July 21, 2010
Earlier today, we launched an updated version of our official website: www.arizonawildcats.com. Please check it out and let us know your thoughts.
BUILDING A FOUNDATION
I spoke to a group of our incoming freshmen student-athletes recently, kids from all over the map who have arrived early. One of the benefits of the newer rules from the past several years is the ability to bring in newcomers prior to their first semester. This allows them to build some solid study habits while their class loads only involve a summer course or two. It's incredible how valuable this can be down the road. They're able to learn study skills, begin physical training, build early relationships with teammates and otherwise get some clues about what the collegiate experience is all about. And, for us, it's an early opportunity to meet our new Wildcats.
NOT JUST ANY JUSTINE
Graduated swimmer Justine Schluntz, off to Oxford to continue her education as a Rhodes Scholar, racked up yet another honor last week when she was cited as the 2009-10 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America of the Year for the University division. You've likely seen the NCAA ads where it's stressed that most students will become professional in endeavors other than sports... Well, she'll take her summa cum laude degree in mechanical engineering, add her graduate degree in fluid dynamics and her Rhodes studies and no doubt fuel a sensational career. The latest honor made her the top choice among 12 national student-athletes who won Academic All-America of the Year for their sports. She became just the third Pac-10 student-athlete to garner the award. She has some serious understanding of the personal meaning of Bear Down. I have to say this: we're blessed to hang around these kinds of young people. One other thing to remember, your support of the Wildcat Club and your purchase of season tickets allow these great young men and women to get an education and compete for the University of Arizona.
SPEAKING OF WATERSPORTS
Beginning Friday and continuing for the next eight days, the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center and the Kasser Family Pool will host the USA Diving Age Group and Junior National Diving Championships. This is not only a great chance to see some of the country's best divers, but it is a wonderful opportunity to showcase our facilities, campus, and city to some of the elite age group divers nationwide. We're very proud of the accomplishments of Wildcat swimming and diving, and marquee events like this are a chance to show our colors.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
...I just can't wait to get on the road again, the song adds. Not exactly true. My family's appeal always makes me want to be around Regina and the boys, but I enjoy getting out and taking our message to the Wildcat faithful. I was in Chicago (wearing the colors, of course) to meet with donors late last week. We're going to emphasize these relationships in a big way and the underlying purpose is obvious. Yet each trip adds more new friends and impresses me with the strength of the Arizona Athletics brand. You, too, can help by continuing to talk about our program and show your pride.
We've caught it. We're smitten. If you walk into our weight room when the new guys are working, you'd catch it too. The eye test isn't a definitive measure by any means because success in athletics requires so many intangibles, but looking at some of the young football players we've signed sure makes me think of the possibilities... Another recent football development was the ceremony to induct former Wildcat legend Chuck Cecil into the College Football Hall of Fame. I was honored to attend the fete in South Bend, Ind., last week. When Chuck was playing, I was growing up in Eugene, Ore., where my dad, Bill, was then AD. I was actually a ball boy for the Wildcats during a game in Eugene and got to watch Chuck play up close. In talking to people who watched in the mid-eighties, I get frequent recollections of Chuck as one of the hardest-hitting Wildcats in history. The guy is smart, too, and was an NCAA Top VI award winner and Academic All-American. Others are worthy of Hall of Fame honors and we'll keep nominating, but we're thrilled to have Chuck join Ricky Hunley as Arizona's playing HOF members... Speaking of whom, we announced seven jerseys to be honored at halftime of the USC game on Nov. 13 -- Hunley, Cecil, Antoine Cason, Darryll Lewis, Steve McLaughlin, Chris McAlister and Rob Waldrop. That's an outstanding group of student-athletes whose jerseys will now be displayed inside the stadium along with Art Luppino's...
SUMMER LEAGUE STANDOUTS
As further proof that Wildcats are everywhere, look no further than the NBA's Summer Leagues in Las Vegas and Orlando as four former UA players were in action: Chase Budinger (Houston Rockets), Jordan Hill (Houston Rockets), Mustafa Shakur (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Marcus Williams (Indiana Pacers). As they've shown, hard work knows no offseason.
Additionally, UA alum Michael Schwartz was in Las Vegas (wearing the colors!) providing a little summer league coverage for ESPN's Daily Dime, and wrote a piece on Budinger and Hill. Click HERE to check out the entire article and make sure to read section #8. Nice work, Michael.
Two UA women's soccer players, Renae Cuellar and Ana Montoya, have each earned significant amounts of playing time for Mexico and Colombia, respectively, at the FIFA U20 Women's World Cup in Germany.
Men's basketball player Kyryl Natyazhko helped his native Ukraine to an eighth-place finish at the FIBA U20 European Championships in Croatia. Most impressively, he averaged 17.2 points and 8.4 rebounds in an event that featured the top young talent in Europe.
We're always proud to see our student-athletes competing at the highest levels. It's so beneficial for these athletes to get top-notch international experience.
TWO LAST ITEMS
As I've said nearly every time I've written, I really appreciate all of the feedback that you Wildcat fans have given me. I just wanted to thank one person in particular this week for his thoughts, Martin Roush, a U of A grad who follows the Cats via arizonawildcats.com all the way from Guam. It's good to know the Cats are well represented in the South Pacific.
Finally, my family and I will be on vacation next week and we will be skipping next week's "Wildcat Wednesday." See you in August.
Director of Athletics
University of Arizona