"Chantelle & Mac" Show Nears Final Curtain
By Andrew Derr
When the women's basketball team takes the floor March 2, it will mark the
end of an era. The "Chantelle & Mac" show, at least the "regular-season"-version,
will be coming to a close.
Arriving as freshmen four years ago and rooming together as strangers, seniors
Chantelle Anderson and Ashley McElhiney have made an indelible mark on the Commodore
program. They began their careers anxious and awestruck by big-time college
hoops; they leave with their fingerprints all over the Vanderbilt record book.
In December, McElhiney set the school record for career assists, passing Ginger
Jared. Last month, in a game at Louisville, she registered 17 assists, a single-game
school record. And in early February, in a win against Alabama, the 5-6 point
guard buried a three-pointer to join the elite 1,000-point club.
For Anderson, as the awards continue to pour in, the senior center from Vancouver,
Washington closes in on the school records for career scoring, field goals made
and overall field goal percentage. Most impressively, she has started in every
game she has ever played at Vanderbilt, a school-record 127 consecutive starts.
Recently, at the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame banquet, Anderson was honored
as the state's 2002 Amateur Athlete of the Year.
Given the fact that Commodore fans are so used to seeing Anderson and McElhiney
in the starting lineup, it is hard to comprehend their inevitable departure.
For the two players, though, even with just one regular-season home game remaining,
they have barely noticed.
"Truthfully, I hadn't really even thought much about it, that we were
seniors and we were playing our final games," McElhiney said. "It
hasn't sunk in that the season is on the downhill slope."
"It really hasn't registered. It's crazy to think about it ending,"
Anderson agreed, before adding that it's hard not to realize the impact of leaving
Vanderbilt. "Sometimes, I'll be hanging out with my teammates and I'll
have a sentimental moment, where I'm thinking, 'it's never going to be like
this again. It's never going to be this fun.' During these moments, it hits
home. It's sad."
As well as the two connect on the court, Anderson and McElhiney are the best
of friends off the court, as well. When they lived together freshman year, they
learned first-hand that opposites really do attract.
"It was one of my most memorable experiences, because we bonded so well
together," McElhiney said when asked about her first college roommate.
"But we really were complete opposites. She was outgoing, almost like the
typical party girl, and I was more conservative, more laid-back."
"I was the totally west-coast girl, born in California, raised in Washington,
never been to the South before," Anderson recalled with a laugh. "And
here's Ashley, grew up in tiny Gleason, TN, and she's been in the South her
"We were opposites all over: tall, short
Coast, East Coast. But we clicked right away," Anderson added. "And
soon, every time someone would see me, they'd ask 'Where's Ashley?' and every
time they'd see Ashley, they'd ask her, 'Where's Chantelle?' Now, she's like
Together, the two have provided Vanderbilt fans with some unforgettable moments.
As juniors, Anderson and McElhiney led the Commodores to the Southeastern Conference
tournament title as well as a trip to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.
For McElhiney, the SEC title is one of her fondest memories, as is the SEC tournament
run during the 2000-01 campaign.
"We beat LSU, then Tennessee and then played Georgia in the title game,
only to lose on a last-second shot," McElhiney recalled. "Even though
we lost the game, it was an awesome experience."
For Anderson, she could not help but recall her first SEC game, a road contest
in Oxford against Ole Miss.
"It was my first SEC game, and I got knocked down," the senior center
said. "One of the girls pushed me down on the court and stepped over me
and said, 'Welcome to the SEC, freshman.' I just remember that first year being
the most physical thing I had ever seen."
For all the memories though, the task at hand remains, and it leaves little
time for the two seniors to contemplate the fact that this season will be their
last as Commodores.
"Chantelle and I can't worry about this being our senior year. We have
a job to do," the Commodore floor general said. "From here on out,
I'm not going to worry about whether or not this is my last game. I just want
to have fun at what I'm doing, leave everything out there on the court. I don't
want to have any regrets, so I'm not even thinking about when our last game
It's not that easy for Vanderbilt fans, however. Their presence undoubtedly
will be missed next season. Amazingly, since first playing together as freshmen,
when the two have been in the lineup together, the Commodores are 88-32. As
the team finishes up the regular season and looks to make deep runs into both
the SEC and NCAA tournament, Commodore fans will no doubt hope that trend continues