Word From Westwood - June 26, 2012
June 26, 2012
With the athletic and academic years both now complete, I wanted to be sure to thank each of you who makes up the Bruin Family for your support, not only this year, but in years past as well. Without the generosity displayed by each of you, whether it is in sacrificing your time to attend sporting events or donating to the Wooden Athletic Fund, or both, our athletic program would not be able to enjoy the success that it has in such trying economic times, continuing to win national championships and compete for others. I know I speak for each of our coaches, student-athletes and staff members when I say your efforts are greatly appreciated.
During the 2011-12 school year, we took home our nation-leading 108th NCAA Championship when the women's volleyball team stormed through the tournament thanks to an amazing run of victories culminating with a scintillating four-set defeat of Illinois in the national championship match at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
We also has several teams finish just shy of a national title, including a pair of teams that finished second nationally (men's water polo and women's tennis) and four third-place finishers (men's soccer, gymnastics, men's tennis and women's water polo). Additionally, two finished fifth nationally (men's golf, baseball), giving UCLA a total of nine teams that ended their seasons among the top five, one of the best such displays in the country.
Moreover, two teams finished eighth at their NCAA Championships - women's golf and rowing, the latter of which posted its best placement since we reinstated the program. In addition, three Bruin teams were 17th in the final NCAA standings - women's soccer, softball and men's track and field, while the women's track team ended its season just outside the top 20, in 21st place, at the national meet.
When all is said and done and the results have been tabulated, UCLA will finish in third place in the 2011-12 Learfield Sports Directors Cup standings. UCLA is one of just two schools to place among the top six in the final standings at least 17 times in the 19-year history of the Directors Cup. We have finished second seven times, most recently in 2007-08, and third six times.
In addition, our women's teams placed second in the Capital One Cup standings, while our men's teams finished third, giving UCLA the distinction of being the only school to finish in the Top 3 in both the men's and women's programs.
All in all, a very good year, but we will not rest on our laurels next year and will continue to push for the top spot in each sport during the 2012-13 school year.
There were also several individual performances that stood out throughout the year. In fact, nearly 50 of our student-athletes earned All-America honors in their sport. Meanwhile, balancing athletics and academics certainly remains a priority at UCLA, and a multitude of others were named to Academic All-American teams, and more than 200 of them achieved Director's Honor Roll plaudits each quarter.
The 2011-12 school year also proved to be a unique one for each of our teams that call Pauley Pavilion home. As the $136 million construction project charged forward on budget and on time, each of the teams that played there found a new, temporary home.
Most relocated to the Wooden Center; however the men's basketball team embarked on an ambitious Road Show that took them to a variety of venues throughout the Southland, giving many of you the chance to see them "in your backyard" for the first time.
Despite the challenges that the renovation posed for teams and fans alike, it will all be worth it when we return to play in New Pauley later this year.
New Pauley will not be the only noticeable change in Westwood this fall. As you already know, the football program will be under the direction of Jim Mora and his staff, and the men's volleyball team will be led by John Speraw, as he replaces the legendary Al Scates, who retired after 50 years and 19 NCAA titles.
I am excited about both new coaches and look forward to seeing them begin their illustrious careers in Westwood. I ask each of you to give them and their teams a big Bruin welcome when they return to competition.
Coach Mora's team will also be the beneficiary of some new facilities; we have secured a bid to replace the turf and grass surfaces on Spaulding Field in time for their preseason practice in late August. Meanwhile, the more than $150 million renovation project at the Rose Bowl continues as well, with tunnels widened and the partial reconstruction of the pavilion area (formerly the press box) completed for this season. As the season approaches and Word from Westwood returns in August, we will keep you updated on any additional impacts the project might have on you.
In closing, thank you again for your continued support of the program. I sincerely hope to see you at all of our venues, both the new ones and the existing ones, supporting student-athletes across our great program. We are here to make sure that each of the young men and women who put on the uniform with the four letters, U-C-L-A, enjoy themselves and are proud of what they are doing, and your support is invaluable in that regard.
Thank you and Go Bruins!
CLick for Bruin Video