After playing at Bearden High School and Chipola College in Florida, Shakara Goodloe found her way back to Knoxville to play for the Lady Vols.
“It has been a really long journey,” Goodloe said. “I never imagined that I would be here and I’m just really grateful that Karen (Weekly) took a chance on me. It turned out to be the best experience ever.”
Goodloe joined the team in March of 2022 after a tryout with coach Karen Weekly and made an immediate impact for Tennessee both as a pinch runner and a leader in the clubhouse.
“I came on a random Tuesday in March, and the girls were just so welcoming,” Goodloe said. “I consider everyone to be my family, and I’ve built lifelong connections with the girls.”
Weekly knew she could use help on the basepaths and felt that Goodloe was the perfect addition to the team to make that happen.
“She emailed me in February or March,” Weekly said. “I knew the coaches she played for at Chipola. They had nothing but great things to say about her character.”
For the Lady Vol locker room, character is of the utmost importance. Goodloe found this importance the first time she stepped into the team.
“I walked in the door and it was during film, so I was a bit nervous,” Goodloe said. “I had met some of the girls before, so it was not really awkward, but all of them were really friendly. They were saying it felt like I had been there since day one.”
Weekly was worried about adding another player during the season being a negative, but she believes it has been a positive.
“Bringing somebody into your team can go one of two ways,” Weekly said. “It can be a blessing or it can upset the apple cart. It has been the biggest blessing.”
Goodloe has not only joined the team but also made an impact on it, stepping up to become one of the leaders of the Lady Vols.
“She is such a selfless individual and so well respected by her teammates,” Weekly said. “It is not often that someone who does not get innings is a leader on your team. Shakara is a leader on our team.”
Goodloe credits the people she had around her throughout her journey who made it possible.
“I thought I would never make it this far, and many times I felt like giving up,” Goodloe said. “But I have always had such uplifting people in my life, and it means a lot to me that I got to wear the Tennessee jersey, a dream of mine since I have been growing up.”
Although the Lady Vols will almost certainly host at least one round of the postseason, this weekend brings the last opportunity for Goodloe to play regular season games at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.
“I am really sad because being surrounded by an amazing group of girls and realizing I am not going to be around them as much makes me a bit emotional,” Goodloe said. “I am just happy no matter what happens that I got to be a part of this journey.”
Along with Goodloe, Ashley Rogers will also be honored as the other senior who will be leaving the team this year. Rogers will continue to play softball for SIS Vipers following her five-year Lady Vol career.
“This is something that I will tell my kids about,” Goodloe said. “I am just so proud to be on this team.”
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