While the name Kacey Montgomery might not seem familiar, it isn't difficult to see the wake of her accomplishment - literally. The senior from Apopka, Fla., leads a strong group of girls on UT's rowing team.
The Lady Vol rowers have started the year strong taking gold at their first meet in Chattanooga. While the sport dwells in obscurity in Knoxville, Montgomery says no one should discredit the athletic ability involved in the water sport.
"I did about every sport in high school, and then I went out for rowing my sophomore year," Montgomery said. "It's a really pretty graceful sport, but it turned out to be a lot more work than I thought.
"It's probably the most athletic sport I have been involved in because you really use your entire body. Most people think it's all arms, but the legs are really the focus."
Montgomery's hard work in high school paid off as she was offered a scholarship to UT. The decision was easier when a Gator alumnus encouraged her to give UT a chance.
"My dad is an avid Gator fan," Montgomery said. "He and my brother both went to Florida. He actually told me I should go UT."
After deciding that UT offered a more complete college environment than her other choices, Montgomery said UT was the best place for her. While the mountains of East Tennessee were much different than the tropical lakes of northeast Florida, the new home was made friendly after meeting her new coach.
"Coach (Lisa) Glenn really gave me someone to identify with once I got here," Montgomery said. "She really provides a great environment for us to work in and helps anyone that's new adjust well."
Glenn was more than happy to welcome her new rower. She knows Montgomery was a valuable addition to the team.
"If (Kacey) continues this year the way she has started, she will become the commanding presence we need her to be," Glenn said. "She is taking on new responsibility this year. She is learning that she has a valuable voice and is using it with more frequency.
"As an athlete, she is a leader by example. As a student, she is uncompromising. As a teammate, she is trusted and is a solid presence."
The rowing team underwent a metamorphosis during Montgomery's first year, as the university provided a generous new workout facility under the Tennessee Grill on the river. She said the old place just didn't fit.
"When I first came here my freshman year, we rowed in the glove factory across the river," Montgomery said. "So to go from that to the boat house is amazing. We couldn't ask for better facilities to train in."
The atmosphere of the new facilities has seemed to provide ample catalyst to success after Montgomery and the UT rowing team finished first at the Head of the Charles, one of the most prestigious regattas in the world.
As the team prepares to head back to Boston, the site of the event, to defend its crown, Montgomery knows the importance of the event.
"People from around the world come to this race," Montgomery said. "The win last year was probably my favorite moment since I have been here. We were all so excited and screaming after we realized we came in first."
The microbiology major hopes to take her success on the water into the classroom, as she prepares for admittance into medical school. While hoping to go somewhere closer to home, her experience at UT has been very influential on her life.
"My top choices (for medical school) are Miami, Florida and South Florida," Montgomery said. "I do want to go somewhere in Florida, but everything about UT has been positive. The people, the area, and the overall feeling you get here is wonderful."