From the AD's Desk
Aug. 18, 2008
Greetings Bison Fans!
Let me start this “Back to School” edition of From the AD’s Desk with an enthusiastic welcome to our newly re-designed Bison Athletics Web site. As we mentioned in our introductory press release, the new format presents a much more visually appealing layout, featuring a prominent display of Bucknell’s school colors and a significantly increased focus on photography. The new layout also allows for easier navigation back to the University Web site, and of utmost importance, it has given us the opportunity to introduce a new video element – Bison Vision. I hope you will visit Bison Vision often, as we plan to have frequent updates with coach and student-athlete interviews and highlights. In addition, fans who subscribe to the All-Access service will be able to watch live coverage of numerous Bison contests. As always, please contribute to the new site by offering your feedback and suggestions.
As I mentioned, we are just about ready to celebrate our own “New Year’s” at Bucknell. Most of our fall-sport student-athletes are back on campus, and the stadium and West Fields have been buzzing with activity. This is always one of my favorite times of year. Everyone comes back with clean slates, brimming with enthusiasm and high aspirations.
This fall the Bison teams plan to ride the momentum of an outstanding spring season that was highlighted by the baseball team’s incredible NCAA upset of Florida State, and culminated with Bucknell’s 14th Patriot League Presidents’ Cup trophy in the 18-year history of the league.
Two of our fall programs will be under the leadership of first-year head coaches. For one – head men’s and women’s water polo coach John Abdou – the surroundings are warmly familiar. For the last three years, Coach Abdou did a terrific job as the lead assistant under John Zeigler, and he even had the women’s team ranked in the top 20 nationally as the interim head coach in the spring. New field hockey head coach Jeremy Cook is brand new to Bucknell, having arrived from Bloomington, Ind., where he was an assistant coach at Indiana University. Coach Cook has extensive experience with the U.S. National Team as both a coach and an athlete, and he has already begun imparting his vast knowledge here with the Bison. I wish John and Jeremy all the best in their first seasons in Orange & Blue.
Over at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium, the Bison football team has engaged in one spirited practice after another. Perhaps fueled by the season-ending victory over league champion Fordham in November, head coach Tim Landis has described this past off-season as the most productive of his career. Upwards of 50 players spent their summer in Lewisburg, working out and coming closer together as a team. The Sept. 6 season-opener against Duquesne is just around the corner, and is one of six home games on the 2008 schedule. We hope to see all of the Bison Backers at our pre-game tailgate prior to the Duquesne game and at the All-Campus Picnic prior to the Sept. 20 Cornell game. Also remember that the Oct. 11 home game against Hofstra is Community Day, with free admission and a performance by the always entertaining Hawthorne Caballeros Drum & Bugle Corps. Two weeks later, league rival Colgate comes to town for Homecoming.
Both Bison soccer teams appear to be very strong once again in 2008. Ben Landis’ women’s team is coming off a regular-season Patriot League title, and defending conference player of the year Jennifer Dervarics leads a large group of experienced players. The men are just two years removed from a league title, and coach Brendan Nash is hard at work preparing his team for another foray into the deep and talented Patriot League.
The volleyball team has welcomed an exciting recruiting class to counterbalance the loss of the team’s top two hitters from last season, and I am eager to see Cindy Opalski’s team at home for the first time on Sept. 12-13 at the Bucknell Invitational.
The women’s cross country squad has three straight Patriot League championships to defend, while coach Kevin Donner feels that his men’s squad has a very focused group of athletes who are determined to move up from last year’s fourth-place league finish.
When you make your way back to campus to catch the Bison in action this fall, you might notice a few summer flooring projects that have been completed in our indoor athletics venues. A new Mondo surface has been installed in the Krebs Fitness Center, with new carpeting laid in the corridors connecting the fitness center, Kinney Natatorium and Sojka Pavilion. Also be sure to check out the vibrant orange and blue Gerhard Fieldhouse floor and track surface.
One of the highlights of the summer was our Diversity in Athletics Award, presented by the NCAA in recognition of Bucknell’s commitment to Gender Equity compliance. While our award did focus on gender equity, we are committed to enhancing all forms of diversity within the Department of Athletics and Recreation. It is a major cog in the Plan for Bucknell, and it is a major cog in our long-range planning in athletics.
From a fundraising standpoint, we recently completed another very successful fiscal year for the Bison Club. More than $1.6 million dollars was raised, and a new record was set in terms of the total number of donors. For that, a hearty thank you!
The sports cliché that there is no time to celebrate also applies to fundraising, as we have already turned our attention to future Bison Club objectives. The Bucknell Gridiron Club – the football team’s new fundraising arm of the Bison Club – was introduced at last month’s Ranck-Gadd Kickoff Classic. For more information on the Bucknell Gridiron Club, or on how to support each of our 27 varsity programs, please contact Bison Club Director Todd Newcomb at 570-577-1771.
With rave reviews still swarming around the new stadium facility at Graham Field and Varsity Soccer Field, we continue to be focused on addressing support for two additional athletics facilities. One is Phase IV of the West Fields Project, which focuses on much-needed improvements for the baseball and softball facilities. The other surrounds the design of an instructional golf center for our men’s and women’s varsity teams at the Bucknell Golf Club.
We are now less than a week away from the entire first-year class arriving on campus for Orientation, and before you know it the winter sports teams will be commencing their preseason workouts. I’d like to wish every Bison student-athlete and coach the best of luck for a safe and successful 2008-09 season, and I hope to have the opportunity to see each of our loyal Bison supporters at a Bucknell athletics event this season.
Best regards, and as always … GO BISON!
John P. Hardt
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