SHOOTING FOR A
HIGHER GOAL 2009-10 BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS
table of contents 14
2 Compliance Corner 4 National Commodore Club 6 In My Words
7 Commodores Cubed
Baseball team travels to Asia
10 Marve Making his Mark Chris Marve is a playmaker on defense 13 It’s My Turn—Rod Williamson
Keeping it in Perspective
14 Expectations loom large
2009-10 men’s basketball preview
15 Eyeing Another Run in March
2009-10 women’s basketball preview
16 Loss of Mom Inspires Walker
Andre Walker returns after tragic loss
18 Putting the “D” in Defense
VU’s defense rises to elite status
20 Quick Hits A look at Vanderbilt’s sports teams 23 Coach Balances Baby & Work Ronnie Woodard juggling a lot this fall 24 The Month Ahead What to watch for
Letters Staff has Stability The continuity Vanderbilt’s football staff has is seemingly unheard of in college football today. It is a testament to how Bobby Johnson treats his assistants and the type of person he is to work for. Having a familiarity in the workplace is beneficial to any business, and I’m sure coaching is no different. I’m not a football coach, but if I was, Bobby would be at the top of my list of coaches I would like to work for. Bob, Washington, D.C.
Teams Find Common Bond Overseas As a student at Vanderbilt, I had the opportunity to travel to Europe one summer, and the cultural experience I received on that trip is something that has lasted me a lifetime. The experience gave me more appreciation for the world we live in and allowed me to grow as an individual. I’m sure individuals from the three teams that traveled overseas would have the same sentiment. The trips come with a pretty price, but I don’t think I could put a price tag on what I got out of my trip to Europe. I hope Vanderbilt will continue to encourage student-athletes and teams to travel overseas, because I know it is worth it. Rachael, Plano, Texas
New Television Contract Since leaving Nashville, the number of times I’ve been able to watch Vanderbilt on TV has been limited to national ESPN games. The new television contract with the SEC has made my life as a Vanderbilt fan much better. In years past, I’ve seen maybe one or two games on TV, but this year, I will have seen almost every game. Chris, Mesa, Ariz. To submit a letter, e-mail CN at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters should include the writer’s name and address and may be edited for clarity and space.
C O M M O D O R E N AT I O N
COR NER Q: A:
Bank Shot is a basketball prospective student-athlete. He completed 16 core courses, earned the minimum sliding scale score (i.e., GPA and test score) and graduated from his high school. However, Bank lives in a state that requires each student to pass an exit exam before being awarded a high school diploma. Does Bank need to pass this exam to meet NCAA initial eligibility requirements? Yes. NCAA Official Interpretation - High School Graduation Includes Academic and Nonacademic Requirements - states that in order for a prospective student-athlete to meet the high school graduation requirement for initial-eligibility purposes, the prospect must meet all graduation requirements, including academic and non-academic (e.g., state exit exams, community service, senior project) requirements, as defined for all students by the prospectâ€™s high school. [References: NCAA Bylaws 126.96.36.199.1 (core-curriculum time limitation) and 188.8.131.52.1.1 (exception -- one core course after high school graduation).]
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Daniel Dubois Steve Green Zac Hardy John Russell Todd Van Emst
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Andy Boggs John Erck Larry Leathers Thomas Samuel Chris Weinman Travis Young
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Vanderbilt Universityâ€™s Mission, Goals and Values Vanderbilt University is a center for scholarly research, informed and creative teaching, and service to the community and society at large. Vanderbilt will uphold the highest standards and be a leader in the quest for new knowledge through scholarship, dissemination of knowledge through teaching and outreach, and creative experimentation of ideas and concepts. In pursuit of these goals, Vanderbilt values most highly intellectual freedom that supports open inquiry; and equality, compassion and excellence in all endeavors. Vanderbilt University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action university. ON THE COVER: Jermaine Beal and A.J. Ogilvy PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: Jeremy Teaford PHOTO: John Russell POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to National Commodore Club, 2601 Jess Neely Drive, Nashville, TN 37212. SUBSCRIPTION: To subscribe to Commodore Nation, please contact the National Commodore Club at 615/322-4114. ADVERTISEMENT: To advertise with Commodore Nation, please contact Vanderbilt ISP Sports. Jeff Miller, General Manager 615/322-4468 firstname.lastname@example.org
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C O M M O D O R E C LU B
COR N E R
PHONE: 615/322-4114 • ONLINE: vanderbilt.edu/ncc OLE MISS GAME • OCT. 3
LSU GAME • SEPT. 12
OLE MISS GAME - OCT. 3
Executive Director of Athletics Development and the NCC, Christy Passmore (left), presented a commemorative football to longtime NCC fundraiser Lucy Jones and her husband, Doug. The Joneses have created a scholarship endowment for Vanderbilt student-athletes.
Generous givers to Vanderbilt athletics Jamie O’Rourke, Tate Rich, Billy Frist and Lloyd Griffin traveled to LSU with the team.
ARMY GAME • OCT. 10
Vice Chancellor Susie Stalcup, Vice Chancellor David Williams, NCC member Joe Barrett, Gen. David H. Petraeus, NCC member Harold Sutton, NCC’s Cal Cook, and Assoc. Vice Chancellor Patricia Marett.
Daniel Solomon with NCC members Dr. Chuck and Ginny Myer and Michael Solomon.
NCC members Dr. Wally and Patty Wood
NCC member Joe Conard, Jim and Ina Hitt and Fran Conrad
ARMY GAME â€˘ OCT. 10 More than 3500 NCC members, Vanderbilt alumni and fans travelled to West Point to see Vanderbilt play Army. The weekend included a tailgate, the Army Cadet Review, and a trip down the Hudson River to New York City after the game. Check out some of the great sights from the weekend.
C O M M O D O R E N AT I O N
In My Words
unning on a cross country team takes a lot of hard work, determination and most importantly it takes heart. No one understands the importance
of heart in cross country more than Vanderbilt junior Adrienne DiRaddo. Diagnosed with having a patent foramen ovale (PFO)—a hole in her heart—DiRaddo has taken her condition in stride and has become a stronger person from the experience. DiRaddo was born with the ailment, but it was only discovered recently. The hole in her heart has since been treated, but her heart must be monitored, which DiRaddo does with an implant that records her heart rate. Her ailment has not stopped her from competing in cross country, and she has been among Vanderbilt’s top runners this fall. A neuroscience major from The Woodlands, Texas, DiRaddo has no plans of letting her condition slow her down. On the improvement of the cross country team under Head Coach Steve Keith It is nice to learn from someone who has a lot of experience and has the knowledge of what it takes to make us a top team. We are getting better, and our talent level is getting better every year. It is nice to be seen as a threat in the SEC because it is a really competitive conference. On how her heart condition was discovered Senior year of high school I was running cross country in the fall, and all of a sudden I had an episode where I passed out. We couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me for a very long time. We figured out I had a PFO, which is basically a hole in my heart. I wasn’t getting the right amount of blood supply, so I had really bad stroke-like symptoms with migraines. I couldn’t run track as a senior, but I got it all patched up and I was ready to go and train for the summer. On how difficult the ailment was to overcome mentally It was difficult because you never really know when it is going to happen, and I’m going to all of a sudden get a bad migraine. It just makes you wonder if you should even be trying this. It is kind of like playing Russian roulette. It’s something I had to get through. There are sometimes where it is difficult to know if I’m tired because of my health or tired because of running. It is something I’ve grown from and have kind of carried on in other aspects of life. On having a setback freshman year: I ran fine freshman year at Vanderbilt and then I got sick in January of my freshman year. We couldn’t figure out what it was because I was having really intense migraines to the point that I couldn’t move. I got an implant that records my heart rate, like a pacemaker without the pacer, which I still have in right now, just to keep tabs and see if I am doing OK.
Runners are actually pretty good about knowing their bodies, so I can usually feel if I’m getting a migraine or if something is going on heart-related. Thankfully, I have a heart rate monitor. If I ever feel anything is going on, I just stop because it is not worth getting into it. n
On how being a runner helps her monitor her heart
top three finishes posted by women’s golfer Marina Alex in Vanderbilt’s final three fall tournaments.
To be a good chef
Sing — I’m terrible
Talent I’d most like to have
To be more athletic
My dream job
President of the United States
Perfect date night
One superpower I’d like to have
It’s who you’re with that decides what makes the date special
chris DeGEORGE Football
Being the Next Food Network Star
Hanging out at home
To be able to read minds
Working for an international company overseas
The amount of canned foods collected by all 12 SEC schools in the SEC “Together We CAN” Drive Sept. 18-27.
Cooking a dinner
Laser tag and sushi — weird, I know
Telepathy so I could read my teachers’ minds
The number of Vanderbilt’s women’s basketball games that will air on television during the regular season.
Baseball Team to Travel Overseas
The trip will provide the Commodores an opportunity to test themselves against top international talent, while also getting a cultural experience they will never forget. “The ability to tour and play Japan and Hong Kong with our kids will be a lifetime experience that they won’t forget,” Head Coach Tim Corbin said. “We are fortunate to have a person in Bill Kaye who is passionate enough about our program to provide this unique opportunity for Vanderbilt and our baseball program. Our administration, the coaches and players are tremendously grateful to Bill for his magnanimous act of generosity.” Commodore Nation will have a complete recap, including photos from the trip, in the January issue. n
The number of SEC men’s basketball teams, including Vanderbilt, that return all five starters from last year.
20.1% NEIL BRAKE
oining Vanderbilt’s men’s basketball, men’s golf and lacrosse teams, Vanderbilt’s baseball team will become the fourth Vanderbilt team to travel overseas in 2009 when the Commodores head to Japan and Hong Kong Nov. 21-29. During the trip, which was made possible through a generous gift by Vanderbilt alum Bill Kaye, Vanderbilt will play four games against top universities in Japan. During the team’s off days, they will tour historical and popular areas of Japan and conclude the trip with two days in Hong Kong. “This was an occasion to make a powerful statement that Vanderbilt is moving ahead and that the program is continuing to develop and continuing to offer expanded opportunities,” Kaye said. “This was a chance to combine the educational and cultural opportunities in seeing a part of the world that most of these kids probably would not have seen, as well as the opportunity to test their baseball skills against some of the best players in Japan.”
of Vanderbilt’s players who started against Western Carolina that were unable to start in at least one of Vanderbilt’s next five games due to injury.
of those who applied for admission into Vanderbilt’s class of 2013 were accepted—the lowest acceptance rate in school history.
Nashville’s rank among the top sports cities in the country according to Sporting News’ annual rankings announced on Oct. 6.
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C O M M O D O R E N AT I O N
Marve Making His Mark on Defense
sk any Vanderbilt player about what linebacker Chris Marve is like on the field and you will get the same descriptions: “intimidating, hard-hitting, ferocious, unblockable and relentless.” They are the types of words any linebacker would want to be described with, and no one fits the description better than Marve. Since arriving on campus, the redshirt sophomore has been the type of player upperclassmen would talk glowingly about amongst themselves. Never talking loudly enough to inflate his ego or show signs of intimidation, but having an understanding that when given the chance, Marve would be a difference maker on the field. The prototype for the linebacker position is a player who is fast, athletic, instinctive, strong, intelligent, intimidating and hits like a Mack truck. Marve fits the description like a glove, and has even added another category: ball hawk. In his time at Vanderbilt, Marve has developed a knack for forcing turnovers. In 2008, Marve led the SEC with four forced fumbles. No fumble was more important than the one he forced on the 1-yard line at Ole Miss, which preserved a Vanderbilt win. This season has been no different for Marve, who is again among the league leaders in forced fumbles. “The biggest thing is my mindset,” Marve said. “Defensively, I just feel like we have to make plays, and when I get the opportunity, I just try to make it. Luckily sometimes I make it.” In high school Marve didn’t have the same aptitude for creating turnovers. His ability to pick up the skill at a higher level speaks to how much he has continued to grow as a player. “I think he has probably added that to his game because it seems like he is able to force a turnover in not just your every down situation,” said Major Wright, who coached Marve at White Station High School in Memphis. “He finds a way to do it in some critical situations, as well, so in the back of his mind, he’s trying to come up with ways to help the team get the ball back.” Just as Marve has developed a knack for taking the football away, he also has created a reputation for being one of the hardest hitters in the league. The combination not only has ball carriers in the SEC focusing more intently on carrying the ball with two hands, but also has resulted in fewer players willing to work the middle of the field where Marve roams. “As a defensive player, you want to be known as a hard hitter and a tenacious player,” Marve said. “You want to have that type of reputation to instill fear into people that go against you. You want to intimidate.” The intimidation Marve brings to opponents is something his teammates have known since he arrived at Vanderbilt.
Chris Marve is following in the footsteps of great Commodore linebackers before him.
“When you run across the middle, you have to have your eyes on him because he will hit you,” senior wide receiver Alex Washington said. “He’s very intimidating, very aggressive and likes to hit. I don’t go heads up with him on the field, but when I run across the middle doing a drag route, he’ll push me five or six yards, so I can tell how big of a hitter he is.” Marve makes his presence known even more on the field by the way he relentlessly pursues the ball. His ability to get to the ball carrier is something even his fellow linebackers hear offensive players talk about. “The biggest thing people talk about is that no one likes to block him because he is extremely hard to block,” junior linebacker John Stokes said. “If he’s coming in to steal the football, he’s coming through. It doesn’t matter if you are a 300-pound offensive line-
Vanderbilt had a strong core of linebackers in the past, and Johnson, along with linebackers coach Warren Belin, has kept Vanderbilt’s reputation for producing good linebackers intact. Since Johnson and Belin arrived, the two have developed many successful linebackers who earned All-SEC accolades and three players (Hunter Hillenmeyer, Jonathan Goff and Marcus Buggs) who currently play in the NFL. “Coach Warren Belin does a great job with the linebackers. They rarely have alignment mistakes, and that gives them a chance to be really successful,” Johnson said. “It goes all the way back to Hunter Hillenmeyer in Warren Belin’s first year, who went from ordinary linebacker to the leading tackler in the conference. Then it was Moses Osemwegie, Jonathan Goff and Marcus Buggs. You can
...a player who is fast, athletic, instinctive, strong, intelligent, intimidating and hits like a Mack truck. man. Nobody wants to be matched up with him on the block.” Along with teammates Patrick Benoist, Brent Trice and Stokes, Marve is continuing Vanderbilt’s tradition of developing outstanding linebackers. Many could argue Vanderbilt has produced better players at linebacker than any other position. Before Bobby Johnson’s tenure began in 2002, Vanderbilt had a slew of linebacker greats, including Chris Gaines, Shelton Quarles, Jamie Duncan, Jamie Winborn and Matt Stewart.
look at them and see how successful they are. The system helps a lot, but we think those guys are tailor-made for the system.” Vanderbilt has produced many outstanding players at linebacker, and many believe Marve has a chance to join those names. Listed at 6’0”, 228 pounds, Marve plays much bigger than his physical size. Marve didn’t begin playing the sport until he was 13, but once in high school at White Station, it didn’t take long for the coaching staff to notice something about Marve. He wasn’t
With a redshirt season under his belt, Marve exploded onto the scene in 2008, earning Freshman All-America honors by Rivals.com and First Team Freshman AllSEC honors by the coaches. His play immediately earned him respect on the field, but it was his on-field performance combined with how he carried himself off the field that earned him even more respect in the locker room. Earning the respect of his teammates is nothing new to Marve. When he was in high school he was a two-year team captain, and as a senior he helped White Station to a 12-2 record and an appearance in the 5A state semifinals. “Chris is the only junior team captain I’ve ever had,” Wright said, “and I select the team captains. There was tremendous respect not only from the players, but from the coaches toward him.” Marve’s focus on carrying himself in a positive manner on and off the field begins with how he represents himself to his family. The oldest of eight siblings, Marve understands the importance of being a positive role model to his younger siblings that range in age from 18 to seven. For Marve, an important aspect of setting a good example is doing so in the classroom, where he is a double major in human and organizational development and sociology. “My mom and dad always stressed the importance of education way before I started playing football,” Marve said. “Education
a player who just relied on his athletic ability, he put the time in to be a better player. “He is a very talented football player with a rare football intelligence,” said Wright, who now coaches at Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis. “He has a tremendous savvy for the game and a dedication to studying the game. He made himself into an exceptional high school player by the time he put in studying it.” Marve’s work ethic is something his teammates at Vanderbilt have noticed, as well. Stokes, who also is a Memphis native, got a taste of Marve’s work ethic before the two even stepped onto campus. “After I was done playing (high school) basketball, we got our freshman workout from Vanderbilt and we started working out together at my high school every day,” Stokes said. “I don’t think I had ever worked that hard in the offseason or was pushed like he pushed me.” When Marve arrived at Vanderbilt as a true freshman in 2007, he not only had the coaching staff to learn from, but he also learned from two of the team’s best linebackers in recent years in Buggs and Goff, who were seniors at the time. “I definitely learned a lot from those guys,” Marve said. “When I came here, Goff and Buggs took me under their wing. I learned from both of them, Buggs especially. They tried to help me any time they could. Any question I had, they were ready to answer.”
Marve is among the SEC leaders in tackles.
always came first when I was growing up.” Education is so important to Marve that he already has his sights set on earning a master’s degree, which he plans on working on during his redshirt senior year. “I know I have to set the standard and be a good role model, and give my brothers and sisters someone positive to look up to,” Marve said. “I try to set a good example, and hopefully they follow suit because it is easier to do wrong than do right.” n
C O M M O D O R E N AT I O N
It’s My Turn By Rod Williamson
Keeping it in Perspective
he thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. That promotional phrase from ABC’s legendary sports anthology series rings as true today as it did back in 1963 when Jim McKay recorded it. We can endure dead-end jobs or lifeless marriages, but by gosh, don’t let our team blow a lead. We can also get that promotion, christen a grand baby or vacation on the Riviera, but give us a victory on ESPN and we are dumb-struck with joy. Do you find that as odd as I do? How can those of us who don’t run wind-sprints in summer heat, lift weights when our back aches, shoot baskets or field grounders when friends are at the movies get so emotionally caught up in something outside ourselves? It’s a question for psychologists and psychiatrists, not columnists. Just like parishioners who believe the preacher never has a doubt about salvation, I think there are sports fans that suspect those of us lucky enough to work at a place such as Vanderbilt athletics never have a discouraging Black and Gold thought. Wrong! We are colleagues, friends and occasionally mentors to the Commodores that take to the courts, fields, courses and alleys. We are often like the parent who can be critical of their own kids, but don’t want to hear similar criticism from outsiders. Our livelihoods are on display. I’ve driven home from games humming the fight song after a great victory or mumbling dark thoughts after a lackluster effort. However, over nearly 40 years in college athletics I’ve tried to maintain a more even keel with varying degrees of success. Thirty years ago I worked for my alma mater and we played an early season football game against our in-state rival. There was so much hype to the game, and I let it get deep inside my psyche. When my guys got thumped, the after effects for me were significant. Soon I was skin and bones, rapidly shedding over 20 pounds in under a month. I’ll spare you the details but several trips to the local clinic left specialists unable to determine a cause. My friends figured it out and called it “Hawkeye Fever.” I had taken the game way too seriously. I am sure they were correct. That episode forced me into a decision. If I was going to make a vocation out of my avocation, I needed to grow up. Just as a doctor can’t lose sleep if her patient is sick or a financier can’t crumble when the market does, I couldn’t become a basket case if my team lost a game. It didn’t mean I had to enjoy losing; rather, I had to learn to handle it, as well as success. I quit listening to most sports talk radio, which tends to be a haven for the glass-half-empty crowd to gather. I tried to avoid negative water cooler conversations and rather focused upon what constructive steps I might take. Many of my professional colleagues have similar stories, especially the coaches. If you are going to make a career in athletics you must learn to handle success and setbacks or you won’t last long. That is probably true in any endeavor. Let’s be clear—I’m talking about handling defeat, not ignoring it or being willing to accept losing as a way of life. True competitors, like those who coach in the Southeastern Conference, never accept losing. Just because a coach doesn’t publicly display internal scalps for game day blunders or launch into tirades during the postgame interview doesn’t imply they are naïve, complacent or unconcerned. The classy coaches realize they are really teachers and motivators, and their classrooms are the practice fields. n
C O M M O D O R E N AT I O N
Expectations Loom Large in 2010
FRONTCOURT With junior A.J. Ogilvy returning, Vanderbilt will once again be solid in the interior. After a stellar freshman campaign, Ogilvy avoided a sophomore slump by leading the team in scoring (15.4) and rebounding (7.1). Despite injuries and illness, the 6’11” Australian already has etched his name in the record book, having become the first sophomore at Vanderbilt to eclipse the 1,000-point barrier for his career. “If we can keep A.J. healthy and free from injury, I think we’ll see a tremendous improvement in him,” Stallings said. Complementing Ogilvy in the post will be sophomore Steve Tchiengang, who started 16 games at power forward last year, and junior Darshawn McClellan, who has played in all 65 games of his two-year career. Redshirt sophomore Festus Ezeli also is poised to take a step forward after averaging 3.8 points and 2.6 rebounds in 29 games. Vanderbilt’s most versatile position on the floor will be the No. 3 spot, where Jeffery Taylor, Lance Goulbourne and Andre Walker will battle for playing time. Because of the talent level at the position, all three players will see time at other positions, as well. Taylor held down the position as the starter last year, and he is the favorite this year after finishing third on the team in scoring (12.5) and second in rebounding (6.2), which landed him on the Freshman All-SEC Team.
Goulbourne played in 23 games and averaged 5.1 points and 3.3 rebounds last year. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native had his top performance against Kentucky, when he scored 17 points in a 77-64 win over the Wildcats. One of the most intriguing players this season will be redshirt sophomore Andre Walker, who missed the majority of the season after tearing his ACL on Nov. 24. While Taylor and Goulbourne provide a lot of flexibility on the wing, no one on the team is as versatile as Walker, who can play four positions, including point guard. His return could provide a big boost to the Commodores this season. BACKCOURT The backcourt was a question mark entering last season, but by the time the year ended, it had turned into a strength. With the return of surehanded senior point guard Jermaine Beal, VU’s guard play will be a strength again this season. Beal started every game last season and ranked fourth in the SEC in minutes played. He also took more of a role in the offense and averaged a career-best 12.5 points per game, while connecting on 40.3 percent of his three-point attempts. He also led the SEC in assist-to-turnover ratio for the second straight season. Sophomore Brad Tinsley started at shooting guard in 28 games and played in all 31 last year. Tinsley averaged 11.0 points and shot a teambest 41.1 percent from beyond the arc. Beyond his play at the two-guard, Tinsley also backed up Beal at point guard. Pushing Tinsley at shooting guard will be freshman John Jenkins, who was one of the highest-rated players ever to sign with the Commodores. The Gallatin, Tenn., native was a two-time TSSAA Class AA Mr. Basketball selection. Also providing depth at shooting guard will be redshirt sophomore Charles Hinkle, who played in 25 games last year and was one of the team’s top defensive players and three-point shooters. Add all the pieces together, and Vanderbilt seems destined to get back to the NCAA Tournament in 2010. n COACHING STAFF
Head Coach: Kevin Stallings Assistant Coaches: Dan Muller, King Rice, Brad Frederick Director of Operations: Tom Richardson
t may have been the middle of March, but as soon as Vanderbilt’s 2008-09 season came to an end with a loss to Alabama in the SEC Tournament, the expectations and anticipation for the 2009-10 season had already begun. Those who don’t follow Vanderbilt’s basketball program may be asking, why there is such anticipation for a team that failed to make the NCAA Tournament or NIT? Those who followed Vanderbilt at all last season know exactly why. Although Vanderbilt didn’t make any waves last season with its record, the talent level and athletic ability the team displayed on the court certainly did. However, what hindered the Commodores was their inconsistency, which was attributed to their youth. Last year’s team didn’t have a senior on the roster and had six freshmen in the regular playing rotation. Inexperience should be less of a factor this season as Vanderbilt returns all five starters from last year’s roster that returns everyone except George Drake. With an offseason to grow, which included a 10-day trip to Australia in August, the 2009-10 team should have more consistency. The Commodores will also supplement their offense with the addition of freshman John Jenkins, who was last year’s Gatorade Tennessee High School Player of the Year after averaging 42.3 points per game. “We feel like that we have a definite chance to be an improved team, but the only catch there is that the league is going to be greatly improved, as well,” Head Coach Kevin Stallings said. “We were extremely young a year ago, and we’ll be young again, but it will be fun to see where this goes.”
Jermaine Beal Date
11.10 Alabama-Huntsville (Exhibition) 7pm 11.16 Lipscomb 7pm 11.20 at St. Mary’s TBA 11.23 vs. Cincinnati (Maui Inv.) 4:30pm 11.24 vs. Maryland/Chaminade (Maui Inv.) TBA 11.25 vs. TBA (Maui Inv.) TBA 12.2 Missouri 8:30pm 12.5 Depaul 3pm 12.8 at Illinois 7:30pm 12.11 Western Kentucky (Sommet Center) TBA 12.19 Tennessee State 3pm 12.21 Mercer 7pm 12.30 Manhattan 7pm 1.2 Southern Miss 2pm 1.4 Middle Tennessee State 8pm 1.9 Florida 11am 1.13 at Alabama 8pm 1.16 at South Carolina 5pm 1.23 Auburn 12:30pm 1.27 at Tennessee 6pm 1.30 at Kentucky 3pm 2.3 Mississippi State 7pm 2.6 at Georgia 7pm 2.9 Tennessee 6pm 2.13 LSU 12:30pm 2.18 at Mississippi 6pm 2.20 Kentucky 5pm 2.25 Georgia 6pm 2.27 at Arkansas 12:30pm 3.2 at Florida 6pm 3.6 South Carolina 1pm 3.11-14 at SEC Tournament (Nashville) TBA
ROSTER No. Player 0 15 50 3 5 2 23 21 10 14 4 12 44 33 1 24
Jermaine Beal Elliot Cole Joe Duffy Festus Ezeli Lance Goulbourne Charles Hinkle John Jenkins Darshawn McClellan Chris Meriwether Aaron Noll A.J. Ogilvy Jordan Smart Jeffery Taylor Steve Tchiengang Brad Tinsley Andre Walker
Sr. Jr. Jr. R-So. So. R-So. Fr. Jr. Sr. So. Jr. R-Fr. So. So. So. R-So.
G G F C G/F G/F G F G F C G/F G/F F G G/F
6-3/205 5-11/180 6-8/225 6-11/255 6-8/225 6-6/195 6-4/215 6-7/240 6-0/180 6-7/220 6-11/250 6-6/180 6-7/210 6-9/240 6-3/210 6-7/220
RPG APG FG% FT%
DeSoto, Texas Memphis, Tenn. Charlotte, N.C. Benin City, Nigeria Brooklyn, N.Y. Los Alamitos, Calif. Gallatin, Tenn. Fresno, Calif. Nashville, Tenn. Fort Mitchell, Ky. Sydney, Australia Lexington, Ky. Norrkoping, Sweden Douala, Cameroon Oregon City, Ore. Flossmoor, Ill.
31 10 19 29 23 25 - 31 5 3 34 - 31 25 31 3
33.1 1.7 6.6 12.4 14.1 8.4 - 16.9 1.8 1.3 26.4 - 26.0 17.3 31.0 23.7
3.5 0.1 1.2 2.6 3.3 0.9 - 3.0 0.0 0.3 6.7 - 6.2 3.2 2.5 4.7
12.5 0.3 1.0 3.8 5.1 2.0 - 2.1 0.4 0.7 17.0 - 12.2 3.6 11.0 4.7
3.2 42.1 82.3 0.0 50.0 50.0 0.4 40.0 75.0 0.0 54.7 50.9 0.3 47.2 71.0 0.4 29.2 86.7 - - 1.1 29.1 50.0 0.0 100.0 0.0 0.0 100.0 0.0 1.2 58.8 76.9 - - 1.7 50.2 69.1 0.5 32.9 71.9 2.8 41.9 41.1 1.3 62.5 80.0
Eying Another Tournament Run
FRONTCOURT What may have made Vanderbilt’s SEC Tournament title and run to the Sweet 16 so remarkable last season was that it accomplished both feats without its top post player and second leading scorer in Hannah Tuomi. The junior from Thornton, Colo., missed all of the postseason due to an ankle injury. Tuomi’s return to the court will immediately bolster a frontcourt that relied heavily on Risper and Wirth in the postseason. Last season the 6’1” junior averaged 11.4 points and a team-best 5.9 rebounds. Tuomi’s presence in the post will be key to a Vanderbilt team that has little experience on the interior. To add experience to the post, Vanderbilt will look to sophomore Jordan Coleman and junior Rebecca Silinski. Coleman saw time in the postseason last year with Tuomi being out. The three players are yet to see significant action, but each is sure to have an ample opportunity to pick up valuable minutes this season.
The frontcourt also will be bolstered by Vanderbilt’s freshman class, which includes forward Tiffany Clarke and center Stephanie Holzer. “Tiffany is very athletic,” Balcomb said. “She can run, is a great rebounder, and is just all around the basket. Stephanie is more of a skilled, strong low-post player that can step out and knock down the 15-foot jump shot.” BACKCOURT The Commodores had one of the strongest backcourts in the league last season, and this year should be no different. Returning to lead the backcourt is senior Merideth Marsh, who earned second team All-SEC honors after averaging 10.7 points and was the squads top three-point shooter. Marsh will primarily be used at the No. 2 spot, but has the ability to play point guard, as well. “You have to have Merideth out on the floor,” Balcomb said. “She could play point for us, but she’s just become such a good shooter. She still does a lot from the two to help us manage the game, and that’s why she’s out there so long.” Senior Jessica Mooney and junior Jence Rhoads will share the point guard duties for the third straight year. However, with the loss of Wirth and Risper, the two will be on the court together more often this season. Mooney is regarded as the team’s quickest player and averaged 7.1 points last season. Rhoads is one of the surest ball handlers in the league and committed just 53 turnovers compared to a team-best 132 assists. She also averaged 6.3 points per game. Like Marsh, the two will be looked upon to carry more of a scoring load this year. The Commodores also will rely more on senior Lauren Lueders this year. As a junior, she finished third on the team in three-point percentage (35 percent) and played in 24 games. Adding depth to the backcourt will be freshmen Elan Brown and Gabby Smith. Vanderbilt will be without two of its biggest playmakers from last year, but the experience it has in the backcourt is a big reason many believe the Commodores will again be among the top teams in the SEC. n
Opponent Time Union (Exhibition) 7pm Drury (Exhibition) 2pm Lehigh 2pm at Southern Illinois 7:05pm UC Riverside 7pm at Saint Joseph’s 6pm Vanderbilt Thanksgiving Tournament 2pm (Austin Peay, NC State, Northwestern St.) Vanderbilt Thanksgiving Tournament Consolation Game 2pm Championship Game 4pm at Wright State 6pm Bowling Green 7pm Western Kentucky 2pm at Quinnipiac 6pm Tennessee State 2pm East Tennessee State 7pm at Notre Dame 1pm Mississippi 2pm at Mississippi State 8pm at Kentucky 12pm Georgia 7pm at Tennessee 5pm at Auburn 8pm Mississippi State 2pm Alabama 7pm at Arkansas 2pm at Florida 6pm Tennessee 8pm Kentucky 5pm at LSU 7pm at Mississippi 1pm Florida 6pm South Carolina 12pm at SEC Tournament (Duluth, Ga.) TBA
layers graduate, injuries happen and shots suddenly don’t fall. Having just one of the three occur commonly leads to a team having a down year every now and then. Such is the nature of college athletics. Vanderbilt has had top players graduate, key players get hurt and shots rim in and out, but what distinguishes the Commodores from other teams is that the team continues to truck ahead and advance to the NCAA Tournament seemingly every year. Vanderbilt has advanced to the NCAA Tournament 10 straight years and has won two of the last three SEC Tournaments after winning the program’s sixth all-time with a 61-54 win over Auburn in March. For Head Coach Melanie Balcomb, it was the third SEC Tournament title she has claimed in seven seasons at Vanderbilt. If Vanderbilt has had a down year in the last decade it is only because its definition of a down year differs from that of virtually every other program in the country. The Commodores’ track record for success makes the outlook for the 2009-10 season anything but bleak. Sure, Vanderbilt lost All-American Christina Wirth and WBCA National Defensive Player of the Year Jennifer Risper to graduation, but the cupboard is far from bare. “Christina and Jennifer both gave flashes of that next level,” Balcomb said. “The players around them were the glue and they were very steady. Now you look to find out which one of those steady players is going to stand up and flash. Or maybe the younger players will come in and provide that spark. We’re excited to see the pieces come together.” The team returns three of five starters and welcomes a talented freshman class that includes McDonald’s All-American Stephanie Holzer, who at 6’4” has an opportunity to make an immediate impact in the post. Given the coaching staff’s track record for success when overcoming losses in personnel, it seems Vanderbilt is primed for another run deep into March.
Date 10.30 11.7 11.15 11.18 11.20 11.24 11.27 11.28 12.2 12.4 12.6 12.10 12.20 12.28 12.31 1.3 1.7 1.10 1.14 1.17 1.21 1.24 1.28 1.31 2.4 2.8 2.14 2.18 2.21 2.24 2.28 3.4-7
Head Coach: Melanie Balcomb Assistant Coaches: Tom Garrick, Vicky Picott, Kim Rosamond Director of Operations: Justin VanOrman
ROSTER No. Player 11 30 34 12 21 5 23 20 4 22 33 32 15
Ashlee Bridge Elan Brown Tiffany Clark Jordan Coleman Stephanie Holzer Lauren Lueders Merideth Marsh Jessica Mooney Angela Puleo Jence Rhoads Rebecca Silinski Gabby Smith Hannah Tuomi
Sr. Fr. Fr. So. Fr. Sr. Sr. Sr. Jr.-Tr. Jr. Jr. Fr. Jr.
G/F G F F C G G G G G F G F
5-11 6-0 6-0 5-11 6-4 5-8 5-6 5-8 5-9 5-11 6-3 5-10 6-1
Hometown Cincinnati, Ohio Atlanta, Ga. Duluth, Ga. Orlando, Fla. Newton Square, Pa. Jackson, Mo. Louisville, Ky. Nashville, Tenn. Maryville, Tenn. Slippery Rock, Pa. Birmingham, Ala. Cincinnati, Ohio Thornton, Colo.
RPG APG FG% FT%
14 - - 19 - 24 35 35 *31 35 8 - 28
6.6 1.2 - - - - 5.7 1.5 - - 7.8 2.5 32.1 10.7 20.1 7.1 29.9 7.4 29.4 6.3 3.8 0.9 - - 24.4 11.4
1.1 - - 1.7 - 1.3 2.5 2.3 2.4 2.3 0.6 - 5.9
0.2 - - 0.1 - 1.1 1.8 2.4 1.9 3.8 0.0 - 0.9
16.0 - - 35.7 - 38.2 41.1 37.1 38.5 49.7 50.0 - 56.5
81.8 56.3 62.5 90.0 72.0 78.8 83.9 0.0 61.8
* Stats from 2008-09 season at Georgia
C O M M O D O R E N AT I O N
Forgettable Year Inspires Andre Walker
Walker took full advantage of the opportunity by filling the box score with eight rebounds, four points, three assists and two blocks in 29 minutes. Everything seemed to be falling into place for Walker. But just as things were looking up, they started heading south. With 2:48 to play in the game and the Commodores leading by 13, Walker went down with an injury that didn’t look severe at the time. However, it wasn’t just any injury—Walker had torn his right ACL and he would have to miss the rest of the season. As soon as his season had begun, it had come to an end. “It was real frustrating,” Walker said. “I only played three games, but I was playing a lot and finally got the start. I was learning the offense well and was learning how I could help my team the best, and it was hard not being able to help them.” The injury was Walker’s second significant one in two years after he missed the first half of his season in prep school at Brewster Academy (N.H.) with a left foot injury.
ndre Walker would like to forget about the 2008-09 season. However, for as much as he’d like to erase the year from his memory like chalk from a blackboard, he can’t. The 2008-09 season was supposed to be a breakout year for Walker, the 6’7” guard/ forward from Flossmoor, Ill., but what began as a year of promise quickly turned from bad to worse. With three starters graduating after the 2008 season, Walker was in a position to snag a starting spot and develop into one of Vanderbilt’s top players entering his sophomore season. The season began just as he had hoped as he posted his best all-around game as a Commodore on Nov. 20 against Illinois. Although the team lost, Walker kept Vanderbilt in the game to the end by matching his career high with 10 points while adding two rebounds and two steals. The performance helped vault him into the starting lineup the next game when he made his firstcareer start against Middle Tennessee State on Nov. 24.
Walker paid tribute to his late mother by getting a tattoo of an angel that symbolizes her.
“I just felt like I let the team down not being out there last year,” Walker said. “I thought I could have helped us out a lot.” Walker’s injury was hard for him to take, but it was not nearly as difficult to deal with as what would happen next. Since Walker was in high school, his mother, Jane, had battled health issues. She had emphysema and had a successful lung transplant the summer before his junior year. Walker has never forgotten the emotions his family felt when they found out the transplant was a success, and he never will. Each time Walker stands by his locker in Memorial Gym, his mind flashes back to his mom and the joy his family felt after the transplant. “The family of the person who gave her her first lung sent us a shirt,” Walker said. “The family sent us a shirt, and I always have that in my locker. After that for a year or so she was doing really well, and it reminds me of that.” The new lung allowed her to watch Andre play basketball again and gave her a new lease on life. Jane realized how fortunate she was and made it a point to speak to young people about the importance of organ and tissue donation. “She was just an amazing lady,” said Jim McLaughlin, who coached Walker at Homewood-Flossmoor High School. “I’m a driver’s education teacher, and in our curriculum we do a program about organ and tissue donation. Andre’s mother came up twice a year to talk to our driver’s education kids about organ and tissue donation. She spent the whole day here donating her time.” Jane spoke from experience when she spread the word about the importance of organ donation, but little did she know that she would be in need of another donation herself. Last winter, her lung began to fail her and she required a second transplant, which she had the day after Andre had knee surgery. “The transplant worked initially,” Walker said, “but there was too much oxygen going to her heart, and she couldn’t breathe well because she wasn’t used to getting so much oxygen.” Walker said the doctors even tried to get the lung working properly by using “a new, groundbreaking procedure that had never been done before.” The procedure has since been used to save thousands of lives, but unfortunately for Walker, the procedure was unsuccessful when attempted on his mother. Jane Walker passed away on Jan. 7 from cardiac arrest. Just when things didn’t seem like they couldn’t get any worse for Walker, they had. “The doctors told us all about the risk of the procedure, but we didn’t think she wasn’t going to make it,” Walker said. “The day before the procedure, I stayed with her in the hospital the whole night. We thought it was going to work, and it seemed to be working when she was done with it, but she suffered cardiac arrest.”
With his mother gone, Walker was devastated. He had just suffered a season-ending injury and now he had lost his mother. It made him question a lot of things in life, including the importance of returning to Vanderbilt. “I didn’t really see the point,” Walker said. “I was pretty sad, and it was pretty tough to come back.” As someone who knew Andre and Jane well, McLaughlin understood how close Andre was to his mother and the type of impact her death had. “I could just see it in his face and eyes that he was just devastated,” McLaughlin said. “It is extremely hard when anyone dies, but
“I didn’t really have anything to take my mind off of it,” Walker said. His teammates tried to help, but even they had never dealt with anything close to what Walker was dealing with. “We just gave him his space and accepted him to come back whenever he was ready,” said junior forward Darshawn McClellan, who rooms with Walker. “We’ve just been there for him and been a helping hand whenever he needed us.” Walker has found most of his support inside his family, where his father and half brother have helped each other get through the difficult time.
“She was my angel. She is always watching down on me, but now she’s always with me, protecting me.” when your mom dies and you are in college and she is the one you look to for guidance and support … I don’t think you can describe it in words.” After a period of mourning and words of encouragement from friends, family, teammates and coaches, Walker came back to Vanderbilt. He was back in Nashville, but the outlet he had turned to time after time when his mother had been ill was basketball, and now he couldn’t turn to it. The combination of losing his mother and not being able to play the sport he loved made the grieving period much longer for Walker.
“They have never been through anything like this either, but we have helped each other out a lot,” Walker said. Losing someone so close at such a young age would be difficult for anyone, but McLaughlin knows the entire process has made Walker stronger and forced him to grow up sooner than most college kids. “It changed his whole life,” McLaughlin said. “The whole process he went through and his emotions he went through were hard at the time, but I know it is going to make him stronger. She is looking over him
and keeping an eye out for him, I think he knows that in his heart.” The grieving process has been tough for Walker, and it is something he continues to struggle with. However, as basketball season begins, it will give him a chance to get him back to doing what he enjoys most— playing basketball. “It has been the most difficult year, and I’m still going through it,” Walker said. McClellan knows the past year has been tough on Walker, which is why he is impressed by how he has been able to bounce back. “It has been pretty tough and at times he’s seemed really down, but I think he’s handled it well,” McClellan said. “That is a really tough situation to go through, and for him to bounce back the way he has has been great.” After redshirting last year, Walker is back to try his sophomore season again. He knows he has a long road to get back to where he was last year before his injury ended his season, but for as devastated as he was after the injury, he’d go through it again if it meant his mother would be able to watch him play one more game in person. Although she won’t be watching him play again in person, she will never be far from Walker’s heart. This summer, Walker got his first tattoo—an angel across his chest that symbolizes his mother. “She was such a giving person and caring,” Walker said. “She was my angel. She is always watching down on me, but now she’s always with me, protecting me.” n
C O M M O D O R E N AT I O N
Putting the “D” in Defense
t Vanderbilt, the saying “it begins with defense” is more than just coachspeak; it has been an essential element of the football team’s rise. There isn’t a certain point or a certain game that you could point to as the turning point for what was once the 111th-ranked defense the year before Johnson arrived, rather it has been a combination of talented coaching and talented players buying into a defensive system that has proven successful. The rise of Vanderbilt’s defense began in Johnson’s first year when scoring defense went from a national ranking of No. 106 to No. 85 and total defense improved from No. 111 to No. 92. From 2002 through 2006, the Commodores had an average rank of 76 in total defense and scoring defense. While not terrible, the ranking did not accurately depict the statistical improvements that the team had been making. Since 2004, Vanderbilt has allowed fewer yards each season, and since 2005, the Commodores have surrendered fewer points per game. “I think it is more of a culmination of week after week doing the same things over and over and just keeping the pedal on the gas and attacking people,” Defensive Coordinator Jamie Bryant said. “I think that we’ve become a pressure defense, and players enjoy doing that. We’ve got good players who enjoy playing fast and enjoy attacking people, and to me, that’s the whole thing.”
Adam Smotherman has been a part of one of the nation’s stingiest defenses the last few years.
The improvement of Vanderbilt’s defense has not only helped Vanderbilt win more games, it also has helped attract more players to Vanderbilt. “There are a lot of different reasons for why we improved, but one of the reasons that got myself and a guy like Chris Marve here is that there is a winning attitude on this defense,” linebacker John Stokes said. “We prepare and study for the opponent and then go out and play as hard and as fast as we can, and I think that kind of attitude has paid off.” Vanderbilt’s defense gradually improved in the first few years under Johnson, but it never was considered an elite defense. The gradual improvement changed in 2007 when
Vanderbilt finished the season ranked 16th in total defense and 32nd in scoring defense. Last year, Vanderbilt was ranked 30th in total defense and 21st in scoring defense. Given how the defense has played in 2009, it is likely the unit will finish in the top 35 of each category for the third straight season. The growth of the defense also has created a high standard the players expect the younger players to live up to. Because of the high standards, Bryant has noticed how older players will go out of their way to make sure younger players know what to do. “We’ve got a lot of guys who have played a lot and a lot of guys who haven’t played a lot, and the older guys who have played have done a great job of helping the younger players,” Bryant said. “They try to hold those guys up to the standard they hold themselves to. When you get everybody working that hard all the time, you have a great chance to succeed.” Just as winning can be contagious, so can strong defensive efforts. With each passing game that the defense shuts down an opponent, its confidence level grows. “Confidence is one of those things that does tend to grow,” Stokes said. “When you stop people you get the attitude that you can stop people and that you are supposed to stop people. Every week you go out and stop a good offense, you get the confidence that you can go out and do it again.” n
C O M M O D O R E N AT I O N
Quick Hits •Vanderbilt finished 11th at the Mason •Vanderbilt will travel to Japan and
• The Commodores opened the season
Hong Kong Nov. 21-29. While in Japan, the team will play four exhibition games against top universities from the country. •T he trip was made possible by a generous gift by Vanderbilt alum Bill Kaye.
by finishing 15-6 overall at the Southern Intercollegiates. • Freshman Ryan Lipman advanced to the third round of the qualifying singles draw at the D’Novo/ITA All-American Championships.
Rudloph Championships Sept. 25-27. The tournament was shortened to 36 holes due to rain. •Leading the way for the Commodores was Marina Alex, who tied for second at 9-under.
•Vanderbilt’s soccer team posted a 1-0 •The Commodores enter the season with •VU was picked to finish third in the SEC
East in the preseason SEC media poll. •A .J. Ogilvy earned second team AllSEC preseason honors by the media. •Vanderbilt opens its regular season at 7 p.m. on Nov. 16 against Lipscomb. •T he Commodores will play in the Maui Invitational Nov. 23-25 in Hawaii.
•Jenner Kizer led VU at Pre-Nationals
on Oct. 17 when he finished 47th out of 111 runners. •T he men’s cross country team finished 30th at the Greater Louisville Classic on Oct. 3. •Jenner Kizer led the way by finishing 77th. •T he men’s team finished third out of 16 teams at the Commodore Classic on Sept. 19. •K izer led the team by finishing 20th in the 8K with a time of 27:19.56. Thomas Davis finished 24th with a time of 27:32.09.
•Vanderbilt closes its home slate Nov. 14
against Kentucky. •Bobby Johnson is the second-longest
tenured coach in the SEC behind only Georgia’s Mark Richt, who has been in Athens for nine seasons.
six SEC tournament championships and 14 Sweet 16 appearances. •Vanderbilt was ranked as high as No. 9 in the preseason polls by national publications. •Vanderbilt will be featured on 11 regular season television broadcats this season. The schedule includes a Feb. 8 matchup with Tennessee on ESPN2.
•Vanderbilt will compete in two tourna-
ments in November, beginning Nov. 5 at the Big Red Invitational in Lincoln, Neb. •Vanderbilt lost its home opener against •T he women’s team finished 25th at the
Pre-Nationals on Oct. 17. •R ita Jorgensen led the way for VU by
finishing 91st. •V U defended its title at the Commo-
dore Classic on Sept. 19 when it finished first out of 18 teams. •Five women finished in the top 10, led by Kristabel Doebel-Hickok, who placed second in the 5K with a time of 18:16.76. Also finishing in the top 10 were Louise Hannallah (6th), Allie Scalf (7th), Jordan White (9th) and Adrienne DiRaddo (10th). •T he team finished sixth at the Greater Louisville Classic on Oct. 3. •D oebel-Hickok led the team with a 17th-place finish.
•Vanderbilt finished sixth overall after
hosting the Mason Rudolph Championships at the Vanderbilt Legends Club. The tournament was shortened to 36 holes due to rain. •Junior Ryan Haselden finished runnerup with a six-under 136. •T he Commodores conclude their fall schedule Nov. 2-3 at the Hummingbird Intercollegiate.
Men’s Sports Women’s Sports
victory at Alabama on Oct. 18. Scoring VU’s goal was sophomore Emily Grant. The goal was her first of her career and it helped VU end a four-game losing streak. •Junior forward Nicole Lukens was named to Top Drawer Soccer’s national Team of the Week on Sept. 21 after scoring two goals with an assist in Vanderbilt’s 3-0 victory over Tennessee-Martin. •Vanderbilt defeated Tennessee for the second straight year when Molly Kinsella scored a goal in the 95th minute for a 1-0 victory.
Southern Illinois on Oct. 17. Vanderbilt’s 400 medley relay team of Chelsea Morey, Sarah Lynch, Laura Dillon and Jennifer Molchan captured top honors. •Rose Cornelson won the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 1:00.71. Amy Salace won the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 2:11.31. Jess Eccher won the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 59.80. •Vanderbilt opened its 2009 fall slate by finishing 1-1 in dual action on Oct. 10 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Commodores defeated Centenary 177-82 and fell to Alabama, 199-79. •Erika Deardorf won the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:12.30, while Amy Salace finished runner-up in the same event. •Jessica Ecchher finished first in the 400yard IM with a time of 4:45.13. Laura Dillon finished second in the 100-yard butterfly (1:00.24) and third in the 200-yard butterfly (2:12.46).
•VU concluded its fall season by finish-
ing third at the Stanford Intercollegiate. Marina Alex led the charge with three consecutive top three finishes and her fourth top 10 of the year after completing the tournament in a tie for third. •Vanderbilt tied for fourth at the Tar Heel Invitational on Oct. 9 through 11. •Marina Alex tied for second at the Tar Heel Invitational with a 4-under 212 to lead Vanderilt. It marked the second time she had tied for second this season (Mason Rudolph Championships). •Freshman Anna Leigh Keith posted the best finish of her career when she tied for 11th at the Tar Heel Invitational.
•Vanderbilt finished play at the Kentucky
Invitational on Oct. 11 by going 14-8 in singles and 8-3 in doubles. VU’s doubles team of Heather Steinbauer and Erica Robertson finished the weekend 4-0 to win the Flight “B” championship. •Chelsea Preeg and Jackie Wu finished 3-0 in their respective draws at the Furman Fall Classic. •Catherine Newman advanced to the third round of the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships.
C O M M O D O R E N AT I O N
Woodard Juggles Motherhood and Coaching
hanging a diaper one minute and changing a lineup on the field the next. Such has been the life of Vanderbilt soccer Coach Ronnie Woodard this fall after giving birth to son Thomas Woodard IV on Aug. 29. Life as the head coach of an SEC team can be hard enough, but Woodard has found an even larger challenge as she balances coaching with motherhood for the first time. “Being a first-time mother in addition to coaching Vanderbilt has been the biggest challenge I’ve ever had in my life,” Woodard said. “It is incredibly difficult holding two fulltime jobs. It is hard being a mom for a newborn because they have such demands, and it is incredibly difficult to be the head coach of an SEC team.” One of the most difficult things Woodard has had to tackle has been time management. Late nights of studying film and scouting opponents have turned into late nights of taking care of Thomas. Because her schedule has shifted, Woodard has balanced her time by relying more heavily on her assistant coaches. “I credit Cristin (Czubik) for doing all the day-to-day activities and managing the program, and allowing me to balance everything I can at home,” Woodard said. “Without her and her dedication to this program and the sacrifices she has made in her life right now for this program, I wouldn’t be able to even be on the sidelines.” Instead of handling the day-to-day activities from the office, Woodard has been able to work at home while caring for Thomas. She watches Thomas during the day before her husband, Tom, arrives home in time for her to head to the practice field. “I do most of my work at home through e-mail, Skype, texting and the television,” Woodard said. “I’m watching film at home, scouting opponents, talking to coaches and doing recruiting.” Thomas’ arrival has altered Woodard’s day-to-day work in the office, but it only slightly changed her availability to coach on the field. Thomas was born the day after the Commodores posted a 2-0 win over Mercer, but his arrival could have come at a more inopportune time had he been born on his actual due date. “He was due on Friday, Aug. 28 and we beat Mercer that night,” Woodard said. “I think I started to go into labor a little bit toward the second half and then went into full-fledged labor at 1 a.m. We went to the hospital, and Thomas was born 12 hours later at 1 p.m. on Saturday.” Because Thomas was born on Saturday, Woodard missed the first game of her career the following Sunday (a 4-0 win against Murray State), but Woodard’s absence from the sideline didn’t last long. The next Thursday, she was on the practice field, and she coached the Commodores against Belmont
Soccer coach Ronnie Woodard gave birth to Thomas Woodard IV on Aug. 29.
the following day as her mother and Tom watched Thomas. Not being with Thomas for the first time made her decision to return to the sidelines so quickly a difficult one. “Throughout the entire pregnancy and season, I’ve been very torn between staying home with Thomas and being on the sideline with our team,” Woodard said. “I was fortunate to have great support at home with Thomas. I was torn, but I had such great support on both sides that I was in a win-win situation.” The decision to leave Thomas for the first time to coach was difficult, but what was even more difficult for Woodard was traveling on the road with the team to its first SEC road swing at South Carolina and at Florida. Since Thomas is too young to fly, Woodard was left with the difficult task of finding a way to spend time with her son and still coach the team that weekend. “I flew in the day after the team and coached the South Carolina game on Friday, and then I had a flight scheduled to come back to Nashville Saturday morning and spend Saturday with him,” Woodard said. “I would then fly down to Florida to coach the team on Sunday. However, my mom and Tom were at home that weekend and felt that it was in my best interest to get a little bit of rest and stay with the team.” Woodard stayed with the team and got eight hours of sleep for the first time since Thomas
was born. Since Vanderbilt’s other road trips were all within driving distance, Woodard was able to take Thomas on the road. This fall has been the most hectic of Woodard’s coaching career. She has been challenged in ways she never could have imagined, but for as hectic as it has been, she wouldn’t trade a moment of it for anything. “It is more rewarding than I ever expected it to be,” Woodard said. “Having the opportunity to be a mom for the first time is more than I could have ever wished for.” While the experience of coaching a team and raising a newborn has been a challenge, Woodard believes the experience she has as a coach has helped her through the process and has made her a better mother. “My team has taught me so many things about parenting,” Woodard said. “They have taught me how to be patient, how to be accepting, that the grass can always be greener and that there is a silver lining to everything that occurs. Being a college coach at Vanderbilt and being involved with these girls has taught me so much about how to be a better parent.” But what Woodard has learned most is through Thomas. “Thomas is teaching me that life isn’t always about just winning,” Woodard said. “You can still be a quality teacher and lead a team and make an impact in their lives, even if the score doesn’t go your way.” n
C O M M O D O R E N AT I O N
The Month Ahead
What to Watch For
Men’s Sports Basketball
11/10 11/16 11/20 11/23 11/24 11/25
Alabama-Huntsville (Exhibition) Lipscomb at Saint Mary’s vs. Cincinnati - Maui Inv. (Lahaina, Hawaii) vs. TBA- Maui Inv. (Lahaina, Hawaii) vs. TBA- Maui Inv. (Lahaina, Hawaii)
7 p.m. 7 p.m. TBA 4 :30 p.m. TBA TBA
Cross Country 11/14 11/23
Football 11/7 11/14 11/21
NCAA Regionals (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) NCAA Championships (Terre Haute, Ind.)
at Florida Kentucky at Tennessee
TBA TBA TBA
at The Hummingbird Inter. (Cashiers, N.C.)
at Alabama Invitational (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
November 13 • Jay-Z Concert Musician Jay-Z will perform in concert at Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gym on Nov. 13. Tickets are $40 for students and range in price from $55 to $95 for the general public. November 14 • Football Hosts Kentucky Vanderbilt’s football team will conclude its home slate on Nov. 14 when Kentucky travels to Nashville. In 2008, Vanderbilt’s win at Kentucky locked up its first bowl bid since 1982. November 15-16 • Basketball Openers Vanderbilt’s men’s and women’s basketball teams will open the regular season on consecutive nights. The women’s team will host Lehigh at 2 p.m. on Nov. 15 and the men’s team will host Lipscomb at 7 p.m. on Nov. 16.
TBA November 26 • Thanksgiving
Women’s Sports Basketball
11/7 11/15 11/18 11/20 11/24 11/27 11/28
Drury (Exhibition) Lehigh at Southern Illinois UC Riverside at St. Josephs Austin Peay - VU Thanksgiving Tourn. TBA- VU Thanksgiving Tourn.
2 p.m. 2 p.m. 7:05 p.m. 7 p.m. 6 p.m. 2 p.m. TBA
11/5-7 at Big Red Invitational (Lincoln, Neb.) 11/21-23 at UMES Hawk Classic (Millsboro, Del.)
All day All day
Cross Country 11/14 11/23
Soccer 11/4 11/13
at NCAA Regionals (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) at NCAA Championships (Terre Haute, Ind.)
at SEC Tournament (Orange Beach, Ala.) at NCAA Tournament
11/6 at Arkansas 11/20-22 at Hilltopper Invitational (Bowling Green, Ky.)
at Tennessee Invitational (Knoxville, Tenn.)
4 p.m. All Day
The Thanksgiving holiday is Thursday, Nov. 26. Vanderbilt’s regular season concludes on Nov. 21, which will mark the first time since 2006 that the Commodores will not be in action Thanksgiving weekend. November 27-28 • Thanksgiving Tourn. Vanderbilt’s women’s basketball team will host its annual Thanksgiving Tournament Nov. 27 through 28 at Memorial Gym. Vanderbilt will play Austin Peay at 2 p.m. on Nov. 27 and will then face either Northwestern State or N.C. State.
COM MODOR E
T I DB I T S • Through its “SEC Together We CAN” drive, the 12 Southeastern Conference schools collected more than 42,500 pounds of food. The SEC encouraged fans to bring canned goods to sporting events Sept. 18-27 with all proceeds benefiting food banks and charities throughout the Southeastern Conference region. • On Oct. 3, Central Florida renamed its media room at its football stadium in honor of former Vanderbilt and Central Florida football coach Steve Sloan and his wife, Brenda. Sloan coached at Vanderbilt in 1973 and 1974 and later served as athletic director at Central Florida. • Former Commodore great Chantelle Anderson announced her retirement from basketball on Oct. 6 after completing a professional season in Lebanon. She was a two-time All-American and was a member of VU’s inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2008. • Vanderbilt’s annual Letterwinner’s Day will be Nov. 14 when the Commodores host Kentucky.