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Mother & Daughter Duo Conquer the West: Lynda and Brittany’s Excellent Adventure

Summer of 2016, Lynda Fox and her daughter Brittany, celebrated Brittany’s graduation from Tennessee Tech University by loading their car, packed with bags and bicycles, and heading out West.  In an interview with CCN, the mother and daughter duo share highlights from their cross country adventure.

CCN: What inspired you two to go on this trip together?

Lynda: My daughter asked me to go with her and I couldn’t remember the last time we went somewhere with just the two of us.

Brittany: I had graduated from Tennessee Tech with my bachelor of science in Accounting. I knew that soon enough it would be time for me to be moving from the small city I love to conquer the next stage of my life and not seeing as much of my mom and family as I would like. So as a graduation gift, I wanted to experience the second half of the country with my amazing mom, who also had not seen much of the western US.

CCN: Where did you go on your journey?

Brittany: Our first stop was Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX, which happened to be the location our previous music director at FBC had moved to. We were able to meet up with them (Bart, Roni, and Leeanne Starr) and they were able to show us right where we wanted to go, which I’m not sure mom and I would have found it by ourselves.

Brittany, Lynda and Bart

Brittany and Lynda join friend Bart Starr at Cadillac Ranch in Armallio, Texas.

From there we headed straight to the Grand Canyon where we spent two days in. Our first day was at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We spent the day biking 14 miles along the outside of the canyon. I was soon to figure out how much more in shape my mom was than me as I was found walking most of the way while she biked around me. After our bike ride, we drove to the North rim (which surprisingly takes 4 hours). Most of the trip we would call in for hotels but that day, because we never really knew where we were, this quickly bit us in the rear when we found ourselves on the north rim of the Grand Canyon with no reservations and no rooms available. We may or may not have slept in our car in a National park but I will never tell. We spent the next day on an amazing mule trip into the north rim!

Brittany and Lynda riding mules.

Brittany and Lynda riding mules in the Grand Canyon.

After the Grand Canyon we set out for Yosemite National Park which in my opinion was the most beautiful place we went to where we hiked and even got to see a bear!

Brittany at Mirror Lake

Brittany and Lynda visit Mirror Lake in Yosemite National Park.

From Yosemite we set out for the gorgeous Yellowstone National Park where we saw bison on bison on bison.

Brittany and Lynda at Yellowstone Park

Brittany and Lynda visit Yellowstone National Park.

After Yellowstone, we made a quick stop to Mount Rushmore to visit the big 4.

Brittany and Lynda visit Mount Rushmore

Brittany and Lynda visit Mount Rushmore.

After Mount Rushmore, we found ourselves on the only part of the trip where we got lost and that was the Badlands. My “amazing” sense of directions directed me onto a 10-12 miles detour on a dirt road that ended us in a “no entry entrance” and swarmed by prairie dogs. Yet, once we found our way, it was my second favorite stop!

Brittany and Lynda visit the Badlands of South Dakota.

Brittany and Lynda visit the Badlands of South Dakota.

From the Badlands, we headed to ease our sadness of our trip ending by meeting up with my older sister, Kristen, and our family friend Leslie Sherrill in Louisville, Ky. to sing our hearts out at a Kenny Chesney concert.

CCN: What were some of the best things you saw and experienced?

Lynda: The Grand Canyon. It was beautiful! Yosemite Park, so much to see and do there. Just driving out West. I had no idea how empty parts of our world actually are. We would drive for days and see nobody or anything but empty land.

Brittany: One of the favorite things that I saw was at Yosemite National Park. We had just left the main part of the park and were heading down the mountains when a huge traffic jam had come upon us. As we inched closer, we could hear people shouting “bear!”.  I was driving and quickly pulled to the side of the road to jump out and see, and low and behold, there was a grizzly bear about 50 yards from the road. There were around 30 people jumping out of cars and running up to see it. I also enjoyed watching how much the environment changed from little, small town trees everywhere in Tennessee to the brown everything vast openness of the Wild West. There were some places we would go 50 miles without seeing a town or gas station.

Lynda, Leslie, Brittany, Kristen Concert pic

Lynda, Leslie Sherrill, Brittany and sister, Kristen in Louisville, Ky. at a Kenny Chesney concert.

CCN: What were some of your most laughable moments?

Lynda: Almost running out of gas twice in the Wild West because gas stations and people are rare out there. Having to sleep in our car at the North Side of the Grand Canyon because we did not make reservations, only to wake up parked beside a sign that said, “No sleeping in vehicles”. Giving Brittany “Advil” ALL day one day because she had a headache and then putting my glasses on and realizing I had grabbed the wrong bottle before we left and I was actually giving her stool softener (yikes), and just the time we had talking about absolutely nothing.

Brittany: My most laughable moments had to of been my mom and I stranded with no hotel room and sleeping in our car at the North rim of the Grand Canyon. But for free, the view was amazing! Also, I drove most of the way yet I woke up twice while mom was driving to an almost empty tank of gas and the next gas station well over 25 miles away. Once, we really tested our luck when mom let the gas go from 25 miles to empty with 30 miles to the next gas station. Luckily, we made it, although we were already prepared to ride our bikes to the next gas station.

CCN: What was it like going on this trip just mother and daughter?

Lynda: It was amazing. She has grown up on me somewhere along the way and I had failed to realize it.

Brittany: It was amazing going with my mom. I know within the next few years I won’t be seeing my mom as much as I would like and going on a trip like this was amazing.

CCN: What are some of your favorite memories from the trip?

Lynda: There are so many I don’t know how to pick out just a few. Eating dinner with Bart and Roni and Carol Trickler in Texas. Riding our bikes around the Grand Canyon because I was faster than Brittany. Seeing a bear in Yosemite. Spray painting the Cadillacs at Cadillac Ranch. Riding the mules at the Grand Canyon just like on the Brady Bunch. Stopping in Arizona at the Bed Rock Campground, The Flintstones is still one of my favorite shows. Just getting to see this beautiful place we live in.

Brittany: My favorite memories would have to be realizing how fit my mom is and her biking circles around me at the south rim of the Grand Canyon. The whole trip really will be a memory I will never forget.

CCN: Do you have any suggestions for anyone planning a long trip like yours?

Lynda: Don’t make plans, it is sooo much fun just to go and see where you end up.

Brittany: I suggest don’t plan anything! My mom and I literally knew where we wanted to go and that was it. We traveled to various cities, stayed in various hotels and it couldn’t have worked out better.

With her summer adventure over, Brittany is on to a new chapter of her life with new adventures ahead in Colorado.

“I have moved out West for some years, to experience a little more life.”

Sept. 1, 2016 CCN Article by Rebekah Hurst, Photos provided, Updated and reposted with permission

Joining the “Seven Summits Club” Where the Journey Leads…. Featuring Kevin Vann

“Where the Journey Leads” features individuals who once lived in Coffee County but whose journey in life has led them to new adventures in new places; it’s an opportunity to catch up with old friends.

Manchester’s own Kevin Vann has lived a life many only dream about.  For the past thirty years, hometown friends would exchange stories of “Have you heard what Kevin is doing now?” with great interest and delighting at hearing about his storybook life, filled with adventures and challenges. Many in our community have a great sense of pride in that one of our own has had the courage to truly venture out into the far corners of the world and literally view creation from the tops of the highest mountains.

Kevin Vann on top of mountain pic

Kevin Vann reaches the top of Mt. Albrus, Europe’s highest mountain, July of 2012. Photo provided

It brought me joy when Kevin was asked to be the Keynote Speaker at the Coffee County Central High School Class of 2007 Graduation ceremony because my oldest daughter, Allison, sat amongst the other graduate candidates hearing that anything is possible when you pursue your dreams. Thankfully now with social media, family, friends and spectators alike have occasional opportunities to see a glimpse of Kevin’s adventurous life through incredible pictures and stories. In a interview with CCN, Kevin shared some thoughts from his past, present and future life adventures.

CCN: What are the names of your family members?

KV: How much space do I have to type? AMAZING clan! Thurmon, Sally (who sadly passed away in March) Michelle, Eileen, Stephanie, Renee and Mark. It’s nice to have normal siblings…when compared to my life.

CCN: What is your educational background?

KV: I’m a proud member of the greatest graduating class in the history of Coffee County Central High…The Class of 1977. Equally, I’m proud to have attended Motlow College and receive my Nursing Degree from this gem of a school.

CCN: Did you have a favorite teacher at CHS and if so, who and why?

KV: I would have to answer that as TNTC (Too Numerous To Count) I was blessed with so many inspirational educators. But if I were to name one, I can readily say it was James Blalock. Mr. B., as we affectionately called him, was my band director throughout junior high as well as high school. At the time, many of us didn’t understand why he insisted on precision, timeliness and discipline. The results spoke for themselves. We had one of the most rewarded and admired music programs in the state. He provided his students with dozens of “Blalockisms” that we carry with us today. I recall once, when a fellow trumpet player carelessly left his horn on his chair, it fell to the ground and severely damaged his horn. Mr. B.’s response to the young man was, “If it’s on the ground, it can’t fall.”  Brilliant! That’s just one of many that I remember to this day. I miss that man and owe him so much for my growth and development.

CCN: Where do you live now and how long have you lived there?

KV: I divide my time between San Francisco (where I’ve worked for the past six years) and Manchester (where I call home…and where I can afford a home!)

CCN: What is your occupation?

KV: I’m a Cardiovascular ICU Nurse and work per diem at two hospitals and have recently been hired as a clinical representative of an innovative medical technology company based in Israel.

CCN: What do you like best about your job?

KV: The stress! (LOL) No, I’ve been allowed to treat some of the most interesting people from all over the world. It’s been an honor.

Kevin Vann on bike pic

Kevin Vann bike riding through Amsterdam. Photo provided

CCN: What activities are you involved with?

KV:  As the co-owner of a trekking company,, I’m involved with guiding folks to Mt. Everest Base camp on a yearly basis. Obviously, travel is my passion.

CCN: Please share about some of your greatest adventures.

KV: Was it caring for the Afghan Mujahadeen rebels fighting the Soviets in 1987…was it being the first person to ever canoe the entire length of the Duck River (268.5miles) in 1999…was it the summiting of Mt. Everest in 2003…was it joining the exclusive “Seven Summits” club having climbed the highest mountain on all seven continents) in 2013? I’m not prepared to say that my greatest adventures are behind me!

CCN: What stands out in your mind as some of your favorite Tennessee memories?

KV: Remember when Tennessee beat Alabama in 1982, ending an 11 year drought? I was there! Recall the World’s Largest Pajama Party held on the square in Manchester in 1986? There too!

CCN: Have you met people during your journey that have made an ever lasting impact on your life?

KV: Aside from the most important and impactful (my family), there was my mentor Dr. Demetrio Sodi-Pallares. He was the greatest electro-cardiologist of the 20th century and the only TRUE genius I’ve ever known. Imagine living in Mexico City and being mentored by the greatest heart specialist in the world? I still can’t believe I was afforded that opportunity.

Kevin Vann selfie pic

Kevin Vann’s smile of success after summiting the highest mountain in Antarctica. Photo provided

CCN: What are your future plans and dreams?

KV: I would like to be an astronaut (seriously) and if I could be on that first Mission to Mars….

CCN: Do you have any special accomplishments or have received any awards or recognitions you would like to share with our readers?

KV: Let’s wait until I’m done…I’ll let others decide that one.

CCN: What are some of your favorite memories from living in Manchester?

KV: Exploring Old Stone Fort well before it became a state park, all the experiences with the music programs and all the insanity associated with my fellow jocks playing baseball and softball.

CCN: What advice would you give young people today to help them reach their goals for the future?

KV: OK…here goes. Avoid the vacuous appeal of pop culture. Remember, popularity is fleeting and lasts about as long as “a fart in a hammock.”

My beautiful picture

“The most exhausting day of my life.” Kevin Vann wearing a down suit, with oxygen, May 23, 2013, after a 20 hour round trip climb from Camp 4 to the Summit of Everest and back to Camp 4. Photo provided

Kevin’s life story is far from over and I look forward to hearing about his future accomplishments and experiences. But his adventures weren’t ever just about him and I would be remiss if I didn’t include an aspect of his life that is truly as heroic as every mountain he successfully scaled. For those who don’t know Kevin, I share with you something that many of his friends have known for several years now. Though he is often quiet about such matters, not eager for attention for selfless deeds done on behalf of others, Kevin is known as one that where ever his journey leads, he is willing to share his medical skills and reach out and help those in need. Fully aware, that though his travels take him to amazing and beautiful places, there too is often found the impoverished, sick and hurting.

Kevin truly does purposely live an adventurous, courageous and compassionate life. It will be exciting to see where his journey next leads him.

July 30, 2016 CCN Article by Rebekah Hurst, Photos provided, Reposted with permission

Where the Journey Leads….Featuring Josh Lockhart

“Where the Journey Leads” features individuals who once lived in Coffee County but whose journey in life has led them to new adventures in new places; it’s an opportunity to catch up with old friends.”

Josh Lockhart has been chasing his dreams and has captured hold of many, securing a firm foundation for a successful career in the music video industry. But the Coffee County Central High School Class of 2010 graduate has succeeded greatly in a way that few young people realize is a true measure of success. For he knows that learning how to overcome the obstacles in his path, truly takes him further on his journey than had the road been flat and straight.

William Jennings Bryan said “Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice.” Josh has chosen to face his challenges straight on, deal with them, learn from them, and now stronger and wiser, continue to chase his dreams wherever they may lead.

Jay with Audra McLaughlin and video crew

Recording artist Audra McLaughlin shot part of her music video “Boomerang” at Peoples Bank & Trust Company in Manchester, Tenn. Pictured from left are Joe Mattis, Derek Oxford, Steve Condon, Jay Nogodula with PB&TC, McLaughlin, David Duzenski, Josh Lockhart and dEtiosa Osayamen. CCN File Photo by Rebekah Hurst

Often times, Josh’s journey has brought him back to Manchester, Tenn. where he has engaged his hometown in his music video projects, including them in the adventure of the filming and the fun seeing the finished product. In February of this year, Josh assisted Steve Condon in directing Audra McLaughlin’s “Boomerang” music video, with many scenes shot at Manchester locations. In May, he invited the community to help him create a football game scene as he directed the Lawson Bates “Past the Past” music video. And once again, Josh included the community that supported his efforts when he returned to Manchester and CCCHS with Lawson Bates for the launch of the “Past the Past” Music Video Release Party held August 3rd.

Josh and Lawson pic

The Lawson Bates “Past the Past” Music Video Release Party was held Aug. 3rd, 2017 at the Coffee County Central High School auditorium. Pictured from left is the video’s director, Josh Lockhart with Lawson Bates. CCN File Photo by Rebekah Hurst

In an interview with Coffee County News, Josh, the son of Kenny and Teresa Lockhart and brother to Michael, shares his vision for his future and how his past has helped propel him further on his journey.

CCN: Who were some of your favorite teachers at CCCHS and why?

Josh: Honestly, there are just so many that I don’t want to get into specifics as to why they were my favorites. But I’ll definitely drop names, and in no particular order: Kelly Smith, Jenny Skipper, Rebecca Koger, Mindy Acklen, Rhonda Winton, Joyce McCullough, Angela Gribble, and likely many more. Half of the time I was doing homework during the five minutes before class started, but I assure you that they were all very special to me.

CCN: Where do you live now?

Josh: I currently reside in Nashville, Tennessee.

CCN: What is your occupation now and who do you work for?

Josh: My occupation is a little different than one most people would have. I sometimes simply say, “I’m in video production,” and there’s a good reason for that. As a full-time freelancer, I wear several hats, so it’s hard to officially pin down my job title.

Most days, I’m directing music videos, as in the case of Lawson Bates. But I’m still young, and I find myself working for others on a consistent basis as a camera operator or a cinematographer. However, if dealing with music industry teams, I’ll almost always introduce myself as a music video director.

Josh Lockhart with crew pic

Recording artist Audra McLaughlin shot part of her music video “Boomerang” at Peoples Bank & Trust Company in Manchester, Tenn. Pictured from left is actor David Duzenski, PB&TC employee Rachael Gray, Josh Lockhart, and Derek Oxford. CCN Photo by Rebekah Hurst

I also frequently work as assistant director with The 10:10 Creative, which produces music videos for country band Old Dominion as well as other artists such as The Voice’s Audra McLaughlin. That team is led by Director Steve Condon, who has taught me virtually everything I know when it comes to directorial roles.

CCN: What does your job entail?

Josh: As a director, I come up with video concepts, deliver a plan to bring that concept to life, and execute it as efficiently as possible. However, you always need a little leeway in order to maintain the creative flow. I’m still small-time right now, so I have to do a lot of things on my own: editing, logistics, sometimes I even have to shoot my own projects… I love it all, but sometimes it’s smart to let go of the reins on certain things and have others make use of their expertise. Andy Burchett was the director of photography who shot Lawson Bates’ project, and without him, it wouldn’t have been nearly as successful as it was.

CCN: How did you prepare for this occupation? Did you major in this and if so, what is your degree and where did you go to school?

Josh: I went to Middle Tennessee State University for three years with a goal to major in mass communications. My senior year I began to suffer heavily from a general anxiety disorder and depression, and I opted to leave school to focus on my health. Anxiety was something I had always dealt with, but I allowed it to finally consume me, I suppose.

Fortunately, I had just finished an internship at this time with a camera rental house in Nashville, and they chose to hire me part-time despite my leaving school. It was probably the healthiest option for me at the time since the workplace was a low pressure environment, my coworkers became my friends, and it was industry-related.

That same year, I met Steve (a frequent customer), who recognized I was going through a tough time. He kept hassling me via text message and Facebook to come on set with him, and I finally gave in on the tail end of a music video he was working on with the rental house manager, Derek Oxford, an extremely talented director of photography who has become one of my closer friends.

One of the first projects Steve brought me on full-force  was for an artist on Carnival Records named Mando Saenz, and if I remember correctly, he once sent me to Phil Vassar’s house last minute to do an interview spot to promote Phil’s music video for “Love is Alive” that he directed. I was completely unprepared for that, but he essentially threw me into the fire.

Josh and Jessie Lynn pic

“Past the Past” music video director Josh Lockhart, pictured right, works with production staff member Jessie Lynn during the video shoot held at Carden-Jarrell Field in Manchester, Tennessee. Photo by John St. Clair,

CCN: What has best prepared you for what you do?

Josh: To sum it up: hitting brick walls. Being told no, being told I wasn’t good enough, even being told I’m not going to get paid… It’s ridiculous how subjective this industry is. I constantly have to remind myself that I am good at what I do even with limitations – the biggest one being budget, most often. I’ve done some crazy things with just a few thousand dollars. Meanwhile, the labels are churning out videos worth at least $50K.

CCN: What have been some of your most rewarding experiences?

Josh: I’d say one of my favorite experiences was filming Dolly Parton in Canada last year. It was brief, but it’s definitely something I can say, “Hey, I did it.” It was a small crew: myself, Derek Oxford, and director Justine Feldt. It was very cool to be able to say I was a part of that.

My favorite all-time experience might be filming Old Dominion’s video for “Snapback” in Los Angeles at the beginning of last year, though. The energy was just so high, and it turned out to be a video unlike any other.

CCN: What challenges have you faced and have overcome to see the success you have?

Josh: Without wanting to change the direction of this piece too much, mental health is the most severe challenge I face on a continual basis. Many days, I struggle with it. It’s common in creative individuals, and you can see that more often today than ever.

I don’t like to use it as a crutch, but it’s been my biggest hurdle in this journey. I’m also fortunate to say that. There are far worse things I could be facing – I’m happy to say this is the biggest one.

CCN: What are your goals for your future?

Josh: I’d like to be working with higher profile artists more often with their music video productions. There’s room now for newer talent. We need to embrace that.

Josh, Derek and Audra pic

Recording artist Audra McLaughlin shot part of her music video “Boomerang” at Peoples Bank & Trust Company in Manchester, Tenn. Assisting and pictured from left is Josh Lockhart and Derek Oxford with McLaughlin. CCN Photo by Rebekah Hurst

CCN: Many people have been blessed with you using several locations in your hometown of Manchester for video shoots. What inspired you to bring your work back home?

Josh: No one in my industry has access to a town an hour away full of people who have known them their whole lives. It’s a lot easier for me to call up a location there and they know I have good intentions than intrude on someone in Nashville. While I do intend to keep the majority of my work in Nashville, it’s nice to come home and work with people who are all in.

CCN: You work with amazing artists who have had great success. What are your thoughts on being able to contribute to the success of others?

Josh: It’s just nice being part of something bigger than myself. I like to see people go on to do great things. It’s nice when I’m remembered for my contributions.

Josh Lockhart filming Bates

May 4th, 2017, music video director Josh Lockhart returned to his hometown of Manchester, Tenn. with his production crew for the filming of the Lawson Bates ‘Past the Past’ music video, staring Bates and Sadie Robertson. Pictured from left looking at photo footage is Nathan Bates, Lockhart and Lawson Bates. Photo by John St. Clair,

CCN: What advice would you give young people today on how best to achieve their dreams?

Josh: Never get caught up in “The Plan.” The Plan is something that we’re told to have during our last four years of school, and it’s just not feasible. The Plan says that you need to major at a certain school, have a certain job, get married at a certain time, and do all these specific things that are on a timeline. Honestly, that’s ridiculous.

Too often we place value on competition in order to get by. There’s a lot of noise surrounding this concept of surpassing others in order to get to the top. I’d use a more casual term for how I would describe that concept, but I don’t believe it’s suitable for print.

The only competition you really need is yourself. Be better than who you were yesterday. Help others when you get a chance. Keep moving, but only keep moving so you can achieve your goals – not rob someone else of their own.

How terrible is it to look back on your life and say, “If only I had done this, I would have lived the life I wanted?”

You’re given one life. Embrace it for what it is. If living alone is the dream – just make sure you’re taking advantage of what you can while you’re doing that. Say yes to everything (within reason), and never think you’re unable to do something due to limitations or “The Plan.”

For some, the dream is a wife and kids. Others, it’s financial stability. I’d say have goals. Never be afraid of changing those goals, and don’t feel guilty if you do. Failing is getting hit and not getting back up. When you get back up, that’s success.

For more information on Josh’s career or to contact him, visit his site at

2017 CCN Article by Rebekah Hurst, CCN Photos by Rebekah Hurst and John St. Clair,, Reposted with permission.

‘We Were Pat’s Boys’

In the early 1980’s,  University of Tennessee head basketball coach Pat Summitt realized that the harder her Lady Vols practiced against each other, the more their injuries increased before the game clock even began. So she came up with a plan that would allow her team to practice at a high level of intensity without beating up on one another. Instead, they would practice against the best UT’s Men’s Intramural Basketball League had to offer, the Tuppers, featuring Manchester’s own Tony Clayborne, Keith Duke, and Robbie Swain, Billy Heath of Fayetteville and Ricky Smith of Shelbyville. Little did they know, their hard work and excellent play would lead to an opportunity to help the Lady Vols reach the NCAA National Championship game and to share in the making of history. For before all the National Championships, there were “Pat’s boys.”

Clayborne, Duke and Swain played together at Coffee County Central High School during the 1978-79 season. After graduating high school, Clayborne and Swain joined Heath and Smith and played basketball the next two years for Motlow State Community College. After graduating from Motlow, the four enrolled at UT and wanting to continue the sports they loved, they picked up fellow Raider Keith Duke and formed the Tuppers. As it turned out, the Tuppers were a force to be reckoned with throughout the different I-M sport leagues on campus and they had the wins prove it.

In a recent interview with CCN – Coffee County News, Clayborne, Duke, Swain and UT Lady Vol stand out player Pat Hatmaker recall those early days on the court during the 1983-84 season, playing together under legendary coach Pat Summitt.

After the Tuppers won the pre-season intramural basketball tournament, Deane Edlemen who worked with the UT Women’s Athletic program, met with them and asked if they would like to practice against the Lady Vols, saying they had the right temperament for what was needed.

“We were just so excited,” said Clayborne. “I asked if we were to go straight to the court and we were told no, first you’ve got to meet the coach. I don’t think she was going to bring us to the court until we passed the Pat Summitt test. In 1983, Pat Summitt was not yet ‘Pat’ but she was still very direct and looked you in the eye. She was intimidating in a nice way.”

When they arrived at Coach Summitt’s office, Tony remembers her saying to them, “There are three things I will demand of you or you won’t be out there. I know y’all are a little bigger, (but we weren’t that much bigger, but we were a little bigger),” he said with a laugh.

Tony Clayborne as a CHS Raider. CHS Yearbook Photo

“One, I don’t want you blocking any shots. Two, I don’t want you taking any charges and three, most of all, don’t hurt my girls,” Tony said quoting Summitt.

“To be candid, we sort of took the Lady Vols for granted going in,” said Swain, “but quickly learned to respect their physicality, effort and talent, which exceeded many of the male players we had competed against.”

The Tuppers were put to work their first day on the Stokely basketball court. At this time, the Lady Vols were playing exhibition games because the season had not yet begun and they played at Stokely because the new arena had yet to be built.

“We didn’t play games against them,” said Clayborne. “We would get with the assistant coaches when we got there and they would go over the opponent offense and then we would run that and then we would run that half-court against them, over and over and over and over. Then, we would run their defense and the Lady Vols would be on the offense.”

“Because most of us had played together in good high school and college programs, Coach Summitt appreciated that we could run any number of concise offensive and defensive schemes to help her team prepare for the game plans of upcoming opponents,” added Swain.

Robbie Swain as a CHS Raider. CHS Yearbook Photo.

“They had two teams, their starting team and their subs. And there were times they would wear us down. That is true,” said Clayborne. “But, we were in the best shape of our lives.”

“The biggest thing I noticed about Pat was she was so meticulous about every detail,” added Clayborne. They (the team) could run everything perfect for 45 seconds or a minute but one little mistake would ruin it all. Remember in those days, they didn’t have a 3 point line or a 30 second shot clock, but in one minute, one little thing could ruin it all,” he echoed.

“She (Summitt) was as demanding of hard-nosed play and perfecting of the fine details as any coach I’ve demonstrated on the court in crunch time. Many talk a good game about coaching, but the true indicator of superior coaching is displayed by the performance and teamwork of their players executing their coach’s instructions on the floor. No teams did that better than UT under Coach Summitt.”

“We got to see her wrath at the ladies almost every day,” said Duke. “And when she yelled ‘everybody on the line’ it meant that we could get a drink of water and take a break.”

Clayborne remembers a day when the team experienced the consequences of breaking team rules.

Keith Duke as a CHS Raider. CHS Yearbook Photo

“Pat said, ‘Boys, I’m not going to need you today, but you’re welcome to stay.’ So, we were curious and we stayed. She put garbage cans at the four corners of the gym and they ran until they all threw up.”

Pat Hatmaker played for the Lady Vols from 1980-1984 and she remembers when the team started practicing against the Tuppers.

“The guys really helped us tremendously with helping us to become stronger and helping us to play at a faster pace. Playing against different people each day instead of ourselves made a big improvement also,” said Hatmaker.

Coach Summitt expected the Tuppers to give their best effort for them to truly help her team.

“Trust me, Pat treated the practice guys just like she did her players and held them to the same standards so we always had really good practice guys on the floor who were really dedicated to helping us get better,” added Hatmaker. “And, we really appreciated the effort and hard work they put in to helping us succeed.”

Pat Hatmaker was a team leader and stand out player for the Lady Vols. She helped lead the team to the NCAA National Championship Finals. UT Athletics Photo

Duke remembers playing against Hatmaker and what a talented player and asset she was to the team.

“She worked alongside Lea Henry at guard in 1982-83 (her junior year) and then she basically ran the team in 83-84 when the Lady Vols went all the way to the championship game,” said Duke. “I remember how confident she was at directing and setting the offense. She was great at getting the ball to the scorers like Mary O’ (Ostrowski) and Tanya Haave. She was a steady leader for a great team her senior year.”

The Tuppers matched up by size when deciding who guarded whom. Tony was matched with Mary Ostrowski, one of the best players on the team.

“Why I was guarding her I don’t know. I was the worst defense player on our intramural team,” said Clayborne.

The practices were demanding and although injuries were avoided at all cost, at that level of intense play, unexpected things happen.

“I remember one practice where the team star, Mary Ostrowski, was knocked down hard by one of us practice guys on a rebound and the place got quiet while she laid there in pain,” said Duke. “I remember thinking, ‘what are we going to do if we broke her hip?’. Thankfully, Mary was fine.”

Asking Hatmaker if she remembered that tense time she replied, “I saw it myself. But that’s part of it and it made us tougher. So, when we played against women, we were ready for anything. We all got knocked down pretty hard,” she replied laughingly. “Even the guys at times.”

“When you play against stronger, bigger guys, you feel like you can play better against anybody. Because, you’re so much better prepared.”

Mary Ostrowski was instrumental in helping to lead the Lady Vols to the NCAA National Championship Finals. UT Athletics Photo

Coach Summitt treated the Tuppers as though they were part of her team. When the Lady Vols played in the Stokely Center, the Tuppers were seated right behind the bench where they could hear what was being said in the huddle and share in the excitement of the games.

“You know what, going over there to practices, I guess was some of the most memorable times I had at UT. I enjoyed heading over there, knowing that we were going to get beat up knowing that we couldn’t block shots, we couldn’t take charges, and we couldn’t hurt her girls, but obviously she didn’t give that same speech to them,” said Clayborne with a smile. “We worked them hard. We would steal balls from them if we could, and we did anything that we could that didn’t go against Pat’s rules. It was some of the best times, knowing that we were going to practice with the Lady Vols.”

The Lady Vols made it to the National Championship game that season but were defeated by University of Southern California 72-61 as USC had Cheryl Miller leading the Lady Trojans to their second straight championship.

“It was great to play a part in one of Pat’s first Final 4 teams,” said Duke.

“Pat tried to get us to go with them to the Final 4, but the school wouldn’t allow it due to liability, and I couldn’t afford to go to Southern California,” said Clayborne.

The 1983-84 Tennessee Lady Vols Basketball Team. Pictured from front left are Amy Gamble, Shelia Collins, Lisa Webb, Pat Hatmaker, Sonya Cannon, Shelly Sexton, Kristie Snyder and Pam Marr. Pictured from back left are Linda Ray, Paula Towns, Cheryl Littlejohn, Tanya Haave, Mary Ostrowski, Lynne Collins and Valerie Freeman. UT Athletics Photo

Not only did the Tuppers enjoy the Lady Vols winning season, all their hard work also contributed to them winning the UT overall I-M title and Clayborne being named the men’s Most Valuable Player of the Year in I-M athletics.

With a winning season behind her, Summitt spent the summer coaching the USA Women’s Basketball Team in the 1984 Summer Olympics including Lady Vol 1983 graduates Lea Henry and Cindy Noble. Henry and Noble had spent time on the practice squad trying to keep their skills fresh and stay in shape in preparation for the Olympic Games. Coach Summitt and her team did not disappoint as they won the gold medal that summer.

Though Duke’s Tupper days were over when he graduated in the spring of 1984, he still had occasion to see Summitt.

“I was blessed to be in Los Angeles in the summer of 1984 on a Campus Crusade for Christ summer project and I attended a couple of the Team USA women’s games and was able to reconnect with both Cindy and Lea after one of their easy victories early in the tournament,” said Duke. “I saw Pat Summitt several times over the years and would remind her of those early practice squads. She was always so gracious and nice to me.”

Clayborne and the rest of the Tuppers were asked to stay on for the upcoming 1984-85 season.

“She kept us the second year so we must have done pretty good,” said Clayborne. “She didn’t go out and find another team while we were there,” he said with a smile. “It was fun. We had a blast!”

Clayborne graduated in 1985 and stopped by Coach Summitt’s office to say good-bye before leaving.

“She was so kind and she said if there was ever anything she could do for me to let her know and if there was anything she could ever do or influence, to let her know.”

CHS Lady Raider Basketball Team pictured with UT Coach Pat Summitt. Photo by Gail Clayborne

Clayborne echoes Duke’s sentiment on the graciousness of Summitt. He especially remembers the day he was able to introduce his wife, daughter and the rest of the CHS Lady Raider Basketball Team to Summitt when they attended the UT vs Stanford game in December of 2010.

“Ginny’s basketball team at the high school was going to watch UT play Stanford. Over the Christmas holidays, I called up (UT) and tried to get a hold of Pat. Of course, 30 years later, she’s not going to remember me. I finally got to talk with somebody and she was really nice. I told her I was one of Pat’s boys back then. She said for me to bring the girls to the court and the Lady Vols will be having a shoot around before the game and they can watch. The girls were happy with that, so we did. While we were there, the lady came up and took the girls and gave them a tour of the locker room. All the team pictures were on the walls from when they first started. The National Championship team picture there stays up until another team wins the championship. Then we went back to our seats. We didn’t see Pat anywhere. Later, my wife Gail and I were heading to the restrooms and there comes Pat walking toward us. I smiled and told her ‘I was one of your boys way back then’. I don’t know if she remembered me but she was nice. I told her we had our basketball team and they would love to meet her. She said after the game if I would get the team together, she would take a picture with them if she had time, and she did.”

‘Pat’s boys’ have many fond memories of the time she made them part of her Lady Vol family; lasting memories they will never forget of the team, practices, games, coaching staff and of everything that made Coach Summitt “Pat”.

“Anybody that Pat Summitt touched, she had an impact on you,” said Clayborne. “We spent a lot of time with her in practice, but I think you could have gotten the same feeling even if you had just been with her one day. You would have had the same love and respect for her, even after just being with her one day.”

University of Tennessee head basketball coach Pat Summitt often said her players were her family. UT Athletics Photo

“It wasn’t just a job; it was my life, my home, and my family, and the players were the second-deepest love of my life.” Pat Summitt, Sum It Up: 1,098 Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses and a Life in Perspective.

April 1, 2017 CCN Article by Rebekah Hurst, Special thanks to Eric Trainer, Associate Director of UT Athletics Media Relations for his assistance with the article. Photos courtesy UT Athletics, CHS Yearbook and Gail Clayborne – Reposted with permission







Traveling 48 States in 3 Weeks on a Budget: Jared Chandler’s Cross County Adventure

Jared Chandler found some unexpected time on his hands this summer so he set out to accomplish an amazing task, driving to every capital in the lower 48 states in just three weeks, on a limited budget and alone. Thomas Jefferson had said, “One travels more usefully alone, because he reflects more.” Perhaps that can be said for this cross country journey as well. Read more…

Danielle and Whitney Conquer More than Trail Miles on their Roadtrip Out West

Danielle Hall and her friend, Whitney Yeldell, had for themselves quite the adventure this past summer when after months of planning, they headed west on a three-week roadtrip to see the incredible sights of six of our National Parks as well as other National Landmarks and beautiful landscapes found along their itinerary.  The Coffee County Central High School Class of 2006 graduate and daughter of DJ and Teresa Hall of Manchester had taken a break from her public relations career in Nashville to realize a dream that many only fantasize about.

Bryce 2

Whitney and Danielle Hall hike through Bryce Canyon National Park located in southwestern Utah while on their three-week western adventure. Photo provided by Danielle Hall

President Theodore Roosevelt, who is well known of his passion of the great outdoors, once said, “The beauty and charm of the wilderness are his for the asking, for the edges of the wilderness lie close beside the beaten roads of the present travel.” Danielle and Whitney certainly found this to be true as they traveled over 5,200 road miles and hiked more than 118 trail miles through magnificent mountains and colorful terrain to see and experience firsthand the wonders and beauty of our country’s western wilderness. Their trip turned out to be so much more than expected as their journey allowed them to see not only parts of the country unknown to them, but to discover from within their strengths that allowed them to reach new heights, and endure and overcome challenges to achieve all they had set out to accomplish.

The two began their trek in Nashville, stopping in the Badlands and Mount Rushmore on their way west before visiting Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Bryce Canyon, Zion and the Grand Canyon.

Mt. Rushmore

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore, a batholith in the Black Hills in Keystone, South Dakota, United States. Photo provided by Danielle Hall

In a recent interview with Coffee County News, Danielle speaks in depth about her trip, from the planning stages to the experiences and then reflection about life lessons learned through her travels.

CCN: What inspired you to do this trip and how did you plan for your journey?

Danielle: We actually saw an article last fall about how there were several national parks all along the same highway. We talked about it some, but I never dreamed it would become a reality so quickly. Thankfully, I’ve backpacked a good bit with my brother and sister-in-law (Brandan and Kate Hall), so I had most of the gear already and felt I at least sort-of knew what we were signing up for. But the trip really exceeded all expectations!

We started planning in early 2017, and I’m a huge planner by nature, so it took a good bit of time to plan every detail. We started by mapping out our route, and then got together five or so weekends to research and plan what we wanted to do in each park. We mostly camped in the parks, but also wanted a shower and real bed every three to four days, so we needed to book both the campsites and airBNBs/hotels in advance. We asked friends who had visited the parks before for their advice because we didn’t just want to do the most well-known trails in each park.

Tetons 2

The peaks of the Teton Range stand nearly 7,000 feet above the valley floor and make one of the boldest geologic statements in the Rockies. Pictured hiking is Danielle Hall. Photo provided by Danielle Hall

Once we had our hikes, camping and other accommodations booked, we knew we also needed at least one backpacking trip before our three-week journey to be sure we had all the gear we needed. Whitney had never been backpacking before, so we spent a weekend in Joyce Kilmer National Park backpacking and camping about a month before our trip. We were so thankful we did – we were able to make gear adjustments that were necessary for our trip.

Zion_The Narrow

The Narrows is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon. This gorge, with walls a thousand feet tall and the river sometimes twenty to thirty feet wide, is one of the most popular areas in Zion National Park, Utah’s first National Park. Danielle Hall is pictured in the midst of The Narrows. Photo provided by Danielle Hall

CCN: What were some of your most rewarding experiences?

Danielle: This is a tough one to answer because there were SO MANY rewarding things about this trip. Just figuring out each day as we went was a cool reality – it was awesome to wake up to a new adventure each day.

My favorite experience from the trip was hiking The Narrows in Zion. It’s a huge canyon with a river running through it, and you can hike 5 miles in from the bottom up without a permit. We got up early and had the canyon mostly to ourselves – it was so quiet and peaceful.

Grand Canyon_North Rim

The North Rim offers a serene and enthralling Grand Canyon experience. It is more remote and less developed than the South Rim, and so it attracts far fewer tourists. Many people think its viewpoints are the most spectacular, since they are located at a higher elevation. Pictured is Danielle, amazed at the view. Photo provided by Danielle Hall

Obviously, the Grand Canyon was rewarding – it was also our last stop, and we completely changed our plans once we got down in the canyon. We had planned to only hike trails on the North Rim but ended up hiking rim-to-rim. Our last day we had to wake up at 1:30 a.m. to pack up and hit the trail by 2 a.m. so we could catch an 8 a.m. shuttle back to our car. Hiking out of the canyon just as the sun was rising was an unforgettable feeling. We were both crying – just overwhelmed with so many emotions and a sense of accomplishment.

Grand Canyon_South Rim

The South Rim is the most visited rim at the Grand Canyon. Danielle and Whitney are pictured at a scenic view site at the end of their rim-to-rim hike. Of the Grand Canyon, Theodore Roosevelt once said “In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is. I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon. Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.” Photo provided by Danielle Hall

We also met some really cool people along the way, from other hikers to rock climbers to rangers in several of the parks who took the time to really chat with us.

This trip made me so, so incredibly thankful for my health and the ability to hit the trails day after day to see breathtaking views. It was rewarding to keep getting up and pushing your body to put in more miles.

CCN: What were some of the challenges you had to overcome?

Danielle: While we had a very detailed plan of what our trip would look like, we definitely had to be flexible. Some of the trails we’d planned to hike were closed because of snow (in Glacier) or other reasons (problems with no trail maintenance in Bryce Canyon’s backcountry), so we had to adjust some of that as we went. Campsites can be pretty difficult to secure if you don’t already have reservations, so we had a lot of early mornings (4:30 a.m. a few times!) to get in line to book a campsite for the following night.

We were fortunate that we had mostly fantastic weather, but honestly the heat and elevation changes were a bit of a challenge. In several of the parks, it was 100+ degrees during the day. Thankfully, it was dry heat, but we still had to be sure we were listening to our bodies and not only drinking enough water, but also enough electrolytes. Once we got to the parks where the heat was so high, we hiked early in the morning or early evening and took a break mid-day. The mid-day naps were really nice! We both had a constant minor headache every day for the last week or so of the trip, and we were told it was likely from the elevation. We also got caught on a mountain ridge in the middle of a thunder and lightning storm in Bryce Canyon National Park and we were less than halfway in to an 8-mile hike. We hiked fast and even ran part of the trail, and ended up hiking the eight miles in three hours to get out of the weather.

Bryce 5

Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southwestern Utah. Photo provided by Danielle Hall

Starting fires was a challenge. Even with fire starters and matches, there were a few nights we ate only semi-warm hotdogs. But anything tastes good after a long day of hiking!

Not showering for a few days after hiking and sweating was more of an inconvenience than a challenge, but we jumped in almost every body of water we saw! Some of the lakes we jumped in took your breath away because they were so cold, but it was refreshing.

One of Whitney’s knees also started really hurting her about halfway through our trip. She bought a knee brace, but this meant slower hiking in the last few parks, particularly if we were hiking downhill. Some mornings this meant we had to start our hikes even earlier to beat the mid-day heat.

Glacier_Iceburg Lake

Whitney and Danielle are pictured at Glacier Iceburg Lake, known as being one of the most rewarding hikes in all of Glacier. Photo provided by Danielle Hall

CCN: What advice would you give others who would like to do a similar trip?

Danielle: Plan ahead for the experiences you don’t want to miss and book your campsites as early as you can! We knew in Glacier we REALLY wanted to camp overnight at Cracker Lake, but there are only three campsites there, and only two of those are reservable (the other is first-come, first-served). We sent in our application for the backcountry site the very first day you could (more than 3 months before our trip) and were lucky enough to get a spot!

Glacier_cracker lake campsite

Pictured is Danielle and Whitney’s Glacier Cracker Lake campsite. They were fortunate to get a campsite at Cracker Lake by planning ahead and sending in their application for the backcountry site more than three months before their trip. Photo provided by Danielle Hall

Be flexible. Things will change, especially when you’re dealing with Mother Nature every day.

Just pack your things and go do it! Get outside and enjoy nature…the rest will work itself out. If I’m being honest, when we finally got right outside of Glacier (after three days of driving), I was incredibly nervous. I thought maybe what we were about to do was a little outrageous – it made me particularly nervous to have bear spray that I’d never used before and to think about flash floods and the other weather we may face. But it all ended up being so easy and so worth it! It’s smart to prepare for your trip, but there’s really no way to really plan for every detail.

Glacier Danielle Hall

Danielle is pictured hiking in the beauty of Glacier National Park, located in Montana. The park was established on May 11, 1910, to preserve and protect the natural and cultural resources for future generations. Photo provided by Danielle Hall

One final piece of advice: we should all make an effort to take care of our earth in every way possible so that those who come after us can enjoy it in the same way get to:

“If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than with sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracle of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as God really made it, not just as it looked when we got through with it.” – President Lyndon B. Johnson

Yellowstone 2, Danielle Hall pic

Yellowstone National Park is a national park located in the U.S. states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. It was established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. Photo provided by Danielle Hall

July 21, 2017 CCN article by Rebekah Hurst, Photos provided by Danielle Hall, reposted with permission


Our Heroes, Our Patriots

The masses try and flee the terror that besieges them as flood waters rise in Texas while others escape the mighty flames burning out of control throughout the west. In Florida, many evacuate so as to be removed from the rage of the massive Irma threatening to destroy all who lay in her path of destruction, and yet, the patriots rush in. Read more…