Battling cancer, Tennessee volleyball coach Brad Roll only wants to pay it forward for his athletes – The Athletic

Last week, when Tennessee defeated Alabama in volleyball, the oldest member of the Volunteers’ team, 63-year-old Brad Roll, the Vols’ strength coach, was as excited as he was the first time he’d ever been part of a team that beat the Crimson Tide. That game happened over 30 years ago, when Roll’s Miami Hurricanes defeated Alabama in the 1990 Sugar Bowl to win the national title. There were a lot more eyeballs both in the building and sitting at home watching that game compared to the one attended by 1,243 fans at Thompson-Boling Arena. But to the gravelly voiced strength coach, this win was every bit as sweet and satisfying.

Roll has trained thousands of athletes in a career that has spanned four decades, which includes 20 years in the NFL with six organizations. But nothing has captured his heart more than his time working with Olympic sport athletes at the University of Tennessee.

“They don’t get all the recognition in the non-revenue sports, but seeing their mindsets and what their sport means to them has really touched me,” Roll told The Athletic. “I’ve got 20 daughters (on the Vols volleyball team). Their work ethic and drive, their awareness, their mindset, is every bit as strong as it is in football. In a lot of cases, it’s stronger.”

Roll’s commitment not only to his athletes but to his school went to another level last month when he made a $250,000 donation to endow a postgraduate scholarship in Tennessee’s Haslam College of Business. The Haslam family agreed to match Roll dollar for dollar, so the Brad Roll Business Scholarship Endowment — established in memory of his mentor, the late Bob Slater — will grow to $500,000 by 2026.

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