George Mooney, the man credited with starting the Vol Navy, a fleet of fans who dock their boats at volunteer landing on gamedays, passed away Thursday night, according to his family. The longtime Vol broadcaster was 91-years-old.
"It's very sad to hear that Mr. Mooney has passed because what he created really has changed the lives and created a lifestyle for many people," said Kevin Jeske, a longtime Vol Navy member.
According to the story told, Mooney took his boat to gameday, nearly 50 years ago, to beat traffic around Neyland Stadium. The venue is one of two college fields in the nation that is accessible by water.
"No one can take credit for the Vol Navy except George Mooney," said Jeske.
From that point on, the Vol Navy was born, and now hundreds tie up to the docks along Volunteer Landing for home games.
"Sailgaiting is a much longer experience. It starts usually on Wednesday or Thursday and goes through Sunday afternoon," explained Jeske.
Boats are tied up side-by-side to the docks. Sometimes five or six are tied together, and fans walk from boat to boat, drinking, eating and socializing.
"There's nothing like the stadium, but this is second best," said Greg Boles, a Vol Navy member.
Three years ago, Jeske established the Vol Navy Boater's Association to keep Mooney's legacy alive, and keep all the members connected outside of football season.
"Win or lose, the Vol Navy will be here," said Jeske.
Vol Navy die hards come to the docks for every home game regardless of the weather. Jeske says once gameday temperatures turn cold, he'll still be on the river, representing the Vol Navy.
For more information about the Vol Navy Boater's Association, check out their website.