Tim Corbin’s squad contains talent from all backgrounds
Two decades of tennis success under Macdonald Freshman golfing duo paves way on links Lacrosse’s double feature
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Over the past 20 years, Geoff Macdonald, currently VU’s longest-tenured head coach, has built the women’s tennis program thanks to experiences as a player and young coach.
Freshmen Shelby and Sydney Trentzsch are the latest set of twins to step onto the lacrosse field for Vanderbilt.
After the success of sending studentathletes to Tanzania last summer, select Commodores will be headed on another service trip this year to Morocco.
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P.3 P.11 Fantastic freshmen Simin Feng and Antonia Scherer might be different off the course, but on the links the two make a dynamic tandem.
P.12 Diversity on the diamond Baseball coach Tim Corbin purposefully puts together a squad that mirrors the makeup of the university and the country.
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P.19 Marketing farm system Under the direction of sales and marketing director Steve Walsh, past Vanderbilt marketing interns are flourishing in full-time spots around the country.
It’s my turn Rod Williamson’s monthly column
P.24 My Game When sophomore Kris Yee isn’t making a racket on the tennis court, he’s editing homemade movies and dancing to hip hop.
Assistant cross country and track coach Rhonda Riley (pictured with her nieces, Addison, 5, and Paige, 3)
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By The Numbers
Notes from the athletic department
Number of Vanderbilt seniors invited to the NFL Combine in February. Cornerback Andre Hal, offensive lineman Wesley Johnson, safety Kenny Ladler and wide receiver Jordan Matthews — each All-SEC selections in 2013 — matched the most players Vanderbilt has sent to the combine since 2000.
He currently ranks third with 1,891 points. He led Vanderbilt to the Sweet 16 in 2004, the same year he was named an All-American. Stallworth, a transfer from Stanford, played at Vanderbilt from 1993 to 1995. She won two SEC Tournament crowns and reached the Final Four in 1993. l Both Vanderbilt cross country squads were named All-Academic Teams by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) in February. The men’s cross country team garnered a spot thanks to a 3.63 team GPA during the fall semester, while the women had a collective 3.43 GPA. Senior Liz Anderson was named a Division I Women’s Individual All-Academic honoree for the third time in her career.
ormer VU basketball players Matt Freije and Kelly Dougherty Stallworth were honored as Allstate SEC Basketball Legends during the SEC basketball tournaments in March. Freije played for the Commodores from 2001 to 2004 and graduated as the program’s all-time leading scorer.
l Point guard Jasmine Lister was named to the SEC Women’s Basketball Community Service Team. Lister, a senior from Corona, Calif., was recognized after serving a two-month internship last summer in Nashville at the Magdalene House, which offers shelter and help for women recovering from addiction, prostitution and trafficking. Lister is the program’s all-time leader in minutes played and is in the top three in career assists. n
The women’s bowling team compiled just the third perfect game in school history with a 300 Baker on March 9. The 300 helped the ‘Dores knock off No. 1 Arkansas to win the Columbia 300 Music City Classic in Smyrna.
New program 54-hole scoring record set by the women’s golf team in February at the Central District Invitational in Florida. The Commodores won the team title for their first tournament championship since 2007. Freshmen Simin Feng was the top medalist with a 54-hole score of 207 for the lowest score in tournament’s 14-year history.
April 4-6 Mason Rudolph Championship The men’s golf team hosts the annual Mason Rudolph Championship at Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin. The Commodores won the team championship at the last Mason Rudolph Championship in Fall 2012, and junior Hunter Stewart (pictured above) took second in the individual competition.
Spring Game Vanderbilt fans will get their first glimpse of the Commodores under first-year football coach Derek Mason in the annual Black & Gold Spring Game at 10 a.m. at Vanderbilt Stadium. The next day, April 13, marks the deadline for early-bird pricing for season tickets, ranging from $151 (north end zone general admission) to $321 (premium sideline seats).
Baseball hosts Georgia The Commodores wind down April by hosting Georgia for three games at Hawkins Field. Vanderbilt has won seven of nine against the Bulldogs, dating back to the 2011 season.
April 16 Lacrosse Senior Day Seniors Brandi Byner, Alyssa Dunlap (pictured above), Chelsea Lanzoni, Sarah Tustin and Abby Wheeler will be honored before their last home game at Vanderbilt against Jacksonville at 3 p.m. at the VU Lacrosse Complex.
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’Dores a consistent contender under Macdonald Longest-tenured coach at VU picked up his 500th victory in March by Josh Kipnis
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eaning against the bench at center court, Vanderbilt men’s tennis coach Geoff Macdonald watches his team make its final preparations for a road match against Auburn. “Let’s try and get the energy up,” he calls out to the eight players on the four parallel courts. His voice is gentle, relaxed — barely audible over the yells coming from women’s lacrosse practice nearby. “Meagan, good disciplined defense. I like it,” Macdonald says, crossing his arms, walking toward the baseline of the two middle courts. He ponders the points before him, studying the development of each of his players. “That’s it. That’s a great setup, Maggie,” he calls to the player directly on his left. A girl on his right lets out muzzled frustration and waves to the ball, which bounces against the base of the net. “You don’t have to hit a winner on that,” Macdonald says. “Just keep the pressure on her. Got to plant, chip that back to her and get ready to play some D.” The player nods, and Macdonald shifts his attention back to all four matches simultaneously. “You have to be really patient, I think, in coaching,” Macdonald says later, speaking in the same relaxed, yet passionate tone. “I have to be patient because when (he was a player) I was a mess. I didn’t get it.” Three decades later, Macdonald has made a career of helping student-athletes get it. Macdonald is in his 20th season at Vanderbilt and is the school’s longest-tenured head coach. Under his watch, the Commodores have made the NCAA Tournament every season, and he recently picked up his 500th victory. Macdonald’s philosophy stems from his experiences as a player. When he played at the University of Virginia, there weren’t structured practices, mandatory lifts or everyday running sessions. Instead, it was up to the student-athlete to determine how successful he wanted to be, and for Macdonald — at least initially — he didn’t understand the importance of self-motivation and drive. “My first year, I got into a motorcycle wreck and they took my scholarship away, deservedly so,” Macdonald says. “The next year, I begged them
Women’s tennis coach Geoff Macdonald talks to his team during a home match. Macdonald is the longest-tenured coach at Vanderbilt. He is his 20th year with the program and has led the Commodores to the NCAA Tournament in his previous 19 seasons, going as far as the national championship game in 2001.
to let me come on, and they did. I wasn’t going to start until the No. 6 player pulled his groin.” At that point, Macdonald was able to recognize the unique opportunity he had before him. “I played poker and partied — I mean I had a great time — but I wasn’t serious about tennis,” he said. “I didn’t get it. And then, all of a sudden, it was like, this is going to be over.” Macdonald says he was able to develop “a knack for finding a way to win” in his sophomore season. He grew even more serious about his game the next year, winning several matches in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. His senior season, Macdonald captured the tournament championship. He uses his ability to persevere in college as a valuable resource in his coaching methods. “A lot of what you think about when you’re coaching is empathy,” he said. “You try to imagine, ‘What was I like at that age? What did I need?’ I was a knucklehead, but I needed support. You try to instill a love of the game (in your players). What are you learning? What’s it all about? If it’s just a sport, it’s somewhat boring. But if it’s a contest — a test of wills — it’s
learning about yourself. Mastering yourself. “I think (tennis) is probably the most demanding and difficult sport in the world ever invented. First of all, you’re learning really complex movements, and if you just did it naturally, just whatever you want to do, it wouldn’t work. So, you’ve got to learn all the technical stuff: grips, body positioning, etc. Then, you learn all these soft skill applications, like it’s windy, I’m playing a lefty, this guy hits hard — all this situational stuff in a way. “It’s also probably more psychologically intense because it’s more one-on-one, it’s an individual sport. There’s no clock. A person’s out there psychologically exposed — naked.” But what makes Macdonald such a successful coach is that his players are not nearly as psychologically exposed as many of the nation’s athletes. Instead, Macdonald’s understanding of the game, and even more so, his understanding of his players, allows him to provide the necessary equipment to combat any situation in the stressful environment of tennis; tools that far exceed the technique behind a powerful serve or the mechanics of a dominant backhand.
“I have tons of little, weird superstitions,” he says, “Cause you don’t really have any control.” For example, Macdonald will pick up every lucky penny he sees. “My kids joke at me because there are times I’ve been riding my bike, and I’ll stop and I’ll go back and get it. It’s just crazy. And then I’ll have those in my pocket, and when I get really nervous I’ll rub the lucky penny…But it’s funny, there have been years when I just go, ‘That’s so irrational. What are you doing? Don’t do it.’” One other tradition Macdonald has held onto over the years is his custom of the headshaving match. Most recently, he buzzed his head when the Commodores knocked off rival Tennessee in Knoxville to reach the Sweet 16. The Vanderbilt women quickly fell behind 3-0 in the match. But the ‘Dores battled back and were just one set away from pulling off the upset. At which point, Macdonald decided to relieve some of the tension. “One of my best friends in town is a [child adolescent] psychiatrist, and he’s helped me a lot in terms of what this age group is,” he said. “He taught me a whole framework. He said,
‘Sometimes when a match is a really big deal to this age group, if you give them an external thing to focus on, that is a stress reliever, it can be helpful.’ So when they get tight, instead of going, ‘I’ve got to make this return or I’m letting everyone down,’ it’s like, ‘If I make this return we get to shave his head.’ It’s an ‘I’m in this with you.’” The Commodores won the match, completing a monumental comeback. But perhaps even more memorable was the image that followed: the sight of their coach’s hair being swept up from the floor. That day in Knoxville, that sense of overcoming adversity, is what drives Macdonald to step out onto the court each and every day. “It’s really neat when you see players improving,” he says. “It’s a highly competitive arena and you just see them and go, ‘Wow! A few months ago there’s no way they could’ve don’t that.’ (As a coach) you weren’t the reason why, but you were a part of their journey and their maturation in a way…So you take a pride in mentoring and bringing them along.” n
“There’s not much I don’t know about [my players’] games, and in a way, their psyches when they play the game,” Macdonald says. “After a fall, I get a pretty good idea—this person is like this, they’re really hard on themselves. “I’m good at the feel of the emotional stuff, like what’s going on mentally and emotionally with a player. I’m good at reading that and going, ‘Oh, she’s struggling with this. We’ve got to do this’…I can look down and get a feel for a match really fast and get an idea of how the points are trending and what’s happening.” But, as Macdonald is quick to point out, that sort of expertise cannot be found unless he is able to build a relationship with his players. “If you were a player and I was coaching you — if I knew what you were studying, we joked around, we had a good relationship — you’d listen. I could go, ‘Hey! Remember how we were talking about how Djokovic beat Nadal with this tactic? This guy is similar, he does this and this, and if you play this way and attack this side, I think he won’t like it and it suits your strengths.’ If I don’t know you, or it hasn’t been a good relationship, I can’t communicate as well on the fly and in an emotional situation.” MacDonald says he’s able to establish these sorts of relationships with his humor. “We keep it real, keep it funny,” he says. But he also notes that his way of coaching was not always this laid back. Toward the beginning of his coaching career, at LSU and Duke, he was a much more serious, straightforward instructor. “I was pretty intense,” he says as he looks back at his first few years as a head coach. “[I was] pretty obsessive. Kind of crazy. I think I overdid it.” In those early years, Macdonald was constantly seeking advice from distinguished coaches around him. Specifically, he cites Dan Path and Mike Krzyzewski as the two most significant sources in establishing his very own coaching philosophy. “I talked to them and they just go, ‘You know, if you do too much, that’s worse than doing too little,’” Macdonald says. “And I was more of a ‘more is better’ coach; three hours is better than two hours, etc. But they would teach me stuff like, ‘Why don’t you give them the day off?’ I would instantly think, ‘Oh, I can’t do that.’ But when I did, I saw that [my players] responded really well.” Letting go of that one aspect of the game, however, has forced Macdonald to seek control in other areas, most notably the irrational side of his sport.
Women’s tennis coach Geoff Macdonald offers words of encouragement to freshman Sydney Campbell before she steps onto the court during a recent match.
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Freshman pair swinging Commodores to victory
PHOTOS BY JOHN RUSSELL
by Jerome Boettcher
Antonia Scherer, left, and Simin Feng, right, make up a fantastic freshman duo for Vanderbilt this season. Scherer, a native of Germany, and Feng, who has lived in Florida since moving from China when she was nine, helped the Commodores win the Central District Invitational in February for the program’s first tournament title since 2007.
ntonia Scherer teed off. She watched her shot. Then she walked to her golf bag and dropped in her driver. She pulled out a textbook. The Vanderbilt freshman was capitalizing on the down time between shots to study for a big exam in astronomy. In the final round of the Central District Invitational in February. Vanderbilt was mounting a comeback on the last day, and Scherer was flipping through her book. Coach Greg Allen had never seen anything like it. “I started too late studying, so I played the last round and I had my book with me, during shots, while walking (the course),” Scherer says innocently. “It was nice. It is good because it distracts you. You don’t think about golf too much. I got through four of the six chapters, which made me very happy. And I played good at the same time.” Win-win. Seriously, Scherer shot a five-under-par 67 on the final round, including sinking a 33-footer on the 17th hole, to help the Commodores win their first tournament championship in seven years. That astronomy exam? She got a 93. “I’m a person who likes being distracted,” Scherer said. “I would like talking about other things than golf while playing golf. And there are people who need to concentrate on their golf game.” Scherer’s teammate and fellow freshman Simin Feng fits that description. An intense competitor who sees professional golf as a definite, not a maybe, Feng has pieced together two top-five finishes in the past month. Scherer and Feng have been a dynamic freshman duo for the Commodores, even though their approaches vary greatly. Together, Allen says this freshman tandem is his most talented since he coached Lorena Ochoa and Natalie Gulbis at Arizona in 2001. Both players started golf early. Scherer, a native of Aystetten, Germany, made the German national team when she was 14. By 2011, she was putting herself into contention as one of the best young international female golfers. That year she won both the German under-18 girls championship and the German amateur ladies
championship. She played in the Junior Solheim Cup, which pairs the top 12 girls from Europe against the top 12 from the United States. Her plan was to head to America in the fall of 2012 to play collegiate golf. But she hit a hiccup when a stray golf ball fractured her arm. Initially doctors thought she might not be able to play golf, but she battled back after being out of competition for four months. She took a year off, working internships and waiting tables. She bounced back in 2013, finishing fifth in the French International Lady Juniors Championship and the European Nations Cup in Spain. “She’s got a fire about her,” Allen said. “She is a fun lady to be around.” Feng, whose mother, uncle and grandfather played team handball in China, switched from tennis to golf at age nine. Less than a year later, her parents moved her from Beijing, China, to Florida to train at better facilities and learn from the game’s top instructors. She played on the American Junior Golf Association circuit for seven years, winning five tournaments and capturing the AJGA girls championship in 2012. She admits that she hated golf at first. Golf was the reason she was pulled away from her friends in grade school and moved halfway across the world. “Golf has been with me for so long” now, though, she said. “Naturally, it is what I want to do and what I need to do and what I put my time into. I really, really like it in that I really want to get a job out of that. I want to become a professional. Of course, the pressure would come, especially with parents paying for me to come all the way over to the United States. It is not that I have pressure from my parents. I know that I need to do well.” At the Central District Invitational, while Scherer was doing her part — and studying — Feng carried the torch with a three-day total of nineunder-par, 207 for top medalist honors. Feng won the tournament by one stroke, winning a scorecard playoff thanks to a birdie on the 18th hole. She maintained her hot streak three weeks later at the tough Darius Rucker Intercollegiate by tying for third. “She has an unbelievable work ethic,” Allen said. “She is very focused, very driven. She wants to play on the LPGA Tour and be the best out there. Last player that came through my program (when he was head coach at Arizona) that said that was Lorena Ochoa.” n
C O M M O D O R E N AT I O N
PHOTOS BY JOHN RUSSELL
Freshman outfielder Ro Coleman, who grew up in the South Side of Chicago, is greeted by volunteer assistant coach Drew Hedman after reaching base against LSU on March 14.
Pitcher Jared Miller, an Indiana native who speaks Spanish, is greeted by third baseman Xavier Turner (9) from Ohio and Murfreesboro native and first baseman Zander Wiel (far left).
Diversity spreads through Vanderbilt lineup by Jerome Boettcher
ost fall afternoons, 34 baseball players, four student managers, three assistant coaches, a strength coach, an athletic trainer, a director of operations and an equipment manager crowd into a classroom overlooking Hawkins Field. All eyes are on Head Coach Tim Corbin. Before Corbin leads his team onto the diamond for practice, they all spend an hour in that classroom, and they usually don’t talk about baseball. Instead, he exposes his diverse squad to world concepts that will be useful on the field. “We talk about something that is completely unrelated to baseball but somehow circles back to help their experience in baseball,” Corbin says. “That’s how I see the program. I don’t see it as a baseball program. I see it as a program that involves baseball, that involves education, that involves different ethnic backgrounds — but it is a way to teach.” The makeup of his team is itself a teaching tool. In his 12 years at the helm of the Commodores, Corbin says this bunch is his most diverse. “It is done purposefully to match the university and really to match our country,” he says. “It is a dynamic that goes hand in hand with educating kids — to get players from all over the country and focus on Tennessee, as well. It is really good for perspective. What I think it does is widen their focus.” Fourteen states are represented — from California to Massachusetts to Indiana to Oregon to Tennessee. Shortstop Vince Conde hails from Puerto Rico. First baseman Zander Wiel’s father was born in the Dutch colony of Curacao. Right fielder Rhett Wiseman, freshman catcher Karl Ellison and video operations managers Will Hinson and Sam Wild come from Jewish backgrounds. Left fielder Ro Coleman grew up in the south side of Chicago where gangs were prevalent. Third baseman Xavier Turner overcame troublesome early years in high school in Sandusky, Ohio. Nine players are from Tennessee, including six from within an hour of Nashville. Right-hander Carson Fulmer’s father was the assistant attorney general of Florida. All-American pitcher Tyler Beede, also known by the rapping moniker Young Beedah, is from the suburbs of Boston. He turned down
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$2.5 million to come to college before he goes on to pursue his dream of pitching in the big leagues. “It makes it fun,” Beede said. “We don’t click together, but at the same time we all mesh. We have different personalities, different backgrounds. It works out. It’s weird.” Corbin also is conscious of diversity when selecting his student managers. Perspective can be gained from watching Josh Ruchotzke, a quadruple amputee from Illinois, and Michael Portu, a Minnesota native who has had four heart surgeries, prep the field for practice. “Mike Portu’s situation started making me think of having that position with someone that has overcome adversity physically,” Corbin said. “If you overcome something physically, you’re overcoming it mentally, too. Josh is one of those. That position in itself is so servant-oriented, and our kids are so understanding of that. They give it the thanks it deserves. I can’t remember a program where those kids are so inclusive inside the inner circle. They’re a teammate. That’s the way we want to operate.” Growing up in Wolfeboro, N.H., Corbin says he was “pretty sheltered” in the summer resort town with a population of 6,000. But his parents broadened his horizons. He was urged to get a job at a young age and started bussing restaurant tables when he was in eighth grade. His real education, however, came from traveling around the state and into Boston with his father, Jack, who worked in the automotive parts business. In the big city and in warehouses, Corbin was exposed to different cultures and a blue-collar work ethic. He earned an appreciation for the working man and the value of a dollar — a concept he stresses to his team. “Dealing with adults was what prompted my thought process,” he said. “Communicating with adults at a young age — I think that is very important for kids. There is a comfort level and a communication level that exists when that happens with young kids.” Ro Coleman has been at ease ever since he stepped onto campus in August.
The 19-year-old admits he was shy at first. But his teammates have helped open him up. “As soon as I was here, I felt like I was home,” Coleman said. “I didn’t feel uncomfortable with any of the guys. … We all have the same common goal to achieve — winning a College World Series. But I think just how diverse this team is, the different backgrounds, to bring new experiences to people they never experienced before — I think that is what makes us more special than any other program.” Ro, who stands 5-foot-5, grew up in a “rough” environment. Gangs and violence were part of his neighborhood in Chicago. His father, Roynal, who played minor league baseball, was incarcerated for three years, starting when Ro was in eighth grade. “It was very tough,” Ro said. “It was a time for me to grow up and mature. It motivated me more to do better. It helped me become the man I am today.” Determined to be a role model for his younger brother and the first in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree, Ro committed to Vanderbilt immediately when Corbin offered. “This is a dream school,” Ro said. Turner jumped on the opportunity, too. Coming from a similar environment as Coleman, Turner said he would never have imagined five years ago that he would end up at Vanderbilt. “Five years ago I didn’t have my head on straight,” he said. Surrounded by drugs and crime, Turner said he nearly made some bad decisions. But the turning point was “asking myself if I wanted to be in jail or if I wanted to go to college and play baseball that I love?” The 6-2, 220-pounder played on the same AAU team with Beede and used baseball as a way out of Sandusky. Turner eyed Vanderbilt for a long time. Corbin believes the success of previous African-American players in the program, such as Tony Kemp and David Price, has opened recruiting doors. But he also knows the university offers an “insurance policy” not found elsewhere in the SEC. “I think the overriding factor is that this is life-changing for them,” Corbin said. “It is an insurance policy for those kids. It is an opportunity to get the best possible education. And, ‘Wait a minute, I get to play baseball, too?’ If financially they can afford it, it is tough for them to pass up.” To Beede, the rewards he’d reap from living the college experience were
Third baseman Xavier Turner grew up in Sandusky, Ohio and said five years ago he wouldn’t have imagined him being at Vanderbilt because he “didn’t have my head on straight.”
priceless — literally. Even when the Toronto Blue Jays offered him $2.5 million to sign after drafting him in the first round in 2011, Beede stood firm. “It certainly has been one of the best decisions I’ve made, and I never regret it,” he said. “It is because I get to be around this group of guys that is diverse and opens you up to new things each day. I’m certainly glad I was put into this situation with these guys. I’m happier than ever. You can set aside all the baseball stuff — it has been the best decision I could ever make.” Beede has fit right in with the Commodore lineup. The hard-throwing right-hander has an affable personality. He’s been a recurring star in videos on the university’s website, asking fellow students if they had ever heard of Tyler Beede (most said the name sounded familiar) and if they would turn down $2.5 million to come to Vanderbilt (most said yes). He also has translated questions and answers for fellow starting pitcher Jared Miller, who is a Spanish minor from Indiana and one of three people on the team, along with Conde and strength coach and former Commodore David Macias, who can speak the language fluently. And he raps. Beede, aka Young Beedah, posted a track to YouTube called “Boston Strong.” The song, which he wrote, was played during the first Boston Red Sox game after the Boston Marathon bombings when Jarrod Saltalamacchia walked to the plate. But Beede has competition from within the Vanderbilt dugout. He says Wiel might be the best on the team. Infielder Tyler Campbell, from Portland, Ore., is “gifted.” Outfielder Johnny Norwood from New Jersey goes by the alias “Dice.” “I think I am the only one that has made a legit song,” Beede said, laughing. “We just have fun. We are a fun group of guys. I think music is one outlet we enjoy expressing our thoughts through.” Prayer is another. Before each game, spiritual leaders Brian Miller and Will Cooper, both Tennessee natives, lead a team prayer. The prayer session is not mandatory, and not all join in. But being respectful and knowledgeable of others’ beliefs is important to Corbin, who often brings Lance Brown of Who U With Ministries to speak to the team. “It just means you’re understanding of someone else’s faith and know parts of that faith can directly apply to yours,” Corbin said. “And certainly not being judgmental. We have kids down there that Shortstop Vince Conde went to high school in Florida but was born in Puerto Rico. He speaks Spanish to strength coach and former VU standout David Macias and pitcher Jared Miller, a Spanish minor. are tremendous kids. The faith part of it is they
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Coach Tim Corbin is in his 12th year at Vanderbilt. The New Hampshire native purposefully compiles a team every year that reflects the diversity of the university and the country. The 2014 team features players from 14 states from California to Massachusetts to Texas to Oregon from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.
may have faith in their own little element. When it comes to group faith they might not want to join in. But that’s OK. “Everyone understands it, and no one holds it against them.” Wiseman, a native of Mansfield, Mass., is half Jewish. He was raised to appreciate Judaism and Christianity, going to synagogue and church and celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas. Living near Boston, he said, in a liberal environment opened his mind. “When I came down here there were a lot of kids who had never met a Jewish kid before, which is so funny to me since in the Northeast there is a very high Jewish population,” Wiseman said. “It was different.” Sharing their stories and backgrounds often comes up in those classroom meetings or in the locker room or during fall getaway rafting trips to the Ocoee River. It’s not unusual to see the team hanging out at the baseball complex or around the McGugin Center for hours — even when there isn’t a game. “It is not a moment thing,” Athletic Director David Williams said. “Those kids leave, finish what they’re going to do here and then come back. There is that sort of lifetime connection. David (Price) comes back. Pedro (Alvarez) comes back. Mikey (Minor) comes back. They seem to have a glue together that Tim puts together.” Corbin says he’ll continue to “blend” all backgrounds, races and cultures when compiling his team. “That typically equals success if they buy into it,” he said. He promises next year’s team will be even more diverse than the 2014 squad. Besides, to Corbin and his crew, the only colors that matter are black and gold. “Once we get on the field, we’re all brothers,” Wiseman said. “You could be from Mars and it wouldn’t matter.” n
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C O M M O D O R E N AT I O N
After Tanzania success, service trips to become an annual staple
PHOTOS BY BRANDON BARCA
by Jerome Boettcher
Andrew Fix of the men’s cross country team receives a high-five after giving shoes to a child with Neighbors Without Borders. Fix and 20 Vanderbilt student-athletes traveled to Tanzania for a service trip to distribute shoes with Soles4Souls.
Alexis Mayhall, a junior on the swimming team, plays with a child in Tanzania after a stop at an orphanage. Mayhall was one of 21 student-athletes who distributed shoes with Soles4Souls.
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ing and laughing when they washed their feet and tightened the laces of their new shoes. Those who didn’t make the trip are eager to apply, and graduating seniors want to know if they would be eligible to go. Williams met with the student-athlete advisory committee in February, and they were adamant about wanting the athletics service trip to become a permanent, annual quest. “There is this concept of doing service because I want to put it on the resume or I want to do service because I want to help you,” Williams said. “Then there is the concept of doing service because that is what people do for each other. I would be surprised if any of (the student-athletes who went to Tanzania) put that on their resume. I would be surprised if any of them told anybody about it in an interview. “I think they saw it more as they learned something about themselves, and they learned something that is going to be part of their life.” n
n the window sill in David Williams’ office sits a bowl overflowing with small yellow, green and pink pieces of paper. Whenever Vanderbilt’s athletic director needs perspective or a reminder of “those moments when you want to realize what you’re doing makes sense,” he sifts through those papers and smiles. He reads memories and testimonies about the life-changing trip to Tanzania that 21 Vanderbilt student-athletes (from all sports) made last year to deliver shoes with Soles4Souls to those in need. “At the end of the day, I’m not quite sure who benefited the most,” Williams said. “Whether it was the kids in those villages in Tanzania or it was our 20 kids. It was just something that really, really changed their life.” The 10-day voyage to Tanzania in Africa was Vanderbilt athletics’ first international service trip where athletic competition wasn’t a part of the itinerary. It won’t be the last. Williams plans to send another group of 20 student-athletes to Africa, this time Morocco. The 10-day service trip will take place this summer and is being organized out of the university’s international office. “I just thought taking them as a group and doing a service project helps them understand a number of things,” Williams said. “And one of them is even with all of the hard work and stuff you go through (in daily life) you’re one of the fortunate few. The only way the world gets better is those that have, do.” The university sent a group of selected students to Morocco this winter. The students painted a hospital, taught English to local children and participated in service opportunities with the National Council on Human Rights and Amnesty International of Rabat. They also attended lectures and workshops in Rabat, the capital city of Morocco, on gender dynamics, civil society and volunteerism and religion and politics in Morocco. Williams said the student-athletes will follow a similar itinerary. And, as was the case for Tanzania, students will have to apply to participate, write an essay on why they want to go and provide letters of recommendation. The feedback from Tanzania has been overwhelmingly positive. They still see the images of the poverty-stricken children at an orphanage smil-
Liz Saffold, left, of the women’s bowling team and Megan Yohe, a senior on the cross country and track teams, play with a child at a Tanzanian orphanage after distributing shoes with Soles4Souls.
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Seeing Double: Trentzsches are latest lacrosse twin trend by Jerome Boettcher
Sydney Trentzsch and her twin sister, Shelby, won three state championships at Winters Mill High School in Maryland, including one with their older sister, Amalie, who is a senior on the lacrosse team at Maryland.
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helby and Sydney Trentzsch share more than the occasional set of clothes. They also share the same parents, height, hair color and birthday. They’ve been known to roam the lacrosse field together, too. “We have never been apart,” Sydney said. “It is so much fun to play with her. I like competing with her, but I also really like to work with each other and make each other better.” The twin sisters from Westminster, Md., have brought their unique sibling friendship to Vanderbilt. The freshman pair offers depth in the midfield for coach Cathy Swezey, who personally understands twin chemistry. Swezey is a twin; her fraternal brother, Mike, lives in Nashville. Swezey, in her 17th year at Vanderbilt, has recruited twins before. The Connors sisters— Kacie and Kelly—were defenders from 2009 to 2012. In both situations, Swezey said one half of the twinset was interested in playing at Vanderbilt, and the other decided to tag along and visit. Then both couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play together—and for the Commodores. “I know what a twin means to somebody,” Swezey said. “It is your other half—literally. It is very hard to describe to other people. You’re as bonded to that person as you could be to anyone. We believe in the twin chemistry. I understand the desire for twins to be with their twins.” For Shelby and Sydney, they’ve shared the lacrosse field since first grade— grade school, middle school, high school and their club team, Sky Walkers out of Baltimore. Aside from practice, the duo has never played on opposite sides. “I don’t like playing against her,” Shelby said. “It’s weird because it never happens.” What’s not weird is the duo’s chemistry on the field. Swezey admires their give-and-go combinations, their uncanny ability to locate one another and their toughness. She also knows they won’t hold back, and they challenge each other when needed. “They are always working with each other,” said freshman MacKenzie Lange, who has a twin brother and is the younger sister of Taylor Lange, who played for the Commodores, 2009-12. “They have the same style. They’re very scrappy, and you can always count on them for going after a ground ball and really picking it up. The chemistry is awesome.”
Twin sisters Shelby and Sydney Trentzsch are freshmen on the women’s lacrosse team. The 5-foot-1 midfielders have played on the same team since first grade and are the second set of twins to play for Vanderbilt coach Cathy Swezey, who has a twin brother. Kacie and Kelly Connors played for the Commodores from 2009-12.
The twin tandem brings a winning mindset. In four years at Winters Mill, they played in four state championship games and helped the Falcons to three Maryland state championships. This included winning the 2010 crown with older sister Amalie, who is a senior midfielder at Maryland. The sisters reunited on the lacrosse field this past fall when the Terrapins and Commodores met for a scrimmage. Their parents, John and Denise, who is also a twin, made sure to split allegiances. They donned the colors black, gold, red and white. Even for teammates and coaches, it can be hard to tell Shelby and Sydney apart. “Since we are freshmen I feel like people are still trying to tell us apart,” Shelby said. “They’re still struggling.” Fellow freshman Abby Quirk confused the two for the longest. The sisters used to mess with their high school coach by switching jerseys during practice to see if she noticed. Swezey feels confident she can pick the right one. “It is easier if they’re standing right next to each other,” Swezey said. “If not, I guess. And 90 percent of the time I have it. They have subtle differences.” While they physically mirror each other, their personalities differ. Both agree Sydney is more laid back and easygoing. Shelby is more of a planner and welcomes more organization. “I think I’m a little more stressed, and she is more laid back and relaxed,” Shelby said. “I think it is good to have that. She can calm me down.” Said Sydney: “I think it is good. I’ll tell her, ‘Shelb, it doesn’t really matter. Go with it.’ Or she’ll be like, ‘Sydney, we need to get this done. I think it helps.” While the two are inseparable on the field, they decided not to room together this year. “We decided not to room together because we’re always with each other,” Sydney said. “Sometimes it can get annoying—little things.” “It is good to get a break from each other,” Shelby added. But the sisters wouldn’t trade the chance to be together. Both fell in love with Vanderbilt early and for the chance to share in the college experience. “That is one of the best parts—I always have someone,” Shelby said. “If I need to get something off my chest, I always have her to go to. I couldn’t imagine going somewhere else without her.” n
Marketing department creates ‘mini-farm system’ by Jerome Boettcher
PHOTOS BY STEVE GREEN
s Vanderbilt’s director of sales and marketing, Steve Walsh heads up a neverending pursuit to ensure the university’s athletic teams grow into a national brand. Nationally, he can find the Star V imprint all over college athletic departments. An integral part of Vanderbilt athletics, the marketing department has played a hand in helping student interns earn full-time jobs. Since 2009, at least 26 former Vanderbilt marketing interns have earned full-time jobs at universities or with professional sports teams across the country. “It has become a mini-farm system for us,” said Walsh, who took over the marketing department in 2009. “It is an industry where you have to have experience in order to get a job. If we can create real-world experiences for these folks, and it is not an internship where you’re just shuffling papers but you’re actually doing legitimate work that can live on your resume I think we’ve created that atmosphere. I think that has helped land those people some jobs.” Interns who cut their teeth with the Commodores are now working in marketing departments, such as Texas A&M, Arizona, Alabama, Wake Forest, Baylor and Ohio State. A few have moved on to the professional ranks to positions with the Tennessee Titans, Nashville Predators, Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars. Eric Bogle (senior ticket sales associate) and Kevin Fuhrer (assistant equipment manager for football) have full-time gigs at Vanderbilt. And many serve as assistant marketing directors, such as Trevor Spathelf at Wake Forest and Casey Doyle at Texas A&M. Spathelf was hired by Bradley Keen, who was an assistant marketing director at VU for two years before becoming Wake Forest’s director of marketing last year. Doyle, in her first year at A&M after a season at Connecticut, has been called a future superstar by Walsh and has been lauded by A&M officials for her ingenuity and work ethic. Both contributed in the growth of the marketing department. Keen and Allison Bradley, who is in her fourth year as an assistant marketing director, established an extensive internship program in 2011. Seeking more consistency and accountability from the interns, they reached out to Vanderbilt students and graduate students from the sports management programs at Belmont and Middle Tennessee State. They appointed chief executive interns, Doyle and Spathelf, and made it their responsibility to oversee the student workers. Doyle handled dayto-day scheduling and compiled a policy and procedures manual for the interns to abide by. Spathelf was in charge of operations, which ranged from heading up the setup of Vandyville on game days to handling the music and video board. “The good thing about Steve is he just sat back and watched,” Keen said. “He didn’t micro-manage. He didn’t step in and say, ‘Hey, I think you got too many. This isn’t the right person, this isn’t the right fit.’ He let us spread our wings, so to speak, and let us take ownership in the program, which trickled down to the student workers.” Walsh includes student workers in the marketing department’s weekly staff meetings. He believes it is important for interns to take on “true responsibility,” feel invested in what they are doing and to know the department’s revenue and attendance goals. “Steve and his people over there do a magnificent job and get very, very little public recognition for it,” athletic director David Williams said. “That is part of it. This is a business where the talent is the kids and coaches. And the rest of us are like stagehands. A play is not successful without good stagehands.” n
ABOVE: Director of sales and marketing Steve Walsh (far left) talks to athletic director David Williams and women’s basketball coach Melanie Balcomb before Senior Night. LEFT (From left to right): Community partnerships manager Aimee Graugnard, assistant director of marketing Allison Bradley and Walsh consult during a women’s basketball game.
Marketing pipeline A look at where former Vanderbilt interns are now. Kelsey Bacon................................... University of Arizona Trevor Spathelf............................... Wake Forest Tricia Adamczyk............................. University of Pittsburgh Banks Shepherd............................. Baylor Casey Doyle..................................... Texas A&M James Guth...................................... Wake Forest Gloria Caples................................... Middle Tennessee State University Kyle Smith........................................ Cal State Bakersfield Marcus Mercer................................ Ohio State Mallory Ham.................................... Alliance Sports Marketing Stevee Fisher................................... University of Alabama Anthony Dudley............................ Nashville Sports Council Toks Sokoya..................................... Tennessee Titans Ali Summer...................................... Tennessee Titans Eric Bogle.......................................... Vanderbilt Kevin Fuhrer.................................... Vanderbilt Elise Broussard............................... Lamar University Natalie Bobuk................................. Anaheim Ducks Luke Bolanos................................... Ohio Valley Conference Adam Burke..................................... Nashville Sports Council Tim House........................................ University of Pennsylvania Matt Hamman................................ Nashville Predators Kelley Cash....................................... Legacy Consulting Kelly Jones....................................... Dallas Stars Eric Trimborn.................................. UNC-Greensboro Danielle Carratini........................... Stanford
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Coach’s Handbook: Assistant cross country and track coach Rhonda Riley Rhonda Riley is in her seventh season with the cross country and track programs. She is an assistant coach for both teams, coaching the distance runners in track and serving as the recruiting coordinator for cross country. The native of Portland, Ore., also coached at Oregon State and Arizona State. When she is not Skyping or visiting her nieces, Addison, 5, and Paige, 3, she is feeding the staff at the McGugin Center with her delicious desserts. So you’re a big baker? It’s my Sunday thing. No matter how busy I am, no matter how much I recruit—if I have a recruit in town—how much I travel, I will not miss my Sunday baking. Is it always cookies?
Where did this love of baking come from? How long have you baked every Sunday? It has been a couple years now. Sunday has always been a day—I don’t want to even say a day off because we really don’t have days off. I don’t know. There is something I enjoy; it’s just relaxing for me. It is my outlet outside of running and my job. I knew I would have two hours to create something. Instead of keeping it in the house I would bring it (to the McGugin Center) or to the athletic training room or to whoever. It was just nice because other people can enjoy it. How many batches do you make? I would say two dozen cookies. It just depends. My roommate (athletic trainer Kerry Wilbar) is always the tester, so it is a rough job. She has lived with me for seven years, and it has to be Kerry-approved. She has to always approve it, and I usually make them for the athletic training room, as well. They always get their own batch. I know they’re really good when they’re gone by Tuesday. If they last until Thursday they are not as good. I just know. Tuesday and Wednesday usually there will be none… I tend to feed them breakfast—(head coach) Steve (Keith) and (assistant coach) Clark (Humphreys), especially. With coffee, it’s perfect. What’s your specialty? I have a batch of cookies that I actually created the recipe, and I have not found one person that doesn’t like them. No joke. There is a variety of them. They’re good. Some of them will be German chocolate, red velvet. Basically two cookies and then in the middle there is frosting. So it can switch up. For Valentine’s Day I did red velvet. Those go really fast. You’ve completed six marathons. Do you still run competitively? That was when I was younger. Ever since I’ve really gotten into coaching, I’ve hung up those shoes. I run every day still and work out, but that is more of an outlet for myself. It is weird because there are times where I turn my brain off and don’t really think. But when I’m running there are
Cookies, bars, whatever I create. I don’t follow recipes. I follow a little bit but somehow I seem to add my own flavor.
Coach Rhonda Riley is in her seventh season with the cross country and track programs. The Portland, Ore., nativehas also built a reputation as a tremendous baker.
times where that is actually where I do my best work. I’m thinking about the team or logistics. That’s where a lot can come to me. Was it a harder transition to coaching since you didn’t run in college? Yes. It was. It has been a big learning curve, probably more so than some others who have experienced that. I feel like I have had great mentors (Oregon State coach Kelly Sullivan, Arizona State cross country coach Louie Quintana), great people along the way to help me. It is not necessarily what you do in college that defines you as a coach. I feel like I bring other things to the table that are involved in coaching. Connecting with the team on a personal level, is that what you want to bring as a coach? Yes. I think I can relate, especially some of the females. I try to create an environment where they are comfortable talking to me about whether it is running or outside of their running. That’s where as a coach we can adapt and really we are essentially for the athletes. We’re better coaches when we listen to them and really get to know them as people. What do you enjoy the most about coaching—the relationships? Yeah. I love recruiting. There are some coaches that love it or they hate it. That is one of the things I love the most about my job is finding the talent, developing the relationships with the kids, the (high school) coaches, the parents, getting to know them and seeing if they’re the right fit for whatever program I’m at. So I enjoy seeing them from high school seniors to graduating from Vanderbilt. The transformation that they go through, you are with them for those four years and see them grow. n
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THE VU From Here For more than 50 years, usher Franklin Hood has made sure Vanderbilt fans and media feel welcome at football and basketball games. He greeted members of the press with a smile and asked, ‘Which floor, friend?’ as he controlled the elevator leading to the football press box. At basketball games, he assisted fans who stopped by the ticket office. “I enjoyed it so much I just didn’t want to stop,” he said. Hood, 88, took a brief reprieve this year, but he plans to be back working for Vanderbilt guest services at football games this fall. A Nashville native, he first started working Vanderbilt games with his brother, Paul, half a century ago. In an old boiler room, he distributed the programs to young boys who would sell them at games. His responsibilities changed over the years. He worked the north elevator at Vanderbilt Stadium, engaging in friendly conversation with Vanderbilt regulars and media from the opposing team. At Memorial Gym on the day of games, he gladly helped fans who came by the will-call window to pick up their tickets. “I enjoyed my co-workers and enjoyed the people I would see at the games,” he said. “I know one thing—we’re winning more games these days, and that’s nice. I have seen friends I have worked with over the years. I missed that this fall. I’ll be back in September.” Athletic director David Williams will be glad to have him back. Like many jobs, even duties in a college athletics department can sometimes fall into a daily grind. Williams believes two things help pull people out of the minutiae — walking around the beautiful campus and interacting with the wonderful people at VU. “People who are always happy,” Williams said. Williams often bumped into Hood at football and basketball games. Each time he encountered the same friendly smile and greeting from Hood regardless of the day, the weather or the outcome of the game. “If he has a bad day or a bad time, I’ve never seen it,” Williams said. “He is always upbeat. Fortunately, we haven’t been down by lots of points but even when we were down it is always just... you’re going to get a shot in the arm from being around him. There are people that there is a sunbeam around them, and that sort of gets into you.” Hood, who lives in Green Hills, worked as an underwriter for Life and Casualty and American General insurance companies for more than 40 years. A graduate of Peabody College, his allegiances always stood with the black and gold. And those who crossed paths with Hood at Vanderbilt games were always certain to receive a warm embrace.
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“I grew up a Vanderbilt fan. You always want to pull for the home team,” he said. “Several of my grandchildren are UT fans. We discuss that back and forth. I can’t persuade them, and they can’t persuade me to go over to the other side.” We Want Your Ticket Stories The ticket office has long been a place to hear some of the best examples of the love affair between Vanderbilt fans and their seats for Vanderbilt games. Whether you met your spouse in the student section, shared popcorn with your grandfather from the very top row of the endzone in Section L or truly believe that row 25 in your section was made for you and 24 friends, we want to hear your point of VU (pronounced “view”) of Commodore Football. In 150 words or less, send in your stories to ticket.office@ vanderbilt.edu. We will select some of our favorites to share with other Commodore fans. If your “VU From Here” story is selected, we will give you two tickets to a home game this season, in the hope that you will pay them forward to attract new fans to Vanderbilt Stadium. n
It’s My Turn By Rod Williamson
et’s talk about the SEC Network. Hold on, don’t turn the page. This will affect all of us. Football season is months away, but it’s not too early to ask the question: will you have the SEC Network when it launches August 14? Your action, or inaction, could affect the answer to that question. ESPN, in conjunction with the Southeastern Conference, has been negotiating with cable companies and satellite providers throughout the Southeast and across the country, working to get the SEC Network integrated into their basic packages. It should not be assumed that adding this network—or any other channel—is an automatic yes for any given cable company. Why should you care? Starting in August, this 24-hour SEC Network is going to begin airing more than 1,000 live events for 2014-15. This programming includes 45 football games (including our opening game with Temple on Aug. 28 with others to follow), 100 men’s basketball games, 75 baseball games, 60 women’s basketball games and various other sporting events. If you don’t have the SEC Network, you will not see these games. They will not be carried on any of the ESPN family of stations or on CBS or other networks. Either you watch on SEC Network or you don’t watch at all. This becomes important to the passionate sports fan.
What the ESPN and conference officials are asking…is to go to GetSECNetwork.com and “make your voice heard.” The first game televised on the network will be the South CarolinaTexas A&M game, with our Temple game as the second part of the doubleheader. Many of the league’s biggest games will be on the SEC Network, so don’t assume the only games being carried will be low-key, non-conference contests. Those of you who have access to the Big Ten Network have a pretty good idea how our network will work and how it pops up on your cable menu. Some fans mistakenly think this is pay-per-view, and that’s not the case. The SEC Network is akin to the History Channel or HGTV, not some heavyweight fight that you order the day of the event. What the ESPN and conference officials are asking of every one of us is to go to GetSECNetwork.com and “make your voice heard. ” This is not paying for anything. Going to this site merely allows you to type in your ZIP code and check on the status of your current cable provider’s intention to carry the network or to start lobbying your provider to please carry it. Decisions and deals require time to complete so waiting until it’s closer to kickoff won’t be helpful. To assist our partners, please get to that site as soon as possible (one trip per person!) and even ask friends who will want to watch Southeastern Conference events to do the same. It is a new era. We can easily recall the years when there was one “Game of the Week,” period. If that game was two teams you didn’t care about, tough. Nowadays we can watch our favorites, but only if your cable provider picks up the SEC Network. Please do your part to make that happen. n
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ris Yee is a sophomore on the men’s tennis team who was named to the All-SEC Freshman Team last year. In his free time, the film studies major from Las Vegas enjoys editing homemade films, making new creations for YouTube and impressing his teammates with his dance moves. Commodore Nation: What do you want to do after you graduate? Kris Yee: After I graduate, at least with film studies, the first thing I want to look into is getting better at editing and digital effects. I’ve been editing since I was 15 after my friend showed me, and we made like one YouTube video. He showed me how to edit, and I learned the rest by myself by watching YouTube videos and how to edit well.
time, there is also a lot of creativity with it. The more suspense and the better you are at creating suspense and anticipation, the better your horror film is. It is really easy to scare someone. You just pop out and go, “Ah!” And they are going to freak out. But, if you can not make them know when they’re going to get scared, then I feel like it is a better horror film. CN: Any particular genre you want to go in? Yee: I’m a big fan of comedy. I feel like comedy is really hard to edit. If you give too much visual information without the right audible information in the film, it could go horrible. So anything that would be challenging. Anything that is written well, I like editing.
CN: Have you made your own movies?
CN: You dance as well. What type of dancing?
Yee: I did edit a small, 12-minute film. It was a horror. I have done some small individual projects. I did one piece that was inspired by Slender Man. It’s not super popular, but if you’re on the internet, you can’t not find it. It is this tall, scary, white-faced guy that sneaks up behind you. You never see him, but he is always behind you. So I try to do something like that on the campus. I had a friend wear a white beanie, and we pulled it down over her face. In the very last scene, she pops out and screams and you get scared. I think the best part of it was faking out people a million times until it actually happened.
Yee: I guess you would call it hip-hop. I’m not really sure. I used to watch “America’s Best Dance Group” all the time. I got super into it, so I would watch the video and teach myself.
CN: Have you always been into horror movies?
Yee: It used to not be. I remember a time where my sister used to make fun of me for dancing. I think I was actually pretty bad. Repeated mirror practice made it better. n
Yee: I saw one “Saw” film and it freaked me out so much that I didn’t think I would want to do stuff like that. It is a little easy, but, at the same
Apr i l 2 0 1 4
CN: Do your teammates tease you? Yee: No, actually. If they’ll play a song some of the guys will stare at me and see if I’ll start dancing. Sometimes I’ll hear a song, and I’ll twitch a little bit to it like I’m wanting to dance and they’ll stop and stare. CN: Is it just natural for you?
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The April 2014 issue of Commodore Nation, Vanderbilt athletics' official monthly publication.