating to boosters and prospective donors. Both Carter and Howe have seen firsthand how Williams can express his vision for Vanderbilt athletics. “Whether he’s talking about the student, the coach, the facility [or] the mission of the university, he’s in that moment,” Howe said. “He paints the picture and you just have that feeling of him really taking great pride and ownership in that.” “I think what hits most every donor that he sits in front of is the passion that he has for the kids,” Carter said. “That comes across so clearly.” Years after having to take that public speaking class, Williams’ way with words is still paying dividends. And since Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos promoted Williams to a larger role in athletics this summer, the athletic department will certainly benefit as he is allowed to spend more time in and around the McGugin Center. More time focused on athletics means Williams will become even more connected to the life-blood of the athletic department, the student-athletes, and for Jen Howe that is an exciting prospect moving forward. “Watching him walk these halls, he now has the freedom to stop and actually talk to everyone,” she said. “That’s going to be huge for us in the future. Getting these students to get his contagious spirit about the whole place while they’re here, that will be the ‘game-changer’ for us 10 years from now. And the longer he is here, the better it will be for everyone involved.” n
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Jelesky crosses the line to find a home
edshirt-senior Josh Jelesky was born in Indianapolis and lived in Atlanta briefly before his family finally settled down in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, Illinois. Jelesky’s football career has taken a similar nomadic arc en route to finding a permanent home on Vanderbilt’s offensive line. Just prior to Vanderbilt football’s 2008 National Signing Day, Naperville Central High School Head Coach Mike Stine noted that the Commodore commitment was “willing to do what’s best for the team. This year, he moved from his natural position (defensive end) to interior linebacker because that’s what the team needed.” Once at Vanderbilt, Jelesky continued to prove his flexibility and willingness to help the team by filling a number of roles for the Commodores. Listed at 234 pounds four years ago, Jelesky came to Vanderbilt as a defensive end. He redshirted during his true freshman season, earning Defensive Scout of the Week honors one week in late November, before contributing to 11 games on defense and special teams the following year. As a redshirt sophomore, Jelesky jumped inside on the line to play defensive tackle. He was credited with 15 tackles during the 2010 season. By his fourth season, Jelesky had added 31 pounds to his 6’5” frame. On the second day of preseason training camp, he received a text message from Head Coach James Franklin at 4:45 a.m., saying, simply, “Come see me.” “I didn’t know what was going on,” Jelesky said. “I had no idea. I walked in there kind of wild-eyed, wondering, ‘What is he about to tell me?’” Jelesky wasted little time getting to Franklin’s office, and the coach, in turn, got straight to the point. As soon as Franklin uttered the words “offensive line depth chart,” Jelesky says he knew what was about to happen. “He talked to me for a minute and did some convincing, but I’m all for whatever is best for the team, so I wasn’t fighting it. I was like, ‘Let’s do it!’” The transition from defense to offense is not a simple one. Jelesky traded in a thick defensive playbook that he had spent all spring learning since Franklin’s December 2010 arrival for an equally large binder basically written in a different language. His preseason camp was
spent immersed in learning his new role with offensive line coach Herb Hand. “During camp when a lot of guys were napping, I would go in and watch film with coach Hand and learn the plays and get the technique down,” Jelesky said. “We really focused at the beginning on just figuring out what the plays were, and much less on the technique, because he said that would kind of come once I figured out who I was supposed to block. It was probably halfway through the season before I was really comfortable with what was going on in the offense.” The learning curve was steep, but the three-time Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll student caught on quickly. By the eighth game of the season, Jelesky had earned a starting spot at right guard that he would not relinquish. He credits his teammates with being there to help him make the transition. “Living with Wesley Johnson and Ryan Seymour was a big help for me,” Jelesky said. “After practice, if I had questions and we were just at home hanging out, I could just bounce some things off them. Then Jabo [Burrow] last year got hurt and came out, so he was always on the sideline in practice, and I would go over to him and say, ‘If this guy does this, what can I do?’ That was a big help, too.” Coming from the opposite side of the ball, Jelesky is able to find ways to improve by thinking about how he might have previously attacked an offensive lineman. “Sometimes it helps,” he said. “I can kind of look at myself from a different aspect. When we watch film, it’s more than just, ‘Maybe I did good on this rep,’ but what else am I doing wrong that a defensive lineman could look at and see as a weak point? What could somebody exploit?” Aside from the mental preparation, Jelesky also had work to do physically. He has added another 25 pounds since last fall, and weighed in at 290 pounds before the season began. The fact that Jelesky now finds himself right at home on Vanderbilt’s offensive line should come as no surprise given his family ties to both the position and the university. His uncle, Tom Jelesky, played offensive tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles, and his maternal grandparents met at Vanderbilt. Jelesky’s grandfather earned his undergraduate and medical degrees from Vander-
PHOTO BY JOHN RUSSELL
By Chris Weinman
bilt, and his grandmother attended Peabody College before it became part of Vanderbilt. His mother, Beth, was born at Vanderbilt Medical Center, and her brother lives in nearby Franklin. Jelesky’s parents make the trip from Naperville to attend all of his games. “My parents have come to every game since my redshirt-freshman year,” he said. “Even when I wasn’t playing they were going to all of the games. They’ve always been a big part of it.” n
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Walk-on works into starting lineup
By Chris Weinman
PHOTO BY JOE HOWELL
laying soccer for Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., Kendra Hendrix was a captain for coach Oscar Lung’aho’s Tigers and was named the team’s most valuable player in her senior season. She was recruited by a number of schools, but when a prospective scholarship offer from the University of Memphis fell through, Hendrix decided to attend Vanderbilt University. The summer before her freshman year, Hendrix attended Vanderbilt Soccer Camp. She anticipated trying out for the team in the fall, but the Commodore coaching staff had not seen enough to invite her to join the squad that semester. They suggested she come back in the spring for a proper tryout. So Hendrix began her collegiate career like 95 percent of Vanderbilt’s undergraduate population—not as a varsity student-athlete, but simply a student. She joined Alpha Phi Omega, the nation’s largest service fraternity, and spent time volunteering with SPEAR (Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Responsibility). Her desire to give back and “help other people build themselves up” led her to a major in public policy studies, which she hopes will lead to a future career with a non-profit. Her desire to continue playing soccer led her to join the women’s club team at Vanderbilt. “Just being a regular student, I had so much time and I missed the game,” Hendrix said. “I love the girls [on the club team], but it wasn’t as intense as I wanted it to be.” In February of her freshman year, Hendrix began her formal tryout with the varsity team. Then an assistant coach, Derek Greene noticed that Hendrix had great soccer instincts. “She reads the game really well,” Greene said. “She’s a step ahead of everyone on the field. She sees players stepping to her really well, she understands where to cut the ball, where to pass the ball. She had all these really intangible things. It’s great when you get a player like that because all you’re trying to do is refine them.” Friday, Oct. 12 Matching the level of (7 p.m.) vs. Ole Miss the soccer played in the Southeastern Conference Taking a KICK at Breast Cancer Night - Pink Out was the biggest transition • Wear pink to the game and receive free admission for Hendrix. Greene has tried to draw out the intensity Sunday, Oct. 14 that Hendrix noticed lacking (1 p.m.) vs. Texas A&M in the club game, adding a Carnival and Free Youth Day physical element to match • Pregame bounce house, snow cones and popcorn her mental acuity. • First 500 fans receive free Vanderbilt sunglasses “I’m more of a tactical player,” Hendrix said. “Derek Friday, Oct. 19 said I needed to become (7 p.m.) vs. Auburn stronger and tackle more. Kick-or-Treat Night That wasn’t my style of play• A ny child in costume gets candy and enters the game for free ing, so I’ve had to change that a little. That was the biggest Sunday, Oct. 21 difference.” (1 p.m.) vs. Florida Away from the field, the Senior and Fan Appreciation Day transition to becoming a • B ring your FedEx frequent fan card with at least Commodore also had its five games marked to receive a free Vanderbilt soccer shirt • F irst 200 fans receive a free Vanderbilt vucommodores.com water bottle
challenges for Hendrix. Her spring semester tryout showed her that the time commitment required for becoming a varsity student-athlete was extreme. “I remember going back to my room always just wanting to go to sleep because we had morning workouts and then we had practice,” Hendrix said. “I felt like I never had time to see any of my friends or do homework. You have to learn how to manage your time.” All of the hard work paid off for Hendrix, who was offered a place on the team at the end of spring workouts. But exactly where she would fit in for Greene, who was named interim head coach before the 2011 season, was unclear. Hendrix played forward for Central, but was a defender on her club team, the ASC Cougars. Playing up front for the Commodores, Hendrix says she “didn’t do great.” So in practice Greene began to use her in the back more often than not. When starter Taylor “Tex” Richardson was sidelined due to injury, Greene had no hesitation in moving Hendrix into the lineup. Her first collegiate start came against LSU and she played all 103 minutes of Vanderbilt’s double-overtime victory. She would start six consecutive games to end the season and was named the team’s most improved player by a vote of her peers. Through it all, Hendrix refused to let her participation in athletics be to the detriment of her academic career. Her efforts in the classroom were rewarded with recognition on the SEC Academic Honor Roll. Now Hendrix is no longer satisfied with finding her way onto the field. Her aspirations include finding the ball in the back of the net. “I really want to score,” Hendrix said. “My goal before the end of this year is to score a goal.” Coach Greene believes that her ability matched with his team’s style of play could make that dream a reality. “When you look at our outside backs, they’re both athletic, both good on the ball,” Greene said. “There’s no doubt in my mind, the way we play, it lends itself to the outside backs getting involved in the attack and allowing them to score points.” n
C O M M O D O R E N AT I O N
2012-13 Men’s Basketball Schedule
2012-13 Women’s Basketball Schedule
Nov. 02 Nov. 05 Nov. 10 Nov. 16
Nov. 3 Nov. 10 Nov. 12 Nov. 15 Nov. 18
St. Xavier (exhibition).......................NASHVILLE Delta State (exhibition)....................NASHVILLE Nicholls State......................................NASHVILLE at Oregon ............................................Eugene, Ore.
Old Spice Classic Nov. 22 vs. Davidson.........................................Orlando, Fla. Nov. 23 vs. West Virginia/Marist...................Orlando, Fla. Nov. 25 TBD.........................................................Orlando, Fla. Dec. 01 Dec. 06 Dec. 15 Dec. 17 Dec. 21 Dec. 29 Jan. 02 Jan. 10 Jan. 12 Jan. 15 Jan. 19 Jan. 23 Jan. 26 Jan. 29 Feb. 02 Feb. 06 Feb. 09 Feb. 13 Feb. 16 Feb. 20 Feb. 23 Feb. 27 March 02 March 06 March 09
Villanova ..............................................NASHVILLE at Xavier................................................Cincinnati, Ohio Alabama A&M.....................................NASHVILLE Cornell...................................................NASHVILLE Middle Tennessee State .................NASHVILLE Butler......................................................NASHVILLE William & Mary....................................NASHVILLE * Kentucky ..........................................NASHVILLE * at Arkansas .......................................Fayetteville, Ark. * Ole Miss .............................................NASHVILLE * at South Carolina ..........................Columbia, S.C. * Auburn .............................................NASHVILLE * at Missouri ........................................Columbia, Mo. * at Tennessee ...................................Knoxville, Tenn. * Alabama ...........................................NASHVILLE * at LSU .................................................Baton Rouge, La. * Arkansas ...........................................NASHVILLE * Tennessee ........................................NASHVILLE * Texas A&M .......................................NASHVILLE * at Kentucky .....................................Lexington, Ky. * at Mississippi State .......................Starkville, Miss. * Georgia .............................................NASHVILLE * at Auburn ........................................Auburn, Ala. * at Florida ..........................................Gainesville, Fla. * South Carolina ...............................NASHVILLE
SEC Tournament (Bridgestone Arena) March 13-17
Alabama-Huntsville (exhib.)..........NASHVILLE McNeese State....................................NASHVILLE at Lipscomb.........................................Nashville, Tenn. UAB.........................................................NASHVILLE at Dayton..............................................Dayton, Ohio
San Juan Shootout Nov. 23 Virginia..................................................San Juan, Puerto Rico Nov. 24 Florida State.........................................San Juan, Puerto Rico Nov. 28 Dec. 1 Dec. 4 Dec. 6 Dec. 16 Dec. 22 Dec. 29 Jan. 3 Jan. 6 Jan. 10 Jan. 13 Jan. 20 Jan. 24 Jan. 27 Jan. 31 Feb. 3 Feb. 10 Feb. 14 Feb. 17 Feb. 21 Feb. 24 Feb. 28 March 3
Austin Peay..........................................NASHVILLE Tennessee Tech..................................NASHVILLE at Western Kentucky........................Bowling Green, Ky. Hartford................................................NASHVILLE at Oklahoma........................................Norman, Okla. College of Charleston.......................NASHVILLE at Southern Cal...................................Los Angeles, Calif. * Mississippi State..............................NASHVILLE * at Ole Miss.........................................Oxford, Miss. * at South Carolina............................Columbia, S.C. * Arkansas.............................................NASHVILLE * at LSU..................................................Baton Rouge, La. * Tennessee..........................................NASHVILLE * at Alabama........................................Tuscaloosa, Ala. * at Texas A&M....................................College Station, Texas * Ole Miss..............................................NASHVILLE * Kentucky............................................NASHVILLE * Missouri..............................................NASHVILLE * at Tennessee.....................................Knoxville, Tenn. * at Florida............................................Gainesville, Fla. * Texas A&M.........................................NASHVILLE * Auburn...............................................NASHVILLE * at Georgia..........................................Athens, Ga.
SEC Tournament (Duluth, Ga.) March 6-10 NCAA Final Four (New Orleans, La.) April 7-9
NCAA Final Four (Atlanta, Ga.) April 6-8
* SEC Game
* SEC Game
Check vucommodores.com for game times and TV information.
Loss strengthens junior Fuller
After ushering his mother and brother out of the room, Kyle arranged for an ambulance to come to the house. Kyle Jr.’s bond with his father was special. Kyle Sr. had introduced his son to the game of basketball, and together they coached up the younger Khalil. The loss hit the 20-year-old extremely hard. “He was always there,” Fuller said. “He was always the loudest in the gym. My freshman year (at Vanderbilt), I still heard him in the gym. I told him everything that happened in my life, good or bad. Because regardless of how mad he’d be at me, he’d still be there for me. “So when he passed, I lost my best friend and one of the main reasons why I play this game. We’ve been through so much together, so it really affects me badly.” Fuller remembers vividly a conversation he had with his father the night before he died, as
PHOTO BY JOE HOWELL
dversity has put a full-court press on Kyle Fuller. The junior from Moreno Valley, Calif., has had quite a load thrown on him in the past year. After a freshman season in which he was featured in all 34 of Vanderbilt’s games and averaged 14.7 minutes per game, Fuller played in only 18 contests as a sophomore and saw his minutes-per-game average cut in half. He failed to make a three-pointer, going 0-for-8 on the season, and did not play a minute in the Commodores’ championship run through the Southeastern Conference Tournament. But those on-court hardships now look insignificant. At home during the summer, Fuller was awoken one morning by his 16-year-old brother, Khalil. Their father, Kyle Sr., who had been battling illness, was not breathing. Kyle ran into the room to find that his father had already passed.
By Chris Weinman
Kyle Sr.’s health was quickly deteriorating. “He said, ‘If I don’t make it, you need to step up and be the man.’ He told me that he didn’t want me to cry at his funeral, so my little brother wouldn’t cry more. He wanted me to step up and be the man of this family. ‘Take care of your mother. Make sure your mother is okay.’ Take care of my little brother. Be hard on him when I need to be hard on him. Call him more ‘cause I’m so far away.” His responsibility to his younger brother is now Fuller’s top motivation. He is focused on turning off any outside noise that may have previously distracted his efforts in life, on the court and in the classroom. Fuller is determined to put a past that he says included “immature” behavior behind him and focus on the future. “I want to make sure I’m the greatest role model to my little brother,” Fuller said. “I’m gonna show him that I’m always there for him. I promised [my father] that I would be the man of the house. I’m not a junior anymore, I’m not gonna be a little boy anymore. I can’t argue about little things any more. I have to grow up.” Back at school, Fuller’s newly embraced maturity is translating to his leadership role as one of only two upperclassmen on a team without any seniors. The point guard came back to campus in the best physical shape of his career after shedding 15 pounds in the offseason and has never felt better about his game. He also understands the responsibility of stepping up to show younger players what it takes to succeed in the SEC. “I’m trying to beat them in every sprint, so they know that they need to try and beat me in every sprint,” Fuller said. “I’m trying to beat them in every pickup game, so they know they need to elevate their game. I’m trying to be fresh in every way possible, so they know that even though we lost three great players and our seniors, that this team is not going to have a downfall.” The Commodores return only three games started—one by Fuller and two by classmate Rod Odom—from last year’s team, and Fuller knows that this season will not be easy. But he has gained strength through hardship, and carries his father’s memory with him both mentally and in the form of a tattoo on his right arm that depicts Kyle Sr. entering heaven’s gates. That inspiration has led him to work harder than ever, because, he says, “I know my dad wouldn’t want me to quit.” n
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It’s My Turn By Rod Williamson
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ne of my first assignments in college athletics was what we called “advancing” football games. Communications back in the early 1970s dictated a need for a school’s publicist to travel to the upcoming opponent’s home turf and meet with the media to promote ticket sales. I’d travel to Nebraska, Oklahoma or Kansas with my team’s film clips and stat sheets to explain that we had won our last game by three points and that our quarterback is young but improving. This was considered so interesting back then that they’d put me on the six o’clock news to discuss. Contrast that to today, where cable television enables us to watch a dozen games a day. Seconds after a game ends on the east coast the entire west coast knows the basics. Pundits deliver “expert analysis” with pinball speed. Within this knee-jerk communications system, facts and fiction become intertwined. What’s a sports fan to think? About two years ago I was attending a major collegiate media event, one that attracts colleagues of mine from other major universities. I was waiting for our session to begin when one of the big names in the sports information world approached me, lowered his voice as if passing along a stock tip and said, “I admire Vanderbilt because you stand for something and many of the rest of us don’t.” I was dumbstruck and mumbled a hazy, “thank you,” unable to come up with an appropriate reply to such a startling, yet sincere, compliment and admission. Even now I don’t think I could offer more without sounding either too holy or arrogant. The truth is, Vanderbilt athletics does stand for something. Some blogger working from his basement or a talk show guy hired to be clever and controversial will find something cynical to counter this—almost always a petty or superficial point. That shallow analysis misses the point. When I saw the chatter that “nothing has changed” with the Vanderbilt Commodores after we had a stumbling start to this football season, I wanted to shout from the mountaintops, “OH YES IT HAS!” While not the naysayers’ point, there are some important things that have not changed. We still believe in the true student-athlete and in fair play—the source of admiration from that anonymous colleague. Our student-athletes are just that, earning nearly a 3.10 cumulative grade point as a group in the nation’s 17th best classrooms. We have never been on NCAA probation. But there are tangible changes, such as the new video boards in the stadium and gym, new sports turf on Dudley Field and neighboring Hawkins Field, and new meeting rooms and Olympic sport lockerrooms in the McGugin Center. Why are facilities important? On top of making our efforts more efficient, we have never significantly improved a team’s venue without seeing a tangible uptick in performance. I submit baseball’s record after renovations to its complex; both tennis teams were in the NCAA championship match after upgrades to their complex; women’s golf’s rise since acquisition of the Vanderbilt Legends Club (and even brighter prospects ahead with new team facilities planned at the course). The spirit of cooperation inside the university community has prompted Director of Athletics David Williams to rightly say we have “the stars aligned.” Vanderbilt Athletics is a national leader. In virtually every independent analysis that considers athletic performance, academic achievement and integrity, Vanderbilt is near the top. This is a program moving forward, and that’s a fact. n
C O M M O D O R E N AT I O N
arl Butler normally wears No. 28 as a starting outside linebacker for the Commodore football team, but he famously donned No. 12 one afternoon last spring to pose for Vanderbilt’s 2012 schedule poster... Commodore Nation: How did you become the face of the 2012 football poster? Karl Butler: One day we were working out in the weight room and Coach Galt told me to come back the next day for a photo shoot. I came in and they poured sugar water on me and they made the poster after that. CN: Sugar water? To simulate sweat? KB: Yeah. I was sticky for a minute after that and all my teammates were teasing me. I was the butt of some jokes for a while. CN: Your peers recently voted as the team’s best cook for fixing meals this summer. What were you making? KB: In the dorms, I really didn’t have a kitchen. I cooked pork chops, chicken quesadillas, hot sandwiches, some homemade burgers…. really anything that I could do with a George Foreman. CN: Did you learn how to cook from your parents?
CN: Have you adjusted to life in a land-locked state? KB: It’s definitely not the same. The food’s not bad, but nothing’s like home. The barbecue is probably the best thing I’ve had up here. CN: Your teammates also said you have the best chance to become a musician. KB: I don’t know where they got that from, honestly. I really don’t. I thought it would be Jordan Matthews. He told me he got snubbed, so I’ll let him have that one. Jordan should’ve won that one. CN: You’ve worked in your father’s law firm before. Are you interested in pursuing that as a career? KB: I told him it was a little slow in the office place for me, so I might want to do something more up-tempo. But you never know. Right now I’m concentrating on getting my HOD (human and organizational development) degree. CN: Any idea what you might like to do? KB: I’ve got a lot of ideas right now. Maybe criminal rehabilitation, or being a consultant in child development. Last summer I worked at Vandy summer camp and this summer I worked at the YMCA in East Nashville, so I’ve always been involved with kids. n
KB: Growing up, I watched my dad season meat and stuff like that. My mom was always cooking really delicious meals. So I kind of got it from both of them, but mainly my mom. CN: What’s your favorite meal that mom makes?
PHOTO BY STEVE GREEN
KB: I’m from Louisiana, so obviously fried seafood.
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