'Tis the Season
Dec. 11, 2013
As one of many full-time students who also works for the athletics department, the week we all wait for is finally here. I took my last final exam yesterday and can officially say that I am on winter break…sort of. While I will still have work and the start of swimming and diving’s home schedule in a week, the idea of getting to leave work and just relax is something I have been waiting for since August.
This semester has definitely been a test of my mental strength to say the least. I have had to balance four very difficult classes along with my first season working with men’s soccer. The experience has been rewarding and has me more excited than ever to finish school.
Throughout the next month, I look forward to taking advantage of my extra time normally spent on school work. Along with finally getting back to my normal gym regiment, I will spend the next month preparing for the start of FAU’s spring schedule including numerous home swim meets and my second year working the men’s golf tournament.
I am also thrilled to have the honor of working with the media relations department for the 2014 BCS National Championship game in Pasadena, CA. The opportunity is one that I am still in shock about as I contacted their media relations department hardly expecting to hear back. So, there is definitely much to look forward to in the next month as I look toward my final semester of school and a very busy spring for FAU Athletics.
A Historic Weekend All Around
Dec. 9, 2013
FAU head coaches Mike Jarvis and Joan Joyce both made history this weekend.
On Friday night, Coach Joyce was inducted into her 11th Hall of Fame. This was the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) and her induction video included several other NFCA Hall of Fame members as well as many of her former players.
It was Coach Jarvis' turn on Saturday, as he led the FAU men's basketball team to an 83-63 win over Jacksonville to become the winningest men's basketball in school history. Earlier today, senior Pablo Bertone added to the achievements by becoming the first FAU basketball player to be named Conference USA Player of the Week.
While football was not invited to a bowl game, the fact that the team was even bowl eligible is in and of itself a tremendous accomplishment. It was even more remarkable considering all the turmoil the team had to endure in the middle of the season.
I think it's safe to say these are just the first of many historic accomplishments for the athletic department in the near future.
On the Run...Semester Coming to a Close
Dec. 4, 2013
The Owls have been on a run the last few weeks: football is 4-0 in its last four games; men's basketball thrilled the FAU student section by downing in-state foe UCF 75-64 Tuesday night in a game that the Owls took control of with three minutes remaining. Women's basketball played host to a tournament during the Thanksgiving break and has captured five wins in a row, including two road games which are always hard to get. That is the easy way to say, there have been plenty of events to keep one busy.
We do have a little lull in the action while the student athletes prepare and take their final exams. Football will host its season ending banquet and the University will name its next coach in the coming days or weeks.
For me, it is a nice time to clean-up and archive things on the office computer. We have great photographers which capture as many events and functions as they can. Going through the photos brings out the sentimental in me.
Former FAU quarterbacks: Graham Wilbert (current FAU GA), Jeff Van Camp (BocaRaton Police), and Jared Allen (current FAU assistant).
First meeting of former FAU quarterbacks: Jared Allen (then FAU GA/Assistant), Rusty Smith(then NFL Rookie with the Tennessee Titans who he currently plays for), then FAU Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger) and Jeff Van Camp (then current starting quarterback) at the 2010 FAU game at Western Kentucky.
You also get to see how much the players mature during their time here. Sometimes when you are in the thick of games you forget that just a year ago, we were counting on a different leader. Developing leaders is one of the department's core values. The mid-season football team adversity certainly showed who the leaders were and that the team was ready to follow. For those young men who stepped up and led the Owls to a 6-6 record, a bowl eligible record for the first time since 2008, I applaud you.
Another new tradition for FAU Athletics is taking a photo of the graduating class with the President. We took that photo this morning. Twenty-two student-athletes are on track to graduate next week.
2013 December Student Athlete Graduating Class
Thanks for the memories and thanks for your part in Building Champions Brick-by-Brick.
Basketball Kicking Into Gear
Dec. 2, 2013
With the Owls' football team wrapping up its regular season with a victory against FIU and awaiting a possible bowl bid, many fans will now turn their attention to the hardwood.
Both the men's and women's basketball team will host in-state rival UCF for their next game. The men will be looking to snap a six-game losing streak while the women have won five in a row after dropping their first two games of the season.
Senior guard Pablo Bertone leads the men's team at 17.0 points per game. Chenise Miller paces the women at 13.0 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Both squads are entertaining to watch figure to provide lots of thrills for the fans over the next few months.
Nov. 28, 2013
Today is Thanksgiving, my first away from home. Instead of sitting down to a meal with my family, I'm in the Oxley Center preparing for a busy weekend on campus. There is no turkey for me today, but instead a plate of Chinese takeout. Mashed potatoes are replaced by a pile of game notes and the chatter of relatives is replaced by the hum of the copier in the mail room.
However, this will be my first Thanksgiving weekend with my new family - my FAU family. With four basketball games and a football game over the next two days, we'll be seeing plenty of each other. When the dust clears after all of the action, the football team could potentially be on its way to a bowl game and the women's basketball team could be on its longest winning streak since 2005.
Snow is on the ground in my hometown in Tennessee while it's 70 degrees and sunny here in Boca. It just doesn't feel like Thanksgiving to me, but that's no reason not to give thanks. I'm thankful for Katrina giving me the opportunity to work at FAU. I'm thankful for Pat Chun and his leadership of our department. I'm thankful for our student-athletes and coaches, for without them, we wouldn't be here. And last but not least, I'm thankful for my family for supporting me from afar.
My update is that we made it through the weekend with flying colors. While the staff was scattered, the news was positive from nearly every venue so we march on. I also discovered I LOVE 11:30 a.m. kicks and will "Palm Beach" the ballot boxes if I get a vote on game times. We were home by 8 p.m. Saturday night which is amazing when you consider we have started some away games after 8 p.m. EST this year and still had the flight to make through.
First up was the success of the women's volleyball team. The Owls advanced to the Conference USA tournament, with two big wins last week, since 2006.
Cross Country represented FAU at the regional meet and both men's and women's basketball was in action. The men faced Duke and scared Boston College, in Coach Jarvis' hometown. Welcome back to the men's team, who will be on the road again in a few days. The women won big at home and have hit the road for the weekend.
Football had an outstanding game and gave Interim Head Coach Brian Wright his first road victory. Those are hard to come by. There are two games remaining and the hope remains alive for a bowl berth. Join the team and "Hold the Rope".
An update for those who may remember me writing about our video streaming efforts, we had nearly 600 watched the Tulane football game and more than 11,000 watch the late October press conference. It has really proven a great way to follow the team. We are scheduled to stream this weekend's football game and the following week, the day after Thanksgiving, will be a broadcast to a national television audience, so we need you there with a friend to fill the stadium.
I probably will not write next Wednesday with the short work week, but would like to say that I'm thankful to all those who hold a special place in their hearts for FAU and its student athletes. I also can add that my kids are thankful for the television crew who will keep me out of the kitchen on Thursday morning and for a grandfather and father who like to cook.
We are Scattered but Excited about the Next Few Weeks
It hardly seems like a week since I have written. There are so many events going on that I have lost track of time. It is normal for me to lose track during a bye week and maybe that played into it. We get into such a routine once camp breaks that any deviation throws me off. I can't imagine what it does to the players.
Since last Wednesday, women's basketball has played two games on the road. Brandon Goodwin, the newest member to our staff had his first FAU broadcast. This weekend he will do the same at home and it will be the first women's basketball that fans can watch via live stream. That is great news for basketball fans and way to go Brandon.
The Tulane football game was the first game that we have provided a live stream in several years, since the days of Lockhart. This stream was much better and we had more than 500 views for the broadcast.
Volleyball has built a following of the webcast and I'm sure those fans enjoyed the 3-2 victory over FIU, Tuesday night. It was a nail biter that saw the Owls come from behind to win.
Men's basketball got underway over the weekend and they too have been added to the video stream play list.
Today is signing day for many of the teams so keep an eye out for our latest new Owls. Unlike football, many of the other sports elect to delay their announcements so stay tuned.
Our office staff will be scattered this weekend. I will remain with football but will welcome Jena Lamendola to her first trip. New Owl alum Josh Fryd will provide the photos as or regular (notice I didn't say normal) photographer has picked up a photo shoot with Danica Patrick.
Ken LaVicka from ESPN will be with Justin from our office covering men's basketball while Brandon will remain at home where he and Ron will pull volleyball and women's basketball duty.
This time of year and late February early March are an adventure to coordinate everything the teams and our fans need.
I'm also happy to say that we also have the opportunity to promote successful stories. Like D'Joun Smith leading the nation in interceptions. The work of Tina Dechausay, in FAU Athletic Marketing, really has helped with that. Several student-athletes also will represent their teams on C-USA All-conference and All-Academic teams. We also have graduation rapidly approaching which means there are great success stories to pitch.
While it is a busy time of the year it also is a great time. Much like what Interim Head Football Coach Brian Wright has cornered. We are holding the rope and we are "FAU Proud."
Let's Go Owls!
THOUGHTS ON THE EMOTIONAL LAST THREE WEEKS
So, it is Wednesday which means it is my day to pull my thoughts together on the last week and the week ahead. The operative words in the opening sentence are "pull my thoughts together".
To do so, let's go back to three weeks ago. We were heading to Auburn and I knew the task ahead was difficult and that proved to be true. The Tigers were a formidable team, maybe the best FAU has played all season. My emotions were down, but I truly believed in the players, the coaching staff and the work everyone had put into 2013. Two weeks later, despite all that happened last Wednesday, my feelings remain steadfast.
Last Saturday's game was filled with emotion, from the former players returning as part of the homecoming celebration to the final interview, FAU simply shined. The game atmosphere was tremendous.
Sunday was an opportunity to watch the women's basketball team as they played host to Lynn in an exhibition game. The team is led by seven seniors and opens up their campaign this weekend on the road.
Monday, I had the opportunity to attend the men's basketball dinner. Coach Jarvis and Mark Noll from It's Owl Time put in a tremendous amount of work for this event. It was the first year I was able to attend and I now understand what all the talk has been about. Great Job Coach! I missed the FAU SportsPage Radio Show due to the basketball event, but I understand Ken LaVicka, from ESPN 106.3 and Interim Head Coach Brian Wright did a nice job and was greeted by a spirited and strong crowd at Duffy's in Deerfield.
Tuesday afforded me the luxury of being home by 5:30 with no events. Man, did the night drag on.
Tonight, Wednesday I will be supporting my oldest son at his baseball game, something that I don't get to do enough and tomorrow may be extremely tough to drag myself out of bed as he turns 16.
The thought of having a 16-year old maybe extremely difficult for me to swallow, however, the opportunity to raise both of our sons in Boca Raton, surrounded by the role models that FAU students, coaches and staff members have provided has been tremendous.
The saying "what a difference a day makes" could never be more true.
Basketball Season Ready to Kick Off
The FAU men's basketball team will hold its third annual kick-off banquet tonight, before starting its season in full force on Friday vs. Ave Maria. The banquet is always a highlight, because it allows the coaches and players to meet the fans in a social atmosphere. Tonight's event will be extra special due to some special surprise guests who will be in attendance. It is a very enjoyable event and one I have been fortunate to attend the past two years. After tonight, the team will fully turn its focus to the rapidly approaching season opener. I have said it repeatedly over the last few days, but I can't believe the season starts on Friday. However, as rapidly as the season begins, it will end even faster, and we will be saying farewell to seniors Pablo Bertone and Dragan Sekelja. With 15 home games this season, fans will have the chance to experience many special moments and the best way to ensure you don't miss any of it is to be at the FAU Arena well before 7 p.m. on Friday to watch the Owls start their season.
Softball Finishes Fall Schedule
While the men's and women's basketball teams are just getting ready to being their seasons, the Florida Atlantic softball team just completed their fall schedule.
The ladies of the Owls' softball team finished their fall scrimmage season undefeated in their eight games, going 7-0-1, wrapping up the slate with a win over crosstown rival Lynn.
With seven regular starters from the 2013 season will return for 2014, including all-conference outfielder Lindsay Shell, the Owls are looking to make a huge impression in their first season as a member of Conference USA.
The team's full spring schedule will be released later this week and there will be plenty of opportunities for fans to take part in the action.
Reboot Has Been My Theme
The football team suffered a heartbreaking loss on a last second field goal, October 12th versus Marshall. It was crushing to see the team come so close, the fans so excited and many of the staff members (not coaches) with smiles on their faces until the final seconds of the game.
I have been around college athletics since 1984. I would like to say that was the year I was born but that is double digits earlier. I can truly say there is nothing that effects the athletic department, as a whole, like college football. The closest thing might be post-season play for any other team. The prep work for a football game is like no other sport. Following a victory the office atmosphere is upbeat the hopes are high. Following a loss, I generally know what to say. Following the Marshall game, I was speechless. And, it would be two weeks before FAU would have another mood swinging game and it will be Auburn, which is coming off a huge win for their program under their second-year coach
So, what do you do each day? Sunday follow Saturday's game I went to five FAU athletic events: two soccer matches, volleyball, softball and a baseball intra-squad. Then on Monday the athletic department hosted a fundraiser from 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Tuesday was the first day in the office and it was extremely quiet as most were catching a little R&R and the coaches were away recruiting. Wednesday, I visited the USTA Academy to talk with them about social media and how to strengthen their skills. It is amazing to look in a 12-year old athlete's eyes that are driven and focused and it is amazing they have a place like the USTA that can help them fulfill their dreams.
Thursday and Friday the Owls were back on the practice field. So life seemed somewhat normal. I still had the weekend to go and it would be my first weekend since July. What to do? What to do? Saturday morning I got to watch my son play baseball for school team. Well, some of the game because my younger son had a football game in Stuart. I miss most of these with work so what I thought would be fun was just plan interesting. I missed all of the baseball game because the football game was moved up two hours. They lost 11-0 so maybe that was a good thing. The football practices have been entertaining so I didn't know what to expect for the "game day". I didn't expect the youth teams to be decked in pink for cancer awareness, one coach to be sitting out because he was ejected the week before a player to be ejected during the game and parents fighting with coaches and the chain crew on the sideline.
Oh, just to see focused 12 year-old eyes. The ride home was fun and reinforced the importance of parent child relationships. So, on Sunday I loaded into my car and headed to Lakeland, a three-hour trip one way, to visit my father who recently underwent hip surgery. If a little time with my son meant so much to me, maybe I could lift his spirits too. After several hours with him, it was back into the car and back to Boca and "game week".
Coach Pelini, Jaquez Johnson and Trevon Coley participated in the Monday sit down with the media and Trevon Coley joined Coach Pelini and Ken LaVicka Monday night on the radio show. It is nice to settle back into a routine. Most of our office's work for the Auburn game has been completed and the mind has started to drift towards Tulane which is having a stellar season thus far. You can catch this week's game at Auburn on FSN, ESPN3 and Duffy's in Deerfield is hosting a watch party. Ken LaVicka will have the radio call at ESPN 106.3 or on www.fausports.com.
I for one, probably, needed the bye week, but boy I'm glad to return to game week. Let's Go Owls!
Time to Take A Deep Breath
This past weekend was a rare one for this time of year, because after I returned from FIU with the volleyball team on Friday night, I had no events for the rest of the weekend. The break from timely work was nice, but even though I didn't have anything immediately pressing, I still had to do prep work for the basketball season opener (Nov. 8).
It also gave me an opportunity to truly appreciate how fortunate I am. I am able to work in my chosen profession, at a Division I institution that is roughly half an hour away from where I grew up. There are many people who would consider themselves lucky to do any one of those three things, and I get to do all of them.
With the holidays approaching, we will frequently reminded to take time to be thankful for what we have. However, when traveling with men's basketball, that lesson can be easily forgotten. I'm glad that the athletic calendar gave me the opportunity to get an early start on showing my gratitude.
Basketball Season Right Around the Corner
October 7, 2013
While it may seem that football season just began, basketball season is already barreling its way toward us. Both the men's and women's basketball teams began practice last week and as I write this, I am traveling to Dallas for the Conference USA media days.
When you work in athletic media relations, there comes a point when there are very few things that you haven't done. However, this is my first time traveling to a conference media day event. The Sun Belt held teleconferences, but not an event where everyone gathered in one building, so it is nice to have an event I can look forward to at this point in my career, a new experience.
In a couple of weeks, Coach Jarvis will take part in a Palm Beach County Media Day, a unique event in which the head coaches of all the college teams in the area will gather to help generate interest for the upcoming season.
Yet another sign of basketball season in Coach Jarvis' annual fundraising dinner, which will be held on Nov. 4. When the basketball schedule was released, the game I immediately noticed was the one at Duke on Nov. 15, not only is the game one of the most historic venues in college basketball, but my brother soon told me that he, along with my sister-in-law and nephew would be making the trip to the game, so that game counts as a double blessing. He also let me know that they would be making to the trip to Maryland on Dec. 14. That also is special since, it will allow me to celebrate my nephew's first birthday in person.
Both of those dates seemed so far away at first, but will be here before I know it. Opportunities like those are just some of the many reasons I consider myself fortunate to work in athletics. I look for even more such moments as the season progresses.
More Teams are Getting Underway
October 2, 2013
We are four days removed from the first battle of the Owl football teams and I still have a bitter taste in my mouth. I'm usually pretty good at bouncing back and picking up for the next game. This week it has been tougher. To keep my cup half full attitude is a good thing because we have truly outplayed the last two opponents and just not finished. I have not always been able to say that.
So, close the book and move into this week. Both men's and women's basketball began this week as did baseball. Softball seems to be in full swing year around and those are three additions to the buffet of sporting events that fans can go to.
Volleyball continues to shine this fall and will be on the road this weekend. Now is a good time to push the streaming video option available through Conference USA and our website http://www.fausports.com/allaccess This is a good way to follow both volleyball and football this fall and it will only get better with the addition of the two basketball teams in just over a month.
Sunday and Monday were normal days at the office. Tuesday, I had the opportunity, along with a student worker, to participate in a Mistake-Free Grammar & Proofreading seminar. Normally, you would insert a joke here, but this was a good refresher, learning experience--and dare I say needed experience.
I dislike proofing the work of others and shout out a least once or twice a day "can someone come proof this for me". The nice take away is that we are doing a lot of things right. That doesn't mean we are perfect but it means we have good folks in the office and we are right more often than we are wrong, so shout out to the FAU media relations staff.
Notes have been posted and credentials distributed for this weekend. Tomorrow, Thursday, I will begin work for next week.
The Florida Atlantic versus Marshall football game also will be just the second weekend since August 24 that I have been home. So, I'm looking forward to seeing the football staffing family as well as my biological family.
This Saturday's game at UAB will not be a part of a television package but fans can watch it by live stream at http://www.uabsports.com/allaccess/?media=403761
Everybody's Working for the Weekend
In 1981, the rock band Loverboy released "Working for the Weekend," an upbeat song that fit perfectly with that glorious feeling when the clock strikes five on Friday. Well, at least for those who don't work in the sports industry. For those who do work in athletics, the weekend generally includes all-day events, tons of time spent outside, crazy hours and saying "I can't wait until Monday" at least once.
Last weekend was packed with action that began and ended with two victories for men's soccer. Between 7 p.m. Friday to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, FAU hosted five games on campus. This caused a lot of commotion for the media relations department during the week as we each prepared for gameday by creating programs, game notes, prepping the press box and distributing media credentials. The weekend's festivities kicked off with a men's soccer game and a volleyball match on Friday evening. Both teams came from behind as men's soccer beat Jacksonville in overtime and volleyball rallied from two sets down to defeat UCF. The two wins certainly gave everyone the energy needed as we left campus just 12 hours before FAU's first home football game of the season.
It seems as though there is some sort of conspiracy against those of us who work in sports. If you are tired, hungry or sick, if you have post-game plans or if you simply just want the day to be over, the game will go into overtime. By the time I sent my post game files, put the game statistics online and wrote my recap story, I had about six hours to sleep before returning for the football game. I woke up Saturday with the completely wrong mindset. I was tired from the long day before and already thinking about work on Sunday. Therefore, football went into overtime for the first time since the stadium opening. It was the most exciting game I have worked since starting at FAU last year so despite my fatigue it was an incredible day.
It is difficult to describe the attachment you start to feel about a team when you are working for them as opposed to being a regular fan. Regardless of the outcome, I was incredibly proud of the team and the coaching staff. The response to the game was incredible and everyone working definitely fed off of the excitement coming from the full student section. The weekend was not over yet as FAU hosted back-to-back soccer matches on Sunday. The men's team closed the weekend's excitement with their fifth-consecutive home win.
Enjoying what you do for a living is great, but with the crazy schedule you have working in sports, it is essential. So, while most people are "working for the weekend," the classic rock song has yet to have any relevance to my work week.
Excitement Surrounds Volleyball Program
Volleyball's five-set win over UCF was one of my more memorable moments in my six years covering the team.
Not only did the team beat an in-state rival from a major conference, but they did it in come from behind fashion. After dropping the first two sets of the match, the ladies rallied to win the third set. However, they found themselves down 17-10 in the fourth set. It was a spot in which it would have been very easy to chalk the match up as a loss and focus on the start of conference play, but the team rallied to win the set and extend the match.
In that fifth set, FAU and UCF were tied at nine before the Owls surged to their improbable victory. Soon as the match ended, Alessia Pizzoccheri came running over and gave me a huge and appreciated (albeit very sweaty) hug. It was a reminder of why I do what I do.
It was a memorable ending to a memorable match.
Football Home Opener Almost Here
One of the most exciting days for FAU students is right around the corner: gameday. Students have been excited for football for a while and with last week's win at USF, we can't wait to see our team take the field.
For this game, I was given the opportunity to make two highlight videos that will be featured on the Jumbotron. The first video, a clip on the success of FAU football this year, was awesome to make. Despite only three games, not only did our football team already get their first "W," but it came right before their first home game, making the anticipation for the MTSU game that much higher. The second video I had to make was commemorating the monster season our baseball team had last year, clinching the Sun Belt Conference championship title and moving on to the regionals.
As I was making these videos though, the theme of winning really stuck out to me. I was inspired to just take a step back and see how we students have become more involved and enjoy our little successes. This is my last semester as an FAU student and intern and with my four and a half years (I'm a super senior), it's incredible how much the school has grown in terms of both culture and numbers. The Athletics department recently launched the FAU "Hootigans," a free student membership group in which students are awarded for their participation in FAU home events.
There are certain days during the year that every FAU student should look forward to, Saturday's game is one of the days.
Orange is the New Black
September 19, 2013
If Orange is the new Black, Thursday is my Wednesday. My usual schedule for the blog is Wednesday, but once again I'm writing Thursday afternoon.
Why You Ask?
It has been a great week! Our Director of Athletics Pat Chun often says "Make Today Great. If you have seven great days, you have a great week. If you have four great weeks, you have a great month. If you have 12 great months, you have a great year.
My great week started about 4 a.m. Sunday when we returned from the victorious USF game. I returned to my office to new carpet. By 5:30 a.m., I had the furniture, photos, files and computer back in order. By 7 a.m., I had a good start to this week's notes and was heading home. I returned to the office around 4 p.m. to work a little more on the notes (finished notes are about 40 pages) and submitted the nominations to Conference USA for players of the week. I had a great feeling about D'Joun and the possibilities of the football program's chances for his selection. I didn't fathom what I would later learn. (Men's soccer player Ryan Price also earned C-USA men's soccer offensive player of the week honors bringing our department's total to three thus far.)
Monday morning Coach Pelini, D'Joun Smith and Daniel McKinney attended the weekly press conference and Jaquez Jackson joined Coach Pelini and Ken LaVicka at the weekly radio show. All went well and the notes were nearly complete.
By Tuesday, the students at FAU, along with FAU, announced the formation of the Hootigans. Late Tuesday I was told D'Joun Smith earned the Jim Thorpe defensive back player of the week honors, the football program's first national player of the week honor. We were permitted to announce it Wednesday morning and what a great feeling it is to see someone who has worked and believed in the coaches to be recognized. We also introduced The Cove which will be located in the southeast corner (or Atlantic) side of the stadium.
Today Coach Pelini and the coordinators reviewed the team with the CSS television talent for Saturday and the team held their final practice of the week.
Tomorrow the team will do their final walk through of the game and our staff will set up the press areas for 88 working members plus 45 who will be here work the game for CSS.
Here is to another great game, day, week, month and year.
Big Week Leading Up to Football Home Opener
With football coming off of a huge win over USF on Saturday, there is (understandably) a lot of excitement surrounding Saturday's first home game. Adding to that excitement are all the events going on in conjunction with the game. Shortly after arriving back in Boca Raton, head coach Carl Pelini did a series of speeches to the Greek organizations on campus.
In the athletic department, we always talk about the importance of getting the students involved in our events. I can think of no better way of encouraging the students to come out, than having the head football coach, fresh off of his biggest win come to them to address them personally.
Pat Chun, our Director of Athletics, can often be heard talking about changing the culture of the athletic department. That kind of change often begins with the youngest members of a population, and on a college campus that means the students. The athletic department is making a concerted effort to get more students to attend games and that will be evident to all the students who attend Saturday's game.
From the Old to the Young
Sept. 14, 2013
Reading Katrina's blog yesterday reminded me of the job I had prior to coming to Florida Atlantic. My boss at Tennessee Tech, Rob Schabert, has also been in the business for a long time. I love hearing stories of how the world of sports information has changed over the years.
I can barely remember a time when internet access wasn't always within arm's reach. Katrina and Rob covered sports when releases and stats had to be typed on a keyboard and mailed to the opposing school and media outlets. Today, I'm on a bus traveling to Tampa, using a laptop, Ipad, two smartphones and a mobile hotspot. Oh how the times have changed.
Saturday night, you'll be able to keep up with the football game by watching or listening to it online, watching live stats, or by reading my tweets - instantly. I encourage you to interact with us - retweet us and ask us questions. I'll do my best to respond. After all, what we do is for our fans.
With soccer in Jacksonville and football and volleyball in Tampa, this is a great weekend for FAU Athletics to shine in the Sunshine State. Go Owls!
Cleaning Up the Office
There is a saying that many of you have heard: "A day late and a dollar short." I'm admitting that I'm a day late and once I hit the vending machine for a soda, I will be more than a dollar short.
The football team has been preparing all week for the 7 p.m. USF game on Saturday. I used last weekend to prepare for USF and much of the week has been spent getting ready for the Middle Tennessee game the following weekend.
I have been at FAU since 1991 and one thing I enjoy, besides the different people that I have had a chance to meet, is the opportunity to try and do new things.
For example: when I started in the business we used a thing called a mimeograph machine to copy the game stats for the reporters. If you had enough copies to make, the fumes from the job made it more and more enjoyable. We then moved to the telecopier which was speedy, taking just seven minutes a page as compared to today's fax machine and now scanning and emailing. Stats were kept by hand and a calculator was used to balance that stats sheet before distribution.
You ask why the trip down memory lane. I have used the fall to learn my third publishing software. We began with Desktop Publishing, then Quark and now InDesign. All make life so much easier and allow us to do so much more, but the time it takes to create a similar document in a new program seems silly. Next week, I will like it though.
I also use the road trips to steal ideas that I can bring back to FAU and use. Copying is the best form of flattery and I have always respected the work that ECU's SID has done, no matter which school he has worked at.
We have received good reviews on the Fox Sports 1 broadcast last week, so thanks to that team and best of luck with the new sports outlet.
I always work ahead as much as I can, but I'm also preparing for the worst. Usually, almost annually, I suffer from a crashed computer or something out of the ordinary that will change the entire work week. I'm bracing myself because carpet will be installed in the media relations offices this weekend. It will be the first time it has been replaced since the Oxley Center opened in January of 2001. So by tomorrow, almost 13 years of stuff has to be packed up and the computers will be moved and shifted, so I'm preparing for the worst-case scenario and the possibility of not having a computer for Sunday and Monday.
Keep your fingers crossed for both the team bringing home "W" this weekend and for me to have a good work day on Sunday.
Volleyball Continues Hot Start
FAU volleyball kept their early season hot streak alive by winning three of its four matches at the JU Invitational last weekend. The Owls have improved to 5-2 on the season; their best start since 2010 when they started 6-2.
Newcomers Kristi Tekavec and Ivana Bulajic were named to the All-Tournament Team. The Owls will participate in a three-match tournament this weekend, with matches against Purdue, USF and Pittsburgh. With the momentum from the first two weekends, players and coaches want to bring home a 3-0 record from the tournament.
With a team that has only one senior, and just four players that had Division I playing experience prior to the season, Head Coach Fernanda Nelson's team looks to be one to watch for some time to come.
Football Opens Conference USA Season
September 5, 2013
We are hours away from kick-off and I'm enjoying down time at Applebee's. I'm told since I'm at Applebee's with folks from FAU that I have to give them a shout out. I'm joined by this week's advance team of Melissa Dawson, Sr. Associate Athletic Director and Elizabeth Knips, Director of Ticket Operations as well as Owlsley and new to the crew Patrick Walker, Director of Marketing. It has been a quick week, but when I say that understand it has been a good week.
The week began last Saturday morning around 2 a.m. when we returned to the office from the game at UM. I stayed at the office until about 5 a.m. putting together the notes for the upcoming week. Notes are generally 40 pages long and are designed to introduce the opponent's media, as well as this week's television crew, to our team.
By Sunday, Coach Pelini had reviewed the UM game with the media and we were set for a Monday press conference to discuss this week's game. Pelini also joined ESPN's 106.3 Ken LaVicka for the weekly radio show hosted at Duffy's in Deerfield from 6-7 p.m. Each week, an FAU player will join the duo. Last week it was Mustafa Johnson. Tonight's game will determine who attends Monday.
We flew out on Wednesday, landed yesterday evening and have spent the morning watching the players move in and out of meetings.
Things are busy on campus with the Owl Scholarship Fund (OSF) hosting a "select-a-spot" for parking starting tonight. The FAU Alumni Association is hosting a watch party in the stadium Delray Beach Acura Club tonight and something not often said, IT IS A SELL OUT! Duffy's in Deerfield also is hosting a watch party and the added importance is that it is the first C-USA Thursday night game played on Fox Sports 1, before a national audience.
We will start all over again following tonight's game so the week will begin around 12:30 a.m. with the added bonus of a Sunday home women's soccer game versus UM scheduled for 1 p.m.
Let's Go Owls!
Change in Volleyball Team Even More Noticeable After Opening Weekend
Head Coach Fernanda Nelson's volleyball team got their first taste of game action last weekend when they opened the season at home in the FAU Invitational. With 12 new players on this season's roster, one of the most often heard comment from those seeing the team for the first time was how much taller the Owls are compared to last year's squad.
After seeing them on the court in person, I can attest to the fact that they don't just look imposing, they are a much better team. Not only were they taller, they were a year ago, but they are more athletic than past teams. That is backed up by the fact that 15 players saw action in the tournament over the weekend.
One of my in-game duties for volleyball is "calling" the action on the floor for the official statistics inputter. This weekend, there were several long rallies caused by the fact that the Owls were able to keep balls in play that would have previously been points to the opponents. Additionally, I think the crowd has gained an appreciation for both the sport of volleyball and the FAU team. After each of those long rallies, regardless of whether the point was ultimately won or lost, the crowd applauded the effort shown by the athletes.
Pat Chun, our Director of Athletics, often talks about the growth and maturation of the athletic program. That extends to the fans as well. I think that development shown by the team and the fans at this weekend's tournament is a big step in the right direction.
Guest Blog from Daniel Heflin
It is an exciting time around the Florida Atlantic University athletics department as the college football season has already kicked off and classes are back in session (based on trying to find a parking spot this week). It's the start of a "New Year", new conference and new beginnings. The Owl Scholarship Fund (OSF) is up and running in full swing since our March launch. We are gearing up for today's bus trip to Miami Gardens and Sun Life Stadium as our FAU Owls kickoff the 2013 football season against the Miami Hurricanes.
Being an Owl Scholarship Fund donor entitles our donors to ride a charter bus to the game tonight. We had a great response from our OSF donors and Stephen (Hammond) and I just completed picking up refreshments for the trip. We currently have over 200 members in the OSF but our goal is 1,000 donors. Remember OSF donors help support more than 450 FAU student-athletes competing in 19 varsity sports.
For those of you who haven't had a chance to meet the OSF team here is a brief introduction:
Phil Rich - Assistant Athletic Director of Developmentand the guru behind our development office as well as head fundraiser. He is entering his fourth year at FAU and is passionate about Owl athletics as is the rest of our team.
Stephen Hammond - Assistant Director of Development; and the brains behind the organization. He is a former student-athlete who ran cross country at Western Carolina. He also has his graduate degree from the University of Alabama (and is very proud of it, just ask him.) He is willing to assist our donors in any way and has a bright future at FAU.
Daniel Heflin (me) - Director of the Owl Scholarship Fund; I'm thrilled to be a part of the FAU family and excited to start a new sports season with the Owls. As a former student-athlete, I am passionate about my career, especially helping student athletes through scholarships, and the future of FAU athletics. I'm a byproduct of what we raise money for and I believe the sky is the limit for FAU and our tremendously talented student-athletes.
Our leader and Director of Athletics Pat Chun has the vision, drive, and leadership that is second to none, but we cannot do this alone. We need the support of fans, alumni, and the surrounding community to help us make Boca Raton, Fla. and Florida Athletic University a special place to be. We need your support every Saturday during the fall to help pack FAU stadium and in support our student-athletes across the board. If you would like to join the Owl Scholarship Fund and help support the education of more than 450 student-athletes you can join online by clicking here.
Thank you for taking the time to read my first blog and if you see us out don't be afraid to introduce yourself. We will be heading down the road in a few short hours to cheer on our Owls. If you can't make it to the game be sure to tune into ESPNU at 8 pm EST to catch the action. We are looking forward to another great academic and athletic year and thank you for your continued support.
PS- Follow us on twitter at @FAU_OSF (We need to gain followers)
Two Days and Counting
At the time of this writing, Florida Atlantic football is two days, three hours and 48 minutes away from opening the 2013 season. Our game notes have been provided to the media and I'm already working on the game notes for next week. Game notes help the media for both sides learn our team. They are the nuggets of information that the television commentators talk about during the broadcasts.
Speaking of the commentators, the ESPNU crew spoke with Head Coach Carl Pelini today, as well as the offensive and defensive coordinators. Ken LaVicka from ESPN106.3 also was in today to speak with Coach Pelini, so somehow I think everyone is more prepared than I. The players have certainly put in their time and will be prepared to play to the best of their abilities.
Another team set to play to the best of its ability is the volleyball team. The Owls open with a tournament this weekend and once again, the 12 newcomers and four returners have prepared and prepared and are ready to go. This also will be our first opportunity for the expanded digital opportunity with fans being able to watch volleyball matches via www.fausports.com
We had a great student-athlete meeting this week. I can tell you they are ready to get under way.
Here is to a great 2013-14 and cheers to the student-athletes who are representing Florida Atlantic.
It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like College Soccer Season
It has certainly been a busy week, and it is only Tuesday. I spent the past week taking my last vacation for the school year as I had the opportunity to travel to Barcelona, Spain. While my experience was incredible to say the least, during the last few days of my vacation I started feeling the anxiety of the work waiting for me upon my return.
Women's soccer kicked off last weekend with their home opener against Albany on Friday evening followed by an afternoon game on Sunday when the team faced Arizona. As I entered the office on Monday morning, the media relations department was already hard at work finishing post-game duties. It had been a long time since I had heard the terms "game notes" and "recaps." At that moment I knew that the college sports season was upon us.
This will be my first experience working for FAU's men's soccer team as I took my position immediately after the 2012 season had concluded. I must admit, as I prepare for our home opener on Sunday, Sept. 1, against the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, I am definitely nervous about this new responsibility. Thankfully my coworkers in the media relations department, which thrives on teamwork, will be there to guide me as I learn and experience working for a new sport.
I have spent the past few days designing game programs, which has allowed me to practice working with Adobe Photoshop. Prior to working at FAU my graphic design experience was minimal. Each week this position has provided opportunities to learn and perfect new skills in preparation for a career in the sports media relations field. I cherish these experiences. I have also been working with the opponent schools and their media relations' contacts to make sure everyone is prepared for the soccer games this weekend. The Owls will start the 2013 season at UCF on Friday night at 8 pm ET.
While the days prior to our home opener are critical, my responsibilities on game day are equally, if not more, important. I will be in charge of scoring the game using the Stat Crew software, providing the final statistics to the visiting school, and providing FAU's fans with the game statistics and recap story. As we have now entered Conference USA, I will also have many new responsibilities that involve my communication with the conference's media relations department. It is a lot to take in and each task is important to the success of FAU's athletics program. I look forward to this coming season, for all of FAU's sports, and feel equally anxious and excited to test my abilities and grow within my position and the field as a whole.
Athletic Season Off to a Busy Start
The Florida Atlantic University athletic program officially started off the 2013-14 season last weekend.
Friday's women's soccer match against Albany was the first official contest of the 2013-14 athletic calendar. The largest crowd to see a home FAU soccer match in five years was on hand as first-year FAU Head Women's Soccer Coach Patrick Baker's squad hosted the Great Danes.
On Saturday, the volleyball team took their headshots and team shots as they prepare to start their season this Friday. Sunday began with another nice crowd on-hand for the second women's soccer match. From there, many of the student-athletes stopped by the Oxley Center lobby to take their headshots, before making their way to the FAU Arena for the Student-Athlete Welcome Back Meeting.
The first weekend of the year is usually fairly hectic and this year was no exception, but on a positive note, the athletic year is underway and I get to take place in the part of my job I enjoy the most, getting to watch our student-athletes in action.
This is looking to be an exciting year, and I'm glad I get to witness it firsthand.
For the Love of the Game
Aug 23, 2013
I once read a statistic that said the majority of student-athletes get less than seven hours of sleep each night during their seasons while balancing practices, games and a full load of classes. As an employee of FAU Athletics, I can relate. While the Owls are on the field or in the gym, we're in the offices putting in the work behind the scenes.
Looking at our schedules, I think my next day off will come sometime in the month of November - maybe.
Am I complaining? Not at all. I'm proud to say that I love what I do. I spent two years in college in pursuit of a degree to get a job that I didn't really want. After I made the switch to communications, I found what I want to do for the rest of my life. I get to cover sports every day. What more could a guy ask for?
My earliest memory is watching the World Series with my dad when I was four years old. Since then, I've been hooked. While there are the occasional exceptions, sports are pure. There are winners and there are losers, good days and bad days, drama and intensity. Sports are like soap operas for guys.
To our student-athletes, thank you for doing what you do. You sacrifice your time and put your bodies on the line for the same reason I chose this career: love of the game.
Women's soccer plays at home Friday night against Albany. I'll be there and I hope to see each of you there as well.
Thanks for reading. Go Owls!
Move in Day - It's Here
Aug 21, 2013
I can't believe it has been a week already. The campus is coming alive with move-in day starting today. The athletic media relations office has been busy. Since we last spoke, more than 30 football players have been interviewed for features that the local papers, television and radio stations will use over the next few weeks and/or months. Two areas of the website have been redone and let's not forget the excitement surrounding a potential bowl game host opportunity in the FAU Football Stadium.
The fall teams have worked hard in the off-season and, as the games are just around the corner, I wish each and every one the best of luck.
We will take approximately 100 headshots this weekend preparing for the winter sports and the football stadium video board. We have a new company providing the video board production. They have filmed much of the football intro and have nearly completed the volleyball opening video. All efforts are done with fan experience, recruitment and showcasing our students in mind.
I'm well into football game notes with nearly 27 pages complete. Just waiting like all of you to see who has won a starting spot for the football season-opener on Aug. 30 at Sun Life Stadium versus UM.
This Monday we will begin holding a weekly press conference. This will be a free video option to our fans and we will place it on www.fausports.com for you to get a preview of the upcoming week.
I haven't watched too much television over the last few weeks, but it is exciting to know that former Owl baseball pitcher Mickey Storey was back in the majors, with the Toronto Blue Jays, for a few days. There are currently five former Owls dotting NFL rosters: Rusty Smith with the Tennessee Titans, Rob Housler with the Arizona Cardinals, Lestar Jean with the Houston Texans, Alfred Morris with the Washington Redskins and David Hinds nearby with the Miami Dolphins. They are all making the case to hold a roster spot so let's keep our hopes up for them.
Speaking of the Miami Dolphins, Coach Schnellenberger and the 1972 Dolphins visited the White House this week. Email me with your best thought on what Coach Schnellenberger might have said to the President.
As you ponder that last thought with a smile on your face, I will sign off. Women's soccer opens this weekend with a new staff and could use your support.
Seasons Begin Friday
It begins tomorrow. A mere 74 days after the baseball season came to a close, the new year, 2013-14 begins. The FAU women's soccer team, a crew of 32, and four new coaches, will take the field for the first athletic event of the 2013-14 seasons. They'll suit up in the blue and red not for fame or fortune, but for the love of the game; the same reason that I'll be on the sidelines keeping statistics, writing, filming and taking photos almost simultaneously.
With Friday's game comes my true initiation to FAU Athletics. It's been less than a month since my first day on campus and things have been nonstop since then. I've met so many people on campus who have been kind and helpful. It's kind of like southern hospitality with a tan.
I'm excited about the opportunity that has been afforded to me to utilize, and build upon, my media relations skills. We're going to be implementing some new, exciting ways for fans to experience the Owls in action this year. More to come...
Midway Through Camp - Soccer Opens Friday on the Road
We are at the midway point of football camp and my thoughts are:
1. There is no comparison between last year's team and this year's team. Practices are up tempo. The pace has been accelerated by the leadership of the team knowing expectations and pushing each other. This has allowed the coaches to coach and work with the players on technique and other things they couldn't teach or push a year ago. This will be an exciting year.
2. The week, we also have taken hundreds of headshots and action photos in preparation for the upcoming year. It is exciting to be able to highlight the great folks who represent FAU.
3. We have added a new addition to the office after bidding Dale Long farewell in late spring. I'm happy to welcome Brandon Goodwin to our staff and I look forward to the many talents he brings to the office and in the coming weeks you will see announcements on the services we will offer our fans through the website.
Each day we tweet the number of days left until the kick-off and each day I let out a sigh knowing how much we need to accomplish between now and then. So, I'm going to sign off for today and encourage you to check out the schedule. Teams are getting underway. Women's soccer will get underway this Friday at FGCU, under the direction of newly hired Head Coach Patrick Baker.
Let's Go Owls!
Getting Back into the Swing of Things
I had decided on Monday that my blog post for today would discuss the difficulties in getting back into the swing of things after a long summer "vacation". I used the term "vacation" because, although I was still working every day and had a full course load, life was a lot less hectic without any teams in season. It felt as though spring was a lifetime ago. That is until this week started, and it is only Tuesday.
Monday began with an early morning of team headshots, which seems to be a never ending task. Some of the remaining tasks include finishing the bio updates for each of my sports, catching up on our media value records, updating each team's website page with their schedule for the upcoming season, updating rosters, and finishing the graphics for the 2013 men's soccer game programs. That completes just the first half of my "To Do" list. Today, I was in the office bright and early for the men's soccer operations meeting as our first official home game quickly approaches on September 1 against UMass-Lowell.
Despite the crazy workload that I currently have to complete, the most interesting part of this week has definitely been all the commotion in the office. After a very quiet summer, the student-athletes are quickly making their way back to campus and the Tom Oxley Athletic Center's noise level has grown tremendously since last week. With everyone on staff getting their vacations in during the slow summer months, there were days when it was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. Today, student-athletes and coaches were in and out of the building attending practices, getting their headshots done and making sure athletics department staff is on track for the start of the season.
Today's commotion was also largely attributed to FAU's switch to Conference USA. Most of the athletics' staff had to participate in a teleconference that included all of the 2013 C-USA schools. This was my first teleconference and with over 150 people listening in, it was quite the experience. I am excited for what this year will bring for both myself and FAU. This is my first season working for men's soccer, men's tennis, and women's tennis as I will still be the primary contact for cross country, track, swimming and diving and men's and women's golf. The conference move will be exciting for our staff, the student-athletes, and FAU's athletics programs as we prepare for new opponents, new challenges and the opportunity to make waves in Conference USA.
Volleyball Begins Fall Camp
The Daily Hoot returns from its summer hiatus by catching up with the FAU volleyball team.
The Owls began fall camp on Saturday as they prepare for the 2013 season, their first in Conference USA. With four returners from last year's squad and 12 newcomers on the roster, FAU will have a new look this season.
Head Coach Fernanda Nelson and her squad will be the first team to compete on the repainted floor in the Burrow, which now features the Conference USA logo. Despite having just four players returning from 2012, including just one senior, the Owls will look to make an immediate impact in the new conference.
The team was on the court earlier today for practice, as well as for the finishing shots of their promo video, which will be shown on the video board in the arena. In addition to their on-court preparation, the team recently had lunch at the President's house to celebrate earning the highest team GPA during the spring semester (full story here).
The Owls open the season in less than three weeks when they host the FAU Invitational on August 30-31 against Southeastern Louisiana, Jacksonville and Bethune-Cookman.
Bodenmiller Graduates From FSU Law School
Dale did a great job for us. We all knew he was carrying the work of two especially during women's basketball and baseball when he not only did the media relations work but the broadcast work as well, something he truly loved.
Both Justin and I have been filling in on the media relations side and we truly got the best end of the deal. Justin was on hand for the team to record a perfect 4-0 record during the Sun Belt Tournament run for a conference title. The program's third in the five years that John McCormack has been head coach. I was on hand for the NCAA Chapel Hill Regional and while the team was 3-2, I must say it was very memorable. I'm around coaches 24-7 and I think if you asked them what they would like for their team the response would be to leave it all out on the field, the court or the diamond. Very few times in my 20+ year career can I say that was accomplished at the NCAA Tournament, to a player. I can say that without question about the baseball team's tournament run. The phrase "they were so close" is often used in the sports world and while it also has been uttered about the North Carolina final game, I don't think that is something this team wants to hear. They had it. they just needed to hold on, which proved a difficult task versus the nation's top-seed. Just ask South Carolina who suffered the same fate a week later.
Since that time, Michael Sylvestri was drafted. FAU has had at least one player drafted the last 15-consecutive years. Hugh Adams and Brandon Sanger also have been honored with post-season awards.
Football also is receiving recognition with several players earning a spot on pre-season teams. One of the nicest things to see is the football players listed under Conference-USA. I don't think that I fully understood the difference a new conference made until the last few weeks. C-USA has stepped to the plate to assist FAU with on-line streaming possibilities and has been nothing but proactive in the transition phase of the conference realignment. Thank you to the staff at C-USA.
The majority of the administrative staff, including myself and Justin, also had the opportunity to attend the profession's national convention. This was an opportunity to talk with vendors and experiment with products that we hope to use as well as see demonstrations of product upgrades. We were also treated to a daily schedule of seminars that were designed to make us better professionals. It has been some time since I was afforded the opportunity to attend these meetings, primarily because the football media guide is normally the center of my attention at this point. But, without that I ceased the opportunity to learn and become better at the profession.
I returned to a full slate of things to come. The first event is July 1. Owl fans are invited to attend the Conference USA Celebration from noon to 1 p.m. The football helmet and uniform will be unveiled at the event. It is free and open to the public, so bring a friend.
We will continue with these blogs but will cut the schedule back to once a week during the summer as we work diligently on prepping for 2013-14. By summer's end we will be ready for a new league, new goals and new success created by the 405+ student athletes. Enjoy your summer and Let's Go Owls!
Bodenmiller Graduates From FSU Law School
Former Florida Atlantic University softball player Blair Bodenmiller recently graduated with honors from the Florida State University Law School. Just the second Academic All-American in FAU history, Bodenmiller is still among the all-time program leaders in several categories.
Her final year in law school, she was editor of the year for the FSU Law Review. Shortly after graduating, Bodenmiller took several pictures, including this one seated on the wall of the FSU softball stadium.
Blair's success is not a surprise to anyone who knew her during her time as an Owl, where she was also a two-time first team all-Sun Belt shortstop. She is now studying for the Florida Bar exam with plans to work in international diplomacy.
Touchdown Thursdays Help Bridge the Gap to Football Season
Unfortunately, there's more than three months and left until kickoff of FAU's first football game for the 2013 season. However, thanks to FAU Athletics' "Touchdown Thursdays," those days are going by much faster! If you haven't attended the first two, I'd definitely attend the last one that's coming up! There's a buzz of FAU Football in South Florida and it is nice to see people from different communities come together and show their support. At the last two events, four different coaches including Head Football Coach Carl Pelini and Women's Basketball Coach Kellie Lewis-Jay, FAU's Director of Athletics Patrick Chun and Palm Beach Sports Commissioner Hal Valeche showed up. We've given away hats, schedule magnets, FAU gift bags, Marlins tickets and much more. You even have a chance to vote on the new helmet the football team will wear this upcoming season! Duffy's is one of my favorite sport bars to watch games at, but I've never heard a bunch more rowdy or excited as the group of FAU fans that congregated these last two weeks. Students, Alumni, and sponsors have gathered around to help show support of the football program. I think we might've even startled the Duffy's staff. I took note of these chants and I'm pretty sure they will be heard during FAU's five home games this season and I don't want to be left out. The only time I heard Duffy's this rowdy was when I witnessed one of Alfred Morris' touchdowns in the Boca Raton location and everybody in the bar cheered when he threw the "Owl Fingers" up. The third and final Touchdown Thursday will be May 30th at the Duffy's in Coconut Creek, 4800 W. Hillsboro Blvd and I highly encourage you, your family and anybody else you know to be a loyal FAU fan to show up. As the old cliché says, the more the merrier! The FAU Owls are starting to take over Palm Beach County and we need your help conquering as much land as we can! Go Owls!
Summer School Has Begun, Interesting Time of the Year
Driving onto campus the past two weeks has been easy sailing. Finding a parking space hasn't been a problem with the lot wide open. Those two sentences equate to long days for me. You see, I like the days when the lines are long and a loop or two in the lot is the only chance to find a spot. Those days equate to student athletes buzzing around the Tom Oxley Athletic Center. When the parking lot is full you know the student-athletes are working on being better both in the classroom and in competition.
But my quick walk in provides enough time for me to formalize my day and remember that just because the student-athletes aren't here and just because we have possibly one game or one event to prepare for that I shouldn't be busy. This is the time of the year to prepare, to strengthen our plan and our efforts for 2013-14 and a year that will be drastically different as a member of Conference USA. If the meetings C-USA has held this spring are any indication, life at the Oxley will change drastically.
Like any off seasons, there are days mixed in that are definitely different. Some are fun and some not so fun. Last week, FAU Athletics hosted the fourth-annual golf tournament at Trump International and the ninth annual tournament. The words Trump International should say it all, but I'm not opposed to chiming in. It is a great day for the University and for FAU athletics. Participants have an opportunity to meet FAU student athletes and coaches working the event and all proceeds go to the Owl Scholarship Fund. That's a great combination, right? The Club and course is like no other place in south Florida and the smiles begin as volunteers, students, administrators, and participants exit their cars. There is a lot of work that goes into a fantastic day and a huge thank you goes out to all that helped make this happen.
Just as the glow of the tournament was wearing off, we received the announcement that President Mary Jane Saunders was resigning as FAU's President. I think Athletics Director Pat Chun said it best when he said "it was a sad day for athletics". President Saunders was a regular at the home games and she was someone the student athletes enjoyed seeing. When I think of President Saunders, I'm reminded that one of the first things she approved was to move forward with the football stadium project. Without that- the beautiful home of the Owls would not be standing on the north east corner of the University and the transformation to a first choice university would never have happened.
As with any news, I can elect to dwell on what others provide which often tends to be on the more negative side or I can look for the positives. So let's end this blog with the positives: 1. FAU baseball will play this weekend with an opportunity to secure a second seed in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. Next week they will have the opportunity to play for the SBC Conference Tournament Championship, which awards the winner an automatic bid to an NCAA regional. It also will be the program's final shot at capturing the SBC Tournament crown before moving the Conference USA.
2. The baseball team currently holds an RPI that would place them in the NCAA Regional but victories would improve upon that and better their seed.
3. Softball alum Blair Bodenmiller, a former FAU Student Athlete of the Year, just earned her law degree from Florida State University and was Editor of the Year for FSU's Law Review. How about that honor? (sliding into the negative - time sure moves fast. Blair left here three years ago and it seems like she was dusting off clay from diving at short last week).
4. Athletics Director Pat Chun and Sr. Associate AD Melissa Dawson returned from the C-USA meetings with the news that FAU would host the 2014 Softball Conference Tournament, May 8-10.
5. Former FAU baseball pitcher Mickey Storey was called up to the big leagues last week, with the Toronto Blue Jays.
6. Women's track is awaiting an individual invitation or invitations to the 2013 NCAA postseason event and will hear later this week.
FAU Softball's Future Remains Bright
The Florida Atlantic softball team couldn't recover from a four-run first inning as the Owls ended their season with a loss to Louisiana-Lafayette at the 2013 Southeastern Conference Tournament on Friday morning.
Although the year ended on a down note ever team in America has the same ending except one. There was a lot of good news in 2013 to take away. Lindsey Shell and Stephanie Call were named to the SBC All-Conference Second Team earlier in the week and were reliable for the Owls all season, especially during conference regular-season play.
FAU entered the SBC tournament coming off of a big series win over FIU the previous weekend and hoped to carry that momentum into the tournament. But all good things must come to an end.
As of today, the players are reviewing the season and listing the things their coaches want them to work on for the 2014 campaign. Eight everyday starters will return in 2014, the team's first in Conference USA.
FAU Fans Can Be Found Internationally
Greeting from Puerto Rico! While I was just here a little while ago, a month to be exact, I rushed back after a long, tortuous two weeks of finals, to spend time with my sister and a friend who is heading to Cambridge.
As much as I love FAU and South Florida, nothing makes me happier than having a strong cup of coffee and listening to PR's native Coquis, a frog only found on the island, while writing and sitting on my sister's apartment balcony. It's nice not having to worry about much other than gaining weight from eating too many plantains.
While I've had a lot of good times in Puerto Rico and have met many people, my latest encounter was the most shocking. While walking around the tourist areas of Puerto Rico, you see many NCAA football fans showing school pride. Most represent SEC teams. I rarely see fans beyond the Boca Raton area with FAU merchandise or knowledge of the program, which I believe is due to the University's young age.
As my friend and I were drinking coffee in Viejo San Juan, San Juan's historic area that dates back to the 15th century, a set of fellow Americans decided to sit down and talk with us. The topic of business popped up and as soon as I mentioned FAU, one man said, "You go to Florida Atlantic?" This was shocking. People from the states would normally ask "where is that?" this man didn't question. I usually give a detail or two about FAU, but this time, he questioned me about my school. He asked if I knew who Tim Kaine was. I stood there in silence. I am in Puerto Rico, with strangers who know what FAU is and who know people in the Owl Family. Little did I know, this man, who's also a basketball coach was a good friend of Coach Kaine.
Of course, our conversation led to FAU's basketball program, how much it's grown, how energetic Coach Jarvis is and how FAU is a sleeping giant.
I've had many eye opening experiences about FAU, but this by far was one of the greatest. If people don't think FAU is growing, then I don't know how else to prove it. The fact that a man in Puerto Rico was so excited to talk about FAU was mind-boggling. I'm proud that I can have a conversation about the Owls outside the mainland of the United States.
Reflecting on this conversation, while enjoying my coffee and listening to the Coquis is definitely a moment I will never forget. It's truly awesome being part of the Owl Family. Next stop, Europe.
Several Student-Athletes to Graduate This Week
For several FAU student-athletes, their time on campus as students will end this week, as graduation ceremonies take place. It's a day that seemed so far away when they arrived on campus, but now they wonder where the time went. It's now time for them to move on.
Many of them have been successful on the field, but not wildly so. It hasn't always been easy, as they have struggled to balance the demands of being both a full-time college student and a Division I athlete.
For many of them, it has been a roller coaster with its fair share of ups and downs, but they have now achieved their primary goal: to receive their college degree. I'm sure many of them can't believe how quickly the time has passed.
It's often (truthfully) said college is the best four years of your life, but the experience is usually over before you realize it. Of the athletes I work with directly, Greg Gantt, Andre Mattison, Jordan McCoy and Cintia Nightingale are among those who will officially become FAU alumni this week.
I enjoyed working with all of them and they will be missed as they move to represent FAU in their chosen professional endeavors. Good luck to all you!!
Good News, Bad News
This week was good news, bad news. Good news: it's almost summer! Bad news: Finals are here. Good news? Football is almost here! Bad news? I had six video projects going all at the same time.
With six different exams and the spring game on its way, there was a lot to be done in a short period of time. I had to shoot and edit five different Owl Scholarship Fund (OSF) videos and an Alfred Morris tribute video within a two week time frame. But if there's anything I've learned in being part of my video internship at FAU Athletics, it's to take advantage of every opportunity to showcase what you're capable of. With that in mind, I happily accepted the challenge of making all six videos.
The OSF videos weren't just the typical "film and edit" format I go through, I actually got to get to know all of the athletes. Every FAU athlete has worked hard to get where they are and hearing each individual's story was intriguing. Most of the time, we just talk about sports during interviews, but with the Owl Scholarship Fund videos, I learned about how much representing FAU meant to them. It was nice to see the 'student' side of the student-athletes, a side many people don't get to see.
While those videos were great to work on, the video I was most excited to work on was the Alfred Morris tribute video that was shown at halftime during the FAU Spring Game. When I was first given the project, I was pretty nervous, but extremely honored that the FAU Athletics Department trusted me with such an important project. It took hours but getting to relive the impact Alfred Morris had on FAU was incredible. Many people know what he did on the field at FAU, but few recognize that he did even more off the field. I had a chance to speak to his mentor/pastor, former coach, academic department head, and university president, all of whom had nothing but positive things to say about Alfred. One even called him "Owl-Fred," which I thought was adorable.
The pressure was on to make a 2-3 minute video that properly translated the effect he had on the FAU community. Through many cups of coffee and several edits, the final product was displayed in last Saturday's game. I was extremely happy with the results and am able to say it's probably the best piece I've ever done. In a meeting I had with Athletic Director Pat Chun, he said "your work was the best work we've put on the stadium jumbotron," a compliment I was completely flattered by; I'm glad that the Athletics department was so pleased with my work.
I really love what I do here at FAU Athletics and am extremely grateful for all the opportunities they have given me. I look forward to having more opportunities in the future.
POST SPRING FEST WEEKEND
I hope that if you are reading this you were able to attend the 2013 Spring Football game. There was a lot of effort put into the event by everyone in athletics and it was fun to be a part of a true team effort.
- The marketing staff was there early with the inflatables and making sure the Boca Raton youth's day was all set.
- Football began the day early as well hosting hundreds of high school juniors, introducing them to FAU with talks and tours as well as an opportunity to see the stadium, the team and the coaches.
- The development staff was next hosting a fantastic luncheon which featured FAU Alum Alfred Morris.
- Then it was the scrimmage where the Owls showed the skills they have honed throughout the spring as well as showcasing the skills they may never have practiced (i.e. the offensive and defensive linemen "returning punts".
- Finally, the media relations office closed out the day with player and coaches interviews.
- We were back at it on Sunday hosting the 2013 Senior Awards Banquet and the softball games as well as softball clinic and community service event by playing host to the Marines. Monday it was the University 2012-13 Honors Convocation that recognized baseball's Mark Nelson and Marilyne Cadieux who earned the male and female student-athlete of the year honors.
I have had the opportunity to file away the memories with photos and videos, let's hear it for our student Ginette Javier, who put together the Owl Scholarship Fund videos, as well as the Alfred Morris halftime video, and JC Ridley who captured the day for Owlpix.com.
We have several sports still in season, Justin Johnson, Dale Long and Jena Lamendola are busy working covering the action, my attention has turned towards the fall of 2013. We have taken head shots, written bios and will begin the process of writing the material for the upcoming campaign, as well as the summer football magazines. Graduation is just around the corner as well. Don't forget to congratulate those who have represented us so well.
2nd & 7 Literacy Program
With the spring season winding down, the athletics department has found productive ways for our student-athletes to use their free time while giving back to the community. Throughout this past month, I have had the pleasure of helping out with the 2nd & 7 Literacy Program. We have traveled to three schools so far with student-athletes from a variety of teams participating in class readings.
It has been a great experience helping out with this program and getting to see the excitement our student-athletes cause when they go visit these schools. Programs like 2nd & 7 are important for FAU to get involved in because our student-athletes are role models for children in the community and can have a real impact on their lives.
So far, I have helped out on visits to A.D. Henderson School and J.C. Mitchell Elementary. We have had student-athletes from football, men's and women's basketball, volleyball, and dance participate, as well as members of the athletics department including coaching staff.
While the class reading is an important part of the program, I think the most beneficial part of our visits has been the discussions led by the student-athletes with each class. They talk with the students about how they reached their goals and the importance of hard work and determination both in and out of the class room.
I look forward to working with the rest of our staff as we continue our participation in the 2nd & 7 Literacy Program and I urge any elementary school staff looking to get involved to contact our athletics department.
Charity Game Pays Off for All Involved
The Florida Atlantic softball team hosted its second game against a team of local Marines on Sunday.
Although the Owls won the game, that was not what made the game so important. What made it significant was the fact that it served as a fundraiser for the Semper Fi Fund, which helps veterans reintegrate back into society.
What struck me while at the game, was how important to it was to all those in attendance to have fun while at the event. Fun was had by all despite the fact that weather threatened to end the game at any point. In fact, shortly before the game started, we were told to expect heavy rain that would force the game to be stopped. Although it was cloudy at FAU Softball Stadium the rain never showed up, even though it had rained elsewhere on campus.
At the end of the game, both teams were presented with trophies and the Marines presented the FAU softball team will a commemorative bat in gratitude for all their assistance for putting the event together.
Chance to See Multiple Teams Competing in Louisiana
This week's road trip with the baseball team to Lafayette, La. will provide me the opportunity to watch three Florida Atlantic University spring teams compete in the same city. I handle the day-to-day media relations duties for the baseball, women's tennis and men's tennis teams, along with the women's soccer (fall) and women's basketball (winter).
This week I will be able to root and support all three of my spring teams while on a road trip to Louisiana.
The men's and women's tennis teams are competing in the Sun Belt Conference Championships, starting today in Lafayette with both teams in action. The women face ULM in a first round match starting at 11 a.m., while the men's team battles the host Ragin' Cajuns at 3 p.m. The men's team is the fifth seed in the tournament.
Meanwhile, the baseball team will be preparing for what should be a competitive and action-packed three-game series that starts on Friday night in Lafayette. The team will go through a practice session in the late afternoon on Thursday.
So there will be a familiar person in the stands supporting all of my sports teams this week. Hopefully, it will be another successful weekend for the Owls!
FAU Spring Fest is Nearly Here
It is almost here. Spring Fest 2013 CLICK HERE promises to be a great day for FAU fans of all ages.
I'm particularly excited because our office has been afforded the opportunity to do different and fun things. First and foremost, we invited an FAU alum to return to the game where we as fans and as a University will have the opportunity to congratulate him on his 2012 success. FAU's bookstore has worked with the NFL to secure the rights for an Alfred Morris t-shirt, which I hear is selling well. We teamed with the ticket and marketing departments to promote the 20 Prizes in 20 Days promotion on the website and through the social media outlets. Marketing has hit the streets to get the fliers into the hands of youth which provided an opportunity for several of the FAU teams to meet and work with area youth. I also was afforded the opportunity to work with an FAU student to produce several videos that will be shown throughout the day on the stadium's video board and later on the website www.fausports.com. In the last few weeks, I have been rewarded with the opportunity to meet FAU student athletes, professors, and members of the community.
The activities will not end with Spring Fest. Softball will host a perennial Sun Belt power and will need your support at their games. They also are host the Marines on Sunday in a fun game that will raise money for Semper Fi which is a fund to help wounded warriors. Last fall, several members of the softball team attended the Marines' Ball. A memory I'm sure they will never forget.
Sunday is also the night that FAU seniors will be recognized at the annual student-athlete banquet. The outstanding accomplishments of the teams and individuals will be honored and we will bid farewell to those who have represented the Owls they as they move ahead into their next adventure.
We hope to see you at the events this weekend and Go Owls!
Softball Returns Home
After a trip through the state of Alabama, the Florida Atlantic softball team will finish up the regular season close to home. There are still five chances to catch the ladies of FAU softball at their home stadium.
As the season winds down, the games increase in importance and with that, crowd support becomes much more importance. With FIU and Louisiana-Lafayette coming to FAU Softball Stadium, the Owls have a chance to greatly improve their standing for the upcoming conference tournament.
The Owls are just a game out of fourth place in the conference and have a chance to climb even higher, so come out and show your support for the team. You have four chances this week to take advantage of seeing the ladies in person.
Owls Taking Active Role in The Community
FAU student-athletes have always taken an active role in the Boca Raton community, whether its softball running a haunted house, men's basketball reading to elementary school kids or the volleyball team helping out at a soup kitchen.
However, the Owls are being even more aggressive in their efforts to get to know their neighbors. The volleyball team recently took part in two community service projects, including helping out with Alpha Flight.
Softball has long been one of the most active teams in terms out community service, including hosting their annual Strike Out Cancer Tournament. Men's basketball head coach Mike Jarvis has long stressed the importance of giving back to the fans that support the team.
I have always thought that the key to building an emerging athletic department is building fan support and that it's easier to support someone that you know on a personal basis. Therefore, by reaching out to community, especially the youth, FAU can gain new fans that will remain fans for a very long time.
There is doubt that serving the community will benefit the program in more ways than one.
Baseball Gaining National Attention
The Florida Atlantic University baseball team is having another strong season, with a season-best seven-game winning streak gaining national recognition for the successful program.
On Monday, the Owls were ranked No. 25 by Baseball America and were selected No. 30 by Collegiate Baseball in the weekly national polls. This marks the second straight season the team has been ranked by Collegiate Baseball.
Last week, FAU earned four victories that should improve the team's postseason resume. The Owls defeated Miami 6-1 on March 27 before sweeping a three-game series from previously nationally ranked South Alabama last weekend.
Coach John McCormack's team has been featured this week in articles in Baseball America and on the Perfect Game website, and was selected as the National Team of the Week by Collegebaseballinsider.com. Meanwhile, local media was on hand as the Owls defeated cross town opponent Lynn University 7-6 on Tuesday for the team's 20th victory of the season.
Now, the first-place baseball team travels to ULM to begin a three-game Sun Belt Conference series on Friday, April 5 at 7 p.m. Live audio and statistics of the games will be available here.
I encourage fans to listen to the games and support the team by being in attendance for the remaining 10 home games - nine of them being important conference games.
Things continue to move and move rapidly towards success for FAU Athletic. This week the baseball team earned a No. 25 national rank by Baseball America and No. 30 by Collegiate Baseball after a three-game sweep of fellow SBC member and then No. 23 South Alabama. On Monday, the athletics department also announced Spring Fest plans, which include Alfred Morris returning home to be recognized for his 2012 accomplishments CLICK HERE.
By Wednesday, two dates on the 2013 football schedule were changed to accommodate national television CLICK HERE and Heather Henderson was promoted to Director of Football Operations which will allow the program to hire a Director of Player Personnel. The new duo will continue the ground work started with the outstanding 2013 class.
Men's Golf wrapped up the 2013 Spring Break Tournament with rave reviews by the college participants and coaches. The athletic department is heavy into preparation for the 2013 Fundraising Golf Tournament hosted by Trump International on May 9. To register for the tournament contact Stephen Hammond at 561-297-0218 or firstname.lastname@example.org. This is an outstanding event at a beautiful location. Gather your foursome and help fund Owl Scholarships by playing.
FAU will have a presence at the Panthers versus the Capitals game on April 6th at 7:30. Tickets may be purchased through ticketmaster.com. There is a 20% discount off all concession items when you show your Owl Card.
Baseball, softball, men's tennis and track are on the road this weekend. You can still be involved by following the games on www.fausports.com through live audio (baseball), live stats (baseball and softball) and @FAUOwlAthletics for everyone.
Let's Go Owls!
Building Champions Brick-by-Brick
Softball Loses Biggest Fan
Last week the FAU softball team suffered a huge loss with the passing of its no. 1 fan. Joe Joyce, father of head coach Joan Joyce, passed away at the age of 98. Joe was a constant presence at all FAU softball games, both home and away.
Despite his advanced age, Joe traveled with the team up until the end of the 2012 season and was a favorite among FAU players, parents and fans alike.
He was honored with a moment of silence prior to the team's victory over North Texas last week. Coach Joyce, along with assistant coach Chan Walker, will attend his funeral in Connecticut before rejoining the team for its six game trip through the state of Alabama.
On My Way to the Dominican Republic
As the first one in my family to go through the American collegiate system, I've also had to explain a lot of things to my immediate family, who are originally from the Dominican Republic (DR). Though I was born in Miami and raised mainly in Florida, my family made sure I was raised with the culture and teachings from the DR. I've been successful in explaining many things like fast food, social media and microwavable products to my grandma, but there's still two things she doesn't understand about the United States: American and flag football. Despite the many attempts and explanations, she doesn't grasp how men will "throw a ball, jump over each other, give each other big hugs, play for a couple of seconds, stop for a minute or two, and do it again and again." Don't even bring up flag football. She doesn't understand the reason of the band and why girls twirl around and try to take others and run away. It's a loss cause.
However, talk to her about baseball and not only will she talk to you about the sport for hours, she'll make you a delicious meal with plantains in the process. Take into consideration the 2013 World Baseball Classic that just occurred: she would call me after a Ramirez or Reyes home run, when Cano did something good (She loved the Cano family), called me to make sure I was following, and called me after every win, in which the Dominican Republic went undefeated for the 2013 World Baseball Classic Champions. I don't hear from my family in the island much, but I would hear from them through the so called "confusing" social media outlets and phone calls several times a week just to talk about "Platano Power" and the games. Baseball is the pride and joy of the Dominican Republic, much like how the World Cup is for Brazilians or the Super Bowl ring is for any Americans favorite football team.
Diversity is huge in the sports and its constant submergence in culture is what makes sports so entertaining to watch. Watching the World Baseball Classic game between the United States and Dominican Republic live really made me realize how great of an outlet it is to not only let cultures express themselves, but let people showcase where they're from and how the physical act of sport has helped them grow both physical and mentally. Sport also shows how no matter where in the world you're from everybody can come together and have a good time. After the Dominican Republic beat the United States, there was about an hour celebration right outside of the Marlins ballpark. Best part was that you saw people supporting the United States appreciate our crazy celebration and some even joined the festivities.
As one of the most diverse schools, Florida Atlantic University Athletics has the opportunity to showcase diversity through its many sports programs. After growing up and attending different sporting events with various backgrounds, it's important to really appreciate the diversity this world has and how one event can bring it all together. It's nice when you look at games beyond a "W" and "L," but as a stage of the different cultures this world has to offer. It's really awesome how despite the differences each group have, we can all play the same game.
Celebration of Mr Joyce
FAU Owl Community -
I write today with a heavy heart. We celebrate so much in athletics and have so much to celebrate. And thankfully it is not often that we are brought together to celebrate a life. Yesterday, Joe Joyce, father of Florida Atlantic head softball and golf coach, passed after a long and fantastic life. Mr. Joyce to me, but better known to the softball players as JOE has been a fixture at softball games for the last 15 years. He also was a regular at men's and women's basketball games.
Joe was an avid sports fan who read the newspaper from cover to cover. It was common for him to get on to me that nothing was in the paper about softball. His question was always a good one. Why can't they just list it on the schedule page? I never had an answer.
I once witnessed a player ask him what she was doing wrong. At the ripe old age of 85, he reviewed her last four or five at bats and told her what to correct. She got a hit in every at bat in the following game. All I could think about was this is how Joan became such a great athlete. Someone taught her how to make adjustments.
The other thing I see in Coach is Joe's kindness. Kindness also exudes from Joey and Ginny, Coach Joyce's brother and sister-in-law. The duo are a regular each spring in the concession stand and have stepped up to help this year even more than normal with a sidelining injury to their concession stand partner, Mrs. Mary.
With Joe's passing, we will pause to celebrate the lives he has touched at FAU and the lives that he will continue to touch through his daughter, Joan. Joan was on hand last night for the softball team's late inning heroics and will be at today's softball double header versus North Texas.
See Joe - we got the schedule in so that folks can come out and watch the games.
Softball On A Hot Streak
The Florida Atlantic softball team has found its stride recently.
The Owls lost their first four games of the season, before beating #10 USF in the final game of their opening tournament. The team continued to fight and was competitive in every game. However, that didn't always translate to wins.
The tide began to turn at the FAU Invitational, when the Owls won their final two games of the weekend and continued with a sweep of Colgate. It was briefly stemmed by a sweep at the hands of Western Kentucky, but the ladies of the softball team immediately picked themselves up and began the streak that now has reached nine.
It is impossible to spend any time around the team as a whole and notice how close they are as a group. I personally believe that it's that bond which directly translates to the team's performance on the field.
The squad will try to put the streak at an even dozen when they play North Texas in a three game series beginning on Tuesday with a single game at 6 p.m. Softball has long been one of the most underappreciated sports on campus, but the level the team has been playing at for the last week deserves to be seen to be fully appreciated.
Thank You to Those Who Make the Games Electronic
As I write today, I'm reminded of my love hate relationship with GameTracker. Florida Atlantic was the first University in the state of Florida to use electronic statistics, '92. FAU also was the first school in the state to use GameTracker which at the time was provided by FansOnly, which is now CBSSports. Their graphics are great and it is a great way to follow your favorite team. As technology has improved and we have so many ways to stay close to our favorite teams, you can almost follow the team minute-by-minute.
I was at a game over the weekend. I had to leave to pick up someone and I didn't miss a play. I listened to the game in my car via my phone. I drew the line at watching GameTracker because family members were in the car but if I was by myself and without a conscious, look out I probably would have taken advantage of GameTracker.
For example, as I sit in my office today, I have one screen for typing and the other tells me FAU softball is up 4-3, there is a man on first and no outs. While that is cool, I very much want it to be over.
I can't write without guilt that I have also complained because it locks or GT is not provided. There are so many things that the staff does to make this simple thing work that we need to be grateful that it happens at all. For example, many locations do not have internet connections. We travel with a wireless card to help in those situations. The home school is the rights holder and some will not allow us to run it on our site. The person who makes the game come alive on the computer often has other tasks like serving as the official scorer, providing twitter and Facebook feeds, and writing the post-game story.
When the Owls serve as a tournament host, we also provide the live scoring for every participating school, not just the FAU games which is a nice benefit to those playing in Boca Raton. I also would add that in the future FAU hopes to provide a video feed at several of the events.
Here is a big thank you to those who make the game come alive in the digital world.
See you at softball this weekend
As everyone is preparing for tournament time, the term March Madness has taken a very different meaning for my time spent at work. The spring is very busy with most of Florida Atlantic's teams in season, but March has by far been the most hectic. Within the next two weeks, men's soccer will host their spring game, men's golf will host their Spring Break Tournament, the swim team will have a competitor at the NCAA Division 1 Swimming and Diving Championship, and football practice just began on Monday.
Organizing and keeping up with all of these major events has been quite the task. My day on Monday began by attending the first football practice of the year as the team prepares for their spring game on April 20. I had to take quotes from players as our department prepared to start promoting the team being back in action.
The madness continued today as we organized the entire athletics department to send off Eszter Bucz, the first FAU swimmer to compete in the NCAA D1 Swimming and Diving Championship since 2006. After spending the past two weeks organizing with her coaches and the department to surprise her as she left for the championship in Indianapolis, it was finally time for her big surprise. We gathered the team and the athletics staff to send her off as the coaches escorted her off campus and to the airport.
With that task completed it is time to refocus on the upcoming men's soccer spring game and men's golf tournament. The men's soccer team will take the field on Saturday, March 23 against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. With kick-off approaching, I have been busy making sure all of the teams' needs are fulfilled while making sure everything is organized with the operations and marketing staff for game day.
The final event for March Madness at FAU is the 2013 Spring Break Championship hosted by the men's golf team at The Fountains Country Club on March 29-31. The Owls will host the three-day tournament which will include fifteen schools. After spending the past few months collecting materials from all the participants' SIDs, the program went to print today. The next week will consist of promoting the tournament, preparing for my first experience scoring a golf tournament, and making sure the course is ready for tee time.
With only twelve days left in March there is still so much to be done. As I filed out my March Madness bracket yesterday I thought about how every sports fan waits for this time of year, for the excitement and competition of tournament time. However, I will be very happy when the madness in my life ends as I say goodbye to March 2013.
Diverse and Fun FAU Baseball Crowd
According to U.S. News and World Report, Florida Atlantic ranks No. 28 nationally in student-body diversity. Walking around campus, you see this statistic come to life, however you see it flourish when you're at athletic events.
FAU's baseball season is always fun. There's nothing better than doing homework while watching a baseball game on a gorgeous south Florida day. It's even better when you have a crowd of FAU Alumni with the average age of XX (I'm not guessing), attending the games and supporting the Owls much like the current FAU students would. These fans were up and out of their seats more than the students next to them. They were also the only ones to willingly stand up and sing "Take me out to the ball game," during the 7th inning stretch and they certainly let the umpires know when they made a wrong call. They rock out to the chicken dance, knit, talk to each other and best of all involve others in the game. Not only are they there to watch a great game at the ballpark, they also make sure everybody else is enjoying the game too. One gentleman, who is 92 years old, brings snacks for the press box and is willing to talk to anybody who lends an ear. My assumption is that he wants to take the stats job in the press box because you'll find him in the same spot in the stands, keeping score of the game every time the Owls host a team in Boca. Take notes FAU students: they are the loud and fun ones of baseball games!
FAU Athletics is different in multiple factors, but its admirable diverse and welcoming the crowds can be. It really shows that no matter what production FAU Athletics does, there will always be something for everybody.
A note to the U.S. News and World Report: look at FAU athletics events next time. Our diversity ranking would go up a little higher. Honestly though, I doubt there's a section that this crowd would fit into.
Freshmen Making Impact On Softball Field
Freshmen tend to have trouble adjusting to life as a Division I athlete. Class, practice, games and homework all demand more time than they did in high school as well as living away from home for the first time.
Despite all those issues, the freshmen class for the Florida Atlantic softball team has not let those factors influence their play on the field. Carnesha Thompson and Christina Martinez are the top two hitters on the team with Melissa Martinez not far behind.
The freshmen, along with the rest of the Owls' softball team will make their first conference road trip of the season to Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee starting this weekend, but not before hosting a doubleheader vs. Colgate on Tuesday.
While there is still a long way to go in their college careers, this trio of freshmen has no intention of waiting to make their presence felt.
Looking Back at this Season's Meetings with ULM
As the Florida Atlantic University women's basketball team gets set to battle ULM in the first round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament on Friday, March 8 at 1 p.m. let's take a look at the two meetings this season with the Warhawks.
First, both teams won on the opposing team's floor. The Owls defeated ULM 82-72 on December 29 before the Warhawks rebounded with a 90-86 win in Boca Raton on January 30.
The two games featured offensive shootouts with the 86 points FAU scored in the second meeting marking the most points the team scored in a league game this season.
Senior guard Breana Turner had a career-high 32 points in that January meeting.
The winner of Friday's game plays top-seeded Middle Tennessee on Saturday, March 9 at 1 p.m.
Catch the radio broadcast of the postseason action beginning at 12:45 p.m. for what should be another high-scoring game.
Spring Great and a Great Day for FAU
It is spring break on FAU's campus. That means fun in the sun, no books and living like a college student right? Not for FAU student athletes. It is a time to shine. I have just three hours left to meet myself imposed deadline of a Wednesday blog and I have perfectly good reasons for pushing that deadline.
Reason 1: I spent a good part of the day getting men's basketball ready to head to the post-season tournament and it was a pleasure putting together a cover with photos of Stefan Moody and Greg Gantt who earned all-conference honors
Reason 2: Women's basketball also is heading out early tomorrow for the SBC tournament, the last FAU SBC women's basketball tournament before heading to Conference USA in 2013-14. Chenise Miller earned All-SBC honors for the Owls.
Reason 3&4: I received a phone message earlier today from two excited coaches and we have been gathering info and putting together two releases. One release is for senior Eszter Bucz, who made NCAA cuts and will travel to the NCAA National Meet. Way to go Eszter. She has been a standout for four years and making cuts in the conference meet is a great way to finish her career, although it is a long way from over. Jena, and intern in our office who covers both golf and swimming and who is with her graduate class in South Carolina working at a conference basketball tournament, and I also have been working on a release for freshman Richard Donagan, who captured a three-day golf tournament today and was named SBC Male Golfer of the Month.
Reason 5: I would have been done much sooner if I had not been following the FAU softball team pick up a victory in the Sun Belt Conference season opener, tonight 3-0 versus ULM. The softball team will play host in a seven-team tournament beginning on Thursday. They will also complete the three-game SBC series Thursday at 5 & 7 p.m. versus ULM.
Reason 6: I'm dog tired after trying to follow baseball's double header victories at FAMU Tuesday, which didn't end until well after my bed time. Baseball, which won both and was 3-for-5 on its road swing, will host a three-game series this weekend versus Toledo.
Now that I have completed my exciting day of FAU news, it's time to gear up for the weekend events. Follow your favorite team at www.fausports.com or better yet, come out to the games. It is spring break, the weather is great, the food is great and having you there would be great.
Fans Will Have Plenty of Ways to Follow Both Teams in Arkansas
Fans wishing to keep up with the Florida Atlantic men's and women's basketball teams at the Sun Belt Conference tournament will have several ways to follow the teams' progress.
Tickets for the tournament, held in Hot Springs, AR, can be purchased by calling the FAU Ticket Office at 1-866-FAU-OWLS. Live stats for all games from both the men's and women's Sun Belt Tournament will be available for at www.sunbeltsports.org. Free live video of all games from the first three rounds of the tournament will be shown at www.sunbeltsports.org. Live audio for both teams will be available at www.fausports.com.
Head Coach Kellie Lewis-Jay and the women's team will play ULM at 1 p.m. eastern on Friday, while Mike Jarvis will lead the men against Troy at 9:30 p.m. eastern.
As always, complete recaps, updated stats and the latest news on men's and women's basketball and the rest FAU's intercollegiate sports can be found at www.fausports.com.
Take Advantage - Get Involved
My involvement in FAU athletics has given me opportunities which I never thought possible as an undergraduate. I've been part of the department of athletics family for nearly two years and have traveled to most schools in the Sun Belt Conference, spoken to future NFL stars, visited many cities, and best of all, indulged in many different foods. Most importantly, this internship has given me the chance to create a great resume reel. A resume that includes feature stories, highlights of multiple sports and blog posts. Somehow though, it always seems with each new thing I discover more things and more avenues to grow.
For the first time, I'm going to do PA in a sporting event. This opportunity was given to me simply because I was in office and wanted to become more involved. The more time I spend with the department, the more I realize that FAU athletics is more than what happens on the field it is also important to make the contest an event for the athletes, the families and the FAU fans.
The office which I help (media relations) has been involved in 31 softball games in 19 days and while I'm not good at math, I'm able to recognize that that's a lot time on the diamond. For an event, you have the facilities and operations group which manage the event (sport administration majors), the ticket and business office (business majors), trainers (exercise science majors), media relations office for programs, statistics, public address, and web services (communication majors), development and marketing offices (marketing and political science majors) as well as the coaches and administrators. FAU students have the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom and the athletic department welcomes your involvement.
Students are always about watching games, but I bet they'd appreciate it more if they were part of it. There's a lot of opportunity for students to grow along with the department. It really opens your eyes and shows that despite the vast diversity college athletics has, it can bring people together and have some fun. However, if you were thinking about doing video in athletic media relations, you'll have to wait until December 2013, which is after I graduate.
Next Rush of Games T Minus 36 Hours
February 27, 2013
It has been a few weeks since I have written. We were all faithful with writing and keeping fans posted until the recent weeks. I was faithful with eating healthy until recent weeks as well but all the best intentions are out the window once the spring sports begin. For example, our office has been involved in some way with 31 softball games since February 8. That is 31 softball games in 19 days. Throw in baseball, swimming, golf, tennis, track, signing day, stadium naming and moving to a new conference and I would be happy to name February the busiest month in since maybe December. Florida Atlantic is in a "transformational" phase and it is a fun thing to be a part of.
There are a few milestones in the department's history that I would liken it to.
A) Move to NCAA from NAIA
B) Move to NCAA Division I
C) Joining the TAAC (first conference affiliation)
D) Adding football
Only at this time, it is all at once. Director of Athletics Pat Chun has publically stated that this is the most important year in the history of FAU athletics. Partly because it is the year we are in and the year we can make a difference but, more importantly it is a year that his road map will be in place. It is a year that every program will be affected by the move to Conference USA. It will mark the first time since 1995 that every team is a member of the same league. At times it has been swimming, football being independent or men's soccer in a separate league. With the recent naming of the stadium, it also brings to a close the dream of an on-campus stadium that can give back to the athletics department. Strengthening the department can be the focus as opposed to getting it started, built, completed, opened and named. It is now home. The mission of serving student athletes and many of the buildings remain the same but that maybe all you recognize five years from now. I always enjoy asking former student athletes if they have toured campus and if they got lost doing so. As a fan, I encourage you to be a part of the transformation. Come out to the game, visit camps, take advantage of the many events we have to offer. Another thing that I enjoy is meeting different fans at the games. FAU fans come from all walks of life and range in age from a new born to a fan that I have seen for years but had never taken the time to talk too. His name is Jack. He is an avid baseball fan, who keeps his own scorebook, who just celebrated his 92nd birthday. Jack treats the press box to goodies and calls in from his car to make sure we are not in a rain delay. Rumor has it that he even has a Facebook page. If you want to have a knowledgeable discussion about FAU baseball, ask Jack.
Join Jack and the many other loyal FAU fans as we take the journey.
Learning on the Fly
For the past two weekends, I have taken on a new responsibility at work. I have served as the official game scorer for numerous softball games during the first two home tournaments. Prior to my first game, I cannot say that I had much experience in this field. I had attended a softball scrimmage a few weeks prior and practiced scoring a few innings but besides that, all I had to rely on was my cheat sheet of score codes.
The first game was scheduled on a Friday when Mother Nature decided to wreak havoc on the first day of FAU's Kick-Off Classic. The first two non-FAU games took place as scheduled. However, by the time FAU's first game against Maryland was about to start, rain was pouring down. I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders as the announcement was made that the game had been cancelled. This gave me a bit more time to mentally prepare for my scoring duties the next day.
FAU was finally set to play on Saturday evening, in back to back games against Massachusetts and LIU Brooklyn. After the first few innings of scoring for the live game-tracker, the feeling of anxiety and panic finally went away. Most of the plays were simple to score, a single, a walk, a stolen base... There were a few plays that took me a little bit to figure out but luckily the other SIDs had experience with the live scoring program and were able to help me out.
This was the first time I had been given a task that I had no experience in and had to learn it on the fly. The thing about live scoring is that it is difficult to practice without watching a real game to score. Overall, I enjoyed the experience. Besides the few moments when I got flustered, it was exciting to learn a new skill and to experience learning it under pressure. I was so thankful for the help I received from the media relations staff and for the difficulties I faced as I am now more motivated and excited to improve my abilities in game scoring over the softball season.
Seniors Deserve Rousing Sendoff
On Saturday (March 2), the FAU men's basketball team will play its final home game when it hosts rival FIU (FAU Arena, 7 p.m.). This senior class has achieved numerous accomplishments. Among those are tying the school record for longest unbeaten streak, most wins at the Division I level, and making just the second postseason appearance in school history.
Still, this will be a special day, a special game. It is Senior Day, and for head coach Mike Jarvis and the seniors it will be a memorable day, made even more memorable by the fact that the Owls will be facing their biggest rival.
Seniors Greg Gantt, Jordan McCoy and Andre Mattison have played an integral role in this team's success. They committed to Florida Atlantic after the team had a 6-26 season and they bought into his long-term vision for the program. When rebuilding a program, a strong base is needed. These players have provided the foundation. Working with the coaching staff, they have showed commitment and leadership.
I can remember meeting them when they arrived as freshmen and it's hard to believe that four years have passed so quickly.
This Senior Day can also be special for the fans. It will be the last time these seniors take the court. Show your support and gratitude to Andre, Greg and Jordan as well as their teammates.
These seniors have not only helped this program develop, they have provided a bright future for the sport here at Florida Atlantic.
Five Games in Five Hours at FAU
Any FAU fan/student who says they have nothing to do on Saturday hasn't checked the sports calendar, or visited www.fausports.com. It is FAU Pride Day. A day that will feature five Owl home contest if you include the games at the softball field you can watch a sporting event from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. and all are on FAU's Boca Raton campus:
Women's Basketball vs. UALR at 3 p.m.
Baseball vs. Alabama at 4 p.m.
Softball hosting a Strike Out Cancer Tournament vs. playing at 6 and 8 p.m.
Men's Basketball vs. UALR 7 p.m.
As an FAU student, this is one of the most exciting days to be a part of the Owl Family. It's a giant day to celebrate all the fun sporting events and they are free to FAU students. Most importantly, it's a time where students can see the traditions we have throughout FAU Athletics events and to help them grow. To help motivate students to attend, they're even handing out 4,000 rally towels between all five games! As students, we all want to build something at FAU. For me, it's crazy to think about five games within four hours of each other. You can walk from the halftime of one sporting event, to the tip-off of another. To anybody who hasn't experience an FAU event, it's the best time to 'shop around' and see which ones you like or which you haven't seen before. Free FAU sporting events in beautiful Florida weather tomorrow: there is no excuse on why I won't see Owl fans throughout the day Saturday.
See ya at the diamonds and at the Burrow!
FAU Student Athletic Media Video Coordinator
Briah Blakely Enjoys Texas Two-Step
Florida Atlantic University women's basketball junior guard Briah Blakely had many reasons to play well in the team's game at the University of North Texas on Wednesday, February 20 in Denton, Texas.
How about 70?
Briah, a Dallas native, had nearly 70 family and friends in attendance to watch her play near her hometown. They weren't all there to lend her support in the important Sun Belt Conference game.
The group had a reason to celebrate North Texas accomplishments as well. Briah's younger sister, Braylah, is a sophomore forward for the Mean Green. The large Blakely rooting section could be easily seen sitting opposite the team benches - they were wearing t-shirts to commemorate the special family reunion.
This marked the second time that the two sisters had battled on the court. And, on both occasions, Briah, the older sister, got the best of Braylah. Florida Atlantic rallied to defeat the Mean Green 73-60 on Wednesday behind Briah's career-high 13 points. The Owls were also victorious 79-60 on January 19 to sweep the regular-season series.
That January encounter was the first time the Blakely siblings had squared off against each other.
"It's certainly a different feeling. She (Braylah) has always been my teammate, and we know each other so well," Briah told me earlier this season. "As long as we (FAU) win the game, that's all I care about."
The games are special and at the same time nerve-racking for the family. I especially enjoyed the eruption inside North Texas' The Super Pit when Briah was announced as a starting player for the Owls. Family members and friends also erupted whenever she made a shot.
"The family will be split down the middle. They will support both family members. There are no favorites," said Briah, who starred at McLennan Community College in Texas before moving to FAU. "I fell in love with what (Coach) Lewis-Jay is trying to do offensively and defensively. I could see myself contributing right away."
For the season, Briah has started 25 of the Owls' 26 games this season, is averaging 5.4 points a game and leads the team by making 39.5 percent of her three-point field goals.
FAU and North Texas could play one more time this season if the teams square off in the upcoming Sun Belt Conference Championship Tournament. The basketball dreams of one family member would come to an end in that match up.
Softball Ready to Strike Out Cancer
This weekend is softball's annual Strike Out Cancer tournament.
The event is now in its seventh year and serves to both raise funds for cancer research and raise awareness of breast cancer. FAU will wear pink uniforms on Sunday as part of the tournament. Other teams in the tournament often take part as well, wearing pink accessories throughout the weekend. Donations will be accepted over the course of the event and fans and players from all teams are encouraged to give generously.
This tournament has always held a lot of significance for me personally, as it comes shortly after both my mother's birthday and the anniversary of her passing due to breast cancer. And because of that, I can appreciate just how important it to aid in both the prevention and cure of the disease.
I don't know if a cure will ever be found, but the search for one continues. Those of us who work in sports sometimes forget that the games aren't a matter of life and death. Hopefully, this weekend will serve as a reminder of what's really important. Life.
Thank You President Saunders
Dear President Saunders,
We, the Florida Atlantic men's cross country team would like to thank you for your kind hospitality on Wednesday. Your leadership and dedication to the Owls serves as an inspiration to our team as we continue to strive to represent FAU, each other and our families. We enjoyed having lunch, learning about your vision for FAU, and listening to you talk about the keys to success in college and beyond.
Head Coach Alex Smolka and the Men's Cross Country team
Winners of the highest fall team GPA Award.
First, my apologies for missing my assigned blog slot last Wednesday. I was excited because it was signing day and that is a day that everyone is full of hope. As luck would have it, I was so occupied in discovering just how good the football signing class was that I ran out of time to put together the blog. This is the time of year when FAU student athletes shine. Since we rang in 2013 it seems athletics has been on a rapid pace charting its future and thankfully the student athletes are embracing the challenges. In the last week:
• The Owl football signed the best overall class in the history of the program, both athletically and academically.
• Women's basketball completed the season sweep of South Alabama, their second conference sweep of the season.
• Greg Gantt remains among the nation's top-10 in scoring.
• Softball defeated the tenth ranked team nationally, last Sunday and will host top-15 Michigan this weekend.
• Baseball saw two players earn preseason all-conference honors and the team was picked to win the league.
• Women's basketball is having its annual Play-4-Kay game tonight.
• Men's golf was in full force at the Allianz Golf Tournament and recorded an individual tournament win early last week.
• Men's and women's basketball will be televised on ESPN3 from "The Burrow" this week.
While the spring seasons are coming out of the blocks, the department also is gearing up for a fantastic 2013 football season. Season ticket renewals are in the mail so enjoy the spring and prepare for the fall. Let's Go Owls! For tickets call 1-866-FAU-Owls.
Softball Shows Mettle With Victory over USF
The Florida Atlantic softball team opened its season in Tampa over the weekend.
The Owls lost its first four games of the tournament and faced a daunting task in playing USF in their last game. The Bulls were not only the tournament host, but also the 10th ranked team in the country. Most teams would have taken those circumstances as a reason for not giving full effort, but the ladies of the softball team did not do that.
FAU was able jump ahead early and keep the lead. However, even after Alexa Ballard homered in the top of the seventh, the game was still in doubt. The Bulls' first two runners of the seventh inning reached and the game tying run was on second base with no outs. It was a perfect opportunity for the team to show what it was made of.
Samantha Messer was able to hunker down and get the next three batters to end the game. It was the kind of game that the Owls most likely would have lost season, and possibly earlier on during the weekend, but they came through with the victory.
The victory was a signal to Owl fans and to the girls themselves, that the program is back on the right track after a difficult 2012 season. FAU opens its home schedule this weekend with the FAU Kick-Off Classic. If Sunday's game was any indication, the softball team will give fans plenty of reasons to cheer.
Softball Ready to Open Season
FAU softball will start its 2013 season on Friday at a tournament in Tampa, hosted by USF. The Owls begin the new year in a position they have never been in before, seeking to rebound from a losing season. Traditionally, one of FAU's strongest programs, softball had never had a losing season in its entire 17-year history.
This year promises to be a better season, with the entire pitching staff returning, led by preseason all-conference selection Taylor Fawbush. Senior Stephanie Call, the team's leading hitter a year ago and Jordan Stovallwho hit a team best .324 in conference play, are also back to help bolster the offense.
Because the team is located in South Florida, there will be no shortage of opportunities for fans to come out and see the Owls in action. Of the team's 56 regular season games, 38 will be played at home and 44 will be played in the state of Florida. Since men's and women's basketball will both be playing at South Alabama, this weekend is a great chance to drive up to Tampa and see FAU softball kickoff its 2013 season.
Signing Day Questions
Remember when you were in kindergarten and you would receive those "Do you like me" cards and you'd had to check the yes or no box? Well, recruiting and the handling of the large amounts of recruitment paper work is basically handled the same way. But, instead of "me," they insert the name of the recruit. The person who checks the box is the compliance officer. When signing day comes nearly all of the boxes have already been checked, but like any contract the time and signatures are the final boxes of approval. It seals a binding agreement to a relationship that in some cases started years prior.
After talking with the head of FAU's compliance department, Edward Hayward, the rules were quite simple: don't get paid to play in any form, preserve your amateur status, have over a 2.0 G.P.A., and have a strong test score. While compliance often seems to be the bearer of bad news, but they really are the safeguard against so many of the stories that we read about which knock down athletic departments.
The compliance office has no influence in the recruiting process they simply govern the rules and insure that coaches, boosters and players remain within the NCAA guidelines. "The football department lets us know who is coming. We then help them work through the paperwork and eligibility process. It can take as little as two weeks when all the proper information is put together in advance. But, if there is an `abnormality' (somebody who doesn't meet the requirements), then the process can take up to six months," said Hayward.
Of course, the compliance officer's job never stops. Rules are in place throughout the athlete's career to assure they have a positive experience from the beginning to the completion of their degree and beyond, while keeping the playing field equal. The scope ranges from underage drinking to illegal tweets (yes, even twitter is monitored) and Facebook posts, so it's a 24/7 job.
Though compliance it's a small part of what happens, it's a major one in the life of an athlete. Recruits and coaches can easily check yes in the box while the excitement is high, but the process isn't over until the eligibility process is complete ultimately allowing them to play.
As signing day approaches, this is something important to realize. Signing day is a day of hopes and promises just like your thoughts while writing and passing the elementary school note. The "yes" box is checked but putting the time towards the long-term relationship is what makes it work.
Football Schedule Announced
Florida Atlantic University has announced its football schedule for the 2013 season. The 14-team alignment for the 2013 season of Conference USA will feature each team playing eight conference games, along with four non-league contests.
The 2013 alignment will feature seven teams in both the East and West Divisions. FAU will join East Carolina University, FIU, Marshall University, Middle Tennessee State University, Southern Miss and UAB in the East Division, while Louisiana Tech, University of North Texas, Rice University, Tulane University, University of Tulsa, UTEP and University of Texas - San Antonio make up the West Division.
Each university will play each team in its division once for six games, while playing two cross-over opponents from the opposite division. The 2013 schedule has 14 playing weeks, which provides for two open dates for each team. The schedule is a one-year model, meaning that as the conference lineup changes for the 2014 season, opponents may change and locations of games for that season are not yet determined. A schedule of televised games will be released at a later date. Conference USA's national television partners are Fox Sports Media Group and CBS Sports Network for regular season games. The league's ninth annual Championship Game, pitting the champions of the East and West Divisions, is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 7 and will be televised by ESPN or ESPN 2.
For tickets call 1-866-FAU-Owls
FAU's 2013 Schedule (subject to change to accommodate television)
Aug. 31 at Miami
Sept. 7 at East Carolina*
Sept. 14 at USF
Sept. 21 Middle Tennessee*
Sept. 28 at Rice*
Oct. 5 at UAB*
Oct. 12 Marshall*
Oct. 19 bye
Oct. 26 at Auburn
Nov. 2 Tulane*
Nov. 9 bye
Nov. 16 at Southern Miss*
Nov. 23 New Mexico State*
Nov. 30 FIU*
The Point Where Work and School Collide
When you work in sports, the work day is never really over. For most of the staff in the athletics department, the idea of working 9-5 would make them laugh. Right now I am balancing work and graduate school so the concept of "free time" is quickly becoming a thing of the past. This week I was presented with an interesting assignment. My sport marketing professor had reached out to the senior AD of external relations for FAU athletics. The result of their meeting was an assignment that is now bringing my responsibilities at work and at school together.
On Wednesday, February 13, FAU's women's basketball team will take on Western Kentucky for the Play 4 Kay Breast Cancer Awareness Game. Boca Regional Hospital will be sponsoring the event and proceeds will be donated for breast cancer research to the Christine E. Lynn Women's Health Institute. The assignment for class required that we break up into three groups: pre event, event, and post-event. I signed up for the pre event responsibilities and will be working under our group leader who is both in the class and an assistant with FAU's marketing department. This assignment is going to expose me to what the marketing department must do to ensure the success of a game. I typically work women's basketball games but media relations requires much different responsibilities.
Our group met for the first time last night to break up what we would each start working on. Pre event tasks for the Play4Kay event include recognizing cancer survivors at the game, contacting local women organization to get involved, selling t-shirts to raise money for cancer research, and involving student organizations as well as the nursing school. There were also media focused tasks that need to be completed before the event. We split up the tasks according to our skills and experience. I was assigned the media tasks which include securing media coverage for the halftime presentation for the Boca Raton Regional Hospital and creating a press release for the event to promote and increase attendance.
We will be spending the next couple of weeks working on pre event marketing and hope for a great turnout. The main goals for both FAU and the assignment are to create awareness around the community, as well as generate attendance for the game, to raise money in support of breast cancer research. I urge everyone to come out on February 13 at 7 p.m. in The Burrow as The Owls take on the Hilltoppers and show your support at Play 4 Kay!
An Unexpected Reunion
Coach Jarvis Crosses Paths With His Most Famous High School Product
As the FAU's men's basketball team was in Atlanta, preparing to board its flight home from Arkansas, a face they had seen hundreds of times passed in front of them.
It belonged to Patrick Ewing, Head Coach Mike Jarvis' most famous high school pupil. What makes the story even funnier is that the reunion almost didn't happen. Ewing, in his haste to catch a plane of his own, initially didn't recognize the voice that called out to him (as unlikely as that seems).
Coach Jarvis had to call out Patrick's name a second time to fully catch his attention. Once he realized who was speaking to him, he immediately came over to reminisce over his high school days with both Coach Jarvis and Coach Jarvis II. After catching up with his coach, Ewing took time to shake hands with all the team members before going on his way-even as a born and raised South Floridan, I must admit shaking hands with a Hall of Fame center is pretty cool.
It never ceases to amaze me that regardless of where we travel Coach Jarvis always seems to know someone. The fact that on this occasion it was arguably his most prominent student was special to the team and no doubt to Coach Jarvis as well.
Here's to the day when someone can tell a similar story about Coach Jarvis and one of the players he coached here at FAU.
My Two Favorite Things
I love my FAU Athletics internship and the opportunities the department has given me. At times like these with the recent conference alignment announcement, I'm truly grateful for how involved Athletics allows me be but more so the new cities I will get to visit. However, there are two things that I genuinely get excited for: I'm passionate about travel the other is a broadcasting dream.
My passion is to travel. As a typical two job - full-time broke college student, I don't have the luxury of traveling on my own or with family. My FAU internship provides me that opportunity. Yes, it is for business and I do work, but while the players are preparing for the game, I join the FAU radio crew and traveling media as we explore the host city. My favorite in the two years I've worked in athletics is Auburn (2010). My family is from the Dominican Republic, a small island in the Caribbean where college football barely exists. Auburn was the first SEC game that I traveled to. It was the season after Auburn hoisted the National Championships trophy. The crowd was electric. The culture, traditions, War-Eagle chants, people, etc, it was awesome. You know a school is rich in culture when the crowd cheers for the marching band just as much as they do for a game-winning Hail Mary. I literally left a part of me at Auburn that weekend. I even looked into AU's graduate program, which I decided not to do (please don't take away my internship Mr. Chun). Other games like Navy, Georgia, and UF are great too because you get to experience the history of established schools in college towns. You really get to learn about the culture of a university. Point is: traveling is the greatest thing about covering sports. I'm excited about the new cities and the new adventures that will come with Conference USA.
The only thing I would give up my internship for is for my dream job as a sports broadcaster or a job sampling food. Funny enough, the way I discovered my food tasting talent is by traveling with FAU football. If the SEC has the best traditions, Sun Belt Conference football has the best tailgate food ever! Anybody who has traveled with me knows that I spend a good hour during pregame warm-ups walking around in the tailgates, spotting the most fatty, original, home-cooked meals out there (I'm like Dinners and Dives of College football tailgates). My favorite was the University of Louisiana Lafayette and their amazing Cajun spreads. I gained two pounds from that weekend alone but I rightfully lost it after doing the "Rooster dance", for an hour, with the Krew de' Chu tailgate. I nearly missed the bus after the game because I went to the post-game tailgate to grab more homemade gumbo. The Sun Belt Conference schools were warm and welcoming. From the delicious homemade bar-be-que in North Texas last season to the bottomless bowls of gumbo I had in both ULL and ULM, my taste buds always had a delicious surprise. Most of my Facebook pictures weren't about FAU football but the food I was eating. And yes, while I'm sad I'm breaking off these food relationships, I'm so excited to start new ones.
New food options while watching FAU embark on a new journey? I hope the team hotels continue to have a workout facility.
Baseball Ready to Hit Practice Field on Friday?
Are you ready for some baseball?
It might be a month before major league baseball pitchers and catchers report, but spring training begins for the Florida Atlantic University baseball team on Friday, January 25 in preparation for the challenging 2013 season.
Practices and intra-squad sessions are open to the public, and I encourage fans to get a sneak peak of this year's team. These Owls should be a fun group to watch! Baseball season tickets can be purchased through the FAU Ticket Office at 1-866-FAU-OWLS.
FAU is coming off its second Sun Belt Conference regular-season championship in the last three seasons and 14th consecutive winning season. Head Coach John McCormack's squad returns six starting position players and two starting pitchers last year's titlist.
This year's team captains are seniors Hugh Adams and Mark Nelson. Adams returns for his fifth season and earned first-team All-South Central Region honors as a reliever in 2011.
Senior outfielder Corey Keller helps anchor the lineup, hitting .302 with seven home runs last season. Nelson, the veteran first baseman, also connected on seven home runs and led the team with 45 runs batted in. Senior catcher Mike Spano earned second-team All-SBC honors last season after hitting .291 in 43 starts behind the plate.
The pitching staff will look to replace R.J. Alvarez, the highest draft pick by the Los Angeles Angels in last year's Major League Baseball Draft. The relief shouldn't miss a beat with the hard throwing Adams coming back after missing last season because of injury. Junior Kevin Alexander and sophomore Austin Gomber should play a vital role in the starting rotation. The Owls will also benefit from having junior Jeremy Strawn back from an injury-marred 2012 season.
Coach McCormack and his staff have attracted several talented newcomers that should make an impact in the outfield, infield and on the mound.
The season opener is just three weeks away - Friday, February 15, at 6:30 p.m. -- against the University of Cincinnati at the FAU Baseball Stadium. That starts a three-game weekend series with the Bearcats. The entire schedule can be seen here.
Look for an opening practice report tomorrow.
Who Interest You on the Football Schedule?
Another week has come and gone and in that time, Florida Atlantic has made another exciting move. Conference USA in 2013-14. We also now know which teams we will be able to dazzle with the on-campus stadium and which cities will be new locations for our players and fans. We do not know dates and times as that will be decided based on television contracts.
Here are the games that will be played at home and our all-time record in ():
New Mexico State (0-1)
Middle Tennessee State (3-8)
Tulane (1st meeting)
Marshall (1st meeting)
The road opponents will be:
Miami (1st meeting)
Southern Miss(1st meeting)
East Carolina (1st meeting)
Rice (1st Meeting)
Email me and let me know what games you are excited about and why
FAU Basketball Takeover
The Owls had back to back basketball games last weekend against the North Texas Mean Green. I had just started working basketball games, assisting with social media alerts, the Thursday prior when the men's basketball team took on Troy. I was excited to work the two games on Saturday, especially with all the hype being built around the men's game against North Texas.
FAU's women's team played during the day, winning 79-67. It was the men's game at night however that drew in a huge crowd. I had attended a couple of men's basketball games earlier in the season but I had not seen crowd attendance this high. Part of the excitement came from the super hero dress up contest where a winner from the crowd received a free iPad mini. Spiderman, a Dragon, and a team of FAU Owl Superwomen were all in attendance competing for the grand prize.
While most of the crowd was cheering for Florida Atlantic, there wasn't any doubt that many showed up to see the performance of Tony Mitchell of North Texas. Mitchell is projected to be the No. 14 pick in round 1 of the 2013 NBA Draft. The crowd was out of their seats for most of the game with exhilarating plays like Mitchell's dunking off an alley-oop and FAU's Greg Gantt's multiple 3-pointers that contributed to his 22 total points. In fact, Gantt now sits No. 3 in the nation in scoring average.
The highly anticipated match up also attracted a celebrity to the crowd. New York Yankees legend Paul O'Neill was in The Burrow to watch the game. Him and his family sat in a suite on the second floor of the arena to watch FAU head coach and longtime friend Mike Jarvis lead the Owls against the Mean Green.
FAU's women's basketball returns home on Wednesday, January 30 at 7 p.m. and the men's team plays on Thursday, January 31 at 7 p.m., both hosting ULM. Be sure to come to The Burrow to support your Owls!
Wake the Giant
Florida Atlantic is having a good time right now, or so it seems. People are engaging in athletics events and seem to be excited about the potential grown of FAU. Never in my life did I think I'd see a lizard and Spiderman at a basketball game. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, shame on you. You should've attended the FAU men's basketball "Superhero" event last night (Thursday). But here's the deal, we always know what is going on FAU, but we don't know what people are excited about.
For example, I know the FIU game is going to occur, but I'm excited to see the history of the rivalry continue and how much moving conferences has strengthened the rivalry. The students, chants, decorations, atmosphere, that's what I like about going to an FAU game. Not to see a basketball dribble, because as an avid basketball fan, that always makes me happy, but the game is so much more than basketball at FAU, it's becoming a tradition.
So my questions are: what makes you proud to be part of FAU? Is it the rivalries, the games, the chance to get free food at games? Or, is it the opportunity to dress up as Godzilla at an athletic event? And if you can't answer those questions, what else can FAU add to their athletic events to make it more fun?
FAU is a sleeping giant, and we can use some bizarre ideas to wake up the monster. If you have ideas to help the athletic department grow, ways to make games more memorable for students like me or have ideas for the athletic department website, send some ideas our way.
We'll wake this Giant up, no matter what it takes.
Get Your Baseball Season Tickets Now
The countdown to the first pitch for the 2013 baseball season is less than a month away when the Owls host the University of Cincinnati on Friday, February 15 to begin a three-game weekend series. So, now is the time to reserve your season tickets and support the defending Sun Belt Conference champions at the FAU Stadium.
Baseball season tickets can be purchased by contacting the FAU Ticket Office at 1-866-FAU-OWLS.
There will be plenty of opportunities to watch this year's team. Thirty home games are part of the home schedule. After the season-opening series against Cincinnati, FAU hosts the University of Alabama from Friday, February 22 through Sunday, February 24. You may remember that last year's team opened the season with a three-game sweep against the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.
The Owls will also host the University of Miami on Wednesday, January 20 and Florida Gulf Coast University on Tuesday, January 26.
View the entire schedule here.
Head Coach John McCormack's team is coming off its second Sun Belt Conference regulars-season championship in the last three seasons. It was also the program's 14th consecutive winning season. This year's squad returns six positional starters and two starting pitchers.
I encourage fans to purchase your season tickets for another exciting season on the diamond. There aren't many better bargains in South Florida.
It's Time for Me to Focus
My focus this week has been all over the board. Which I guess it means I'm not focused. This is the time of year when my day entails all the things I didn't do in the fall. Scheduling who is covering what when we have men's and women's basketball going on as well as men's and women's swimming, indoor and outdoor track, baseball, softball, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's golf, dance and cheer championships, signing day, and fundraising golf tournaments. There are four of us, as you well know by now, and every home event has to be covered while traveling with four teams. It takes a spread sheet and some occasional help. In the meantime, we are still working out things and updating the web.
Speaking of updating the web, it is also the time of year when I work on player and coaches bios for football. I came across a few things that only the above average football fan may know. While we all know the team improved on one win in 2011 to three in 2012, you may not have noticed that the offense improved drastically in several areas. For example the team's national rank in the category of passing offense improved 51 spots. Seven of the eight players who ran the ball for FAU ended his season with positive yardage. FAU improved by 21 spots nationally in sacks allowed which helped to make all of the offense better. Also, while we will all miss Alfred Morris, as a unit FAU's rushing attack gained just 38 yards fewer than the year before with a dominant player. All this tells me, the team made great strides a year ago which shows great promise for the future.
Now, back to my other pile of work, I have found 74 team photos that I had previously archived in the library, which will be added to the team picture walls displayed in the Oxley Center. Come by any time you are ready for memory lane.
Great Reason to Show Up Early
In case you needed any more reason to show up early to Thursday, here's one more.
Prior to tip-off, Greg Gantt will be presented with a game ball recognizing him becoming the school's all-time leader in points. Not only is the game one against a conference rival and one of just seven remaining home games for the Owls, it's a chance to recognize the most prolific scorer in school history. Ironically, the presentation will be made before the game he set the record against, Troy. Gantt, who is fourth in the nation at 22.4 points per game, could end his career as one of the five best scorers in Sun Belt history.
While the individual recognition is nice, in his own words, Greg said that "it won't mean anything without a championship,." The fact that he is so focused on the team goal of advancing to the NCAA Touranment is part of what accounts for his success on the court. Fans can show their appreciation for the accomplishments of the team, individually and collectively by supporting the team early for all of the remaining home contests.
Students at the Forefront of Game Promotions
As I was sitting working in the office, editing video, the marketing department at FAU Athletics asked me one of the most bizarre questions.
"Would you like to participate in a fastest burrito eating competition?" After saying yes, I realized the bizarre situation I got myself into. I had just agreed to put my eating prowess to the test and against three grown men.
The bizarre question wasn't clear yet, but knowing FAU athletics always has the best for students in mind. I wasn't worried.
I have had the opportunity to experience the departmental 2012 changes, easily described as a year or transition for the department.
In 2012 alone, a new Athletics Director, new football staff, volleyball staff, women's basketball staff, and four external people have been hired. The total is a little more 40 new employees.
It would be easy for the department to turn its cheek, ignore the students and focus on their own situations. But, they don't. They always have the students as their top priority.
Think about the football games. There was always a promotion that included the students. Students who need art for their walls only need to go as far as an athletic venue to pick up a poster. And it's always something, the partnership between athletics and FAU Student Government and or the Student Alumni Association make the game atmosphere great. Sometimes it's posters sometimes it is T-Shirts or Rally Towels. This Monday at the FAUSportsPage Radio Show, originating at Hooters (Boca Raton) it is Destroy Troy T-Shirts.
Once you are at the games there is almost always student driven contest and or entertainment. Next week students have a chance to win an iPad Mini! That is in addition to the musical shootout or random free throw challenges. And this is where the "bizarre question" came in. The marketing staff was testing a possible contest for later this season.
Students should be really excited for 2013 and the growth the Owls future growth. At FAU, we are a part of the growth process, where our in-state counterparts don't have a chance to help build. They are simply a part of the results. I see being a student at FAU as an opportunity to be a part of and experience building something special.
So take advantage, be a part of it, start eating the burritos, make a quilt out of towels, and collecting those T-Shirts, because in a decade or two, that memorabilia will be worth a lot.
And yes, I did win that burrito eating contest.
Student Video Coordinator
Women's Basketball Gets Special Visit
Early in this successful season, members of the Florida Atlantic University women's basketball team had the opportunity to get words of encouragement from one of the best women's professional basketball players in history -- former Owl Yolanda Griffith. This WNBA Hall of Famer was on campus as Dartmouth, where she is in her second season as an assistant coach, had a practice at the FAU Arena during a trip through South Florida.
Griffith took time to talk to this year's Owls about some of the lessons she learned during her standout playing career. She left quite a legacy at FAU and in professional basketball. In her only season (1992-93) as an Owl, Griffith scored a school record 621 points, helped lead the team to an 84-63 victory over the University of Florida and advanced to the NCAA Division II regional tournament. As a professional, the dominating 6-foot-4 center won a WNBA championship with the Sacramento Monarchs, won two gold medals with the United States Olympic team and in 2011 was saluted as one of the top 15 players in WNBA history.
Griffith's message to current FAU players was to take advantage of every practice drill to become a better player each day. She believes she became one of the WNBA's best players when she became a better practice player.
Members of this year's team took Griffith's lessons to heart, winning three of the four games since her campus visit. The team sits in a first-place tie in the Sun Belt Conference's East Division with a 5-1 record. The Owls play at Western Kentucky University on Saturday, January 12. Tipoff is scheduled at 5 p.m.
Happy New Year!!
The Holidays have come and gone and it is back to work full-time, rather than just the games. The holiday season was great! It was my first Thanksgiving in more than 20 years, men's basketball, women's basketball and swimming primarily competed on the road, so I enjoyed a nice break.
Often this time of year is a walk down memory lane, because it is my chance to work on historical things prior to the push to update the football media guide, or records section. This year my stroll was jump started by a surprise visit by FAU All-American Per Segerstrom, mentioned in an earlier blog. That was followed by FAU student video coordinator Ginette Javier and I recording too much video for the Holiday card, CLICK HERE. So, my answer was let's have two. The first was a personal look at the FAU Head Coaches favorite holiday memories. The second was their favorite FAU memory.
So join me on my stroll CLICK HERE for a few of FAU's best memories. I'm not in the video and probably would be hard pressed to come up with one, but my top three are (in no particular order): 1. Crowd's reception of the 2007 New Orleans Bowl Champions at the Boca Raton Holiday Parade; 2. Former Head Baseball Coach Kevin Cooney's face during his NCAA post-regional interviews after defeating Alabama and advancing to the Super Regional. 3. The media's response when I called to confirm the men's basketball team defeated North Carolina State in 1994.
Enjoy the games, it is a big week for men's and women's basketball.
FAU's Swimming and Diving Teams Set to Stay in Florida for January
While most places around the country are experiencing the cold winter, the state of Florida has yet to budge from this summer's weather. FAU's swimming and diving team will be avoiding the harsh winter by competing throughout Florida during the month of January.
The diving team began competition today in a dual meet against West Virginia in Coral Springs. It was the Owls' first meet of 2013. Swimming coach Steve Eckelkamp and diving coach Michelle Davison-Sandelin will lead the swimming and diving teams in four more meets throughout the month, traveling all around Florida.
The Owls' next meet is set for January 12, against Western Kentucky and Nova at Nova. The team will then hit the road, traveling to the University of Florida and Florida Gulf Coast, before heading back to South Florida in their final meet of the month at FIU on January 26.
The team's final meets of 2012 were marked by incredible accomplishments by Eric Williams, Agnes Bucz and Eszter Bucz, who will certainly remain strong competitors for the rest of the season. Williams won two events for FAU in both their dual meets against University of Denver on December 19 and Purdue on December 21.
Agnes and Eszter Bucz both took multiple wins against Denver and Purdue in December. The teams, comprised of fierce competitors, are certainly ready to take on the competition in 2013. I urge all Owls to come out and root for your swimming and diving teams at their next meet on December 12 at Nova Southeastern University located at 3301 College Ave. in Fort Lauderdale.
It's More than the Game
Head Coach Mike Jarvis and the FAU men's basketball team held a clinic at Spanish River Church over the weekend.
The clinic was well attended and gave the kids in attendance a chance to interact with members of the team and coaching staff on a personal level.
Many members of the church attended the New Year's Day game featuring FAU and Hofstra, FAU won of course. The event was the most recent in a series designed to increase interest for the men's basketball program.
Earlier this season, Coach Jarvis spoke at Everglades Elementary on the importance of character and education. Likewise, many of those students will attend a home game later this season.
Although I wasn't at FAU when the football program was launched, anyone who has spent time in the athletic department knows that the role Howard Schnellenberger played off the field as an ambassador was just as important as the one he played on the field as a coach. Coach Jarvis' task, to serve as chief spokesperson in addition to head coach is no less demanding.
And the fruits if his labor are evident, as attendance has more than doubled since he arrived at FAU five years ago. A key component of building a program in any sport is building a fan base that shows up even as players, coaches and conferences change.
Last weekend's clinic is part of that process and it will lead to even better things in the future.
Men's Tennis Hosting Prestigious Tennis Invitational This Weekend
Patch Reef Park will be the place to be this weekend as the Florida Atlantic University men's tennis team hosts two nationally ranked teams and another regionally ranked opponent in a four-team invitational. Tournament play gets underway on Friday and will conclude on Sunday, with matches beginning each day at 8 a.m.
This tournament brings Indiana University of the Big Ten Conference, the University of Louisville from the Big East Conference and Radford University of the Big South Conference to the community for three days of matches that kick off the 2013 tennis season.
Read a full preview of this invitational here.
The Owls, led by Coach Brandon Stokes, are coming off a successful fall campaign in which sophomore Will Neuner won the singles consolation title at the Dick Vitale Clay Court Invitational. He won eight singles matches and teamed with senior Jose Fantova to capture two of the three fall doubles matches. Fantova also won four singles matches.
Patch Reef Park is located at 1200 Yamato Road in Boca Raton. I encourage all South Florida tennis fans to support the Owls this weekend and watch some exciting collegiate tennis.
Fans Should Take Opportunity to See Seniors in Person
Tuesday's game is not only a chance for fans to open the New Year with FAU basketball, but it also one of only nine remaining opportunities to see this year's senior class play in their home arena.
Despite the team's record, the trio of Greg Gantt, Jordan McCoy and Andre Mattison is playing well. They have a chance to become the winningest senior class in FAU history. It doesn't seem like nearly four years since they first set foot on campus as freshmen, but they will all be gone before too long.
Gantt, in particular is arguably playing at the highest level of any college player in the nation. He recently became the school's all-time leading scorer, he is within reach of school records for three-point field goals made and total field goals made. Gantt is 5th in the nation in scoring at 22.3 points per game and is among the national leaders in three pointers made (3.07/17th).
Catch them, and the rest of the FAU men's basketball team, while you can.
Basketball Offering Great Stocking Stuffers
Here is a great deal for every Florida Atlantic University basketball fan on your holiday shopping list: Watching exciting men's and women's basketball games during the new year for a discounted price.
The mini-plan is a bargain of a deal. Fans get to see any of five key women's basketball games during the rest of the Sun Belt Conference season for a discounted price of $15. Fans can choose to attend any six men's basketball home games for $90.
What makes the deal even a better stocking stuffer is the option of choosing the games you want to attend.
With conference action taking center stage, each game is important for both the women's and men's teams. The first opportunity to see the Owls in action during 2013 comes on Wednesday, January 2 at 7 p.m. when the women's team hosts Louisiana. Coach Kellie Lewis-Jay's team is fun to watch, and the Owls are currently undefeated in SBC play after winning two home game.
I hope to see you in The Burrow to root for FAU basketball in 2013.
As I write this, I'm one day behind and working in a very quiet Oxley Center. Yesterday was the department holiday party so many are taking a long deserved break. Since I last wrote, we have been working on the final touches for the website redesign. It launched on Tuesday, a day I had long looked forward to and the project's completion. As luck would have it, the entire university computer system was down. So the world saw it before I could. Yesterday was spent cleaning the few bugs in it and I hope we can continue to provide great information to all Owl fans.
I had one of my favorite surprises today. The first was a former softball player who I had not seen in several years. Her life has evolved as all of our lives do. We determined that college prepares you to take the next big step but that nothing can fully prep you for what life holds. That's a good thing. I think? Just moments later, I met a former student athlete for the first time, Per Segerstrom. He was an All-American golfer in 1985-86 and was here from Sweden on holiday and was showing his family around and looking for his All-American photo. The photo like so many others was damaged and/or taken down after a hurricane caused water damage in the Arena. Restoration to the photos was a summer project that I have wondered many times if it was worth it. Today, to see his family's faces, I can say it was.
I have been very fortunate in 2012 to be able to spend Thanksgiving with my family, first time in more than 19 years that I didn't have a game or tournament. And now, I await Christmas. Who could ask for more? See you January 1 at the men's basketball game.
The Florida Atlantic University women's basketball team got to experience a winter wonderland and got into the holiday spirit during its road trip to Madison, Wisconsin.
After playing at Mississippi State on Friday, the team had a couple of days before its game at the University of Wisconsin. The Owls had a sightseeing day in downtown Chicago, visiting shops along the Windy City's grand Magnificent Mile and Navy Pier along the Lake Michigan shore.
Then, on Sunday, the team awoke to find a wonderful coat of snowfall outside the team hotel. This brought the most excitement to players and coaches, with several seeing snow for the first time. Team members had a snow ball fight outside the hotel on the morning before the game with the Badgers. Here is a short video of the snow ball fight. Video here. Sometimes, it is easy to forget that the players are really young girls at heart. Photo Gallery
Junior Shanequa Schrouder recalls her first experience with snow here. Video here. This will be an experience that many will not soon forget.
As a native of Indiana, this wasn't my first experience with winter. However, after being at FAU for four years, you do not notice the changing of the seasons in South Florida. Seeing my breath while waking down Chicago's Michigan Avenue even got me in the holiday shopping spirit. But I must admit it is easier to be shopping without several layers of clothing to keep warm.
It's that Time of Year, Ugh!
You may have believed I was thinking of the upcoming holiday season, but no I enjoy the holiday cheer, the lights on houses, people addressing you friendly when at any other time of the year they may not have spoken.
What I hate is pulling into the Oxley parking lot and having my choice of spots. The office hours dragging due to post-season clean-up rather than game preparation. You see the fall sports have concluded, graduation has come and gone and there are very few students on campus. Games are few and far between so it feels like 24-hour days are really 48.
The toughest people during this time period are my office mates. They have to deal with random questions, like is Mike Bell still playing professional basketball. Speaking of that did you know that there currently are 48 individuals who once represented FAU playing professionally?
More website updates are on the way and by this time next week we should have a whole new look.
If you are like me and miss the action around the college campus here are some things to hold you over through the holiday:
Women's Basketball is coming off an overtime loss to Wisconsin will host Stetson, 2 p.m., Saturday, December 15
US Women's Soccer National Team vs. China, 7 p.m. December, 15
Men's Basketball, riding a three-game win streak, will play at Dayton, 7 p.m., December 15. The game can be heard via www.fausports.com or watched free of charge at www.daytonflyers.com
FAU SportsPage Radio Show, with host Ken LaVicka, from ESPN760 AM, and Mike Jarvis will air at 6 p.m. Monday, December 17
Men's Basketball will play host to Stetson, 7 p.m., Tuesday in "The Burrow" Men's Basketball will then travel to Indiana for a 7 p.m. game, Friday, December 21. This game will air on ESPN2 or you can watch it here http://espn.go.com/watchespn/index/_/id/688504/florida-atlantic-vs-indiana
Women's Basketball will be on the road at Troy, AL, 1 p.m. Friday December 21.
Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving will compete at home, December 21 at 9.m.
This will get you through December 25th. We will kick off the new year with more sports, but I guess I have to go to the mall to cure my need to hunt for a parking spot.
U.S. Women's Soccer Team Takes over FAU Stadium
The FAU Owls may have played their last football game of the season, but the stadium will still be seeing some action this coming weekend. The U.S. Women's Soccer Team will take on China in the final match of the Fan Tribute Tour. The women taking the field this Saturday are part of the national team that most recently won the gold medal in the 2012 London Olympic Games. This two-day event will start off with an open practice for the U.S. Women's Team and autograph signing on Friday from 4:30p.m. until 7p.m. The gates will open Saturday at 6p.m. and kickoff is set for 7:21p.m.
The FAU Owls may have played their last football game of the season but, the stadium will still see action this coming weekend. The U.S. Women's Soccer Team will take on China in the final match of the Fan Tribute Tour. The women taking the field this Saturday are part of the national team that most recently won the gold medal in the Summer 2012 London Olympic Games. This two-day event will start with an open practice for the U.S. Women's Team and autograph signing, special guest only, on Friday from 4:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. The gates will open Saturday at 6 p.m. and kickoff is set for 7:21 p.m. For someone who has only been a part of the FAU Athletics staff for two weeks, this is an exciting event to be able to work. On Saturday, FAU is also hosting a women's home basketball game versus Stetson and the men's basketball team will play in Dayton. With a media relations staff of four, there are a lot of events to work on that day and I will be the primary contact for the U.S. Soccer Fan Tribute Match. Come game day, I will be working with the U.S. Soccer Federation communications staff on all media relations for the game. For an event of this scale, there has been so much to do leading up to Saturday's kickoff. After the first full staff operations meeting last week, I began working with the communications operations coordinator of U.S. Soccer on all media relations game day preparation. The main task for this week has been assisting with U.S. Soccer's organization of the press room. Media personnel will watch the game from the Richard H. Davimos Press Room inside the stadium which needs to be organized and set up prior to the game. I have also been in contact with NBC Sports Network, who will be broadcasting the game, and making sure that their crew is equipped to set up. With our final operations meeting set for Wednesday, and the event only four days away, the next few days are sure to get busier with last minute tasks for game day. Both teams and their staff will be arriving on Thursday and all focus will certainly be on preparing for a great competition. Come out Saturday at 6 p.m. for the 10th and final match of the Fan Tribute Tour and cheer on the United States' Women's National Soccer Team as they compete against China in the FAU Stadium!
Coach Jarvis Addresses Everglades Elementary Students
I walked into the cafeteria of Everglades Elementary this morning and was not surprised to find that Coach Jarvis had the full attention of everyone in the room, which is not an unusual sight when he speaks.
He was there to speak to the students about the importance of overcoming obstacles and education. Coach Jarvis recounted the tale of Michael Jordan being cut from his high school team as a sophomore and instead of quitting, dedicating himself to getting better and eventually becoming the best basketball player of all time.
The students were then allowed to ask Coach Jarvis questions, which provided entertaining questions and equally entertaining answers. He closed by addressing the teachers scattered around the room, drawing on his own experiences as an educator, and told them never to lose sight of the importance of their job.
As someone who listens to as many of Coach Jarvis' speeches, it's a common sight to see the audience captivated, but today's speech was unique because rarely do you see an audience with such a wide age difference have the same reaction to a speaker.
The speech was set up by Bill Nedoroscik, who was a graduate assistant under Coach Jarvis. In yet another common occurrence, Coach Jarvis had long known someone in attendance. The students who meet certain benchmarks will be invited to attend the February 2 home game against Middle Tennessee.
It is all a part of engaging the community and no coach has been more proactive in that regard than Coach Jarvis and those efforts will continue to pay off even more in the future. Especially February 2.
My First Day with a Bang
The first day of a new job is usually pretty boring and predictable; introductions to staff members around the office, receiving your company email, filling out paperwork, etc. My first day of work with the athletics' media relations department was not quite what I had planned. As soon as I arrived, I was informed that there would be a meeting to attend within the next hour that included the entire athletics department. It turned out that I was starting work on the same day that FAU was announcing that it had officially accepted an invitation to join Conference USA. From a media relations standpoint this was big news and also meant that I got thrown right into things on my first day. After the athletics department meeting where Athletics Director Pat Chun announced the news to staff, I went to the stadium for a press conference announcing the news to the media.
My first assignment was to take photographs of the press conference and post them on the FAU Athletics website. Back at the office, everyone in media relations was busy working on something relating to the Conference USA news. You could hear media personnel interviewing players down the hall and the entire office was discussing the news and what great things that meant for FAU. Just as everything started to calm down in the office, my phone started vibrating.
"Armed intruder/shooter in Arts & Letters. Boca. Remain alert. Seek shelter in secure location. Follow police instructions" was written in a text message on my phone. Quickly, the commotion in the office began to unsettle. The entire campus immediately went on lockdown. As I tried to continue my work, I kept receiving updates on the situation through text, email, and phone calls. You could hear discussions all over the office on what people had heard was going on. One of my co-workers was able to put the news on from his laptop. Reporters were all over the streets outside campus reporting on any updates they heard. Traffic outside campus had come to a stop and no one was being let in or out. The campus stayed on lockdown till about 4 p.m., of course right in time for the work day to almost be over. By the time everyone calmed down it was time to go home for the day. My first day had definitely been exciting, especially from a media standpoint. I got to witness two huge events, one that was sports related and one that was not. With so much commotion on my first day, my second day had a lot to live up to.
Now is the Time to Become Women's Basketball Season Ticket Holder
Earlier this week several Florida Atlantic University women's basketball season ticket holders got up close and personal with this year's coaching staff and several players during a special luncheon at Boca Raton's Renaissance Hotel. This was a special event for the program and those fans that have faithfully supported the Owls in The Burrow this season. Photo Gallery
And, there has been a lot to cheery about this winter. The Owls have a 5-2 record, have won three straight games and have a 3-0 home record so far this season.
At the luncheon, Head Coach Kellie Lewis-Jay provided insight on this season, what's on the horizon with a strong 2012 recruiting class and her goals for the future of the program.
However, what the season ticket holders may have enjoyed the most were the stories told by juniors Kimberly Smith and Takia Brooks. Hearing what the fan support means to the student athletes gives me more enthusiasm to promote the team and strive to get more fan support for this hard-working group that plays an exciting brand of basketball.
Takia told about how college basketball and being an Owl have provided so many opportunities for her future. Those are the stories that make intercollegiate athletics so special. FAU is making a difference every day - in the classroom, in the student union, in the faculty offices and on the basketball court. That should make you applaud the players' efforts.
Let's hope this event becomes more frequent and the season ticket base continues to grow as the Owls need your support during the rest of the Sun Belt Conference season. Get your season tickets by contacting the FAU Ticket Office at 1-866-FAU-OWLS.
Finally, fans can watch the women's basketball team in action on Monday, December 10 at 8 p.m. when FAU plays a nationally televised game on the Big Ten Network at the University of Wisconsin. Check your local cable provider for the channel.
Congratulations -- All Around
When I last wrote, I was dreading the final football game and bidding farewell to the seniors. Little did we know at the time we would also be bidding farewell to the Sun Belt Conference. The last seven days have been filled with all the emotion you would expect.
There are some great people in the Sun Belt both at the league office and throughout the membership. They will all be sorely missed. One nice thing is we will continue to have the opportunity to see many of the SBC schools over the course of our exit and will have time to prepare the programs as we enter C-USA.
As loyal followers of FAU, let us know what you like about the SBC websites and what you like about websites of C-USA members. We will try to incorporate as many positives as we can as we continue to grow in 2012-13.
Speaking of growth, congratulations to the football players who earned Sun Belt Honors , see full story here. The football team had a tremendous amount of information to handle this season with the new schemes and coaches. They continued to progress each day. Five were honored by the league, four will return in 2013 and will be the leaders to move this program forward. Congratulations Brent Harstad (Sr.), Nexon Dorvilus (Jr.), William Dukes (So.), Daniel McKinney (Jr.) and Andrae Kirk (So.).
Most importantly, 25 former student-athletes graduate this week with either an undergraduate or graduate degree. Congratulations to these individuals as well. Go Owls!!!
Saturday A Memorable One for Owl Fans
I can tell you that Saturday was a date that many of my fellow staff members had circled on their calendars for quite a while, and not necessarily in a good way. It was the day that featured a tripleheader that would require many of us to work all three events. My day started with the women's basketball team completing a perfect opening weekend in Sun Belt play with a 79-71 win over Arkansas State. What struck me was how much more relaxed the girls on the team were and I have to think that is a function of the attitude of new head coach Kellie Lewis-Jay.
After finishing up there, I made my way over to the football stadium just in time to catch the pregame recognition ceremony for the football players who were about to play in their final home game. While those players didn't get to close out their career with a victory, they did get the opportunity to play their final game on campus, only the second group of seniors to do so.
I returned to FAU Arena for the final event of the day, a men's basketball game against Arkansas State. Those in attendance got to see Greg Gantt and Stefan Moody tie their career highs and Mike Jarvis become FAU's winningest men's basketball coach at the Division I level. I heard more than one person say that the game and its atmosphere reminded them of the 2010-11 Sun Belt championship season.
When the day was over, it occurred to me that while it was an exhausting day, it was also a rewarding one. The fact that was I was lucky enough to work all three events served as a reminder of how lucky I am, individually and we, as an athletic department are collectively. If you were able to attend any or all of Saturday's events, I'm sure you felt the same way. If you weren't, there will be another chance in the spring. On February 23, baseball, softball, men's and women's basketball will all be hosting home games. It will be yet another opportunity to remind yourself that it's a great time to be an Owl.
Two Game for Price of One
Fans will have the opportunity to enjoy two games for the price of one on Saturday. Saturday features three sporting events on campus with the women's basketball team hosting Arkansas State University at noon. The football team closes out the 2012 season against the University of Louisiana at 3 p.m. before the men's basketball team battles Arkansas State at 8 p.m.
Fans with a football ticket will only receive free admission to the women's basketball game. Admission to the men's basketball game will be at regular-season prices.
The women's basketball team looks for a 2-0 start to Sun Belt Conference play and three straight wins. FAU picked up a 67-56 win over the University of South Alabama last night. The Owls erased a seven-point halftime deficit to win the game by double digits. Read full recap of yesterday's game here.
I encourage all fans to take advantage of this promotion and witness the exciting women's basketball team.
Football Season Comes to a Close
Traditionally, this is one of the hardest weeks for me. It is not because football season is coming to a close. I feel this way at the end of every sport season because we bid farewell to players who I have enjoyed getting to know, grow and elevate FAU to a new level.
We have now been through this exercise for cross country, volleyball, men's and women's soccer and football will take center stage this weekend as the Owls bid farewell to nearly 15 seniors.
There are plenty of events leading up to the final home football game. Women's basketball returns home tonight for its SBC opener, men's basketball do the same on Thursday, the women's hoopsters will take the court at noon on Saturday and if you have a football ticket for Saturday's game you can catch the women play, for free, before you head to the stadium. Following the FAU vs. ULL football match-up, the "Burrow" will light up again with the men's basketball facing Arkansas State.
See you this week.
Men's Basketball Starts Off Home Schedule With Thrilling Victory
The men's basketball team started its home schedule off with a bang, defeating American 58-55 on Saturday. While the team didn't play perfectly, it got the win and sent the fans home happy.
One of the purposes of scheduling games against teams like North Carolina and Mississippi State is to get better as a unit and I think the lessons learned in those games showed in Saturday's game. At one point late in the first half, the Owls led by eight points, but American hit three 3-pointers before the half and had their lead cut to just one.
Last weekend versus Elon, FAU went into the half with a lead, but could not close out the game. Saturday, the Owls once again let their opponents take the lead, but this time they were able to regain their composure and eventually come out victorious. Stefan Moody may be the best individual example of the growth this team has experienced. Scoreless through the first 24 minutes of the game, he scored eight points down the stretch, including the final five points of the contest.
The team begins Sun Belt play this week and fans will have two more chances to see the team continue to grow. Come take advantage of the opportunity to see them play and be a part of the growth process.
Women's Basketball Counting Its Many Blessings
As the Florida Atlantic University women's basketball team prepares for this weekend's University of Miami Thanksgiving Classic in Coral Gables, several players, coaches and support staff shared what they are thankful for on this holiday.
Kellie Lewis-Jay, head coach: "I'm grateful for the opportunity I coach here at FAU. I am surrounded by amazing student-athletes who are great role models, a hard-working staff and my family. I also enjoy the sunshine and beaches."
Latavia Dempsey, junior guard from St. Petersburg: "I'm thankful for the opportunity to play Division 1 basketball and for God giving me the talent to play the sport I love."
Kimberly Smith, junior guard from Minneola: "I'm thankful to play Division 1 basketball. I am very blessed with where I am and with the people I share it with."
Kelsey Proctor, senior forward from St. Louis: "I'm thankful for my family and the support they have given me. It is nice being a part of a team in which my teammates are such good friends."
Harry Elifson, assistant coach: "I'm grateful for the opportunity to do what I like to do for the last 25 years. This has never been a job, and coaching has been a very rewarding career."
Vera Jones, assistant coach: "I'm thankful for my awesome son that is now in good health. I have now 12 brand new daughters by being part of this team."
Alexa Kryglowski, athletic trainer: "I'm thankful for my team, coaches and the special relationship I have with them. I am also thankful for the continued good health of the team."
FAU, 2-1 on the season, will practice on Thanksgiving in final preparations to play Miami on Friday, November 23 at 5 p.m. in the opening round of tournament play. The team will also play a game on Saturday, November 24 against either Radford or Southern Illinois, depending on Friday's outcome. Live audio and statistics of the games can be heard here.
An Office Thanksgiving
FAU Athletics is pretty quiet today and on a list of things to be thankful for, that might be at the top of my list for Wednesday. My car is in the shop, that I'm not thankful for, so I'm at one location for an extended period of time, very few distractions so my "things to do list" is getting tackled.
As we head into a national day of giving thanks, I can jump on the band wagon with the best of them. I have a fantastic life and have a job that allows me to meet some fantastic people.
So, carrying on with the Thanksgiving theme I begin my non-personal list.
1. Professional Challenges - just when I think I have mastered a task, Florida Atlantic grows, technology improves, sports are added, leagues are changed and events are hosted. It all keeps me interested and challenged.
2. Coaches - Every coach has a distinct personality and their teams normally take-on that personality. I have had the opportunity to meet some great people while at FAU, not to mention my husband. Every coach approaches their job with a plan of attack and a passion to accomplish. They keep me entertained and challenged.
3. Staff - You want to define team. Look at any successful athletic staff in the country. No job is too large or small. Things are said to each other that might not be said on any other occasion, and it is all forgotten when the task is over. There is never hard feelings, just a sense of accomplishments and a meeting for the next game or event. The staff humbly supports the students.
4. Campus - Many colleague complain about the separation between athletics and the "main campus". At FAU, our office has the pleasure of great support from the University. We rely on other departments and find everyone ready to step in for the challenge. They always make us look better.
5. Fans - If you need a reminder why you work in FAU athletics, spend time with an FAU fan. While some would love to have more and more, I enjoy the FAU fans' passion for the program and student athletes. They keep you grounded.
6. Student athletes - This one is obvious. Without the FAU student athletes, the athletics department would not exist. Sure there are days that you hope the coaches will to run them until they drop (for me it is usually picture day), but they truly are what make every day different and special. They are the reason to come to work.
7. Former student athletes - We often congratulate the student athletes upon graduation and move on to the next assignment. But, I'm not sure there is a better professional feeling than to see a former student athlete return. Their pride and accomplishments in life far out-weigh any victory that I have ever experienced. To know that they are happy in life and that their FAU experience played a factor is priceless.
We have rejoiced in several new hires this fall. We have celebrated professional athletes making a name for themselves in baseball, football and golf. But one of the truly great things for me to be thankful for was the news that a talented former student-athlete who had been dismissed from his FAU team, returned to FAU after nearly 10 years, to complete his course work and graduated on his own.
Today, one day prior to Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for the differences we can make in the lives of each other.
Men's Hoops Assistant Tim Kaine Again Writing for CollegeChalkTalk.com
Florida Atlantic men's basketball assistant Tim Kaine has continued to write for CollegeChalkTalk.com.
Coach Kaine will write throughout the season as part of CollegeChalkTalk.com's Coaches' Diary Series. The series is now in its fourth season and features coaches from several different conferences around the country.
In his first blog post of the season, Coach Kaine discussed his recent marriage and honeymoon, as well as the preparation for becoming a father, which will happen in February. The blog post can be read in its entirety here.
FAU will host American in its regular season home opener on Saturday at 1 p.m. Live audio and live stats of the game will be available at www.fausports.com.
All of the hard work that went into preseason practice paid off in big dividends on the court for the Florida Atlantic women's basketball team during last Friday's season-opening game at Georgia Southern. The Owls' relentless pressuring defense, up-tempo offense and hustle from the opening tipoff slowly took its toll mid-way through the second half.
Precisely, it was the 34-minute mark that the game turned in FAU's favor.
The visitors led 54-50 at that point. They proceeded to score 10 straight points over the next four minutes and eventually outscored Georgia Southern by 16 points over the final eight minutes - pulling away for the 20-point, 75-55, victory.
Head Coach Kellie Lewis-Jay reminded her players about the 34-minute mark during second-half timeouts.
"We just wore them down," the coach told me in her postgame radio interview on www.fausports.com. Games can be heard here.
The Owls reaped the benefits of playing an exhausted opponent, making 64 percent of their second-half field goals, holding Georgia Southern below 30 percent shooting for the game and out-rebounding the Eagles by a commanding 49-35 margin.
We'll see if the same storyline holds true on Friday, November 16, when FAU plays at Bethune-Cookman and Sunday, November 18, for the home opener against Jacksonville, starting at 2 p.m. in the FAU Arena. Hope to see you there!
Shula Bowl Week
Shula Bowl Week - Former Head Football Coach Howard Schnellenberger wanted to create an event for an FBC team that had no bowl game to aspire towards. He wanted to create an event that the players would look forward to and prepare for. He looked down the turnpike and found his rival in FIU. The map had been drawn for Schnellenberger years before when he took his idea for the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky to face-off to open each football season for the Governor of Kentucky.
In 2002, FIU's first year of football and FAU's second, Schnellenberger took his idea to his former boss and former head coach of the Miami Dolphins, Don Shula. The idea was for Shula to lend his name to a traveling trophy of two teams that were coached, at the time, by Schnellenberger, Shula's former offensive coordinator, and FIU head coach Don Strock, who was then the FIU head coach. Schnellenberger designed the trophy and found a place to display the trophy near the football offices. At times he would call the losing team the dunce because that side of the trophy faced the wall like the grade-school students had to do when they misbehaved in class.
The Owls virtually own the series 9-1. But there were some ever important battles and victories in the decade long series. It was a 32-23 2003 victory that assured FAU a place in the NCAA playoffs. It was a 55-23 2007 victory that made the Owls bowl eligible and the youngest team to earn a bowl berth. The 2008 game was an epic contest that ended with a 57-50 FAU overtime victory. FAU won its sixth game of the season at FIU sending the Owls to its second-consecutive bowl game. The Owls were the only team in the state of Florida to win back-to-back bowls in 2007-08. FAU's 2009 FAU victory came down to a touchdown and 2011-12 has been just the second year that the Panthers have guarded the trophy (2011 is the only official victory after FIU vacated its earlier win).
As we are less than 48 hours away from what could be the final Shula Bowl game with FIU moving to a different league making scheduling a struggle, several events are in place for Owl fans to enjoy. The players will visit an elementary school, the students will camp below the scoreboard, and the University will be highlighted on ESPNU (game), ESPN760 AM (extended pregame and game) and WMEN640 AM 6 a.m.-7:45 p.m. coverage of FAU. Current and former members of the U.S armed forces will be honored and the students are camping out.
Looks like Coach got his rivalry. Now let's bring home the trophy. Go Owls!
Trip to UNC a Positive Regardless of Score
My travels with the men's basketball team have taken me to some of the most historic gyms in the nation. In fact, the very first trip I took with the men's basketball team was to Kansas' Phog Allen Fieldhouse, under then FAU head coach and KU alum Rex Walters.
That tradition has continued under Mike Jarvis, as he has taken the team to well known facilities like Rupp Arena (Kentucky), the O'Connell Center and a return trip to Allen Fieldhouse. Sunday's destination was the Dean E. Smith Center, home of the North Carolina Tar Heels. While the Owls' lost on the scoreboard, the experience they gained was invaluable. As Coach Jarvis told the freshmen prior to the game, their first official college game was played at one of the most recognizable arenas in the country, against one of the most respected programs and coaches in the country and was shown on national television to boot. That is an experience that they will have for the rest of their lives.
When they final buzzer went off and the two teams shook hands (pictured), the team was disappointed in their performance on the court, but I feel as though when they look back on that game one day, they will realize what a unique experience it was. While I don't think this will be the highlight of the season, it will serve as the promising start to what could be a highlight filled one for the entire team.
Football Shows Its Discipline at Navy
Our office is responsible for writing the releases detailing future schedules. A few years back I received the great news that FAU was scheduled to play at the United States Naval Academy twice and that they would be coming to FAU once. Despite what players and coaches say, everyone has a game on the schedule they are looking forward to, this one was mine. I had accompanied men's basketball to Navy years ago and found the campus beautiful and the people fascinating.
As the game inched closer (2011), I began to understand just how hard it would be to prepare for a game against Navy. As we moved into 2012 and they changed quarterbacks, I knew it would be a tough task, especially for FAU that is going through a lot of changes as well. Super Storm Sandy hit and selfishly I wondered if we would play and we all wondered how cold it would be.
The game went off without a hitch, but what do you expect from a service academy. The hospitality was fantastic from one of the best sports information directors in the country. John from WING radio invited FAU's play-by-play announcer, Ken LaVicka to join him during pregame as well as FAU Athletic Director Pat Chun. The duo spent more than 30 minutes talking about FAU athletics, the things to come and the football program itself. At the half President Mary Jane Saunders joined the show for more than 10 minutes. When it was all said and done the Owls were on the air for nearly 45 minutes describing the many wonderful aspects of FAU to more than 101 stations. FAU's game also aired on CBS Sports and what a great and entertaining game. The halftime show featured former FAU Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger.
Even though the game was probably the best four quarters the Owls have played this season, really showing how disciplined they have become, sometimes it was hard to pay attention to why we were there. Trying to make my way from the TV booth back to the press box, I was cornered on the field as the Midshipmen marched onto the field. From the top of the stadium it looked like they were cued forever. Once on the field, fans were treated to a flyover.
The Owls took the field and were greeted by the largest FAU crowd to follow the team. There were football alums, like 2011 seniors Max Karrick ('07-'11 currently in law school) and Mickey Groody ('07-'11 currently a teacher and football coach) who joined former kicker Keegan Petterson ('06-'09 currently in sales) who currently lives in the area. I'm sure former punters Groody and Peterson appreciated Mitch Anderson's 53-yard, program long tying kick. Ben Coker ('01-'04 currently a fire fighter in Connecticut) a member of the inaugural team was also on hand.
But the alum that everyone asked about the week leading up to the game was Alfred Morris, current NFL Washington Redskin running back. Morris did make it to the game. He spent most of the first quarter on the field taking photos and watching the game. He spent most of the second quarter taking photos with fans and really only got to see about five minutes of the game (real time not game clock time). Thanks to all the alumni for building the program and continuing to follow the program they started.
The game ended with solemn faces on the players, but smile on the faces of fans that had now recognized how far this team had come since December of 2011. The Owls have three games to play. They will be on the road this week, watch them if you can, follow them on the radio if you can but definitely join them 8 p.m. Friday, November 16 when the Owls play host to the 2012 Shula Bowl, the last time FAU and FIU will face off as Sun Belt Conference members. The game will air on ESPNU and it will also be Military Appreciation themed. Members of the military with an ID and a game ticket will be treated to a free pregame meal.
Well, that is enough from me. You can tell that the game was all I could have imagined, except a win. I hope you enjoyed the photos.
Listen to Basketball Action on the Web
Fans of Florida Atlantic University's men's and women's basketball teams can follow the action all season long here.
I will be courtside calling the action to begin the Kellie Lewis-Jay Era of women's basketball on Friday, November 9, at Georgia Southern University, starting at 8:30 p.m. Each broadcast will include a 15-minute pregame show with Coach Lewis-Jay. At halftime, I sit down with a different member of the team to provide the fans a behind-the-scenes look at the student-athletes.
My favorite part of doing the player interviews is the "Word Association" segment at the end of each interview. I like to hear the quick responses the players have to say in a one-word answer about another teammate, coach and variety of special-interest topics. Also, the players really get into the interview coming up with answers that require a follow-up statement. Senior guard Breana Turner will be my first interview on Friday. The telecommunications major is a "natural" in these situations.
For men's basketball, the games are broadcast locally at ESPN 760 AM but also streamed on the www.fausports.com portal page. The games also contain a 15-minute pregame show.
FAU Stadium and FAU Arena Now On Facebook, Foursquare
FAU football stadium now has an official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/FAUSTADIUM, as does FAU Arena https://www.facebook.com/FAUARENA. You can find lots of great information on these pages. Some of the information will include: ticket information, parking information, promotions, event times and updates, and yes there will be some free giveaways.
We encourage fans to find both venues on Facebook and like the pages so that you can see all the great updates. The stadium page is linked to foursquare, with the Arena soon to follow, so if you are at a game with a group of friends, pull out that smart phone and check in and let us know how you are enjoying the game. In the future we hope to offer special promotions for people who check in using foursquare and continue to come back and visit.
There are a lot of new changes in the social media world and here at the athletic department we are working very hard to adapt to all of the changes. In case you don't know how to connect with the athletic department, here is a link for you. http://www.facebook.com/lets.go.owls.
Baseball Gets Into Halloween Spirit
Florida Atlantic University baseball players, coaches and staff members got into the Halloween spirit, donning a variety of costumes during Wednesday afternoon's practice.
Pitcher Bo Logan could have been a stunt double for the Joker; infielder Cain Spangler's lady bug costume was quite amusing and athletic trainer Zak Brookman looked sharp as an FAU baseball player.
The Owls have been hard at work this fall preparing for the 2013 season, and will end the practices with their annual Fall World Series. It was good to see the team breaking up the monotony of preseason practice with a day of fun and good times. View a photo gallery of Wednesday's Halloween practice costumes here.
There were no tricks for the FAU baseball program last Saturday when members of the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Championship team received their shiny rings. It was a great reward for a team that led the league from start to finish last spring. See a photo gallery of this special ceremony and this year's Alumni Game here.
FAU fans will get their first look at the women's basketball team during Saturday's exhibition game against nearby Palm Beach Atlantic, starting at 2 p.m., in the FAU Arena. Look for an up-tempo, defensive-minded attack from first-year Head Coach Kellie Lewis-Jay and the players, which have been working hard for the past month to prepare for the winter season. Hope to see you in the Burrow throughout the season. However, if you can't make it, listen to all games here.
An Unlikely Fan
At first glance, the FAU men's golf team had a surprise guest wearing their gear and helping them out on the course a couple of weeks ago.
But as it turns out, Missouri City, Texas mayor Allen Owen is a longtime friend of head coach Angelo Sands, and was, for a couple of days, the Owls' No. 1 fan.
Among his many homes along the way prior to coming to Boca, Sands lived for 15 years in Missouri City, and was head golf coach at Elkins High School. The course FAU played on at the HBU Men's Intercollegiate, Quail Valley Country Club, was Elkins' home course. And, the entire time Sands was there (and for 27 years now in total), Owen was the town's mayor.
"We go way back, he lived right down the street from me," said Owen of Sands. "Being in politics and he was in politics at one time himself, he has always been a very good friend. My daughter had him for Government, and now she's teaching Government in the same school."
"Allen was very involved with our golf program for those 15 years," added Sands. "He always participated in our fundraisers and organized support groups when we played in state championships. He was always a supporter of our team, whenever I needed help in any shape or form, I called Mayor Owen and he was there. When we left and moved here, he presented both myself and my wife a key to the city."
This was the second year in a row that the Owls participated in the tournament. This year, behind three top-10 individual finishers, the team was second in the standings, only trailing the host school. And Owen was there to see it all.
"When they were here last year, I didn't get to follow them as much," said the mayor. "Angelo gave me a shirt and hat after he left, and this year I wore it. I went up and actually followed some of the kids through as they played. I brought their box lunches to them, and caught up with them after their round that night. He's got a great group of kids, and I was actually there when Airik (Medinis) made the hole-in-one. I enjoyed watching them play, and they left me a really nice card."
Besides the team's stellar play in the tournament, Owen also had many kind words to say about their head coach.
"Coach Sands is a special person, and you all are so fortunate to have him in your program," he said. "His kids are his passion. He's a great teacher, and a great coach, but he truly loves his kids. I don't care how bad you're playing, how good you're playing, you're gonna get treated the same way. That's Coach Sands."
Basketball Season is Here
After a long preseason practice schedule, the start of basketball season in finally upon us. Head men's basketball coach Mike Jarvis and his squad traveled over the weekend to scrimmage with North Florida and by all accounts, the team played well.
While I'm sure the coaches and players are looking forward to the start of the season, no one may be more eager to see the team in game action that the fans. This team promises to be an entertaining, crowd-pleasing bunch that will have its fair share of memorable moments.
The fun will start one week from today when the men host crosstown rival Lynn in an exhibition game. I can think of no better way for the team to make its debut than in front of what will surely be a vocal contingent of fans greeting the 2012-13 team as it takes the floor for the first time.
The players on the team will no doubt be energized by the greeting that awaits them. It will also serve notice that the long hours of practice they put in over the previous three weeks has been worth it.
Regardless of when and where the season ends for this year's team, next Monday promises to get it off to a wonderful start.
Feedback on Social Media Outlets
Hello Owl fans, my name is Matt Rubin and I am the Director of New Media for the athletic department. I have been here for about two weeks now and I hope to build the Social Media platforms here at Florida Atlantic University and get you the reader the most exciting and entertaining information and contests.
What I do want to know is what you are looking for from our FAU Owls Facebook page. Is there a contest you would like to see? What kind of pictures are you looking for? I want to make sure you are 100-percent satisfied with our fan site and I want you to have a say in what is on the site. After all our fans and readers are the reason we are here. My email is email@example.com and if you have an idea, or a suggestion let me know and I can try to implement some of your ideas. Here is the link to my Owl Profile.
Well I hope to hear from you Owls soon. For those of you who want to stay in the loop, there are a few ways to do so. One you can add us on Facebook, this is the link: http://www.facebook.com/FAUOWLATHLETICS. I also hope that you decide to follow us on our fan page as well. That link is here: http://www.facebook.com/Lets.Go.Owls.
There is also our twitter account and that is the last link I will list here: https://twitter.com/FAUOwlAthletics.
By following all three of these links you will get the most up to date information on scores and breaking news in FAU athletics, you will be privy to discounts special Facebook event invites and free give aways, and you will be able to participate in all the great contests for prizes such as autographed items, free tickets to football games and much more.
Baseball Gets Championship Rings Saturday
The Florida Atlantic University baseball players, coaches and support staff will receive their rings for winning the Sun Belt Conference regular-season title last spring on Saturday. The event will coincide with the program's Alumni Game as part of Homecoming festivities. The ring ceremony is scheduled to start at noon with the game to follow.
The baseball team will also be recognized at the football game against Troy for winning its second conference title in the past three seasons. The football game starts at 5 p.m.
"It was a really good year for Owl baseball," said John McCormack, FAU's head baseball coach. "We won the championship on the field. We also had guys drafted and former players make their MLB debut. When one player makes it to the big leagues we all make make it."
Several players were on the team that won the conference championship in 2010. It is nice to see the team celebrate last year's championship team with the alumni present and players who enjoyed success when they played in Boca Raton.
FAU is in the middle of fall workouts, going through 10 intra-squad scrimmages and a fall exhibition game against Team British Columbia yesterday. The team tasted success last season and with newcomers on the squad it is working hard to winning another conference title. The 2013 spring schedule can be found here.
I encourage you to come out to the FAU Baseball Stadium, 777 Glades Road on the Boca Raton campus and witness the ring ceremony and a baseball game.
Homecoming Is Here
When I came to Florida Atlantic, on a date that we could have a social media contest to identify, homecoming was held each year, but in conjunction with men's basketball. There was a parade that began and ended at the "Burrow" better known to the alumni who will return this weekend as the Teaching Gymnasium. Floats were popular but there weren't many. In fact, odds are there will be more golf carts in the 2012 parade than there were floats back in the day.
Football has meant everything to the celebration of homecoming. I first noticed it at Pro Player and since the arrival of the on-campus stadium it has blossomed. Who would have ever thought there would be more than 1,000 students gathered in the on-campus stadium to watch the Presidential Debate, taking place less than a mile away? Way to go FAU Program Board great idea! The student events this week are and can be found HERE.
FAU athletic teams get into the spirit as well. Women's soccer plays host to FIU at 7 p.m. on Thursday while softball plays Lynn also at 7 p.m. On Friday volleyball will play host to Middle Tennessee at 6:30 and the men's soccer will host Bowling Green at 7 p.m. The swimming and diving teams will take the pool 11 a.m. Saturday, when they face Princeton and the FAU swimming alumni. Baseball will conclude an Alumni Weekend with a game at noon on Saturday and a ring ceremony celebrating the 2012 Sun Belt Championship title. Volleyball will return to the court at 1 p.m. on Saturday versus a ranked Western Kentucky team. Everyone will then continue their celebrations by taking their respective alum to the football game at 5 p.m. versus Troy.
It is a special weekend and a great time to catch various sports but what is even more special is the opportunity to catch-up with former players, meet their families and talk about "back in the day". In all the talk, we need to keep the men's and women's cross country teams on our cheering minds while they are at the Sun Belt Conference Championships.
Men's Golf Shows Support For Good Cause
As this is being posted, the Florida Atlantic men's golf team is finishing up a very successful tournament, the HBU Men's Intercollegiate, in Missouri City, Texas.
The fact that the Owls are playing the final 18 holes of a two-day tournament isn't unusual. Their manner of dress today, however, is very much different.
The pink shirts you see on the players in this team picture were donated to Coach Angelo Sands' team by Dr. Joseph and Lynn Ouslander. I had the chance to catch up with Lynn yesterday, and asked why she and her husband, who is the Associate Dean for Geriatric Programs at FAU, chose the men's golf team for this endeavor.
"Part of it is my husband and I both enjoy golf, but he's a fanatic," she said. "He has a golfing connection with Angelo, they have rivalries going back and forth. Last year, they were talking about shirts, we said 'we need to get you guys pink shirts.' We enjoy all the sports and try to be supportive of FAU any way we can, but not everyone can relate the golf team."
Of course, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which adds to the meaning of this donation.
"If it gets one person to think about having a loved one get a mammogram, it's worth it," said Lynn. "Pink will bring that out in anybody, if they haven't thought about it before, and screening is a big deal."
And who says tough guys don't wear pink?
"It takes a lot for a guy to get out there in pink and it means a lot for men to go out there and support women like this. I think them wearing the shirts is fantastic," said Lynn.
Volleyball Fans Could Witness History This Weekend
FAU volleyball fans may have the opportunity to witness a piece of program history this weekend.
Senior libero Cintia Nightingale is just 29 digs away from becoming the program's all-time leader in that category. Nightingale has been the backbone of the Owls' defense from the moment she stepped on campus as a freshman. Accordingly, she is on pace to become the first player in program history to lead the team in digs in four straight seasons.
Cintia has always been a positive influence on her teammates on and off the floor, leading to head coach Fernanda Nelson to call her "the best captain I've ever been around."
Nightingale has represented the volleyball team, the athletics program and the university with class and dignity and is one of the best examples of what a student-athlete should be. With or without the record, she has left an impact on the FAU volleyball program that will be felt long after she plays her final match.
The Owls host Middle Tennessee on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Western Kentucky at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday at the Burrow.
Owl Madness is Madness
Last night was Owl Madness at the Burrow. In the days building up to the madness there was a lot of talk about how crazy this event was going to be. After attending the event last night I must say I was impressed with the turn out from the students and the staff.
There were the moments where I saw students jump up in excitement as the Greek all-star game took place. From 3 point shots to the fancy lay ups, I would say the crowd was entertained. Next up was the cheer squad; they were pretty impressive as well. Pom-poms waved in the air as they chanted for the Owls of Florida Atlantic from center court.
Then there was the dance team, I must say those girls can move. "This is how we do it" is the song they chose to dance to. The crowd went nuts with the choreography that was put together for this act. I would give dance coach Lisa Snowden two thumbs up for this performance. It was just what the crowd needed to really get excited for the announcement of the men's and women's basketball team.
The women's team was announced and the "Burrow" went crazy. I can tell that the students are excited to come see the Lady Owls play. Then the lights went dim, the arena started to rock and ESPN 760's Ken LaVicka stepped back on to the floor. "Are you ready to meet your 2012-2013 men's basketball team" LaVicka shouted. And you probably knew before you even read anymore, the crowd went crazy again.
The men's basketball team came out and Coach Jarvis spoke to the crowd or the team's 6th man, as he referred to them. The more excited the crowd got, the more excited Coach Jarvis got. The men's team was later presented with a surfboard from Bryce McMichael a representative from the EA Sports Maui Invitational Basketball Tournament. Coach Jarvis pointed out all the teams that FAU would play by pointing to their names on the surfboard. Overall the night was great, a night to be remembered. I feel special thanks is needed as well. That thanks goes to the students who came out to support the athletic teams and the operations staff from the athletic department. My last words this week are simple, remember November 5th the men's basketball team will open the season and at home against the Fighting Knights of Lynn University so come out and support them once again on that night too.
Ashley Lantes Has Record-Breaking Career for Women's Soccer
Last Sunday's Senior Day match could not have gone any better for goalkeeper Ashley Lantes. The three-year starter and four-year letter winner broke the women's soccer program's record for career saves AND FAU posted a 2-1 overtime victory over the University of Louisiana. The win - the Owls' second straight - has helped the team's postseason tournament status coming down to the final two weeks of the fall season.
Lantes, a Clermont, Fla. native, made six saves in the victory. Two days earlier, she had her second shutout of the season in a 1-0 triumph over the University of Louisiana-Monroe. Those performances helped earn Lantes the league's defensive player of the week.
However, Ashley wasn't concerned with the personal recognition. The victories were more important to the team. Also, she was quick to point out that her success between the pipes is dependent on her defensive teammates, including fellow senior Breanna Lewis. Other key defenders helping the cause have been sophomores Olivia MBala, Yazmin Ongtengco and Amunique Scott.
"It is a great honor to have the school record, but I want to do everything I can to help the team win matches," said Lantes, following the shutout against ULM. She now has 326 saves - and counting - for her career.
Lantes' name is written throughout the FAU women's soccer record book. She burst onto the scene in 2009 when she set the school record with 135 saves in a single season. She led the Sun Belt Conference in saves and saves per match during her freshman season.
This fall, she once again ranks among the league leaders in saves (80) and has anchored a defense that has allowed an average of 1.06 goals in league action. She is also being nominated for Academic All-Region honors after maintaining a 3.3 grade point average as an exercise science major.
So, there are many reasons to cheer on Ashley's play in the final weeks of her collegiate career.
The Owls' recent winning ways have moved them into sixth place in the conference standings with 10 points and a 3-4 SBC record. Another victory, and three points, could solidify the team to be one of the eight that qualify for the championship tournament. FAU battles the University of Arkansas-Little Rock tonight at 8 p.m. Live statistics of the match can be found here. Click here to read a preview of this weekend's matches.
After watching Ashley play during the last four seasons, this record couldn't have gone to a more deserving player. Congratulations, Ashley!
We Can All Impact. Dan, Thanks for the Reminder
When I travel with the football team, I have the opportunity to talk with professionals outside of the athletic field. To hear the team doctors talk about their industry or the team dentist talking about movements towards mouth guards in all sports in order to help with concussion issues or trauma to the brain, I question what impact do I have? We are often greeted on road trips by retired firemen and escorted by highway patrolmen. Their impact on the day-to-day lives is evident and we should all thank them for that. At least two members of the football traveling party have served our military and I only have to look into the eyes of my sons to know that I owe each of our veterans a thank you.
Last week, I was rushing through the day when the assistant softball coaches stopped into the office with a letter for me to read. I was less than interested to say the least but obliged out of respect for them. The opening paragraph spoke about taking 15 minutes to explain and needless to say I didn't want to take the time.
After prodding, I read on and I ENCOURAGE you to read the letter sent to FAU Head Coach Joan Joyce as well CLICK HERE. What I rediscovered is something we tell the FAU athletes over and over, but I had forgotten to pay attention because of what I perceived as my busy schedule. Thanks to Dan LaCapra, I have a renewed spirit about walking through life and the impact that we all have. Thanks to Dan, I have a new respect for the coaches, student athlete and administrators who I serve because they are impacting lives daily. In fact, everyone in the athletics department makes an impact each and every day on the lives of the FAU student athletes and those that cheer for the Owls.
Here is to Making the Lives of those Around Us Better! And to Dan, our prayers are with you.
FAU Head Softball Coach Joan Joyce with Ted Williams in 1961
Thoughts From the Road
When thinking of a blog post for today, I realized that I haven't really done a personal introduction. Officially, my job title is Media Relations Assistant. I came here from the lovely Bluegrass State, Kentucky, a trip of exactly 1,163 miles from my hometown of Maysville to the FAU campus. I am the lead SID for men's and women's golf, cross country, and swimming and diving, women's track and men's soccer. I started at FAU last December, and though I am in charge of these sports, I found myself working with many others as we overlapped in the seasons. For instance, last February, I traveled with (and broadcasted the games for) the baseball team when they swept Alabama, and in the first week of March, did the same thing with the softball team in Las Vegas.
Right now though, my cross country, swimming, golf and men's soccer seasons have started, I have also been given the responsibility of assisting with football. This weekend will mark the fifth road trip of the year I've taken with the team. I've found that this is a bit of a different animal than those previous road trips I was a part of.
First off, the sheer number of people on these trips is pretty staggering. We fill an entire plane, obviously, because of the amount of the people on the team plus the support staff. Personally, when I fly, I always request (or pay extra for) an exit row. It's hard to fold 6'8" into a regular seat. Now, unfortunately for me, there are guys that height and about twice my width, so this is out of the question.
We always fly in the night before, which usually involves sampling a bit of the local cuisine. In Franklin, Tennessee (to play Middle Tennessee), that meant going to a restaurant called Bunganut Pig. We heard live music, and I had steak biscuits, which is apparently a real thing. In Birmingham for the Alabama trip, it was seafood, and last weekend in Monroe, Louisiana, it was a shrimp po'boy. Also there, a nice man paid for our meals at another restaurant, and that night at "The Grove," their tailgate area, we were offered homemade gumbo despite being labeled as the enemy.
During the games themselves, I have the best seat in the house: the press box. If you follow our official twitter, @FAUOwlAthletics, that's me live-tweeting during the road games. I enjoy interacting with our followers almost as much as watching the games themselves. I also handle any questions about our team in the booth, whether it's pronunciations, stats, or anything that's happened on the field. After the games, it's time to write the recap and post it on our site.
There have been few drawbacks to these trips, I must say. Yes, we generally get back very late, or early, depending on your perspective (it was about 6:30 Sunday morning when I got to bed after the Monroe trip). But it's definitely been a blast, whether it's the food sampling, the live music, the people we've met and hung out with or the on-field action I get paid to watch.
It's definitely been a whirlwind 10-plus months, but I've enjoyed it every step of the way. And if you're following us on Twitter this Saturday when the football team plays South Alabama, be sure to give us a shoutout. Make sure you tag it #FAU, or tweet directly at me, @FAUOwlAthletics, and maybe, just maybe, I'll @ you back!
Basketball Ramps Up
As I watched the men's basketball team go through its first full squad practice on Friday (full report, including photo gallery here), I was struck by how athletic the team was as a unit. Coach Jarvis himself noted that both the team's athleticism and attitude were "better than any time since I've been here". Most FAU fans are already familiar with names such as Greg Gantt and Jordan McCoy, but they will get to know faces like Stefan Moody and Chris Bryant in very short order.
This is a young team and will have its ups and downs, but it will be entertaining to watch them grow and mature throughout the year. While the team features a lot of new faces, fans will have plenty of time to get to know all of them, beginning at Thursday's "Midnight Madness". The event will be the team's official introduction to the student body.
FAU's 2012-13 season kicks off on November 5 against Lynn and with 15 home games, there will be no shortage of opportunities to come out and support the Owls.
The Behind-The-Scene Aspects of Video Elements on FAUSports.com
As a senior at Florida Atlantic University, I've attended many sporting events as a big Owl fan. Sitting in the arena during the "Bury the Burrow in Red" events, seeing R.J. Alvarez throw his last collegiate pitches, and many more exciting games, sometimes you wonder what and who is the person that makes all the plans for these events. It's with that curiosity that I asked about an internship with Athletics and since then and about a year later, I have learned that what you see on the actual game day, is just the product of many hours, papers, and patience.
My main job here is to film and create video for the FAUSports.com website and send them to local TV stations or anybody else who needs them. Once in a while, I'll do a feature story on a player, event, or other important occurrence. In doing these, I have to plan interviews, days in which I can film the teams practicing, and attend games. While all of it is fun, as a fan, it made me realize that the student population is pretty oblivious to all the behind-the-scene events. What you see on the field is the end result of a lot of people's hard work.
Planning is the easiest part, making sure the students will enjoy it is the biggest challenge. In everything athletics does, they always keep the students interest in mind. Personally, I believe we've done a great job. Every once in a while I'll hear about how much fun students are having during FAU sporting events. But as the old phrase goes, times change and so do people. It's our job to stay on top of trends and what's new. Though challenging, it's sometimes fun and it keeps me fresh with what's going on society.
Every week I get a new appreciation of the work people put into a sporting event and it's a perspective many students should get too. It's really not what's in front of the camera that people should look at, but the stuff that goes behind it people should see.
Women's Soccer Gearing Up For Postseason Run
The Florida Atlantic University women's soccer team hosts a pair of important Sun Belt Conference matches this weekend, beginning tomorrow at 7 p.m. against ULM. Every victory is crucial at this time of the season as a tight race exists to determine the eight teams qualifying for next month's Sun Belt Conference championship tournament.
The Owls will also battle the University of Louisiana-Lafayette on Sunday, October 12 for Senior Day.
The women's soccer team finds itself in a three-way tie for eighth place in the league standings with a 1-4 SBC record. ULM is one of those teams in that logjam, while Louisiana is one point better in seventh place. With each victory accounting for three points and draws giving a team one point, the Owls are just a few victories from fourth place FIU and Arkansas State, which both have 10 points.
Coach Brian Dooley's team could be one that none of the top league contenders want to see again in tournament play. FAU has suffered one-goal losses to North Texas, Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky, with two of those matches going into overtime.
Seniors being recognized on Sunday will be goalkeepers Ashley Lantes, Courtney Zwetsch, and Manon Transleau along with defender Breanna Lewis. Lantes (left) will go down as one of the top goalkeepers in FAU history, being six saves shy of breaking the school career save record (321 set by Molly Keating, 2000-03).
I hope to see you at the FAU Soccer Stadium to provide the team a home-field advantage during this important weekend.
Keep a Watchful Eye on Your Owls
Florida Atlantic football returns to action this weekend when your Owls travel to the University of Louisiana-Monroe. Kick-off is set for 8:07 EST. The trip is a long one as the team will leave 11 a.m. Friday and will return home approximately 5 a.m. Sunday. It's also a hard trip for the fans and family which makes it great that the game will be carried on CSS as part of the Sun Belt Network.
There are many advantages to being affiliated with a league, the first and most obvious is scheduling, but the Sun Belt has done a nice job building its television packages and helping the league universities by promoting the institutions. Prior to FAU moving to the Sun Belt, the athletic department served as its own production company and hired crews at various locations to bring the game back to Florida Atlantic fans. This is a time-consuming and expensive task. Fortunately, this was paid for through a sponsorship but the burden was still great on the staff.
The saying is old but true. "The athletic department is the front porch to the university's home." This department values that role. Football games each week provide fans across the country the opportunity to hear and see FAU's message. This week, newly hired athletics director Pat Chun will have an opportunity to express his vision at halftime, so wait to grab your sandwich until just before the third quarter begins and make sure the volume is up.
Providing the television coverage is just part of the battle. As you can imagine, restaurants throughout South Florida are packed. Many serve as host sites for various university watch parties. Some years it was harder to find a restaurant that would carry the game than it was to find a station to carry the game. Not so with Duffy's in Deerfield Beach.
Duffy's in Deerfield has been an outstanding partner to Florida Athletics. Duffy's carries the game, keeps the volume up and the specials coming. Not only do they serve as the host for the official game day watch parties, Duffy's also serves as the host for the FAUSportsPage radio show 6 p.m. each Tuesday, throughout football season. I have also heard that the watch parties have now extended to Sundays so that FAU fans can cheer for Rusty Smith, Rob Housler, Lestar Jean and Alfred Morris.
Catch the football game this weekend on CSS and catch Owl fans at Duffy's in Deerfield. See you there!
Volleyball Has Reason To Celebrate
Volleyball's five-set win over University of Louisiana-Lafayette gave Owl fans a reason to cheer. Not only had the team won its first conference match in nearly two years, but they did it in come from behind fashion. After dropping the first two sets of the match, it would have been easy for the Owls to go through the motions in set three.
However, much to their credit, they stormed back to tie the match at two sets each. Late in the fifth set, after both teams had used all their timeouts and the score was tied at 12, I remember sitting courtside thinking that the match would be a measuring stick in how far the team had progressed mentally.
With no more timeouts to be had and the coaching staff only able to advise the team between points, the girls on the floor had to depend upon themselves for a plan of attack. The plan worked as the Owls took the next three points to win the match.
Watching the excitement and joy of the team after victory was unforgettable, they seemed to know that while the program hasn't turned around yet, this was a big step in the right direction. Now, they can look forward to having many more reasons to celebrate.
Earlier this week I wrote about the opportunities that a bye week affords the office during a bye week. The week has come and gone and it ended with a massive clean-up. The Oxley Center opened its doors in January 2001. Since that time four athletic directors have held office and countless rotations have occurred with coaching and administrative changes but, today's clean-up was second to none.
The athletic department staff gathered in the Oxley Center lobby at 9 a.m. Workers were treated to a clean-up uniform (t-shirt), donuts, and bagels. By the time I came in from football practice the lobby had a whole new look. The office suites were more of the same. The same exercise took place in the field house where baseball, cross country, tennis and swimming are housed.
The day was bitter and sweet. Everyone likes a freshly polished desk and certainly the clutter is nice to loose but you toss photos and posters that had been saved just in case.
Next week will also feature a trip to the University's archives to store things that can't be forgotten. As well as a visit to Howard Schnellenberger so that I can return a 1980 University of Miami football media guide, featuring Mark Richt a 6-1, 190 sophomore quarterback who currently is the head coach at the University of Georgia, a team FAU fell to earlier in the year.
Thanks to everyone for making the work place a little cleaner and hip-hip hooray for a game next week. ULM, 8 p.m. Saturday, on CSS.
Lewis-Jay Has Women's Basketball Off and Running
Kellie Lewis-Jay has led many practices during her career as a women's basketball coach. However, Tuesday was the first day she was in charge of a team as head coach.
"Honestly, it didn't feel any different, since I had operated practice many times as an assistant coach at the University of Nebraska," said Lewis-Jay, named the program's fourth head coach in May. "We have had individual sessions with players for the past few weeks. Tuesday was our first practice as a team."
The Owls are coming off a 17-win season which included a trip to the Women's National Invitational Tournament - the program's first postseason appearance since 2006. The team returns several key parts from last year's team, including all-conference performer Chenise Miller, while Breana Turner returns to the court after sitting out a year because of a preseason injury. Read more about the start of practice and some of the key players for this upcoming season here.
"We have experience, but everyone - old and young - is making the adjustment to a new playing style, new coaching terminologies and new players," said Lewis-Jay.
The new coaching staff hit the recruiting trail hard since being assembled during the summer. They brought in six versatile and talented players from the junior/community college ranks and high school to roster. See the roster here.
Lewis-Jay isn't the only fresh face in the Sun Belt Conference. The league will have five first-year head coaches this winter. She is looking forward to the challenges ahead.
"The biggest adjustment as a head coach is setting the short- and long-term visions for your program. I have had to get everyone - players and coaches - on the same page," noted Lewis-Jay. "Recruiting has been a major focus of our efforts. I also have had to get the players to understand the expectations that are part of being a successful program. The building blocks are there to have a successful program. It just takes a lot of hard work to get there."
The blood, sweat and tears began on Tuesday in the Burrow.
The Owls will get their first test of the 2012-13 season with a home exhibition game against Trinity Baptist on Saturday, November 3, at 2 p.m. The team opens the regular-season at Georgia Southern University on Friday, November 9, at 8:30 p.m. To view the entire schedule click here.
Bye Week Perfect Opportunity to Experience More
For me, football bye week means opportunity. Sure it a chance to catch up on office things. It's also an opportunity to evaluate our website and maybe do some things suggested by fans, coaches or student athletes. But more importantly, it's an opportunity for me to attend sporting events that I would not otherwise have the opportunity --men's soccer match last Sunday or volleyball tonight. It's also a chance to see the many things our teams do for the community. Last year, FAU athletics was involved with nearly 60 different charities and the teams have not slowed in community outreach.
FAU Football Photographer Ralph Notaro, who recently lost his mother to cancer, invited several coaches and administrators to the Hard Rock Hotel, one of his many places of employment, for a photo shoot. Ralph's photo will be used in the hotel's PINKTOBER campaign (Event Flyer). Along with the events, each hotel guest is asked if they would like a pink room. Those who agree are treated to a room with pink linens in an effort to create breast cancer awareness. In some cases 25 percent of the room rate benefits the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood is spotlighting the power of pink in honor of Hard Rock International's 13th annual PINKTOBER breast cancer awareness campaign. The hotel will donate proceeds from specially designated "pink-sheet" hotel rooms and Hard rock Café Hollywood limited-edition PINKTOBER collectibles and apparel to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and The Caron Keating Foundation (U.K.) Additional proceeds from this year's local Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood PINKTOBER campaign will benefit the American Cancer Society's "Making Strikes Against Breast Cancer" and the Breast Cancer Center Fund at Memorial Foundation (Full Release).
You may have also noticed a difference at football games. There has been a concerted effort to reach out to the community. The Boca Braves football team and Spanish River Christian Church have been a part of the football team tunnel. The ticketing staff is working hard to bring youth groups to all FAU games.
This week I have been reminded that FAU student athletes come from the surrounding community. The students who attend games were grade school classmates of those now representing the Owls (318 student athletes are from the state of Florida). FAU is a major part of this community and extends past the court, field, diamond, track or pool.
Go Owls. You continue to make us proud.
Students Can Help Owls Take Flight
On Friday, I sat in my first `Staff Meeting' for FAU Athletics and what better meeting to attend than when the commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference, Karl Benson, is there. He was the first to speak at the podium and then Pat Chun followed. As I sat there, I found myself in a little inner dilemma. In these meetings, it's extremely important to keep it professional. And while I'm very good at doing so, the student side of me was bursting with excitement for the growing opportunities FAU has within the Sun Belt conference.
First, I realized that students aren't taking advantage of the geography of the Sun Belt Conference. As of next year, we will be the only Florida school in the conference, giving students the chance to travel and see different parts of the country. With schools in nearly every state in the southeast, students should be excited to travel to these locations and show off their Owl Pride. I've had opportunities to travel with the team and while seeing your school play is great, seeing different cities and taking in the culture of different universities is awesome. I guarantee you that no other school is like Florida Atlantic University; the food, the people, tailgating, etc, it's all different than FAU. Seeing what your conference is all about is something every student should do.
The greatest part of all of this though, is that students have the chance to see FAU grow within the conference. We get to witness the most fun part of college sports happen, the building of rivalries. While we don't have the history of such teams like Auburn and Alabama, this is the most opportune time to see a history between two schools grow. Rivalries take time and the fact that FIU is leaving the conference makes things a little tougher. Now it's time to extend what we've built and find another love-hate relationship.
In this meeting, I also learned that the Sun Belt Conference has had a lot of positive media this year. And while that accomplishment seems very small, that provides us students the perfect opportunity to help FAU's name grow within the conference. University of Louisiana Monroe got things started when they defeated Arkansas, then came Western Kentucky with their upset versus Kentucky, and while FAU didn't beat University of Georgia or Alabama, we did stop Alabama from their 3rd straight shut out game. Again, a small statistic, but it helps but it helps FAU put its name out there.
FAU has a lot of growing to do, but it's great that as students, we get to be an active part of it. Attending the staff meeting helped me realize just how vital the students are to the rebuilding phase of FAU. Current students are laying down the foundation of culture and tradition that future students will partake in. It's quite the big job for us and seriously guys, there's no pressure.
Softball Goes Paintballing
The Florida Atlantic University softball team has been one of the most successful programs at the school. It has also been one of the most creative in terms of team building exercises.
The team has done the on-campus ropes course and scavenger hunts among other activities. Recently, the team kicked off its fall practice schedule with a trip to a paintball field (photo gallery here). Despite a few battle scars, the Owls enjoyed their outing.
Community service has also been a hallmark of the program. Recently, the team took a trip to volunteer at an assisted living facility. They also volunteered to manage and oversee a softball tournament for an outside organization.
The Owls' fall scrimmage schedule begins on October 13 with a doubleheader against Palm Beach Atlantic, beginning at 10 a.m. Softball's entire fall schedule can be seen here.
Baseball Ready to Get to Work for Fall Practice
While major league baseball teams have spring training to get prepared for their season, fall practice is an important time for the Florida Atlantic University baseball team. Coach John McCormack's squad will begin defense of last season's Sun Belt Conference regular-season championship when it hits the diamond to begin fall practice on Sunday, September 30.
Fall practice is a time for players to learn new positions, returning players to reinforce fundamental skills and newcomers to challenge for supporting roles on the 2013 team.
Last year, Mike Albaladejo settled into playing second base after being a three-year starter at catcher. He ended up earning all-SBC honors last spring.
Who will be the Owls' second baseman is one of the questions heading into fall practice. Other openings exist at third base, a couple of the starting roles in the pitching rotation and the closer's role in the bullpen - a spot where R.J. Alvarez blossomed into a third-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Angels.
Alvarez's replacement could be redshirt senior reliever Hugh Adams (pictured left), who missed last season with an injury after earning All-SBC and All-South Central regional honors in 2011. The right hander is coming off a successful summer season on the mound for the Bethesda Big Train.
We'll see how things stack up throughout this fall. One thing is certain: The Owls will be ready to challenge for another league title next spring.
Learn more about the team heading into fall practice here.
FAU is scheduled to play one exhibition game this fall, facing Team British Columbia on October 24, before the annual four-game intra-squad World Series on November 7-10.
Pride is the Theme of This Week's Football Game
Pride means something different for everyone affiliated with FAU. It could be shown for the rising med school, the award winning human-powered submarines, an accounting department second to none, or the defending Sun Belt Conference Championship baseball team.
For many of our coaches it is seeing their student-athletes, who they have watched throughout high school, don the graduation gown signifying the receipt of a college degree. For other coaches it is seeing former student-athletes return to FAU with their spouses and children for a game or event.
Each week this season, Duffy's in Deerfield has swollen to the brim as patrons come to the FAU Game Day Watch Party. FAU pride has grown over the last 12 years to the point that fans arrive early to be guaranteed a spot to watch.
This weekend the football team returns home after nearly a month on the road. Faculty and staff have been offered the opportunity to purchase discounted tickets. FAU students and their parents will be on hand for Parents' Weekend. FAU will also recognize the more than 500 student-athletes at the halftime.
This recognition will hit home for me as I enjoy the opportunity to get to know as many student-athletes as possible. But the thing that makes me the most proud, week in and week out, is the loyal fans that I see at nearly every sporting event, both home and away. To those fans, my heart swells with pride each time we pull into a hotel parking lot and see you cheering for the Owls as we exit the bus.
King's Rookie Season Extends to the Playoffs
Former FAU Owl Darnell King and his new squad, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, are headed to the playoffs in his first year as a professional.
King had a solid rookie season, playing in 22 of the team's 28 matches and starting 10 of them. The forward had one goal and two assists on the year, with the goal and one of those assists coming back on July 7 against the Carolina Railhawks.
The Strikers ended the regular season with a 9-10-9 record, finishing with 36 points and in fifth place in the North American Soccer League. They'll play on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Cary, North Carolina, against the No. 4 seed, those very same Railhawks. The winner of this one-match round advances to the semifinals. Should the Strikers win, they would host the first match of that two-match home and home series, Saturday, October 6 at Lockhart Stadium.
Strikers fans can attend the official Strikers Watch Party at Duffy's Sports Grill in Fort Lauderdale this Saturday. It will begin one hour prior to the game and will be held on the Strikers Sundeck at the restaurant, located at 1804 Cordova Road.
Volleyball on the Verge
Wow. If I had to give my impressions of volleyball's home opening weekend in one word, that word would be wow.
The team's improvement, the increased excitement of the fans in attendance as well as the visible enthusiasm of the coaching staff on the sideline were all worthy of note. During Friday night's match against Arkansas State, the Burrow was as loud as I have ever heard it for a volleyball match.
While the team may not have been victorious, those in attendance, including athletic director Pat Chun (pictured), had to note the passion that the team played with. The team finishes their three-match homestand tomorrow night against Bethune-Cookman, if you want to see their energetic play in person, you have one more opportunity this week.
Tickets are available at www.fausports.com or by calling 1-866-FAU-OWLS.
Men's Golf Adds Four Newcomers
In addition to seven returnees from a year ago, men's golf head coach Angelo Sands has brought in a four-person recruiting class with impressive pedigrees preceding them.
"All four of these incoming have two things in common: one, they're all solid academically, and they're all solid on the golf course," said Sands. "These are the type of golfers I look for, that can achieve in the classroom and on the course."
Three freshmen - Richard Donegan, Derron Peyton and Joseph Arazi - and junior Airik Medinis, who comes from Florida Gulf Coast University, are the new Owls for the 2012-13 season, which begins Sunday in Glencoe, Illinois.
Donegan was the 2011 FHSAA Class 2A state champion. He is a native of Okeechobee.
"Not only is Richard a state champ, he won by shooting a 68 the last day on a very difficult course," said Sands of Donegan. "When someone is able to come back and shoot such a low number on such a course, it tells you a whole lot about that person."
Peyton, from nearby Boynton Beach, has had much success on area amateur circuits like the South Florida PGA Junior Tour.
"Derron has won about everything you can win in Florida, as far as amateur and junior tournaments are concerned," said Sands. "The last weekend before college started, he was playing in his last junior tournament up in Orlando and shot a 64 the last day. There's no doubt he can play."
Medinis hails from Fort Myers, and has continued to compete on local amateur and junior tours since his graduation from high school.
"Airik had a great, great summer," said Sands. "He qualified for almost every tournament here in Florida: the Florida Amateur, the Florida Open, Florida Match Play. More importantly than that, Airik is just a really dedicated golfer with a unique temperament for the game. He doesn't get really high or really low and is able to keep things even on the course."
Finally, and last but not least, Arazi is the newest member of the squad, joining the roster after open tryouts this summer.
"Being from Key West, that far south, it's quite a trip for Joseph to get to most of where the junior tournaments are," said Sands. "For us, Orlando is a three-hour trip, for him, it's a seven-hour trip. But Joseph has really shot some really good numbers, and again, because of the geography, he's done that despite it being more difficult for him."
The men's golf fall season, with four tournaments on the schedule, starts with this weekend's Windon Memorial Classic, hosted by Northwestern University at the Skokie Country Club. The two-day tournament takes place Sunday and Monday.
Baseball's `Iron Owl' Competition Sets Stage for Spring Success
The Iron Owl Award has become a fall tradition that leads to success each spring for the Florida Atlantic University baseball program. Now in its fifth year, this "friendly" offseason contest helps fuel the competitive drive among the players -- testing them mentally and physically. It also provides insight on those players that have shown improvement since last season and could predict players that might have breakout spring seasons.
Players compete in a variety of physical fitness tests (including an 880-meter dash, tire roll and swimming) and also are tested on their knowledge of the game's fundamentals. Finally, players' fall semester grades are entered into the final standings. The Iron Owl Award is an important reason, in my opinion, why the team doesn't beat themselves on the diamond and has the best record among Sun Belt Conference teams during the past three seasons - with two regular-season championships!
Former Iron Owl Award winners include Lou Morey (2008 and 2009), Alex Hudak (2010) and Ahmed Garcia (2011).
Hudak turned his award-winning performance into an all-conference season in 2011, finishing second in the SBC in hitting with a .360 batting average.
Last year, Garcia was steady and a consistent force on the mound for Head Coach John McCormack last spring, posting a sub-2.00 earned run average for much of the season.
Lou Morey also had strong outings after coming off strong fall offseason periods.
So far, junior pitcher Kevin Alexander is this year's Iron Owl Award leader after winning the first two events. However, senior catcher Mike Spano and sophomore pitcher Bo Logan are close behind. View the complete standings here.
If the past is any indication, this year's award winner won't be determined until the last event of the fall, the players' grades are entered - showcasing the importance that Coach McCormack and his coaching staff places on performance off the playing field.
Keep track of this year's competition on the baseball team's web page throughout this fall. It should once again pay off big dividends on the field for the Owls next spring.
Fall Sports in Full Swing
As I stood at football practice, in the shade of the Oxley Center, thinking about my blog entry this week, the cool air and nice breeze remind me there are two times a year when there is something for every sports fan at FAU.
Coincidently both are when the weather is beautiful for enjoying a game. One is late September/early October every FAU fall sport is on full go. The other is late February/early March.
Right now, football is well underway as is volleyball, which open at home this weekend with a 3-6 record. Men's and women's soccer move into conference play this weekend. Cross country has hit the trails and golf is enjoying the quiet courses, as they prepare to start their fall season. Many fans can't wait for "Midnight Madness" to find out about their favorite basketball team. The women open up early this year and the men's team will host cross-town rival Lynn University November 5. Men's and women's tennis have begun practice with the men's team receiving preseason accolades.
Swimming is in the pool and softball began field work Tuesday before hosting games starting on September 29. Baseball has begun the work towards defending their Sun Belt title and will host its annual alumni game during homecoming weekend. Last but not least, track is preparing for their winter and spring seasons.
It is the best time to be an Owl. Look for your favorite sporting events or feel free to email me and I would be happy to find a great event for you to attend.
The next home football game (9/29) is FAU Pride Day. Show your spirit by wearing your FAU Colors.
Women's Golf Welcomes Three Newcomers
Coach Joan Joyce has three newcomers on the women's golf team, which begins the 2012-13 season this weekend at the Lady Falcon Invitational, being played at the LGPA International in Daytona Beach.
Two freshmen, Christina Langer and Emily Peters, and junior Rene Kelly, a transfer from Pfeiffer University, join the five Owls' returnees.
Langer is the daughter of longtime PGA and Champions (formerly the PGA Senior) Tour professional Bernhard Langer.
"Chrissie has a lot of natural talent," said Joyce. "They say it's inherited, and it could be very much inherited in her case. She's a big strong kid, she can hit it long. Some of her technique is not terrific yet, but she's very receptive to coaching, and has made a lot of improvement already. She's going with us (this weekend) as one of our starters."
Kelly returns to the course after competing at Pfeiffer, but a couple of years ago. Meanwhile, Peters comes to the Owls from the "Great White North," joining senior Marilyne Cadieux as the second native of Canada on the current roster.
"Rene is still a little rusty," said Joyce. "She hasn't really played in the last couple of years. She has a lot of good things going for her; she handles herself on the golf course very well. She works very hard, she just needs more time on the course. The same thing with Emily. She has struggled with the grass here because it's so different than what she's played on in Canada. She, like Rene, looks very good. Her scores don't indicate it necessarily, because she's had such a hard time with her chipping and pitching because of the grass. With some work, they both have already shown improvement."
The two-day Falcon Invitational is the first of nine regular season tournaments on the women's schedule, prior to the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. The schedule can be found in its entirety here: http://www.fausports.com/sports/w-golf/sched/fau-w-golf-sched.html.
Fans Need to Grab Opportunity to See Volleyball Team in Action
This weekend will be provide the first opportunity for many Owls' fans to see the 2012 volleyball in actual game action when they open their home schedule on Friday against Arkansas State. Familiar faces like Cintia Nightingale (pictured), Alessia Pizzocheri and Darija Sataric are back, as well as newcomers like Jelena Jovanovic and Gabriella Pyle will take the court for FAU.
In their first season under head coach Fernanda Nelson, the Owls have already shown a great deal of improvement. Despite a 3-6 record, the team has been competitive in almost every match, and that will undoubtedly carry over as the Owls start Sun Belt play.
Coach Nelson has noted the enthusiasm of the team on several occasions and mentioned that her favorite part of the recent trip to Arizona was watching the team celebrate as a group after defeating Villanova.
FAU will open both their home and Sun Belt schedules against Arkansas State on Friday at 6:30 p.m. Free live video streaming of the match will be available at www.fausports.com. Tickets are also available at www.fausports.com or by calling 1-866-FAU-OWLS.
Expanding the Family
With so many changes going in Athletics, it can be easy to lose the fundamentals of building a program. With a new athletic director and new head coaches in volleyball women's basketball and football, it's easy to understand how it'd be easy to focus on immediate tasks rather than the athletics department as a whole. However, there seems to be something new with some sports; senior staff members in the athletics department are inviting the newer ones into their personal space to make them feel `at home.'
Last week, Head Men's Golf Coach Angelo Sands invited me to his house for dinner with the golf team. He also invited the new AD Pat Chun, his family, and a couple of boosters as well. He required everybody to wear a "Hello, my name is" nametag and on the nametag, we were required to write our name and where we're from. Coach Sands and his wife made a delicious meal for all of those in attendance.
These dinners, especially for a non-student athlete, can sometimes be awkward if you don't have much in common with them. I only knew about half the men's golf team from the video I made last year on "The Fountains Golf Tournament". That didn't stop anybody from trying and getting to know me. Though the nametag seemed a bit juvenile, it was the basic conversation starter for everything. One golfer had "Pablo from Spain" so I brought that up. Several other guys on the team were from Orlando, where I was raised most of my life, and conversation ensued because of that. The best part was that no matter who I talked too, everybody was so inviting and willing to chat. Mr. Chun spoke to the group before dinner and even played a little ice-breaker, we had to say our name, affiliation with athletics, and favorite movie. We learned a lot about each other and we were starting to feel comfortable with each other. Even after dinner, Coach Sands and his wife made us "care-packages," as he called them, which was a cottage cheese tub full of food to take home; something only my close friends and family have done for me.
It was genuinely a good time. Mr. Chun's children were teaching me to do cartwheels, the golf team and I talked about our cultural differences, (thanks to those nametags), and Sands told us stories about his wonderful experiences in Japan.
I have been a part of the athletics department for a little over a year and this was the first time I've actually felt like I'm part of the family. Never would I believe a coach would host a dinner and extend an invitation to people beyond his players and boosters. There is a feeling of `family' in athletics; one that was barely seen last year and it's nice to see that the coaches, players, and boosters are all working together. Golf season hasn't started yet and Coach Sands is already reaching out and making everyone part of the team. It's a nice feeling to have in the workplace; and the free food just makes it better.
Men's Tennis Gets Preseason Boost Heading into Fall Season
The Florida Atlantic University men's tennis team got a win without playing a match this fall. The Owls recently received word that two team members have earned an automatic berth into the qualifying round of next month's prestigious Intercollegiate Tennis Association's All-American Championships in Tulsa, Okla.
Senior Taylor Albrecht (pictured left) begins the season ranked 105th nationally in singles in the ITA national poll. He will join sophomore Will Neuner in the Great Plains as the duo will participate in the doubles competition. The duo finished last spring ranked 10th in the Southeast region.
Albrecht posted the fourth highest singles winning percentage (.821) in program history last season with a 23-6 record in his first year in Boca Raton. The Sarasota, Fla. native earned All-Sun Belt Conference honors in singles and doubles alongside Neuner. Read a feature story on Albrecht entering the fall schedule here.
"Having two automatic qualifiers marks an important milestone for Owls tennis," said Brandon Stokes, FAU's head men's tennis coach. "The hard and smart work that both players have put into their games, with the guidance, leadership, and inspiration from the assistant coaches and their teammates is reflected through this ITA recognition."
The team begins the fall season this weekend at the Bedford Cup tournament in Gainesville. A full preview of the event can be seen here.
FAU has posted double-digit win totals during each of Stokes' four seasons, winning 13 matches last spring, and has been one of the strongest teams in the Southeast region.
Alfred Morris - A Reason to Smile on Sunday
Owl fans know last season was tough to watch, but we could always count on Alfred Morris to provide a positive to talk about Monday morning at the water cooler.
Alfred was at the 2012 season opener in support of his teammates and friends. Last weekend it was Rusty Smith, another FAU alum and NFL roster member who joined the Owls on the sidelines. The Owls are more focused than I have seen them in years. They have hit the weight room and you can tell the differences, despite Saturday's result. Another huge difference is discipline. The best way for me to describe the difference is last year at this time FAU had 10 penalties and were charged with 100 yards, which was the bottom of the league. Through two in 2012, FAU has four penalties for 51 yards, tops in the Belt. Martese Jackson had a big season opener with 99 yards on the ground, but he was held out of game two. He will be back this week and there are a few who can challenge Morris' records: Damian Fortner, Travis Jones, Jonathan Wallace, Martese and possibly even Tony Moore, a panhandle neighbor of Morris. Graham Wilbert had a big game too. He tied Rusty's (Smith's) record for a 78% completion percentage connecting on 25 of 32 pass attempts. Rusty's record was set in the 2007 New Orleans Bowl. Defensively, David Hinds continues to shine with back-to-back games with double-digit tackles.
The plane flight was tough because we all wanted more for the Owls in their Sun Belt opener. The folks in the MTSU press box talked about how the team had improved from a year ago but it is still had to take a loss, especially when you have seen the team working hard. We were all in the office Sunday preparing for this week and Georgia. The TVs were on and I didn't have to look up to know Alfred had scored. I could hear the cheers from my office in the Oxley Center. Reports were that Washington fans at the Duffy's watch party were excited but the place really cheered when Alfred held up the Owl Fingers. Thanks to Alfred an otherwise gloomy Sunday was exciting. He even had an FAU coach who is a diehard Cowboys fan watching the game. That must have been hard.
International Flavor In the Pool
Swimming truly is an international sport here at FAU. Last season, the men's team was led by now-departed seniors Mikolaj Czarnecki (Lublin, Poland) and Csaba Pek (Budapest, Hungary). On the women's side, another Hungarian, Eszter Bucz, won two SBC championships and holds part of four current FAU school record times.
Bucz returns for her senior season, along with another Budapest native, sophomore Anett Kovacs, and two more sophomores, Iwona Lefanowicz (Lublin, Poland) and Frida Nilsson (Nyköping, Sweden). One of the men's divers back from last season is Gregory Cox, who originally hails from White Rock, British Columbia, Canada.
In addition, three new freshmen joining the team for this season are Bucz's younger sister and Budapestian Agnes; Nairobi, Kenya native Talisa Lanoe; and Matthieu Burtez, from Marseille, France. Three other freshmen were born outside of the states and went to high school in Florida: Aaron Custodio (Pasay City, Philippines and Naples), Mauricio Hidalgo (Lima, Peru and Coral Springs) and Stephanie Moeller (Roskilde, Denmark and Boca Raton)Not to be outdone is the coaching staff. Longtime assistant Oliver Agh is not only an FAU graduate, but was a member of both the Hungarian National and Olympic teams, and hired this offseason was another FAU alumae in Lara Preacco, who was also a former Swiss National and Olympic team member.
The teams hit the pool this Saturday for an intrasquad meet at the FAU Athletic Center, and start the 2012-2013 season at the All-Florida Invite in Gainesville, September 28-30.
Men's Basketball to Hold Annual Fundraiser on October 29
Florida Atlantic University head men's basketball coach Mike Jarvis has announced that the team will be holding a fundraiser at Matteo's Ristorante Italiano on October 29 at 7 p.m.
The event, held in conjunction with ItsOwlTime.com, will feature a live auction and door prizes will be awarded. Coach Jarvis and the rest of the FAU coaching staff will preview the upcoming 2012-13 season. Last year's dinner raised more than $50,000 for the men's basketball team.
Tickets for the event are $100, when includes dinner, gratuity and a complementary glass of wine for those over 21. The guest list will be capped at 150 people. Those interested in purchasing tickets can do so by clicking here.
Follow the Owls This Fall on Multiple Platforms
Florida Atlantic University football fans have different ways to catch all of the Owls' action this season.
Of course, there's the conventional way of listening to the games on the radio through the athletic department's flagship radio station ESPN760 AM and radio affiliate WMEN 640AM Sports Talk in Broward County. These broadcasts begin with a one-hour pregame show, with the first 30 minutes exclusively on ESPN760 AM.
On Tuesday nights, Head Coach Carl Pelini will host the FAU Sportspage radio show at Duffy's Sports Grill, located at 401 North Federal Highway in Deerfield Beach, from 6-7 p.m. The show is broadcast on ESPN760.
All radio events are also streamed on www.fausports.com.
Live, in-game coverage of all games can be followed through the athletic department's twitter handle @FAU Owl Athletics or FAU Owl Athletics' Facebook page. Become a fan and follower of FAU athletics through these social networks.
Also, Saturday's Sun Belt Conference season-opening football game at Middle Tennessee State University will be shown on ESPN3.com, starting at 7 p.m. Seven more games are planned to be televised or broadcast on ESPN3.com this season.
This is great national and regional media exposure for FAU athletics!
2012 Baseball Players Shining in Professional Debuts
Three key leaders from last season's regular-season championship Florida Atlantic University baseball team have not skipped a beat in starting their professional careers this summer. R.J. Alvarez, Ryan Garton and Alex Hudak played an instrumental role in the Owls capturing the Sun Belt Conference title in 2012. Now, as the minor league baseball season winds down, those three players have continued to produce big numbers.
I'm not surprised!
Alvarez (pictured left) was a third-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Angels, and the organization's first selection in this year's Major League Baseball draft. The right hander was lights out on the mound in August and so far this month for Class A-affiliate Cedar Rapids Kernels. He has posted three victories and recorded 14 strikeouts in his six outings. The Royal Palm Beach native now stands 3-2 with a respectable 3.29 earned run average in his first professional season. Alvarez is doing this after anchoring the FAU bullpen, and earning all-conference and all-region honors this spring.
Meanwhile, Garton (pictured right), a three-year starting pitcher and ace of the Owls' pitching staff, has impressed the Tampa Bay Rays organization so much that he's been invited to the team's instrumental camp this fall. The right hander has moved to a bullpen role for the Hudson Valley Renegades, posting four wins and a dazzling 1.73 ERA in 20 appearances. He has not allowed a run in his last nine outings and allowed just seven batters to reach base in August. This is quite a season for the former 34th-round pick.
Finally, Hudak (pictured below) has been a hitting machine for the Burlington Royals in the Kansas City Royals' farm system. The outfielder is hitting .344 with seven runs batted in and eight doubles after signing as a free agent. He hit his first professional home run on August 19.
"I am very excited to see the impact our guys have made in professional baseball," said John McCormack, FAU's head baseball coach. "It is a true testament to their hard work and dedication to their craft. I look forward to watching them progress."
Other former players performing well in the minor leagues include 2007 graduate Robbie Widlansky and 2008 graduate Brandon Kloess. Widlansky is hitting .316 for the Baltimore Orioles' Double-A affiliate Bowie. He has scored 71 runs with 83 runs batted in. Widlansky was named an Eastern League All-Star this season.
Meanwhile, Kloess is 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA since being promoted to the Charlotte Knights, the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. The right hander has struck out 26 batters in 13 outings.
In a summer in which two former Owls made it to the big leagues (story here), FAU fans might not have to wait too long to see other baseball players in the majors.
Week One of FAU Football Is In The Books
Florida Atlantic University's football season has begun. For the football team, I'm sure it was nice to get it under their belts, especially with the WIN. For the coaches, it provided game film that can be used to build and to teach as the team prepares for Sun Belt Conference opponent Middle Tennessee this weekend.
For the athletics department and the University, it was one of five opportunities the home season provides to showcase FAU. Hosting an event like this is no small task. Imagine throwing a party, inviting 30,000 people to attend, and preparing to seat, feed and entertain the guest. It takes more than 600 people to pull this off for each home game and it is truly a team effort to make it happen.
Speaking of making it happen: how about the FAU students? The "Rat's Mouth" and the new location seemed to be a hit and the student section was FANTASTIC. Just as the team will work to improve my guess is that the FAU students will come out stronger and with more elaborate plans for September 29 when FAU plays host to SBC member North Texas.
The football team added what they hope to be a new tradition. The team will head to the student section as a sign of thanks and ask FAU students to join with them singing the fight song.
This week will be another week of first. It will be the first conference game for the new coaching staff and the first road game under Head Football Coach Carl Pelini's direction. For those who will not be able to make the trip with the team, remember you can hear it on www.fausports.com, ESPN760 AM and it will be carried on ESPN3.com
In the Booth with ESPN3
ESPN3 made their first venture to the new FAU Football Stadium this past Friday night for the Owls' 2012 season opener. For those of you that aren't familiar, ESPN3 isn't a channel you'll find in your TV Guide, if anyone else out there receives the magazine that I for one grew up with. It is ESPN's internet streaming provider, that allows for more collegiate and professional games to be seen across the US.
The collaboration allowed me the opportunity to work in the booth for the game with play-by-play analyst Jared Schwartz and color commentator (and former Florida State offensive lineman) Forest Conoly. My main responsibilities were keeping track of losses and gains, drive lengths and times, and individual and team statistics. Our intern for the summer, Eli Sirota, "spotted" for the duo, pointing out ballcarriers, tacklers, returners and substitutions.
It was also an opportunity for me to see the inner workings of a broadcast, not without some technical difficulties. Luckily for viewers and the crew, most of them happened before the game started (hey, they're not in midseason form either). It ended up that Jared and Forest did their standup live as we went to broadcast, and all in all, it was pretty much smooth sailing from there.
ESPN3 was the home to 25 college football games alone during the opening weekend, and will be back in Boca Raton for the Owls' next home game, September 29 against North Texas.
Volleyball Won't Be Under the Radar Long
While most of the attention was focused on Carl Pelini, another FAU head coach made their debut this weekend. From the moment she was hired, I always thought that the biggest challenge facing new volleyball coach Fernanda Nelson was not so much retooling the team physically as much as mentally.
Despite a 1-3 showing over the weekend at the Stetson Clarion Classic, I think Fay's (as Coach Nelson is known around the office), has already achieved a major victory. She has already convinced the entire team to buy into where she wants to take the program. That became evident early on in the preseason and has only continued as the schedule began.
The change is attitude is as simple as reading body language of the girls on the team in practice. They come to practice knowing that they are going to be physically tested and look forward to the challenge. It is only a matter of time before that shows up on the scoreboard.
One day soon, Owl fans will have even more reasons to look forward to fall weekends.
The Journey Begins
December 5, 2011 FAU began its road towards tonight. Carl Pelini was hired and his vision for FAU football was the reason. Eight months later, we had the opportunity to see the infant stages of his vision when FAU defeated Wagner 7-3.
The last eight months have been filled with blood, sweat and tears. Pelini first put together a staff that shared his vision. The staff was put into place to build each area of the team, including the strength and conditioning coach who would handle the entire off-season work schedule.
Then came recruiting the newest additions, many of whom Owls' fans saw tonight. The 2012 recruiting class was the most diverse, in 13 years of recruiting, based on position, class and geographic location. Spring drills focused on the basics and what was expected of the players .
Those expectations are what helped the team win tonight and the rest of the season. The off-season conditioning, without a doubt, was the most fundamentally rigorous the team has experienced. The FAU football players have stepped up to the expectations.
Preseason camp opened with 105 players prepared to take the first step towards the FAU football journey mapped out by Pelini. Camp was the most grueling preseason workouts that I have seen since 2000 and 2001 when, like now everything was new to the players, the coaches and the staff. Everyone has responded primarily because you can see desire in the effort. There has been a response to the expectation.
The final two practices have been in the new on-campus stadium, something only imaginable a year ago. With the music playing and field painted, the expectation of the season has been palatable. The players are ready to see and to measure their progress. When the Owls took the field tonight, it was not the conclusion of the team's transformation. It wasn't the end of meeting off-season expectations. It was the prelude to a book yet to be written. Those in attendance tonight saw Chapter One of the Carl Pelini FAU Football Era.
FAU Players Representing FAU
Usually when I say I go to FAU, the person I'm talking to automatically responds with you mean FSU? FIU? And then in slow motion, I have to say no, Florida Atlantic University. I guess I can't really blame them, since the state of Florida has a number of football powerhouses. FAU is not near the level of the University of Florida, University of Miami, etc, YET. However, it seems that as this football season approaches, the less explaining I've had to do of what school I attend. And it's not just because of the buzz the school has created with the new coach and stadium, but it has more to do with the performance of former FAU players.
This NFL preseason put FAU on the map. All three players that were taken in the NFL draft, Rusty Smith (2010), Rob Housler (2011), and Alfred Morris (2012), as well as free agent signee Lestar Jean, had stellar debuts. Smith led the Tennessee Titans in passing week two against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with five completions and 86 yards, Housler totaled 83 yards this preseason, just 50 away from his previous regular season total of 133 yards, Jean led the Houston Texans in week one's 26-13 win over the Panthers with 50 yards, and this year's draftee, Alfred Morris, was the first one to break the 100 yard rushing mark this preseason and led the Washington Redskins last Saturday with 14 carries and 107 yards.
It's great that former FAU football players are performing well, but sports fans have seen similar stats before. In turn, somebody from FAU can be drafted this year and they can pull a 110 yard next preseason game as well. However, the greatest moment for FAU fans comes after the rushes, passes, and touchdowns; it's how prideful the players are of FAU. When Alfred Morris threw up the `Owl Fingers' after his two-yard touchdown; you heard students & fans talking about that for days. As a student and loyal fan myself, I was flattered. Students are sometimes embarrassed to say they go to FAU, so for FAU's all-time leading rusher and touchdown scores to throw up the "Owl Fingers" on national television was awesome. The pride these former FAU football players exude on the professional playing field is slowly carrying over onto campus.
It's as simple as when Rusty Smith is calling the play and the on screen graphics say "College: Florida Atlantic University." Whenever it happens, you can hear one or two yells of excitement. From an Owl scoring a touchdown or simply catching the ball, it is safe to say that the FAU community is finally embracing the alma mater and the University's culture. There is now an optimistic feeling amongst student opinions when they are speaking about FAU's athletic department. The conversation is no longer straight criticism and questioning why we build a stadium in the first place when the University can barely afford classes. Instead, they are making plans to be in the stadium to continue building tradition and be the example of how strong Owl Pride can be. They now want to be in the stadium and say "I was there" when future FAU players play professionally.
The picture of Alfred Morris of throwing up the Owl Fingers is one of the greatest things that could've ever happened to FAU. With the start of a brand new football after a 1-11 season, there couldn't have been a better time for this to happen. Since players like Smith, Housler, Jean and Morris have made their mark on the professional field, it also makes my life as a FAU student /fan easier; there's less explaining of what "FAU" is and more talking of how great FAU is becoming. Students should be extremely proud of FAU, the talent it's producing, and take advantage of the opportunity to watch FAU players in the early stages of their career. Grasp the FAU culture now and enjoy watching the school grow because this is only the beginning.
Women's Soccer Battle Tropical Storm Isaac Too
The Florida Atlantic University women's soccer team battled more than two opposing teams last weekend at Florida Gulf Coast University's Embassy Suites Classic. The Owls also overcame Tropical Storm Isaac in the process.
Tournament matches in Fort Myers were originally scheduled for last Friday evening and Sunday afternoon. However, with Isaac's wrath setting a course for southwest Florida, FAU officials sought to amend the schedule. The second game was moved up to Saturday night in order for the team to make a safe return to Boca Raton before Sunday.
Senior Associate Director of Athletics and Senior Women's Administrator Melissa Dawson kept coaches, players and staff members informed, and represented FAU's interests to tournament officials. Safety was paramount for all concerned.
So, the Owls ended up picking up their first win of the season, 2-1 over Wisconsin-Green Bay (read match recap here), and they got home safely. I would hate to wonder what that trip home would have been like 12 hours later early Sunday afternoon, when Isaac's powerful winds and rains hit South Florida.
Hurricanes and tropical storms won't be a factor for the team this week: it is travelling to play in a tournament in the middle of the desert, Las Vegas (at UNLV).
Men's Hoops Assistant Coach Tim Kaine Featured on BasketballHQ.com
While Owl fans have their attention on Friday's football season opener against Wagner, the Florida Atlantic men's basketball team will start practice in just over a month and a half.
Assistant Coach Tim Kaine wrote an article for the website BasketballHQ.com. The article, which focuses on the physical and mental aspects of rebuilding the confidence of transfer students can be found here.
FAU has taken transfer students in all five years of the Jarvis Era, including San Franscisco Justin Raffington this season. Coach Kaine also did a couple of drill videos for the website, which you can see here and here.
Steve LeBrun and Professional Golf
The Daily Hoot recently caught up with FAU Athletics hall-of-famer and professional golfer Steve LeBrun as he prepared to play in last weekend's News Sentinel Open in Knoxville, Tennessee.
LeBrun plays on the Web.com Tour (formerly known as the Nationwide Tour), where he is currently 65th on the money list. You can follow his progress at this link.
In early June, he qualified for and then competed in his first PGA Tour major, the US Open Golf Championship, played at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. He made the cut and finished tied for 46th with a score of 292.
On playing in the US Open, one of the PGA Tour's four majors:
"It was awesome. I've never played a course like that before, set on the side of a hill basically. You were always walking on an angle, and every shot tested your game so much. There was one par-3 that played about 215 (yards) and you literally played a shot that landed 170 yards because of the bounce, short of the green. You'd normally hit a 5-iron and you had to hit a 7-iron. A lot of stuff like that, that was different than what I'd experienced."
On making the cut, with a birdie on the par-3 8th hole, his final hole of the day:
"I made a putt on the last hole on Friday to make a cut right on the number, and they showed it on ESPN. It was just an awesome week all around. I got to play with Hunter Mahan the last round, he's a top player this year and will be on the Ryder Cup again. To finish as well as I did, of course you always wish you could do a little better. But for my first Open to make the cut, it was awesome."
On how he's played since the Open:
"It's been solid, I'm playing really well. I've been back playing on the Web.com tour, the next week I went to Wichita (Kansas) and had a great week, finishing ninth. I had to take a few weeks off following a back injury, but since then, I've played in Columbus, Omaha, Springfield, Missouri, Kansas City and now Knoxville. Finished ninth in Omaha also."
On what he's taken with him from the Open:
"I've had some confidence left over, to be able to play at that level with all of those people around. The crowd multiplied when (17-year-old Beau Hossler, who LeBrun was grouped with in rounds 1& 2) took the lead, and I performed well in front of that huge crowd and with all the cameras on. I've taken all of that with me, I know I'm good enough to play out there when the time is right."
Guest Blog by Athletics Director Pat Chun
On Monday night we had our annual all student-athlete meeting. The energy in the room was incredible and infectious. One of our women's basketball coaches stole the show. Coach Vera Jones challenged our student-athletes to "Passionately Play Your Position." It was a great reminder to us all that everything begins with fundamentals. We should all play our position with passion!
See you at one of our games. Go Owls!
Two FAU Alum Face-off in MLB
The Florida Atlantic University baseball program made history when the Houston Astros played a three-game series at the Chicago Cubs on August 13-15. This match up featured 2008 graduates Mickey Storey, a reliever with the Astros, and Jeff Beliveau, a reliever for the Cubs - the first time that two former Owls' baseball players were on the same field in a major league game.
Both got together before one of the games to have a reunion and have their picture taken at famed Wrigley Field.
"We are so excited and proud of Mickey and Jeff. It has been fun to watch them climb through the minor leagues and then get promoted to the big leagues," said John McCormack, FAU's head baseball coach. "They each have fulfilled a life-long dream. I wish both them continued success."
Beliveau has made 11 appearances with the Cubs since being called up in mid-July, compiling a 3.18 earned run average with 10 strikeouts in 11.1 innings. The left-handed pitcher made an appearance against the Astros, tossing a scoreless inning and recording a strikeout in the series opener.
Meanwhile, Storey has pitched in eight games since being called to the majors on August 3. The right hander stands 0-1, with one hold, and posted a 2.70 ERA in 10 innings. He also showcased his skills in the Astros-Cubs series, striking out three batters in 1.1 innings in the finale.
"The performances Jeff and Mickey are making in the big leagues certainly speaks well for our program and what type of ball players that play here," said McCormack.
Yes, Beliveau and Storey are among eight former FAU baseball standouts to play in the major leagues, and countless others are currently scattered throughout the minor leagues in hopes of someday putting on a big league uniform.
Look for a future story on www.fausports.com with reflections from Jeff and Mickey about playing in the big leagues. We're trying to track them down for a quick interview. However, they're pretty busy right now.
Summer League Wrap Up
As for current Owls, several baseball players have returned to campus after having outstanding summer-league seasons throughout the country. These experiences are important in player development and keeping the FAU baseball program atop the Sun Belt Conference.
Here is a quick recap of players' successful summers:
Florida Summer Collegiate League
Mark Nelson - Orlando Freedom: MVP of the league's all-star game; led league in hitting with a .370 batting average; drove in 28 runs while having 16 doubles.
Robert Buckley - Orlando Freedom: FSCL all-star; finished second on team with .300 batting average; hit five doubles; drew 12 walks; had eight stolen bases.
Mike Spano - Orlando Freedom: FSCL all-star; had four doubles; scored 10 runs.
Chris Walkerow - Orlando Freedom: Appeared in 13 games on the mound, including one start; recorded 28 strikeouts in 20 innings.
Corey Keller - DeLand Suns: Another FSCL all-star who played on 2012 league champions; hit .318 with 11 doubles; scored 17 runs.
Jake Meiers - DeLand Suns: Went 4-1 with a 3.45 earned run average in eight starts to help team win FSCL championship; struck out 31 batters in 44.1 innings; named league all-star.
Tyler Rocklein - Winter Park Diamond Dawgs: Set league record with 41 runs batted in; averaged more than a RBI per game (41 RBIs in 38 games); earned all-star honors.
Michael Sylvestri - Winter Park Diamond Dawgs: Had seven starting assignments in his eight mound appearances; tallied a 2.65 earned run average; struck out 38 batters; a FSCL all-star.
Brett Nizamoff - Winter Park Diamond Dawgs: Made 12 appearances on the mound; tallying 32 strikeouts.
Cal Ripken Jr. Collegiate League
Bo Logan - Bethesda Big Train: Named league all-star; finished second in the league with a 3.13 earned run average; went 5-1 with a complete game in five starts and seven appearances.
Hugh Adams - Bethesda Big Train: Made 11 appearances in first mound work since the 2010 season; went 4-2 with a 2.30 earned run average; and struck out 19 batters in 15.2 innings.
Mitch Morales - Bethesda Big Train: Had four doubles and appeared in 14 games.
Ricky Santiago - Staunton Braves: League all-star; hit three home runs; had 32 RBIs and 11 doubles; tallied .295 batting average.
Austin Gomber - Luray Wranglers: Averaged 15 strikeouts per nine innings; considered ace of team's pitching staff.
Coastal Plain League
Geoff Jimenez - Wilson Tobs: Started 36 of the team's 37 games; scored 21 runs and stole seven bases: drove in 12 runs; had .265 batting average.
Welcome to the Daily Hoot
Welcome to the Daily Hoot. We hope to bring "tidbits" of information that may or may not warrant a spot with the traditional stories and to also provide an insight into the lives of FAU Athletics and its employees.
2011-12 was a monumental year for FAU Athletics, one that presented changes at every turn. We welcomed three new head coaches and their staffs, a new director of athletics and of course opened the on-campus football stadium.
No one change is bigger than the next because each is a very important puzzle piece towards success. As Pat Chun, the new Director of Athletics and newest addition told the coaches and student athletes, "This is the most important year in the history of FAU athletics. Why? Because it is the year we control."
This summer I have been asked repeatedly, how is it going? How is Coach Pelini? How is the team? I can't give you a win total, nor would I but I can say it is going well, Coach Pelini is focused on the players being winners on and off the field, and the team is dedicated, disciplined and working extremely hard. Players are stronger and their game fast paced game will keep you in your seats.
Assistant women's basketball coach Vera Jones addressed nearly 500 FAU student athletes Monday night at a welcome back meeting for the athletic department (pictured), as did President Mary Jane Saunders, FAU Professor and NCAA FAR Eric Shaw, and Athletics Director Pat Chun. Each brought a specific message. President Saunders spoke of character and representing FAU, Dr. Shaw the value of FAU and a college education, Pat Chun of leadership and Jones "playing your position passionately." Jones' remarks will resonate with some, as they did with me. Those that embrace the "three Ps" will be our team leaders and are the individuals who will help the Owls take flight.
Hang on Owl Fans - we are embarking on the greatest year of FAU Athletics.
Men's Golf Adds Course to Practice Plans
Men's golf head coach Angelo Sands is proud to announce the addition of two courses, Via Mizner Golf and Country Club and Boca Grove Country Club, as the newest home courses for the Owls.
Via Mizner, located at 6200 Boca Del Mar Drive in Boca Raton, is less than four miles from the FAU campus. It offers a par-70 18-hole Arnold Palmer Signature course. Boca Grove is a newly renovated and redesigned par-72 18-hole Jim Fazio course. Boca Grove's address is 21351 Whitaker Drive in Boca Raton.
The two newest venues join eight others that the Owls take advantage of, which can be seen here.
"I'm extremely thankful that the two courses have permitted our team to be able to play there during the 2012-13 season," said Sands. "Their generosity is very much appreciated."
The men's golf fall season gets underway when the team travels to Glencoe, Illinois, September 23 and 24, for the Windon Memorial Classic. Visit the Via Mizner club site at www.viamiznergc.com, and Boca Grove at www.bocagrove.org.
Q&A with FAU Head Volleyball Coach Fernanda Nelson
Welcome to the Daily Hoot, the official blog of FAU Athletics. This blog will feature news from around the FAU Athletics department including posts by athletes, coaches and administrators. For our first blog posting, we catch up with FAU head volleyball coach Fernanda Nelson. Nelson came to FAU after four years as an assistant at Florida Gulf Coast. We got her impressions from her first two and a half months on the job.
Q: This has been a very hectic summer for you. You were hired in June and had less than two months to get everything in place before the start of preseason camp. What was that process like?
FN: "It was crazy. For the first three weeks (after getting hired), I was driving back and forth between Boca and Fort Myers every day. I found my house here in Boca and I had six hours to get the house ready before the movers showed up. At the same time, I was getting my staff together and also recruiting so it was a difficult process."
Q:What was your first impression of the team on the court?
FN: "I saw a group of girls ready to work, with an unbelievable work ethic who wanted to turn the program around in a hurry. As a first time head coach, I couldn't ask for a better feedback system than the group I have to work with."
How has preseason camp gone so far?
FN: "Camp has gone very well, we have had to adjust the schedule a little bit to give the girls some time to get adjusted to the new intensity level. But I am very happy with the effort."
Has there been one player who has stood out to you so far?
FN: "In my entire career as a player and as a coach, I have never had a captain like Cintia Nightingale. She's a player who has the respect of all of her teammates and who leads by example each and every time she takes the court. A true leader."
What are your goals for the team this season?
FN: "For us to play hard and improve every time we're on the court and to never accept beating ourselves." The FAU volleyball team opens the 2012 season on Friday, August 31 at the Stetson Classic in DeLand, Fla.
Baseball Gets Championship Rings Saturday
While it may seem that football season just began, basketball season is already barreling its way toward us. Both the men's and women's basketball teams began practice last week and as I write this, I am traveling to Dallas for the Conference USA media days.
When you work in athletic media relations, there comes a point when there are very few things that you haven't done. However, this is my first time traveling to a conference media day event. The Sun Belt held teleconferences, but not an event where everyone gathered in one building, so it is nice to have an event I can look forward to at this point in my career, a new experience.
In a couple of weeks, Coach Jarvis will take part in a Palm Beach County Media Day, a unique event in which the head coaches of all the college teams in the area will gather to help generate interest for the upcoming season.
Yet another sign of basketball season in Coach Jarvis' annual fundraising dinner, which will be held on Nov. 4. When the basketball schedule was released, the game I immediately noticed was the one at Duke on Nov. 15, not only is the game one of the most historic venues in college basketball, but my brother soon told me that he, along with my sister-in-law and nephew would be making the trip to the game, so that game counts as a double blessing. He also let me know that they would be making to the trip to Maryland on Dec. 14. That also is special since, it will allow me to celebrate my nephew's first birthday in person.
Both of those dates seemed so far away at first, but will be here before I know it. Opportunities like those are just some of the many reasons I consider myself fortunate to work in athletics. I look for even more such moments as the season progresses.