By Sarah Wolf
From the March/April edition of Commodore Nation
Ann Hollis, BA'07, is a member of that diehard breed of Vanderbilt fans: the ones who bleed black and gold, the ones who never miss a game, the ones who know the generations of Commodore athletes who came before them. Through her planned gift to Vanderbilt Athletics, Hollis is helping to ensure that the student-athletes who come after her will continue to excel.
The motivation for her gift reaches back to her early childhood, when her family would drive an hour from Murfreesboro to attend Vanderbilt basketball games. "I was coming to games and sitting in 3F by the time I could walk," said Hollis. "Being in Memorial Gym and watching players like Ronnie McMahan sink three pointers was what we did as a family. It was and is something we all enjoy together."
When it came time to apply to college, Hollis was focused. "My dad [William A. Hollis, DDS, BA'75] asked me where I was interested in looking. I looked at him in confusion, confidently stating `Vanderbilt.'" The years of attending football, baseball and basketball games had left a strong impression on Hollis, and she knew she wanted to be a Commodore herself.
Athletics was an integral part of Hollis' student experience, even though she was not a student-athlete. While she pursued a degree in Economics at the College of Arts and Science, Hollis would attend all the games she could--watching the likes of superstars Jay Cutler, Earl Bennett and David Price. As a student, she gained a whole new appreciation for the demands of SEC athletes in a rigorous academic environment.
Not surprisingly, Hollis has remained an avid fan. She traveled to Omaha for the College World Series twice, and called the 2014 Championship win "one of my very top moments as a Vanderbilt fan."
As a financial adviser, Hollis knew that Vanderbilt Athletics would always factor into her estate plans. Using proceeds from a life insurance policy, Hollis will establish the Ann W. Hollis Athletic Scholarship to provide support for student-athletes in the future. "As much satisfaction as this university has given to me, paying it forward through this gift is the least I can do," said Hollis. "Athletics is so important to bringing attention to Vanderbilt and to shining the light on all the incredible things that happen here. I'm incredibly proud that Vanderbilt does Athletics the right way."
"Ann is a huge part of our Athletics community," said Mark Carter, executive director of the National Commodore Club. "We're so thankful for her generosity and her dedication to Vanderbilt."
Hollis is still a regular at Memorial Gym and Dudley Field, and she's developed some new sports interests as of late: she's engaged to Donnie Young, assistant coach of the women's track team. After Young first noticed Hollis' frequent posts about Vanderbilt Athletics on social media, the pair finally met and are now planning an August wedding.