In a year filled with uncertainty amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, senior Center Back Wrenne French left no doubt that she and the Lady Vols were ready to attack this year's conference only schedule.
“Everyone is eager to try and prove themselves,” French said. “It’s made practice more intense and fun and we’re excited to get going.”
French added that she and the team have encountered their fair share of obstacles, but is proud of the way her team has handled it. French said the biggest obstacle for her was trying to heal from a torn ACL she suffered in the middle of SEC play last season.
“As soon as my rehab started to turn a corner, COVID hit, and the school had to basically shut down and everyone had to go home which halted my rehab,” French said. “It was very difficult on me for a couple months and extended my rehab a little bit longer than I think it should’ve.”
But the Franklin, Tennessee native was not discouraged citing her immense passion for soccer and her teammates as her motivation for returning to playing.
Growing up it took time for her passion for soccer to develop. French said she hated soccer in kindergarten, but by third grade she started to enjoy her time on the pitch, and by middle school she was in love. French attended Battle Ground Academy in Franklin for high school where she said she was fortunate enough to play on some very good teams and won a state championship as a sophomore.
“Every single year we made it far in our state tournament,” French said. “It was always such a fun experience and I loved playing high school soccer.”
While at Battle Ground, French earned All-District and All-Region honors three times, and earned All-State honors twice making her a coveted recruit in high school.
“I looked at a couple other SEC schools, but ultimately decided on UT because I just loved everything about it. The campus, the facilities, the team, the coaches and the athletic culture that surrounds the school is so unique and unlike any other school I visited,” French said.
After arriving at UT, French did not waste any time before making an impact for the Lady Vols. Her freshman year she started 11 games for the Lady Vols and was a part of a defensive unit that recorded 10 shutouts. French and the defense were able to build off a strong 2017 season her freshman year, having an even better, record breaking sophomore campaign with the defense in 2018. Appearing in 20 games at right back, French was a part of a defense that allowed just 15 goals and recorded 12 shutouts, which are both program records.
As a junior, French anchored the defense at center back and appeared in 11 games before suffering her ACL injury.
As a senior French has welcomed a leadership role, both on and off the field and added that leading in these trying times was “challenging but extremely fun” and was made a lot easier because of her teammates.
“I’ve been really proud of the way that everyone, including the staff, has handled the pandemic so far,” French said. “I’m just lucky enough to have the opportunity to lead such great people, they make leading easier.”
Off the field, French has been nothing short of an exemplary figure for her younger teammates to look up to. She has made the SEC Academic Honor Roll all three years at UT, served as a member of the 2019-20 VOLeaders Academy and served as one of the team's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee reps during the 2019-2020 academic year, representing her team at a campus, conference and national level.
With the postseason still up in the air, French said her main expectation for this team is to go out and compete in every game like their hair is on fire. She remains optimistic for the possibility of an SEC or NCAA tournament but ultimately is focused on the games in front of the team now.