Since the start of the fall sports season the Tennessee State athletics web site has posted “Getting to Know” pieces of various athletes.
They are simple Q&As. Among the questions is one that pertains to the best gift that that athlete has ever received. There are the typical answers ranging from Xbox to a trip to California. That is all good, but there is one that stands out because it is not, well, typical.
The answer given by Andrew Bather, a senior receiver on the football team, was his grandfather’s watch.
Odie Lee Jarmon Sr. may have passed away in 2003 when Bather was in elementary school, but he continues to have a profound impact on him.
“For him to give me his watch before he passed away was very inspiring,” Bather said. “He was very influential in my life. So for me to try to meet his expectations and his standards is actually motivational in that if I ever get discouraged in college or life I can remember what he has done for me and my family.”
Jarmon, who was Bather’s mother’s father, spent several years as an administrator with the school’s agriculture department, including from the era when it was known as Tennessee Agriculture & Industrial State College.
“I was really young when he died, but my mother talks about him all the time and what he did for Tennessee State and what he did for his community,” said Bather. “So I always try to listen whenever she speaks about him.”
Where he was going to college was never much a topic of conversation in the Bather household. After all, his mother and father as well as his two older brothers attended TSU, which is located in Nashville. Following the same path seemed like the natural thing to do.
“My parents told us that it was up to us as to where we wanted to go to college, but I guess they just embedded TSU into our DNA,” said Bather when asked if it was an automatic he would keep the family tradition alive. “You know when you are young it is kind of a follow-the-leader-type thing, the brother thing. Wherever my brothers went I would have gone and they really showed me the ins and outs of TSU, so I grew closer to the school as they went through college.”
Including redshirt years, this season marks the last of 10 in a row with a Bather brother on the football team. Brandon (2006-10) and Justin (2008-12) were both defensive backs for the Tigers. The former is currently working for NFL Films in New Jersey and the latter is finishing up graduate school at nearby Belmont University.
With three Bather brothers having played for the Tigers there is no lack of support in the stands for each game at Hale Stadium.
“I really can’t count,” he said when asked how many family members and relatives attend home game. “Most of my family lives in Nashville and I am pretty sure they would come to the game even if I wasn’t playing. For me to be here is just a plus. It is amazing for me and my family that I have been able to keep the link going.”
Someday the human performance and sports science major would like to link up with his brothers in the business world, perhaps by opening a training facility.
But for now, starting with Saturday’s homecoming game against Eastern Illinois, it is about helping the Tigers build on their 3-2 record. As he has done in the previous five games this season and each game going back through his career, Bather only has one request when he takes the field.
“I always ask for my grandfather’s eyes to look down upon me,” he said.