Got game? Take your shot!

Maria M. Cornelius2MCsports

Think you can score against a Lady Vols basketball player or coach Kellie Harper? Now is your chance to prove it on the court.

After hosting several camps for kids in basketball and softball, the Lady Vol Boost (Her) Club is holding a camp for adults for $150 a ticket as a fundraiser for the organization. The camp includes locker room tours, “chalk talk” with Harper, shooting contests, giveaways, photographs and autographs with the instructions to “wear your Lady Vol gear and tennis shoes and be ready to have big fun.”

Adult Fan Camp, as it’s officially called, will be held Wednesday, May 10, from 6-8:30 p.m. in Pratt Pavilion next to Thompson-Boling Arena. Adults are used to taking their kid to camp and sitting in the stands. This time, the “big kids” get to take the court. Information and sign-up are here.

“We have repeatedly had adults ask if we could have a camp for older people,” said Terri Holder, founder of the Lady Vol Boost (Her) Club. “We were able to work it out in May before the spring semester ended and when Kellie Harper could be there, too, and we hope to have a big turnout. The Boost (Her) Club is funded by events and memberships, and this is a chance to support women’s sports at Tennessee and have a lot of fun on the basketball court.”

The availability of name, image and likeness (NIL) for college athletes has, to mix sports metaphors, moved the goalposts in sports. Senior Rickea Jackson was projected as a top three WNBA draft pick; instead, she opted for another year at Tennessee in part because of NIL opportunities.

“We are set up to support women athletes at Tennessee in all sports from basketball to rowing to tennis,” Holder said. “We rely on fan support and enthusiasm for Lady Vols sports. The response to adult camp has been tremendous, and we still have spots left.”

Jordan Horston, wearing the ball cap of the team that drafted her, signs a basketball for a young fan. (Orange Mountain Designs)

Last week, fans filled Orange Mountain Designs retail store in West Knoxville to say good bye to Jordan Horston, who was drafted in the first round by the Seattle Storm. Jackson and Tamari Key, who is returning for a fifth year after having her season ended in 2022-23 by blood clots, also were at the store as part of a Boost (Her) Club event. Horston departed Tuesday for training camp in Seattle to start her professional career.

The softball team had its turn at the store last week, too, followed by an on-the-field instructional camp by Cedar Bluff Farragut Optimist (CBFO) Softball that was attended by 250 children at Lee Stadium. The Boost (Her) Club hosted the autograph session before the camp on a packed concourse.

Three young softball fans display posters full of Lady Vol autographs at Lee Stadium.

“All of these events are done for the players, fans and a lot of kids,” Holder said. “Now, the adults get a turn. So, practice your free throws and join us May 10.”

Turning to softball, the team is now 38-5 overall and at the top of the SEC standings with a 16-2 record. Tennessee swept Florida in three games – matching what the Vols did to arch-rival Vanderbilt over the weekend on the diamond – during three sold-out games that also celebrated legendary pitcher Monica Abbott.

What happened April 22-24 at Lee Stadium with a blowout win and two scintillating come-from-behind victories over the Gators, all nationally televised, was a recruitment dream for Tennessee.

During the series, Rylie West hit two homers and drove in nine runs, including a three-run shot Monday night that rocked the stadium in cheers. That pushed the score to 10-6 against a Gator team that doesn’t give up many runs. In three games against Florida, the Lady Vols scored 30 times.

“My process right now is get a good pitch and hit it hard, “ West said. “The simpler the better. I’m trying to hit the ball as hard as I can. I think this team’s learning how to compete and be gritty.”

The race for the regular season SEC championship will be decided over the next two weeks. Georgia is in second place at 15-5 with Arkansas in third at 11-7. The Lady Vols play three games at Arkansas on April 29-May 1 and finish the regular season in Knoxville with three games against South Carolina on May 5-7.

Tennessee last won an SEC regular season title in 2007. The star of that team? Abbott.

Maria M. Cornelius has been writing about the Lady Vols since 1998 for various publications. In 2016, she published her first book, “The Final Season: The Perseverance of Pat Summitt,” through The University of Tennessee Press.



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