Nobody has done more for Vanderbilt Athletics than Beverly Brothers -- literally. The Commodores' football administrative assistant is the longest-running employee at McGugin, recently celebrating her 35th anniversary. It was an occasion that didn't go unnoticed by the staff. In fact, Coach Derek Mason and his assistants had quite a surprise in store for "Miss Beverly."
Coach Mason called me into the staff meeting
, which is unusual. I was sitting there and he was really fussing at the coaches. He went on and on and on. "Everybody needs to get on the same page, you need to work hard …. Just like Miss Bev's been doing for 35 years!"
They all stood up and applauded, and I realized that Derek had set the whole thing up.
They had balloons and a banner
on my door and a donut cake. It was fun. Everybody hugged me. Of course, I cried. Derek is a really, really good guy.
I was the secretary in the football office at Austin Peay
before I came to Vanderbilt. The head coach there, Emory Hale, and [former Vanderbilt coach] Coach MacIntyre were really good friends. We decided to move here from Clarksville to put (sons) Jeff and Jody in Brentwood Academy. Coach Hale called to tell Coach MacIntyre if anything came open, that I'd like to stay in athletics. That was July 4, 1983. I remember because we moved on the Fourth of July.
I had taken a temp job for a lawyer downtown
. I got a phone call and it was [former Vanderbilt athletic director Roy] Kramer's secretary. She asked if I could talk about a part-time position answering phones at the front desk from 10 to 2. After two weeks, I got a phone call about a recruiting job opening in the football office. That was Sept. 19, 1983, and that was my first day. Coach Mac's secretary left a couple of years later and I went to work for him.
I've had 17 offices in the athletic department
. One time the men's basketball secretary left and they asked me to sit at her desk there until they could hire somebody. Two years later, I was still in men's basketball.
I grew up with sports
. My dad coached junior pro and my brother played at UT. My daddy helped build the football stadium at Glencliff High School. I grew up across the street from a park where my mother was director. All my summers were spent at the park swimming and playing softball.
You know where Action Nissan is?
That's where my house was.
My first football game was here at Vanderbilt
when I was about a year old. Mother and daddy brought me to my first game. Mother has told me all about it.
My husband, Vaughn, died in 1990
when my son Jeff was playing quarterback here. Watson Brown had come to me that Monday and said Jeff's going to start for us Saturday at Auburn. I couldn't wait for Vaughn to get home that night to tell him.
We had some good friends in South Carolina
and they were going to meet us at Auburn. He called them and was telling him that Jeff was going to start. I was sitting there and he put the phone down, and it startled me because it was in the middle of a sentence.
I said "Vaughn, what's wrong?
You were kind of rude to Bill putting the phone down like that." He said "Something's wrong, I'm going to lay down on the bed." And when he lied down, he passed out and turned blue. I called 9-1-1 and they were there in no time. He died in the ambulance, but they brought him back, and then he died again that night. It had been a heart attack.
Watson and the coaches were so sweet
. They took me, mother and Jody to Auburn. Jeff wore his daddy's boots on the trip down there. When he got home, we had to cut the boots off him because his feet were swollen. He couldn't get the boots off. His feet were bigger than his daddy's.
Charlie McAlexander was doing radio
at the time. I had brought Vaughn's Vanderbilt cap for the trip, but I left it in the car. And Charlie Mac held up the buses to the airport to go to my car and get Vaughn's hat. I wore it during the game.
Before I came to work here, we came to a UT-Vandy game
when the boys were young. Our seats were right in the middle of the UT section. Vaughn had preached to the kids forever that Vanderbilt was the team
, and Jeff and Jody were just screaming and yelling the whole time. We won that ballgame and afterward we went to a Red Lobster in Hickory Hollow. There were all these UT people there. I just knew Jeff and Jody were going to say something and we were going to get killed right there in the Red Lobster.
When I started here, there were no computers
so we'd type letters to recruits on typewriters and then make copies. One time many years later, one of our student workers came in and said, "Miss Beverly, can you come and show me what this machine is?" We went into the supply room and a typewriter was sitting there. She said, "What is this?" I said, "You don't know what that is?" I thought, wow, times have changed.
When computers came in I thought, "I will have to leave
, I'll never learn how to deal with these." Now I've got two screens at my desk.
For years I had a master key.
If people needed to get in somewhere, they knew they could come to me. One of the track coaches had a ring with around 20 keys. She told me one of her track girls said "Wow, coach, you must be important. You have an awful lot of keys." She said "No, Miss Beverly's important. She has one."
Interviewed by Andrew Maraniss