Everybody has a vision of the Southern Belle. Blonde hair, blue eyes, skinny, and with a touch of southern twang. Fast forward 40 years and you have Miss Debbie, a woman who fills many roles for the men's basketball program. Miss Debbie serves as the program's secretary and Coach Stallings' personal assistant. She manages the coaching offices, organizes our camps, and keeps track of the nitty-gritty operational details of the program. After our former secretary, Molly, left for another job, Miss Debbie filled in and has become the permanent replacement.
Miss Debbie's second responsibility is handling ticket requests for the players and staff. A day before game-day Miss Debbie will come to practice and take down the names of the people who we leave tickets for. Some players always used their full ticket allotment and others sometimes didn't use any tickets, but if you wanted your family to get into a game, you needed to go through Miss Debbie. This role as manager of the tickets segways into Miss Debbie's most important role: the protector of the program's purity.
While Miss Debbie does not conduct background checks on the names given to her, she gives on-site examinations of those picking up tickets that would make the TSA proud. She is not looking for guns or Swiss Army knives, but rather seeking out a color scheme and logo. Because in Miss Debbie's world, you need to be a Vandy fan with no traces of evidence to the contrary. Those wearing the colors of the opposing team or in anyway affiliated with them will not gain entry into the game. It doesn't matter if it was Rod's mom or a distant friend of mine, if you violate the color code, she isn't giving you a ticket.
For Miss Debbie, the family section is personal. She sits in the front of the section and everybody else must comply with the rules. One time, fellow manager Nick Souder left tickets to a game versus Western Kentucky to friends of his who were students at WKU. These friends were forewarned to dress appropriately and showed up in all Black outfits that would make your neighborhood criminal proud.
However, one had a lanyard with the letters WKU on it hanging out of their pocket. With laser like focus, Miss Debbie zeroed in on the serious infraction. A traitor was about to enter our home turf. This was an affront to everything Miss Debbie stands for, and she didn't back down. The friends were denied tickets and forced to purchase their way into the game.
An enemy was staring us down, encroaching on our domain, and the will of one woman stopped them in their tracks, a truly remarkable accomplishment. As long as Miss Debbie is handling our tickets, the only people let into the family section will be those who wear the Black and Gold. I worry about the day she retires, when the guardian to our fortress leaves a gaping hole and an open invitation for others to attack, who will stand in her place and emerge from the shadows to protect the very essence of our program's being.