In January 2014, Trennie Williams, a freshman trumpet player for the Pride of the Southland Band and the men’s basketball pep band, attended the Lady Vols’ “Big Monday” ESPN-televised game with Notre Dame.
“The game was hyped up, and there was a tailgate and everything,” Williams told the Daily Beacon’s Bradi Musil, “so I came as the ‘ultimate’ fan. I painted my face and wore the first version of my super fan costume.”
That night in Thompson-Boling Arena, a star was born. The super fan costume was orange to the max, including a double-T sweater vest, wool cap, sunglasses, and checkerboard shorts. “I get super enthusiastic about everything I do,” says Williams. “I always like to go above and beyond.”
He took part in some halftime relay races, won a Lady Vols goody bag, and got heavy rotation on the Jumbotron and social media.
“I attended every home game I could after that,” he told Musil. “I felt it was now my duty to attend the games and get hype, pump up the crowd, and cheer on the Lady Vols.” And so he did, sporting an ever-surprising array of Big Orange paraphernalia. “My wardrobe kind of grew,” says Williams. “I’m always on the lookout. My friends will call and tell me about a vintage sweater vest they see at Goodwill.”
Williams is especially effective in rousing the crowds because of his powerful stentorian voice. He got the nickname “Allstate” at White Station High School in Memphis because he sounds like actor Dennis Haysbert when he asks, “Are you in good hands?”
“Two or three times a day, people will say, ‘Do Allstate.’ And I will,” Williams says. A journalism and electronic media major, Williams took the air last year for WUTK 90.3 as DJ Allstate, and he tweets good Vol news under the handle @ALLstateTrennie.
Williams’s profile as the ultimate Vol fan ascended to new heights when Nick Chafin, a video producer for the UT Video and Photography Center, featured him in the Big Orange Friday video “What Day Is It?”
The video ends with Williams doing his trademark moves and bringing a class to its feet with the simple message that, “It’s Friday!”
“I was the perfect person to do it because I don’t have any shame, and I’m not self-conscious,” he says. “Dancing around in front of the Torchbearer decked out in orange and white is just me being myself. I find every free opportunity to have fun.”
Williams credits much of his high-octane joie de vivre to his father, Trennie Sr., president and general manager of the business and financial development consulting firm CrownStar Enterprises, which runs by the motto “Inspiring people to greatness in every area of life.”
“My dad used to make my four younger siblings and me say, ‘This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it,’ says Williams. “I think saying that every day is what really makes me look on the bright side of situations.
“My dad was a marine, so I don’t think I got my extreme fun behavior from him,” says Williams. “He was a little more serious. But that is what shaped me into a man. I wouldn’t be doing right, I would be just a class clown if he hadn’t molded some kind of serious man inside of me.”
Williams served on the NAACP Memphis Youth Council from 2009-2013 and made Eagle Scout with BSA Troop 75. “My project involved landscaping at the Memphis International Airport,” he says. “I planted monkey grass on a small island strip by one of the driveway entrances.”
This past summer, Williams served as a Welcome Leader for incoming freshmen. “It was fun,” he says. “It was so great to connect with all the new students.”
Opportunity knocked recently for Williams when he was asked to star in a video and make appearances on campus promoting “Be a Hero Day” for VOLstarter, UT’s new crowdfunding site. As the superhero VOLstarterMan, Williams, in an orange mask and cape, will encourage mild-mannered citizens to become heroes by visiting VOLstarter.utk.edu and chipping in for worthy student projects.
“I just like any opportunity I can get to give back to the university.”