Devoted grad plays big role at NCAAs

May 25, 2012

Final NCAA Championships Recap

It's 9:15 a.m. on Friday morning and "Doc" Shelby is already a good four hours into his day at Vanderbilt Legends Club. It is a day that will not end until the sun has come down in the evening. Every day during the past week has been equally as long for Shelby.

Between meetings, the constant buzzing of his cell phone, communications on his radio and the barrage of people constantly pulling him in 50 different directions, Shelby has been going none stop for the past week.

Even now as he sits down for a few minutes, he is still working. His phone buzzes with messages from golf course officials, tournament staff members approach him with questions and he has to step away in mid-conversation to address a volunteer. To say Shelby has been busy this week is an egregious understatement.

But Shelby (pictured above with the team), a 1974 Vanderbilt graduate and avid supporter of the school's women's golf program, wouldn't have it any other way.

"My joke is that I have two addictions that cannot be cured: golf and Vanderbilt athletics," Shelby laughed. "I haven't been able to find a cure for that so I combined them into one thing, and I just have one addiction."

That addiction has been fed like never before this week with the NCAA Women's Golf Championships in town. Shelby's involvement with golf tournaments dates back eight years as a volunteer at the Mason Rudolph Championships held each fall at Vanderbilt Legends Club. In the last two years, he has been at the forefront of the tournament operations.

It is that experience, combined with his passion for the sport and love for Vanderbilt golf that has made Shelby, a recently retired dentist, so invaluable to Vanderbilt hosting the NCAA Championships.

"He understands running golf tournaments, and with me not being a part of the operations of the tournament, there was no one I wanted to be a part of this more than Doc Shelby," Vanderbilt Head Coach Greg Allen said. "Doc was the man I wanted to have a hand in everything going on here and he has been a tremendous asset."

A big portion of Shelby's duties this week have been working with volunteer coordinator Lisa Webb, to help make sure the pool of 250 volunteers were scheduled and trained to assist in running the tournament. Each day the tournament has relied on approximately 110 volunteers, and Shelby, along with Webb, have made sure the tournament is fully staffed from parking lot attendants to people recording scores on the golf course and everything in between.

"The most fortunate thing for us in our planning is that of the 101 people that worked the first day, we've only had 30 new people work each day," Shelby said. "We've had an abundance of people who have worked two days, a lot who have worked three days and many that have worked four days."

When Allen arrived on campus five years ago, he made a goal to host the NCAA Championships. Shelby was hesitant to believe Allen's goal would come to fruition, but if it did, he made a promise to help run the tournament.

"I could never dream that Vanderbilt would host an NCAA golf tournament and I told him a while back that if it happened, I was definitely in," Shelby recalled. "He remembered those words and I think I was the second person he called with the news that we were hosting."

Since that announcement, Shelby has been deeply involved in tournament preparations. Over the last two years, he has been a part of countless meetings, attended numerous tournaments to get a better feel for operations, and he has done all of this just to assist the university and the women's golf program he loves in any way he can.

"Doc is a Vandy guy," Allen said. "He is a big part of our program and everything he has done to help us host this event has been unbelievable. He loves Vanderbilt women's golf, and Jill, his wife, is the same way. Former players stay in touch with him and that is what this program is all about which is really building lifetime friendships and connecting our kids with people that can help them down the road in life."

When Shelby arrived on Vanderbilt's campus as a freshman in college, he tried unsuccessfully in his attempt to earn a spot on Vanderbilt's non-scholarship golf team. "I just wasn't good enough," Shelby said. But now year's later, he is more than just a member of the team, he is a member of the Vanderbilt women's golf family.

"He's been a mentor to me and he and his wife are kind of like a mom and dad to our team," Allen said.

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