February 21, 2012
Our student-athletes have enjoyed the great amenities we have here at UCLA on a daily basis. The combination of weather, location and facilities makes UCLA a great attraction. What you may not know is that many professional athletes have looked at UCLA as a destination to train in their off-seasons as well. Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Pete Sampras have hit balls at the LATC. Tom Brady and Wes Welker occasionally work out at Spaulding Field. Major Leaguers like C.J. Wilson and Nick Swisher have trained at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Some of the world's most celebrated soccer teams, such as Chelsea FC, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid have held preseason training camps at the North Athletic Field. Legions of NBA players play in the legendary pickup games at the SAC Gym each summer, and Usain Bolt and Allyson Felix have been spotted sprinting on the track at Drake Stadium.
That said, none of them has captured the attention of the media and sports fans across the country like Tebow-mania did this past week. As many of you may already know thanks to the media attention that surrounded it, our offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone has been working with Denver Broncos QB Tim Tebow at Spaulding Field, along with a handful of other NFL or NFL-bound quarterbacks. It has been amazing to see the excitement Tebow's presence has generated, not only from the media and fans but also from our own student-athletes who have run into him near Spaulding.
Knowing that so many NFL players are coming here to work with our coaches is exciting to me. In fact, I can't wait to see Jim Mora and his staff with our own student-athletes on that same field when spring practice begins just over a month from now.
Women's Basketball Hosts Final Homestand
The last home games of the year for Cori Close's women's basketball team are this weekend. The Bruins, who suffered a setback at USC on Sunday, welcome Arizona State on Thursday at 7pm and Arizona on Saturday at 2pm.
Saturday's game is our annual Breast Cancer Awareness game, and all fans in attendance will receive a free pink UCLA basketball t-shirt. Additionally, it's Senior Day for our leading scorer Rebekah Gardner. Rebekah has been such a special player for the team, especially this year as she has stepped up her game and shouldered the load as the lone senior on the squad. We're proud of everything she has accomplished and done for this program.
Men's Basketball Heads to Arizona
The Bruins will travel to the Arizona schools this weekend to face Arizona State in Tempe on Thursday at 5:30pm and Arizona in Tucson on Saturday at 11am (both PT). Pac-12 regulations prevented a live TV broadcast of Thursday's game. However, Fox Sports Arizona and our colleagues at Arizona State were able to set up a free live webcast at foxsportsarizona.com. Saturday's game at Arizona will be televised on CBS.
The win on Wednesday against USC gave us a season sweep of the Trojans, but the week ended on a disappointing note on Saturday afternoon at St. John's in New York City. I do want to extend my appreciation to all the Bruin fans that came out to support the team. They came out in full force and filled the arena with 8-claps. Another nice touch was seeing the coaches show their support for Steve Lavin by wearing sneakers, despite wearing them previously for the annual Coaches vs. Cancer weekend.
Sunday morning, I had the wonderful opportunity to sit at breakfast with Bruin Gail Goodrich, who came down from Connecticut to join me and our Associate Athletic Director Josh Rebholz. Gail was also our guest at the St. John's game, and I came to realize that he is still an ardent follower of the program. A finer gentleman cannot be found anywhere, and I loved hearing about his recent exploits, his stories about playing at UCLA for Coach Wooden, and his continuing love for college basketball. He looks terrific, and there is no doubt in my mind that he could still knock down those left-handed jumpers. Since Gail reads the Word from Westwood, I would just like to say: Thanks, Gail. You are a tremendous Bruin!
UCLA Athletics Supporting Soles 4 Souls
The Bruin Athletic Council (BAC) is hosting a shoe drive the next two weeks to benefit Soles4Souls. The BAC has set up drop-off boxes in the Morgan Center and Acosta Center lobbies, as well as in the team locker rooms for donations of gently worn or new shoes. The gymnastics team is also encouraging shoe donations and will have a drop-off box at Sunday's meet in the Wooden Center. One of my great pleasures of working in athletics is seeing our student-athletes take the initiative to help others in need.
UCLA Groundbreakers Featured in University Campaign
You may have seen the University's newest ad during the last two basketball broadcasts or the print version in Sunday's LA Times or New York Times. This new "Optimists" campaign highlights some of UCLA's biggest game-changers, innovators and barrier-breakers, including several who participated in athletics, such as Jackie Robinson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Ralph Bunche and John Wooden. If you haven't had a chance to see the campaign, please visit ucla.edu/optimists to learn more about these UCLA Optimists.
Olympic Sports Update
Softball remains undefeated (10-0) on the year after posting six victories last week. The bats were hot as the team outscored their opponents by a combined total of 47-5. The team plays its next five games in the prestigious Cathedral City Classic this weekend in the Palm Springs area ... The top-ranked women's golf team won its fourth team title of the season, taking first place at the Regional Challenge in Palos Verdes ... Men's golf is off this week after finishing in third place at the San Diego Intercollegiate last week ... The third-ranked women's tennis team hosts Cal at LATC this Friday after the team improved to 10-0 on the year after defeating its fifth-straight Top 20 opponent in eighth-ranked Baylor... Men's tennis will host Saint Mary's Saturday. The Bruins closed strong after losing their first match at the ITA National Team Indoors last weekend, winning two matches in the consolation bracket ... Men's volleyball had its 10-match winning streak stopped at Long Beach State on Tuesday, but started a new streak by sweeping Hawaii on Friday and Saturday. The team will play just one game this week, Friday night at the Wooden Center against Cal Baptist ... Gymnastics hosts Arizona State on Throwback Sunday at the Wooden Center this week. Last week, they battled adversity to rally for a tie at Oregon State and move up one spot to No. 6 in the national rankings ... Baseball hosts Baylor in a weekend series after pounding Cal State Northridge, 19-7, on the road Tuesday afternoon ... Women's water polo plays at the UC Irvine Invitational this weekend after winning its MPSF opener, 9-4, over San Diego State ... The swimming & diving team competes at the Pac-12 Championships beginning Wednesday in Washington ... After a rare week off, the indoor track & field teams compete at the MPSF Indoor Championships in Seattle this week.
Ask Dan Guerrero
Q: When is a decision expected from the conference about the future of the Pac-12 Tournament?
Jeremy Davis, San Diego
A: Jeremy, thank you for the question. The future of the tournament was a hot topic at the recent Pac-12 meetings. A final decision should be made shortly. We have been fortunate to have played the tournament in Los Angeles the last 10 years. I know that our fan base has been very supportive of it during that run. Given the fact that we have fans throughout the Western United States, I'm confident that the support will continue no matter where the tournament is played. At this point, Las Vegas, Seattle and Los Angeles remain in the running for future tournaments. That being said, I encourage you all to come out and support both the men's and women's teams at the Pac-12 Tournament. Tickets in our section are still available through the UCLA Central Ticket Office.
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