Savanna Youngquist was just six years old when she first visited the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, campus. She and her family had made the 800-mile, 14-hour drive from De Pere, Wisconsin, to visit family and catch a Vols football practice. But it was someone off the field who made their visit so memorable.
Heather Ervin had sent the family matching T-shirts ahead of their trip. Ervin, now the director of administration and player relations for the Lady Vols basketball team, was assistant director of football operations at the time.
Youngquist and her two siblings, Callie and Daniel, met some of the players after practice, got high-fives, and left with autographs including one from All-American defensive back Eric Berry (’14).
“Savanna fell in love with Tennessee,” her dad, David Youngquist, recalled.
Youngquist applied to UT last year and was accepted into the accounting program in the Haslam College of Business. The family made the trip back to Tennessee this week to move Youngquist into a UT residence hall, and they again got to spend some time with Ervin.
Youngquist said she felt immediately at home the first time she set foot on UT’s campus.
“Everyone is so loving, caring, and extremely welcoming. It’s made my home away from home so easy to adjust to,” she said. “Meeting with Heather again was so amazing. I felt an immediate connection and appreciate that she’s someone I’ll always know while attending UT.”
“I’m so happy we were able to reconnect after so many years,” said Ervin. “It’s a great example of how a simple act of kindness can go a long way. I had no idea I’d see the family again after their visit, let alone be instrumental in Savanna’s decision to attend UT.”
Once again Ervin spent time with the family and gave them a tour of the Lady Vol offices, film and locker rooms, Pratt Pavilion, Thompson-Boling Arena, and the Anderson Training Complex.
“We enjoyed seeing everything and took quite a few picture of campus,” said David Youngquist. “Savanna hopes to catch a Lady Vols practice this fall, too. We plan to invite Heather to Savanna’s graduation ceremony in 2025.”
Ervin said she looks forward to watching Youngquist grow and thrive as a student.
“She will be one of the many daughters and sons that I’ve adopted over the years,” she said.
The Youngquist family said they’ll always appreciate Ervin’s heartfelt hospitality.
“Savanna may be the official Vol for Life, but we are all Vol Family Lifers.”
Tyra Haag (865-974-5460, firstname.lastname@example.org)