WE WELCOME PRESIDENT OBAMA
President Barack Obama will appear at a memorial service in McKale Center tomorrow at 6 p.m. UA President Robert Shelton extended an invitation to the White House for President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to join in "Together We Thrive: Tucson and America," an event in remembrance of the victims of the shooting tragedy in Tucson last Saturday and its extended impact on the community and our nation. The University is honored to be hosts for the event. Check the University’s UA News website for updates and more information.
The event is open to the public and no tickets are required. The West doors at McKale will open at 4 p.m. and seating will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Overflow guests will be directed to Arizona Stadium, where the event will be streamed live on the video board.
Due to tomorrow’s memorial service, we decided to send out a special Tuesday edition of this email blast.
TICKET OFFICE CLOSURE
The McKale Ticket Office will be closed on Wednesday, Jan. 12. As always, tickets for athletic events are available for purchase 24/7 online at www.arizonawildcats.com
THANK YOU TO MANY
Some of the people we deal with daily are uniformed police officers and uniformed security personnel at our events, and we encourage you to recognize their efforts and understand how seriously we take their responsibilities. Public safety is a clear function of intercollegiate athletics, and the horror of violence in Tucson last week made that more clear. Our hats are off to these people. It never hurts to offer a courteous word and treat them with the respect they deserve. We're all tasked with vigilance in this world of ours and these are the folks who take that lead. Thanks to all of them, and thanks to all of our fans and supporters for understanding that our gratitude has serious basis in reality. It goes without saying that we are deeply saddened by the losses many suffered in our community and pledge our everlasting support.
REACHING THE COMMUNITY
Several groups of Wildcat student-athletes, representing 14 teams, will be off campus Jan. 10-17 for "Cats Give Back Week," providing community service and youth outreach. It's organized by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. It's an important adjunct to the student-athlete experience here at the UA and important to the schools and organizations that will benefit. We applaud the Wildcats and staff who help make these missions throughout the school year.
SEASON AND ACADEMIC BEGINNINGS
Thursday is the first day of classes for the Spring Semester. It's a key time for all of our student-athletes to have a strong academic start as we head into our busiest time of the year in terms of teams competing. Eleven teams along with basketball -- swimming and diving, gymnastics, track and field, baseball, softball, golf and tennis -- all have returned to training and gearing up for competition. However, we challenge all these student-athletes to forge mental and scholastic focus to go with training. Too, those out of season (football, volleyball, soccer and to some extent cross country) have a great opportunity to work hard in their off seasons with an eye toward schoolwork and physical development.
I received a query from season ticket holders as to why our men's and women's basketball teams frequently play games on the same day (and often at the same time), albeit in two different venues. In other words, the usual problem is a choice between attending a women's game in McKale Center that's played at the same time as a men's televised game on the road. Pac-10 scheduling formats have to limit missed class time, meaning Thursday-Saturday or Thursday-Sunday two-game sets are best for both men's and women's teams. In a league like ours with 1,200 miles between some schools there are further difficulties in adhering to guidelines that address how soon a team can arrive in a city before competition. Additionally, we're all trying to get a grip on travel expenses.
Other leagues can bus teams, or use a wider range of short flights to get from one venue to another, and it makes them able to avoid same-night competition in basketball. In a recent trip, the Arizona men's team bused to Phoenix, flew to Portland and bused to Eugene to get the best commercial rates. In the Big Ten, if you're Indiana, that many miles gets you to Northwestern, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue and Illinois COMBINED. We don't want our fans to have to pick between our own teams in their support of Wildcat athletics, but typically all 20 Pac-10 (and soon to be 24 Pac-12) teams compete on the same days for these reasons. The geographical breadth of our league is special, and it comes with special circumstances.
With that said, we may see some changes in how we schedule in our basketball programs once new media contracts are negotiated and finalized.
LET IT SNOW
--Somewhere else is fine! Here's David Roost and Ashley Hyne showing the colors in a front yard in Columbia, Mo., recently. (Our trademarks people note the block A has some deficiencies, but it's excusable). We never have seen a Wilbur or Wilma snowman or snow-woman, but I wouldn't be surprised to see one soon... Send your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A limited number of tickets remain for our home men’s basketball game this Saturday against our neighbors from Tempe. Last Sunday’s crowd was our best this season, and we look forward to a spirited and packed McKale Center for the next game of the State Farm Territorial Cup Series… Our women’s tennis team is ranked #49 in the nation and opens competition against NAU on January 21 at home... Our gymnastics team, ranked #19 in the nation, finished fourth in the Pac-10 Preview Meet held over the weekend in Los Angeles, 2.8 points out of first place and behind #1 UCLA, #6 Stanford, and #8 Oregon State. Their next meet is against Utah State in Logan City, UT on Friday… In about a month, Mike Stoops and his staff will announce their signing class for 2011. Stay tuned for information on Signing Day events. According to all reports, the class is shaping up quite well... Also on tap in a few months is another UA Athletics "Road Trip" in which coaches and staff visit other parts of the state. We're also working on similar outings to various alumni bases in California. Much more to come on this later... Congratulations to Oregon for its game against Auburn in the BCS Championship Monday night in Glendale. A 60-minute game came down to a place kick in the last two seconds. With the final rankings out, we'll have two teams in the final Associated Press top four -- Oregon and Stanford -- on our home football schedule next year. That's a pretty good start for the first year of Pac-12 play. The complete schedule is available online... Another event in planning is the A-Club Super Wildcat Weekend April 8-10, heralding many of our returning letterwinners, to be held in connection with the Spring Game that weekend. We'll be providing more information about the event in the ensuing months...