Football connects old and new with practice event for alumni

CREATING COMPETITION – Maleek Hall (left) and Jordan Smith (right) wrestle each other for position during the April 8 practice. Hall and Smith had significant playing time for Tech in 2015. Photo by: Christian McCall

Several Tennessee Tech alumni were on campus April 8 to get an early look at the 2016 edition of the Golden Eagle football team. Former players had the opportunity to see the team’s intensity and competitive drive up close to observe the high energy of head coach Marcus Satterfield’s staff. 

“It is fun to see the enthusiasm. That goes a long way,” said former Golden Eagle standout fullback Ottis Phillips. 

“Coach Satterfield has obviously brought an enthusiastic young group of coaches in here. I think he has everybody fired up. I think he is building some momentum in the community,” said Phillips. 

Phillips was a member of the 1972 Tennessee Tech team that went 7-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference and won the OVC title. He was a member of the team for four years and was the president of the Tech Letterman’s Club his senior year. He has continued to be an avid supporter of Tennessee Tech football and the university. Phillips received an outstanding alumni award in 2013. The former student athlete commended current athletes for the amount of commitment they put into their sport.

“I admire any student athlete today with the commitment that they have to make,” said Phillips. “It is a full-time job. It was tough when I played in the seventies, but today I think it is even more so. The dedication and the work that these men and women have to invest of their time and effort to come out here and compete at a college level are admirable.” 

Thomas Lynn was also a member of the 1972 Golden Eagle team and has been a lifelong fan of Tennessee Tech football. Lynn has also been a supporter of the university and competes in the local CrossFit organization. He is president of Cookeville’s First National Bank of Tennessee. 

“We are really excited,” said Lynn. “I’m from here in Cookeville. I have followed Tech football all my life and known a lot of the coaches that have come through here, but this is the most enthusiastic coach that I have ever seen.” 

The event gave alumni a chance to meet current players and for the program’s past to meet its future. 

"It is very important. As a player you always look up to the ones who have played before you and talk about the old stories,” said Lynn. “The current players, we can get to meet some of them I think it is good for them and good for us to. Once we kind of know them it’s fun to come to the games and watch them.” 

Lynn wants to see an atmosphere similar to his playing days at Tech. 

“The town was really behind it (the team),” said Lynn. “People would come to the games with ties on. It was a dressed up affair. It was not like it is now. It was always full and with a lot of enthusiasm. I do not really want to start wearing ties to the ballgames, but I would like to see that enthusiasm that we had back then. It was important, and people wanted to know how Tech was doing and how well they were doing.”

The Golden Eagle football team has won 10 OVC championships with nine of them being won in the fifties, sixties, and seventies. Satterfield wants to make it a priority to get the alumni involved in the program.

“We have got to get them all back,” said Satterfield. “I think the more that we get the alumni back and make them feel a part; this is huge because they started it. We talk about it all the time. We have won 10 OVC championships, a lot of them in the fifties, sixties, seventies and then in 2011. It is in our DNA to win championships at Tennessee Tech. The people that have won the championships have got to be part of this program.” 

Tech has three more practices scheduled for this spring including the spring game April 14. Satterfield said there is still room for improvement before the spring game. 

“We just have to continue to trend toward the essence of competition and continue to be able to play relentlessly in between the whistles,” said Satterfield. “Thursday (April 14) is going to be a ball. It is probably going to be the most unbelievable night, at least in the spring, that Tennessee Tech has ever seen on the football field, and I hope people do not miss out on coming to see it.” 

The Golden Eagles’ spring game is scheduled for April 14 at 7 p.m.. The game will be at Tucker Stadium.