Judy Dooley is more than the administrative assistant for the Pride of the Southland Band at UT. She is considered the “band mom”—and she is now an honorary Pride of the Southland Band lifetime member.
“I was shocked when they called my name,” said Dooley of receiving the honor. “I did not expect it in the least.”
Dooley left her job with UT’s vice chancellor of academic affairs in 1996 to work with the band. She takes care of everything behind the scenes, making the lives of band directors Donald Ryder and Michael Stewart easier so they can focus on conducting, teaching, rehearsals, and performances. In addition to overseeing the logistical and financial aspects of the program, she also spends countless hours arranging travel accommodations for the students and cheerfully filling the role of “band mom.”
“She puts in more work than anyone I’ve ever seen, and her dedication and commitment to the continued excellence of the band program here at UT are remarkable,” said drum major Andrew Vogel. “I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving of the great honor she received of becoming a lifetime member.”
Dooley has an abundance of memories from her twenty years with the band and could tell stories for days. She traveled to Ireland with the Pride of the Southland for their performance in the Saint Patrick’s Day parade and has accompanied the band to many other places around the United States.
Those attending UT Lady Vols basketball games might recognize Dooley’s name. At some point after halftime of the basketball game, the pep band locates her in the crowd and chants her name, waiting for her to blow kisses to them in return—even at away games and tournaments.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that I have the best job on campus,” said Dooley. “I wouldn’t trade jobs with anyone.”
Dooley said she plans to retire at the end of the 2016 football season. She plans fill her retirement with traveling and volunteer work but expects to miss her job dearly.
“I know in my life I’m exactly where God meant for me to be,” she said.
Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, firstname.lastname@example.org)