I had the pleasure to speak with Aaron Paschal, a photographer and college football fan who has combined these two passions into something all SEC fans will enjoy. Today, he speaks with us about a recent visit to Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee and shares some of the excellent photos of the stadium.
What was your favorite image of Neyland Stadium and why?
I love the shot of the old score board! I love the old feel that it gives you. It almost seems to take you back in time. Back to when people wore suits to games, back before ESPN when people huddled around the radio to listen to the play-by-play broadcast of games.
You look at that picture and you think of all of the former players and coaches who helped make Tennessee football the program that it is today, Bobby Dodd, Doug Atkins, Steve DeLong, Johnny Majors, all the greats from yester-year just run through your mind.
Compared to other stadiums, what sticks out to you about Tennessee’s?
The first thing that grabs your attention is the size of the stadium. You really don’t realize how big it is until you step inside! When I walked through the gate and walked into the stands I was blown away!
Neyland Stadium is in the middle of major renovation so it’s pretty interesting to see the old parts of the stadium and then look over at the construction and see where the stadium is headed. Once the renovation project is complete Neyland Stadium will undoubtedly be one of the finest stadiums in all of college football. I just hope that they find away to preserve some of the old features of the stadium to help tie in the old with the new. I made a conscience effort to try to capture the old, vintage characteristics of Neyland Stadium because they won’t be there much longer.
While I was at UT I must have climbed a thousand steps! It was great to go from stand to stand taking in all of the different views of the stadium. From the top of the stands you can view the Knoxville skyline and look down onto the field and envision a sea of orange! If you view the stadium from field level you can just sit there and imagine how intimidating the stadium must be for opposing teams and fans, “I still plan on attending in 2018 when my Buckeyes visit Neyland!”
What photo seems to best capture the sheer size of the stadium?
That’s tough, but I think the one from the southwest corner of the stadium gives you a pretty good idea of the size of Neyland Stadium.
What aspects of Neyland Stadium give it character and make it unique to the Tennessee football program?
Location, location, location! With Neyland Stadium being right on the banks of the Tennessee River tailgating, “or sailgating” takes on a whole different meaning. Fans are able to ride their boats to the stadium, dock their boats and then walk right up to the stadium! “I think Washington’s Husky Stadium is the only other college stadium where that’s possible!”
Then there’s Vol Walk. I know other schools do something similar but it has to be an amazing sight to be able to watch your favorite players march down to the stadium on game days! Think about it, you’re standing there and there’s Eric Berry, Big John Henderson, Jamal Lewis, I could go on and on but that has to be pretty exciting for all of the young, “and old” Vols fans to experience!
With names like Reggie White and Peyton Manning on the walls, do you get the feeling of awe walking around?
The names hanging in Neyland Stadium are truly legendary; when you talk Reggie White and Peyton Manning you’re not only talking about two of the greatest college football players ever, but those guys are arguably the best to ever play their respected positions in the NFL!
You also sit there and wonder who’s next? Who will be the next Vol player to earn his way to legendary status?
It also made me think back to the early 90’s when two players from my hometown of Dayton, OH “Peerless Price and Andy McCullough” left the Buckeye State and headed down south to Rocky Top. At the time I thought they were crazy for passing on Ohio State but I guess they knew what they were doing because they went to UT and caught passes from some guy named Peyton Manning!
I know you told us a little bit about yourself in this Kentucky article, but can you tell us a little more about the future of this stadium project?
Since the Kentucky article I have been receiving a lot of emails and comments from SEC fans encouraging me to visit their favorite team’s stadium and it has been quite flattering! My Big Ten cohorts won’t like this, but as a conference SEC fan’s passion for their teams are unrivaled!
My next stadium journey is a big one, and one that will be very special to me. Thanks to a special lady who is a fan of my photography, I will be able to take my father “who is a HUGE ‘Bama fan” to Alabama’s homecoming game against the Ole Miss Rebels. It’s been a rough year for my father health wise and I know this trip will be really special for him.
I’ll be driving from Ohio to Alabama so that will give me the chance stop at Louisville and Vanderbilt along the way, and my father will be visiting with family and friends while we’re in Alabama so I will be able to make stops at Auburn and Mississippi State. There’s also a slight chance that I may be able to make it to Athens in the not to distant future so stay tuned!!!
How can we get prints of your Tennessee football photos?
High quality prints of various sizes are available through my website www.wix.com/ap2isme/stadium. I have recently partnered with a printing service that allows me to provide my stadium shots as personalized greeting cards and other specialty items.
Any questions and/or comments can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.