On a bright spring morning in April in downtown Nashville, classes of school children climbing the steps of the Tenenssee State Capitol to learn about the historic building and their state government is a common sight.Follow @wbbVandyMania
On Thursday morning, the players, coaches and staff of the Vanderbilt women's basketball team joined the visitors to the popular tourist destination, but with a big difference. Instead of just watching the action, they were part of it, as the Tennessee General Assembly honored the team with a congratulatory resolution in the morning session.
As the team waited in the lobby, they posed for photos (here with Senators Joe Haynes and Douglas Henry, who was the Senate sponsor of the resolution) and mingled with the state legislators and staffers. Conversation became difficult, however, when the ear-splitting buzzers began to echo through the hallway giving the warning that the session was about to begin.
The legislators hustled off to their seats so that they'd be in place for the opening roll call, and the Vanderbilt contingent lined up outside the door to the chamber.
When the doors opened, the team walked down the center aisle, as the lawmakers stood and applauded then took their place at the front of the assembly.
Representative Brenda Gilmore was the sponsor from the House of Representatives.
After the resolution was read aloud, Head Coach Melanie Balcomb addressed the legislators.
Cooach Balcomb introduced Rebecca Silinski as someone who wants to go into politics. Rebecca spoke to the assembly, then introduced her teammates.
Before leaving, there was one last chance for congratulations and photo ops.
Back in the lobby, Jessica Mooney and Rebecca posed in front of Alan LeQuire's relief commemorating the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guaranteed women's right to vote.
David Mills, Vanderbilt's Associate Director of State Policy and Legislative Affairs, explained that 19th Amendment was adopted in 1920 when Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment in the very room in which the resolution had just been presented.
Repreentative G.A. Hardway from Memphis stopped by to chat and pose for photos.
Next season's seniors posed on the porch on the east side of the capitol building. From left: Merideth Marsh, Lauren Lueders, Jessica Mooney, and Ashlee Bridge.
From left: Jence Rhoads, Jordan Coleman, Rebecca Silinski, and Hannah Tuomi.
From left: Lauren Lueders, Merideth Marsh, Rebecca Silinski, Jordan Coleman, Jessica Mooney, Ashlee Bridge, Hannah Tuomi, and Jence Rhoads.(Click photo to view a larger image.)
Administrative Assistant Vicki Spina and Jence Rhoads display the team's copy of the resolution. The complete text is below.
A RESOLUTION to congratulate Head Coach Melanie Balcomb and the Vanderbilt University Commodores on winning the 2009 Southeastern Conference Women's Basketball Tournament Championship.
WHEREAS, the Tennessee General Assembly is pleased to specially honor and commend those extraordinary athletic teams that, through their magnificent exploits, bring honor to the State of Tennessee and serve as exceptional ambassadors of this State; and
WHEREAS, the Vanderbilt University Women's Basketball Team is one such estimable team that achieved an extraordinary level of success during the 2008-2009 season, establishing a record of twenty-six wins and nine losses, including the SEC Tournament Championship Title; and
WHEREAS, finishing the season in the Top Ten as the eighth-ranked team in the nation, the 2008-2009 Vanderbilt Commodores women's basketball team balanced an explosive offense with an unrelenting defense, giving unwary opponents no quarter, as they soundly defeated teams, including long-time rival the University of Tennessee, to show that heart, determination, and preparation can overcome any foe; and
WHEREAS, with a conference record of ten wins against four losses, Vanderbilt entered the Southeastern Conference Tournament without the services of their tenacious leading rebounder and center Hannah Tuomi due to an injury; banding together to face their conference foes, the Commodores fought Tuomi-like with grit and determination in every game; and
WHEREAS, starting four guards and one forward/guard, the Commodores defeated Georgia, 69-61, grabbing important offensive rebounds and outhustling the Lady Bulldogs on their way to the semi-finals to face the young Lady Tigers of Louisiana State University; and
WHEREAS, down at halftime to LSU by three points, Vanderbilt attacked the basket in the second half to take the lead and the victory, 61-47, as every player stepped up, making key plays as they frustrated their opponents into committing twenty turnovers; and
WHEREAS, sparked by the heroic effort of the best guard/center in the nation, Jennifer Risper, and the tremendous play of Christina Wirth, the Commodores rallied from a slow start in the Championship game and stood steadfast against a determined Auburn Tiger team, winning 61-54, as they got timely three-point baskets, played fierce defense, and executed their masterful game plan to clinch the victory with a pass interception by Wirth in the final seconds; and
WHEREAS, the 2009 SEC Tournament Championship is the second in three years for the Commodores, the third under Head Coach Melanie Balcomb, and the sixth overall in Vanderbilt history, joining the teams from 1993, 1995, 2002, 2004, and 2007; and
WHEREAS, Jennifer Risper was named to the All-Tournament team, joining teammate Christina Wirth who was named SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player to become just the sixth Commodore to win the prestigious honor alongside such Vandy greats as Sheri Sam, Chantelle Anderson, and Carla Thomas; and
WHEREAS, the esteemed members of this championship basketball team include Amy Malo, Jennifer Risper, Christina Wirth, Ashlee Bridge, Lauren Lueders, Merideth Marsh, Jessica Mooney, Amber Norton, Chanel Chisholm, Jence Rhoads, Rebecca Silinski, Hannah Tuomi, Jordan Coleman and Tia Gibbs; and
WHEREAS, the 2008-2009 Commodores have enjoyed the inspirational leadership and exemplary skills of an extraordinary pair of seniors who also serve as Team Captains: Jennifer Risper and Christina Wirth, who have left an indelible mark on the history of women's basketball at Vanderbilt University; and
WHEREAS, a unanimous All-SEC First Team selection, the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and winner of multiple All-American honors, sure-shot Christina Wirth of Mesa, Arizona, tallied 1,596 career points, becoming the ninth all-time scorer in Vanderbilt history on her way to being ranked in the all-time Top Ten in nearly a dozen different categories for the Commodores; and
WHEREAS, honored as not only the SEC Defensive Player of the Year but the Defensive Player of the Year by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, fearless Jennifer Risper of Moreno Valley, California, led the SEC in steals for two years, joining the all-time Top Ten for steals at Vanderbilt with 221, and igniting the Vanderbilt defensive efforts that resulted in over twenty opponent turnovers a game; and
WHEREAS, this tremendous team is led by Head Coach Melanie Balcomb who laid the groundwork for this year's championship by sharing with these young women her substantial knowledge of basketball, her many years of coaching and athletic experience, and her passion both for the sport of basketball and for excellence in every endeavor; and
WHEREAS, in addition to the superb leadership of Head Coach Balcomb, the Vanderbilt University Commodores enjoy the outstanding coaching and assistance of Assistant Coach Vicky Picott, Assistant Coach Lisa Cermignano, Assistant Coach Kim Rosamond, Graduate Assistant Caroline Williams, and Director of Basketball Operations/Video Coordinator Justin VanOrman; and
WHEREAS, the Vanderbilt Commodores women's basketball team is also ably served by Athletic Trainer Michele Loftis, Strength and Conditioning Coach Tasha Weddle, Sports Information Director Chris Weinman, Academic Services Coordinator Christy Hogan, and Administrative Assistant Vicki Spina; and
WHEREAS, the basketball players at Vanderbilt University epitomize all that is good in today's student-athlete, as they have achieved a premier level of success in competition and academics. The perseverance, determination, work ethic, and talent of this group of young women not only made possible a championship basketball season, but also surely bodes well for their success in every future enterprise; and
WHEREAS, this General Assembly finds it appropriate to acknowledge and applaud the Vanderbilt University Commodores women's basketball team and specially recognize their extraordinary achievements both on and off the basketball court as examples of the exceptional quality of the youth of America; now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE ONE HUNDRED SIXTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING, that we honor and congratulate the coaches, staff, and members of the Vanderbilt University Women's Basketball Team on winning the 2009 Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship and that we wish the Commodores well in all their future endeavors.