KNOXVILLE, Tenn — "GOOD OL' ROCKY TOP! WOO!"
Hello, Vol nation, I am a Sooner, and I experienced my first University of Tennessee game day on Saturday.
Well, everything except the actual game. I couldn't get tickets this time, but I still got to experience all of the classic Volunteer traditions: Vol Walk, Salute the Hill, tailgating, Volunteer Village and the Vol Navy.
I traded in my crimson and cream for orange and white then headed down to Neyland Stadium.
Once I got on campus, I staked out my spot for the Vol Walk and could not help but get caught up in the moment as I heard the Pride of the Southland Band strike up "Rocky Top."
AND THEN I SAW SMOKEY STRUTTING DOWN THE STREET.
Don't worry. As a working woman, I kept my cool and totally did not freak out and squeal.....
Then I got high fived by some football players and felt like I met some celebrities.
After that, it was on to watch the band Salute the Hill, and once again, I found myself singing along and shouting out my loudest "WOO" as they marched past.
Once I settled down, the wonderful smells of tailgate food drew me over to circle park and the Volunteer Village. I don't think I have ever seen that much orange and white in one location in my life.
At this point, I had been walking around and humming "Rocky Top" to myself for about three hours, and I was sweating a lot so I decided to head down to Volunteer Landing for my last stop.
Y'all. I have never experienced any game day tradition quite like the Vol Navy.
Obviously, living in Knoxville, I had heard many tales about these vessels, but nothing could have prepared me for actually walking among them.
These massive, gleaming ships (calling them boats just makes them sound too small) could have actually made up a small fleet, and the more I walked, the more people came pouring out of them.
AND ALL OF THEIR RADIOS WERE PLAYING "ROCKY TOP!"
(I thought Sooners loved "Boomer Sooner," but y'all make us look tame.)
As if I hadn't gotten to yell "WOO" enough, I also ran into a girl named Miriam on my way back to my car who had been playing "Rocky Top" on her violin for over an hour. Can you say dedication?
All in all, after this game day experience, I don't know if I am bleeding or sweating orange yet, but I have come to three big conclusions.
- The University of Tennessee knows how to do a game day.
- Smokey is one of the best boys in the nation.
- I LOVE SINGING ROCKY TOP! WOO!