Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Big Orange Influence

For sports fans, everyone wants their team to win and be the best. We bleed our school colors, go into a mild state of depression after a loss, and have the fight song for a ringtone. As a part of the Vol Nation, our love of the Vols runs much deeper than that. Sure I wear orange on gameday, have a Power T coffee mug and a flag hanging from my balcony, but some fans will do anything to show that they want nothing but W's from the Vols. And when I say anything, I mean anything.

It all started back in 2008...when the curse of the "Come & Go" coach began. 

Although he brought us a National Championship back in 1998 and the 2nd-highest number of W's of any head coach in UT history, Phillip Fulmer (the legend) brought on a downward slope of Tennessee victories starting in 2005 with a 5-6 losing season. Scrutiny from the Vol Nation began to slip in over the next three years as fans began to question Fulmer's ability to keep the Vols on top. After suffering a loss to Wyoming to close the 2008 season, Fulmer "stepped down" as leader of the big orange pack after being notified by athletic director Mike Hamilton of his immediate dismissal.

Without any coaching changes or signs of improvement over several years, Fulmer just needed that spark to make changes within the program and get things back to like they were in '98. After wearing out their patience and acceptance of L's, the Vol Nation demanded the removal of a Tennessee legend and him be replaced by this a#$&@!%...

The arrogant, smug, "too big for his 'britches," recently-fired man known as Lane Kiffin came to Knoxville. Sure he seemed like a great fix for UT, "yeah he just came from the NFL and he's good lookin', he'll get us back to No. 1." Little did we know the real "big orange screw" was waiting for us at the end of the season. After increasing the Vols offensive output by 60% and ending the 2009 season 7-6, that can only overshadow the bad for so long. Personally, I strongly dislike Kiffin because he got our recruit hostess program in a TON of trouble (I am a recruit hostess now). SO after 14 months, Kiffin bailed out on the Vols, not even spending 2 minutes in the press conference to answer questions out of respect. Although people were mad and disappointed, Lane Kiffin leaving Rocky Top was the BEST thing to ever happen! Karma caught up with Lane when he was caught for extensive NCAA recruiting violations at USC, and then fired from USC when the athletic director wouldn't even let him on the team bus after a game. The Vol Nation simply said "screw you Lane, on to the next one."

The administration waisted no time in filling our beloved head coach position, with the hiring of the lawyer turned coach...Derek Dooley. Sure Dooley inherited a sunken program and was constantly having to fight the uphill battle to regain the top spot in the SEC. What Tennessee fans soon realized was that the only anchor that was keeping this program "sank" was Dooley himself. The only "coaching" aspect this man had going for him was his last name, the one that belongs to the great hall of fame coach Vince Dooley. I'm not a Tennessee football player but from working for him for one season as a recruit hostess, I knew that he was not a "coach" in the sense that he was there for the glory and not to build up young men and a strong-football-tradition Tennessee program. After 3 losing seasons in a row and only 1 bowl game appearance, the Vol Nation rose again to express their frustration, scrutiny and demand for the firing of Derek Dooley. So, so long to the orange pants and suave hair, and have fun being a low-paid, low-grade assistant coach.

After what seemed like forever of searching for a new leader, UT found this flat top hairdo up North...
Our savior...BUTCH. JONES.

I speak from knowing him personally when I say that Coach Jones is the man that will bring UT back to national prominence of being that team to beat. His passion for the game, the men he coaches, and the tradition that is Tennessee football is just what the Vol Nation has been praying for. In the year that has been on Rocky Top, Coach Jones has brought the spirit of Tennessee and what it means to be a Volunteer fan back to us. He truly cares about the players in helping them grow as athletes, educated men and valuable members of society. I see a bright (with orange hue) future for Coach Jones as he leads to Vol Nation back to the national glory that we once knew.

Okay, we can see that the Big Orange community strongly influenced the firing of two football coaches. Now lets take a look at the most recent coaching uproar that is Tennessee Mens basketball:

Bruce Pearl, the Boston-native with a set of lungs on him, came to the Univeristy of Tennessee in 2005 after the "retirement" of Buzz Peterson. He became the 2nd fastest coach to reach 100 wins in UT history, took the Big Orange to our first Elite 8 appearance in the NCCAA tournament in 2010, and brought on a NCCAA recruiting scandal of epic proportions. He rocked an orange blazer at every home game, interracted with fans regularly, and brought a sense of "swagger" to Tennessee basketball. After committing the recruiting infraction and lying about it, UT could not be associated with a lying head coach, even if he was winning games and bringing spirit to men's basketball. Pearl stayed away from coaching for 3 years and was just recently hired to be Auburn's next head basketball coach.

And then, UT hired a man whose first name no one knew how to pronounce. Cuonzo Martin had a decent basketball past, from playing in the NBA for 3 years to being a head coach for 3 years. He didn't have the resume we were hoping for to bring us back to "Pearl Prominence" but the Vol Nation figured we'd give this guy a shot. I like Coach Martin, he is a very very nice man to talk to and the players loved him. But in true UT fashion, the fans don't want "nice." They want W's and trophies. During the middle of this past season, a petition began floating around web for the immediate release of Coach Martin and to bring back Bruce Pearl! Like WHAT? Who would have ever thought we would fire a coach, then turn around and re-hire him 3 years later?? The petition received over 36,000 signatures, a pretty good slap in the face to Coach Martin. After all of this petition buzz died down, it was released that Coach Martin had received a head coach offer from Marquette. Martin turned it down casually...but that announcement was made on April Fool's.

On Tuesday April 15, Coach Cuonzo Martin of the Tennessee Volunteers became Coach Cuonzo Martin of the California Golden Bears. The Vol Nation's demands to have Martin fired came back and slapped us in the face, by leaving on his own after I swore that "Tennessee was the only place for him." As much as I hate to admit it, Coach Martin finally put Vol fans in their place. Although he's leaving for a >12,000 arena and the state of California in general, I wish him success and happiness.

So what have we learned from this?

Not only are Volunteer fans "ride or die" for the big orange, but large fanbases such as ours can even have an influence on the future of our coaches. Fulmer, Dooley and Martin, all examples of our a nation of fans can express disappointment or hatred of a coach's performance and next thing you know BOOM...he gone. Sports is always a game of out with the old and in with the new but if the new has a losing season at Tennessee, his tenure for the Big Orange might end being short lived.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cap Craziness

As graduation is fast approaching (ohh in 23 days), and one tradition I plan to take full advantage of is decorating my graduation cap. Not only do people decorate their caps so their family can find them in the see of grads but to also throw a little bit of a personal touch on the clothing you worked so hard to earn the past 4 years. Monograms, degree names, "Hire Me" caps will fill the crowd as we walk into Thompson-Boling on that exciting day. So in the spirit of graduation season, here are some ideas for designing your truly unique cap:

Use an insprirational quote or phrase has helped you get through the last four years.

Thank the people who not only gave you life but gave you the money 
to not only get a college degree but have the best 4 years of your life.

Pay tribute to your new alma mater that 
will always be your "home sweet home"

Let the world know what sorority you were a part of,
like everyone that follows you on social media doesn't know already.

The ultimate girl combination: monogram,
pearls, sorority letters & Lilly Pulitzer OH MY!

So whether you use your initials, superhero logo, tribal print, favorite team, sequins, or "I just gradiated"....HAPPY CAP DECORATING & HAPPY GRADUATION Y'ALL

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Pinterest Effect

One does not simply check Pinterest "real quick." As soon as you access your account, you are instantly whisked away to a world of repurposed mason jars, outfits you wish you owned, recipes that look to good to be real, wedding day inspirations and Ryan Gosling. And hundreds of pins later, two hours of your life is now gone. This is a phenomenon that I like to call "The Pinterest Effect."

I have fallen under the Pinterest spell more times than I can count. If I can't decide what I'm wearing for a night out with friends, I go to "Women's Fashion" for outfit inspirations. I needed a recipe of something delicious (and easy) for a Super Bowl party I was going to, my first resource was Pinterest. I am a bridesmaid for my best friend Finley this November, her wedding now has its own board on my page where I spent over an hour yesterday pinning random wedding ideas. I have pinned so many things since first getting my account back in '11 that I am beginning to suffer from "pin-nesia" (where you forget if you have pinned something already or not). I can pull up my Pinterest account in the first minutes of class, and then the next thing I know the teacher is dismissing us. I think I speak for every "pin obsessor" when I say that the "Pinterest Effect" is very real.

You're probably asking, why do these girls get so caught up in a website full of pictures? What is the big deal? From my point of view, pinners are transported into another world where they secretly wish they could have/make everything they're seeing. I'm not saying every pinner is unhappy with their life but Pinterest gives us that peak into what we wish we could have. I wish all of the outfits on my style board would magicly land in my closet or my apartment would redecorate itself to look like my home board or even the picturesque recipes I drool over would make themselves.

What is mind-blowing to me is how much we depend on Pinterest today. If I need a craft idea, I automatically go to Pinterest with no questions asked. Back in the day, people had to actually be creative and come up with the genius ideas that overflow on Pinterest such as making a mason jar into a candle or "Elf on the Shelf" scenarios for the kids. It's less-time consuming than real artistry, but still far less convenient than ordering the dern thing on Amazon. The other cultural shift behind the rise of DIY is the decline of the value of expertise. To become a great knitter, it would take hundreds of hours of practice. But in the Pinterest world, expertise is no longer valued in quite the same way. Why knit a beer koozie when you can make one out of an old sock?

After all of the combined hours I have spent looking through Pinterest and disappointment when my creations don't look like the pin, I am still an obsessor of this website. Pinterest is like Etsy and Pottery Barn had a baby and made a scrapbook of their cute little family (now re-pin that).

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

The best week of my life

When: Spring Break (March 16th-23rd)
Who: 7 of my best friends in the entire world
What to pack: 50+ pounds of outfits & sunscreen

    There are always those people on vacation that you can't help but just stare at. Whether they are talking super loud, hauling tons of bags, taking pictures nonstop or just being "out of place"...well that was my pack of spring breakers, we were those people! 8 beautiful college girls, in big floppy hats, monogrammed beach bags, a tropical drink in hand, ready to take on our all-inclusive.

    We spent the night in ATL, and we caught our flight to Punta Cana the next morning. After 3 1/2 hours of flying, we arrived to 85 degrees, palm tress, "do not drink the water" and no English speaking people. After throwing our luggage into our 2 villas, we threw on our bathing suits, got drinks and started exploring the resort. MaryScott found a coconut that we convinced her was a walnut, bought WiFi almost solely to Instagram pictures, found a Dominican version of a "Walk Me Down," and explored the property. Later that night, we decided to do the buffet for dinner because we did not have reservations for any of resort reservations. I still to this day couldn't tell you what I ate because it was so dark in the room and I didn't have my glasses on so I was flying blind on that dinner.

    After saying I was going to get up early to get beach chairs, we all ended up not making it out until a little after 10a.m. We made it to the beach to only find two chairs in the shade, a good area for towel laying, men in speedos and women running around topless. That's when I realized that we were a bunch of southern college girls stuck in the middle of European holiday. Now I know what it's like to feel like the minority because it was rare to hear someone speak English or even be from America for that matter. We layed on the beach all day, some burned and some didn't. That night, we spent the evening at the Italian restaurant sipping on cervasas and stuffing our faces with bruschetta. After the Italian restaurant kicked us out because it was closing time, we danced all night at the discotequa which came equipped with pole dancers and a fog machine that we used to "Marilyn Monroe" with our dresses.

    The next three days were spent pretty much the same, breakfast buffet in the morning, beaching it, lunch at the closest buffet, more beaching and then dinner at night. One afternoon, we decided to do the pool which had a swim up bar (I mean how can you say no to that?). They were having pool games while we sat to the side with our Miami Vices. It was just like being on a cruise ship, people playing games everywhere, drinks at your becking call and so much food that you'll need to be hauled a wheelbarrow just to get back to the room. We had dinner at the Mexican restaurant which was spent with chimichangas and the "keep 'em coming" gesture for our margaritas. Allie was not a fan of this restaurant but I had the best beef burrito of my life (sorry Moe's).

   Our funniest dinner experience was spent on Thursday night. A group of Fiji's that we've been friends with since freshmen year were also at our resort. Although we weren't all technically there "together," we all still hung out at night at the bars. Since this was going to be the guys' last night, we figured we'd get a big reservation at the seafood restaurant so we could all eat together. When we came to deliver the news to them that morning at the beach, they had also made a big reservation for all 14 of us at the asian restaurant. 2 reservations, an hour and a half apart, what are we to do? WE WENT TO BOTH! Thursday night was spent at 2 restaurants for a SIX course meal. Getting into my bathing suit the next day was not so flattering but it was totally worth it to spend time with all of my friends.

    Then the time had finally come, the last day :( By this point I had burned my chest and shoulders, gained almost five pounds, and permanently had sand everywhere. I knew I had to make it to buy souvenirs before the day was over for my family and Miller. I grabbed Caitlin, Allie, MaryScott and Ariana to go to the open market which was right down the beach. The vibe of that place was that at any moment, one of us was going to be taken so we balled out of there pretty quick.

After saying goodbye to the beach and going back to get ready, we realized we still had MaryScott's "walnut" that we still had to open. We snuck a butter knife from dinner, got one of my wedge sandals, and sat on our deck trying to crack the darn thing. We thought we were going to get in trouble because a security guard kept watching us, but we realized he didn't even speak english. After about an hour of sawing and chiseling, and dozens of snapchats of me looking like an idiot, we gave up on the coconut and went in to finish packing. I could tell the week was finally starting to catch up with us because after being in the sun all day everyday and staying out until after 2a.m., everyone in my room was asleep before midnight. We flew out the next morning, made it to ATL, and drove back to 40 something degrees (not the best welcome home present). Coming back to that cold with sunburns and lightweight clothes is not the best idea we all ever had but whatever we had made it back to Knoxvegas.

So as I look back on our week of chasing annoying peacocks, dancing with Rihanna impersonators, laughing constantly, and doing basket tosses in the ocean, this was without a doubt the best week of my life! I cannot imagine spending my last spring break with anyone else except my best friends who have been with me since freshmen year. I am so blessed to have all of these girls in my life and that we have all stuck together over the last four years. And as we declared on the trip, I cannot wait for our next tropical getaway to "get away" from the kids/husband! I LOVE YOU ALL SISSIES
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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My Sinuses Hate Knoxville

Everyone says the weather in Tennessee is just like a woman, it can never make up its mind. Although some women find this comment to be offensive, it's absolutely true! Here is the weather in Knoxville in order from noon Tuesday to 2a.m. Thursday morning:
Noon- 70 degrees & sunny
8p.m.- 55 degrees
10a.m.- 50 degrees & sunny
1:30p.m.- extreme rain & wind
7:15p.m.- 42 degrees & rain
10p.m.- 30% chance of snow

I feel like I have to wear snow boots, Nike shorts, a rain jacket and a toboggan every time I walk out the door. No matter how often you check your Weather Channel app, the clothes you wear when you leave the house are more than likely not going to be right. We are trapped in a "polar-quator" vortex this spring semester that you never know what to expect from Mother Nature that day. 

Being from just across the state, the majority of the time Knoxville and Dyersburg have the same weather/temperature on a daily basis. On March 2nd, I received a winter weather advisory on my iPhone for Dyersburg. Not thinking much about it, I called my mom to see if it was a normal Dyersburg freak out for simple snow flurries (we get out of school for 1/4 of an inch of snow that will melt by 10a.m.). She answers with "OMG Anna Claire it's like armageddon in Kroger!" The following morning, Dyersburg had received 4-5 inches of sleet and about 2 inches of snow on top of that. AND while all of this was going on in my hometown, I was in sunny and 65 degree Knoxville. My brother had no school for a whole week, and the only way my family could get down our steep driveway was to basically sled down...

The drastic change in temperature, surprise blizzards and 65mph winds...this is the forecast in Knoxvegas for the next several hours. Granted I love living in Knoxville and the state of Tennessee but if you asked my sinuses, I need to live in the Caribbean where it's 80ish degrees all year long!


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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Oh look, it's...

For as long as I can remember, my mother has called the 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. time span "coffee o'clock." At one point during that time frame, you will see Jane Bradshaw walking around with a coffee mug in her hand full of fresh brew. Although I have been out of the house for almost 4 years now, this habit has followed me over into East Tennessee. I don't know if it is a force of habit or what but when I hit that after exhaustion 'wall,' I hear Jane in the back of mind saying that it's time for the brew.

Caffeine is an ever growing need that I must satisfy on a daily basis. I have a cup of coffee in the morning, a Diet Dr. Pepper with lunch, and another cup of coffee or other source of caffeine in the afternoon. A lot of times I don't drink them to perk me up, I drink them out of habit. "Coffee o'clock" has forever ruined me in needing caffeine in the afternoon hours, even if I haven't had a strenuous day. Today for example, I needed the 4:27p.m. Java Chip frappacino (no whip cream) from Starbucks that I bought because I have class until 8:00 tonight. So my coffee obsession comes from not only needing it but also as a force of habit.

Some of you may be asking, can you even become addicted to caffeine? As a matter of fact, you most certainly can! According to WedMD, caffeine is a stimulant to the nervous system, and regular use of caffeine does cause mild physical dependence. Just an hour ago a friend of mine asked me what I was giving up for lent. I said I didn't know yet and she mentioned to maybe give up soft drinks...NOOOOO MA'AM! If I do not have a diet soda everyday, I get the absolute worst caffeine headaches. Now I am not blaming my mom at all but she made me caffeine dependent starting at an early age (at least 9). I do not consider caffeine or coffee to be bad things, they have both positive and negative health effects.

-possible protection against Parkinson's disease, type II diabetes & liver cancer
-no connection between coffee and heart disease OR cancer
-high antioxidant content
-gets your hands warm on a cold day

-high consumption is associated with mild elevations in cholesterol levels
-4 to 7 cups a day can lead to: restlessness, sleeplessness, irritability and anxiety
-the old myth "it will stunt your growth"
-yellowing of the teeth...

With no regard to the positives or negatives of this hot, dark brown brew, I will continue to consume my coffee as long as it is available to me. In a way, even after moving to Knoxville, I still acknowledge "coffee o'clock" because it is like having a piece of my mom with me. So next time you raise up your brew in your favorite mug or Starbucks cup, remember these points that proves that coffee is your friend...
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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Orange is the Happiest Color

The best seat in the house.
The alarm going off at 7am, putting on some sturdy walking shoes, packing my purse like an overnight bag, a double shot valium espresso latte...this is my typical Saturday morning with good ole Tennessee football. Although it seems miserable and you're probably asking "why on earth would you do that," I can say, without a doubt, that I absolutely love it! I know at the beginning of every work day, I'm going to meet lots of new people, learn something new in the football world and get to be surrounded by my favorite shade of orange (yes, UT orange is specific).

For as long as I can remember, people have told me that if you do not love what you're doing then that's you're on prerogative. My happy place, even in high school, is being around football. Being my high school's mascot, I gave my all every Friday night to get the stands cheering as loud of they could for our guys. Although I have never played a down besides in flag football, I have always felt a special love for the game and the business of it as if I had played it since I was young. I always checked to make sure the coaches had everything they needed, the players were kept cool on the sidelines (fanned them myself with my "louder" sign), and the crowd was entertained in between plays.

So since joining the Vol football force, I have felt "home sweet home." My main focuses are to make sure our players, coaches, guests and other staff have everything they need to help their day go smoother. The difference from high school, I get to help recruit/raise new Volunteers from their sopohomore year of high school up until their first steps in full pads. Although I am a proud big sister of one little brother realistically, I consider myself to have almost 20 other little brothers running around in the big orange.

I feel as if it takes some people years to figure out which career path makes them truly happy. I can say that I have been blessed to have found that love while being in college, the love of working for athletics. Whether the road takes me to another college, a professional team, a different sport or even a different sector of the athletic industry, I have found my passion in Volunteer football...and that orange looks great on me!

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