By Steve Williams
It’s “Hate Vandy Week,” but we won’t hear Snapper Morgan on a local sports radio-call-in show like we have regularly in the past.
Snapper Morgan had risen to No. 3 on my list of “Vandy haters” over the years, trailing only the late George Cafego and No. 2 Joe Thompson.
Cafego was the great Tennessee All-American halfback in the late 1930s when Vandy was the Vols’ arch-rival and Thompson inherited his hatred for the Commodores when he was a red-shirt Vol on Cafego’s scout squad back in the early 1970s.
I’m not sure just how Morgan came to despise Vanderbilt, but he had let his feelings be known publicly for many seasons.
But times have changed and so has his feelings. He has dropped out of the rankings. There’s a good reason why.
Snapper, longtime “spotter” for public address announcer J.B. Mize at Central High games, and I were sitting next to each other during the Bobcats’ recent second-round playoff game against Gibbs.
When the first half ended, and there was a chance to chat a little bit in the press box, it came to me that Vandy week would be coming up after the Vols’ trip to Missouri.
So I turned to Snapper and needled him:
“It’s about time for the Vols to play Vandy. I guess you’ll be fired up for that, won’t you?”
To my surprise, Snapper answered with a comment that I thought I misheard at first.
“What did you say?”
“I’ve kind of backed off on that,” he repeated. “My niece is now the Director of Sports Nutrition for Vanderbilt athletics.”
My thoughts spun for a moment as I processed Morgan’s news to me.
Yes, Blair Hitchcock, a 2007 Powell High graduate, daughter of Snapper’s sister, Veanna, is sure enough now on the Vandy payroll and working hard and long hours for the Commodores.
She was hired as Vanderbilt’s first full-time registered dietitian in 2018 and is in charge of all dietary and nutritional needs for Commodore athletic programs.
“She was hired last year to start the new nutrition program at Vanderbilt,” continued Morgan. “She had been an assistant at Texas A&M for three years.”
Then it dawned on me. I ran into Snapper in the bowels of Thompson-Boling Arena as he waited outside the locker room to visit with his niece during halftime of a UT-Aggies game a couple of years ago. I remember him telling me about Blair working for A&M that night.
“I don’t go full-board like I used to (about Vandy) because of her,” said Snapper.
Hate has been replaced with pride when he thinks of Vanderbilt and who is there now.
Hitchcock graduated from UT in 2012 with degrees in health and human sciences and sports management. She earned a master’s degree in nutrition coursework from Alabama-Birmingham in 2013 and a master’s degree in sports nutrition from Texas A&M in 2015. She also worked as a graduate assistant at Florida State (2013-15).
“She has a ring from Florida State’s national football championship season in 2013,” added Snapper.
I asked Snapper if Blair knew about his past feelings for Vandy.
“I think she does. We don’t talk about it. She says ‘I hope they don’t get hurt.’ She’s a sweetheart.”
I teased Snapper one more time, asking if he had a photo of him and Blair together, maybe waving Black and Gold shakers.
He said “no” with a grin on his face, possibly imagining for a second what an odd and funny picture that would be.
He did send me a photo, though, and one that captured the love of an uncle and niece.
Snapper, I think even Cafego might understand.