Rocky Top Ready: A Guide to a Family Friendly UT Vols Gameday


Neyland Stadium

It’s football time in Tennessee! The Tennessee Vols take the field in just 22 days, and it is gearing up to be an exciting year as Coach Butch Jones and Team 120 look to come out stronger than ever, with hopes to secure an SEC title and bowl game bid for the 2016 season.

Gameday with my oldest two in 2014. My son was 7, and my daughter was 6.
Gameday with my oldest two in 2014. My son was 7, and my daughter was 6.

If you have orange running through your veins, you know Rocky Top, Down the Field, and the Alma Mater by heart, and get chills every time you see the Pride of the Southland create the Power T and the coaches, players, and Smokey explode out of the tunnel, you are a passionate Vol fan. You have also more than likely been to Neyland Stadium for a game. There truly is nothing like it. I am getting pumped up just typing this!

Gameday 2
Sometimes I like to just take my son to the games for a mother/son date. I have taken all ages of children (even babies!), but in my opinion, the experience is better with children 8 and older.

Big Orange fever is contagious. Your kids probably wear orange to school on Fridays in the fall and know Rocky Top too. Have you ever considered taking them to a game? I know, I know. It sounds a bit overwhelming. It sounds a bit intimidating. It sounds like a bunch of work. The tailgating won’t be the same. Granted, it is a college game, so some situations might offer up excellent learning opportunities for conversations with you kids…hopefully nothing worse than PG-13! There is nothing better, however, than experiencing gameday with your children.

Forget about booking the babysitter for a game this season and make some memories. Here are some tips to help you out:

  1.  Choose a non-SEC opponent Game (if you are going for the first time)

    Why not take your child to the Alabama game? The SEC games are usually sold out and a bit crazy. There are three home games against non-SEC unranked opponents. Those games are Thursday, Sept. 1 (home opener against Appalachian State), Saturday, Sept. 17 (Ohio University…my alma mater. You might find a little bit of green on me that Saturday), and Saturday, Nov. 5 (homecoming against Tennessee Tech). If you like a challenge and are already a professional at gameday, go ahead and choose an SEC game. First-timers might opt for one of the above, though.

  2. Purchase Tickets Ahead of Time

    If you are behind on this, don’t fret. Tickets and parking do go quickly, BUT there are still tickets available. Okay, so the first place to go to purchase tickets is the UT Web site. Click here to check out availability for tickets for this season. This system is very user-friendly and is in real-time. Another third-party university endorsed site is Vivid Seats – a lot of times season ticket holders from out of state are looking to get rid of their tickets on here for less than face value, especially for non-conference games. If you can be patient, a good deal can often be had. Click here to peruse their site.

  3. Know Where to Park    

    Did you know that you don’t have to secure a parking pass to go to a football game? You don’t even have to give blood or win the lottery. True story. It is possible to roll up to UT and park on the outskirts of the campus to go to a game. Bonus is that there are shuttles from these places. Here are four to check out (in the following order): UT’s Ag campus, Knoxville’s Civic Coliseum, Old City/Market Square downtown, and Farragut High School. I listed the Ag campus first because 1) it is the closest to campus and 2) there are 150 available parking spots for first come, first served…no pass needed, folks. The other locations do charge a small fee for round trips via KAT buses. Click here for more information about downtown parking or click here for more information on parking at FHS.

  4. Go Early

    There are three game day activities that are a must for you and your child(ren). The first is Volunteer Village, an area that opens 3 1/2 hours prior to kickoff with inflatables, a DJ, and appearances by Smokey, Junior Smokey, cheerleaders, and the dance team. It is located in the Humanities Plaza. The second activity you should make time for is the Vol Walk, which begins 2 hours and 15 minutes before kickoff. Coaches and players begin their walk at the Torchbearer statue and then walk down Peyton Manning Pass and on into the stadium. If your family secures a good spot, your son or daughter might be able to high five quarterback, Joshua Dobbs. Finally, the Band makes a grand entrance 1 hour and 40 minutes prior to kickoff. Their route begins on Volunteer Boulevard, going past Peyton Manning Pass and then crossing Pedestrian Bridge before turning onto Middle Drive and then onto Phillip Fulmer Way. Click here for a printable campus map.

  5. Know the Rules

    There are a lot of them. Most recently, they have decided to regulate what kind of purse/bag you may bring into Neyland Stadium. Parents, you will not be able to bring a big ol’ diaper bag into the stadium…even if it is super cute with power Ts all over it. Save yourself a walk back to your car, and leave it at home. Outside food, backpacks, and strollers, to name a few, are also prohibited. Please check out this excellent and comprehensive Gameday Information page for a wealth of information. Two policies to take note of, especially if you are with your kids: 1) every person, regardless of age, must have a ticket and 2) once you exit the stadium, you will not be readmitted, even if you still have your ticket.

  6. Know Your Way Around

    Let’s face it: kids do not like to sit still, especially depending on the age. While the action on the field will be enough to captivate them for a little while, they will want to get up and down. They will especially be interested in concessions and bathrooms. Believe me. There have been some games where I have spent most of the time in line at the concession stand or in a bathroom line. It’s important to know where concession stands and bathrooms are located around the stadium. Also, there is a nursing/pumping station located in the First Aid room near the Vol Shop in section X1. This Neyland Stadium map is an excellent resource for finding the above amenities quickly!

Before you know it, the Tennessee Vols will be taking the field! With the above tips, you should be able to make some fun memories with your family as you cheer on the Big Orange to victory.

Rocky Top, you’ll always be
Home sweet home to me.
Good ole Rocky Top,
Rocky Top Tennessee, Rocky Top Tennessee.


  1. This is a great guide. Even out of state-ers get hyped for a Tennessee game (especially to support Coach Butch Jones)! Hoping to maybe make it to one this year with some awesome cousins that we have.

    • Jenna,
      Thank you for your comment. Y’all are welcome down any time…my kids are already asking when their cousins will be back down! We’ll have to look at our schedules and see if there is a game that would work.

  2. Marisa,
    Thank you for your comment. Believe me, if my hubs didn’t work in the Athletic Dept. I probably wouldn’t be bringing babies, but it is our livelihood, so we have been going now for 11 years. It is a lot of fun, but as I said in the post, it is more enjoyable with kids 8 and older. The young ones get a little antsy. Just be prepared to leave at halftime, if not before…haha! You should try one out! Homecoming is always my favorite to attend (I used to oversee Homecoming events at UT.).

  3. Great Post! My daughter has been going to games since she was 16 months old (it was only non conference games that year) but she found a love for the Vols quick. At 2 years old she started going to every home game regularly. She does great! She normally takes a halftime/early 3rd quarter nap on myself or my husband but then rallies for the fourth quarter action. My child LOVES the Vols and all aspects of it. She actually cried when the game was over several times because she wanted more. This off season has been hard as she wants to go to the “football game” and ask to go daily. We are a “blood runs orange” family and it appears she has it too! She loves all aspects of the game from the Vol Walk to tailgating to the on field action. Oh and the popcorn! Don’t be scared to take your kiddos after all you never know they might too enjoy it as much as you do!

    • Elizabeth,
      Thank you for your kind words. We are ALL VOL over here! What I didn’t say in the post is that my husband actually works in the Athletic Dept., so we are definitely immersed in the scene. Both my undergrad and grad work were done at MAC schools, so athletics was there but on a much smaller scale. When we got to UT, we were amazed! Our very first UT game was the Kentucky game in 2004, when we were “checking out” Knoxville and UT to possibly move here for my husband’s job. It’s crazy that we are still here twelve years later! Here’s to a stellar 2016 season!!!

  4. My son is a freshman and we are coming up for parents weekend from Texas. Can you tell me what moms/ladies wear to games? I have a cute orange & white top, but wasn’t sure how dressy or if I need to wear official UT shirt? Any guidance would be appreciated.

    • Heather,
      First of all, WELCOME TO UT! I hope that your son will enjoy his time at UT, as it is a great institution. I used to work there in the Office of Student Activities back in 2005! As far as what to wear to the games, you really can’t go wrong as long as you are wearing orange. You will see a wide variety of clothing from UT licensed apparel to cute little orange sundresses. I have gone casual, and I have gone fancy. If you want to go casual, I would recommend checking out Alumni Hall or the Vol Shop. If you want to take it up a notch and go dressy, I would visit boutiques in Knoxville (there are a ton!). My favorites include Bluetique (on Market Square downtown) and a number of boutiques inside Southern Market Shops (Angray, for sure!). I hope this helps! Go Vols!!!


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