Vol notes: Fans can become ‘readers’

Marvin Westwestwords

In response to those who asked for more information about the annual fan reading of a 1978 Marvin West football column, the answer to the primary question is yes, Vol fans can join the group, no charge, but no Florida trespassers.

Jim Martin

Jim Martin, a 1977 UT engineering graduate and Charlotte business owner, directs the traditional reading the evening before Tennessee opening games. The next Zoom call will be September 1, 2023. The Vols will play Virginia the next day at Nissan Stadium, Nashville.

Jim is a very serious, longtime Tennessee fan. He grew up in Cleveland. His family and friends were full-fledged fans.

“I was taught from birth that life in the fall centers around UT football. My family was fortunate enough to have season tickets so I was able to attend most every game from 1964 through my graduation.”

In 1978, Jim enrolled in the MBA program at North Carolina. He subscribed to the News-Sentinel to stay in touch. He drove to Knoxville for the Vol opener, a loss to UCLA. He was back in Chapel Hill when the Friday newspaper arrived in the mail.

“Your article made me realize why I would travel 12 hours to see Tennessee play. … I read it sitting in my dorm room. I pledged to myself that I would keep it and bring it out each year to remind me of why I love UT football so much.”

“Reading” evolved.

“In the ’80s I would bring the article with me to Knoxville and read it to my friends the night before the game. The one consistent who has been with me through the many years of this tradition is my former roommate at UT and childhood friend, Alan Childers. He lives in Knoxville and is a semi-retired civil engineer.

“Clark Williams who now lives in Chattanooga and Kurt Richardson who lives in Boston have been faithful followers for many years.”

Martin says the numbers of participants varied until technology (conference calls and now Zoom) simplified gatherings: “Things picked up.”

Martin says “It has been an honor to recite your words for all these years. It has been a cool way for all of us old friends to recapture and share the excitement and true meaning of UT football.”

If you want to join future reading groups, save this address for late August: [email protected]

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Digital tickets worked well at their first Tennessee game. There have been no grumbles of mass confusion. We belatedly learned that for $50, you could get tickets printed.

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The party deck in the north end zone has a capacity in excess of 1,100. The Vols offer season tickets and single-game tickets for the standing-room only section.

A season ticket costs $1,950. Single-game ticket prices range from $115 for the likes of Akron to $275 for games against Florida and Alabama.

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Steve White

Steve White, a young “old Vol” from Memphis, has died at age 48 after a long fight with lymphocytic leukemia. He played defensive end for the Vols from 1992-95 and spent seven seasons in the NFL with Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and the New York Jets.

Big game? In a 1999 NFC Divisional playoff win over Washington, Steve collected seven tackles and two sacks and forced a fumble.

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You didn’t ask but Tennessee is on a little 2-22 skid against teams from the SEC West, going back to 2011. Alabama owns an unfair share – and a few extras.

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About to happen: Dedication of a beautiful marble bench at Decatur (Ga.) High School is scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. in memory of Walter Chadwick. He remains my favorite example of never giving up and my best story of how old Vols never forget a fallen pal.

In April 1971, Chadwick was paused at an Atlanta red light in his Volkswagen Bug when a Wells Fargo truck smashed into it. Walter suffered serious damage, was in a coma for 3½ months and never regained many of the skills he had as a Tennessee tailback.

For most of five decades he made the best of what remained. He died October 30, 2019.

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Zinger: “Well, the Manning clan is back in TV ads to take their cut of suckering young men into losing their money betting on sports. What champs!” – Phil Mushnick, New York Post

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Richard Reeves Wynn, age 81, of Knoxville, died in mid-August. He was the son of Herman D. “Breezy” Wynn, former Volunteer fullback, prominent Knoxville businessman and enthusiastic UT athletic leader.

There was an innocent line in the recent Wynn obituary: “attended Vanderbilt University.”

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All in the family: John Jancek was defensive coordinator for Butch Jones (2013-15). He went away but son Zac stayed as a walk-on quarterback for Jeremy Pruitt. Son Brock was a 6-8 basketball reserve for Rick Barnes (2018-21). Son Jack caught a pass last week for 17 yards and a pat on the back from Coach Heupel.

Marvin West welcomes comments or questions from readers. His address is [email protected]

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