Dan Fleser: Trey Smith Savoring Ignite Greatness Award

Wednesday, May 20, 2020 - by Dan Fleser

KNOXVILLE – When Trey Smith was named this year’s winner of the Pat Summitt Ignite Greatness Award, his sister imagined the news sparking quite the celebration.

“I think it’s safe to say Mom and Coach Summitt are having a party in heaven over this award,” Ashley Smith said via Twitter last week, when her younger brother was tabbed to receive the honor in July at the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Trey Smith, an All-SEC offensive lineman for the Vols, will be the eighth recipient of the award, which celebrates individuals for realizing their potential.

In Smith’s case, he’s overcome a blood cot condition that nearly ended his career to become UT’s most accomplished active player.

The first honoree was Summitt, who recorded 1,098 career victories and led the Lady Vols to eight national championships in 38 seasons. She was recognized in 2012, the year she stepped down because of early onset Alzheimer’s Disease. She died in 2016 after a five-year battle with the illness.

Smith became acquainted with Summitt through his sister, who served as a Lady Vols’ team manager. She’s now the director for student-athlete career development at the Thornton Athletics Student Life Center.

Trey Smith considered the award in the context of his background by saying. “I take a lot of pride in being a Tennessean.”

In that sense, the honor speaks highly of his lineage as well. Smith’s mother, Dorsetta, died when he was 15 years old. Ashley Smith called her “the rock of the family” and essentially used the language of the Summitt award on Monday in describing her influence on her children.

“I think she really saw our potential and really pushed us to reach our dreams,” Ashley said.

The ripple effect was evident in Trey Smith’s decision to forego early entry into the NFL Draft this spring and return for his senior season. He became quite emotional in explaining the importance of honoring his mother’s wishes and getting his degree.

“She would be proud,” he said. “She would be really proud.”

His sister has become better acquainted with the same feeling. Since their mother died, Ashley Smith believes that her relationship with Trey has “totally changed to where I felt like a momma bear to him. I worry more about him.”

She’s conceding then to quite some transformation. Ashley is nine years older than Trey and can remember winning wrestling matches with someone who’s grown to be 6-foot-6, 325 pounds. She also recalled their father, Henry, admonishing them during one of their squabbles by saying that if something ever happened to their parents, “it’s only you two.”

When something did happen to Dorsetta, Ashley said that the personal fallout was “really bad.”

She didn’t want to get out of bed some days. She cried sometimes at a moment’s notice.

“I didn’t think I’d live a year after my mom’s passing,” she said. “I couldn’t function.”

She eventually talked things through with her father and got help. She recovered and rediscovered her potential, in part, because of her brother.

“He needs me,” she said of her reasoning. “I didn’t want to put him in a situation where he’s lost his sister too.”

-------

Dan Fleser is a 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri, who covered University of Tennessee athletics from 1988-2019. He can be reached at danfleser3@gmail.com.


Randy Smith: "Coach, Can I Have Your Socks?"

NASCAR Cup Series Coming To Nashville Superspeedway In 2021

Dan Fleser: Former Lady Vol Ashley Robinson Has A Talk With Her Girls


It was just two weeks ago on May 21st, I wrote a column wishing former Tennessee head coach Johnny Majors a happy 85th birthday. This morning I found out Coach had passed away. I was immediately ... (click for more)

In a surprise announcement by Dover Motorsports, Nashville Superspeedway in Wilson County will reopen in 2021 and its race schedule will include a race from NASCAR’s premier Cup Series. The ... (click for more)

Ashley Robinson runs a flourishing youth basketball program for girls and boys in Dallas. Combined with players that she trains, the former Tennessee Lady Vol has gathered more than 80 children ... (click for more)



Sports

Randy Smith: "Coach, Can I Have Your Socks?"

It was just two weeks ago on May 21st, I wrote a column wishing former Tennessee head coach Johnny Majors a happy 85th birthday. This morning I found out Coach had passed away. I was immediately saddened upon hearing the news because I respected him as much as I respected anyone I ever met. I have a lot of personal memories of Coach Majors, and I offered some of them in that previous ... (click for more)

NASCAR Cup Series Coming To Nashville Superspeedway In 2021

In a surprise announcement by Dover Motorsports, Nashville Superspeedway in Wilson County will reopen in 2021 and its race schedule will include a race from NASCAR’s premier Cup Series. The Cup Series hasn’t competed in the Middle Tennessee area since 1984, when the last Cup race ran at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. A “very tentative” date of June 20, 2021 has been set for ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Friends Of The Festival Cancels Riverbend 2020

Friends of the Festival, the nonprofit organization behind Chattanooga’s premier music festival Riverbend, has made the decision to cancel this year’s event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, Friends of the Festival is unveiling new plans to continue to deliver music to the city’s riverfront in light of the new realities brought on by the pandemic. In what would have ... (click for more)

Demetrus Coonrod, Other Council Members Call For End To Black On Black Crime; Advocate Peaceful Protest, Not Violence

City Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod on Tuesday night made an impassioned plea for an end to black on black crime. She did so after a recent Chattanooga murder left her granddaughter without a father. Councilwoman Coonrod spoke strongly in favor of protests against police brutality, but said there was no place for violence or destruction as part of that movement. Other black ... (click for more)

Opinion

Kudos Again To Demetrus Coonrod

In the aftermath of the tragic death of the young man in Minneapolis, Democrats and their sycophants in the media are carrying on the biggest scam perpetrated on the American people since LBJ with his Great Society and Tonkin Gulf incident in 1965. Thanks to Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod for publicly standing up to black on black crime, especially homicide, yesterday. Once again ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Two Inches From Hell

By ordinary standards it might be best described as one of life’s worst 1-2 punches, a pair of hard, personal blows that drop you to your knees. True, each devastating blow was uncommonly back to back. But, no, when I learned Wednesday morning that college football icon Johnny Majors had died just some 48 hours after another legend, Auburn’s Pat Dye, it was as though I’d been hit ... (click for more)