May 15, 2012
It is certainly true that at UCLA we have a tradition unlike many of our peer institutions. Our numerous Top 10 rankings and national championships speak for themselves as a testament to our broad-based excellence. Very few schools can match the level of success that we experience year in and year out across the board. There is no question that competing institutions have been creative in trying to manufacture an edge that may sway a prospective student-athlete their way.
What has been in vogue for several years is the variation on the traditional uniform. In some cases it is the "throwback", while, in other cases, simply an alternative uniform or numerous alternative uniforms. I believe we are all aware of what our competition has been doing in this area.
Our partners at adidas have been proposing alternate uniforms to us for years. We have ventured primarily into "throwback" versions for various teams, including football. Last year, of course, after extensive consultation with our coaching staff, our players and adidas, we unveiled the "white uniforms" for our final road football game. The uniform proved to be a hit with our players and "prospects"; however, we all admit that the timing of its unveiling could have been better. adidas has continued to stay busy, however, working on an alternative version for this season that combines the "wow" factor with the desire to preserve the tradition and the classiness of UCLA.
With that as background, it is likely that we will be wearing an alternate football uniform for one home game, possibly the November 3 Homecoming game against Arizona next fall, so stay tuned.
Though I am not able to share all the details with you at this time, please know that it will be, technologically-speaking, the finest uniform that adidas has ever created for UCLA. Jim Mora, his coaching staff and the football players in the program now, as well as those coming on campus later this year, have all seen it and are eager to wear it.
As soon as the proposed uniform moves from the prototype phase to production and some graphics representing it become available, I will be sure to share it with everyone in this forum.
Some things that don't change around here are our championship aspirations for all of our teams, and several of them are advancing further into postseason play these next few weeks:
The softball team earned the #12 national seed and will host NCAA Regional play this weekend at Easton Stadium against Hofstra, Florida State and San Diego State.
Both the #1-ranked women's tennis team and the #3-ranked men's tennis team head south to Athens, Georgia for the NCAA Championships after each sweeping their first two matches at their Regional at LATC this past weekend.
The #3-ranked UCLA men's golf team opens play on Thursday in the NCAA Central Regional in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
The nation's #1 women's golf team also travels south for the NCAA Championships in Cool Springs, Tennessee from May 22-25. This after roaring from behind on the final day to tie for first at the West Regional in Colorado.
The #7-ranked women's rowing team will compete a full team at the NCAA Championships in Princeton, New Jersey on May 25-27. The team earned a third-place finish at the Pac-12 Championships that was the highest for the Bruins in Coach Amy Fuller Kearney's 11-year tenure.
Various track and field athletes (both male and female) are preparing to compete in their individual disciplines at the NCAA preliminary rounds in Austin, Texas on Memorial Day weekend. The men's team finished in 4th place at the Pac-12 Championships last weekend, thanks in part to victories by Alec Faldermeyer (hammer) and Matthew Kosecki (discus), while the women's team placed eighth.
Additionally, the #11-ranked Bruin baseball team rides the momentum of a three-game sweep of Washington in Seattle into a non-conference game at #8 Cal State Fullerton Tuesday night (a 6-3 victory) and another Pac-12 road series at Cal this weekend.
While these teams are nearing the stretch run of their season, the #2-seeded women's water polo team ended its impressive season with a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships this weekend. Congratulations to Brandon Brooks and his team on a valiant effort to capture #109.
Other departmental happenings include:
Registration Now Open for the Orange County Bruin Bash
You may have noticed the increased number of events being hosted by our department for the Bruin faithful in the past year. Another such event is the sixth annual Orange County Bruin Bash, to be held June 2 in Newport Beach. All Bruin fans are invited to attend, with proceeds directly benefiting the Wooden Athletic Fund, the general fund for UCLA Athletics, and the more than 700 student-athletes at UCLA. This event is a great opportunity for guests to visit with fellow Bruin supporters, current UCLA head coaches, including Ben Howland, and several UCLA Legends, among them: Ann Meyers Drysdale, Tyus Edney, DeShaun Foster, Rafer Johnson, Marques Johnson, Tasha Schwikert, and Jamaal Wilkes. Tickets for the event are $150 per person, and the evening includes dinner, live entertainment, and a live and silent auction. Registration for this event is now open and can be found at www.WoodenAthleticFund.com/events or by calling the Wooden Athletic Fund office at 310-206-3302. We hope to see all of you in Orange County on June 2!
I was honored to be in attendance at the annual UCLA Scholar-Athlete Banquet last Monday with so many of our exceptional student-athletes. More than 200 student-athletes were recognized at this event. The academic achievements of these young men and women were something to behold.
The 22 student-athletes on the All-Academic team, for example, held a combined GPA of 3.64, and the Scholar-Athletes of the Year, Jeff Locke (football) and Charney Burk (women's soccer), were honored along with Brooke Finley (softball), Taryn Pastoor (women's track and field), Marti Reed (softball) and Isabel Williams (swimming & diving) for making the Director's Honor Roll every quarter they were at UCLA.
One highlight of the evening was hearing 2012 UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame class member Dr. Julie Bremner Romias recap her experiences at UCLA as a student, an academic all-American and one of the top collegiate volleyball players of her time. She relayed many of the lessons she learned during her undergraduate and medical school years at UCLA, and how those lessons helped shape her into what she is today, a successful family practice physician in Santa Monica.
UCLA's "Big O" Gets the Call to the HOF
UCLA's own Jonathan Ogden, one of the all-time greatest offensive linemen in UCLA history, a UCLA Athletics Hall of Famer, and an NCAA Champion shot-putter, was announced today as a member of the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame's Class of 2012. Ogden, a four-year starter at left tackle for the Bruins, won the 1995 Outland Trophy and was a unanimous first-team All-American. He was selected in the first round of the 1996 NFL Draft and played his entire professional career for the Baltimore Ravens, for whom he was an 11-time Pro Bowl selection and a nine-time All-Pro.
Fernandez and Devers Get Their Call to the Hall as Well
Kudos to Bruin Alumnae and Olympic gold medalists Lisa Fernandez (softball) and Gail Devers (track and field), who will be inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony for this prestigious honor will take place on July 12 in Chicago. Also being inducted is the 2004 USA Softball Team, which include Bruins Fernandez, Tairia (Mims) Flowers, Amanda Freed, Stacey Nuveman and Natasha Watley.
Athletics Hall of Fame Nominees Announced
As I mentioned a few weeks ago here, I was fortunate to be able to inform Ron Ballatore of his Hall of Fame induction before his passing. In case you missed it, the other individuals joining Ron in the Hall of Fame Class of 2012 are: Dr. Julie Bremner Romias (women's volleyball), Jack Hirsch (men's basketball), Fred McNeill (football), Stacey Nuveman (softball), Charles Pasarell (men's tennis), Coralie Simmons (women's water polo), Stella Umeh (women's gymnastics) and head team physician Dr. Gerald Finerman (40 years of service). This extraordinary group will be inducted officially on Oct. 12 and recognized at the Oct. 13 football game against Utah.
UCLA Video Director to Receive Prestigious Award
I know that I often use this very space to speak highly of our student-athletes and coaches and praise them for their success both on and off their chosen field of play. Today, I wanted to also take some time to recognize a member of the athletic department staff, UCLA Athletics Video Operations Director Ken Norris, who will be honored with the inaugural Pioneer Award at the College Sports Video Summit on June 7. He has been at UCLA since 1989 and is considered one of the most innovative and respected minds in his profession, and we are honored to have him on our staff - congrats Ken!
UCLA Golf Tourney Draws a Crowd in the OC
Last Monday, May 7, I had the opportunity to join Head Football Coach Jim Mora, several of our Athletic Department staff members and several UCLA Legends at the 2012 UCLA Golf Classic at Coto de Caza Golf & Racquet Club. The event, which raises money to support scholarships, student-athletes and the UCLA campus at-large, was a wonderful success. I want to take this opportunity to personally thank all of the volunteers, including co-chairs Gary Bittner and Cristina Walters, for their time, energy and passion for UCLA and, especially, UCLA Athletics. I believe about 240 golfers hit the links that day, which is quite a show of support for UCLA Athletics and the University as a whole - thank you!
Ask Dan Question of the Week
Q: Given the recent announcement of the inductees for the 2012 UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame class, can you provide a little insight into how the class is selected?
A: Stephanie, the process actually begins each year with the nomination of the outstanding Bruins that the UCLA fan base deems worthy of the honor in three categories: former students-athletes, coaches and extraordinary service. Each of the nominations submitted by the general public (in some years more than 100) is then forwarded to athletic staff members who do extensive research over a period of months on each submission and develop a bio for each. The bios are then sent to the 22 members of the Hall of Fame Committee (18 volunteers/4 athletic staff. The volunteers are a blend of former coaches, student-athletes and others with a long-standing dedication to UCLA Athletics who serve on staggered three-year terms).
The committee members are charged with reviewing the materials in preparation for the annual Spring meeting, at which they discuss each nominee and, ultimately, vote on a new class of Bruin Hall of Famers (up to eight). This is an exhaustive process which can, in any given year, keep committee members working long into the night before coming to an agreement regarding who to select for that year's class.
As one might imagine, at a place like UCLA, at the end of the night there are many candidates worthy of selection that will have to wait at least another year for their name to be called.
Thank you all for your submissions - please know that each question submitted was read, and please don't forget to submit a question to firstname.lastname@example.org this week.
Director of Athletics, UCLA