Aug. 25, 2009
Dear Blazer fans,
What a great weekend! I can't thank all of you enough for the support you showed football, volleyball and soccer last weekend. For those that weren't able to make it out, here's a brief recap of the festivities.
Saturday morning started with "Breakfast with the Blazers." The football coaches and the seniors served up some tasty food from Full Moon BBQ to the UAB fans at Bartow Arena. That was followed by an autograph session on the concourse. It was great to be able to meet so many of the families of the players, as well as a lot of our loyal supporters. Fan Day concluded with a thoroughly entertaining exhibition game between some of the football team and our UAB volleyball team. The guys acquitted themselves nicely (or bravely), but did come up just a little bit short. A great crowd stayed to watch the duel, and it certainly appeared as if everyone had a great time. No injuries to report, thank goodness, and from all reports, it seems as if Kerry Messersmith has herself another pretty talented team. Granted, the opposition will be a little tougher this season than what they faced on Saturday, but it looks like UAB volleyball is ready for a big year in 2009.
After a big breakfast (and a little nap for some) it was off to Legion Field so I could watch the football team's second scrimmage of the pre-season. You can read coach Callaway's thoughts on the scrimmage in the recap here on the website, so I won't rehash them in this post. I do think there's good reason to be excited about the 2009 season. There aren't just more players out there in uniform, there are more athletes wearing the Green and Gold this season. Depth has been a major issue for the Blazers the last two years, and while that problem hasn't been solved, it certainly has been improved. The other thing I took from the scrimmage...the weather. Any chance it will be about 83 degrees with a slight breeze and no humidity on September 5th at 3 PM? I don't think so, either, but it sure was nice last Saturday.
That perfect weather helped set the stage for a HUGE event on Saturday evening. The men's soccer team had its first exhibition of the pre-season, and not only did fans have a chance to see the Blazers take on Clemson, kids also had a wonderful opportunity before the game. Almost 800
youngsters came out for a free clinic before the start of the game at West Campus Field. I can assure you, the coaching staff was absolutely blown away by the turnout...but as they say in advertising...wait, there's more. After the two-hour clinic wrapped up, an even bigger crowd was on hand to watch the Blazers and the Tigers. In fact, it was a record crowd...3,481 fans piled into West Campus Field, the largest ever to gather at that facility. The majority went home happy, as UAB blanked Clemson, 3-0.
I suppose my recap of the weekend isn't totally accurate, because I didn't mention the real start of the fun. That actually came on Friday night, when the women's soccer team opened their season on the road. Paul Harbin took his squad to Tuscaloosa and shut out the Crimson Tide, 2-0...not a bad way to get things started! The women then joined in on the fun in the Magic City on Sunday afternoon. After the big night at West Campus Field on Saturday, the facility got another good show on Sunday afternoon. UAB looked to make it an "SEC Sweep" with Ole Miss coming to Birmingham, and the Blazers not only got the win, they recorded their second shutout of the young season. The 1-0 victory over the Rebels put the cap on a nearly-perfect weekend for the Green and Gold. Kate Blankenship recorded nine saves in the two games, and the junior goalkeeper was tabbed the Conference USA "Defensive Player of the Week" for her efforts.
There were a lot of very happy people after the weekend, and rightfully so. But there was also a group that was probably just a little too tired to do much celebrating. A big pat on the back to the Athletic Marketing staff for a tremendous job under tough circumstances. The group is a little short-handed right now, but you wouldn't have known it over the weekend. They managed to coordinate, staff and run all the events flawlessly. Fans who enjoy sporting events don't always realize how much work goes on behind the scenes to pull it all off. I hope our tremendous marketing staff rested well on Sunday night...they deserved it! Along those lines, we're all heading into this week with mixed emotions. A member of that marketing staff, Brooks Neal, is leaving UAB. He's headed to Ohio University for a wonderful opportunity with the Bobcats. We wish him nothing but the best, but we certainly hate to see him leave...especially at this point in August. But, hey, Brooks, it's all about you...don't worry about all of us you leave behind...at the busiest time of year...with the season less than two weeks away...we'll handle it...no worries. Just kidding...we'll miss you, but we'll be rooting for you...and the Bobcats (especially on September 26th.)
So, it's here. For me, summer is a time to relax a little and recharge the batteries. I love college athletics, and I have the best job on the planet, but it would be nice to start things off slowly and build toward the madness that is football season. For whatever reason, that's just not how it works. It seems like it goes from peaceful to WIDE OPEN in the matter of a single weekend. Welcome to "WIDE OPEN."
We start the radio version of "Blazers All-Access" this Wednesday night. We'll once again be on the air live from Baumhower's Wings Restaurant at Patton Creek from 7-8 PM, talking UAB athletics, taking your calls and questions. Don't forget, you can email your inquiries to mailto:email@example.com, and we'll try to answer them on the air. Coach Callaway will be with me each week, and we'd love to have big crowds each and every Wednesday during the season. You can listen to the show on WJOX-FM 94.5 here in Birmingham.
The television version of "Blazers All-Access" will also premiere this week. I hope you'll tune in each Sunday at 11:35 PM on ABC 33/40 here in central Alabama for a recap of the week's action. This Sunday, we'll have a preview of the 2009 campaign with coach Callaway in studio.
Well, I guess that's about it for today. Thanks, again, for those who helped make last weekend such a wonderful success. I hope we'll see you Wednesday night at Baumhower's for the call-in show.
Take care...keep getting ready for September 5th...avoid the Swine Flu...and GO BLAZERS!!!