Athletic Director Greg Christopher
Aug. 21, 2014
Beginning with the month of August, Athletic Director Greg Christopher will engage Xavier Nation with a bi-monthly letter. The segment continue throughout the 2014-15 season.
August is always a special time on a college campus. The stillness of summer is replaced by a flurry of activity that resets the clock on a new year. This week, Xavier's nearly 1,300 new freshmen descend on campus for Manresa and you can feel the pace of activity at X shifting gears.
Before 2013-14 is completely in our rear-view mirror, I wanted to reflect on Xavier's inaugural season in the BIG EAST and highlight a few important notes for Xavier fans.
Opening lap for the BIG EAST
Year one in the BIG EAST was exciting for all of Xavier Nation and represents an important new chapter - and platform - for the university. Hats off to Brent MacDonald's men's swimming team and Scott Googins' baseball team for bringing home Xavier's first-ever BIG EAST championships. Baseball's title and NCAA Tournament appearance was a terrific way to wrap up the 2013-14 sports season.
Xavier's 280 student-athletes are a remarkable group on many fronts. Leaders in the classroom, community and in competition, there are a host of accolades from last year I could list here. Three worth highlighting that came over the last few months include:
- Clare Fischer wrapped up a standout Xavier career in cross country and track that saw her appear in the NCAA Cross Country Championship Finals last fall, making her the first Xavier athlete to reach the Cross Country Finals.
- Senior and men's tennis captain Jimmy Roebker was selected as the winner of the 2013-14 BIG EAST Michael Tranghese Postgraduate Leadership Award, which includes a scholarship for postgraduate study.
- Xavier swimmer Chad Thompson was announced as one of the winners of the 2013-14 BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence Awards, which recognize academic and athletic achievement, as well as community service. Thompson was also the Most Outstanding Performer at the BIG EAST Men's Swimming Championship.
- Xavier baseball player Vinny Nittoli was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 25th round of the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Players Draft.
- Xavier soccer standout Nick Hagglund was selected with the No. 10 pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft by Toronto FC. Hagglund, who was named MLS Rookie of the Week earlier this month, is among the candidates for MLS Rookie of the Year.
Thank you, thank you, thank you
Xavier Nation continues to make an impact. It's through X's tremendous fan support and generosity that a first-class facility like the Cintas Center became a reality, which gives our teams an incredible foundation from which to build. Frankly, it's what made the jump to the BIG EAST possible. We can't say thank you enough to the alumni and fans that support our teams. With 10,000 taking in each men's basketball home game, an increase in AFO donations and membership, plus the hundreds of X fans who made the trip to New York for the BIG EAST Tournament, Xavier Nation makes all of what we do possible...thank you!
It's always nice to see former student-athletes come back to campus. Romain Sato, 2004 graduate who is enjoying a tremendous pro basketball career overseas, was back on campus this summer with his wife and three children. Brian Grant, 1994 graduate and long-time NBA standout, brought his two 16-year-old sons to campus last week from their home in Portland. Both made sure to make time to talk to Sr. Rose Ann Fleming during their visits.
Most X fans have probably heard about this, but we're thrilled to 'start' our Cintas Center basketball season a bit early this year. The Cleveland Cavaliers will host the Indiana Pacers in an NBA exhibition game on Oct. 15. Tickets will be on sale soon and season ticket holders will get an early opportunity to purchase seats. As a lifelong Pacers fan, I'm excited to see a different blue in the building - along with Xavier Hall of Famer David West.
While Xavier's student-athletes deservedly receive accolades for their work in the classroom, a new initiative in Student-Athlete Academic Support got national recognition. Congrats go out to our academic staff for being honored this summer by their national association with the 'Xavier Pro Series' program they developed. The Pro Series program was created for senior athletes to assist with their co-curricular development as they prepare for graduation.
Fall sports underway
Woody Sherwood's women's soccer squad was the first to compete, with an exhibition game against Dayton. Andy Fleming's men's soccer squad beat Indiana in its first exhibition test and Ryan Orner's cross country teams are also busy with training. And our final fall sport - Mike Johnson's volleyball team - welcomed six new recruits when practice started earlier this month. While men's basketball's highly ranked class received a lot of attention, Mike and his staff also assembled a nationally noted class - 22nd from a college volleyball publication.
A highlight of the summer was our recent trip to Brazil with the men's basketball team and a few donors. Beyond the basketball experience - 10 valuable practices and four games for a young team - the cultural opportunities that came from the trip were impactful for all who made the trip. I think every player on Xavier's team would tell you the trip was an incredible opportunity. Our day at an area youth center for a basketball clinic - watching our players break through a language barrier with kids via the simple connection of basketball - was pretty special. Teams can make international trips once every four years. Given the six new faces on our men's team, the timing of this trip was probably ideal. While we certainly hope the trip pays basketball dividends, I know its impact will go beyond the court.
As always, thank you for all that you do for Xavier's student-athletes.