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VOLUNTEER VOLUMES: Vol. 1, Ch. 5. Brent Tippens


The story of Brent Tippens, aka: ChristinaTippen on X


I've had the pleasure of knowing Brent Tippens for years. He is one of the most die-hard fans I've ever met in my life. After hearing his story, I completely understand why. For some of us, it's just a hobby and a team. But for Brent, it truly means everything.


"I was born and raised in Knoxville. My dad and my uncles were all very big fans. Some of my earliest memories are of my dad asking my brother to sing Rocky Top to us when we were on trips to family gatherings. I wasn't much of a singer, but my brother was, and we were all huge fans.


The very first game I remember was the 6-6 tie with Georgia Tech in 1985. I was probably about six-years-old. I also have very vivid memories of the "Sugar Vols". Leading up to the Sugar Bowl, Jimmy Johnson said that he didn't even know who the Vols were. He sure did after the game. That game is what really ignited my fandom. Even given the national championship in '98, I would put that Sugar Vols team against anyone.


I used to usher the games with my dad and both uncles. It was awesome. We would get there early and back then they had a bowling alley in the basement. We'd bowl a little bit and play some ping-pong. It was always a lot of fun. They used to have a lot of great food down there too and it was always just packed shoulder-to-shoulder with Vol fans and I absolutely loved it. There's nothing better than game day.


I was at the 1996 Tennessee-Alabama game where Payton Manning hit Joey Kent for a touchdown on the very first play. Tennessee went on to absolutely demolish Alabama. It's probably the best game I've ever been to outside of the 2022 game against Alabama at home.


Me and my dad talked ball all the time. I was big into it. Most kids my age were into music and I was listening to sports talk radio. Me and my dad were always talking about the Vols. My uncle was a die-hard fan too. We went to Alabama for a game and when we were coming into Alabama, he urinated on the sign. When we were coming back into Tennessee, he kissed that sign. He took it serious. He hated Alabama. We all did. I'm a little superstitious and I believe that when the V-O-L-S letters were taken down, that coincided with Tennessee going through a slump in football.


Our family was headed to the Citrus Bowl back in 1996. We got up the morning before and went down there early. We were on our way to the game and stopped off to get some food. My dad and I stayed back in the truck. My dad began to complain of arm pain and before you knew it there was an ambulance there. They rushed him to the hospital. He had a heart attack. He had previously survived two heart attacks and was also a Vietnam veteran. But that day, the LORD called him home.


We were tore up. We still had to make the long trip home. We drove for about two or three hours and everyone was silent. We turned on the radio and within moments we heard John Ward say "Al Wilson on the tackle". This was well before Al Wilson became a legend. He was young and on special teams at the time. My dad's name was Fred Al Tippens. We felt like it was our dad's way of letting us know he was watching from above.


Ever since then, Al has always been my favorite player. It took me a few years, but I was finally able to meet him in the press box at a game and share that story with him. My good friend @SantaVol on Twitter was also doing a giveaway with a signed Al Wilson picture. I entered the giveaway not thinking anything of it. As fate would have it, I won it.


I lost my dad, my mom, my grandfather, and grandmother. Now going back to games and seeing the V-O-L-S letters, I just take a moment and remember each one of them and they're there watching the game with all of us.


Follow Brent on Twitter: (@ChristinaTippen)

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