Adapt & Create

by Buddy Pearson
Retired TTU Sports Information Director Rob Schabert

Rob Schabert knows all about how to adapt and create.

For 33 years, Tennessee Tech’s assistant athletics director for sports information and broadcasting adapted to new ways of doing things while coming up with creative ideas of his own. His unique skillset helped him carve out a legacy at Tech and in the community.

“Whereas a coach keeps his win-loss record, I actually kept in the back of my head a win-loss record, and I had a lot of wins, so to speak,” explained Schabert. “A lot of things I started are still here.”

When Schabert stepped onto the Tech campus in 1982, he was given a blank canvas to work with. Over time, he blanketed that canvas with fresh ideas which have enhanced the athletics department.

“The two biggest accomplishments in my 33-plus years were conceiving new ideas and creating them; hiring and developing new people would be the other,” Schabert said. “Most of the people I brought here aren’t in the business any more, but some of them still are and are doing well.”

In the ever-evolving world of technology, Schabert’s job was continually enhanced by new ways of doing things. Keeping stats by hand and calling media outlets after games morphed into updating websites, downloading stats and emailing box scores.

“What we do now at Tennessee Tech is about 175 degrees different than when I got here,” Schabert said. “Not 180 degrees, because a little bit is the same, but almost everything is different. We couldn’t have even imagined back in the ’80s the things we do today.”

While Schabert adapted, he used his creativity to promote Tech’s student-athletes and athletic events.

“I had no direction,” admitted Schabert. “I came up with the male and female athlete of the year, man and woman of the year, presidents awards, and athletic directors honor roll.

“I saw things at other schools and said ‘we can do that here,’” continued Schabert. “I was the first one in the conference to do a lot of things and then they picked it up. I created a lot of the in-game promotions and my philosophy was ‘the crazier, the better.’”

Schabert’s creativity wasn’t just limited to athletics. As a husband to his wife, Joan, and father to his son, Matt, and daughter, Kristin, Schabert also was involved in some groundbreaking community groups, which are still active today.

“I was the charter member of just about everything in town — the Clean Commission, Save the Depot, Putnam County Crimestoppers — everybody knew me and I was willing to do all of those things,” Schabert recalled. “That was all before the internet. Once technology hit, I made a conscious effort to quit everything because the job became so time-consuming.”

Since his retirement at the end of May 2016, however, Schabert has adapted to a more relaxed pace while coming up with creative ways to stay busy.

“I have worked in my yard in the heat almost every day. It is almost caught up, so now I have to go find something else to do,” joked Schabert. “I can’t turn off the ideas in my head. I’m still thinking of stories, promotions and ideas that are all sports-related.”

Whatever new things Schabert has to adapt to in retirement or whatever creative path he chooses, he reflects with pride on what he accomplished at Tennessee Tech.

“When I look back, I can honestly say I’ve given all that I could,” he said. “I could not do one more thing.”


The Schabert Stats

MILES DRIVEN IN MEDIA VAN: > 500,000
GAMES WORKED: > 8,500
ATHLETES PROMOTED: > 7,000
TOURNAMENTS & MEETS: > 1,300
PRESIDENTS SERVED: 5
ATHLETIC DIRECTORS WORKED WITH: 5

The right place and the right time

by Buddy Pearson
Tech women’s basketball coach Kim Rosamond

Tennessee Tech is the right place and now is the right time for Kim Rosamond.

After spending 21 seasons in women’s college basketball, Rosamond landed her first head coaching job when she was hired in March to become just the sixth head coach of the TTU women’s basketball program.

“I had a couple of opportunities before to be a head coach. I didn’t just want to be a head coach, I wanted to be a head coach at the right place,” said Rosamond. “When the position at Tennessee Tech opened, I had no question this was the right job for me. I knew it before I even interviewed.”

Rosamond played in the Hooper Eblen Center while she was student-athlete at Ole Miss and visited as an assistant coach at Middle Tennessee State University, competing against successful Tech women’s teams.

She already had a good understanding of the rich tradition of women’s basketball at Tech.

“There’s not a lot of places you can go in the country where women’s basketball is valued like it is here at Tennessee Tech and in the Cookeville community,” Rosamond said. “They love women’s basketball here. They value it.”

Winning on the court has been the norm since the women’s program was created in 1970. Since then, the female student-athletes donning the purple and gold have accumulated almost 900 wins, more than 400 Ohio Valley Conference victories, 18 OVC championships, 10 OVC tournament titles and 10 trips to the NCAA tournament. But, in the past nine years, Tech has produced just two winning seasons.

That’s a trend Rosamond is hoping to change.

“This university and this city and this community deserve a winner,” Rosamond said. “The foundation is very strong. You are already in the top 20 in wins in NCAA history for the program. That’s pretty incredible. Winning has been done here. We know it can be done here.”

Besides a successful history of women’s basketball, Rosamond says academics played a big role in her decision to come to Tech.

“I want excellence in every area of my life. I want to be able to offer that to the young women we coach. I just don’t want it to be all about basketball. I want to offer them an elite degree and an elite basketball experience,” Rosamond said. “Academics at Tech are impressive. It means something. To combine academic excellence, athletic excellence with a community which loves women’s basketball is pretty special.”

Rosamond comes to Tech after spending 10 years as an assistant coach at Vanderbilt. Before that, she coached at MTSU for a couple of seasons after a five-year stint at her alma mater, Ole Miss. She has enjoyed success wherever she has coached and believes her time at Tech will be no different.

“It’s going to be a daily ritual to establish championship habits. We have to get back to hanging those banners and being champions, not only on the court, but in the classroom and in the community,” Rosamond explained. “You don’t just show up and be a champion. You have to live it. You have to establish championship habits on the court, in the weight room, in the classroom and in the community.”

One of those championship habits Rosamond refers to is hard work. She expects her staff – Allison Clark, Crystal Kelly, Melanie Walls and Aaron Sternecker – to work hard and set examples for the players.

“The assistant coaches are tremendous people. They put student-athletes first,” praised Rosamond. “Their core values are similar if not the same as mine. We value academics, athletics and the community. We want our student-athletes to be champions in all of those areas. Beyond being great people, they are great coaches. Their experience will help speed this process up.”

The process to bring the women’s program back to prominence began in April and has progressed throughout the past few months. With several players returning from last season, and a couple of highly touted recruits, Rosamond is expecting a lot out of the 2016-17 Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles.

“I want our team to be relentless. I want our team to be fearless. I want them to be disciplined. I want them to have a team-first attitude,” Rosamond said. “When people come watch us I want them to see the respect we give the game; the respect we give each other; and the respect we give the fans. It may not happen overnight, but they will see a team that is committed to each other, invested in each other and helps each other to be successful.”

Rosamond is very clear in the goals and expectations she has for her players and coaches. She also has goals and expectations for a loyal fan base ready to cheer on a winning team.

“I want people to be drawn to this program. I want it to be a magnet and intoxicating,” said Rosamond. “When people walk in here, I want them to feel like something is brewing, something special is happening. I want them to feel it from the staff and the players. We are going to work every single day to get it there.”

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared before the end of the women’s basketball team’s inaugural season under Rosamond. The team finished 10-20, 7-9 OVC.

Game plan

Tech’s new football coach has been working his plan to become a head coach his entire life. Now, he’s bringing that focus and passion to the Golden Eagles.

by Buddy Pearson
Tech football coach Marcus Satterfield

Marcus Satterfield has had a game plan for his life since he was a little boy. When asked in school what he wanted to be when he grew up, he responded “a football coach.”

Satterfield didn’t have to go too far to find a coaching role model. He had one at home in his father, Bill, who was the head football coach at Greenback High School in East Tennessee.

“I was always the manager or the ball boy,” Satterfield recalled. “I knew pretty early in life I wasn’t going to make a career of playing football, but coaching was something that was in my blood.”

Satterfield tagged along with his dad, learning about the game until he was old enough to put on the pads. He spent four years playing for the Greenback Cherokees under his father’s guidance. It was a helpful and fulfilling experience.

“He wasn’t a coach who was overbearing or any harder on me,” Satterfield explained. “He definitely wasn’t easy on me, but we didn’t take it home. He was not the overbearing type. It wasn’t a burden to play for him. It was a pleasure.”

After high school, Satterfield had the pleasure of playing on the collegiate level at East Tennessee State University where he lettered three years. Once Satterfield got a taste of college football, he began designing a path for his future career.

“At the time, I thought I wanted to be a high school coach,” Satterfield recalled. “But when I got to college, I decided college football was the greatest game ever, and I got the bug to coach it.”

As a player at ETSU, Satterfield would approach opposing coaches and inquire about a job. He lobbied such notable mentors as Butch Davis, who was at Miami, and Jackie Sherrill, who was at Mississippi State. Satterfield began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. Even though it didn’t pay anything, he knew this would be the first step in climbing the coaching ladder. Fortunately, so did his dad.

“My dad saved my career,” admitted Satterfield. “I could have coached with my dad or at some small schools. He knew if I wanted to get where I ultimately wanted to get, I needed to start at Chattanooga, an FCS Division I school.

“He and my mom basically paid me — paid my salary, paid my food, paid my rent so I could pursue my dream. I will never forget that,” continued Satterfield. “It was huge for them to be able to sacrifice for a year or year and a half until I could start getting paid.”

Satterfield moved up the coaching ranks before being promoted to assistant coach for wide receivers. He then left UTC and moved to Knoxville where he served on the staff of Phillip Fulmer at the University of Tennessee. From there he bounced over to Richmond and then Western Carolina before landing at the University of Tennessee, Martin. With the Skyhawks, Satterfield was the passing game coordinator before moving up to associate head coach.

Satterfield then returned to Chattanooga where he was the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. After four years with the Mocs, Satterfield headed to Philadelphia to become the offensive coordinator at Temple.

“Everything I’ve done in my coaching career in college has been building toward being a head coach,” Satterfield explained. “Understanding that you have to work for free and be a GA, be an assistant coach and a position coach and, hopefully, one day be a coordinator. Being a coordinator puts you in a position to have ownership and have control of 30-40 guys on one side of the ball and have some success at that.”

Satterfield had a lot of success at Temple, helping turn the Owls into a Top 25 program for the first time in 36 years. As a member of the staff, the Owls won a conference divisional championship, posted a 10-win season and made a bowl appearance.

For all his efforts, he was named the Tennessee Tech head football coach in December 2015. His game plan had worked, and his dream of becoming a head football coach had come to fruition.

“It’s unbelievable. This is the best college town in the country,” Satterfield exclaimed. “This is a dream come true.”

Satterfield put a fresh game plan into action with the Golden Eagles. His 2016 Golden Eagle squad posted a 5-6 overall record, including a third-place finish in the OVC with a 5-3 mark, which is Tech’s best finish since 2011.

“We are slowly but surely defeating the inferiority complex that’s been built up in this area when it comes to sports and college football,” Satterfield said. “We are breaking that down one day at a time. Hopefully, with some success on the field this is going to be a college football program everyone knows about and one of the best in the country. In time, I think we will be.”

Satterfield has wasted little time in expressing his enthusiasm for being a head coach and expectations for the Golden Eagles. He uses the word “championship” in conversation. He sits and cheers with his players at TTU sporting events. Academics and community service are priorities. The energy and passion he exudes have captured the intrigue of the campus.

“The only way anything works is if you have energy and passion and love for whatever you are doing. If ever there is a day when I come into work and I’m miserable, then I need to get out of it,” said Satterfield. “If your kids can see how much love and passion and energy you have, they are going to have the same thing. The community is going to have the same thing, and the students are going to have the same thing.”

Satterfield believes in the power of positive thinking, which is why he continues to use the word “championship” in conversations. He believes Tennessee Tech will not only compete for conference championships, but national championships as well.

“If we don’t talk about championships, we are never going to get there,” explained Satterfield. “You never want to get caught where you are in a position to win one and you aren’t ready.”

Just as Satterfield followed his game plan to be ready when the time came to be a head coach, he believes his game plan will have Tennessee Tech ready to take the next step in becoming a winning program.

“The more you talk about it, the more it will happen,” said Satterfield. “I’ve talked about being a head coach all my life and it happened. It will happen here, too.”

Thank you, Watson Brown

by Kory Riemensperger

WatsonBrown_Auburnprogram[1]
Watson Brown prepares to take the field with his players at the Auburn University game in 2007.

After nine years on the sidelines of Overall Field, Tech’s head football coach Watson Brown retired.

In 43 years coaching college football, Brown mentored more than 3,000 student-athletes. Some of those men played football after college. Others became coaches themselves.

“There are so many people to thank,” Brown said when announcing his retirement. “The players, the coaches, the families. There are a lot of special people through the years. I cherish all of them and want to say a special ‘thank you’ to all of those people.”

The memories and stories go both ways. Several of his former players shared memories of coach Brown with Visions.

Nick Campbell, ’11 exercise science, remembers Brown as a true player’s coach. When Campbell, now the boys’ basketball coach at Lawrence County High School, brought his young athletes to play White County, Brown offered to speak to them.

“He always had a great relationship with his athletes,” said Campbell, who was the punter from 2008–2011. “He taught us to keep calm under pressure and represent our school with respect.”

Justin Hilliard, ’10 business management, ’11 MBA, described Brown as tough on the field, but a father figure off it.

“He was strict when it came to football,” said the 2007–2010 noseguard. “It was pretty common to run the same play in practice until we had it perfect.

“One practice, we messed up play after play after play and absolutely nothing seemed to go right. Coach blew the whistle and had us go back into the locker room, change and wait in the parking lot. After waiting a while, the coaching staff had us come inside and get ready for practice again. We acted like that start to practice never happened.”

Thomas Cox played quarterback under Brown at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and coached with him at Tech from 2007–2012. Cox said coaching is all about getting the most out of people. He shared an unexpected start to his first college football game:

“During practice the starting quarterback twisted his ankle. The medical staff looked at him, and I was told he’d be fine to play that weekend. When we were warming up for the game, they told me last minute I’d be the starting quarterback against #16 East Carolina.

“They had known the ankle was bad and kept it from me. At the time, I thought, ‘Alright. Let’s do it. Let’s go.’ I knew I had teammates depending on me. I realize now I would have done the same thing as a coach. It’s their way of taking the pressure off a player. Can you imagine what that pressure would have done to a 19-year-old kid?”

From the OVC to the World Series

by Kory Riemensperger

One of the first sports memories Drake Fenlon, ’14 communication, recalls isn’t an unbelievable catch or heartbreaking loss. It’s the puzzled look on his parent’s faces because their son was more invested in Awesome Eagle’s routine than the Tech game.

Fenlon_Drake
Drake Fenlon

This fascination with mascots prompted Fenlon to suit up as Cookeville High School’s Mr. Cavalier and Tech’s Awesome Eagle.

For this year’s World Series, Fenlon kept the crowd entertained as

assistant for the winning team’s mascot.

Fenlon works four part-time mascot jobs for teams in the Kansas City area: the Royals of Major League Baseball, the Chiefs of the National Football League and the Missouri Mavericks, a AA hockey team.

“I represent a lot of teams, so my schedule is busy, and my apartment is full of mascot body parts,” said Fenlon.

Royals fans saw their mascot, Sluggerrr the lion, at the 2014 and 2015 World Series. The team lost the first series in seven games, but won this year’s championship in five games.

Fenlon was there for every home game, the liaison between the production team in the stands and the mascot on the field. His headset connected him to both so he could make sure the mascot was in the right spot at the right time.

“Everyone wants a selfie these days, and mascots are a prime target. It’s my job to keep him moving on gameday, and to keep an eye out for rogue bats and balls that could injure audience members.”

When he first started working for the Royals, Fenlon said he was in awe of the staff’s professionalism and the number of people in the stands. After a full season of looking after Sluggerrr, however, some of that incredulity has worn off.

“I’ve become numb to the crowd noise a little bit. I’m still surprised every now and then though. Normally the media pool next to my dugout has five or six photographers, but there were more than 1,000 at each World Series game.”

With all his time in the spotlight, Fenlon is still proud of his time entertaining audiences as Awesome Eagle.

“When I think back on it, a lot of what I did for the team at Tech is similar to what I do now. It kind of prepared me in a way for the big leagues.”

Fenlon’s first year at Tech, the mascot team doubled in size and participated in more national competitions. After each, Fenlon and his team broke down film of other competitors to improve their routine. His last two years at Tech, Awesome Eagle took a first place victory in the Universal Cheerleaders Association’s competition.

“At the end of the day, the fans are here to be entertained,” Fenlon said, “ so that’s what we try to focus on every night.”

Cody Dodd: Serving for red, white and blue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Cody Dodd tried out for the U.S. national volleyball team this summer, she swapped purple and gold for red, white and blue. But Tech’s standout player still had some purple with her: the ring her mother, who died in March, wore always. Dodd wears the ring every day on a chain around her neck.

She is not superstitious, but that small silver ring may help Dodd as she pursues the Olympics’ five multicolored rings.

“My mom was so proud of me, so that’s hard. I know she’s still proud of me,” the Cookeville native said. “I want to see how far I can make it. My coach always says I could go professional, but my ultimate goal is to be an Olympian.”

The tryouts do not qualify athletes for the Olympics. They offer chances to play on one of the USA volleyball high-performance pipeline teams, from which Olympians are selected.

“If I get picked, it helps me because my name is out there,” Dodd said before she left. “It might help me get to the Olympics.”

The senior exercise science, physical education and wellness major was among 36 women – of 250 – to make the cut for this summer’s second round of tryouts. The first was in Colorado in February.

“Cody has 100 percent of the physical skills. This is going to be good for her game IQ. If she can get these mental tricks up, I think she stands a good shot of making the national team someday,” said Tech volleyball coach Dave Zelenock. “She gets to work with the best coaches for a week and play with some of the best players in the country.”

In overall season play at Tech, Dodd led the Ohio Valley Conference in points and service aces and was second in kills. The season was the team’s best in years; the Golden Eagles made it to the second round of the OVC tournament.

“I just want to surround myself with volleyball,” Dodd said. “I love it so much. I love playing and helping people get better. I love it all, but the best part is winning.” V

 

Update: Dodd was not selected to play on one of the USA high-performance pipeline volleyball teams.