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Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Our team has best chemistry of any I've been on

By Raven Chavanne

Raven Chavanne
Raven Chavanne and her Tennessee teammates have the highest of goals: to win the national championship.

Words cannot describe how excited I am as the conclusion of SEC play draws near and the postseason atmosphere begins to fill the air. Before I get into a recap of this past week, I feel like I should introduce myself. My name is Raven Chavanne. I am a senior softball player for the University of Tennessee, and our team goal is to win the national championship come June.

The season did not start easy. This is the toughest schedule we have had during my four years as a Lady Vol. Four consecutive weeks on the road with games against top teams such as UCLA, Northwestern, BYU and USF, followed by a brutal SEC conference schedule was definitely challenging. It also prepared us and made us physically and mentally stronger, which are key ingredients as the postseason approaches.

We had a break in the action at the annual Tennessee athlete banquet, otherwise known as “Volscars,” on April 15. Volscars is our equivalent of a high school prom, so we like to go all out -- dresses, shoes, makeup, pictures, the whole shebang!

Volcars
From left, Madison Shipman, Lauren Gibson, Kat Dotson and Raven Chavanne went all out to dress up for the "Volscars,'' Tennessee's annual athlete banquet.

I went shopping with Lauren Gibson, who is one of my best friends, a roommate, an All-American and current U.S. senior national team player. We shopped for literally hours trying to find the perfect outfit. People always joke that we do everything together, on and off the field, which is true, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. For example, while we were getting ready, we were running late, so while Lauren did her makeup, I was straightening her hair. It was quite the scene of teamwork.

On the night of Volscars, the softball team was nominated three times and fellow senior Melissa Brown won the community service award, which was awesome. Volscars was definitely a nice day off, getting to dress up and interact with other athletes, such as our friends on the baseball team and Lady Vol basketball team.

The next day we were back on our mission with a 9-0 win vs. Appalachian State. Playing at home is always such a blessing. We were surrounded by a crowd of 1,000-plus during the midweek game, which is usually unheard of. We are incredibly lucky to have Vol Nation behind us.

The weekend consisted of an important three-game series against Ole Miss. To keep our lead as the top team in the SEC we needed to come out with a sweep, and we did just that. We focused on not playing to the scoreboard and improving each game with our at-bats. We knew they were a good team and we could not come out flat or cocky, or they would beat us.

During Friday night’s game, shortstop Madison Shipman, my other roommate, and I perfected our pregame handshake, which the crowd seemed to find funny. Our handshake consists of us waving our invisible Harry Potter wands and saying “Wingardium Leviosa,” the most popular Harry Potter spell. Our teammates tease us so bad about it, but we can’t help the fact we love Harry Potter. Plus the crowd seemed to love it.

The conclusion to Sunday was perfect: We won 9-1 in five efficient innings and got to interact with all the amazing fans who drove to Oxford to support us. My favorite was a 4-year-old boy named Kobe. He told me he was my biggest fan and to call him when he was old enough to get a cell phone. He was the most endearing little boy, and the whole team laughed when he made that witty comment. I truly live for moments like that, interacting with fans and seeing the smiles on their faces. That’s what I will miss the most when I graduate.

The bus ride back to Knoxville was a long seven hours, but thankfully we got to watch one of my favorite movies, “Love & Basketball.” Half the girls on the team had not seen it, and of course, when the movie ended, all of them were standing up in their seats, clapping, asking me to borrow it so they could watch it again. This team does have the best chemistry of any team I have ever been on.

That is it for this week! Next up is an SEC weekend series against Arkansas. Until next time, stay safe everyone!