January 12, 2020 was a big Sunday afternoon for Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball. The Commodores had won seven of their last eight games, and were sitting at 2-1 in the competitive Southeastern Conference. They had the momentum with the number four-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks coming to Nashville in front of a national television audience.

The day also would mark Vanderbilt’s first ever Pride game, and Vandy old gold and black was brightened by rainbows all around. They adorned the fans in the stands to warm up shirts on the players, and their head coach Stephanie White, one of the few openly gay head coaches in the major college ranks.

Vanderbilt head coach Stephanie White gets fired up with her team before meeting South Carolina

A crowd of 2,447 came out to cheer on the Commodores and to recognize the work of the staff of the Office of Lesbian Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Life at the university. During a time out at the game, the office’s lead staff was celebrated at center court for building a more open campus.

Rally rainbow towels were held up to cheer on the Commodores, as they faced a tough early-conference test against one of the odd-on favorites to win the national title. Fans and alums in the stands and across the internet were asking the important question: “Where can I get that?”

The first 250 fans received a special Pride rally towel
Chesie Hall lead the Vandy flotilla, but #4 South Carolina had the firepower in a 93-57 win.

The only damper on the afternoon was the end of the game. Despite a strong early start, and junior guard Chelsie Hall’s 15 points, the Gamecocks used a 21-0 run through the second and third quarters to power a 93-57 runaway win. South Carolina improved to 16-1 on the year and maintained an unbeaten record in league play. Vanderbilt dropped to 12-5 on the season and 2-2 in the SEC.

Yet, the larger message was as big as the game, and it was winning message.

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