April 3, 2012Fellow Bruins,
At UCLA, we often stand out among peer academic institutions because of our rich athletic history. As discussed a week ago in this very forum, our 108 NCAA team championships are the standard for all college athletic programs nationwide. As Coach Wooden famously said, sports don't build character, they reveal it.
In addition, several of our student-athletes have set the barometer in their respective sports.
Never has that been more evident to me than in these past few days, when, first, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association announced on Friday that its annual Women's National Player of the Year Award would be named for a Bruin and then later on Monday when we had a school-record three former men's basketball players named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
In case you missed it, the women's award will now bear the name of Ann Meyers Drysdale, and Reggie Miller, Jamaal Wilkes and Don Barksdale will be enshrined in Springfield later this year. All four of those honored are already members of the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame.
This legacy of great Bruins continues to inspire and drive our coaches, staff and student-athletes to work tirelessly toward their goals. Congrats again to Ann, Jamaal, Reggie and the Barksdale family ...
Spring Ball Officially Underway
Head Football Coach Jim Mora, the rest of the coaching staff and the players hit the turf at Spaulding Field Tuesday afternoon for the first of 15 team practices this spring. There is plenty of excitement around the program, and we are all looking forward to seeing them in action as a group after working so hard for the last three months on individual preparation.
For those of you wanting to get some last-minute insights from Coach Mora heading into our Spring Game on May 5, might I suggest that you make it a point to attend the Bruin Touchdown Club breakfast the morning before.
All the details are on the club's website at BruinTouchdownClub.com, and believe me, with some of the special wrinkles and surprises that Jim told me he has up his sleeve for the Spring Game, this is one breakfast not to be missed.
More Hall of Fame Honors for Former Bruin Student-Athlete
Also on Monday, UCLA alumna Tasha Schwikert was announced as a member of the Class of 2012 for the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Schwikert and the 2012 Hall of Fame class will be inducted later this summer. She is already in the Hall of Fame as a member of the 2003 U.S. Women's World Championship team and is the second UCLA woman to be inducted as an individual, joining 2011 honoree Kristen Maloney. The two were teammates at UCLA in 2005 and won a bronze medal together at the Olympic Games in 2000.
Scates Jersey to Be Retired Saturday
Legendary UCLA men's volleyball coach Al Scates will coach his final regular season home matches on Friday and Saturday against BYU. While that is significant in and of it itself, we are also celebrating Al's 50-year career at UCLA with a brief video and retiring his number 50 UCLA jersey after Saturday's match.
If you have not yet purchased tickets to either match, please do so soon as they are going quickly. If you can't be there for the matches, we will be streaming the audio and video at uclabruins.com.
Cantlay to Be Featured in Golf Channel's Masters Coverage
This week is Masters Week, and, as such, The Golf Channel will undoubtedly have wall-to-wall coverage of the tournament. As just one small part, they featured a segment on UCLA golfer Patrick Cantlay, who will be competing in Augusta as an amateur, on Tuesday's Live from the Masters show.
Olympic Sports Report
As is always the case after Spring Break, many Spring Sports kick in to high gear this week, including:
Gymnastics traveling to Arkansas to compete in the NCAA Regional as a #1 seed
#1-ranked women's water polo heading to Northern California to take on Cal in an important match
The top-ranked women's tennis team hosting a pair of conference matches this weekend
#5 baseball returning to JRS after a sweep of Utah to host the Oregon Ducks
The #5 men's tennis team hitting the road for matches at Arizona and Utah
#14 softball hitting the road for a trio of conference games at Arizona State
The men's and women's track and field teams flying to Eugene for the Pepsi Invitational against a field that includes the reigning men's and women's NCAA team champions
The women's soccer team playing a unique spring exhibition game against China's U-20 National Team at The Home Depot Center on Thursday.
Ask Dan Guerrero
Q: Dan, is there anything the athletic department can do to build a stronger home field advantage at the Rose Bowl? The Jim Mora era should be a start of something new. A new tradition? A new stadium entrance? Anything?
A: Spencer, as you may know if you have traveled to any UCLA away games over the past few years, such as the ones at Tennessee or Texas, the best home field advantage for any team is a full house packed with boisterous fans supporting their school. Of course, a winning program is the best formula for creating the type of atmosphere we all crave. Coach Mora and his staff are resolute in their efforts to make this happen, and we must collectively do all that we can to help.
To that end, the Rose Bowl is in the midst of a $160-plus million renovation, a joint venture between UCLA, the Tournament of Roses and the City of Pasadena, scheduled to be completed in 2013 that will keep UCLA's home football stadium one of the premier venues in the nation and a Saturday destination for Southern California football fans.
This renovation has already reaped some benefits for us with the installation of a large video board on the North end of the stadium, which was used this past season. The board not only gives fans the opportunity to watch replays throughout the game, but eventually will also help fans to get to better know our student-athletes through the integration of pre-produced features and other in-game elements.
In addition, UCLA will be changing the way in which games are presented to fans, both those in the stadium and those watching on TV. As just one example, we will be adding more LED signage throughout the stadium to enhance the game experience in the coming years.
We are also working with our student section and the spirit squad to create new elements for them in the stands themselves; last year's flash mob was just the start of what we hope will be many innovative experiences that we plan to unveil. We will continue to work with our students to ascertain the most effective way to get them to come to games at the Rose Bowl. UCLA is one of the very few universities that does not have its football stadium on or near campus. This will always create challenges for us as it relates to student attendance, but we want them at games and need for them to be there.
Finally, the Bruin Walk, where fans welcome our players and coaches to the stadium, does a wonderful job of enhancing the home game tailgate experience, and our team will continue that tradition in the coming years. When Coach Mora and company turn this program around, hopefully all of our fans will want to participate in the Bruin Walk.
In the end, winning is the key and, again, your presence at the Rose Bowl, will play a huge part in the team's success.
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