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As part of honoring Black History Month, staff members in the Dodie (our academic center and dining hall for student-athletes on campus) asked several student-athletes who is the most influential African-American in history to them and why. Check out some of the student-athletes' responses below and feel free to add your own answer to the question in the comments.

Samantha Sanchez (WTK/F) Sojourner Truth - "When thinking about the most influential people in African American history, at first I thought that there are just so many - names like Martin Luther King Jr. , Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, Barack Obama, and Thurgood Marshall all ran through my head. Suddenly, a light bulb went off and I came to thinking about Sojourner Truth. She is regarded as one of the greatest abolitionists, speakers, and thinkers of all time, not only for African American rights but also for women's rights. She had a great gift of public speaking and is best known for her speech 'Ain't I a Woman?' given at the Ohio Women's Right Convention. I always get the goose bumps after reading her speech. And the most astonishing thing is that the speech wasn't even a prepared one, since she was uneducated and illiterate. The things she said came solely from the heart and were put in a very blunt and straight to the point style. Just recently Sojourner Truth became the 1st African American women to be honored with a bust in the US Capitol. Michelle Obama was in attendance of the unveiling and stated, mostly gracefully that, 'I hope that Sojouner Truth would be proud to see me, a descendant of slaves, serving as the First Lady of the United States of America.' Sojourner Truth also was the first black woman to win a lawsuit in the U.S.  She has paved the way for all women to strive for equal rights and to not let men put us down."

Shelby Gonzales (SB) Jackie Robinson- "Although he was not a political influence, he was a social & athletic breakthrough. He was the first African-American to play baseball professionally. He not only represented the African-American population as a baseball player but he broke down the walls that limited African-Americans in athletics."

Jaki Alawi (WTN) Martin Luther King, Jr.- "Martin Luther King, Jr. is the most influential African-American because he fought and defended human rights with a passion that not many people would have. Because of him, we live in a better society, in a better America."

JP Rafferty (MSC) Herman Boone- "I have to say Herman Boone. He was the head football coach at T.C. Williams High School in Virginia. He brought a high school together and formed a state championship team. Someone I really look up to."

Josh Suttmeier (MTK/F) Jackie Robinson- "As an athlete, I would have to say the African-American who most influenced me was Jackie Robinson. I remember reading a biography on him when I was younger and was amazed by the patience, self-control, and kindness he continually exhibited in the face of such adversity, hatred, and evil. Jackie paved the way for the equality within our society through his actions."

Nigel Redic (MTK/F) Muhammad Ali- "He challenged the world and never backed down."

Kaysee Sullivan (MTK/F) Coretta Scott King- "Since I am an education major I believe Coretta Scott King is a very influential African-American [in] history. Mrs. King was an activist for civil, women's, gay, human, and equal rights. On top of that, she was an author. The American Library Association named an award [after her] for outstanding African-American writers and illustrators of children's books, heavily related to my major."

Tyler Brockington (WTK/F) Madame CJ Walker- "To men, she was a woman who made cosmetics, but to African-American women, Madame CJ Walker was a beautification visionary. Without the development of the relaxer, certain hairstyles would not be possible today. Some argue that Walker is wrong for her creation because she is part of the reason black women don't wear their hair's natural texture. However, I believe she provided people with an option to fashion their outward appearance in a way that best suits the individual. Everyone wants to be fabulous. Thanks to Madame CJ Walker, that goal is now possible."

Alex Holland (WSC) Martin Luther King, Jr.- "I consider Martin Luther King, Jr. to be the most influential African-American in history because he stood up for what he believed was right and his actions still affect us today. He was always a strong advocate for other African-Americans and their civil rights. Through all the adversity he endured, he still stood up for what he knew was right."

Clayton Gravesande (MTK/F) Jackie Robinson- "Jackie Robinson was a black athlete who played, at that time, an all-white sport in baseball. I think it took a lot of confidence and self-determination to succeed in an environment like that. He faced death threats and still rose to the occasion and became one of the best baseball players ever. As an athlete myself, I can respect a man who faced adversity like this."

Danielle Travis (WTK/F) Michael Jackson- "I believe he is the most influential because not only did he change the face of music, but he set an example for so many young people. He didn't care what people thought about him, and followed his beliefs. This is such a lesson to younger people so they can break through their boundaries as well."

Kelly Coyle (WTK/F) Malcolm X- "Malcolm X because he proved that not only race but also religion does not and should not matter. If you are not happy with how society is then try and change it."

Ashley Cady (WTK/F) Jessie Owens- "He performed to his full potential despite political pressure in the Olympics in track & field."

Cheslie Kryst (WTK/F) Barack Obama- "In my opinion, Barack Obama is the most influential African-American in history. As the first black president not only has he broken barriers that before seemed impossible to move past, he has fulfilled a dream that makes apparent to others that a goal like becoming leader of the free world is within reach regardless of your race. Beyond that, Obama serves as an excellent role model and is a perfect picture of what it is to be a successful politician, leader, and African-American."

Olivia Hassler (WTK/F) Jessie Owens- "I feel that he revolutionized the world of sports on the national and Olympic level. Being a track & field athlete, I feel that he really had an impact on the sport that has the biggest impact on me."

Paris Smalls (MTK/F) Harriet Tubman- "Harriet Tubman because she showed oppressed slaves that there was hope that they could one day achieve freedom."

Josh Jones (MTK/F) Ida B. Wells- "She helped fight for blacks' civil rights and helped wrongfully accused African-Americans get out of jail. She was a journalist who documented lynching in the U.S."

Gabrielle Gray (WTK/F) Rosa Parks- "Rosa Parks because she stood up for every other African-American. Not only to make it where African-Americans can sit anywhere on the bus but she let people know that we are all equal. Nothing is different but our skin color."

Congrats to our December 2012 Graduates!

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As the Fall 2012 semester concluded, 23 Gamecocks earned their degrees this week! Many participated in our Senior Ring Ceremony as well as the University's commencement exercises. The group included two Carolina Degree Completion (CDC) students - former student-athletes who returned to complete their degrees. Congratulations, graduates!

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Drew Meyer

Men's Basketball
Shane Phillips

Women's Basketball
Lakeisha Sutton

Jacob Baker
Byron Jerideau
Kyle Madden
Jared Shaw
Quin Smith
Freddy Saint-Preux (CDC)
Devin Taylor

Men's Soccer
Andre Bahri
Danny Cates
Ross Power
Hunter Howayeck
Luke Berson

Women's Soccer
Darien Vercillo
Kortney Rhoades

Kierstyn White

Swimming & Diving
Aileen Atzhorn
Alyssa Hand
James Crawford

Men's Tennis
Ivan Machado

Women's Tennis
Anya Morgina

Track & Field
Otis Harris (CDC)

Olivia Ryder

We've heard some talk this week about the academic success of our football team prompted by an inaccurate report distributed to the media. While that information has been corrected, we thought it was important to weigh in on the topic of measuring academic achievement.

Rating the academic standard for current teams is difficult because of the delay between events and the data collection and reporting by the NCAA, especially around Graduation Success Rates (GSR). So third parties are left to use only historical data to draw conclusions about this season's teams, which isn't entirely fair to the current student-athletes working so hard toward their degrees.

Over the last two full seasons (2010, 2011), our football team has reached new heights on the field, bringing every Gamecock fan with them. Want to know what other heights the team has been rising to?

  • South Carolina football posted its highest ever GPA in Spring 2012, breaking the previous semester's record, and has had a team GPA of 2.7 or higher for the last four semesters.
  • The football team's APR (Academic Progress Rate), which is more of a real-time indicator than GSR, has been trending upward such that the program has a four-year average of 966 and a single-year high of 993 in 2010-11 - both numbers are the highest in program history.
  • On the 2012 team, there are 10 student-athletes who have already earned their degrees.
  • In the last two academic years (2009-10 and 2010-11), 50 football student-athletes have graduated - including two current NFL players who came back to finish what they started in the classroom.

We can be honest. A football GSR of 55 is not where we want or expect our program to be. But, let's see where our number is when the data catches up with the student-athletes that have been on the field the last several years. We're confident that the 55, which measured the freshman class entering in 2005, will represent the turning point for an upward trend in the GSR as well. How do we know that? We know Steve Spurrier.

Coach Spurrier and our academic staff have instilled a culture in our football program based on the idea that greatness in one area yields it in the other. The focus it takes to study film on an opponent is the same as it is to study for a pre-calculus exam. The discipline it takes to sit at a computer after a hard practice to write a five-page paper on the impact of the Civil War on the economy of the South is the same as it is to wake up early for voluntary conditioning sessions throughout the summer.

The student-athletes have clearly embraced the concept. The record-breaking academic numbers from the last several years listed above have come with an SEC Eastern Division title in 2010 and a school-record 11 wins and a top-10 national ranking in 2012.

"Coach Spurrier and his football staff as well as the academic services staff have worked extremely hard to establish a standard and to communicate expectations to our student-athletes," said Raymond Harrison, associate athletics director for academics and life skills. "There is a strong level of accountability, not only from the coaches but also from the student-athletes who understand the formula for success. The upperclassmen take pride in teaching the younger student-athletes the Carolina way - doing things right all the time and being consistent in your work ethic. This has transformed the program, and we are so proud of their academic achievements."

And, Gamecock Nation can be proud as well, not just of our football team's achievements, but of those of all our student-athletes.

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Check out some of our Spring 2012 graduates last May!

Devin Taylor Breaks the Mold (And Can Fix Your Computer)

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On the Saturday of the Missouri game, senior stand-out defensive end Devin Taylor was with his team winning their first home SEC game of the season in dominating fashion on national TV on CBS. The Thursday afternoon before the game? Devin Taylor was helping wire the CBS production crew's internet at the stadium.

FB-12 Devin Taylor vs. UAB.jpegDevin Taylor on the gridiron

Taylor is not only playing football for Carolina this fall, he is interning with the athletics department's Information Technology staff, led by IT Manager David Hutson and IT Coordinator Toni Rabon. Taylor's major, Integrated Information Technology, includes a 400-hour internship for students to graduate.

The unique program, housed in UofSC's College of Hospitality, Retail, and Sport Management, gives students an in-depth background in information technologies including computer networking, database systems, corporate training and development, and end-user support. Taylor said that he and freshman T.J. Gurley are the only two football players currently in the major.

"We do a little bit of everything in and about computers and programs," Taylor explained. "In one of my favorite classes we learned about networks and different protocols you have to have for security and for a computer to have internet, then another favorite class we actually built a computer."

Taylor said he was always interested in computers as a kid and enjoyed tinkering around with them. In middle school and high school there were several technology-related classes that boosted his interest further. After considering a major in electrical engineering or computer engineering at Carolina, Taylor decided on the Integrated IT major. He liked that it also included the business aspect of IT, saying that after hopefully playing professional football, his goal is to work for an IT company or perhaps start his own company. 

Devin Taylor internship.jpgDevin Taylor off the gridiron

Working with Hutson and Rabon, Taylor has been involved in all aspects of IT support for the athletics department whether it's working in the computer labs at the Dodie Academic Center, projects in the newly opened Rice Athletics Center, or helping check all the different network connections at Williams-Brice Stadium before a game. On the day we talked with him, he was working with Hutson on a website-based calendar to assist the athletics business office with coordinating air travel.

While football players often run into stereotypes, Taylor breaks the mold in more ways than one. His distinctive style, including colorful hair and long forearms full of wristbands, and a quiet personality that earned him the nickname "Don't Say Nothin'" help him stand out in a crowd even more than his 6-foot-8-inch, 267-pound frame.

"I think a lot of people were shocked, especially the first couple weeks I was here," said Taylor. "I think they thought I was just [at their office] to see them until they realized I was actually an intern doing technology...Not a lot of athletes are in this major, but I'm doing something that can be used a lot in the future."  

Coinciding with National Student-Athlete Day in April, the Southeastern Conference announced their annual H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar Athletes of the Year. The awards were formally presented at the SEC Awards Dinner on May 31 during SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, Florida. Senior pitcher Michael Roth became just the fourth South Carolina student-athlete in school history to win the award,
and the second-ever Gamecock baseball player honored (Trey Dyson, 2002). The award has been presented by the SEC since 1986 to the league's top male and female scholar-athletes and is considered one of the most prestigious honors given by the conference.

Michael Roth at SEC Awards Dinner - Marcy twitpic.jpgDr. Harris Pastides, Patricia Moore Pastides, Deborah Roth and Michael Roth at the SEC Awards Dinner

Each year, all member schools nominate one male and one female student-athlete as finalists. Roth and Katie Burnett (women's golf) represented the Gamecocks this year, with Roth going on to win the overall award for male student-athletes. Georgia swimmer Wendy Trott won the Female Scholar Athlete of the Year honor. Roth & Trott will each receive a $15,000 post-graduate scholarship, provided by the SEC in conjunction with AT&T and the AllState Sugar Bowl. The other remaining finalists, including Burnett, will receive a $7,500 post-graduate scholarship. 

With the then-unknown NCAA Regional schedule, Roth almost missed the chance to accept his award in person and even filmed an acceptance speech to be aired in case of his absence. Fortunately, plans came together at the last minute for him to fly to Destin for the Thursday awards dinner and return to Columbia in time for Regional play to start Friday.

Watch video of Roth's acceptance speech in Destin, introduced by Dr. Pastides, here (please excuse the sound of plates, it was dinner after all!):

The McWhorter Award is just one of the many accolades Roth has earned as a Gamecock. Check out some of Roth's other most impressive accomplishments:

- Two-time First Team Capital One Academic All-American (2011, 2012), just the third Gamecock baseball player ever to earn the honor twice

- Lowe's Senior CLASS Award candidate (vote daily here!)

- 2012 President's Award winner, the highest honor given to a University of South Carolina student-athlete 

- 2012 SEC Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year

- 2012 SEC All-Defensive Team

- Graduated in May 2012 with a bachelor's degree in international business and marketing

- 2011 consensus First Team All-American

- 2011 NCAA Elite 88 Award recipient, highest grade point average of all student-athletes competing at College World Series

- 2011 and 2012 Semifinalist for Golden Spikes Award, presented by USA Baseball to the top amateur player in the country.

- 2011 National Player of the Year by

- 2011 First Team All-SEC

- In 2011, as a starting pitcher, finished with 14-3 record with a 1.06 earned run average

- Two-time Team Captain

- SEC Academic Honor Roll, Carolina's Dean's List and President's List

In addition to his athletic and academic achievements, Roth's community involvement also factored into winning the honor. Roth has visited children at various elementary schools and hospitals and took part in the "Light the Night" Walk, helping to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He is also a member of Carolina's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

He has also used his academic interests in the business community. He created and executed a marketing plan to maximize textbook buybacks for Better World Books and consulted with Avwatch, a system integration company, helping it create an international market entry strategy, leading it into new markets in Canada, Chile and the United States. He spent most of summer 2011 in Alicante, Spain, for a study abroad trip, leaving the US almost immediately after the Gamecocks won their second consecutive National Championship in Omaha.

So far in the 2012 season, Roth holds a 6-1 record and a 2.68 ERA with over 107 innings pitched. He will lead the Gamecocks into the Super Regionals of the NCAA Tournament this weekend with the hopes of another return to Omaha for the College World Series.


He's a two-sport athlete, showing off his athleticism and speed on the gridiron with the Gamecock football team with some clutch plays on offense this past season, even a few times making the starting line-up. As soon as football season was over he switched gears to his second sport to finish out the year, re-joining the football squad briefly for spring practice.

You might have thought at first glance I was describing football and basketball star Bruce Ellington. And that would be a good guess... except I'm actually talking about freshman Damiere Byrd.

FB-11 Damiere Byrd vs. Kentucky.jpeg

Debuting on the football field this past season as a true freshman, Byrd is also an elite sprinter for the Gamecocks' track & field program. Fortunately for Byrd the seasons do not overlap as severely as basketball and football do for Ellington, but for a freshman adjusting to college, it can be a lot to manage.

"Fall is all football because track is in offseason workouts. During the winter [after the bowl game] I was full track; I lifted and practiced with track. Spring football started and I went to pretty much every practice and when we didn't have practice, I would go to track practice. Whenever we didn't have [football] weekend scrimmages, I'd go to track meets," Byrd explained. "The schedule actually worked out well. I only missed two meets, but they weren't major ones."

Time management can be tough on any first year college student, especially a student-athlete, but Byrd handled it admirably. The average day this year started with his classes in the morning, grabbing some lunch, then trying to get work done with about an hour and a half of study hall before heading to practices in the afternoon. After practice he usually headed back to the Dodie for dinner and more study hall to finish his schoolwork. 

TRK-12 Damiere Byrd.jpegHe competed in the 60-meter dash during the indoor track & field season, even earning SEC Freshman of the Week honors after placing sixth overall in the event at the prestigious Tyson Invitational. At the time, his 6.72 second mark was the No. 3 60-meter dash time for a freshman in the NCAA. He finished 7th overall in the event at the SEC Indoor Championships, one of just two freshmen in the league to make the finals.

For the outdoor season, Byrd has competed mostly on relay teams, helping the squad to a season best 39.92 second time in the 4x100 relay at the Pepsi Florida Relays. He was also on the 4x200 team that won their heat at the Penn Relays to advance to the Championship of America final where they finished third in front of a nationally-televised audience. The quartet ran 1:23.24, the seventh-fastest time in program history.

Being fast always came naturally to Byrd. Although he was a football player first, he started running at a young age too, playing pee wee football and running for a club track team in the summer.

"I actually started running track to get better at running for football and it just so happened that my first year I went to nationals and ended up getting a few medals. I just kept going after that," said Byrd.

Just being fast isn't enough to succeed in football though. You have to be "football fast".

"It's a little different," said Byrd. "You can't have football speed until you feel comfortable out playing on the field. I wouldn't be able to transfer that track speed if I wasn't comfortable with the plays and the playbook."

Byrd has been able to make the shift from high school to college this year as a true freshman, but thinks he'll be even better next year as a sophomore.

"In college I'm trying to learn more techniques and doing more quality practicing then the next day turn around and come out on the football field and still going 100% every day," said Byrd of the effort it takes to manage both sports. "This year I was taking everything day by day. Next year, I'll be able to know exactly what I have to do, how much time I have to put in to get things done so I can make it easier on myself."

Damiere Byrd and the Gamecocks are in Baton Rouge this weekend competing in the SEC Outdoor Championships for Track & Field. Follow along on Twitter with @GamecockTrack. You can catch Byrd again (if you're speedy) on the football field next fall.

During University of South Carolina spring commencement exercises this weekend, 64 current and former Gamecock student-athletes will receive their degrees. Several seniors from this past year have already graduated and more are set to earn their diplomas in August.

Check out the full list below and congratulations to all of them.
We'll be rooting for you in all that you do. Go Gamecocks!

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Some of our May 2012 graduates gathered earlier this week for a group photo.


Al Hentz - Management
Jake Williams - Visual Communications
Michael Roth - International Business and Marketing 
Robert Beary - Sociology
Steven Neff - Retail Management
Thomas Little - Retail Management

Women's Basketball

Charenee Stephens - Psychology
Ebony Wilson - Psychology
Markeshia Grant - Psychology


Annie Laurie McDonald - Marketing and Management
Colvin Hedgepeth - Public Relations
Maggie Fortune - History
Paige Dekko - Marketing and Management


Adam Yates - Hospitality Management
Akeem Auguste - Sociology
C.C. Whitlock - Sociology
Dalton Wilson - Finance and Economics
Darian Stewart - Retail Management
Joey Scribner Howard - Electrical Engineering
Kyle Nunn - Retail Management
Qua Gilchrist - Sociology
Reginald Bowens - Criminal Justice
Seth Strickland - Political Science
Shaq Wilson - African American Studies
Walker Inabinet - Sport Management

Men's Golf

Clint Tolleson - Finance

Women's Golf

Katie Burnett - Psychology

Men's Soccer

Daniel Lynch - Psychology
Stephen Morrissey - Accounting

Women's Soccer

Ali Glemser - Public Relations
Ellen Fahey - Public Relations
Jocelyn Spurrier - Marketing and Management
Maria Petroni - Exercise Science
Natalie Aaron - Accounting
Roya Mojarab - International Business


Kaela Jackson - Psychology
Lauren Lackey - Exercise Science

Swimming & Diving

Rory Grigull - Exercise Science
Ryan Connolly - Management

Allison Barr - Sociology
Cassandra Cregar - Psychology
Lindsey Olson - Psychology
Mallory Cage - Journalism and Mass Communications

Women's Tennis

Dijana Stojic - Marketing and Management

Track & Field

Andrew Finley - Accounting
Christopher Campbell - Marketing and Human Resources
Frederick Suhrstedt - Exercise Science
Louis Day - Exercise Science
Marvin Reitze - International Business
Matthew Shuler - Civil Engineering
Robert Razick  - Biology
Vincent De Piano - Hotel Management

Allison Nicosia - Psychology
Beatrice Biwott - Public Health
Erin Fedewa - Marine Science
Katie Vuckovich - Criminal Justice
Kelsey McCorkle - Early Childhood Education
Nadonnia Rodriques - Marketing and Management
Nicole Rheinlander - International Business
Radiance Basden - Advertising
Sara Hartley - Economics
Shayla Mahan - African American Studies
Stacee Roberts - Psychology


Jordan Bradosky - Exercise Science

Check out a video feature from the group photo shoot:

Student-Athletes Attend Networking Event

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South Carolina student-athletes recently had the opportunity to meet with professionals from several top companies in the area. Director of Player Development Terry Cousin organized the event as a networking opportunity for student-athletes, coordinating efforts with Erica Nelson, Coordinator of Life Skills and Community Outreach, and the academics staff at the Dodie.

Student-athletes brought their resumes and talked to professionals from companies including Target, Enterprise, Chick-fil-A, Mass Mutual Financial Group and more. Check out some photos:




Thank you to all the participants!  

For those who have been tuning in to March Madness, you've probably seen this Enterprise commercial featuring former NCAA student-athletes, including a Gamecock!

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South Carolina graduate Christine Mudd (Cross Country, 2003-06) is shown holding a picture of herself in her South Carolina Cross Country uniform around the :08 second mark and has a quick speaking line later in the commercial. All the employees featured in the spot were former student-athletes. 

"Shooting the commercial was a lot of fun.  We took multiple takes of the different scenes.  It was interesting to see the process and how much goes into filming a commercial," said Mudd. "My family, friends, and former teammates are definitely excited about seeing me on TV. I have gotten many phone calls, texts, and messages from different friends and teammates who recognized me. It is not something I had ever envisioned myself doing so it is it was a very unique opportunity and being able to represent my Gamecocks is exciting."

Her eyes widened in her South Carolina dorm room as she read the email. Her father in Russia on the other end of a Skype video call wasn't sure what to think.

"What happened??" he said, sounding worried.

"I got in!" she screamed.  

Thousands of miles away the father started celebrating along with his daughter, Katerina Popova, a sophomore women's tennis player at the University of South Carolina.

Popova had just learned she had been accepted into the prestigious International Business degree program at South Carolina, the No. 1-ranked program in the country for that field of study.  

Admission to the program is extremely competitive and limited to just a small number of students each year. Popova's perfect 4.0 GPA as a freshman earned her a spot on the SEC Freshmen Academic Honor Roll and in prime position to be accepted to the program that requires a minimum 3.50 GPA and several business courses as pre-requisites. The International Business major also requires students to select a second major within the Moore School of Business; Popova chose Economics.

WTN-12 Katerina Popova Furman.jpeg"I want to do something that I will be interested in...every single day will be something different," said Popova. "I like Economics because it depends on the situation, like how the markets are today.  You just try to build your business depending on the situation in the markets and I think it's stressful but it's interesting."

Already proficient in her native Russian (she's from Moscow) as well as English, Popova chose to study Chinese to fulfill the foreign language requirement of the IB program.

"My brother lives in China and I was always interested in Asia," said Popova. "I just felt like it was something cool and interesting and then I saw online that they offer a Chinese minor and I was like okay, I'll try that."

All IB students participate in a period of study outside the United States. Many Gamecock fans are familiar with this part of the program as All-American pitcher and IB major Michael Roth famously jetted off to Spain just a few days after winning the College World Series for his study abroad program in summer 2011. Similar to Roth, Popova will aim to fulfill this requirement during a summer term after her junior year.

"On one hand I want to go to China since I'm learning Chinese," said Popova. "But on the other hand I would love to go to Australia!"

Popova shared that she knew she was interested in International Business before she came to South Carolina, but didn't make the decision to actually apply to the program until after being so successful academically her freshman year. She says balancing academics with being a student-athlete is a challenge (she even had five exams in one week a few weeks ago!), she finds a way to get everything done, as evidenced by her GPA and strong performance on the court. Katerina has played primarily at the No. 4 singles spot this season and in various pairings in the No. 3 doubles slot. Individually she is 13-8 overall and 7-3 in dual match play. The team as a whole is also 7-3 in dual play, with two more SEC matches this weekend, Friday vs. Kentucky at 3:00 p.m. and Sunday vs. Vanderbilt at 1:00 p.m.

While Katerina and her father celebrated the big news via Skype, she said she was amused by her mom's much calmer, very motherly response:

"Well, didn't you expect you would get in?"

For more information on the Gamecock Women's Tennis team, click here.

For more information on the International Business program, click here.

Thanks to the hard work of two Gamecock Cross Country student-athletes, Wednesday night's final basketball home game of the season aims to be carbon neutral.

Earlier this year, University of South Carolina seniors Nicole Rheinlander and Erin Fedewa earned a $9,000 grant from the Carolina Leadership Initiative, which promotes a vision for leadership development on campus, to work on the project. They developed the idea after founding the Green Initiative Committee for student-athletes.

"Developing a mission statement to help the athletics department advance as sustainable leaders on campus led to the creation of short term and long term goals to make this mission possible," said Rheinlander, an international business and accounting major. The duo sought guidance on the project from South Carolina Director of Sustainability Michael Koman and Coordinator for Life Skills and Community Outreach Erica Nelson.

An event being "carbon neutral" means that enough energy is saved elsewhere to off-set the carbon footprint of an the event.
Lots of factors contribute to an event's carbon footprint: the energy used to power and light the venue, waste, teams and fans driving to the game, etc.

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Student-athletes planted trees on campus as part of carbon off-sets for the event.

"The idea for a carbon neutral athletic event took shape when Nicole and I began to realize that as student-athletes, our sporting events produce carbon emissions and, in turn, leave a carbon footprint on the environment," said Fedewa, a marine science major. "USC's first carbon neutral athletic event is a great way to educate students, athletes and fans while paving the way for larger scale carbon neutral events around campus."

The first step in the project was to determine how much CO2 was being produced by a Gamecock basketball game to be able to develop a plan for enough carbon off-sets. The duo completed extensive research on the feasibility of the project during the grant application process, researching energy consumption at different athletic facilities around campus and collecting data on what transportation fans use to get to events and how far they travel.

Led by Fedewa and Rheinlander, student-athletes have been planting trees and exchanging energy efficient light bulbs around campus as carbon off-sets. The newly installed light bulbs are 75% more energy efficient than standard bulbs. Depending on the type and age of the tree when planted, three to five trees can offset one ton of carbon throughout their lifetime. The Green Initiative team, with the help of student-athletes, has planted eight shade trees leading up to the game (pictured below.) Tree plantings and light bulb exchanges will continue after the basketball game to achieve the carbon offset target based on game energy reports from the arena.

Student-Athlete tree planting posed shot.JPG

Student-athlete tree-planting, from left to right: Nicole Rheinlander (Cross Country/Track & Field), Katie Burnett (Women's Golf), Andre Carter (Men's Track & Field), Mallory Cage (Women's Swimming & Diving), Courtney Newton (Women's Basketball), Rachel Grochowski (Cross Country/Track & Field), Erin Fedewa (Cross Country/Track & Field)

"Colonial Life Arena is committed to educating our patrons on the importance of going green," Global Spectrum's Lexie Boone, General Manager at Colonial Life Arena said. "We continue to expand our own efforts to be environmentally friendly while always striving to aid in the university's progress toward becoming a more sustainable campus."

To help support the carbon neutral basketball game, fans are encouraged to visit the Green Initiatives table on the Colonial Life Arena concourse at Wednesday's game for more information about carbon neutrality. While Fedewa and Rheinlander hope their event will lead to more like it on campus, everyone can be a part of their efforts.

"Our individual carbon footprints can be reduced greatly with sustainable and environmentally-friendly decisions in our everyday lives," said Fedewa. "A carbon neutral event is a great way to show not only student-athletes and fans, but the entire community of Columbia, ways to reduce their carbon footprints and impact the environment."

Men's Basketball tips off vs. Mississippi State at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Get there early to check out the Green Initiatives as well as help celebrate Senior Day for Malik Cooke. We'll also be recognizing student-athletes who earned the Athletics Director Honor Roll distinction on the court at halftime.

"Inside the Roost" Tonight: Academics Special

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1075 the game logo.jpgThis week's "Inside the Roost" radio show will be a special edition focused on academics. The Gamecocks have continued to make positive strides in the classroom while simultaneously having more success on the field. 

Last week, the SEC released their Fall Academic Honor Roll and for the sixth straight fall, the University of South Carolina led the conference with the most student-athletes earning the honor (66). Our student-athletes also achieved the highest departmental GPA ever with a 3.202 average during the 2011 fall semester, their 10th consecutive semester posting a grade point average above 3.0.

Tune in tonight at host Derek Scott and AD Eric Hyman are joined by Associate AD for Academics Raymond Harrison, Faculty Athletics Representative Dr. Zach Kelehear and several of our student-athletes to talk about the parallels between success in academics and athletics, various factors in the improvements such as the Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center, and more.

"Inside the Roost" airs every Monday night from 7:00-8:00 p.m. with Eric Hyman and Derek Scott joined by weekly guests to give you insight into what's happening with Gamecock Athletics. You can also listen online!

Article courtesy of the University of South Carolina, News

USC athletic training student highlighted on ESPNU

"If not for the fast action of USC graduate student Caleb Lott, Brennan Barber could have died this summer after taking a severe blow to the head during a football scrimmage.

Lott is a student in USC's Graduate Athletic Training Program and was working the sidelines at Mid-Carolina High School in Newberry County when Barber was hit.

Lott's fast action got Barber to Palmetto Health Richland in Columbia. Barber made a full recovery - though he won't play football again.

Lott's story and USC's athletic training program will be featured on ESPNU's "SEC Academic Special" airing on the sports network at 5 p.m. Wednesday (Jan. 4). The athletic training program is offered by the College of Education and assigns certified trainers to local high schools as well as to teams at USC and other nearby colleges.

Lott's story also appeared in The State newspaper of Columbia in August."

Congrats to the Latest Gamecock Grads!

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Nineteen current and former Gamecock student-athletes were among the graduates at the University of South Carolina's December commencement exercises on Monday.

Congratulations to all of them!

Will Casey                                 Baseball
Vance Benson                          Men's Soccer
Henry Walker                            Men's Tennis
Miljana Jocic                            Women's Tennis
Malik Cooke                             Men's Basketball
Samone Kennedy                    Women's Basketball

Antonio Allen                            Football
Ladi Ajiboye*                            Football
Jason Barnes                           Football
Melvin Ingram                           Football
Rokevious Watkins                  Football
Kenny Miles                              Football
Eric Baker                                 Football
Jay Wooten                               Football
Steven Singleton                      Football
Porche' Byrd                            Track & Field
Gabrielle Glenn                        Track & Field
Hannah Lawing                        Volleyball
Annie Thomas                          Volleyball

*completed degree requirements in August, but participated in December commencement

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Graduate Malik Cooke with Men's Basketball Head Coach Darrin Horn

This is the first of several "Year in Review" posts looking back at different aspects or people of the past 2010-11 season in South Carolina Athletics. Hope you enjoy reminiscing with me!

While the 2010-11 season was a banner year for South Carolina Athletics in competition, Gamecock student-athletes also excelled in academics and in volunteering in the community.

Here are some of the year's high points:

- The Gamecocks landed the most student-athletes on the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll  for the fifth consecutive year with a school-record 79 student-athletes (including 31 football players, also the league high). We also led the conference with the highest number of student-athletes on the Spring Academic Honor Roll and the First-Year Academic Honor Roll.

- With the Fall 2010 semester Gamecock student-athletes set a new record for the highest departmental GPA ever at 3.146.

- Women's Golf led the way with a 3.568 GPA last fall, followed closely by Women's Swimming & Diving (3.512) and Women's Tennis (3.497).

- For the spring semester, 58 student-athletes earned a perfect 4.0 GPA and, with that, a spot on the President's List, while 161 were named to the Dean's List. 334 student-athletes, more than half of the student-athlete population, were named to the Athletics Director's Honor Roll (3.0 GPA).

- Two teams, Women's Tennis (3.576) and Men's Swimming & Diving (3.279), achieved their highest mark on record this spring. The Women's Tennis GPA was the department high for the spring.

- Football broke their own record for the third consecutive year, posting their highest GPA ever (2.779) this fall. They followed that up with their second-highest GPA ever this spring (2.711).

- Thirteen of South Carolina's athletic programs, including Football, ranked above the national average in the latest report of Academic Progress Rate (APR) statistics released May 24, 2011.

- Eight Gamecock student-athletes were named Capital One Academic All-Americans in 2010-11.

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A portion of the 67 student-athletes who graduated this spring.

In addition to their commitments in the classroom and competition, teams and student-athletes are involved in the community. This past year our student-athletes conducted a total of 3,884 service hours, which included contributions from every program. Football led all teams with 625 hours (Marcus Lattimore had a team-high 25.5 hours) followed by Equestrian at 472 and Women's Track & Field at 418.

For average number of hours, Softball, the Life Skills Team of the Year, led the department with an average of over 17 hours of service per team member. Women's Soccer (14 hours per team member) and Equestrian (13 hours) were also department leaders.

Individually, swimmer Lydia Hackert completed the most hours overall with 127.5 hours, followed by Kayla Blake (109.5 hours, Track & Field) and Chris Campbell (67.5 hours, Track & Field). 

Community outreach took a lot of different forms this year. Student-athletes made visits to local schools, encouraged reading and literacy, helped serve the homeless at area shelters, hosted skills camps and clinics, collected bottle caps that equated to donated dialysis treatments, visited hospitals, participated as teams in charity runs/walks, shopped for Christmas gifts for a needy family, and that is just the start of the list!

Softball in their "best" Christmas sweaters wrapping Christmas gifts to donate.

Kudos to our student-athletes for their hard work academically and their dedication to being great representatives of the Gamecocks out in the community. Also, thank you to all the staff in the Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center and the Academics/Student Support Services department for their commitment to helping our student-athletes be successful.

I look forward to writing even more great stuff this time next year!

Go Gamecocks!



Michael Roth.jpegThe Southeastern Conference announced today that the SEC had 43 Capital One Academic All-Americans in 2010-11, more than any other conference.  The league had 23 student-athletes earn first-team honors, an all-time high for the SEC.

Capital One Academic All-America Teams are voted on by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

Eight Gamecock student-athletes represented South Carolina this year:

First Team:
Michael Roth, Baseball
Jimmy Maurer, Soccer
Mollie Patton, Soccer

Second Team:
Michael Zajac, Track & Field
Taryn Zack, Swimming & Diving

Third Team:
Blake Brettschneider, Soccer
Marvin Reitze, Track & Field
Will Traynor, Soccer

You can read the full SEC update here.

Great job, Gamecocks!