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November 2013

GLOBAL ’DORES ALSO INSIDE: Service first for Jasmine Lister Record-setting basketball coaches Speedy recovery

Vanderbilt attracts world’s elite student-athletes


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CONTENTS

JOHN RUSSELL

P.9 Service first Senior guard Jasmine Lister puts others first on and off the court.

P.12

P.17

Globe trotters

Coach’s Handbook

The Commodores’ recruiting exploits aren’t limited to just the United States with 12 countries and seven sports represented.

Assistant football coach Herb Hand talks cooking, Twitter and family.

International bowler Junior Team USA member Natalie Goodman has dual citizenship.

P.19 A new comfort zone Rod Odom has developed into a senior leader thanks to leaving home early.

vucommodores.com

VU Medical Center’s unique procedure put Fitz Lassing back on the field fast.

Running Andersons

Coaching dominance

P.15

Surgically repaired

P.22

P.11 Balcomb, Stallings rewriting VU record books.

P.21

P.2

Father and daughter bond over running.

Compliance Corner

P.24

P.3

My game

National Commodore Club

Junior golfer Hunter Stewart

P.7 Inside McGugin

P.23 It’s my turn Rod Williamson’s monthly column

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

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COMPLIANCE

CORNER

Q: A:

Administrative Chancellor: Nicholas S. Zeppos

Super Star is a student-athlete at Vanderbilt. He has asked to tweet out his love for a local establishment in exchange for a free meal. Is this permissible? No. According to NCAA Bylaw 12.5.2.1, a student-athlete shall not be eligible if: (a) Accepts any compensation (i.e. money or any other tangible good) for or permits the use of his or her name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind; or  (b) Receives compensation for endorsing a commercial product or service through the individual’s use of such product or service. Follow Vanderbilt Compliance @VandyCompliance Like Vanderbilt Compliance facebook.com/VandyCompliance

Compliance questions? Please contact:

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Candice Lee Director of Compliance 615/322-7992 candice.lee@vanderbilt.edu

George Midgett Compliance Coordinator 615/322-2083 george.d.midgett@vanderbilt.edu

John Peach Compliance Coordinator 615/343-1060 john.w.peach@vanderbilt.edu

Andrew Turner Recruiting/Compliance Coordinator 615/322-4543 andrew.turner@vanderbilt.edu

NOVEMBER 2013

Director of Athletics: David Williams II Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs: Beth Fortune

Vanderbilt University Student Athletics’ Mission Statement We prepare student-athletes to become leaders and champions in life by placing the highest values on integrity, character, sportsmanship and victory. Vanderbilt University is an equal-opportunity, affirmative-action university. ON THE COVER: (L-R) Men’s tennis player Rhys Johnson, women’s golfer Irina Gabasa and women’s tennis player Marie Casares. Images by Joe Howell, Steve Green, VU Photography. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to National Commodore Club, 2601 Jess Neely Drive, Nashville, TN 37212. SUBSCRIPTION: To subscribe, contact Jerome Boettcher by e-mail at commodorenation@vanderbilt.edu ADVERTISEMENT: To advertise with Commodore Nation, please contact Vanderbilt IMG Sports & Entertainment Properties. Jeff Miller, general manager 615/322-4468; jeff.miller@imgworld.com

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GET GAME IN THE

JOIN THE NCC GRIDIRON CLUB The NCC GridIron Club gives Commodore fans the opportunity to play

a pivotal role in continuing to build the future of Vanderbilt Football. With a restricted gift to the NCC GridIron Club, you can gain up-close access to the Vanderbilt Football program and are eligible to receive benefits.* NCC GridIron Club benefits include a Vanderbilt Football Dri-fit T-shirt, a meal with Coach Franklin, and more. Join today, and get in the game!

Black $150

Gold $500

Dore $1,000

Star V $2,500

Anchor $10,000+

*NCC GridIron Club benefits vary based on membership level.

GET IN THE GAME

CALL: (615) 322-4114

CLICK: ncc@vanderbilt.edu

VISIT: NationalCommodoreClub.com


We have had great crowds at our NCC tailgates this season! Thank you for coming and supporting the ’Dores. See some of the fun we caught.

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-eat and drink, meet fellow Commodore fans and watch other games on television. To reserve your spot, visit NationalCommodoreClub.com. We look forward to seeing you in black and gold. Anchor Down!


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NCC tailgates in November November 16

Kentucky

R.S.V.P. by Nov. 14 November 30

Wake Forest

R.S.V.P. by Nov. 27

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Tailgates open approximately three (3) hours before every Vanderbilt home game. Space is limited. R.S.V.P. for tailgates at NationalCommodoreClub.com. For more tailgate information, call Kendal Duncan in the NCC office at (615) 343-4067.

40 Commodore Tailgate Tour heads to Knoxville The 2013 Commodore Tailgate Tour has dropped anchor throughout the Southeastern Conference and beyond this football season. The final stop is Knoxville, Tenn., on Nov. 23. The National Commodore Club and the Vanderbilt Alumni Association are hosting a pregame tailgate at Calhoun’s on the River in Knoxville, and you are invited for $20 per person and $10 for children ages 6-12. Walk-ups are welcome. Let’s fill Knoxville with black and gold. We hope to see you there!

Vanderbilt vs. Tennessee

Tailgate two hours before kickoff at Calhoun’s on the River in Knoxville.


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NOVEMBER 2013

Nashville 3201 B Powell Ave (615) 385-3054

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Clarksville 1369 Ashland City Rd (931) 647-0276


By The Numbers

Inside McGugin

Notes from the athletic department

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l Two former Vanderbilt standouts and fan favorites are back on campus. Head baseball coach Tim Corbin recently hired David Macias, who played at Vanderbilt from 2005-08, as the team’s strength coach. The former center fielder contributed to the 2007 team that won a school-record 54 games and finished his career

Straight birdies by VU alum Brandt Snedeker during the opening round to contribute to a first-day score of 63 in September at the BMW Championship. It was the longest string of birdies by any golfer on the PGA Tour this year. Kevin C. Cox

he Star V was well represented in Major League ballparks this season. Seven former Vanderbilt standouts saw MLB action: pitchers Nick Christiani (Cincinnati Reds), Sonny Gray (Oakland A’s), Mike Minor (Atlanta Braves) and David Price (Tampa Bay Rays); first baseman Pedro Alvarez (Pittsburgh Pirates); infielder Ryan Flaherty (Baltimore Orioles); and outfielder Mike Baxter (New York Mets). Alvarez, Christiani, Gray, Minor and Price all helped their teams reach the playoffs. Gray and Christiani both made their big-league debuts. Gray, a firstround pick in 2011, cracked the starting rotation and went 4-3 with a 2.90 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 59 innings in the regular season. Christiani didn’t allow a hit or run in three innings of relief over two games.

Mike Minor

in the top 10 in hits and runs scored. Macias played and worked in the front office for the Chicago Cubs organization. Men’s basketball coach announced former big man Julian Terrell (2003-06) as the program’s director of video operations. Terrell, a Nashville native, played professionally overseas for eight years. l Former Vanderbilt All-American Marina Alex (2008-12) earned her LPGA Tour card for the 2014 season. The two-time Southeastern Conference Player of the Year placed in the top 10 five times and finished fifth on the money list for the Symetra Tour to punch her LPGA ticket and is exempt for all 2014 tournaments. n

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Vanderbilt grads working for their alma mater as either head coach (cross country/track Steve Keith), assistant coach (three), director of operations (three) or strength coach (two).

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Combined victories at Vanderbilt for coaches Melanie Balcomb and Kevin Stallings. With 159 victories, Balcomb is the women basketball program’s alltime wins leader. Stallings has 277, only one behind Roy Skinner for most in the men’s basketball program.

Calendar

November events Nov. 1

Nov. 23

SEC Cross Country Championships Both squads venture to Gainesville, Fla., for the the Southeastern Conference championship. The women’s team, led by SEC Freshman of the Year Hannah Jumper, was picked to finish third by the league coaches after placing third at the meet last year. The program is two years removed from its first SEC title.

Football at Tennessee Vanderbilt’s longest running rivalry continues with a trip to Knoxville. The Commodores romped to a 41-18 win last November for their largest margin of victory over the Vols in 58 years. A second straight win would secure VU’s first winning streak in the series since 1926.

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Nov. 12 Men’s basketball tips off Eight letterwinners and three starters return as the Commodores begin against Georgia State at Memorial Gymnasium. With 277 wins in 14 years at Vanderbilt, coach Kevin Stallings needs just one win to tie and two to pass the late Roy Skinner as the school’s all-time wins leader.

Nov. 29-30 Thanksgiving Tournament After a one-year hiatus, Vanderbilt women basketball’s annual holiday tradition continues. The Commodores put a perfect 26-0 record on the line when they host the Thanksgiving Tournament at Memorial Gymnasium. Vanderbilt has won all 13 tournament championships (last year the team played in Puerto Rico). The field also includes Elon, Mercer and Wisconsin.

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Senior point guard doles out assists on and off the court by Jerome Boettcher

BOB STOWELL

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ormer volunteers and interns often return and visit the Magdalene House, a residential program for women recovering from addiction, prostitution and trafficking. Most just don’t evoke the response Jasmine Lister does. “They see Jasmine come back, and it is almost like little kids when their parents show up and their eyes light up,” Magdalene assistant program director Keri Seay said. “That is how they respond to her—that is not always typical. They get real excited about seeing her again.” While many of her Vanderbilt classmates left Nashville for summer vacation, Lister juggled preparing for her senior season on the basketball court and a two-month internship at the Magdalene House. With a major in women and gender studies, Lister wanted to attain hands-on experience and connect personally with the 22 women. “I got to know a lot of them on a different level,” she said. “It’s a different world. I got to hear a lot of their stories and what they were like. It really surprised me how close a lot of things that go on in Nashville are. The stories…what they’ve been through and how happy they are. They are able to see a way out.” Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest who is a chaplain at St. Augustine’s on Vanderbilt’s campus, started the Magdalene House in 1997. For two years, residents are offered housing, food, medical and dental needs, therapy, education and job training at no charge and without assistance from government funding. They also have a chance to work at Thistle Farms, also founded by Stevens, and create natural bath and body products. Profits directly benefit the women who make and sell them. The women range in age from 20 to 50 and some have been sexually abused, used drugs or alcohol since they were 13 or spent time in prison. According to its website, 72 percent of Magdalene residents are sober within 2 ½ years of starting the program. “It was a humbling experience—most definitely,” she said. “The staff there, they let me

Senior point guard Jasmine Lister has started all 98 games of her career. WIth 1,192 points, she could finish in the top 10 all-time scoring at Vanderbilt if she scores more than 400 points for the third straight season.

sit in on their staff meetings. They took each individual case and were like, ‘All right, so-so is going through this this week so what should we do to help her?’ They really individually care about every single woman. “It was definitely rewarding.” In addition to helping with filing and paperwork in the office, Lister observed during staff meetings and life skills group meetings. Seay said Lister learned about the women’s past and the obstacles they had to overcome. More than anything, she was there to listen and provide support. She also spearheaded an effort to encourage more women to participate in a sand volleyball tournament with Narcotics Anonymous. “Her personality and her demeanor was really inviting and warm for the women,” Seay said. “To them, they found her to be a breath of fresh air for them and very inspiring. She was extremely encouraging and motivational.” This shouldn’t surprise those who have watched Lister in a Vanderbilt uniform the past three years.

“They found her to be a breath of fresh air for them and very inspiring. She was extremely encouraging and motivational.” –Keri Seay, Magdalene House

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The 21-year-old from Corona, Calif., has started in all 98 games of her Commodore career. In May, she was targeted as one of the better players in the country, receiving an invite to the USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Team trials. From a spunky little freshman to a seasoned veteran, the 5-foot-4 point guard has evolved into a natural leader. Not to mention a top scorer. With 1,192 career points, she is tied for 23rd on Vanderbilt’s all-time scoring charts. But if she eclipses 400 points for the third straight season she’ll land in the top 10. The two-time All-SEC selection also has garnered a reputation as a top distributor. With bounce passes through traffic, no-look dishes on the run and a selfless attitude, she has compiled 447 assists—seventh most in school history. Realistically she could finish in the top three, but Dee Davis’ school record of 730 appears safe. “Jasmine has just over-achieved, superceded any expectations we had,” coach Melanie Balcomb said. “She has developed a work ethic that stands out. Therefore, she is a leader. She is very driven, very self-motivated. She wants to learn about the game. She spent a lot of time early in her career especially watching film and learning the game. Then she comes a coach on the floor and an extension of the coaching staff.”

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Lister credits her drive and selfless attitude to the teachings of her mom, Happi, and father, Deland, a former youth pastor. Instead of resting on their laurels, Happi has reminded her daughters nothing is guaranteed. “My mom has always taught me to be humble no matter where I’m at, no matter what I do,” Jasmine said. “Stay humble because it can be taken away from you like that. You can say all these things about yourself but, ‘OK, you have to prove it.’ Once you do prove it, you stay humble because there is always room for improvement. I try to keep that level-headedness. “It is what I have been taught all my life.” Right there with her on the basketball court—and off of it—has been her identical twin sister, Cinnamon. The two were inseparable, playing together all the way through their senior years at Santiago High School. Then college pulled the backcourt pair apart. Jasmine headed east to Nashville, and Cinnamon went to Boise State.

She has since moved closer to home, transferring to Cal State Northridge. The sisters talk every day, and Jasmine admits she misses her twin. “At first it was weird—I’m away from my twin,” she said. “But, then at the same time, we’re gaining our own identity. Before, it was like Jasmine and Cinnamon, Jasmine and Cinnamon. Now I’m Jasmine and she’s Cinnamon, but we’re still twins. She’s my best friend.” After she graduates in May, Lister hopes to pursue a dream she always talked about with Cinnamon—playing in the WNBA. While some see her stature as a hindrance, Lister draws inspiration from former North Carolina point guard Ivory Latta. The 5-6 point guard is in her seventh year in the WNBA. “I know a lot of people are like, ‘I don’t know if I’ll ever play again,’” Lister said. “No, that’s my goal. I want to keep playing as far as basketball will take me.” If that doesn’t pan out, she will look into

possibilities overseas. And once her playing career is over, she wants to stay on the sideline as a college coach. For now, she aims to end her senior season in grand fashion. Her sights are set on a clean sweep of the SEC regular-season and tournament championships and a deeper run into the NCAA Tournament (the Commodores haven’t advanced out of the second round since 2009). In fact, Lister and her teammates want to make the Final Four. They wouldn’t have to travel far, as the 2014 Women’s Final Four will be in Nashville at Bridgestone Arena. “My past three years, we haven’t really done anything great as a team,” she said. “To be a part of that, to get to a Final Four, that would just be an accomplishment. I would feel I had an impact on our school’s legacy since we do have a history of winning. I want to add to that, as well.” n

2013-14 Women’s Basketball Schedule Nov. 8 Nov. 11 Nov. 14 Nov. 17 Nov. 21 Nov. 24 Nov. 29-30 Dec. 3 Dec. 15 Dec. 18 Dec. 21 Dec. 30 Jan. 2 Jan. 5 Jan. 9 Jan. 12 Jan. 16 Jan. 19 Jan. 26 Jan. 30 Feb. 2 Feb. 10 Feb. 13 Feb. 16 Feb. 20 Feb. 23 Feb. 27 March 2 March 5-9

Appalachian State Western Kentucky Delaware State Marquette at Duke Dayton Thanksgiving Tourn. ETSU at Hartford at James Madison UNC Asheville at UAB Georgia at South Carolina at Auburn Tennessee at Ole Miss LSU South Carolina at Missouri Texas A&M at Tennessee Auburn at Mississippi State at Arkansas Alabama Florida at Kentucky SEC Tournament

Memorial Gymnasium Memorial Gymnasium Memorial Gymnasium Memorial Gymnasium Durham, N.C. Memorial Gymnasium Memorial Gymnasium Memorial Gymnasium Hartford, Conn. Harrisonburg, Va. Memorial Gymnasium Birmingham, Ala. Memorial Gymnasium Columbia, S.C. Auburn, Ala. Memorial Gymnasium Oxford, Miss. Memorial Gymnasium Memorial Gymnasium Columbia, Mo. Memorial Gymnasium Knoxville, Tenn. Memorial Gymnasium Starkville, Miss. Fayetteville, Ark. Memorial Gymnasium Memorial Gymnasium Lexington, Ky. Duluth, Ga. .

Steve green

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Joe Howell

Basketball coaches Kevin Stallings and Melanie Balcomb have collected 536 wins in 25 combined seasons at Vanderbilt.

Record setters: Stallings, Balcomb to stand alone in SEC by Jerome Boettcher

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or Melanie Balcomb, the wins and years go hand in hand. With 259 wins, no women’s basketball coach has won more games at Vanderbilt than Balcomb, who begins her 12th season. She broke Jim Foster’s mark at the end of last season. Men’s coach Kevin Stallings also is about to take his place in Vanderbilt history. Entering his 15th season with the Commodores, he has won 277 games. He needs two wins to surpass the late Roy Skinner as the all-time leader in school history. It is a mark that has stood since Skinner left in 1976. When Stallings leaps Skinner, he and Balcomb will be in elite company as the only current men’s and women’s coaching pair in the Southeastern Conference to be their school’s all-time wins leaders. Balcomb says it is no coincidence; they also are the league’s second-longest tenured coaches. “I think that says a lot for our commitment to Vanderbilt and Vanderbilt’s commitment to us,” Balcomb said. “In today’s age there is not a lot of loyalty. Really it is based on winning and what you’ve done lately. It is so competitive. I think that we both have continued to be successful at a very high level. Consistency and maintaining is a lot harder than having one great season or one great team.” Both have definitely put their fair share of great teams on the court. All 11 years, Balcomb’s teams have won at least 20 games and reached the NCAA Tournament. They’ve also made the Sweet 16 twice and won three SEC Tournament championships. Under Stallings, the Commodores have posted seven 20-win seasons, reached six NCAA

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Vanderbilt basketball coaches all-time wins Men’s

Women’s

Roy Skinner 278

Melanie Balcomb 259

Kevin Stallings 277

Jim Foster 256

Bob Polk 207

Phil Lee 207

Tournaments, made the Sweet 16 twice and won the program’s first SEC Tournament championship in 61 years. “I know winning always enhances the experience,” Stallings said. “So the pressure I feel to win is that I want these guys to look back on their four years and say it was four of the greatest years of their life. Putting them in positions to be successful is a primary criteria of that.” Both Stallings and Balcomb were fortunate enough to be tutored by coaches who put them in the best positions. Stallings played high school basketball for one of the most respected coaches in Illinois, the late Virgil Fletcher. At Purdue, he learned tough love from Gene Keady. He also was an assistant at Kansas under current North Carolina coach Roy Williams. Balcomb was born into a basketball household. Her father, Alan, coached high school boys basketball for more than 30 years in New Jersey. He also spent four years on the staff of Princeton under Pete Carril and passed down a half-court philosophy.

But when Balcomb took her first Division I head coaching job at Xavier in 1995, she leaned heavily on the advice of a coaching peer. Skip Prosser was the men’s basketball coach at Xavier for six years while Balcomb was in Cincinnati. She soaked up his insight and remained friends with him when he left to coach at Wake Forest and up until his sudden death in 2007. “I was extremely blessed. I miss him,” Balcomb said. “He was a teacher of the game, a coach, a mentor. Just a really good person for me to work side by side with when I was young and had my first head coaching job. I took a lot of his advice.” Stressing excellence in the classroom also has been a staple for both Vanderbilt coaches. Balcomb points out with pride that she has graduated 100 percent of her four-year players. No fifth year is necessary. Hillary Hager and Christina Wirth have both been named SEC Scholar Athletes of the Year. All 44 seniors Stallings has coached at Vanderbilt have earned or are currently working on earning their degree. Plus, the Commodores have earned Academic All-SEC selections 41 times under Stallings. “I know Coach Stallings and I have really good records off the court,” Balcomb said. “A lot of that in today’s world is not just what is happening on the court but what is going on off the court. I think we’ve been a really good match for Vanderbilt with our high standards with integrity, our high standards in the classroom, our high standards socially. “Vanderbilt stands for more than just wins and losses. I think that’s what Kevin and I value.” n

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Commodore athletes span six continents, 12 countries by Jerome Boettcher

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andshakes no longer baffle Marie Casares, even if she doesn’t quite grasp the purpose of the gesture. She prefers a kiss on the cheek when meeting a new person or greeting an old friend. But the junior from Ecuador on Vanderbilt’s women’s tennis team is willing to embrace these foreign customs that come with living in America. “Sometimes they shake hands from really far away,” Casares said. “I’ve always felt like I had something they didn’t like or they didn’t want to get close to me. I always had that idea of, ‘OK I’m not a strange creature. Give me a hug and that will be fine.’ “I feel like the same rules or agreements of respect and etiquette follow in all the countries.

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That is what I realized when I told my mom there is not a lot of Latin American people (at Vanderbilt). But they are still people.” Casares is not alone in adjusting to life in the United States. Of Vanderbilt’s 340 student athletes, 13 hail from 12 countries outside of the U.S. They span six continents and include Australia, Austria, Cameroon, Canada, China, Columbia, Ecuador, Germany, Greece, Nigeria, the Philippines and Scotland. Of the school’s 15 intercollegiate sports, seven boast international representation. The women’s golf and women’s tennis teams reflect the diverse cultural makeup of their sports with three foreign student-athletes on each roster. Men’s basketball, men’s cross country, football, men’s golf, women’s soccer and men’s tennis

(two) have also recruited worldly talent. “College athletics in America is probably ahead of the pack when it comes to playing sports,” said Australian Rhys Johnson of the men’s tennis team. “So it seemed like a pretty smart idea to come to Vanderbilt, with such an academic school, as well as play sports at a really high level. It seemed like a no-brainer for me to try and come.” Before arriving at Vanderbilt in 2007, women’s golf coach Greg Allen never went overseas to recruit. Now, more than a quarter of his 11-player team is international, with Simin Feng (China), Antonia Scherer (Germany) and Irina Gabasa (Philippines). All three made their respective national teams before coming to Vanderbilt.

PHOTOS BY STEVE GREEN AND JOHN RUSSELL

Nikoloas Gkotsis from Greece, Marie Casares from Ecuador and Rhys Johnson of Australia reflect Vanderbilt’s international student-athlete mix. Vanderbilt studentathletes span six continents and hail from Australia, Austria, Cameroon , Canada, China, Columbia, Ecuador, Germany, Greece, Nigeria, the Philippines and Scotland.


Thirty-three American college coaches, including Allen, were in Sweden in July to watch the European Girls’ Team Championship. The previous year, assistant coach Holly Clark discovered Scherer at the same event in Germany. “I’d like to have American players on our team but we want to have the best players possible,” Allen said. “I feel like the international teams have it going on right now with the federations and the amount of support they’re getting from their governments.” As they venture to a new country, Vanderbilt’s international student-athletes juggle new freedoms, shore up their English, battle homesickness and try to keep up with the demanding expectations in the classroom. Men’s tennis coach Ian Duvenhage knows how they feel. He took a huge leap more than 30 years ago when he left his hometown of Kuruman, South Africa for a tennis scholarship at the University of Miami. “Honestly it is hard for me to articulate what the adjustment was like because I think I was a little shell shocked,” Duvenhage says now. Though he grew up speaking his native language of Afrikaans, he also wrote, read and spoke English. But when he arrived in the U.S., he struggled to understand American accents. He picks up on warning signs with his athletes, noting if they’re struggling in one area (athletics, academics, socially) they’re probably having difficulty in another. He consults with assistant coach Jamie Hunt, academic counselors and strength and conditioning coaches to keep tabs. “Sometimes they are homesick and they don’t think it is particularly macho to say I’m homesick,” he said. “But it is something that all of us have struggled with on occasion. So you just have to get it out in the open and talk about it. Usually whatever the issue is if you can talk about it that really makes things better.” Free international text messaging and apps have made it easier to get a hold of family and friends back home. But getting back there is less frequent, with most international studentathletes heading home for Christmas and summer breaks. Casares has found a confidant in Gabasa, her roommate, and one to speak Spanish with in Vince Conde, a junior on the baseball team who was born in Puerto Rico. Being on a team pushes Gabasa out of her comfort zone, though she hasn’t struggled to jump time zones. With just three golf courses on her native island of Cebu, Gabasa grew up traveling for competition. Her passport is filled with stamps

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from China, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia. This summer, she joined 19 other Vanderbilt student-athletes on a eye-opening service trip to Tanzania where they distributed shoes in conjunction with Soles4Souls. “I was shy. When I got here I was forced to meet new people and learn the culture here,” she said. “People here are not very shy. That has helped me open up a lot.” Johnson has found a friend in fellow Aussie Astra Sharma, a freshman on the women’s tennis team. The two actually went to the same high school in Perth, the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia. “Homesickness comes but when you have lots of people to talk to you can work through it,” Johnson, a sophomore, said. “It’s not like you just want to pack up your bags and leave. You can get through it. Adjusting to the lifestyle basically just takes time.” Nikolaos Gkotsis continues to adapt to his first taste of America. The freshman from Athens, Greece arrived in the country for the first time in August. Despite being a three-time national champion in the 800- and 1,500-meter runs, academic exploits, not athletic endeavors, led the 19-year-old to Vanderbilt, where cross country is a non-scholarship sport and there is not a men’s track and field program. His father, who died in 2004, attended Columbia University and always preached to his children the value of an American education (Gkotsis’ sister is a senior at Yale). Gkotsis searched schools on the Internet and, with help from college counselors, found a perfect match in Vanderbilt. “The level of education is so much higher than most countries in the world,” he said. “My father always told me how better things are here. … I was just hoping for the best. Until now it hasn’t let me down, so I’m pretty happy.”

One thing all international students can bond over is their longing for home-cooked meals. Rice is second to only corn as the most widely produced grain in the world, and Casares and Gabasa are used to it accompanying every meal. They do their best to replicate that part of their lifestyle as Gabasa has a rice cooker in her dorm room. Still, it’s not quite the same. “Sometimes it can get a little dry, and that’s when I miss my home-cooked rice,” Casares said. “It is the one thing you always have. Not the gourmet dishes or anything. A little everyday thing.” Gkostsis misses pasticcio, a baked pasta similar in appearance to lasagna. Johnson hasn’t found his guilty pleasure either. Meat pies, beef or lamb cooked inside a pastry, haven’t made their way across the ocean— or at least in the kitchens of Nashville—from Australia, New Zealand and parts of Europe. “I don’t understand why America doesn’t have them. I miss those so much,” he said. “The fact that I can’t just go and buy one is by far one of the most depressing things about being here. Someone should definitely get on it in America. It is a genius idea and they’re just so good.” Of course, when they’re not competing, their plates are full with classes. Casares is studying civil engineering. Johnson is an economics major. Gabasa created a major— international economics, which could tie in with her parents’ business of exporting furniture. With such majors, balancing being a studentathlete is challenging for anybody, let alone someone living in a foreign country. Luckily, they’re not alone. “You just have to trust yourself and trust what you’ve researched,” Johnson said. “You have to make a family while you’re over here.” n

International student-athletes Caleb Azubike

Football

Nigeria

Pen Binet

Men’s Tennis

Canada

Marie Casares

Women’s Tennis

Ecuador

Simin Feng

Women’s Golf

China

Irina Gabasa

Women’s Golf

Philippines

Nikolaos Gkotsis

Cross Country

Greece

Lina Granados

Women’s Soccer

Columbia

Rhys Johnson

Men’s Tennis

Australia

Antonia Scherer

Women’s Golf

Germany

Matthias Schwab

Men’s Golf

Austria

Georgina Sellyn

Women’s Tennis

Scotland

Astra Sharma

Women’s Tennis

Australia

James Siakam

Men’s Basketball

Cameroon

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

13


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NOVEMBER 2013


Junior bowler embraces dual citizenship by Jerome Boettcher

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An app on her phone provides free international text messaging. But she admits her German is rusty. Three years in high school and two semesters at Vanderbilt have helped her pick up words, but she remains puzzled with language sentence structure. “[Her cousins] text me in German and it takes me a while to respond because I have to think about what is being said,” she said. “We talk on a regular basis, share pictures and videos…My mom will talk on the phone with her mom and sometimes I’m like, ‘Oh, I heard that.’ I pick up on little things.” Her passion for bowling has also led to international endeavors for the left-handed junior, who helped lead the Commodores to the national championship match in April. The summer before her sophomore year at Vanderbilt in 2012, Natalie and the rest of the women’s bowling team ventured overseas to bowl the Italian National Team. During the 10-day trip the team also visited Paris, Rome and Florence. “I did not know I was signing up for that,” Natalie said with a smile. “Paris, Rome and Florence—what a cool experience that was. Vandy brought me that side of the international aspect, which I thought was really cool and fun.” That same summer Natalie qualified for Junior Team USA. In July, she was one of four U.S. bowlers to compete in the Pan American Bowling Confederation (PABCON) Youth Championships in Ponce, Puerto Rico and bowled against representatives of Columbia, Mexico, Curaçao and the Virgin Islands. She once again qualified for the national team this summer after finishing third at the North Pointe Junior Gold Tournament in Michigan. She aims to make the final lineup for the World Youth Championships next year in Hong Kong. “If I got there I have intentions of meeting and introducing myself to the German team,” she said. “It would just be cool to see and get to know them while we are there." Talk about split allegiances. n

STEVE GREEN

atalie Goodman always had her sights on bowling for Junior Team USA. She wanted to follow in the footsteps of former Vanderbilt teammate Jessica Earnest and lead her country to gold as Earnest did at the 2012 World Youth Championships in Thailand. But before she qualified for the team last year, Goodman pondered another option—just for a moment. What about qualifying for the German national team? For Goodman it was a legitimate possibility as she holds dual nationality in Germany and the U.S. “It is kind of a unique thing that not a lot of people get,” she said. “The cool thing is I have the opportunity. If I wanted to I could go bowl for the Germany team or the USA team. Then my dreams came true with the USA team. So I’m riding that train right now.” Twenty years ago Goodman earned dual citizenship when she was born in Prüm, Germany, in the hometown of her mother, Lydia. Her father, Bill, originally from Michigan and now retired from the Air Force, met Lydia while stationed in Prüm—a rural town in western Germany that sits within two hours of Belgium and Luxembourg. Eleven months after Natalie was born, Bill was relocated to South Carolina and then moved to O’Fallon, Ill., in 2001. “People are always fascinated when I tell them I’m from Germany and my whole family is over there and my mom is full German,” Natalie said. “They think it is the coolest thing…It is a different change-of-pace lifestyle than what I live here. If I could go back there every year I would. I love it there.” Lydia’s family—her mother, two brothers, sister and nieces and nephews—remain in Germany. Natalie has visited Germany at least five times but her last visit came in 2007. When her dad was still in the Air Force, Natalie recalls sleeping on the floor of spacious military cargo planes during the long flight. “The real noisy planes,” she remembers before laughing. “There are seats on the side. But it was nice. We just laid out, put a blanket down.” While she longs to be closer to her family—her dad’s side is spread out in Michigan, Florida, Texas and Washington—she credits technology for allowing her to stay in touch.

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

15


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NOVEMBER 2013

7/26/13 10:13 AM


Coach’s Handbook: Offensive line coach Herb Hand When Herb Hand isn’t mentoring Vanderbilt’s big men, he’s cooking with a big appetite— either sticking by the grill or impressing dinner guests with crab-stuffed filet mignon topped with a Bearnaise sauce and sautéed asparagus. The fourth-year football coach is also a staple on Twitter and shares the Hand household with his wife and three children.

John Russell

How do you like to spend your free time with your family?

Have you always been in love with cooking? I would consider myself a foodie. Maybe being an offensive line coach it comes with the territory. From a very young age, both my parents worked, so my mom, we had chores, all of the kids had chores. One day you had to set the table and the next day you had to do the dishes and the next day you had to take out the trash and the next day you had to help mom cook dinner. That was always my favorite chore because I hated doing dishes. So I made a deal with my wife. My wife is not culinarily inclined. So we made a deal that I would do the cooking and she would do the dishes. That’s worked for 18 years so far. It has been a pretty good deal. Favorite dish to prepare? That’s tough. I just love good food in general. If I was going to make something, lately what I’ve done, I really love a very well cooked steak. Not well as in temperature wise but a well-cooked steak. I like it medium rare; anything over that you start ruining it. There is a joke that says 80 percent of men really know how to work the grill and the other 20 percent lie about it. I love working on the grill. How often do you cook for your line? The NCAA allows us to provide an occasional meal. Sometimes we’ll go to Monell’s and do that—just kind of all you can eat. That’s actually a little easier on my wallet than actually going to the store and buying stuff. I like having the guys over to my house and hanging out with my family and spending time with my wife and kids. I’m the type of guy when I do cook a meal I like to watch people eat it. So I’ll sit there and go, ‘Hey, how was it? Was that good? Did you like it?’ You can see on their face when they really enjoy something. It just feeds my ego. Like, ‘Yeah, I made that.’ I do enjoy that aspect of it too.

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We love to travel. We love going to the beach. We’re beach people. We’ve been to the mountains one time and that was one too many. That’s not our deal. We like to be at sea level. Any time we get sand and sun, that’s our go-to. And I really do enjoy cooking with my kids, spending time in the kitchen with them, trying to pass on some knowledge and also the love of really good food and preparing something for somebody else. It is another way of serving other people also. When you make a great meal for somebody it is an opportunity to serve them and really do something nice for somebody. Any time I get a chance to be around my kids I love spending time with them. You seem to have a lot of fun on Twitter (@CoachHand) and are popular with nearly 6,000 followers. Have you always been technologically savvy? I’ve been on Twitter for almost five years. I always tell people I’m Twitter OG—“Original Gangster.” I like Twitter better than Facebook because it’s succinct. You have to keep your thoughts precise and concise. I like that aspect of it. What I’ve tried to do with that is build a personal brand as to who I am as well as represent Vanderbilt, represent Vanderbilt football, the Nashville community and coaches in general. The whole idea of social media is it feeds the narcissist in all of us. You can either use that in a positive way or use that in a negative way. I believe it was (Stanford coach) David Shaw who said that social media should be a commercial as to how great your life is. Nobody wants to hear the negatives. I want to present positive things and keep it that way. You’re the longest tenured coach at four years on the coaching staff. What does that say about the fit at Vanderbilt? It has been great. My wife and kids are incredibly happy here. We love Nashville. It is the best place we’ve ever lived and I’m not just saying that because Vanderbilt signs my paycheck. This is a great city and a great place to raise a family. When you get out of bed in the morning and you really love coming to work—to call it work is almost an insult because it is not really work. We’re blessed to be able to do this every day. It’s awesome. Who has a better life than me? I’ve got a beautiful wife. I’ve got three great kids. I’ve got one of the best jobs in the country working for an awesome head coach and I’ve got great kids to coach. n

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

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THE VU From Here Janet Grimes rarely recalls her father-in-law driving with a lead foot. But every now and then, especially on Saturdays, Walter “Junior” Grimes turned into speed racer.

SUBMIT TED BY JANET GRIMES

“The only time he ever went over the speed limit is when he was going to a Vanderbilt game,” Janet Grimes said. “He was always one of those slow drivers, but if he was going to a Vanderbilt game, you couldn’t keep up with him.” Junior’s obsession with Vanderbilt football started more than half a century ago. While living in Hickman County, he picked up Commodore games on a transistor radio. Through static he could hear the exploits of Bill Wade.

The Grimes family at the Liberty Bowl in 2011 (from left to right): Malloree, Walter “Junior,” Thomas and Janet.

“He would have to get real close to his little radio because he lived in the sticks in Hickman County,” Janet said. “He decided if he ever got to Nashville he was going to a ball game.”

“He wasn’t going to miss a game,” said Janet, whose own family has four tickets to every home game. “It took him forever to get there, but he sure did it.”

Shortly after he earned his first job at the Ford plant in Nashville, he stopped by the Vanderbilt ticket office and picked his spot—Section D. Five rows up. Forty-five yard line.

Of the six bowl games in Vanderbilt history, Junior has been to four beginning with the 1982 Hall of Fame Bowl. His son Thomas, Janet, and grandchildren were in tow in 2011 for the Liberty Bowl. Last December, a group of 12 joined him at LP Field for the Music City Bowl and a piece of history as Vanderbilt won nine games for the first time in 97 years.

Junior was a fixture at Vanderbilt games. Absences were few and far between. Every October, he’d alternate trips to the annual family reunion and Vanderbilt football games — if there was a scheduling conflict. In 2005, after he had both knees replaced, he showed up at the gates of Vanderbilt Stadium—with crutches.

“He was very excited about this year,” Janet said. “He had met a few players out at restaurants and was always very impressed with the quality of the players and that they made a difference in the city. He was all things Vanderbilt.” Even amidst the Commodores’ struggles, Junior remained a loyal fan. “We were at the UT game in 1994, losing 65 - 0 and I was ready to leave,” Jimmy Grimes recalls. “But Dad said ‘No, they are just kids and we need to stay and support them.’” In July, Junior died of an apparent heart attack in his sleep. Janet remembers him as a healthy 77-year-old who wasn’t battling an illness. Not long after his death, a package came in the mail. His 2013 season tickets were inside. Section D. Five rows up. Forty-five yard line. “We were so busy we had forgotten about that and then they showed up in the mail,” Janet said. “It was comforting, really. It was something he was excited about and we knew he had carried on as he always had.” 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 end zone in Section L or truly believe that row 25 in your section was made for you and 24 other 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

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NOVEMBER 2013


Time away from home offered early tuneup for Odom by Jerome Boettcher

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PHOTOS BY JOHN RUSSELL

od Odom has no qualms admitting he was once a homebody. He enjoyed staying in and hanging out with family at their home in Central Islip, N.Y. “I always spent my time at home,” he said. “I wasn’t big into going out.” Just before he turned 15, though, Odom was pushed outside of his comfort zone. He packed up for boarding school. Reluctant at first, Odom, the oldest of three, decided he couldn’t pass on the chance to further his educational and basketball opportunities. So he traveled nearly 250 miles north to Middlesex School in Concord, Mass. “It was definitely a big change for me,” said Odom, who also spent a year on Middlesex’s crew team. “The opportunity was so great I had to take it even though I wasn’t particularly excited about leaving home.” Looking back, Odom says his experience at Middlesex propelled him to his current situation—a confident senior leader for the Vanderbilt men’s basketball team. Homesickness, juggling a tougher workload in class and on the basketball court, balancing new freedoms—Odom greeted those challenges four years sooner than most. “It definitely helped me grow up a lot faster,” said Odom, an economics major. “I had some growing pains out there that I probably would have experienced (at Vanderbilt) if I hadn’t had that opportunity. It definitely helped me learn to communicate with people better and express

After averaging 10.4 points last year, senior Rod Odom enters this season as the team’s top returning scorer.

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myself better and really manage my time and be a more overall responsible person. It definitely helped me get some of the problems I would have faced here out of the way before I got here.” Since leaving for Middlesex in 2006, Odom hasn’t spent more than two months back home in Central Islip on Long Island. Thus, his family makes sure they get to him. Every other home game either his mom, dad or aunt is in attendance at Memorial Gymnasium. Plus, he has a cousin who lives in Nashville and doesn’t miss a game. His brother, Brandon, 17, and sister, Ariona, 15, also play basketball. Even with busy work schedules, Rod’s parents make sure they manage their time in order to support their children—all of them. “They have to rotate off of them to make sure somebody is at everybody’s game. I’m glad I’m included in that still,” he said. “It means a lot. It is not an easy trip—not a cheap trip. The fact they put that much effort in to come see me play means a lot. I try to give them something to watch, something to look forward to.” While his time back home is limited, his chances to travel the world have increased. The summer before his first year at Middlesex, he travelled with his aunt and cousin to Egypt. In August, he ventured out of the country once again. The entire men’s basketball team went on a 10-day, four-game trip to Greece and Italy. Odom said highlights of the excursion were staying overnight on a beach in Greece, seeing the Roman Coliseum and visiting Pompeii. “It was definitely once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Odom said. “Most of us would not have had that opportunity if it wasn’t for the university so we were real thankful for that. We just tried to experience as much as possible while also trying to get better.” Heading into his final college season, which begins Nov. 12 against Georgia State, he has played in all 103 games of his career. He enters as the team’s top returning scorer, averaging 10.4 points last year. One of two seniors, along with point guard Kyle Fuller, the 6-foot-9, 212-pound Odom will be relied upon to lead a squad with just nine scholarship players. He welcomes the leadership role; one he was thrust into last year after the Commodores lost their top six scorers from the year before.

Not to mention the 22-year-old can pull from his experiences over the past seven years while away from home. “I’ve always been a pretty outspoken guy,” Odom said. “Guys on the team know that. I feel like guys on the team respect me. I think that is why I was put into that (leadership) position. I just stepped into it. I’ve never had a problem with it. I’ve been in it before. Some guys shy away from it. But that’s not really outside of my comfort zone. I try to embrace it.” n

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

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EARN A GRADUATE DEGREE FROM VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY

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SUMMER 2013


Senior fullback back to blocking after kidney scare

JOHN RUSSELL

Thanks to a groundbreaking surgical procedure at VU Medical Center, Lassing quickly returned to action

Senior Fitz Lassing is an economics major with a 3.9 GPA and has been nominated for the National Football Foundation’s National Scholar-Athlete Awards.

by Jerome Boettcher

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unched over, Fitz Lassing couldn’t sit up straight without absorbing a tremendous amount of pain in his stomach. Something wasn’t right. He didn’t get sick. He never does. But here the Vanderbilt fullback was — vomiting and enduring stomach cramps for more than a month. “Once or twice I didn’t think anything about it,” he said. “But when it kept happening over and over, something is weird. Something is not adding up.” At the urging of his father, he consulted with athletic trainer Tom Bossung and headed over to the VU Medical Center. After a long night of tests last summer, doctors found Lassing was suffering from ureteropelvic junction obstruction (UPJ). The tube, or ureter, connecting his right kidney to his bladder had become backed up, preventing waste from being released. His kidney was blocked—for how long was uncertain—and working at only 25 percent. If buildup continued, in less than a year, Lassing could have lost all function in his right kidney. “It was more serious than what I was expecting,” Lassing said. “It sunk in when he was like, ‘You need surgery.’” Luckily for Lassing, he was in the hands of Dr. S. Duke Herrell, an associate professor of urology at Vanderbilt.

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Instead of cutting through the abdomen—a procedure that would have most likely sidelined Lassing for the entire 2012 season—Herrell used a micro laparoscopic technique he pioneered. He made two small incisions in the stomach and inserted long, three-millimeter instruments to repair the kidney. With the guidance of a small camera, he placed a stent, which stayed in for four weeks, in the ureter. Vanderbilt is one of only two medical centers in the world to perform the procedure. Lassing was held back from all activities for four weeks, lost 25 pounds and missed the first two weeks of preseason football camp. But six weeks after the procedure he was back on the football field and played in the season opener against South Carolina. Under the supervision of Herrell and with the help of athletic trainer Justin Wenzel, Lassing was back to 100 percent after three games. “It is incredible,” Lassing says a year later. “You have to think there are a handful of schools in the country where I would have had this opportunity. Anywhere else, that is a seasonending injury. Here, I hardly missed any time. It is just a testament to what they got going on at the hospital, how incredible it is that something like this that could have been so devastating turned out to be hardly anything.”

Entering his senior season, Lassing has made the most of his four years at Vanderbilt. On the football field, he is a multi-year starter with 11 career catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns. But the former Montgomery Bell Academy standout takes pride in his primary responsibility of blocking for his teammates. He called it an honor to block for Zac Stacy, who graduated last year as the program’s top rusher. In the classroom, the economics major holds a 3.9 GPA, will graduate in December, earned the squad’s highest GPA and academic average awards the last two years and has made the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll three times. In September, his academic achievements received attention once again as he was nominated for the National Football Foundation’s National Scholar-Athlete Awards. “It is awesome to represent this team,” he said. “It has a bunch of really smart guys on it. Being nominated is a huge honor. I think (being a scholar-athlete) is about balancing. You have a lot of demands placed on you here both academically and athletically. Balancing your time, balancing your commitment being able to work it all out it is kind of a testament to all the work all these guys put in, trying to be the best in both arenas.” n

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

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Father, daughter bond through running connection by Jerome Boettcher

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NOVEMBER 2013

SUBMIT TED BY LIZ ANDERSON

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he days for Steve Anderson to suit up in a cross country uniform are long gone. That hasn’t stopped him from logging the miles at Vanderbilt meets. When his daughter, senior Liz Anderson, treks up and down hilly courses, 53-year-old Steve isn’t far off. “If you want a workout watching the race, just follow my dad,” Liz said laughing. “He might as well run, to be honest. He’s everywhere. It is really nice to hear his voice. I’ve heard it since seventh grade.” That’s when Steve introduced Liz to cross country. But, according to Steve, the father-daughter running connection began when Liz was just a tot. When Liz was only two years old, she walked with her dad to a grocery store less than half-amile away from their home. On the way back, Liz told her dad she was too tired to walk home, especially on a hot Louisville day. So Steve suggested they run back. And little Liz obliged. “She went off on a little trot and didn’t slow down the whole way,” recalls Steve, who graduated from Vanderbilt in 1982. “She made it the whole way without any problems and didn’t complain. She finished with a smile on her face. I guess that is when it started. I didn’t expect her to go very far, and she ran the whole way.” Their running bond picked up steam a decade later. In 2004, Steve’s younger brother, Kyle, a 1989 graduate of Vanderbilt, died of complications from diabetes and Addison’s disease, a disorder caused when adrenal glands produce insufficient amounts of certain hormones. Around the same time, Steve received a cholesterol number that scared him. “I thought I would take better care of myself,” he said. “About eight or nine years ago I started running, and I ultimately wanted to cross some marathons off my bucket list. I figured I better get doing it.” With Steve training for marathons and Liz gearing up for cross country, the pair started a weekly ritual. Every Sunday, they would run together around Louisville, usually getting in eight miles to serve as a long run for Liz. At first, Steve pulled back the reins on his pace. Things changed as the runs mounted. “I was struggling to keep up,” he said. “I was actually getting faster the whole time but not

Steve and Liz Anderson began running together on Sundays when Liz was in high school. While Liz was helping Vanderbilt to its first SEC championship, Steve was scratching marathons off his bucket list.

nearly as quickly as she was getting faster.” “By the end, with the competitive nature in both of us, the last mile we’d drop 30 seconds and race to the finish,” Liz said. “He’s made it more than just a sport for me. It is kind of a lifestyle.” Steve’s investment goes beyond just running with his daughter. He also studies up on her opponents. He creates spreadsheets that include times of opponents, develops a race plan and lists optimal times and goals for Liz. “There were some races where he has already done the work and I’m just moving my legs,” she said. “Now he has taught me how to do it and I’ve developed an interest on my own… He has had an interest for the sport and that interest wiped off on me. He has definitely been the guide. That’s been something we’ve been able to bond over more than anything.” Liz isn’t the only college athlete in the family. Her twin brother, Knox, swims at Boston University. A proud Steve has admired what both of his oldest children have accomplished. Knox has been a team captain the last two years for the Terriers. Liz, who also runs indoor and outdoor track, has overcome several injuries and earned a scholarship after coming to Vanderbilt as a walk-on. Two years ago, she earned All-Southeastern Conference honors and helped lead the

Commodores to their first SEC cross country championship and a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Championship. “I’m proud of the commitment and what they’ve gotten,” he said. “I think it has really enriched both of their college lives. They’re learning a lot of lessons that a regular student wouldn’t. The bonds they’ve got with their coaches and teammates are some of the strongest ones they’ll have throughout their life.” While his kids have shown their athletic prowess in college, Steve has run four marathons — all since 2009. His most recent came in April in Boston despite battling plantar fasciitis in his foot. Fortunately, he had already finished the race and was in the shower at his son’s apartment at the time of the bombings. In addition to Boston, he has run the Chicago and New York marathons in under three hours. He posted a personal-best time of 2:53.23 in Chicago in 2011. “Somewhere in the 2:50s for a 50-year-old man is very good. I’d like to think I helped him,” Liz said with a smile. Liz and Knox both graduate in May, meaning weekends will open back up for Steve and his wife, Carol Ann. Both have enjoyed the proximity of watching their daughter run and even invite the whole cross country team over for a pasta party the night before the Greater Louisville Classic every year. “It is going to be sad when everything ends in the spring,” Steve said. “I think we’ll drive their siblings crazy.” Liz, a double major in psychology and communications, still has one year of eligibility in indoor and outdoor track. She is debating returning for a fifth year at Vanderbilt or heading elsewhere for graduate school. After interning in athletic communications this summer, she has also expressed interest in writing jobs in college athletics. While one chapter will end and another will begin, a bond formed 20 years ago with a jaunt down the block will carry on. “It is a shared passion,” Steve said. “There are not a lot of natural things for fathers and daughters to do together, but it is a great reference point and we’ve both learned a lot from it. I think it has helped both of us become better persons to the other.” “He is probably my biggest fan,” Liz said. “And I’m probably his, too.” n


It’s My Turn By Rod Williamson

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e were tinkering around one day, pretending to work, and took a peek at the past two decades of Vanderbilt athletic history. Eureka! We discovered unmistakable forward movement. We won’t attempt to include everything that occurred, but some neat things happened between 1994 and 2003. We won an SEC women’s soccer championship in 1994 and our men’s and women’s tennis teams became the school’s first programs to reach an NCAA final (the women in 2001 and the men the very next year). The women’s basketball team had been to the Final Four in 1993 and continued to be a nationally strong program. Women’s track produced NCAA hurdles champion Ryan Tolbert, and Brandt Snedeker was an AllAmerica golfer. Our storied men’s basketball program made the NIT Final Four in 1994 but also struggled through an uncharacteristic drought. Our gridiron success was modest, winning 28 games although Jamie Duncan was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 1997. Baseball hoped to qualify for the SEC Tournament, although hard work brought a lighted field in 1995 and Hawkins Field in 2002. A practice gymnasium and shiny new coaches’ offices spruced up historic Memorial Gymnasium. We were proud of our student-athletes’ cumulative grade point averages in the 2.8-2.9 range. It was a decade of aces and spaces; we were proud but muted. Fans wearing black and gold were in the minority; annual giving was flat. Fast forward to the past 10 years, a decade led by David Williams putting his unique resume as Vice Chancellor, General Counsel, Board Secretary and law professor to great use. This incomplete array of highlights is much longer: • 44 football victories heading into this season, with three of the school’s six bowl games in the past five years. • 2007 NCAA Bowling champion • 2012 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament champions • 2012 SEC Women’s Cross Country champions • 2011 College World Series • SEC Women’s Golf champions (2004) • Three nationally top-rated baseball recruiting classes • 2007 NCAA Baseball Player of the Year (David Price) • SEC Football Offensive Player of the Year (Jay Cutler) • Back-to-back NCAA Women’s Golf Top 10 finishes • 2007, 2011, 2013 SEC Baseball champions • 2011, 2013 NCAA bowling finalists • SEC Men’s Basketball Players of the Year (Derrick Byars, Shan Foster) • SEC Women’s Basketball Player of the Year (Chantelle Anderson) • 2013 SEC Baseball Player of the Year (Tony Kemp) • 2004 Lacrosse NCAA Final Four • Two-time SEC Women’s Golfer of the Year (Marina Alex) • Two-time NCAA Bowling Player of the Year (Josie Earnest) Academically we have now achieved seven straight 3.0 or better cumulative grade point averages, once thought unlikely. Fans proudly wear school colors and giving reached an all-time high in 2012-13. We established a Hall of Fame. Tremendous facilities benefitting all 340 student-athletes have been steadily added. We’re not close to being done yet, but we are starting to get the hang of this winning thing. Strong leadership and university investment have allowed us to hire and keep first-rate coaches, expand budgets, recruit the best. Our sights are on new horizons. Anchor Down! n

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

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My Game

Charlie Ewing

S

enior golfer Charlie Ewing is a three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll recipient who graduates next winter with a degree in cultures and corporations and helped lead the Commodores to a school-record three team tournament titles last year. When he is not on the links, the Dallas native is on the prowl hunting white-tailed deer in South Texas, black bear in Canada or Cape buffalo, greater kudu and Oryx on a safari in Africa. Commodore Nation: What is it about hunting you enjoy the most? Charlie Ewing: For some reason I’ve never really gotten into the high-tech rifles. Obviously, I shoot a bow and arrow that is pretty high-tech. But I just like that it is a pretty simple weapon. I like getting out there. It is so simple out there. There is nothing going on. It takes you back to instinct and how to be out there and interact with the animals and see if you can outsmart one. Most of the time they’re going to outsmart you because you’re out in their element. It’s just a really cool challenge. Nation: Highlight of the African safari in the summer of 2012 with your family? Ewing: I shot a cape buffalo, which was 1,600 or 1,700 pounds, and that was one of the most intense, high adrenaline hunts I’ve ever done in my life. They are notorious for being extremely aggressive animals. I was standing in a pretty wide open area, and it was 60 yards from me looking at me. I didn’t know if it was going to turn around the other way or turn and run at us. So it was a real high adrenaline hunt. That was one of the most memorable hunting experiences of my life. Nation: You prefer bow hunting?

Nation: And this will mark the 78th straight year your family has hunted white-tail deer in South Texas. How many generations does that span? Ewing: Great-grandfather on my dad’s side was the first one. Grandfather on my dad’s side is the one who really pushed for this to be a real good family tradition. My dad has done a great job of keeping it going and carrying on with it. I feel like my brother and I have absorbed the family tradition. I don’t see it slowing down. South Texas is a really special place to our family because 78 consecutive years. We don’t really have to hunt if we go down there to have a good time. It is just a special place for us to go. Nation: You see any similarities between hunting and golfing? Ewing: If you’re doing a spot and stalk where you spot an animal a long distance away and you make upwards of an hour and a half stalk to get close to this animal I think that can be comparable to golf. Golf you have to keep your focus even before your first tee shot all the way to where

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NOVEMBER 2013

Steve Green

Ewing: Absolutely. The thing about bow and arrow as opposed to a rifle, I feel like with a rifle, when the animal is there, all you have to do is get within 200-300 yards. It is a good way (hunting) to introduce to younger people. But I kind of feel the hunt is over once you see an animal. With a bow and arrow you’ve got to get them within 20-30 yards. Once they’re there, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is over. You still have to execute all the certain steps to make sure they have no idea you are there.

your ball touches the cup on the last hole. Any mistake along the way, it may cost you one shot, but that one shot can be the difference between the team winning and losing the tournament. On the hunting side, animals are so smart — you are out in their element. They’re more comfortable out there than you are. Any mistake can ruin the whole thing. Nation: Most memorable moment of your Vanderbilt golf career? Ewing: My first two years we struggled. We never had won a tournament then finally last year at the Mason Rudolph Invitational we pulled through, and we won our first tournament while I had been on the team. That was just a really cool moment. It was our home tournament. From a personal view, I was fortunate enough to be in the final group of the day. I walk up on the 18th green, and I can see the team waiting. I finish out, and they told me we had won. That was just a really special moment. n


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November 2013 Commodore Nation  

Vanderbilt's official athletic department publication - Commodore Nation.

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