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VOL. 43 | NO. 24 | Friday, June 14, 2019

Granddaughter of UT coaches taking game to Dartmouth

By Rhiannon Potkey

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Regan Weekly, who says she grew up dreaming of playing for the Lady Vols, is the Gatorade Tennessee Softball Player of the Year.

-- Photograph Provided

It would have been natural for Regan Weekly to play college softball for Tennessee.

She basically grew up in the Lady Vols dugout. Her grandparents are co-head coaches of the program, and she idolized the players.

But Weekly wanted to explore a different area of the country and challenge herself at the highest level academically.

Having just graduated from The King’s Academy, Weekly is preparing to play in the Ivy League for Dartmouth in New Hampshire.

“As a little girl, I wanted to be a Lady Vol one day,” she says. “I just knew that was going to be me. I loved all those girls and loved the way they played the game and how they acted off the field.

“But as I grew up, I realized I could be that and not at UT. I love UT and Knoxville, but I really wanted to go somewhere else and get out on my own.”

Weekly completed her high school career in storybook fashion.

The 5-foot-4 second baseman helped lead her team to a third state title in last four years. She batted .566 with 41 extra base hits, including 21 home runs, and 70 RBIs this season.

Weekly received the state’s highest honor by being named Gatorade Tennessee Softball Player of the Year.

“It was like everything slowed down for her and it all came together as a senior,” says Weekly’s father and head coach, Marc. “I’m not just saying this because she is mine, but I have never seen a kid work as hard as her. She is very cerebral and is willing to put in the time to improve all aspects of her game.”

Regan Weekly found out about the Gatorade honor early one morning last month. She was planning to meet a future Dartmouth classmate and decided to check her email before leaving.

“I wasn’t expecting it at all. It was a complete surprise,” she admits. “I ran into my parents’ room and woke them up. They were concerned and thought something was wrong until I started saying, ‘I won! I won!’”

Being a Weekly playing softball in Tennessee comes with benefits and burdens. Regan had inside access to the UT program that many dream about, but also outsized expectations.

“It could be frustrating for some, but I see it more as an advantage. I was always in the best learning environment for softball,” Regan adds. “Of course, I always felt like I had to earn it because of my last name. But that made me a better player and made me want to work harder to be the best player I can be. It was motivating.”

Marc Weekly was always cognizant of making sure his daughter was enjoying softball for the right reasons. The family tried to keep the sport in perspective, and have a clear line of separation.

He leaned on advice from a book given to him by his stepmom and UT co-head coach Karen Weekly.

“It talked about how when you leave the park with your kids, there are three things you should tell them: I loved watching you play, I can’t wait to do it again and I love you. Those are the only things to say to them,” Marc Weekly says.

“It’s just daddy and daughter with us outside of the lines, and that enabled us to really build a great relationship.”

Although softball is her athletic passion, Regan has many intellectual pursuits that provide fulfillment.

English is her favorite subject, and she wants to become a writer. She has been studying Chinese for seven years, and the international students at The King’s Academy only fueled her thirst for learning even more.

“I have a fascination with languages, and I work on that outside of school to have a better understanding of other cultures,” Regan says. “My friends from other countries have so much patience with me to help me learn. It’s been great.”

Regan’s teammates at The King’s Academy valued her leadership and dependability. She was the player that kept rising senior pitcher Kaylan Cole calm by walking to the circle and telling a joke in a tense situation.

“Regan is an amazing athlete, but also an amazing student,” says Cole, a UT commit. “She has always been an example for me in the classroom and on the field. She has so much grit, and I think that is what makes her such a great player. She never gives up. I know I can always count on Regan no matter what.”

Cole would have loved being teammates with Regan again at UT, but knows she found the perfect fit with the Big Green.

“Dartmouth is for her. That is where she is going to be successful. I truly know that,” Cole adds. “Regan is like a sister to me, and seeing her choose Dartmouth made total sense because I could tell how much she loved it. She is so excited to get on campus and start school there.”

Regan committed to Dartmouth during her sophomore year of high school when the program was coached by former Lady Vol Shannon Doepking. After Doepking left to coach Syracuse last year, Regan never wavered with her decision.

“Once Dartmouth offered, it was a no-brainer,” Regan says. “Ivy League is the best you can do academically, and being able to play at the Division I level is a great opportunity. You have to grab that.”

Having been raised in the UT softball family, Regan will always “bleed orange” and support the Lady Vols. But going green provides her with a sense of independence and immense gratitude for all the help she’s received along the way.

“I am just so thankful for my upbringing around softball,” Regan points out. “My parents and grandparents have done so much to help me become the player I am today. I can’t take all the credit for that. They have invested so much time and energy and money. I am really blessed to be in this position.”

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