When things get rocky, Volunteers fans stand up.
And when they’re forced to sit down, other Vols fans step in to make it right.
When Jeff Vincent was at Thompson-Boling Arena for Saturday’s game against Texas, he loved watching an excited 12-year-old boy and his dad in seats nearby. But the mood changed drastically when he saw impatient fans tell the boy to sit down so they could see the court.
The boy and his dad switched seats, but the moment was ruined. The boy stayed glued to his chair for the rest of the game, even when other fans jumped to cheer.
“There’s no way that little boy had fun. He didn’t clap, didn’t get up. He didn’t flinch the rest of the game,” Vincent told Knox News.
All Vincent wanted to do was offer a little bit of joy to the child.
“After I got home, it broke my heart,” Vincentsaid. “I looked up and I saw that Daddy hat hanging from my television and I was like, that’s it right there, that’s the one.”
Vincent, a youth baseball coach from Kodak, took to Facebook to ask fans to help find the boy so he could give him his precious replica of the pink Daddy hat made famous by the Vols baseball team. Vincent’s hat was signed by basketball stars Josiah-Jordan James and Zakai Zeigler plus baseball star Chase Dollander and coach Tony Vitello.
Vincent started with the Tennessee basketball Facebook group and together fans made it their mission to find the kid.
Days later with the help of online sleuths, Vincent connected with the boy’s dad Chris Reynolds and planned to meet up for a handoff of the treasured hat.
“It was super kind of him to make an effort to make my son feel better after the game. Gifts, all that kind of stuff are one thing, but for a 12-year-old, to have somebody go, ‘Hey man, you’re good.’ That’s a big deal (for him),” Reynolds told Knox News.
Reynolds, a UT alum who lives in Alcoa, loves going to basketball and football games with his son. They’re exciting outlets for anyone, but especially for a boy who’s a bit reserved. Reynolds feared the interaction could hurt his son’s Vols fandom since he left the game worried he made people mad.
“We’re humbled by it, and a little overwhelmed. But I’m not at all surprised by people being cool and supportive and Vol Nation doing what Vol Nation does,” Reynolds said of notes of the support that have poured in.
Even the sister of guard Tyreke Key wanted to pitch in. She’s working on getting the boy signed T-shirts. He’s also received a Vol Shop gift card and tickets to an upcoming game from others wanting to help.
But Vincent doesn’t want the credit. He just hopes the generosity of Vol Nation inspires others.
“This world is too crappy right now with everything going on to not try to make people happy and smile,” Vincent said. “I don’t need any special treatment. I don’t need a pat on the back. It’s just the way it is. I just want more people to follow suit.”
Devarrick Turner is a trending news reporter for Knox News. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Devarrick on Twitter @dturner1208. Enjoy exclusive content and premium perks while supporting strong local journalism by subscribing at knoxnews.com/subscribe.
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