By Zac Ellis
On campus in Nashville – The temperature of Memorial Gymnasium’s practice floor was noticeably different for Vanderbilt head coach Stephanie White and her staff on Tuesday afternoon. In support of a local cause, Commodores’ coaches took to the floor with bare feet, forcing them to acclimate to the icy hardwood.
“It’s a little chilly in here today,” White joked afterward.
White, of course, didn’t forget her shoes. She coached Tuesday’s practice barefoot in support of Soles4Souls, a Nashville nonprofit that fights poverty through the collection and distribution of shoes and clothing. Soles4Souls has collected and distributed 30 million pairs of new shoes to those in need since 2006, providing aid to 127 countries and all 50 states in the United States.
White hopes her shoe-less gesture will bring awareness to others across the world who aren’t able to wear shoes everyday.
“I wanted to go above and beyond and bring awareness by going barefoot,” White said. “There are children, there are adults around the world who live in poverty [for whom] shoes are a luxury. They’re an everyday thing for us, but they’re a luxury for those that don’t have them and those who are in need.”
Support for Soles4Souls from White and the Commodores won’t stop with Tuesday’s practice. White plans to coach barefoot during Thursday’s game against Alabama (8 p.m. CT on SEC Network) at Memorial Gym. Donation boxes for Soles4Souls will be available during the game, as well as the Vanderbilt men’s matchup with Iowa State at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
White said the Commodores are thankful to bring awareness to an important issue impacting our world. But White admitted she must keep her eyes peeled during Thursday’s game against Alabama, when the coach will be the only Vanderbilt staffer not wearing shoes.
“Coach [Carolyn] Peck sits on one side of me, Coach [Joy] Cheek sits on the other side of me and they both wear pretty high heels,” White joked. ‘So, I’ll be a little worried about that during the game.”