Amber Heatherly

Heatherly credits Haslam with helping her learn to balance her schedule of rigorous accounting classes, internships and philanthropy.

- Student

Each year, Amber Heatherly creates three calendars – one for academics, one for UT athletic events and one for volunteer work.

The senior accounting student uses these calendars to manage her busy schedule, making room for her passions: cheering on the Vols and volunteering as a coach for Knoxville Challenger Sports, a non-profit offering team sports for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The group organizes basketball, baseball, swimming, golf and bowling teams on a seasonal schedule.

Her interest in the nonprofit began while completing volunteer hours for a capstone project during high school. As a lifelong Knoxvillian, she grew up attending UT football, basketball and baseball games and later playing sports in high school. She looked for a place to share her love of service and athletics and found Challengers. 

“My first experience with Challengers was baseball with the younger kids,” Heatherly says. “I absolutely loved the enthusiasm and spirit of the students and told the director I wanted to be a part of this organization forever.” 

Heatherly has stayed true to her word, coaching more than 275 hours of basketball and baseball. She also organizes events for Challengers, bringing the teams to UT to play basketball in Thompson-Boling Arena and baseball at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. During open practice sessions at Lindsey Nelson, the Challengers play with the Vols baseball team. Heatherly says the Challengers teams look forward to interacting with the UT athletes.

“We do it for the kids to experience playing at the big arena and the field,” Heatherly says. “The athletes have been so kind and assist the teams during their games.”

Heatherly’s events have also served to promote the program. Challengers has tripled in size since became involved four years ago. Lessons she learned in the Haslam College of Business aided her as she contributed to the group’s growth.

“When I came in, I looked at the organization and looked at our communication and time management,” Heatherly says. “I learned these skills at Haslam and have been able to implement those strategies in the organization.”

Heatherly credits Haslam with helping her learn to balance her schedule of rigorous accounting classes, internships and philanthropy.

“Haslam feels like family,” she says. “The faculty and deans are approachable and have been so supportive. I’m a first-generation college student, and it has been such a great experience.”

In the spring, Heatherly was honored as a new member of Haslam Volunteer Impact for her volunteer work. Set to graduate in December, Heatherly will cross the stage with a Gold Service Medallion from the Clay and Debbie Jones Center for Leadership and Service. This award honors volunteers with the highest level of community service hours.

After graduation, Heatherly will begin an internship with Deloitte, followed by an internship with LBMC Knoxville. She plans to continue her education in the Haslam Master of Accountancy Program next fall and remain a coach for Challengers.

“It’s an honor to say I’m a UT Volunteer,” says Heatherly.