Father's Day is very dear to my heart! Not just because he's the man who taught
me how to ride a bike or tie my shoes for the first time, but my father is the
reason why I have been able to follow my dreams in sports.
Growing up, I was the lone girl playing football with all of the other boys in
elementary school. Reason being, that's all I would watch on TV during the
weekends and was all I knew! When I would visit my father, I could always count
on watching the football game with him on Saturdays in the Fall, the basketball
games in the Winter, and Spring time was when we would play catch when the
weather finally turned for the better. He taught me what a blitz was in
football, what it meant to run-the-option, and how to fill out my March Madness
bracket. His advice--fill in the National Champion first, then fill in the
Now, when I have the luxury of going home and there's a big game on TV, I'm the
one who might be giving him my expertise on what the team should run or we debate
a call by the officials.
So I'd like to take this moment to say THANK YOU Dad, you have truly allowed me
to pursue my dreams! Who knew that watching sports on TV could have such an
impact on a little girl like me?
And listen to some of C-USA's Head Coaches as they talk about their plans for Father's Day.
Everyone have a great day!
By Russell Anderson
The 2012 college baseball season is upon us. Around Conference USA, nine schools are about to take to the diamond and start down the road that they all hope will end in Omaha, at the College World Series.
What are some things that you need to know about C-USA Baseball in 2012? In honor of the league's 17th season, here are 17 tidbits to consider:
1. There are no new head coaches in Conference USA this season. The league is stacked with talented leaders in each of the nine dugouts. Among this successful group of skippers, three (Rice's Wayne Graham, Tulane's Rick Jones and UAB's Brian Shoop) rank among the top 23 winningest coaches in the NCAA.
2. When UCF takes the field Friday night for its opener against Long Island, it will be doing so at a renovated Jay Bergman Field. Seating capacity has doubled so that more fans can watch this rising program. The facility now seats 3,300 fans.
3. Besides having one of the best names in Conference USA Baseball, Marshall senior C Thor Meeks boasts a strong swing to go with his solid moniker. Meeks has moved into the school's top 10 for career home runs and averages a round-tripper once every 19 at-bats.
4. East Carolina received a boost in the off-season when C Zach Wright, a sixth round selection by the Philadelphia Phillies, turned down an offer to go pro and returned to Greenville. Wright is an All-C-USA performer who had 15 doubles and 13 homers for the Pirates last season.
5. Tulane senior C Jeremy Schaffer is a preseason All-American who led the Green Wave in 12 different offensive categories. He also paced C-USA in doubles with 23 and owns the top on-base percentage among returning players in the league.
6. Southern Miss C Jared Bales was named to a number of Freshman All-American teams last season. Bales threw out 12 potential base-stealers and made just four errors behind the plate. Bales will be also be counted on to help guide some new faces in the Golden Eagles pitching rotation this spring.
7. You may have noticed that the last four notes all dealt with catchers. There is no doubt that the backstops are among the most talented positional group in C-USA going into 2012. And I haven't even mentioned players like John Cannon of Houston, Craig Manuel of Rice and Ryan Breen of UCF. These talented men behind the plate will play a big part of their team's success at the plate, in the field and working with the pitchers this season.
8. Memphis junior RHP Dan Langfield had 16 strikeouts in a game last year against Kennesaw State, the most by a C-USA Pitcher last season and the third-highest single-game total in league history. He went on to finish with 94 strikeouts, the third-highest total in C-USA.
9. UAB junior RHP Dillon Napoleon became the first Blazer to win a major individual award in C-USA, garnering Newcomer of the Year honors in 2011. The 2012 preseason All-Conference USA selection was 5-3 with a 2.87 ERA in 13 starts.
10. One of the other top newcomers last year was Houston junior SS Chase Jensen. He is the Cougars leading returning hitter (.320) and roped 12 doubles and 45 RBI for Todd Whitting's first UH team. Jensen will be a leader for a Cougar club that welcomes 20 newcomers (13 high schoolers and seven junior college transfers) this spring.
11. Six of the nine schools are at least receiving votes in one of the four major polls. Rice leads the way, earning a top 10 listing in each, placing as high as No. 6 (Baseball America). UCF is ranked in the preseason top 25 for the first time since 1991, with the Knights ranked as high as No. 21 (Baseball America). Southern Miss is No. 29 in the NCBWA poll and No. 30 by Collegiate Baseball, with East Carolina, Houston and Tulane each receiving votes in the national listings.
12. There are always talented newcomers to watch each season in C-USA. Baseball America has published its list of top 50 national freshmen for 2012 and C-USA has five players listed among that group. Southern Miss produced the top two, with SS Connor Barwin at No. 2 and OF/LHP Mason Robbins at No. 17. UCF LHP Eric Skoglund is No. 44, Rice RHP Jordan Stephens is No. 48 and Tulane RHP Alex Massey checks in at No. 49.
13. Conference USA always produces its share of preseason All-Americans and this year is no different. Five different players earned these preseason accolades including four Rice standouts. Representing the Blue and Gray are sophomore RHP Austin Kubitza (the preseason C-USA Pitcher of the Year), junior IF/OF Michael Ratterree and junior utility player J.T. Chargois. Also earning preseason All-American honors were Tulane senior C Jeremy Schaeffer and UCF junior 1B/P D.J. Hicks (the preseason C-USA Player of the Year).
14. Having a good closer is the cornerstone to any bullpen and UCF has a very good one in junior LHP Joe Rogers. The southpaw was named to preseason watch list for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year, given to the nation's top relief pitcher. Last season, Rogers had nine saves, the second-highest single-season total in UCF history. He also had 38 strikeouts and just 10 walks in 41.1 innings pitched.
15. Four C-USA schools are coming off NCAA Regional appearances. East Carolina, Rice, Southern Miss and UCF represented the league in the 2011 NCAA Championship. For Rice it was its 17th consecutive appearance (trailing only Miami (Fla.), Florida State and Cal State Fullerton for the most trips in a row. Southern Miss has now played in nine straight NCAA's, which gives the Golden Eagles the tenth-longest string among all D-I schools. In total, C-USA has produced 68 NCAA appearances in its first 16 seasons.
16. Fans who cannot make it to the park to see their favorite C-USA school in person will be able to follow the league better than ever on television. A record-24 games will appear on national or regional television. Most games not televised are available to view on the C-USA Digital Network.
17. The 2012 Conference USA Championship returns to Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss. The championship will employ a slightly different format this year with games spread out over five days instead of four. From Wednesday through Saturday there will be three games each day (11 am, 3 pm and 7 pm). The Championship game will now be played on Sunday, May 27 at 1 pm CT.
Poised once again to be one of the nation's top baseball conferences, Conference USA is excited to get the 2012 season underway. Play Ball!
by Jeremiah Ingram
The 2012 C-USA softball season begins Thursday when UTEP hosts Santa Clara at 3 p.m. MT at Helen of Troy Softball Complex. Preseason All-CUSA selection Chelsea Troupe (.404, 31 RBI, 37 runs, 14 HR, .885 SLG) will lead the UTEP attack along with senior Camilla Carrera, the 2011 C-USA Preseason Player of the Year and 2010 first-team all-conference selection, who returns after missing the majority of last season with a back injury.
UTEP will continue its opening weekend at the Hotel Encanto Tournament, playing games at home and in Las Cruces, N.M., from Friday through Sunday against a field of teams that includes St. Mary's (MD), Illinois-Chicago, Indiana, Santa Clara and New Mexico State.
All nine C-USA softball programs will take part in season-opening tournaments beginning Friday, including the preseason favorite Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Tulsa heads to Lafayette, La., for the Louisiana Classics Softball Tournament. The three-day event features Rutgers, Mississippi Valley State and host No. 23/24 Louisiana-Lafayette. The Golden Hurricane boasts four preseason all-conference picks: sophomore pitcher Aimee Creger (24-3, 1.05 ERA, 256 K), junior shortstop Samantha Cobb (.342, 6 HR, 51 RBI, 32 runs, 16 doubles), sophomore third baseman Jill Barrett (.296, 39 runs, 21 RBI) and junior center fielder Caitlin Everett (.407, 37 runs, 23 RBI, 35 SB).
C-USA Preseason Player of the Year Melissa Gregson (.321, 46 RBI, 35 runs, 16 HR) leads a talented Houston attack that returns six position players who started at least 40 games last season. Gregson, along with preseason All-C-USA pick Holly Anderson (.340, 41 runs, 29 RBI, 7 HR) will pace the Cougars during the season-opening Hilton Houston Plaza Classic, Feb. 10-12, at Cougar Softball Stadium. The field includes No. 11/16 Oklahoma State, North Texas, Sam Houston State and Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
Last season, a record-tying five C-USA schools - Houston, Tulsa, UAB, Memphis and East Carolina -- participated in the NCAA Tournament and earned 11 combined wins, with Houston claiming a regional championship.
UAB will host the 2012 C-USA Softball Championship in Birmingham, Ala., May 10-12, at the UAB Softball Field. The three-day event will feature eight teams playing in a single-elimination format.
A full opening weekend schedule is below and listed in the PDF version of this release.
C-USA Softball Pages:
Tulsa Tabbed C-USA Favorite
Tulsa, the reigning Conference USA regular season softball champion, has been selected as the 2012 preseason favorite to repeat by a vote of the league's nine head coaches. Tulsa sophomore right-hander Aimee Creger was selected C-USA Preseason Pitcher of the Year while Houston's senior slugger Melissa Gregson was named C-USA Preseason Player of the Year.
C-USA Well Represented in Softball Polls
Houston and Tulsa are ranked No. 20 and 24, respectively, in the USAToday/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I Top 25 Preseason Poll, as announced today by the organization. The Cougars also are ranked No. 22 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 poll, which also was released today. Tulsa is among others receiving votes in the USA Softball poll and East Carolina is among others receiving votes in the NFCA poll.
Poole Named Memphis Head Softball Coach
Natalie Poole, who took McNeese State to the 2010 NCAA Softball Regionals, was recommended as the head softball coach at the University of Memphis Aug. 3. In three seasons as the head coach at McNeese State, Poole guided the Cowgirls to three-straight 30-win seasons, including a school-record 38 wins in 2010. She guided the Cowgirl program to two Southland Conference (SLC) Tournament championship games, winning the tournament title in 2010 and advancing to the NCAA Regional Tournament.
Voak, Malgradi Named Co-Head Coaches at Southern Miss
Kirsten Voak and Jon Malgradi were hired as co-head coaches for the Southern Miss softball program Aug. 9, 2011. Voak comes to Southern Miss after spending the 2006-2010 seasons at her alma mater, Arizona State, where she served as an assistant under head coach Clint Myers. In her five seasons with the team, the Sun Devils went 264-73 and won the 2008 WCWS National Championship. Malgradi comes to Southern Miss after spending the previous three seasons as the head coach at Mesa Community College in Mesa, Ariz., where he compiled a 102-76 record, including a top-10 ranking in 2011 and a regular season conference championship in 2010. Voak and Malgradi were married in 2002.
UAB's Natalie Mitchell Earns NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship
Former UAB softball player Natalie Mitchell was selected to receive one of 174 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. Mitchell, who also received the Jim Castañeda Postgraduate Scholarship from Conference USA, was one of three softball players and the only C-USA student-athlete to earn an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship last spring. She graduated in May 2011 with a 4.0 GPA and a bachelor's degree in molecular biology with a minor in chemistry. She was accepted into the Fifth Year Master's Program in the UAB Department of Biology and will work to earn her master's degree before enrolling in medical school.
C-USA Teams Earn NFCA All-Academic Team, Scholar Athlete AwardsEight Conference USA softball teams - UTEP, Houston, Marshall, East Carolina, Tulsa, UCF, UAB and Southern Miss -- have been recognized by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association as All-Academic Teams for the 2010-11 academic year. The NFCA Academic Awards program honors both collegiate and high school teams for their submitted GPAs for the 2010-11 academic year. As a second component of the program, all submitted student-athletes who achieved a 3.50 GPA during the last academic year are named as a NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete. Forty-five C-USA student-athletes were honored as NFCA All-America Scholar Athletes.
By Kelly Carney, Associate Commissioner
Remember the days of the "Ultimate Fan" contests? Well, unless you are the proud owner of those words (yes, someone actually trademarked "Ultimate Fan") the contest is now called something else. Two years ago our "Ultimate Fan" contest underwent a social media makeover and was renamed the Tweetest Fan. The contest continues to grow in popularity and is scheduled to kick off again with the start of the 2011-12 men's and women's basketball season. Once again, C-USA will seek out more of its Tweetest Fans, using various social media to spread all the exciting news coming from the Conference and its members. If you are reading this blog, then you are the perfect candidate to participate and possibly be this year's big winner!
Prizes will be awarded throughout the basketball season, as fans will receive clues on Twitter (@ConferenceUSA1) and Facebook (Conference USA). Clues will range from answering trivia questions, posting photos and meeting up with conference personnel at remote locations for various prizes and select regular-season game tickets. By simply participating, fans will automatically be registered to win the grand prize - a trip for two to the 2012 Conference USA Basketball Championships, March 7-10 in Memphis, TN. Multiple entries will be accepted increasing your chance to win the grand prize package, which includes tickets, air fare and hotel accommodations. The winner will be selected through a blind draw on Monday, February 27.
Beale Street, Barbecue and Basketball - what more can you ask for in March? So be sure to follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook so you don't miss a chance to win!
Conference USA on Facebook. Conference USA on Twitter.
By Russell Anderson, Assistant Commissioner
According to the latest U.S. Census, I have the 10th-most common last name in America. While not as popular as Smith, Johnson or Williams (the top three), Anderson is said to be the surname of about 857,000 Americans. Well this blog deals with un-common names...the 22 best names in Conference USA Football this season.
Where was the Genesis (Cole) of this concept? If you're a follower of the annual C-USA Baseball Championship blog (and why wouldn't you be?), you know about our annual C-USA Baseball All-Name team. We've taken that concept to the gridiron with this inaugural unveiling of the C-USA Football all-name team. This 22-member squad (matching the number of players on a football field at one time) features the most unique, fun and coolest sounding names in the league and has at least one representative from each school.
In looking at the squad you will think about movies (Rio, Tron), you will think about music (Banjo, Jazz, Hummingbird), travel may be on your mind (Rio again, Cairo, Dakota), TV shows may even come into play (Arsenio, Law). You might even get a little Rowdy (Harper) and need to calm down with a nice glass of (Corey) Redwine, but most of all we hope you enjoy the list.
Rio Johnson, QB, East Carolina
Chevy Bennett, DB, Houston
Rowdy Harper, OL, Houston
Cotton Turner, QB, Houston
Tron Martinez, RB, Marshall
Jazz King, WR, Marshall
Gator Hoskins, TE, Marshall
Skylar Jones, QB, Memphis
Blayze Jones, DB, Memphis
Tanner Shuck, LB, Rice
Chris Banjo, DB, SMU
Arsenio Favor, QB, Southern Miss
Cordarro Law, DE, Southern Miss
Furious Bradley, DB, Southern Miss
Orleans Darkwa, RB, Tulane
Corey Redwine, DL, Tulane
Cairo Santos, K, Tulane
Genesis Cole, WR, Tulsa
Chris Hummingbird, LB, Tulsa
Jamarious Crusoe, CB, UAB
Jose Jose, DL, UCF
Dakota Warren, K, UTEP
Now that you've looked at the list, we are ready to hand out a couple of awards.
First, for the best-first named trio on one team, we have a tie. Houston's triple play combo of Chevy, Rowdy and Cotton share this distinction with Marshall's Tron, Jazz and Gator.
Individually, we have a three-way tie in the category for best overall name. Houston's Cotton Turner, Marshall's Jazz King and UCF's Jose Jose (the name so nice they named him twice).
Be sure and listen for the PA announcer call these names when you are at a C-USA stadium the rest of the season or hear one of the play-by-play announcers name them on television when you're watching at home. You'll know that they are among the most special names in Conference USA.
By Courtney Morrison-Archer, Asst. Commissioner for Public Affairs
With the leaves changing and the smell of pumpkin and bonfires filling the air, that must mean its Conference USA Fall Championship Season!
Halloween will be a real treat as the Conference USA Men's and Women's Cross Country Championships will be held on Monday, Oct. 31 at Wildcat Golf Course in Houston, Texas. Rice University will serve as host for the annual event, which offers free admission to fans. The men's 8K race is scheduled for a 9 a.m. CT start, while the women's 6K race will begin at 10 a.m. An awards ceremony will follow the races at 11 a.m.
Tulsa is the defending C-USA men's and women's cross country champion after becoming the third program in league history to sweep the championship titles. The TU men are one of four C-USA teams ranked among the Top 10 in their respective regions. Tulsa women are ranked No. 30 in the country.
UTEP claimed both individual winners in 2010 as the men finished second and the women placed third as a team. Two-time C-USA medalist for the women, Risper Kimaiyo, returns to this year's meet looking to become the first three-repeat champion in league history. Pushing her on Halloween Monday will be redshirt senior and 2008 individual medalist Silje Fjortoft of SMU. Both enter the championship race with stellar regular-season results. The individual medalist on the men's side from a year ago also returns in UTEP's Elkana Rotich.
More information will be available here on the C-USA Cross Country Championship Central page.
The 2011 C-USA Women's Soccer Championship begins later that week as the top eight teams in the regular-season advance to this year's tournament at Mike Rose Soccer Stadium in Memphis, Tenn. The host Tigers completed an unbeaten regular season with an 18-0-1 overall mark and 10-0-1 in league play to secure the top seed. No. 9 Memphis is also the four-time defending champion, but there will be seven teams trying to upend their host this year.
As of this writing, seven of the eight teams had secured their tournament berths. Besides Memphis, Colorado College is the only other team to have clinched its seed at No. 2. SMU, UCF, East Carolina , Tulsa and UTEP will also be among the tournament field, but seeding will be determined following matches on Friday and Sunday. The eighth and final spot will go to the winner of Friday night's Houston-Rice crosstown rivalry match-up.
First-round games will be played Wednesday, Nov. 2, beginning with Colorado College vs. the No. 7 seed at Noon CT. Top-seeded Memphis will play the 8 p.m. CT contest. Semifinal matches start at 5 p.m. CT on Friday, Nov. 4 and the title game on Sunday, Nov. 6, will be televised live on CBS Sports Network at 1 p.m. CT.
For ticket information as well as a final schedule and stats, check out the C-USA Women's Soccer Championship Central page.
The field is already set for the 2011 C-USA Men's Soccer Championship, which will be held November 9-13 in Tulsa, Okla., however each team must wrap up its regular season before seeding can be determined. Marshall, Memphis, SMU, South Carolina, UAB and UCF have secured their bids in the six-team field.
The Blazers and Gamecocks enter the next-to-last weekend of the regular season in a tie for first place, but five of the six teams are still in contention for one of the top two seeds and a first-round bye. Those quarterfinal games will be played on Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. CT. Winners will advance to play those top two seeds at the same match times on Friday, Nov. 11. The men's title game will also be televised live on CBS Sports Network at 1 p.m. CT on Sunday, Nov. 13, with the winner earning an automatic berth to the NCAA Championship.
For ticket information in Tulsa as well as a complete championship schedule and stats, check out the C-USA Men's Soccer Championship Central page.
Of course, you can also get the latest championship updates on our website at www.ConferenceUSA.com and the C-USA Digital Network.
by Debbie Davis, Associate Director of Media Relations
Well, we're sitting at the halfway point of the 2011 Conference USA regular season volleyball race and the NCAA automatic bid is still up for grabs. For the past couple of seasons, only a trio of losses has separated No. 1 from No. 4 and, for three out of the last five years, only one loss was the difference between the champion and the runner-up. Looks like that could again be the case this season.
Currently sitting atop the C-USA leader board is defending champion Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane sports an overall mark of 17-5 and stands 8-1 in league action. After participating in the 2010 NCAA Championship, TU appeared at No. 23 in the AVCA Preseason Top 25 Poll and most recently the program found itself at No. 21 in the first addition of the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) Report. Tulsa has only suffered one loss coming from rival SMU back on Oct. 5. In order to repeat as champion, first-year head coach Steven McRoberts must win on the road as six of TU's remaining 11 matches at away from the Reynolds Center. However, TU does host second-placed UAB on Oct. 30.
UAB entered last weekend as the hottest team in the league, riding a seven-match win streak and winners of 13 of its last 14 matches. The Blazers suffered their first two league losses as they ran into an offensive powerhouse in Tulsa's Tyler Henderson and crew Friday night, and an SMU team that's picked up momentum over the last few weeks. Head Coach Kerry Messersmith has her team at 7-2, behind Tulsa, and a solid 17-4 overall. Along with Rice and Houston, the Blazers are among the NCAA RPI Top 65, ranking 61st. Messersmith will be aiming for her first regular season title as the Blazers have a strong history of being a title contender.
Sporting an NCAA RPI of No. 44 is Houston. The Cougars had an extremely tough non-conference schedule as they faced five teams that were ranked among the AVCA Top 25. That competition has second-year head coach Molly Alvey prepped for a strong finish in the C-USA race. UH is currently 14-5 overall and tied with UAB for second in the league at 7-2. Of Houston's 11 remaining matches, seven will come against team in the second half of the current standings and six will be inside the friendly surroundings of the UH Athletics/Alumni Center, where they're undefeated (8-0).
After losing three of the league's best players a year ago, eighth-year head coach Genny Volpe has Rice sitting fourth in the standings and ranked No. 63 in the NCAA RPI. Volpe has coached her team to a 6-3 C-USA record and 11-9 overall. However, the next few weeks will be a challenge for the Owls as they will face one of the toughest roads to the championship. They must travel to UAB, UCF, a team that upset then-No. 1 USC, and UTEP as well as drive a few miles across the city to face Houston. Rice does get the opportunity to host Tulsa and a very different SMU team the beat on Sept. 30. Since that time, the Mustangs have taken down Tulsa, UAB and Houston.
Could Tulsa repeat? Will UAB win its first title? What about Houston? Is Rice experienced enough? Or, could SMU be the dark horse to win it all? We'd love to hear your thoughts.
Conference USA expects an unpredictable and exciting finish to the 2011 regular season race. Stay tuned to the C-USA Digital Network and ConferenceUSA.com for all the latest and most up-to-date volleyball news and results as we enter the second-half of the C-USA race.
Jeremiah Ingram recently joined the C-USA staff and is working in the Media/Public Relations Department. As a member of the multimedia team at the league office, he is enhancing our social media efforts, as well as contributing to the Don't Forget the Hyphen blog. Here is his first post:
by Jeremiah Ingram, C-USA
I suppose the point of most blogs is to: 1) ramble about how interesting your life is; 2) become an instant pundit; 3) journal about things you're interested in or make as many esoteric references as you can, attempting to show the world (well at least your readership) how smart you are.
The good news for you is that I don't think I'm going down any of those paths.
We're going to talk soccer; specifically C-USA men's soccer, but also a more global perspective. I was turned on to soccer during my college days. As a pretty rabid sports fan, I knew the big names, the legends and who was going to win the World Cup, but I never saw a live match until college. Once I did, I was hooked.
Ready? Here we go...
They call it "The Beautiful Game" for good reason. It's not the easiest concept for me to describe, but once you see 11 truly working as one, each player sacrificing and at the same time excelling for the team, you'll understand its beauty.
You can call it what you want: soccer, football, fútbol, futebol, calcio or podosphero (that's English (U.S.), English (England), Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Greek, respectively, if you're scoring at home) - just as long as you call on it.
Seriously, sports can tie the world together. And there is nothing else in sport that is as universal as soccer. And you can see it at a campus near you.
When was the last time you watched a match? Have you ever watched college soccer? If your answer is "No," you're missing out on an epic time.
Why should you go?
1. Really good teams. Four C-USA teams made the 48-team NCAA Tournament last year AND they all won at least one match AND had another team advance to the Elite Eight AND league teams are playing 28 matches this fall against other NCAA Tournament teams. We aren't messing around here.
2. Constant action - football players take nearly a minute between plays, have ridiculously long media timeouts and still take 20 minutes for halftime. Soccer? You get 45 minutes of constant action sandwiched around a 15-minute break. Talk about bang for your buck.
3. Nutmegs - it's what gets all the oohs and ahs of playground basketball with grass and cleats.
4. Sixteen seasons, nine different champions in C-USA. It's not just one or two schools that have good teams. They're all good.
5. Great players. This season alone four C-USA players - Arthur Ivo and Juan Castillo of SMU, UCF's Warren Creavalle and Tulsa's Justin Chavez -- are on the Hermann Trophy Watch List...there are only 42 players in the country on that list and we have a bunch. What's the Hermann Trophy? Nothing much, just the equivalent of the Heisman or Naismith. See, great players. Oh, and we have the nation's top scorer this season (McKauly Tulloch of UCF) and the two top assist men (Tyler Riggs and Charlie Pettys of Kentucky).
6. Ranked teams. Seven C-USA teams have appeared in the rankings this season. That's more than two-thirds of the league.
7. Coaching legends. How about the winningest active coach in DI men's soccer (South Carolina's Mark Berson)...and two in the top five (Bob Gray of Marshall is No. 4)? Oh, and two others in the top 45. Seven of the league coaches have more than 100 career wins.
8. No Beckham. Seriously. Unless there is a rogue jersey sighting.
9. No top 10 lists in blogs.
Seriously, though. I've seen a lot of college soccer during the past dozen years and I can say without equivocation that this year's crop of C-USA teams is very strong. Do yourself a favor and go see a match or two. You might just get hooked.
Be sure to log on to the C-USA Digital Network to catch some of the upcoming league action:
Friday, September 30
eTulsa at South Carolina................... 7:30p
Saturday, October 1
eMemphis at Marshall....................... 6:00p
e(14) UCF at (RV) SMU...................... 7:00p
Sunday, October 2
e(21) Kentucky at FIU........................ Noon
All Times Central
eConference USA match
(##) NSCAA Ranking
Toni Gockel joined the C-USA staff in August and is working in the Marketing Department. But she doesn't just stop there! She helps out in all areas here at C-USA, and we appreciate her hard work and enthusiasm! She is a former UAB Soccer player and gives us her insight from a student-athlete's perspective. C-USA conference play opens up tonight so be sure to check out and support C-USA soccer! Here is her post:
Greetings Conference USA lovers and internet surfers! I'm
kind of new to this blog thing, so take it easy on me! I was asked to do a blog about my life as a
student-athlete in C-USA, and now staff. My name is Toni Gockel and as
previously hinted, I am one of the interns here at C-USA. I work alongside the fabulous
staff of the marketing department, particularly Kelly Carney. I arrived here,
in Dallas, Texas, at the beginning of August from Birmingham, Ala. And let me tell you, it was HOT here. Not hot
like 90 degrees where you could still manage to exit air-condition and be okay...No,
hot like 109 degrees to the point where metal was melting. Oh well, enough about weather chit chat. Let
me tell you a little about me and C-USA!
I was a former C-USA soccer athlete that competed with the
UAB Blazers from 2006-2009ish. I say "ish" because I was still eligible to play
in the Spring of 2010, but our season is a Fall sport, therefore spring matches
were more or less for new players to get confidence playing in game
experiences. Being part of a collegiate
team is like being part of a family. You have your ups and downs, but at the
end of the day everyone is family and we love each other. You do everything with your teammates.
Traveling, practicing, eating, class, study hall, living together, going out,
exploring....you get the picture. And yes, we actually went to study hall
(believe it or not). There were fights, there were smiles, there were tears and
there were hugs. It was definitely part of my life that I wouldn't trade for
anything. Before I go on, I have to give my UAB teammates a shout-out for being
the 2006 C-USA champions! I have a ring to prove it Look!
life was over, I took some time to be a "normal" student for my last year at
school. It was bizarre not having to wake up at 5:45 a.m. for practice or
conditioning anymore. Some days I would
wake up and feel guilty, as if I was skipping...but I wasn't. It took some serious
time before I finally got out of the swing of being a competitive athlete. But those first few weeks felt so free and wonderful.
Your body isn't sore, you can actually sleep until 8 a.m., no more training
room visits between classes, and no more fitness tests! Life was grand, but then
after the high of feeling free and independent wears off, it hits you like a
brick in the face. I truly missed being
part of a team and doing what I love to do every day. I would trade soreness
and lack of sleep all over again for my soccer family. True friendships were
made to last a lifetime. It was a bittersweet goodbye to a great chapter in my
Now it was time for the real world! I knew I always wanted
to be surrounded by the athletic world one way or another. I began my college
career thinking I was going to become a physical therapist, boy was I wrong. I
began being very fascinated in the intricate workings of what goes on inside sports
operations. It all looked so magnificent and well put together. As a student-athlete,
you don't always appreciate what staff members do to bring a game or tournament
to life. I decided to take the opportunity of doing an internship with the UAB
athletic marketing department before I faced the work force. It was exhausting
yet exciting! I finally knew what really needed to be done just for a single
event to take place. Cameras needed to be up, promotions needed to be set,
production trucks had to be ready, and the script needed to be finalized! It is
a full-time job and most gets unnoticed by the student- athletes. I can take blame; I
was one of those unaware until this opportunity opened my eyes.
So, after finishing up at UAB, I was lucky enough to keep my
passion alive by an internship offer here at C-USA!
It's pretty awesome getting to work for the conference that
supported me for four years. The life of a
C-USA intern has some nice perks. I get a chance to see what all it takes for a
major athletics conference to succeed.
It's pretty sweet to now be on the other side of the playing field. I no
longer battle on the field, but now I compete for all of our student-athletes off the
field here within C-USA. I somehow still
feel a relationship with all those athletes, like I am one of them. This is a
perfect way to still stay connected.
Every day for me so far has been different. One day I might
be on the phone and writing e-mails to our member schools and the next day I
might be meeting coaches, players, or other important people that deal with our
sponsorships and television deals. I basically assist whoever may need a
helping hand at that particular time. As an intern, I get to experience bits
and pieces of everyone's line of work.
I'm grateful to have the opportunity to learn from so many great people
and watch them do what they do best. Since I just began working at the
beginning of August, I have not seen the full picture nor made any trips yet. However, I will travel to the football
championship site (TBA) and the Men's basketball tournament in Memphis, TN. I
look forward to experiencing a whirlwind of events.
There is a lot of work and effort that goes on around here that
keeps Conference USA productive and well established. So keep cheering for your
favorite team and keep supporting Conference USA! Oh, and all of you student
athletes out there reading this...keep up those grades, because nobody likes a
Sadly,the time has come for me to say good-bye for now. Thank you all for
reading my thoughts and expressions on the transition of being a student-athlete to a
working gal. If any of you ever have any questions, comments, funny jokes,
concerns, etc. feel free to drop me a line.
As much I as love football, I also love fashion. When choosing a career path, sports journalism got the edge but the creative bug managed to manifest itself in other ways. So being the artistic type, it's not surprising that when I am watching or attending an athletic event, my eye is drawn not only to the action on the field, but the details surrounding it - including signage, advertisements, souvenirs, the video board and what the teams are wearing.
It's no surprise then that September is a month I look forward to every year - fashion week, football kickoff and the thickest editions of the fashion and beauty magazines detailing all the trends of the season. While the X's and O's are still the most important part of the game, there is a definite interest in who and what teams are wearing on the "green carpet" as evidenced by a few national sports blogs dedicated strictly to covering uniforms. With fashion, you are making a statement and with continued emphasis on promotion and branding across college athletic programs, the football uniform is an opportunity to create buzz - public relations speak for publicity. Last week's debut of Maryland's custom look generated as much watercooler talk as Lady Gaga's meat dress at the MTV music video awards.
Current trends of the football uniform include an emphasis on fit and fabric relative to sports performance and safety. Popular uniform manufacturers like Nike, Under Armour and adidas feature cutting edge designs with improved ergonomics, ventilation, fabric weight, streamlined pads and increased protection. Custom design also incorporate team colors with distinctive striping and accents, numbers and color combinations. The standard home and away uniforms have been enhanced with different pant and jersey combinations, along with specialty uniforms such as throwbacks, single-game custom designs, commemorative jerseys and helmets. Trendsetter Oregon boasts a Kardashian-sized closet when it comes to its uniform arsenal, with more than 80 different combinations for uniform choices.
To prepare for game day each team has its own equivalent of Rachel Zoe - the equipment manager. This group is one of the hardest working in college football and in preparing to write this blog, I chatted with each one of them about all things uniform in Conference USA.
Football uniforms among Conference USA teams are primarily traditional - much like your favorite pair of Levis jeans - clean cut and classic - think Ralph Lauren or Tommy Hilfiger. The head coach is the primary decision maker when it comes to the uniform style and design, but several favor input from the equipment managers and the players. Nike is the uniform manufacturer for 11 of the C-USA teams (adidas outfits SMU) and the traits of those companies can be seen in the current attire.
New coaches and wear and tear are the main reasons for a uniform change, but sometimes the players or a logo change may inspire it. East Carolina recently debuted new helmets featuring the pirate skull and crossbones mark which has become a popular favorite in Greenville. The Pirates also upgraded their jerseys to the Nike Pro Combat material that has received positive player feedback due to its fit and feel. Memphis also upgraded to the new Nike material when it introduced new uniforms this year, along with a slight color adjustment to the blue/gray home sets. Memphis was added as a vertical accent to the pants. UTEP made several changes to their Nike uniforms this year, including material, streamlining color, upgrading to twill letters and numbers and incorporating "MINERS" down the side of the pants. SMU is also enjoying a new seamless tech fit jersey, produced by adidas, as well as a few tweaks to the pony on the helmet.
Houston is one of the only teams in the league to wear throwback jerseys and helmets this season reminiscent of the Yeoman era. The jersey also features an arched chest insignia. The throwbacks celebrate the history of UH football for the 2011 homecoming celebration in October.
Tulane changed the face masks of its white helmets from black to green. Southern Miss added a new helmet this year, black with a matte finish, which is another look that is popping up on the field. The Golden Eagles are mixing it up by wearing a new helmet decal every three games. The decal designs are top secret until revealed the week before they will be worn.
Helmet decals are a great way to keep the uniforms traditional, but incorporate a custom touch for a special occasion. Rice and Tulsa made a patriotic statements with red, white and blue American flag inspired versions of their logos on the helmets. Rice will also add a pink script "R" for breast cancer awareness in October.
Tulsa and UCF keep their equipment stylists very busy as they may have the most uniform combinations in the league. The Knights feature straightforward uni sets in black, gold and white and to keep things running smooth, a game day look has already been assigned for each game on the schedule this year. The Golden Hurricane, whose blue jersey/gold pants/gold helmet uniforms look stunning on HD TV, have a designated group of players who decide the uniform look for each game. Be on the lookout for a new helmet Tulsa has under wraps, designed by the equipment manager himself.
If you are tuning in to a college football game or the Oscars, you could be asking yourself, "What are they wearing?" Fashion has turned the 50-yard line into a runway of sorts, an opportunity for athletic programs to make their own style statement. For this football fan and fashionista, I can't wait to see what's next.
MOST RECENT COMMENTS
Seth Sullivan said:
Nice video! Looks like C-USA has it together. I really enjoy the media productions put out each week. It helps me keep up with my Golden Eagles!
in post Conference USA: The Headquarters Tour
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Terry Davis said:
Why does CUSA not get any love for the men basketball conference being so competitive. the league is the best it has been in years!!!!!
in post Submit YOUR Video to your favorite C-USA Player or Coach
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