May 25, 2010
THAT'S A WRAP
It's been a while since last we visited. I've planned on an update numerous times during the spring, but then I realized we were just about finished for the season. So, it's time to bring the curtain down on the 2009-10 athletic year for the Green and Gold. It's hard to believe we are now beginning to look ahead to football season...didn't Joe Webb just run all over Rice at Legion Field? The time does indeed fly...especially when you're thoroughly enjoying yourself, as I did this year.
We'll miss Joe Webb, and his weekly round of highlights, but I think the football team is headed in the right direction. The Blazers showed improvement in 2009 and just missed out on being bowl eligible. There were any number of highlights, but the one that sticks out to me is the win over Southern Miss...the first-ever for UAB over the Golden Eagles on the gridiron. That was part of a wonderful weekend for Blazer athletics, topped off by the UAB Athletics Hall of Fame Ceremony. If the progress continues, as planned, then I think we may have a post-season in our future in 2010. The schedule is tough, but I honestly believe coach Callaway and company are ready for a breakthrough.
Basketball season was a blast. Mike Davis and his bunch led C-USA for most of the regular season, and while the finish to the campaign (and a miserable loss to Southern Miss at the C-USA Tournament...in Tulsa...on my birthday) was painful, to say the least, the season as a whole was remarkable. Most expected the Blazers to finish closer to last than first in the league standings, but it's hard to measure chemistry, and that's what made this team special. The run in the NIT was memorable, especially the visit by North Carolina. I think I would seriously consider trading a body part for a win over the Heels, but just seeing them on the floor at Bartow Arena, in front of a packed house, was mighty special. The high praise given to UAB, Blazer fans and the Bartow Arena atmosphere by Ol' Roy was sincere...and greatly appreciated.
The women had a memorable run of their own. Audra Smith's team caught fire at just the right time and nearly made a miraculous sprint through the Conference USA Tournament...also in Tulsa. The Blazers made the championship game and turned in a spirited performance in the title game. With the amount of young talent on the roster, I think we'll see similar runs by the Blazers in the coming years.
Then we got to go back outside for softball and baseball. The UAB softball team christened their beautiful new stadium...challenged for the C-USA championship...and earned the school's first-ever invitation to the NCAA Tournament. The Blazers picked up a win at the Tuscaloosa Regional, which is awesome, but they also gained valuable experience in the high-pressure situation of the NCAA Tournament. All of the factors listed will no doubt help coach Townsend continue to build the program and make NCAA appearances commonplace.
The baseball Blazers also had a bit of a new look...new video board and new hitting cages changed the appearance of Young Memorial Field for the 2010 campaign. Coach Shoop had another scrappy bunch that was in the running for a berth in the C-USA Tournament until the final out of the final game of the regular season was recorded. The Blazers had four named to All-Conference USA teams, and if they league handed out "Best Story of the Year," they would've had that, too. Senior catcher Digger Towe broke a bone in his foot in a collision at home plate in mid-March. He was lost for the season...or so we thought. He worked and rehabbed, and by the time Senior Day at YMF rolled around, not only was he back in the line-up, he was once again catching...and hitting a home run. The league changed the format this year, and only the top six teams qualified. UAB tied for sixth...but lost out on the tie-breaker with East Carolina. I know it was a frustrating season, with hurdles aplenty, but with a little luck (and they are due some), the Green and Gold will be back in the post-season soon.
I know that's just a portion of all that happened during this athletic season...other teams and individuals had great years...and I congratulate all of them...and thank them for their hard work, dedication and desire to bring championships to UAB. It's time now for a break...a chance to recharge the batteries...see the family...enjoy the summer...play some golf...and get ready for 2010. Kickoff will be here before we know it...and I can't wait!
Have a great summer and GO BLAZERS!!!