By Maren Angus
University of Tennessee co-head coach Ralph Weekly graduated from Arizona State in 1973 and was beaming with joy after his squad defeated No. 19/23 ASU Thursday night at Farrington Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.
But the connection between the programs runs even deeper than that and it was a postgame team photo that united the past with the present.
Tracy Fuentes Reidhead lives in Northern Arizona with her husband and four children. The Snowflake, Ariz. native was a member of the first Lady Vols softball team in 1996.
Her journey to Knoxville began when she played for Clint Myers at Central Arizona College and his colleague Jim Beitia was starting the program at Tennessee.
“Coach (Myers) told me he thought I should look at going to Tennessee,” said Reidhead. “I just thought I was a long ways away. I’m from small town Arizona but it was a great fit and I’m so happy I went. Playing at Tennessee is one of my all-time favorite things I’ve ever done.”
Reidhead batted leadoff for the Lady Vols and is proud to say that she was the first batter to step into the box. As a shortstop, she was known for her combination of power and speed. In her first season on Rocky Top, she hit .355 with six homers, 19 doubles, 51 RBIs, 65 runs and 10 stolen bases.
Her senior season saw numbers jump to a .374 batting average, seven homers, 19 soubles, 82 hits, 46 RBIs, 45 runs and 11 stolen bases. The result was a First-Team All-SEC honor.
“We played our home games at Tyson Park,” said Reidhead. “But some of my favorite memories include hitting a homerun at Georgia off the scoreboard. We also played in the first SEC Tournament and I remember them giving us a little bag with the number one on it. We played Florida for the Championship, it was just awesome being there.”
Fast-forward to present day and Reidhead is sharing her love for the Vols with her daughter, Kallee, who is a senior at Holbrook High School in Arizona. She, also, was just accepted into the University of Tennessee.
“I’ve never been on the field,” said Kallee about meeting the Lady Vols after the game. “That was my one and only debut, but I made it.”
Reidhead and her daughter have shared several memories together watching the Lady Vols softball team. They made a trip to Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series in 2013 and have been to Knoxville on occasion to watch games and visit the campus.
“We feel like we are part of a bigger family,” Reidhead said. “That’s just how Tennessee makes you feel. It was really neat to have that experience and I’m glad my kids feel the same.”