May 23, 2009
Dear Gamecock Fans:
What an exciting last couple of weeks we've had in Gamecock Athletics! We've enjoyed tremendous successes both on and off the field of competition:
- The women's tennis team upset No. 10 Tennessee, 4-3, on the Lady Vols' home court to advance to the NCAA Sweet 16, then topped Washington, 4-0, to reach the national quarterfinals for the first time since 1982, before falling just short in an epic battle with No. 2 Georgia, 4-3. Coach Arlo Elkins' group, led by senior Gira Schofield and junior Ana Marija Zubori, showed the fierce determination and "never quit" attitude that we like to see from all of our teams.
- Coach Ray Tanner's baseball team responded from a three-game sweep at the hands of Florida by winning 11 of its next 12 games to earn a second-place finish in the SEC Eastern Division with a 17-13 record. They were two games better in conference play than they were a season ago, despite losing the likes of high draft picks Justin Smoak, James Darnell and Reese Havens, and were picked to finish no higher than fourth in the East in the preseason polls. They are peaking at the right time and their recent hot streak put them back into the conversation to host an NCAA Regional.
- The men's golf team had a very good first day at the NCAA Southeast Regional, but still had work to do going into the final day of competition. With only the top five teams advancing to the NCAA Championships and with seven teams within six strokes for the final three spots, it was anyone's game heading into that final round. The Gamecocks, under the steady hand of Bill McDonald, not only stepped up to the challenge, but blew away the competition in that final round by turning in the day's best mark, 15 under par, including 12 under on the back nine, to gain a tie for second in the tournament and reserve a spot at the NCAA Championships.
- Our student-athletes turned in one of the best academic semesters ever recorded in Gamecock Athletics. While the results are not quite finalized, we know that the football team's grade point average was around 2.7, while the men's basketball team recorded a 3.0 GPA! Over the past few years we have made a huge financial commitment to improving our academic area and, with the help of our coaches who emphasize the importance of getting a quality education, we are seeing the fruits of our labor and getting confirmation that it was money well spent. The recently released APR numbers confirmed that we are headed in the right direction academically. Moving into the new "Dodie" Academic Center at the end of the fall semester should only help as we move forward.
Those are recent examples of what we are trying to achieve in Carolina Athletics - competing for championships, having a nationally-prominent program across the board and keeping the "student" in the student-athlete. We reached a milestone during the 2008-09 season - for the first time since joining the SEC, our football, men's basketball and baseball teams all finished with a .500 mark or better in league play. While we know that we are not yet where we want to be, this indicates that we are headed in the right direction athletically as well.
We appreciate your continued support of Gamecock Athletics as we all look forward to a successful 2009-10 campaign.