Coach Donnie Tyndall and his fiancee, Nikki Young. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
More than 200 community and business leaders filled a big tent overlooking World’s Fair Park on a patio at the Knoxville Convention Center last week to welcome Donnie Tyndall, UT’s new men’s basketball coach.
The mood was optimistic and the receiving line was full the entire time as everyone munched on strawberries decorated as basketballs and cookies shaped like backboards and talked — what else? — basketball.
In his brief remarks, Tyndall told the joke that he’s been telling since he hit town about how you can tell he is a good recruiter — by looking at his beautiful fiancee. “Look at her and then look at me,” he laughed. “And then tell me if you think I can recruit.” In a serious turn, he said he is extremely proud of his track record in seeing that the seniors on his basketball teams graduate from college. He said 21 of the 22 seniors he’s coached have obtained college degrees.
The reception was sponsored by Pilot Flying J, the News Sentinel, the University of Tennessee Medical Center and First Tennessee Bank. Moxley Carmichael handled arrangements. Knox County Commissioner R. Larry Smith brought a portion of his huge collection of UT basketball memorabilia for folks to review as they waited in the receiving line to meet Coach Tyndall.
A big crowd enjoyed the event beneath Knoxville’s iconic Sunsphere. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
Sponsors posing with the guests on honor. From left, Jim Haslam of Pilot Flying J, Pam Fansler of First Tennessee Bank, Coach Tyndall, UT Athletics Director Dave Hart, Teresa Levey of UT Medical Center, Patrick Birmingham of the News Sentinel and UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
Knox County Commissioner R. Larry Smith with part of his immense collection of UT basketball memorabilia.
Aren’t these strawberries the cutest things?
But these cookies were my favorites! The baskets are Reese’s Cups! Ha.
Floral Designs by Samuel Franklin came up with these awesome arrangements for the name tag table.
And the centerpieces for the cocktail tables.
Congressman Jimmy Duncan, center, with Jim Haslam and Coach Tyndall. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, right, and Finance Director Chris Caldwell with Coach Tyndall. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
From left, City Councilman Dan Brown, Cathy Brown, Coach Tyndall and Vice Mayor Nick Pavlis. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
County Commission Chair Brad Anders, center, with his wife, Jennifer, and Sheriff J.J. Jones. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
From left, Jon and Mintha Roach, Charles Swanson and our newest federal judge, Pamela Reeves. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
Joan Cronan, left, and Natalie Haslam.
Knox County’s Director of Information Technology Dick Moran and his wife, Carolyn.
Sheriff J.J. Jones, left, and Assistant Chief Deputy Lee Tramel with the coach. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
Angie Wilson, left, of Visit Knoxville, and Becky Hancock of the Tennessee Theatre with Coach Tyndall. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
Jennifer and Greg Dunn took a turn posing with the guest of honor. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
Federal Judge Tom Varlan, left, with his son, Alex (a former Moxley Carmichael intern).
Mary Bogert, general manager of the Knoxville Convention Center, and Knoxville Deputy Mayor Bill Lyons.
Tammy White, left, of Leadership Knoxville and Rhonda Rice of the Knoxville Chamber.
Jannell Cecil and Becky Thompson of UT Medical Center.
Jim and Natalie Haslam with Coach Tyndall.
Jim and Phyllis Nichols with Jim Haslam. Phyllis is the CEO of the Knoxville Area Urban League.
From left, Hannah Parker, the newest member of the Moxley Carmichael team; Deputy Mayor Bill Lyons; Janet Testerman Creswell of Scripps Networks Interactive; and Doug Tabor. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
Mintha and Jon Roach greet Jim Haslam and Coach Tyndall. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
Coach Tyndall chats with Kevin Burris of Premier Surgical, center, and his son, Charles Burris, another former Moxley Carmichael intern.
Jim Haslam introduced Coach Tyndall. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
Coach Tyndall kept his formal remarks brief to allow more time for mingling.
It was an attentive crowd.
City Councilman Brenda Palmer with her husband, Don. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
Sherri Gardner Howell with the coach. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
David Jordan of Clayton Homes with Coach Tyndall. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
Municipal Judge John Rosson snags an autograph. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
Pace and Karen Robinson with Coach. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
Farragut Mayor Ralph McGill and his wife, Marianne. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
Dean Littleton, left, general manager of WATE, with Coach Tyndall and Dave Hart. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
From left, City Councilman Marshall Stair, Tank Strickland and Rev. Matt Stiles. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
From left, Andrea White, Kathy Hamilton and U.S. Cellular’s Tom Catani and Dana Dorcas. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
Dr. Jack Lacey spent a few minutes with Coach Tyndall. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
Joe Ben Turner, left, and Townsend Collins (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
From left, Erin Donovan, Shanna Browning, Coach Tyndall and Angie Wilson. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
Cindy, left, and Sue Atchley. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
Coach Tyndall with, from left, Megan Haynes, Tasha Mahurin and Stephanie Fowler. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
David and Sandy Martin with the coach. (Photo by Gary Heatherly)
I believe the coach impressed a number of people with his genuine and friendly demeanor, plus his record of graduating 21 of the 22 seniors he has coached.