The Story

Luke Wyatt, Harold Gregory and James Arendall

Harold Gregory (July 1, 1938 – December 31, 2019)

(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!”

Coach Widenhoffer, Bobby Russell and James Arendall

(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

Billy Smith with HC Woody Widenhoffer

(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.

Gary Veach

(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.

Christy (wife) and Paul Allen England

(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.

 

 

Conclusion

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

Comments

"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

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Jean Rogers says:

Thank you Gary for giving this tribute to the team of good men who volunteered to serve and be a part of the Vanderbilt family. An honor that is well deserved.

Gary Rogers says:

Thanks Mom for your response. These 8 men are very good men and deserving to be honored. This is the least that players, employee’s and others could do to acknowledge all 8 men and show our appreciation. I also know that Dad would’ve appreciated these men too. You both supported Vanderbilt Football and want to say thank-you for all that you both have done for me!

Lara Moses-Whitaker says:

What an incredible tribute you are giving to these outstanding individuals. Their dedication and service in the name of Vanderbilt Athletics is one to be highly commended. So much goes on behind the scenes that truly make a team. No job is too small and these men carried their positions with integrity. They deserve the recognition and honor.

Gary Rogers says:

Thanks Lara for your comments. There was so much that went behind the scenes that was always taken for granted that as I look back, have a much deeper appreciation for now.

Norm Fong says:

As a former Eq.Mgr. for a professional football team I can truly appreciate the dedication shown by these gentlemen.I know that without the help these volunteers provide there would have been no way I could have had a 30 plus year career. I salute all the volunteers who donate their time to all football programs as your help is extremely appreciated.

Gary Rogers says:

Thanks Norm for your comments. You totally get what’s going on as you were in the same industry for over 30 years. You can appreciate and understand that what these men did during their time of service should be treasured and acknowledged. Thanks again for sharing.

Michael Reed says:

This totally reinforces what Check your Game is all about. It is about commitment to a cause greater than yourself. All of these people dedicated their time and energy to help others. I will be forever grateful to Bobby, Billy and Harold for the time they spent with us and the lessons I learned from them.

God Bless all of you and thank you for the encouragement you gave to me.

Gary Rogers says:

Michael, you are right! Check Your Game many times is not just thinking about how we can help ourselves more, but it’s thinking of the greater good. For these 8 men to think of others with their time and talents is a lot of what Check Your Game stands for. Thanks again for sharing.

Joe Peebles says:

I was part of the Vanderbilt teams from ‘89-‘92 in the Brown/Dinardo era. All of my workout, chill and walking around campus gear was “Kelly-wear” names after the great Bill Kelly. Mr. Kelly was a good man and knew how to stretch a box of soap powder! Then came my favorite, the “Mellow Luke-Luke”. That was my nickname for my man Luke Wyatt who always kept a scrub like me in the best gear. Seriously, Luke (and Eric) took care of us at all time and we always had clean gear ready to roll. I appreciate you fellas!! For all your volunteers who helped Vandy Football, I want to say thanks for all your time and effort, but especially Billy Smith who I remember vividly, and even today we remember our times together.

Gary Rogers says:

Hey Joe “Wodies” Peebles, Luke and Eric loved everyone, didn’t they? No matter if you were a starter or not, they took care of us. I’m glad you had some memories of Billy as well. The things the volunteers did for everyone was simply amazing. Most of the time, we never saw their work, but now that I’m older, I am getting a better understanding as to all that they did to help our team! Thanks for your comments Joe.

Carlos says:

MAN! These guys were ALWAYS there for us no matter the outcome of the game!

Gary Rogers says:

Carlos, yes! These guys were always there for us no matter the outcome! They gave their time over a very long span totaling over 225 years of combined volunteering! Thanks for sharing!

Jimmy LaBarbara says:

Gary-

What a wonderful tribute Gary! Reading this made me pause and think about some of the great “fundamental piece individuals” that I played for and with at Depauw University. This past November I went back to our Rivalry Football Game, with a group of about 60 Alumni and got to thank, laugh, and reminisce with a few of our Bobby and Billys’ and the 6 others you mentioned. 20 + years have gone by and most of them are still there doing what they love. Behind the scenes players in any organization will never get the credit that they deserve. I love what you are doing.

Thx Gary!

Gary Rogers says:

Hey Jimmy, thanks for your comments. I’m glad this post has helped you to see those Bobby and Billy’s back at DePauw where you were a part of athletics to reminisce and to have an appreciation for those that were on many occasions, a behind the scenes type of teammate! On a team, it’s not just the quarterback and running backs that deserve the praise, but the men and women in the front office (who are taking calls, setting up meetings), coaches who work tirelessly weeks on end, Equipment managers and educational support as well as teachers. It’s the “Magic’s” in the kitchen making sure all athlete’s are eating properly and it’s the volunteers who aren’t even getting paid who also deserve the praise and recognition when us athletes take to the courts, tracks, pools, alleys or fields of play! Thank you Jimmy for your comments.

John DeWitt says:

I remember Luke Wyatt was ALWAYS smiling! Quick with a joke (usually at Hype’s expense). He was keenly aware of when jokes were not appropriate as well. A bad practice, a UT beating… whatever Luke felt was needed, he would provide. I was lucky to have him in charge of the equipment.

Gary Rogers says:

John, Luke and his team always did things with a smile even if the outcome wasn’t the best. As I have gotten older, I always thought that having a win was the bottom line or the only result to make me happy! Well that’s kind of true. A win or playing a good game made me happy, but happy doesn’t last. As I got older, I figured out that it’s knowing I was doing my best that should be the goal and no matter the score or how well I played, didn’t have to dictate on whether or not I held up my head or not! I think Luke and his team, including all the volunteer equipment guys were able to hold their heads up high and give us smiles, not just because of the outcome of the game, but because they did their very best they could. Doing one’s best is the key and I’m thankful you and I and many others had great experiences with all these men. Thanks for sharing.

Louis E. Wooldridge says:

I played at Vandy from 87-91 and one of the things that I appreciate the most are the relationships that I have developed with several individuals who either worked or volunteered in the athletic department at Vanderbilt University. Luke and his team was no exception, they worked tirelessly to provide the athletic teams at VU with everything that we would need to workout, practice and play our games. Long hours worked and long distances traveled, always providing the absolute best support possible. There is no amount of appreciation that I could show that would properly thank them for their commitment to supporting us!!! My only wish would be to have been more successful on the field so that these guys could share in the enjoyment of victory just as much as they shared the pain of our loses! We are all family in the VU athletic dept. Thank you Luke & Team for all of your hard-work and dedication to the Vanderbilt University Athletic Dept!!! Also, thank you Gary for providing a platform for us to recognize these great individuals!

Gary Rogers says:

Louis, thanks so much for sharing your comments with Luke, his team of employees and volunteers. They did work tirelessly! I don’t think I was able to understand that when I was an 18 year old. Now that I’m much older, I totally get all the hard work they did. I also understand that you wanted to give them more wins. That makes sense, but I really do think that they all loved us so much and getting a win didn’t take away anything as to how they truly cared…and I think that’s all of them in that same boat. I’m glad I have this resource Louis to not just share stories like yourself, but also to recognize others like these 8. It took many years and a good humbling for me to even be interested in thinking of more than just myself, but I’m glad it finally happened in 1996 so that I can shine a light in others lives to be able to encourage and give guidance to those who might be struggling like I know I once was! Thanks again Louis.

Kenneth Pulce Jr says:

What a great idea to recognize these amazing individuals who provided an Amazing Service in support of Vanderbilt Athletics. Not only did these great people support Vanderbilt, but many of them played vital roles in shaping the professional careers of the student/athletes. For example, during my playing days at Vanderbilt (1986-1990), retired Nashville Metropolitan Police Department, Assistant Chief Bobby Russell and Sgt. Billy Smith protected and served the greater Nashville community, as well as the Vanderbilt community. They took care of football players as if each player were their own sons. Chief Russell and Sgt. Billy Smith went as far as to recruit me for a career in law enforcement. With their encouragement and help, two months after I graduated Vanderbilt, I was working full time with the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department. For the last 29 years, I’ve worked in the arena of Local, State, and Federal Law Enforcement; and have enjoyed my career and traveled the world. If it had not been for the selfless volunteer work being performed by Chief Russell and Sgt. Billy Smith, and their constant interactions with all Vanderbilt athletes, I would have never met them and would not been encouraged to pursue a career in law enforcement. With their undying help and guidance, they paved the way for me to pursue a career that has provided great joy, experiences, and resources to provide for my family and friends. Thank you Chief Russell and Sgt. Billy Smith. I LOVE YOU GUYS AND I APPRECIATED ALL YOU DID For Vanderbilt and Me!!!! Kenny Pulce- 1991 B.S. Human Resource Development.

Gary Rogers says:

Thanks Kenny for sharing! It’s amazing how life works and you just never know who we touch when we’re in a position to help others like Bobby and Billy in not just helping with our equipment, but also in our lives! I’m so thankful that they both helped you in your career and this gives me even more reason to acknowledge them for their many years serving in multiple ways! Thanks for your comments Kenny.

June Jake's (JJ) says:

When I think of this group of men I immediately think of the ones we called “The Keystone Cops”. They were always there to help in any way they could no matter how small the task was. They never acted as if it was beneath them. They knew how important the small things were. They were helping a group of approximately 150 people move from city to city. My all time favorite memory was when we traveled to Newark, NJ to play Rutgers. Part of my duties were to help Coach Holloway organize the team and staff travel. Once Coach Campy got hurt and Van Holloway had to go back on the field to coach and Coach Brown asked him who would handle the travel and he said JJ can. She knows what we do. That week this girl who grew up in tiny Joelton, Tennessee got on Delta Airlines and flew to New York City, rented a car and drove to Newark. I was driving on the freeway and do I need to remind you that I had a Mapquest paper directions (where was my GPS…oh it had not been invented yet). Did I say I was SCARED OUT OF MY MIND? I think I was supposed to get off at the next exit at the Sheraton where the team was staying, but being in a strange city, I wasn’t sure until I looked over to my left and spotted a big yellow Ryder Truck with a WE MOVE THE COMMODORES sign. I walk into the lobby and there sat the most beautiful sight for me…..The Keystones. We got to go into NY City that night and since I had the rental car, I was blessed to have three Metro Policemen as an escort. There were many more adventures shared with these guys. We shared the highs and lows with the ‘Dores. We laughed, shouted, cheered, cried and yes we were the Commodore family. I will always cherish my 22 years with the Vanderbilt Commodores and the friends I made there.

Gary Rogers says:

JJ, what a cool story. You were put in a situation where you understood how tough a job it was to get to places (especially with the lack of technology) back then. I could imagine how thrilled you were to see the “Keystone Cops” in the lobby! What a relief you probably felt. I love it that you also are probably one of the very few people who get an escort by 3 policeman and aren’t in trouble at the same time! Thanks JJ for all that you did while at Vandy too! You were a bright star at Vandy as well and I’m glad that I got to know you. Thanks again for sharing a story about our volunteers! This is the kind of stuff that needs recognized and you’re helping us do just that. Thanks again.

JOHNNY CLARK says:

Luke, Bobby and Billy…the Keystone Cops! (I know Luke wasn’t a cop but I think they gave him a badge and a gun anyway!) When people ask if I miss football, I tell them not really. But I ABSOLUTELY miss all the people and Luke and his staff were the best. They loved us through a bunch. Luke…Bobby…Billy…thanks just isn’t enough but from the bottom of my heart, “THANK YOU!” You guys are winners and some of the most loyal men I have ever known. God bless you! And Anchor Down!

Gary Rogers says:

Johnny, thanks for sharing. It’s so true! Relationships are what’s most important and I think like you, it takes sometimes many years to go by until we can finally understand that better. These guys were great men who gave their time to us young “know it all” kids (at least I was one of them) all for free! They are so, so deserving to hear people like yourself tell them they are worthy and good guys! Thanks again for sharing.

Greg Smith says:

The Keystone Cops. They were such a huge part of our program and I’m excited that we are taking a moment to show some appreciation for all they did for us. After every game, Billy was always there to help me get my shoulder pads off. To most that may not seem like much, but after a game most times I couldn’t lift my arms over my head. There was Billy right there to help me with whatever I needed. I was just some kid. He was a grown man who was there to help and most nights what they got in return was a box of chicken. All of the Keystones are an example of how we should all be in our lives today; selfless. I can go on and on about what these guys did for me but what better way to honor them is to go out and do something for someone else in a selfless act like these men did for so many years. Thanks for helping out a kid like me when I literally just needed a helping hand.

Gary Rogers says:

Thanks Greg for sharing! Your story brought back vivid memories of you offensive lineman and how tight your jersey was over your pads so it would be harder to hold you, pull you or grab on! I bet you gave Billy a good workout each time he helped take off your pads. That is not an easy thing to do. I love that you are encouraging us to be like these volunteers did and to help others too! What a great legacy they can have if we all did our part and were reminded of their years of volunteering to help others. Thanks for sharing Greg.

Grady Rogers says:

Gary – Thanks for building this platform to honor these individuals. I had never been a volunteer of a sports program until these last few years with UC track. Wow it has been a lot of time and work! I can’t say enough how much we owe gratitude towards these individuals. Volunteers across the board are often overshadowed yet are the ones that humbly do the behind scenes work. Not only that, but they establish relationships with the kids which is so vital to any program. What incredible stories and tenure these individuals had at Vandy!

When you played football for Vandy I was there almost every game – the staff was always great to me, the University and players were always class acts, and the campus was always beautiful.

Gary Rogers says:

Thanks Grady (Gary’s younger brother) for sharing. Isn’t it something how many times it’s not until we get in someone else’s shoes for us to understand what they went through. Grady, you have been volunteering for a few years. Collectively, these guys have volunteered for over 225 years! Isn’t that something! I’m glad you got a chance to see that Vanderbilt was a class act in how we all did things and we really do owe a lot of this to those who served us daily who were on staff, as well as those who served us but were just doing it for free. Of course we did give them opportunities to perfect their driving skills (over 1200 miles on a weekend to Gainesville or a 1700 mile round trip to Syracuse). This volunteer job also gave the guys an opportunity to learn about sleeping on the floors where our equipment room was just in case someone didn’t break in to steal it! I know there were some good moments, but these guys were a big reason why Vanderbilt was a Class Act! Thanks for sharing Grady

Gary Shephard says:

Coached at Vanderbilt with Watson, ’86-’90. Bill Kelly, Luke Wyatt, Bobby Russell, Billy Smith and Danny Gentry were as fine a group of equipment people in the country. Spent a few Friday nights getting our game face on at a watering hole at or close to the hotel. I simply can’t believe that Vanderbilt has not recognized the countless hours these men have given driving loaded trucks with equipment everywhere VU played! I tip my hat to all of these great guys. Coach Shep

Gary Rogers says:

Thanks Coach Shep for sharing about some of the moments you had wit some of these guys! They all did so much work and gave so much time and though they may not have been recognized by others at Vandy, we are giving them the recognition from players, coaches and some of the administration. All these guys were good guys. Thanks again for sharing.

Paul Morgan says:

Thank you for some great memories and for making a young man live up the big time.

Gary Rogers says:

Thanks for sharing Paul about your appreciation for the volunteers. Some go on with stories and comments but your comments are short, sweet and really all they ever really needed from others, and that is acknowledgement that they were good guys! Thanks for sharing.

Alan S Young says:

We all know how hard it has been to be a Vanderbilt fan through the years. These guys gave their time and support, religiously. I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t see them around McGugin or after a game. Rarely were they thanked an I don’t ever remember them being recognized. They gave and gave because they loved being around the program. There is no way to thank them for all that they have done for the countless players that have come through the program and for all of the love that they showed each of us.

Gary Rogers says:

Alan, there is a way to thank each and every one of them and that is something you just did! Thanks for sharing your comments. They were always around and are so deserving for all their years of service. Thanks again for sharing and appreciating all their hard work as well as friendships too!

Ryan Bell says:

My man Luke and his team! (Eric, Danny, Billy, and Bobby). What can I say – but thank you from the bottom of my heart! Many days sitting, chatting, listening, and learning. Your ability to comfort young athletes mostly a long way from home. The games, the practices, the highs and the lows. Some great times in Nashville, we will never forget! Being more than a manager, to us all, being a friend! Thank you and God Bless You All.

Gary Rogers says:

Thanks Ryan for sharing. Yes, the equipment staff, both paid and unpaid, were friends to us kids! These guys were all appreciated by so many of us. Thanks for giving them your support and acknowledging that all that they did wasn’t for nothing! All of us are right there with you! Thanks again for sharing.

Bryan josey 91-95 says:

It’s the people that make the Vanderbilt program great. Coaches and directors come and go, but these guys are the very fabric of the Commodore experience. Thank you all for your time, the laughs, and encouragement. It meant a great deal to me! God bless

Gary Rogers says:

Thanks Big Josey! You are right! It is the people that make Vanderbilt great and these men who worked alongside with the Equipment Room Team were no exception. They were a part of the very fabric that Vanderbilt was made out of. I appreciate you sharing some truths!

Rod Keith says:

I’ve always enjoyed catching up and talking about old times with Luke and the Keystone Cops. Thanks guys for being there and helping all of us over the many years of your service.

Gary Rogers says:

Thanks Rod Keith for sharing your appreciation of Luke, his team of equipment guys and the Keystone Cops. I know they’ll appreciate you sharing! Their years of service will not be forgotten!

Brian Diggs says:

I was a part of Vandy Football from 90-93 and have fond memories of Luke and Eric. Great guys who kept a smile on my face through some of most stressful times in my life.

Thank you Gary for doing this as this is a well deserved honor for all the equipment managers and volunteers for Vanderbilt Football.

Gary Rogers says:

Big Diggs, thank-you for sharing your appreciation of Luke, Eric and the volunteers that helped for many, many years! This group of men did so much for us players and I’m glad we have a chance to thank and appreciate them. Thanks again for sharing.

Steve Fauer says:

During my time at Vanderbilt as one of two strength coaches for the football team, I know how important all of these volunteers were to the program. I’m sure most of the athletes didn’t realize that we had two guys in the weight room who volunteered – John Janecek and Murray Harbour. Both were there everyday and were vital in helping us run our program – I couldn’t imagine having to manage 60 athletes without their help. Both John and Murray were young, educated, experienced and motivated. Kelvin and I appreciated them very much.

Gary Rogers says:

Thanks Steve for sharing! You know what it’s like to try to work with a lot of athletes like you did and truly appreciate all that the volunteers did for us both in your weight room as well as the locker room. It takes so many people to put on a production that took place over the years and it’s very special to be one of those volunteers to be a part of this production, especially when they aren’t getting paid. Thanks again for sharing.

Kenny Simon says:

Wow – glad you are pulling this together Hype. Luke and Eric were the “main” guys when I was there from 92-95. I remember a few instances when they went above and beyond for me, personally. I recall them making special chest plates for all of the QBs after Marcus Wilson inured his sternum the year prior to me arriving. I recall him working with me to swap out various face masks, pants and helmets as I changed positions. Skill position guys are always picky about how they look, and Luke and Eric always made sure we had whatever we needed. One game (Wake Forest), my chin was cut and I bled onto my jersey. So I could continue to play, Luke immediately replaced my face mask (with one covering more of my chin) and gave me Jason Ellerbe’s jersey to wear for the rest of the game. I didn’t miss a series! Every year I would come back for a game, I’d have to stop in and speak to the guys – and they always remembered all of our names. They were like older brothers to us. You didn’t know it but some of that Vandy gear was critical to my wardrobe because I didn’t have much.

I also wanted to talk about several volunteers who were around when I played- Billy, Bobby and Harold come to mind- always ready to give you grief for any reason at all! I look back on those years with fondness. “Chief” was the coolest of the crew!

Thank you for all you did for me/us.

Gary Rogers says:

Thanks Kenny for sharing your interesting story with the Equipment team. Luke and Eric would really do anything to make things better or easier for us players, especially for the skilled guys! Ha ha! Yes, they truly were remarkable….the equipment staff and especially those who help Luke’s staff for free! Thanks for sharing your appreciation of everyone!

Gerald Collins says:

Great tribute to these people who gave their all for the athletes at VU! Everyone sees the finished product on game day but don’t realize the amount of behind the scenes work and attention that’s involved. Without the unselfish contribution of this group, it wouldn’t be possible. Thank you to all the volunteers that gave of themselves to see to it that teams of young men and women could go out and perform each and everyday! Outstanding job!

Gary Rogers says:

Thanks Gerald for recognizing all these men who were selfless and did this work for so many years. They were an instrumental part of our team and though most didn’t know or see what they did, they did a lot! Thanks for sharing!

Man, if we didn’t have Kelly-wear we didn’t have anything to wear at all. Now that I’m almost 50, I recognize the many many things I took for granted. With sons playing college football, the gear they bring home brings back so many memories. I’m truly thankful for Bill, Luke, Eric and all the volunteers behind the cage that helped keep my wardrobe crisp and clean. When we needed extra or another there was never a problem. They operated with excellence dealing with 107+ teenagers wanting more and more. Very grateful!

Gary Rogers says:

Hey D O C, thanks for sharing! You were absolutely right! These men always took care of us all the time. The reminder of all these guys I think brings back great memories for more than just you and I! I know everyone has been so appreciative of these guys whether they were on salary or a volunteer. Thanks for sharing as I’m reminiscing myself about what a GREAT group of all these guys were!

Much much LOVE and a GRAND SALUTE to all of the guys and girls who made up our equipment team. Hours upon hours and miles upon miles were spent by each of you on an annual basis. I personally commend you on a job well done and know that we as athletes couldn’t have functioned without your part of the TEAM EFFORT!!!! Love you all and I pray that GOD continues to shine upon you!!!

Gary Rogers says:

Thanks DP! You are so right! Our team was dependent these guys who did so much for us all. Thanks for acknowledging the entire equipment staff and the thousands of hours and miles they gave back to serve others.

John Norwig 85-91 says:

I joined the commodores in 1985 as the head athletic trainer. Bobby, Billy and Danny made a northern boy from Penn State University feel welcome in Nashville. They were always there to help Bill Kelly and Luke Wyatt. Lord knows Bill and Luke needed the help as there weren’t a lot of student assistants. They also helped the training room as well. No task was too small. I appreciate the work they did not only for the equipment room for but for the training room as well. Those guys were allies. In fact, when the Pittsburgh Steelers played their first game in Nashville, Bobby Russell helped organize a police escort from the airport to the hotel and from the stadium back to the airport. I appreciate all the unsung heroes of the equipment room. Folks just don’t realize the effort that they did to put a football team on the field. Vanderbilt was good to me and it was made even better by the great people that I interacted with in that equipment room.

Gary Rogers says:

Hey Wig, thanks for sharing your memories of some of these guys. You knew exactly what it took to get us players out on the field and are appreciative of those that sacrificed their time and talents. I know you too were one of the positives at Vandy and ones that us players enjoyed being around. My memories of the training room was really good and I know others felt the same. Thanks again for your recognition of these volunteers. I know everyone will appreciate your words. We all see you regularly on the field as we watch the Steelers be a competitive force in the NFL. Great job in all of your achievements with your team! BTW…Pittsburgh is where I was born and all my family came from and I have some great memories of that city!