Q & A with Roy Neel
Feb. 18, 2009
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Roy Neel grew up in Smyrna, TN and went to Murfreesboro Central High School. In his first year at Vanderbilt, Neel became the freshman basketball manager and assistant manager to the varsity under Coach Roy Skinner. Before he could earn his degree, Neel was drafted during his junior year and served in the U.S. Navy from 1966-70, including a one-year term in Vietnam as a photojournalist. Neel did receive a degree in English and Art History from Vanderbilt in 1972. He also holds a degree from Harvard (MPA, 1983).
Neel: John Bibb, who was the sports editor of the Tennessean at the time, had an early 1970's contract to write a history of Vanderbilt basketball. We were friends and while playing golf one day I asked him about it. He said he didn't know if he could do this. He said he didn't know how to write a whole book. He told me I should do it. I had been a sportswriter at the Banner off and on when I was at Vanderbilt. I didn't know any better so I just took in on. I love Vanderbilt basketball. It was a labor of love. And it kind of got sports writing out of my system. At that time, I was thinking maybe I'd go back into sports writing. Back then you could barely make a living at it. After doing the book, I didn't think I wanted to do anything like it again. But it was a lot of fun. The research took about three months and about a month to write. I got to meet a lot of players from the 1930's and 1940's. Those were some really terrific guys. It was lot of fun putting that together.
Traughber's Tidbit: At the time Neel's book was published in 1975 he listed his all-time Vanderbilt team from the years 1948-75: Billy Joe Adcock (1947-50), Al Rochelle (1954-57), Clyde Lee (1964-66), Tommy Hagan (1967-69) and Jan van Breda Kolff (1972-74).
Tidbit Two: Neel was asked to update his all-time Vanderbilt basketball team 34 years later for this Q & A. His updated team includes: Clyde Lee (1964-66), Jan van Breda Kolff (1972-74), Matt Freije (2001-04), Shan Foster (2005-08) and Tom Hagan (1967-69). His second team includes: Will Perdue (1984-88), Derrick Byars (2006-07), Dan Langhi (1997-00), Perry Wallace (1968-70) and Billy McCaffrey (1993-94).
If you have any comments or suggestions you can contact Bill Traughber via e-mail WLTraughber@aol.com.
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