A.D. Report -- An Amazing Couple of Months
April 7, 2009
Corvallis, Ore. -
As I write this, I have to pinch myself. If you would have told me in November that we’d be playing basketball games in April, I’d have laughed and said `yeah, wishful thinking.’ But, never underestimate the will of our young student-athletes. And that was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg for what has been an unbelievable late winter/early spring success for Beaver Athletics.
Consider this – our men’s and women’s basketball teams hadn’t played in postseason in the same year since 1984 and both finished well above their predicted league finish.
Speaking of women’s hoops, I can’t say enough about the job head coach LaVonda Wagner has done with making our team once again a factor in the Pac-10 Conference and nationally. She inherited a program that won just six games four years ago and has led it to postseason appearances twice, including a 20-victory run this year. I’m anxious to see how the incoming talent will mesh with her returning cast.
I have to say that I was surprised, but maybe I shouldn’t have been, by the throngs that jammed legendary Gill Coliseum for the College Basketball Invitational (CBI). I went into that tournament with the mindset we weren’t going to lose money during a tough economy with these games. I thought we’d host one time, but not in my wildest dreams did I consider four games. Following the initial victory over Houston I received a phone call from the CBI organizers asking us to host again, and with some trepidation, I agreed. What our staff saw in attendance the next three games during Spring Break was simply amazing and showed us just how important you think the men’s basketball program is – and a big thank you to those that turned out to welcome home the champions in Portland and Corvallis. How about the phenomenal job Craig Robinson, the District’s Coach of the Year, has done?
You not only turned out for the basketball games, but you were rabid in your support of the gymnastics team, which performed for over 4,000 fans every night – the highest average in more than a decade. Mandi Rodriguez earned the Pac-10 Conference’s Gymnast of the Year, the first Beaver with such an honor in 15 seasons. It has become routine, but never dull, as Tanya Chaplin’s team has again qualified for the NCAA Championships later this month.
All-America honors were also earned by swimmer Saori Haruguchi, the 10th of her amazing career, and wrestler Heinrich Barnes. In addition to their terrific accomplishments at OSU, both represented their homelands in last summer’s Olympic Games.
Oh, by the way, baseball is ranked in the top 25 and is a favorite to be among the top of the conference standings – and if you haven’t been to Goss Stadium at Coleman Field lately, you owe it to yourself to see what you have built. Also kudos to our women’s track team, we had a record indoor mile set recently, and to our softball team that already has a win over rival Oregon. Diego Valesquez of our men’s golf team also won the prestigious Western Intercollegiate earlier this month for his second tournament victory of the year.
You can also be proud of what is happening off the playing surfaces by our student-athletes. Gymnast D’Anna Piro has been accepted into the Stanford Graduate School of Business and her teammate Laura-Ann Chong will represent OSU at the NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Development Conference in May. Football’s Taylor Kavanaugh went to Guatemala to help villagers build houses. Student-athletes raised, with your help, nearly $15,000 for cancer and hunger awareness during the last two months alone. We had numerous student-athletes participate in the “Read Across America” event as well as other community service activities.
In the classroom, another banner term for our student-athletes. Eight of our teams posted over a 3.00 cumulative GPA, led by Kelly Sullivan’s cross country/track team at 3.33. Risé Lakowske had 43 percent of her women’s golf team make the honor roll, a term best for our teams. In all, over 50 percent of our student-athletes posted at least a 3.00, including 20 with 4.00s.
We still have a lot of fun ahead of us on and off the fields the next two months and I hope you can be a part of it. “The Other Side” student-athlete talent show, yet another fundraiser, is April 9 at the LaSells Stewart Center. The Bennys are coming in early June and of course the Spring Football game is just around the corner.
Once again thank you to all the Beaver Athletic Student Fund members; without your support none of this possible.
I’ll see you at the ballpark. Go Beavs!