(1975-2017) Harold Gregory was the elder statesmen at VU. He was a car dealer for the coaches for many years and providing for the athletic department. For 40 plus years, he volunteered and flew with the team as a friend and helper to Woody Widenhoffer. Soon after, he became an Equipment Assistant. Harold loved carrying headsets for many of the coaches and was the life of the party. Unfortunately, he passed this past New Year’s Eve (2019) and was layed to rest in a Vanderbilt casket. He and his family were as of big of Vanderbilt football supporters as there has ever been.
(1998-2017) James Arendall was a retired metro policeman with over 20 years of service. Before the equipment crew had buses for travel, he would drive a 16 passenger van full of volunteers many miles all over this country giving up time with his family as well! James took care of the coaches on the road and they loved his fun loving jokes and pleasant demeanor. One of his favorite stories is having to run balls in a game at Ole Miss and the official told him, “you are the largest and oldest ball boy I have ever seen!”
(1979-2017) Bobby Russell gave 40 plus years of service as he actually began driving for Athletics Director Pete Naylor to road games in the early 70’s. He then began driving the equipment truck in 1979 as well as working his full time job as Assistant Police Chief in Nashville. Bobby helped under several athletic directors and 11 football coaches. He was a huge supporter of the athlete’s and always loved hearing their families backgrounds and stories. Thank You Bobby for your support to Vandy Athletics
(1979-2017) Billy Smith gave 38 years of service to VU Athletics and also was a Metro Policeman. All of these men would arrive on a Thursday before road trips to load the truck and travel to destinations all over. They then would wake up early to head to the stadium on Friday so the team could be ready for walkthroughs. Then on Saturdays, they headed to the stadium and set up for the game which included the locker room, coaches room, training room and field equipment and trunks. As soon as games were over, they then would pack up immediately and head back to the McGugin Center to unload before finally heading home! Billy is a Vietnam Vet and was very detailed in helping with the locker setup. He loved VU and all the athletes he came in contact with.
Billy’s favorite trip was when we played Army. I was able to obtain an Army helmet for him as that is the branch of armed services he served. He was brought to tears!
Julie, Dan Leben, Luke, Sam Leben
(1995-2017) Dan Leben was a Vanderbilt graduate and was a walk on player in the 90’s before becoming a manager. He was from El Dorado, Kansas. He had 20 plus years of being a player, manager and roadie for the Equipment staff. Dan was a Wall Street man for many years and would sacrifice his weekends by traveling with the road crew. Dan and his Father traveled the most miles of the crew.
(1995-2017) Sam Leben also was a 20 plus year volunteer from Kansas. Sam was as loyal as anyone to the Commodores. He was father to fellow volunteer Dan Leben. His favorite moments were the road victories seeing the locker room celebrations and knowing, he in a small way, contributed to the Dores! Sam is a salesman back in El Dorado, Kansas.
(1997-Present) Gary Veach is still an employee at VU in Olympic Sports. He served over 20 years as a volunteer Equipment assistant and 1 year as Head Football Manager. He was in charge over organizing the truck logistics and setting up the sidelines for games. He was one of the most dedicated and dependable employees and volunteer for years. He always enjoyed VU sports and to this day, has contact with many former football players. He and his family are from White Bluff. Gary still holds the High-School record of returning a kickoff at Dudley Field while playing at Hillwood HS for 100 yards.
(1999-2017) Paul Allen England was a Vanderbilt Graduate Student manager and volunteer for 20 years. Paul Allen is a lawyer in Decaturville, TN. He loved working with the offensive line at practice and ran balls on the road and worked with the kickers/punters for many years. One of his favorite moments was getting a game ball after beating UT in Knoxville in 2005.
Here are pics of how this operation looked so you can get a taste as to all that was involved:
The last step which was most important is that so many of you participated with your comments and some with a financial gift! Your comments were all so thoughtful and we appreciate everyone that shared or will share at a later time. The financial gift was much appreciated and allowed us to do a little extra for this group! You know who you are and Luke, Julie and myself are thankful for you sharing your resources. Thanks again to all! Anchor Down Vandy!
Even though I have thanked these great people for their service, I didn't think they got the recognition that they deserve and so this is why I'm trying to honor them on this platform. I want to thank them all again for all the years, hard work, miles traveled, time given to VU and let every former player know how much they loved you guys and all the coaches and staff from our time together until 2017. So in closing, I want to again say from the bottom of my heart to all that represented the Black & Gold, you have all been a value to everyone associated with Vanderbilt Athletics and I hope that you feel appreciated! Thanks again! Luke Wyatt
"I am honored and humbled by the dedication of all of you who shared your time, talent and heart to Vanderbilt Athletics. As I've gotten older, I've realized just how many people from my past who have helped. This list is long and includes coaches, administrators, teachers, teammates, students and all 8 of you who helped Luke! Though Bobby, Billy and James were the ones that were a part of the group during my time from '89 - '92, I really do appreciate everyone from this list of Great People! Vanderbilt Athletics couldn't have given the experience that all of us athletes have gotten without you! Thank you again! You are all appreciated and deserving to be a part of this Check Your Game Community with the way you've lived your life and made the choice to give back to Vanderbilt! I hope you are encouraged not just by one person like myself, but will continue to read on with the comments from many, many others. Know that you are appreciated from lots of us!" Gary Rogers- Founder of Check Your Game