Gator Moms: A Mother’s
Where Are They Now? Chris Doering Chris Doering Then and Now
Day Tribute INSIDE:
Orange & Blue Debut recap Men’s, Women’s Hoops Season Reviews Down on the Farm: Gators in the Minors Wacky Sports From Around the World
Kitty’s Korner: Lacrosse Lovers
One week-old Camille Hart of Gainesville found Alberta on her first outing of her life. “She’s officially a Gator now,” declared Camille’s mom. Photo by Mike Capshaw
Sun-n-fun Off the Path Adventures for the Family
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swamp spotlight 12 Where Are They Now: Chris Doering 26 Strange Sports From Around the World 40 Down on the Farm 42 Kitty’s Korner 44 Center of the Circle 46 Senior Salute
On and off The Field FOR THE FAMILY 08 Three Headed Slugger 10 Orange and Blue 14 UF Men’s Basketball Season Review 16 UF Women’s Basketball Season Review 20 Recruiting Notebook: Gators Getting it Done 21 Football Notebook: Dogs Days Are Upon Us 22 Swamp World
19 Trivia 24 The Play Book: May Events 28 Fairy Gator Mother 29 Mom Blog: Youth Sports 30 Gator Moms 34 Sun n’ Fun Family Destinations 36 Hook. Line. Sinker. Fishing Report 38 Gadgets for the Summer
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GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
Fact: After the Civil War, the seminary was moved to Gainesville.
The Ultimate Driving Machine®
letter A forum poster on woopig. net was the first to report the 51-year-old coach, husband and father of four was not alone – as he had (mis)led the media, public, and most importantly, his boss to believe – on his Harley Davidson when it wrecked on April Fools Day. Message board forums such as woopig.net are becoming places where many salacious and not-so-salacious details are uncovered. Premium members of GatorCountry.com not only get more than twice as many locally bylined stories than the next closest competitor, they also gain access to our insider forums, which are second-toIf you’re not a premium none at keeping up with the member of GatorCountry.com, latest on the Florida Gators. then you’re missing out. Our members – along with Missing out on knowing what happens before it happens. staff reporters like Thomas Goldkamp and Andrew Spivey Missing out on the story – know everything from Florida’s behind the story. next verbal commitment to Missing out on everything. what’s going on behind the The way stories break has closed gates on the changed. Look at the situation practice field. up at Arkansas in early April. They know the scoop behind Hogs head man Bobby Petrino the scoop – and you can, too. was fired after he was caught Monthly premium trying to cover up the sordid memberships can cost a little details of a scandal involving more than a bottle of water an “inappropriate relationship” with a blonde female half his age at a UF game. So, what are you waiting for? that he had hired to an athletic Log on to GatorCountry.com department gig. and sign up today. Where did this And never miss out again. revelation break? The local newspaper? ESPN? Possibly even Mike Capshaw Yahoo Sports? Managing editor, Nope. Gator Country Fact: Classes began two days later for the 102 students enrolled.
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TELL US WHAT YOU really THINk
CHEERS & JEERS Baseball or Bust?
What’s going on with baseball this season?? Sometimes it’s really good….Sometimes NOT so good. In the past, it was always consistent ALL season long? I mean REALLY?!? It’s 10am and nothing on last night’s big win. I had to go to the sun to read about it … (Name redacted)
These are REAL emails from REAL Gator Country readers and members that come through our inbox each month. Readers can send questions, comments and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Cheers & Jeers” in the subject line and your email could end up in this new feature that we plan to share with our readers each month. 6
GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
EDITOR’S NOTE: On that particular game, the reporter was on the road and had technical issues when trying to send in the story. It was posted as soon as possible under the circumstances. As far as consistency, that will improve with GatorCountry.com ace reporter Thomas Goldkamp covering the beat now that he’s done with basketball season.
No Lazy Summers
Do you publish a magazine during the summer?? Even when there’s no Gators sports??? Where can I get one? Same spots? R. Bowlin EDITOR’S NOTE: Absolutely. We won’t miss a beat with our June issue planned to be a “Year In Review,” our July issue to be a special edition about Gators in the Olympics and then, of course, our Preseason Football Preview in August. And each issue will be available at the same 1,000-plus locations as always.
Gator Country Kudo
I just finished reading the first magazine I received a few days ago and really enjoyed the articles about several of the new guys. Good issue! K. Koster
No More Negativity
I think the tone of the board has really improved lately. I think the loss of some key coaches, the prolonged coaching search and a strong recruiting class really made everyone focus on other things than last season. I also think the excellent coverage Gator Country provided during that time fostered an environment for the improved tone on the board (and more productive discussions – even if we didn’t hire Kerwin Bell as offensive coordinator ;). I appreciate you following up with me and making a noticeable difference on Gator Country! Go Gators, D. Oberto EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks for the positive feedback on the increased positivity Mr. Oberto! And who knows, perhaps Kerwin Bell will end up returning to UF one day. Fact: The Gainesville campus opened for registration on Sept. 24, 1906.
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GOING, GOING, GONE! Mike Zunino was drafted in 2009 by the Oakland A’s in the 30th round, but is expected to be one of the first players taken in this June’s MLB Draft.
Heart of Gators lineup leads the way in hopes of return trip to Omaha
Baseball comes in threes. Three outs. Three strikes. And there’s the Florida Gators a powerful trio that has carried Florida to three-straight Super Regional appearances. Although the three-headed monster lost its scariness in a midseason Florida road trip, the bats of Mike Zunino, Preston Tucker and Brian Johnson have ended pitchers’ nights and caused coaches nightmares for three years. Since 2009, the sluggers won a combined 142 games at Florida – with each year better than the last in terms of victories and finishes in postseason play. Heading into the Tennessee series on April 13, these three hitched a ride on the same roller coaster the Florida offense found itself on dating back to a school-record 18-game winning streak and the most recent stretch in which the Gators dropped six of 12 games from March 22–April 10. After holding the No. 1 ranking since preseason, the Gators fell to No. 4 after losing two of three against LSU at home. Despite the inconsistency, Florida has what other teams can only imagine – a power hitting middle of the order. As of April 15, the three are responsible for nearly half of the team’s 47 home runs and 41 percent of the Gators’ RBI total. They also rank first (Zunino), second (Tucker) and fourth (Johnson) on the team in OPS, which combines on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Tucker and Zunino both are in the Top 50 in the nation in home runs and slugging percentage. Johnson hasn’t had the opportunities at the plate like the other two. He has started just 24 games compared to 35 for Zunino and 36 for Tucker, due to the time he spends on the mound. After Gators coach Kevin O’Sullivan used 21 different lineups before the road series vs. Tennessee, perhaps the best
By Adam Pincus Photos by Saj Guevara
Mugshots courtesy UF Communications
Class: Junior Positions: Righthanded pitcher/ First baseman Hometown: Cocoa Beach, Fla. Notable: Semifinalist for both the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award and the Dick Howser Trophy as a sophomore GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
Class: Senior Positions: Infield/Outfield Hometown: Tampa, Fla. Notable: Earned second-team AllAmerican and first-team All-SEC honors as a freshman and was Most Outstanding Player of the 2011 Gainesville Regional.
Class: Junior Positions: Cather Hometown: Cape Coral, Fla. Notable: One of three finalist for the Johnny Bench Award and consensus first-team All-American as a sophomore.
Fact: First unofficial football coach, James Farr, was the head of the English Department.
GOING, GOING, GONE! Preston Tucker opted to return for his senior season instead of entering last year’s draft when the Gators came up short in the College World Series finals in 2011.
example of what these hitters can do came from the series win in Knoxville for Florida. Of the 13 RBI from Florida in Knoxville, eight of them came from the bats of Johnson, Tucker and Zunino. Johnson led all Florida hitters with six hits and eight RBI. This season figures as the last for them to suit up together as Gators. All three project as high picks in next summer’s MLB First Year Players’ Draft. Keith Law of ESPN pegged Zunino as his No. 2 prospect overall. Florida Gulf Coast coach Dave Tollett shared his thoughts on Zunino’s professional future following a Florida sweep of the Eagles in which Zunino went 4-for-12 and drove in six runs. “Spend the money – He’s worth it,” he said Baseball America ranks Zunino at the same spot and his roommate in Johnson at No. 24. The Colorado Rockies drafted Tucker in the sixteenth round last season. With the taste of a crushing College World Series defeat in the championship series still fresh in their minds, Tucker decided to return for his senior season for a chance to return to Omaha. Year 3 for Tucker and company almost didn’t happen, but the Tampa native said in the fall getting another shot with teammates like Johnson and Zunino persuaded him for another go around. Expectations reached sky-high proportions once Tucker didn’t skip his
senior season. Now the three players headline a potential draft class, which could include four first round picks. “This team in particular is a different team to coach than you know many others that we will have here,” O’Sullivan said after Florida defeated LSU April 6. “There is a lot of expectations. There is a thing called the draft June 4–6. It’s not an easy thing to manage.” Florida entered that game coming off of a late-inning debacle vs. the Tigers in which the Gators forgot to tag up from third on a deep fly ball from Tucker in the last inning. The base-running blunder brought Florida to a new low point in a frustrating midseason slump that was the result of season-ending injuries and poor hitting in run-scoring situations. Zunino put the angst to rest for a night in that second game against LSU. His third inning two-run double off of a high and outside fastball from Tigers ace Kevin Gausman brought the Gainesville fans to a
frenzy and sparked a sigh of relief from the Gators dugout. “The bottom line is we go when they go,” O’Sullivan said about Zunino and Tucker. “That double might have been one of the biggest hits for us as a team. I don’t know for Mike, but for us it was.” Tucker and Zunino may get the consistent at-bats in the Florida lineup, but Johnson gives the Gators another dimension as a two-way player. In starts where he pitches on the mound and bats in the lineup, Johnson is 12-for-26 at the plate (.461) with 12 RBI. While Johnson changed games with his pitching and hitting, Tucker and Zunino have garnered national attention and shattered school records. Tucker broke the school doubles and RBI records while earning SEC Player of the Week for the first time in his career for his 6-for-17 performance against Vanderbilt to open conference play. CollegeBaseball360.com named Zunino its Primetime Player of the Week on March 6, which marked just the fourth-time a Florida player has earned the honor. Louisville Slugger also tabbed the junior as one of its National Players of the Week for the first time in his career a week later. The accolades help bring their careers full circle, but the ultimate award doesn’t come until midsummer. The College World Series begins June 15 and these three Gators lead a team with unfinished business at college baseball’s most hallowed grounds in Omaha. Another trip to the CWS would mean three in a row for a Florida program searching for just one thing – a national championship.
Brian Johnson was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 27th round of the 2009 MLB Draft, but is projected to be a first rounder this year. Fact: A predecessor to UF and the Gator football team was a team fielded by East Florida Seminary in Gainesville.
GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
GATORS ON TRACK
By Thomas Goldkamp Photos by Saj Guevara
Orange & Blue Debut Review Muschamp believes Gators are headed in right direction As Florida players swarmed into the Swamp, they were greeted with two very different responses. On their left, hundreds of rows of cold, steel bleachers stared blankly back into the warm afternoon sky. On their right, a little less than 40,000 fans cheered wildly as the 2012 edition of the Gators got the annual Orange & Blue Debut underway. After two years of subpar Southeastern Conference football, the fate of the Florida football program hangs in the balance. Another mediocre year and the hauntingly empty seats in one of college football’s hallowed grounds will grow even more menacing. Florida is just now beginning a new era that technically began when Will Muschamp took the reins of the program from former giant Urban Meyer almost a year and a half ago. Left with a mess of an offense and an attrition-ravaged roster, Muschamp and the Gators stumbled to a 7–6 record in 2011. 10 GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
Renovations to the concourse were the reason half of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium sat empty during the spring game on April 7. Muschamp’s renovation and rebuilding of the Gators began much longer ago. But this year’s spring scrimmage was the first time it truly felt like a new beginning for most fans. “Really, let’s look at the last two years. We’re a 15–11 team,” Muschamp said. “We’re in transition. Are we headed in the right direction? I emphatically think we are.” Gone are John Brantley, Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps, some of the notable players on offense at the end of Meyer’s reign and the beginning of Muschamp’s. Replacing them are sophomore quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel. Running backs Mike Gillislee and Mack Brown. Wide receivers Andre Debose, Quinton Dunbar and true freshman Latroy Pittman.
As they lined up for their first snaps as players who will be counted on to carry the team, the nerves were evident. The offense struggled during the first few drives of the game, before Brissett found Pittman deep down the left sideline for a 43-yard reception on a picture-perfect pass over the shoulder. “I mean, big third down, I needed a completion just to get the drive back going,” Brissett said. “One-on-one coverage, and I had faith that he would beat his man off press coverage.” Suddenly the offense that had seemed so out of sync caught fire. Led by the two quarterbacks and some nifty running by Gillislee, the offense kicked into high gear. Brissett finished the spring game passing 9 of 16 passing for 233 yards and two touchdowns. Driskel, who battled neck and neck with him all spring long, finished close behind, going 12 of 14 passing for 147 yards.
Fact: The first unofficial coach of the football team, when the school was in Lake City, FL, was Professor James Farr.
GATORS ON TRACK Sophomore Jeff Driskel completed 12 of 14 passes for 147 yards. Coach Will Muschamp said the battle for the starting quarterback job between Jacoby Brissett and Driskel would continue over the summer.
2012 Orange & Blue Debut
Final score: Blue 21, Orange 20 Announced attendance: 38,100 Notable: Both teams combined for 619 total yards
The offenses for both teams combined for 619 total yards and 41 points in the spring game, resulting in a 21–20 win for the Blue team against the Orange. “You saw both guys take command of our football team,” Muschamp said. “There is no question; you saw what I had been seeing for 14 practices before [the spring game]. We can win with both guys.” Though both still have plenty to learn and the offense still has more to prove, Florida’s spring game gave fans a slight glimmer of hope that will carry them through the offseason. Come fall, the west concourse will be fresh with new paint covering the freshly laid bricks. Fans will flood in to see Muschamp’s renovated team.
Sophomore quarterback Jacoby Brissett completed 9 of 16 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns. Fueled by a Top 10 defense and an offense that has nowhere to go but up, the Gators hope to see the young stars of the future carry their young head coach and the program back to the forefront of college football. Muschamp has complete confidence in his quarterbacks, in his team and in his approach. The team’s development is out of his hands and in the players’ for the time being, though. “It’s all about managing our team in the offseason,” he said. “Right now is a huge
Fact: Roy Corbett, captain of the 1907 Gator team, claimed he was the first registered student of UF Gainesville campus.
indicator of who is going to take our team up. They have to take control of our football team.” If the young players who starred in the spring game can carry that momentum into the offseason, Muschamp’s renovation will be unveiled in the fall. And the faint echoes of the alma mater will ring long into the night, reverberating off the hundreds of rows of steel bleachers still warm from the embrace of the Florida faithful on a successful fall Saturday in the Swamp.
GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
WHERE ARE THEY NOW Chris Doering showed he still has some skills while participating in an alumni flag football game prior to the Orange and Blue Debut in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on April 7. Photo by Saj Guevara
By Andrew Spivey
‘Doering’s Got a Touchdown’ in Gainesville Gator Great returns ‘home’ to start his own business
12 GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
“Doering’s Got a Touchdown!” is among Mick Hubert’s most memorable radio calls. Doering, who still lives in Gainesville and owns Chris Doering Mortgage Company, says its one of the two things he hears most often when meeting new people. Either they tell the former Florida Gators receiver, “we loved you on the 1996 National Championship team,” or recall where they were at the moment when he hauled in a game-winning touchdown pass from Danny Wuerffel to beat Kentucky 24-20 in 1993. That’s when the “Doering’s Got a Touchdown” line was first delivered and repeated wildly by Hubert. Even though it’s nearly 20-years old, the play – and call – can be found on Youtube. What’s even better than hearing Hubert’s excited call again is the fact that the other thing Doering hears the most – the part about playing for the 1996 National Champions – is false. Doering disappoints by telling them he wasn’t on that team, but he was a threetime Southeastern Conference Champion and owns the league record for career touchdown receptions. Growing up in Gainesville, Doering idolized famous Florida receivers like Cris Collinsworth while dreaming of the opportunity to play for the Gators. In 1991, Doering’s dream became reality when he was offered a walk-on spot after starring in three sports at P.K. Yonge High School. “It was great to have the opportunity to play for Florida,” Doering said. “But to play during the era of turning the program from a ‘wait-until-next-year program’ into a team that was the overall favorite in the SEC and one of the natural powerhouses was great.” Doering earned a scholarship following his redshirt freshman season and made the most of it by becoming one of the all-time best receivers in school history. His 31 career touchdowns is an SEC and school record and he’s still among the all-time leaders in career receptions (149) and yards (2,107). “I was very fortunate to go from a walk-on to getting a scholarship to becoming the all-time SEC record holder for touchdown receptions,” Doering said. “That is something you usually hear about in movies and for it to happen to me was neat.” During Doering’s five years at Florida he was able to suit up alongside several of the best Gators ever while playing for
arguably UF’s best head coach of all-time in Steve Spurrier To this day, he uses a ton of what he learned from the Ol’ Ball Coach about responsibility and accountability, among other things. Doering moved on to the NFL, where he played nine seasons with seven different teams. After leaving college, Doering said he moved 22 times before returning to finally settle down in Gainesville. Thanks to things he learned during his playing days, Doering was able to weather the storm of the economic downturn that sacked many in the mortgage industry. His company recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. “I try to work harder than anyone out there,” Doering said. “That was something coach Spurrier taught us to do. “Coach Spurrier use to say, ‘Keep fighting – it’s a 60-minute game. There’s going to be good and bad things happen, but if you can stay even keel, good things will result from that.’” When Doering set out to start up his mortgage company, he had a clear-cut business model, which meant making the most of being a Gator from Gainesville. Name recognition can only carry a business so far, so he’s had to back it up with integrity and dependable services. “It’s simple: Gators folks love to do business with other Gators,” Doering said. “The Gator family has a bond – not only with the players, but with the fans that is an unspoken bond and it’s something that is unique.” By owning his own business in Gainesville, Doering is afforded the opportunity to be more involved with the University of Florida now that his playing days are over. On April 7, Doering participated in an alumni flag football game in prior to the start of the Orange and Blue Debut spring scrimmage. He also frequents Gators practices since Will Muschamp took over at Florida. Muschamp has stressed to Doering and other alumni that he desires players to come to practices and even sit in on meetings as well as speak to the players about what it means to be a Gator. “I’m very happy to have the opportunity to come to the university that I grew up loving,” Doering said. “I’m extremely grateful to have that opportunity to come back and be around the program.”
Fact: In 1908, the Gators beat Jacksonville’s Riverside Athletic Club 4–0, at a time when both touchdowns and field goals counted as four points.
gator good times
Fact: As president from 1909 to 1927, Albert A. Murphree did much to put UF on the road to excellence.
GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012 13
LOOKING BACK Bradley Beal announced on April 13 that he would enter the NBA Draft after only one season of playing college basketball. Florida basketball sure knows how to excite its fan base in late March. Twice in the last two years, the Gators have been minutes away from the Final Four. Each time, the Gators blew a double-digit lead late in the second half to watch their chances to forever notch their names in the school record books slip away. “It feels terrible. I mean, we had a lead, we gave it up late,” senior point guard Erving Walker said after Florida lost to Louisville 72–68 to close the 2011–12 season. “We just didn’t make shots and didn’t defend them.” Though Florida has missed two golden opportunities, things are on the upswing for the program that won back-toback national titles in 2006 and 2007. After missing the NCAA Tournament for two straight years after reigning college basketball, the Gators have re-established themselves on the national scene. Billy Donovan’s squad used a blend of experience and young talent to put together a 26-11 record. Most remarkable wasn’t the number of wins or an Elite Eight appearance, but it was
By Thomas Goldkamp Photos by Saj Guevara
UF Men’s Basketball Season Review
doing so without one of the team’s key players. Sophomore forward Will Yeguete broke his foot in mid-February after carving out a key role for himself on Florida’s defense. The Gators struggled without their point man in the press defense, dropping four of their last five games heading into the NCAA Tournament. Somehow the Gators managed to rebound just when it mattered most, bouncing back and winning three games in the Big Dance for the second straight year. “A team that was really young and immature in a lot of ways, and in front of my eyes I got a chance to watch them grow up and mature competitively,” coach Billy Donovan said. “To see where Patric Young was at the start of the year, in January, to see where they finished. To see before where Brad (Beal) was in November and December, see where he finished. Same with Erik Murphy. Our guys grew up.” The Gators will return eight players from this year’s team for the 2012–13 season, after losing Walker to graduation and Beal to the 2012 NBA Draft.
Billy Donovan helped his team peak at the right time by reaching the NCAA Elite Eight for a second consecutive season.
Florida comes up minutes short of a Final Four berth for second straight season
14 GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
Fact: Enrollment grew from 106 in 1909 to 2,200 by 1927 under the leadership of the University of Florida’s second president, Albert A. Murphree.
LOOKING BACK Erving Walker played his final game in a Gators uniform during a 72–68 loss against Louisville in the NCAA Elite Eight.
Florida Men’s Basketball 2011–12
Records: 26–11 overall, 10–6 in SEC play Leading scorer: Kenny Boynton, 15.9 points per game Leading rebounder: Bradley Beal, 6.7 per game Steals leader: Bradley Beal, 51 Assists leader: Erving Walker, 170 Blocks leader: Erik Murphy, 37 Senior: Erving Walker
Kenny Boynton has announced he’ll return for his senior season instead of putting his name into the NBA Draft.
Florida has at least four signees coming into the mix, so once again the Gators will boast a roster with a good mix of returning veterans and talented freshmen. Three starters are back, including the frontcourt duo of Young and Murphy. Shooting guard Kenny Boynton also opted to return for his senior season instead of going pro, and he will have a chance to become the school’s all-time leading scorer. After another successful season, Donovan is looking forward to working with his new squad next year even though Beal’s loss will sting a little. “I’m excited about our team next year,” he said. “We lose certainly a terrific player and a guy that probably would have scored maybe more than he did as a freshman. We lose a great kid and a good team guy. But I
think [Beal’s] departure will open up opportunities for some other guys.” Two straight years of losing in the Elite Eight and watching Final Four dreams slip away will sit fresh in the minds of the returning players all season long. Donovan hopes the painful memories fuel his team to work harder than ever in the offseason. “I think when you pour your heart and soul into something and you don’t get the results you want, you find out how important and you find out the reasons why you do things,” he said. “And can you come back with the same level of passion and enthusiasm and excitement to get better?” If the Gators can, they shouldn’t be far from getting all the way back into the echelon of college basketball’s elite.
Fact: In 1912, education officials awarded the university with a contract for the construction of Floyd Hall.
GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012 15
A SEASON TO REMEMBER Jennifer George led the team with 12.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. By Phillip Heilman Photos by Saj Guevara
UF women’s basketball season review Gators reach the NCAA tournament for the first time in three years
16 GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
It was a season full of dramatic moments. There was heartbreak. There were tears. There was a group of players so nervous they could hardly sit to watch as the 2012 NCAA Tournament field was announced. A team on the precipice of returning to the biggest stage in women’s college basketball, a place the program had not seen in three years. Ultimately, there was joy. There was success. Not simply in the burst of excitement that overflowed when the program saw its name flash across the screen, signifying the program’s 13th NCAA Tournament berth. It was a lasting joy. One that a group of five seniors who will never again don the Florida Gators uniform will take with them for the rest of their lives. The 2011–12 Florida women’s basketball season was a roller coaster ride of emotions and dramatic moments that eventually set what the team hopes to be the foundation of the program moving forward. “We set something in place, and we gave them a model to kind of look after,” senior Jordan Jones said after the season. However, the rewards came with a certain amount of sacrifice and adversity. It was a team that had to learn to play without a full cast of supporting players. Before the season began, the Gators lost two freshmen, Carlie Needles and Viktorija Dimaite, for the season with injuries. The third, Andrea Vilaro Aragones, missed time early in the season following the death of her mother. Kayla Lewis, who was expected to be a versatile player, able to both start and come off the bench, played just three games before also being medically redshirted. Despite being hampered with injuries, especially early in the season, Florida opened the season winning six of its first seven games. When the selection committee announced that Florida had made the tournament, Greg Christopher, the committee chairman, stated the Gators were on of the “last four in.” Along with Texas, Michigan and Kansas State, the Gators had done enough to earn a spot in the Big Dance. Just enough. Florida’s ability to open the season winning six of seven ended up being crucial at the end of the season. In those first seven games, Florida beat No. 19 Florida State, a team that had an uncharacteristically poor season but was still Fact: Early Gator home games were played on Fleming Field.
A SEASON TO REMEMBER Florida coach Amanda Butler guided the Gators to the NCAA tournament for the first time in three seasons.
Florida Women’s Basketball 2011–12
Records: 2013 overall, 8–8 in SEC play Leading scorer: Jennifer George, 12.8 points per game Leading rebounder: Jennifer George, 8.8 rebounds per game Steals leader: Lanita Bartley, 63 Assists leader: Lanita Bartley, 105 Blocks leader: Azania Stewart, 70 Seniors: Deanna Allen, Lanita Bartley, Jordan Jones, Azania Stewart
looked at favorably as a strong win for the Gators, and Hampton, a team that went on to win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. A month later during the Christmas break, a time when some teams schedule cupcake opponents that ultimately do little in improving resumes, the Gators beat Samford, who won the Southern Conference Tournament and also landed in the NCAA Tournament. Without each of these non-conference wins, Florida had 12 in all, the Gators certainly would have been staring at another trip to the WNIT. As the regular season shifted into conference play, Florida was forced to buckle its proverbial seatbelt. A meeting with No.6 Kentucky to ring in the New Year proved to be a microcosm for much of the Gators’ conference slate of games. Florida battled throughout the game, eventually just missing out on a possible upset as the Gators failed to overcome 23 turnovers in the game. Losing 59–56 proved Florida could play with the conference’s best, but it needed to learn to finish games. Ultimately, that was something the team wrestled with much of the season. While Florida beat each of the four teams that eventually finished below it in the conference standings, taking the next step and beating better opponents proved to be a tough task. The Gators lost six conference games by six points or less. Repeatedly losing close games was tough. Florida’s two overtime losses were gut-wrenching.
On Jan. 29, Florida traveled to Arkansas to face a red-hot Razorbacks team had been throttling teams the past two weeks. Arkansas had beaten Auburn, Vanderbilt and LSU each by 20 points or more. Mississippi State escaped with just a 16-point beating three days before the Gators came to town. Despite the momentum Arkansas rode into the game, Florida came out firing on all cylinders. The Gators were up 38–26 at halftime. With 4:06 remaining in the second half, Florida still held a commanding 11-point lead. Arkansas stormed back, tying the game for good in regulation with 24 seconds to play. Eventually, Florida’s bid to slow the Razorbacks came up just short. The Gators lost 73–72 in double overtime, leaving many to believe the Gators didn’t have the makeup necessary to win big games. However, as it was for the entire season, the team rebounded. Three days later, the Gators, fresh off the stunning loss to Arkansas, traveled into Baton Rouge and beat LSU at home for the first time since Jan. 21, 1996. Even more impressive, Florida won without its second-leading scorer Jordan Jones. Jones suffered a concussion in the loss to Arkansas and was forced to watch the Gators play the Tigers from the bench. “I can’t even say how proud of my team I am. It killed me more than anything to sit out but watching them step up and win was perfect. Go Gators!!!” Jones posted on her Facebook after the game.
Fact: In the early days, freshmen were not allowed to compete against varsity teams in the Southern Conference.
The win sparked a three-game win streak that put the Gators at 16–8 and 6–5 in the conference. It was the first time on the season Florida was above .500 in SEC play. Florida was unable to stay above .500 as the Gators’ inability to finish games once again reared its ugly head. The Gators dropped back-to-back games at South Carolina and at Vanderbilt. Florida’s loss to Vanderbilt made even the earlier loss to Arkansas seem to be little more than a minor setback. Looking to regain a winning conference record, Florida traveled to Nashville to play a Vanderbilt team looking for its twentieth win on the season. The Gators and Commodores squared off in a back-and-fourth battle. The teams traded punches throughout the game, with neither team able to take a commanding lead. With just more than a minute left, Florida scratched and clawed to a three-point advantage. An error at the scorers table gave Vanderbilt about 15 extra seconds as the clock failed to start properly and nobody seemed to notice. Still, after two free throws by Lanita Bartley with 11 seconds remaining, Florida clung to a 65–62 lead. The Gators played stifling defense for the final 11 seconds, forcing Vanderbilt’s Christina Foggie into an off-balance, tightly guarded three-point attempt at the buzzer. The ball slammed against the backboard and caught just enough iron to roll around the rim. It went in. As the crowd inside the Memorial Gym went crazy, Florida was left wondering what else could possibly be thrown its way. The Gators couldn’t rebound in overtime and lost 75–69. For the second time in just more than two weeks, Florida had watched a seemingly sure win evaporate into thin air. GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
a season to remember
Again, a level of doubt began to seep in. eighth in the nation’s top conference. For a team graduating five seniors, Was this team capable of winning a close only two of who had previously gotten the game? With just three games remaining on chance to play in the NCAA Tournament, it its regular season slate, Florida needed to was a special season both individually and answer that question in the affirmative. for the program moving forward. Mock selections became all the rage as Lanita Bartley, Jordan Jones, Deana February was coming to a close. Following Allen, Ndidi Madu and Azania Stewart all the loss to Vanderbilt, the nation’s experts had a chance to go to the Big Dance before had mixed feelings on this Gators team. going their separate ways. Three days later, Florida again “They all came to us in such different responded. This time, it was with a seasonways, and they are all such special and defining win. unique young ladies,” Butler said. “The best No.15 Georgia rolled into Gainesville looking for a repeat of its 61–55 win against thing I can tell you is it was an honor to coach them.” Florida in Athens early in the year. Led by that group of seniors, Butler now However, that do-or-die, back-againsthas 98 wins, the most a Gators head coach the-wall attitude the Gators seemed to has had through the first five years in thrive with proved to be true once more. program history. Behind a late 8-3 run, Florida got the Moving forward, Butler will have the close-game monkey off its back, upsetting tough task of maintain that success as five Georgia 61–57. of her most-talented players exit at once. Florida split its remaining two games With the five seniors not returning and won a game in the SEC Tournament next season, along with Brittany Shine’s before dropping a third nail biter to announcement of her intent to transfer Kentucky in the second round. before next season, Florida has much to With nervous anticipation, Florida fill heading into the 2012–13 season. learned it would face Ohio State in the The Gators will be returning just 38.3 First Round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. percent of its points from last season and As a No.9 seed, the Gators upset the just 37.2 percent of minutes played. Buckeyes 70–65. Despite losing the majority of the The Gators advanced to face top-seed Baylor, an undefeated juggernaut led by the team’s production, Butler is excited about what she has returning. sport’s most one-of-a-kind player, “I think when you talk about talent Brittney Griner. loss and production loss, I don’t think Florida’s season came to an end on that we’ve been in a situation where we’re March 20 against Baylor. Griner scored returning a First Team a game-high 25, All-SEC player,” she including a dunk that said. “We have that in caught the attention of Jennifer going into the national media. her senior year.” Still, the 76–57 left “She [Jennifer Florida with little to George] is going to hang its head about. be the best player on “They’re a great –UF Departing senior the team,” Jordan team. They certainly jordan jones on the return Jones added. have an outstanding of teammate carlie needles Returning with individual, but they’re George will be Jaterra a great team, Bonds. Bonds averaged more than 29 and I think that’s what they showed in minutes per game in her sophomore their victory against us,” Amanda Butler season and will be looked to for even said a few days after the game. “There more production next season. was absolutely nothing for any of our Joining Bonds in the frontcourt will team to hang their heads about.” be Carlie Needles, who spent much of the The Gators finished the season 20–13, year rehabilitating from a knee injury the second consecutive year the Gators that cost her the entire season. reached 20 wins, and 8–8 in the SEC. “I think she is going to be a fan-favorite Before the season, the Gators were for Gators fans,” Jones said of Needles. picked to finish fifth in the conference Viktorija Dimaite and Kayla Lewis will standings. In the end, the Gators finished
be returning from their own injury-riddled seasons. Along with a freshman class of Sydney Moss, Chandler Cooper, Christin Mercer and January Miller, the Gators will have plenty of new bodies looking to fill the roles left by this season’s senior class. It will be a different looking team when next season begins. One in transition. The changing of the guard. While there is sure to be growing pains with such a young team, the success of this year’s team, capped by a trip to the NCAA Tournament, has the Gators confident moving forward. “I definitely think our success this year is going to motivate us next year,” Jennifer George said. “We’ve been to the tournament now, and we just expect to go to the tournament again and actually go farther.” With high aspirations, the Gators will be working hard throughout the offseason. Championship-caliber teams are not born; they are made. At a University so rich in championships, Butler and her women’s basketball program are fighting to make one more. “I think these young ladies who are going out set a standard that the kids who are returning will fight very hard to improve upon,” she said. “We are all ready to do that.”
“I think she is going to be a fan-favorite for Gators”
18 GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
Senior Jordan Jones believes this year’s team laid the foundation for future team to build off of.
Fact: The Great Depression had many effects on UF, including scaling back plans involving the University Auditorium, built in 1927.
LET'S SEE WHAT YOU GOT
Spring Sports Trivia What was the first year of Gators Baseball?
What was the Gators Baseball team’s overall record for 2011?
How many times has Gators baseball made it to the College World Series?
What was the Gators baseball team’s SEC record in 2011
A) 1920 B) 1948 C) 1912 D) 1904
A) 53–19 B) 40–24 C) 38–26 D) 46–18
A) 7 B) 4 C) 8 D) 3
A) 22–8 B) 20–10 C) 21–9 D) 19–11
Aside from the team’s current head coach, what two other Gator head coaches have made multiple trips to the College World Series?
Including the 2012 season, how many years has UF baseball’s current head coach been at the helm?
In 2011, Mike Zunino was named SEC Player of the Year. What other UF player has earned the league’s top accolade?
What was the UF baseball team’s NCAA ranking in 2011
A) 4 B) 3 C) 5 D) 6
A) Gavin Dickey B) Matt LaPorta C) Matt Campbell D) Greg Larson
A) 62 B) 92 C) 108 D) 96
A) 3 B) 5 C) 2 D) 4
Who is the current head coach of the UF Baseball team?
The UF baseball team’s 2011 shutout What was the first year UF baseball took record broke the previous record second place in the College World Series? of … in 1970.
A) Craig Bell B) Billy Donovan C) Brad Weitzel D) Kevin O’Sullivan
A) 2004 B) 2008 C) 2011 D) 2005
Fact: Cheerleaders in the 1930s were all white males.
B) 5 C) 8 D) 11
A) 8 B) 10 C) 9 D) 5
In 2011, to what team, did the Gators Baseball Team lose to in the CWS Championship Finals? A) Alabama B) South Carolina C) Arkansas D) Texas
How many years has the UF Baseball team been in existence?
How many times have the Gators notched How many shutouts did the Gator a second-place showing in the College pitching staff earn in the 2011 season? World Series? A) 3
1–c, 2–a&c, 3–d, 4–d, 5–a, 6–c, 7–c, 8–d, 9–a, 10–b, 11–d, 12–b, 13–A, 14–C, 15–B
A) Joe Arnold B) Urban Meyer C) Andy Lopez D) Don Norris
A) 3rd B) 1st C) 2nd D) 4th
GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012 19
Recruiting NOTEBOOK For daily coverage of Florida Gators football,
Gators Getting It Done Florida off to a hot start for the Class of 2013 By Justin Wells
Coming off the signing of a class in February that ranked anywhere from No. 3 to No. 5 in the nation, Will Muschamp and his staff have hardly taken their foot off the gas pedal with a strong start to the Class of 2013. Following a wild finish during the weekend of the Orange & Blue Debut, the Gators now stand at 15 commitments for this recruiting cycle following the pledges of cornerback Tre’ Bell (5–11, 170, Jersey City, N.J./St. Peter’s Prep), offensive lineman Cameron Dillard (6–3, 285, Canton, Mich./ Plymouth), wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood (6–4, 200, Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) and offensive lineman Josh Outlaw (6–4, 280, Lithonia, Ga./King). With approximately 10 slots left to fill in the Class of 2013, Florida is already way ahead of the curve in looking ahead to next February. As of the week of April 9, only Michigan (17 commitments) currently has more prospects already in the fold for this year. Even Texas (13 commitments), a program known for picking up the majority of their recruiting classes very early in the process, hasn’t matched the prolific start made by UF to date. Clearly, Will Muschamp learned a trick or two while working under UT coach Mack Brown, known as one of the top recruiters in the game.
Gators meeting needs early on
It’s not just that Florida has done well on the recruiting trail early, the Gators are meeting several key needs for this cycle with over nine months to go until prospects sign on the dotted line. For instance, after signing just two offensive linemen a year ago – AllAmericans Jessamen Dunker and D.J. Humphries – the Gators are certainly in need of an influx of talent in 2013. Early on, UF has landed pledges from the aforementioned Dillard and Outlaw, along with Delray Beach (Fla.) American Heritage tackle Rod Johnson (6–5, 315). In total, Florida is expected to sign at least five 20 GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
offensive linemen in this class, with local product Laremy Tunsil (6–6, 275, Lake City, Fla./Columbia) considered the top offensive line target still on the board. Improving the talent base in the receiver corps is also a high priority for new offensive coordinator Brent Pease and position coach Aubrey Hill. Fulwood, considered one of the top prospects in the country was a huge get for the Gators. Paired alongside vertical threat Rodney Adams (6–1, 175, St. Petersburg, Fla./ Lakewood), Florida already has landed two talented in-state products at the position. Under Armour All-American Stacy Coley (6–0, 170, Oakland Park, Fla./Northeast) is now the top remaining receiver target on the board, and would give Florida quite a haul at receiver if he decides to join Adams and Fulwood in Gainesville. Adding size to the linebacker position is also a critical factor to this class. The Gators have seemingly accomplished that task as well, with commitments from James Hearns (6–3, 235, Tallahasse, Fla./Lincoln), Dillan Lawson (6–3, 215, Crestview, Fla.), Daniel McMillian (6–3, 220, Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast) along with playmaker Quinton Powell (6–2, 195, Daytona Beach, Fla./ Mainland). Florida is also in the mix with one of the top linebacker prospects for 2013 in Alex Anzalone (6–3, 225, Wyomissing, Pa.), who visited Gainesville during the spring to take in a UF practice.
Donovan not done, either
Although the Gators have a strong group of backcourt players coming in for the fall, Billy Donovan and his basketball staff have continued to try and add pieces to a young squad coming off of their second consecutive trip to the Elite Eight. Small forward DeVon Walker (6–6, 190, Winter Haven, Fla.) is a late-bloomer who picked up a number of high-major offers (Alabama, Connecticut and Florida State among them) as his stock continued to rise heading into the spring signing period. On
April 13, Walker signed with Florida giving the Gators another talented option on the wing. UF wasn’t done, however. At press time, the Gators were still working to land one of the top remaining prizes left on the board in combo forward Anthony Bennett (6–7, 230, Henderson, Nev./Findlay Prep). Bennett, a native of Canada, is considered a consensus Top 10 prospect in the Class of 2012 and should prove to be an immediate-impact player, regardless of where he lands.
Football Commitments (Class of 2013) 1) RB Adam Lane (5-8, 215, Winter Haven, Fla.) 2) DT Caleb Brantley (6-3, 305, Crescent City, Fla.) 3) LB James Hearns (6-3, 235, Tallahassee, Fla./Lincoln) 4) LB Daniel McMillian (6-3, 220, Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast) 5) RB Kelvin Taylor (5-10, 205, Belle Glade, Fla./Glades Day) 6) WR Rodney Adams (6-1, 175, St. Petersburg, Fla./Lakewood) 7) LB Quinton Powell (6–2, 195, Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland) 8) DB Nick Washington (6-0, 180, Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian) 9) LB Dillan Lawson (6-3, 215, Crestview, Fla.) 10) DB Keanu Neal (6-1, 200, Bushnell, Fla./South Sumter) 11) OL Rod Johnson (6-5, 315, Delray Beach, Fla./American Heritage) 12) WR Ahmad Fulwood (6-4, 200, Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) 13) DB Tre’ Bell (5-11, 170, Jersey City, N.J./St. Peter’s Prep) 14) OL Joshua Outlaw (6-4, 280, Lithonia, Ga./King) 15) OL Cameron Dillard (6-3, 285, Canton, Mich./Plymouth)
Basketball Commitments (Class of 2012) 1) Michael Frazier (6-4, 190, Clermont, Fla./Monteverde Academy) 2) Braxton Ogbueze (6-1, 185, Charlotte, N.C./United Faith Christian Academy) 3) Dillon Graham (6-4, 175, Orlando, Fla./First Academy) 4) DeVon Walker (6-6, 190, Winter Haven, Fla.)
Basketball Commitments (Class of 2013) 1) Kasey Hill (6-0, 175, Clermont, Fla./Monteverde Academy)
Fact: Today UF is the fourth largest university in the nation.
FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK go to www.gatorcountry.com/football.
Dogs Days Are Upon Us By Thomas Goldkamp
“passing some guys” in the spring, so expect Pittman to figure prominently in the rotation at wide receiver along with Andre Debose and Quinton Dunbar. The offensive line was also notably improved in the spring after returning four of five starters from a year ago. The unit has much better depth and is considerably bigger than a year ago with an extra year in the weight room. Defensively, a handful of younger players stood out during the spring for Florida after injuries hobbled a handful of starters. The Gators played without Dominique Easley, Lerentee McCray, Marcus Roberson and Matt Elam in the spring game, and defensive end Ronald Powell tore his ACL during the game and is expected to miss four to six months recovering. That’ll put the onus on players like linebackers Mike Taylor and Antonio After patiently waiting his turn, Mike Gilislee has solidified Morrison, a true freshman, to continue himself as the Gators’ starting tailback. Photo by Saj Guevara their strong play from the spring game. With so many key injuries up front, Florida may be forced to play more 3–4 defense this year, meaning the two linebacker standouts could get much more playing time alongside returning starters Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins. Florida’s starting secondary is also patiently waited for his opportunity to shine somewhat up in the air, despite the fact that It has been nearly a month since Florida concluded its spring game, and the dog days behind Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey for the the Gators return at least three starters. of the summer are upon college football fans. past three years, and he took full advantage Roberson and Elam both missed the spring, of it this spring. He showed a terrific The old axiom is “no news is good and two sophomores looked fantastic with combination of vision, speed and power news,” and the Gators will be perfectly the normal starters out. running through the hole during the spring content if not much is said about them in Cornerback Louchiez Purifoy played and has firmly staked his claim to the the media the next few months. extremely well, making a push to earn a starting running back job. For the fans, though, the analysis and starting job alongside either Roberson or Behind him, a trio of bigger, more speculation about who will star this fall Jaylen Watkins. Safety Jabari Gorman was physical backs than Florida’s speedy duo of kicks into high gear. Florida’s spring also all over the field in the spring game, practice gave them a glimpse at what could the past few years waits in the wings. Mack looking like a future star roaming the be, with a handful of players shining during Brown, Chris Johnson and Hunter Joyer will defensive backfield. all help carry the load behind Gillislee, with the three looks at practice the public got. Both players should get playing time The quarterback battle looked legitimately Trey Burton and Omarius Hines likely to be next season. Even if they don’t start, they’re used in a variety of roles out of the backfield. young players that should add to the depth neck and neck, with no clear leader as far as At receiver, true freshman wide receiver the untrained eye could tell this spring. Both chart, which was extremely thin for the Latroy Pittman quickly emerged on the scene Gators a year ago. Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel threw well as a contributor after enrolling in school in and looked much more composed under “Depth brings competition and that January. The 6-foot, 201-pound receiver pressure than they did a year ago. makes everyone better,” Muschamp said Perhaps more importantly, though, both plays extremely physically for his size and said. “When someone knows their job can seemed to have a few new playmakers to go demonstrated a knack for getting open and be taken because another guy is waiting for making the catch consistently in spring camp. it, it makes competition. We’re going to to during the spring game. Coach Will Muschamp said he was Running back Mike Gillislee has continue to improve.”
Gators will try to avoid negative news during the summer months
Fact: In 1947, the student body numbered 8,177 men and 601 women.
GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012 21
Compiled by Mike Capshaw. Photos by Mike Capshaw, Tim Casey, jack lewis and Saj Guevara
BASEBALL A midseason slump cost the Gators the nation’s No. 1 ranking, but the first week they weren’t No. 1, they responded by beating new No. 1 Florida State 6–3 in Tallahassee on April 10. It was Florida’s first regular season, three-game sweep of the Seminoles since 1958. Florida had to rally to win for the 15th time this season. The Gators lost five of seven games during the slump after beginning the season 23–2.
GOLF The men’s golf team wrapped up its regular season with a sixth place finish in the Gary Koch Invitational in Tampa on April 8. The Gators were led by junior Tyler McCumber, who finished tied for 12th. Florida’s women’s golf team ended its regular season with a third place finish at the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic in Athens, Ga. Senior Evan Jensen turned in her best performance of the season by coming in sixth.
GYMNASTICS Florida earned the top overall seed in the NCAA Championships in Duluth, Ga., which was scheduled for April 20–22. The Gators did so by winning the Raleigh Regional in North Carolina with a score of 197.325, the nation’s top score. Junior Ashanee Dickerson led the way by claiming her third all-around title of the season. It’s the 12th time in the program’s history the Gators have won an NCAA Regional.
22 GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
Fact: UF Students Health Care center opened in 1931.
LACROSSE Florida’s third-year program continues to break ground as it won its first overtime match – a 13–12 double overtime victory against No. 19 Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Md., on April 7. The win extended the then-ranked No. 5 Gators’ winning streak to nine games. The game also marked the return of Kitty Cullen from a concussion and she led the way with a team-high four goals.
Then-No. 6 Florida completed a three-game home sweep against Ole Miss with a 14–3 rout on April 8. Bailey Castro homered twice – including her first career grand slam – in the Easter Sunday victory and the true freshman’s seven RBI in the game tied a single-game school record. Megan Bush, who announces Gators softball on the radio, was the last to accomplish the feat against Ole Miss last season.
SWIMMING & DIVING Florida’s men collected 27 All-American honors and finished eighth in the NCAA Championship in Federal Way, Wash., on March 24. Sophomore Marcin Cieslak, the 2012 Southeastern Conference Swimmer of the Year, led the way with a pair of bronze-plated, third place trophies. Elizabeth Biesel won her first NCAA title to power the women to a 10th place finish in the NCAA Championship in Auburn, Ala., on March 17.
TENNIS After consecutive sweeps of Arkansas, Alabama and Auburn, the then-No.
TRACK & FIELD Florida performed well while hosting the 68th Annual Pepsi Florida Relays at Percy Beard Track at James G. Pressly Stadium on April 6–7. The Gators claimed a total of eight victories in various events, with the win totals split evenly for both the men and women’s squads. The SEC Outdoor Championship is scheduled for May 10–13 in Baton Rouge, La., while the NCAA Prelims begin May 24–26 in Jacksonville followed by the NCAA Outdoor Championship on June 6-9 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Gator photo by turtlemom4bacon via Flickr.com
9 Gators dropped a 4–2 match at then-No. 27 LSU on April 8. That loss dropped the Gators to 13–8 overall and 6–4 in SEC play heading into its regular season finale against South Carolina at home on April 14. The Gators women’s tennis team clinched at least a share of the SEC title by sweeping LSU with its 105th consecutive home win on April 8. A win at South Carolina would give the Gators the outright conference title.
For the most recent stats and rankings, visit Gatorcountry.com Fact: Workers installed lights in the football stadium in the late 1930s.
GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012 23
Teeming Seas: The Natural World in Ancient American Art @ Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art 6.30pm Wednesday Night Test & Tune @ Gainesville Raceway
May 3rd 7.30pm UF Baseball @ Kentucky 8.00pm Torture tour 2012 w/ Cannibal Corpse @ Double Down Live 9.00pm Coheed and Cambria @ The Venue Nightclub
May 4th Track & Field @ Seminole Twilight Invitational
1.00pm Verdant Earth and Teeming Seas: The Natural World in Ancient American Art @ Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art 7.00pm UF Baseball @ Kentucky 7.00pm Godspell Jr. – A Musical @ Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts 7.30pm Softball @ Alabama May 5.th Track & Field @ Seminole Twilight Invitational
10.00am Guided Walk of Kanapaha Botanical Gardens @ Kanapaha Botanical Gardens 11.00am Double Summit E.T. Series @ Gainesville Raceway 2.00pm UF Baseball @ Kentucky 4.00pm Softball @ Alabama 24 GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
7.30pm Cynco De Mayo West Coast Swing Dance! @ GDMA, Gainesville, FL
7.00pm UF Baseball
May 6th 3.00pm Softball @ Alabama 3.00pm Brahms Chamber
Track & Field @ SEC Outdoor Championships
2.00pm UF Baseball
1.00pm UF Baseball
4.00pm Summit E.T. Series
@ Gainesville Raceway
Music @ United Church of Gainesville
May 7th 6.30pm Violin and Viola Recital @ The Thomas Center, Gainesville, FL
May 8th 7.00pm UF Baseball North Florida
May 10th Track & Field @ SEC Outdoor Championships Women’s Golf @ NCAA Regional
May 11th Women’s Tennis @ NCAA First Round Women’s Golf @ @ NCAA Regional Track & Field @ SEC Outdoor Championships
7.00pm UF Baseball
Men’s Golf @ NCAA Regionals @ Auburn
May 25th Women’s Golf @ NCAA Championships Track & Field @ NCAA Preliminary Rounds Women’s Tennis @ NCAA Singles and Doubles – Rnd of 64
7.30pm Straight No Chaser @ May 20th Curtis M. Phillips Center for Men’s Golf @ NCAA Regionals May 26th Women’s Tennis @ NCAA the Performing Arts Singles and Doubles – May 21th May 14th Rnd of 64 Women’s Tennis @ 10.00am Windsor Zucchini NCAA Semifinals Women’s Golf @ NCAA Festival @ Fire Station 19, Championships May 22th Gainesville, FL Track & Field @ NCAA Women’s Tennis @ May 15th Preliminary Rounds NCAA Final 7.30pm UF Baseball May 27th 6.30pm Wednesday @ Samford Women’s Tennis @ NCAA Night Test & Tune @ May 16th Singles and Doubles – Gainesville Raceway 1.00pm Verdant Earth and Rnd of 64 7.30pm Jeff Dunham @ Teeming Seas: The Natural Curtis M. Phillips Center May 28th World in Ancient American for the Performing Arts Women’s Tennis @ NCAA Art @ Samuel P. Harn Singles and Doubles – May 23th Museum of Art Rnd of 64 Women’s Tennis @ NCAA 6.30pm Wednesday Night Singles – Rnd of 64 may 29th Test & Tune @ G Men’s Golf @ NCAA Women’s Golf @ NCAA ainesville Raceway Championships Championships May 17th
Mississippi State 7.00pm Girl Scout Program @ Florida Museum of Natural History
Women’s Tennis @ NCAA Round of 16
May 12th 7.15am Ed Singley Golf
Classic 2012 @ Mark Bostick Golf Course at The University of Florida; Women’s Golf @ NCAA Regional; Women’s Tennis @ NCAA First Round; Track & Field @ SEC Outdoor Championships
Women’s Tennis @ NCAA Quarterfinals
7.00pm UF Baseball May 18th
1.00pm Verdant Earth and Teeming Seas: The Natural World in Ancient American Art @ Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art
Men’s Golf @ NCAA Regionals Track & Field @ NCAA Preliminary Rounds 7.00pm UF Baseball @ Auburn
May 19th 66th Annual Newberry Watermelon Festival @ Oak View Middle School
Women’s Tennis @ NCAA Singles and Doubles – Rnd of 64 Women’s Golf @ NCAA Championships
May 30th Men’s Golf @ NCAA Championships
1.00pm Verdant Earth and Teeming Seas: The Natural World in Ancient American Art @ Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art 6.30pm Wednesday Night Test & Tune @ Gainesville Raceway May 31th Men’s Golf @ NCAA Championships
Fact: Since 1968, 145 Gators and 13 Florida coaches have represented 34 countries.
Photos courtesy of UF Communications
May 2nd 1.00pm Verdant Earth and
Little Gator Fans
Florida defensive tackle John Reichart of Gainesville with his No. 1 fan after the Gators’ Orange and Blue Debut on April 7. Photo by Saj Guevara
It’s always Gameday in Gainesville,
only the venues change.
VisitGainesville.com Fact: Until 1947, UF enrolled men only and was one of only three state universities.
GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012 25
Strange Sports from around the world To be weird is to be different, but being different is simply a matter of perspective. To us, sports like disc golf and ultimate Frisbee are not weird, they are typical college sports. To us, it’s not weird to call soccer ‘soccer’, even though EVERYONE in the rest of the world calls it football. Having said this, here are some sports that, to their participants, are totally normal, maybe even traditional; to us, well, they’re just plain weird!
Now this sport has actually caught the eye of sports channels, that is, its caught the eye of their blooper reel. Wife Carrying was first introduced in 19th Century Finland. A notorious character named Rankainen the Robber, imposed strong physical standards on the men in his band. To join, the men had to complete an arduous course with a heavy sack on their backs. The men would often steal
26 GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
women from neighboring villages and use them instead of the sacks; thus, wife carrying is born. The objective is as it sounds; man carries woman through obstacle course, fastest man with wife still attached wins. While primarily held in various locations around Europe, this whacky ‘sport’ has made its way across the ocean, landing in Monona, Wisconsin and Marquette Michigan.
Fact: Early broadcasters of Gator games sat between the fans and the gridiron.
Man vs. Horse Marathon
How does a man measure to a horse in long distance running? If you’re from the UK., particularly the Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells, you can compete to find out. The game began in 1980 when a landlord chose to hold the event after snooping on a drunken argument about who could run long distance faster. The answer seems easy, but apparently the one-sided event is an annual tradition in the town. The marathon is shorter than an actual marathon, in that it runs 22 miles instead of 26.2. The course twists and turns over fields, creeks and roads. The first race was ran in 1981. The horses held the win for the first five years causing the humans throw bycicles into the mix. In 1989, a cyclist won, becoming the first human victor. No human on foot won until 2004. In 2007 another human won only to lose the title back to the horses in 2008.
If man can out run a horse, one would think he could out roll some cheese; one would think! In cheese rolling, a round of Double Gloucester cheese is rolled down a hill as competitors chase it. The first individual at the bottom of the hill wins. Competitors aim to catch the cheese but it rarely occurs, due to the cheese’s one-second head start. The cheese can even reach up to 112 km/ hr. Here’s an idea for a sport, Horse vs. Cheese Mountainside Marathon!
Also known as underwater hockey, Octopush is a non-contact sport where two teams compete to maneuver a puck across the bottom of a swimming pool and, eventually, into goals. Each team consists of up to 10 players with six in the water at a time. Teams use black and white sticks and hats for identification. The puck may only be moved by the stick. A goal is scored when the puck enters the goal. So in summation, its hockey played underwater.
The name basically says it all. Chess Boxing combines strength and strategy with the two games alternating after each round. The match begins with two opponents sitting at a chessboard and matching wits. They will battle for four minutes and then one minute to change into boxing gear. After that, the opponents will face-off in a two-minute boxing round. The winner can be crowned in one of five ways: knock out the opponent in the ring, get a checkmate in the chess match, judge’s decision, throw in the towel or if one player’s chess move takes more than 12 minutes. Fact: On October 31, 1931, the Georgia Bulldogs played the Gators at Florid Field for the first time.
GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012 27
THAT’S HER OPINION
Dear Fairy Gatormother, “Dear Fairy Gatormother, do you have any advice for someone who works from home and who wants to better balance the time between work and family? Because I’m always getting pulled in so many directions, I do not feel that I’m doing as good of a job as a parent OR as an employee. How can I find a happy medium, even on the most demanding days of pulling double duty?”
Dear Scrambling Gator, Millions of people dream of being able to work from their own snug little swamp and you’ve made it happen. Congratulations on winning the home court advantage! Now, I want to go on record as saying I don’t have all the facts of your situation (are you a man/woman, are your children in school/homeschooled, if the children are not in school are they at home with you while you work, etc.) so my response will be a bit general in terms of being able to give you a play by play analysis but here’s to hoping you get the clarity you’re seeking. First, I call a personal foul. No matter the missing details, it is crucial that you immediately blitz the self-loathing paradigm you’ve got goin’ on or you really will fumble all the balls you’re juggling. Giving even one second of energy to feeling as though you’re doing a bad job (in any way) is a second you can spend loving the life you’ve created and searching for ways to make it even better. Remember, thoughts are things. They are tangible, measureable electrical waves that are recorded in the Universal data bank and the Universe will send you that which you focus on. Some call this karma, reaping what you sow, etc. but the bottom line is, if you have some sort of self-flagellation type thought that’s always in the back of your mind, that negativity will color most everything you say and do. Then you get tackled by the proverbial self-fulfilling prophecy, the clock runs out
and that’s it, game over. And nobody wants that! So, give yourself a time out, take a deep breath and trust yourself enough to know you’re probably doing a fine job. As it pertains to “...getting pulled in so many directions...”, women are neurologically hardwired to multitask and men are not. If you, Scrambling Gator, are a man then perhaps it might benefit you to take a step back and know that not everything is your problem to be solved. Additionally, instead of trying to multitask and fight against genetics, make a schedule and pledge to stick to it unless the zombie apocalypse occurs. If you’re a woman, perhaps it might benefit you to take a step back and know that it is OK to say no to the persons and situations that are causing you to doubt yourself and who are sucking the life right out of you. Additionally, know that you cannot take care of the whole world on a daily basis so instead of trying to be Every-Woman 2.0, relax. Whether man or woman, one more thing to think about is, time is an illusion. It only exists because man made it up. Instead of freaking out about how you don’t have enough time to get everything done that you think you need to do, start out each day by repeating this affirmation; “I have the power to excel at everything I choose to experience in my life and I have unlimited time to accomplish everything I choose to focus my attention and intentions on.”
Disclaimer: Fairy Gatormother is not a certified mental health professional other than in the most ironic sense of the term. Her “advice,” like life, is intended for entertainment purposes only, and should not be followed slavishly or even taken seriously, unless that feels right, in which case you are living your life according to the diktats of an anonymous Internet pseudonym. Think about that.
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Fact: The Gators lead the SEC in team titles and Academic All-SEC recipients.
The Mom Blog
Youth Sports: Is this really a good idea?
by Renee Gork
As the years have come and gone way too quickly I find myself getting my little guys ready to play sports. Each week, some sort of flyer is being sent home in my five-year old’s school folder, advertising another youth sport. I have followed-up on everything from karate and t-ball to flag football and soccer with different leagues and rules for children to participate in as early as FOUR-years old, which is interesting to me with a three-year-old to think about as well. Considering my husband and I both competed in sports into college, we always thought our children would compete in some way. It’s in their blood, right? If they don’t play, we’ll still love them. But competitive sports teach camaraderie, accountability and (good) character. Hopefully, the children learn it’s the experience – not always the outcome – that’s important. By pondering which sport would be best for my kindergartener to try first, I find myself thinking, “Is any this really a good idea?” Sure, there are tons of great things about sports like being part of a team, but my goodness, just look at the wonderful world of sports these days. In just the past year, college and professional coaches after fumbled away their job for all sorts of reasons. Players, who rarely lose jobs but get suspended because they’re too valuable, drop the ball, too. There’s a new sports figure or an entire program slip up – almost weekly it seems. Unfortunately, I could go on and on and on about bad characters. Do I really want my kids to get involved in something that could expose them to all the corruption, cheating, lying and deceit associated with it? Most of the stories that have come to light in deal with college or professional sports, but high school athletics are where bad decisions in sports begin, if not sooner.
Bad characters show up there, too. If my kids are decent in sports and fortunate enough to play into high school, do I want them around the atmosphere, even at youth levels? Or perhaps I should say, especially at youth levels? I have seen parents at flag football games bow up at each other in the middle of the field over a call. I have seen parents hollering coaches because they didn’t agree with how their child was or wasn’t being played. I couldn’t imagined being a youth referee. Just check out YouTube. It’s everywhere. Over a missed call in flag football? Really? Do I really want to get my kids in an atmosphere that can produce such behavior? My FOUR-year old? Maybe my sons will get lucky. Maybe they won’t have to deal with people cheating, lying or going berzerk over a game. Maybe they will have enjoyable experiences into high school. That would be great. But what if my child happens to be a star-studded quarterback? What then? Do I let these college coaches into my house who are be part of a club with members who have lied, cheated, broken rules, laws, and regulations just for the sake of the game? Do I trust these men, the same men who had one of their own coaching fraternity members fired for having an affair and hiring a women half his age and lying to his boss about it? Am I supposed to trust these people with my child? Maybe my sons will get lucky. Maybe my child will choose a wonder full college – like the University of Florida – and have a completely negativity-free experience competing in collegiate sports. That would truly be great. But what if they’re one of those one in one-zillion (or whatever the ratio is) of players who make it to the pros. Surely, with
Fact: The Fighting Gator Band became a regular fixture at football games in the late 1940s.
this professionalism will come integrity, honestly, and fair play, right? WRONG. An NFL coach recently was suspended with no pay for allowing one of his coaches to bribe players with money to “take out” their opponents key players. To hit them so hard that they’re injured so badly they cannot return to the game. Where does it end? Where is there a place I know my children can play a fair and honest game – coached by a fair and honest person? Where? When? Do one of these flyers offer that? How much does it cost? I’ll pay it. Who knows, it may never happen. My boys may stink at sports. As I sit here and listen to the news each day, I have to focus on the good things, the positives. They always outweigh the negatives, as they say. Simply look past the Jim Tressels and Jerry Sanduskys of the wide world of sports, and see the good folks: The John Woodens, the Mike Krzyzewskis, the Billy Donovans. It’s a short list, but an admirable one. The most important thing I will tell my children as they reach is to believe in themselves and to treat teammates and coaches with respect. I’ll tell them to follow positive role models – there is Tim Tebow, after all – and ignore negative ones. As far as the craziness they may encounter, I may tell them everything. Why not up be front about the positives, and negatives, of sports, so they’re protected beyond their pads if hit by a blindside blitz. If I can teach them to have fun, but play with character, then I won’t have to worry about my sons if – and when – they come into contact with bad characters. Now where are those flyers? Renee Gork is a mother of two and the Student Experiences Coordinator for the Division of Multimedia Properties at the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida. Follow Renee on Twitter @rgork or contact her by email at email@example.com with any questions or comments. GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012 29
MOTHER KNOWS BEST!
Gator Moms Photos and story by Mike Capshaw
With Mother’s Day on May 13, we pay a special tribute to the mothers behind a few of Florida’s top players
Cindy Moultrie, Allie Horton and Paola Zunino have followed the Gators to games the past few springs. In fact, they usually spend Mother’s Day – the second Sunday in May – at the ballpark. Each has her own, unique story to share about what it’s like to be a Gator Mom. They’re all from Florida and have careers that afford time to travel to games. There is no exact formula to raising an elite athlete – as these three Gators Moms show. Most of all, it is simply about supporting their successes and listening after their losses.
30 GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
He’s Always Been ‘Michael’ To Her PerfectGame.com published a 1,646-word article about Florida Gators junior catcher Mike Zunino’s relationship with his dad. While well-researched and written, it failed to mention much about Mike’s mom, Paola. As the article published on Jan. 30 explored, Greg Zunino was a major factor in his son’s success. Baseball America and countless other prognosticators project Mike Zunino to be one of the first two players selected in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, which begins June 4. Dad played third base and outfield at Cal, coming up a game short of the College World Series finals in 1980. He made it all the way up to Double-A ball with the New York Yankees. He’s now a scout for the Cincinnati Reds. In other words, Greg Zunino knows baseball. As does his wife. Mike’s mom certainly knows the game. She played softball for the highly competitive Italian National Team, which is about as close to baseball as it gets without the pitcher throwing overhanded. Together, the Zunino’s created the perfect player. Because he’s exceptional at both batting and catching, he’s a complete talent Major League clubs cannot pitch around come draft time. “I played catcher, so I’ll take credit on the defensive part (of Mike’s game),” Paola Zunino said. “But the hitting was his dad.” Dad watches UF games often as part of his job. He scouts tons of talent while eyeing Gators games, like
several of Florida’s own players and other project-first rounders like LSU pitcher Kevin Gausman (Zunino went 2 for 3 with a two-run double against Gausman in the 7–0 win on April 6.) While Zunino has not officially declared for the 2012 draft, no one expects a player who projects so highly to stay in school. He’ll become a millionaire the moment he signs with whatever team drafts him, and that likely won’t be Dad’s Reds. “We hope he doesn’t get to that pick – They pick 14th (with a laugh),” Paola said. “But if he gets there, (Greg) told me they’ll take him.” Paolo attends most weekend games and “important midweek games like FSU,” she said. She travels with a group of other Gators parents who planned to catch every weekend series this season except for Florida’s games at Kentucky. A flexible schedule of managing condominiums in Cape Coral, Fla., allows Paola to make the games. She recently spoke about recruiting and “being Michael’s mom,” at the March 17 Gators Dugout Club meeting at Beef O’Brady’s on Archer Rd. She jokes she can “still pull out the wooden spoon,” if her son gets out of line, which wasn’t often. She calls her son “Michael,” because he didn’t become “Mike” until he got to Florida. His full name exposes his deep Italian roots, Michael Accorse Zunino. Whatever folks called him, Michael always wanted to become a baseball player. “From the moment he walked, he wanted to be a
Fact: The 1928 Gators led the nation in scoring, totaling 336 points to their opponents’ 44 and beating Georgia for the first time.
MOTHER KNOWS BEST! catcher,” Paola said. “I have pictures of him at two- or three-years old with his diaper on and he’s got his catcher’s gear on or a plastic bat with a Mickey Mouse helmet and glove.” Because of his love for baseball, Mike, an only child, talked his parents into putting off building a pool any time talk of such surfaced. He needed a place to hit and play catch in the backyard with his dad, and mom, not a place to swim. Despite often being “the shrimp of the team,” as his mom puts it, he always was intense and practiced hard, just as he does today. “People look at what he does and think it comes easy, but this kid is all practice,” Paola said. “That’s why I think he’s so good.” Paola still speaks with an Italian accent after moving to America 27 years ago from Bologna, Italy. She doesn’t get nervous before the games, but does to a certain extent in key situations. “You don’t want to see your kid fail,” Paola said. Paola is proud Gators Mom. She’s joined often at games by her soon-to-bedaughter-in-law Alyssa Barry, Michael’s high school sweetheart that he plans to marry on Oct. 6. Mom says it’s important for parents to show their support, and most of all, enjoy it all. “We blinked – and he’s a junior in college,” Paola said. “We couldn’t wait for him to go to high school, and it was done, we couldn’t wit for him to get to college and he’s practically done. “Just enjoy every game. If you can make the games – go.” Whether Paula continues going to Michael’s games all depends on who drafts him. She noted that the Minnesota Twins, which has the second pick, has the Fort Meyers Miracle, an Advanced A affiliate. “I just half to cross the bridge and I’m there,” she laughed. Fact: UF’s band had a tradition of service, dating back to 1917.
Momma Horton Hears A Hoo, Too Moms keep a watchful eye on their kid’s every move. Especially at games, whether their sportster is getting a drink from the corner dugout water jug or driving a home run over the left field wall. Of course, the player often trades quick glances with the parent. It’s in those spans that may last less than a second that can warm a parent’s heart the most. “I love when we exchange those little looks,” said Allie Horton, the mother of UF softball slugger Kelsey Horton. “It’s just so she knows I’m there and we’re always supporting her.” Softball wasn’t available in the South Florida town where Allie grew up. Instead, she played baseball until she was about 10. Her daughter, Kelsey, certainly took to the game. Derived from the Dr. Suess book Horton Hears A Who!, Gators fans echo “Whooo … “ when she comes to bat.” The junior, who took over at catcher when starter Brittany Schutte was injured, was batting .342 with a team-high 10 home runs at press time. Despite watching every moment of her career on the softball diamond – including her very first hit as a 6-year-old when the ball bounced high off the plate before hitting Kelsey’s bat for a single – Mom still gets nervous before each at-bat. “I get butterflies,” Allie Horton said. “I just think she’s going to hit a home run every time.” Allie is a registered nurse for the Hillsborough County Health Department. Her boss had a son play college football, so she’s “really understanding” in allowing Allie to leave early on Fridays to make it to home games some two hours away. The Hortons attend every home game possible and all the road games they can afford. Just attending games can be a full-time job. “From being at the field early in the morning to late at night, all the things you have to do,” Horton said. “Lugging a cooler around and going
from field to field. All the sweating and, ya know, all the bumps and bruises. “It’s a family commitment – it’s just the moms, the dads and the siblings. When you play at this level, it’s really a family commitment.” Because of family tiesFlorida was always going to be Kelsey’s college of choice. Because her dad went to school there. The Hortons had to force Kelsey to “at least look at other schools,” just so she could reinforce her decision. “This was always her dream and she’s living it now,” Allie said. “As a parent, how much prouder can you be?” Mom never worried about being one of those parents that pushed their kids too hard in athletics. “If anything, we had to pull her back,” Allie said, noting how she played more than one sport and would be on multiple teams – travel and high school – simultaneously. To nurture a star student-athlete, Allie said the key is to “listen.” College athletes have daily challenges with the demands of keeping up with practices and studies, so an open ear can be the best thing a parent can provide. With Kelsey, she shoulders a full class load while studying to be a pharmacist on top of her softball schedule. “Sometimes, she just needs to call us on the phone and just let it all out and vent and release it all,” Allie said. “I think just being there listening and knowing that we’re supporting her and always giving her that positive reinforcement helps – that little nod.” Just like those small glances during the games, nothing has to be said. “I don’t think you really have to say anything,” Allie said. “I think a lot of people are always advising their kids what to do – You need to do this or you need to do that. You just always listen and support whatever she thinks is the right thing to do.” GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012 31
MOTHER KNOWS BEST!
That’s Just How She Was Raised Michelle Moultrie is a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, annually given to the premier student-athlete in the nation. The “Four C’s” that make up the winner are: Community, Classroom, Character and Competition, according to its website. While Dad had a lot to do with Michelle’s mastery of the latter C, Mom helped inspire the other three C’s. Cindy Moultrie has an engineering
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degree and works with a small fundraising company in Jacksonville, which frees up her schedule enough to attend a lot of the Gators games in Gainesville and across North Florida. She has an older daughter who also played softball and a pair of high school sons that keep her from making it to every game. Cindy doesn’t remember the exact moment when the family realized how
talented Michelle was. She credits her husband, Clarence, for recognizing that early on because “it’s his passion, too.” “I’ve always thought all my kids were good – That’s a mother for you,” Cindy said. Openly spiritual, Cindy uses the word “blessed” often when talking about Michelle’s on-field accomplishments. During the Gators’ runner-up run at last season’s College World Series, she was named co-Most Outstanding Player after batting .542 and leading the tournament in hits, doubles, home runs, total bases and stolen bases. “That was awesome,” Cindy said. “What she did, I just really felt that God had really blessed her. That was nothing, but just Him putting his hand on her. She’s tries to walk for Him the best she can.” After she walks at graduation with a bachelor’s degree in business, Mom hopes Michelle will turn around and walk right back into the college. Michelle interned with Chacon Diaz & Di Virgilio Wealth Management in Gainesville, but Mom believes she needs more schooling before taking a swing at the real world. At the same time, she points out how “amazed” she is that Michelle and her teammates can excel in both the classroom and on the diamond. “My desire is that she goes back and gets her master’s degree, because I would really like to see her focus in (on academics),” Cindy said. “She’s done a good job, but I don’t think her focus has been on it. She does well. “That’s why I think it would probably be a good idea for her to focus in on it a little longer, so she can get what she needs to survive out in the world.” Michelle’s dad, Clarence, coached Michelle’s traveling teams. When other dads were wanting to schedule more tournaments for the team, Clarence kept them from scheduling too many games each summer in order to keep Michelle balanced. Helping Michelle have balance between being a student and an athlete – while keeping a strong faith – has been the way Michelle was raised. “Sometimes, people get too focused on the sports side (of college), and you just can’t push yourself too hard there,” Cindy said. “I want her to be very competitive in her schoolwork, too, because that’s first. “I love softball and I love that she can play and everything, but when it’s all gone, you’ve got to have something to fall back on.”
Fact: The small scoreboard in the south end zone lasted from the 1930s to the 1960s.
Sun-N-Fun Almost nothing can hold the kids’ attention more than an up-close-and-personal visit with an unfamiliar animal, and what better way than a casual swim with dolphins. But that’s not all, right now Discovery Cove is offering you and your family an all-inclusive day resort experience that includes: A 30-minute dolphin interaction, snorkeling with tropical fish and hand feeding exotic birds, relaxing on beaches, floating along the Wind-Away River, fresh breakfast, lunch and unlimited snacks, drinks and select alcoholic beverages!
Discovery Cove, Orlando $$$
6000 Discovery Cove Way, Orlando FL, 877.434.7268, discoverycove.com
LEGOLAND Florida, Winterhaven $$$
Geared toward kids of ages 2 through 12, LEGOLAND is a 150-acre family theme park located in Winter Haven, just 45 minutes from the Orlando theme parks or downtown Tampa. Providing education, adventure and fun, this Florida site is the second park of its kind in the United States. Conceptualized as a result of the increasing interest in the LEGO creations displayed at the factories, LEGOLAND hosts over 50 family rides, hands-on attractions, a variety of shows, restaurants, shopping and pristine landscape. 1 Legoland Way, Winter Haven FL, 877.350.5346, florida.legoland.com
Old Town Theme Park, Kissimmee $$$$
Between the Go Karts, Laser Tag, Bumper Cars and 14 amusement rides, Old Town Theme Park gives families seemingly endless opportunities to experience some oldfashioned summer fun. The Old Town Getaway Package provides access to Old Town Amusement and two or more nights of lodging. If the amusement rides aren’t enough excitement, you can amp up your vacation with the all-new AMPventure Experience, which offers a state of the art adventure course including a four-story Ropes Challenge Course, a thrilling ‘out and back’ Zip Line and a 35-foot adrenaline rushing Rock Climbing Wall. 5770 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy, Kissimmee FL, 407.396.4888, myoldtownusa.com
Price Range Guide: for each event for an average family of four 0-50: $ 300-600: $$$$ 50-100: $$ 600-1000: $$$$$ 100-300: $$$ 1000+: $$$$$$ 34 GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
MOSI, Tampa $$
Being the home of Busch Gardens, Adventure Islands and a hop away from the Tampa Bay Rays stadium, it’s easy to overlook some of the other great attractions Tampa has to offer. After 52 years of growth, The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), a non-profit, community-based institution and educational resource, provides the chance for children and their parents to experience a scientific playground of over 450 hands-on activities! In its 400,000-square-feet of interactive exhibits, MOSI hosts a number of thrilling and intriguing sights. Harness onto a bicycle along a 98-foot-long steel cable, suspended 30 feet above ground on MOSI’s High Wire Bike or take on extreme weather conditions inside Disasterville, featuring WeatherQuest, a 10,000 square foot exhibition on the science behind tornados, hurricanes and other natural disasters. For a more peaceful experience, wander the BioWorks Butterfly Garden, gaze the stars at The Saunders Planetarium or view the IMAX Dome motion picture system, which projects images of major size, clarity and impact onto a dome shaped screen providing 10,500 square feet of visual imagery! 4801 E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa FL, 813.987.6000, mosi.org
The Kennedy Space Center $$$
Vacationing in central Florida isn’t the same without a trip to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Near Orlando, NASA’s launch headquarters provides guests the chance to tour launch areas, meet a veteran astronaut, see giant rockets, train in spaceflight simulators and view a launch. Admission to the center includes IMAX space films, all exhibits and shows, the Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. Admission tickets also include a second day free for use at the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame! SR 405, Kennedy Space Center FL, 866.737.5235, kennedyspacecenter.com Fact: Medical assistance was often quite basic in the games of the 1940s.
d ke n n e
n l et ce i kis
l a ke w a
By Daniel Sutphin
With the summer comes your typical sweat and stain of sun-glaring heat and high humidity. To escape this environment, some people choose to jack the air conditioner, surround themselves with fans and stowaway in their houses for the season. Others, however, choose to take on the heat and hit the road. Whether coastal or inland, the Central Florida region offers a slew of family vacation hot spots to save your kin from the Florida summer. This month, GC is exploring the much-publicized Central Florida region, endeavoring to prove that there’s more to a Florida vacation than a trip to Disney World.
les Daytona Beach Parasail $$$
It’s hard to mention Daytona Beach without discussing its pristine beaches, but how one experiences the beach can be a major factor in providing a truly lasting memory. With five flights to choose from, Daytona Beach Parasail offers adventurers an extreme, but safe experience for the whole family - their youngest flyer was 18 months old and their oldest, 88! Licensed U.S. Coast Guards man the helm, with flights starting at 800 feet, all the way to 2,000 feet. No special skills required for this Parasail experience, just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride! 4936 South Peninsula Drive, Ponce Inlet FL, 386.547.6067, daytonaparasailing.com
Bok Tower Gardens $
Nestled between Tampa and Orlando, Bok Tower Gardens spreads nearly 50 acres of Olmsted gardens surrounding the Pinewood Estate. On this National Historic Landmark, dedicated in 1929 as a gift from Edward Bok, guests can explore the 1930s Mediterranean-style mansion and the 205-foot art deco and neo-Gothic Singing Tower, which boasts 60 bells that ring every half hour and during daily concerts. See the natural habitats on the Pine Ridge Trail, explore Bok’s history and step into the high-end life of the 1930s. Also stashed through the landscaped gardens of Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. are secret garden paths, picture rubbing posts as well as three geocache locations! In the Gardens, kids can enjoy themselves and find their way around on the Garden Hunt with their Discovery Back Packs stuffed with books and activities. 1151 Tower Blvd, Lake Wales FL, 863.676.1408, boktowergardens.org Fact: The Gators beat Tulsa in the 1952 Gator Bowl. It was the Gators first bowl game.
The Haunt Oak (FREE!)
If already visiting Daytona, why not give the family a quick scare for their travels? Located just off of Old Dixie Highway north of Ormond Beach, next to the Bulow Sugar Mill ruins reigns the Haunt Oak, also known as the “Harwood Oak,” or the “Fairchild Oak.” According to ‘Weird Florida’ by Charlie Carlson, two tales are told of this 400-year-old live oak. The first story tells that a man was hanged from the tree, the second, that former owner of the property, Norman Harwood, committed suicide beneath it in the 1870s. The Haunt Oak resides in Bulow Creek State Park, where several trails provide hikers the opportunity to explore the interior of the park, and see white-tailed deer, barred owls and raccoons. The Bulow Woods Trail is nearly seven miles long and leads to Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park, where visitors can picnic within view of the Haunt Oak. vBulow Creek State Park, 3351 Old Dixie Highway, Ormond Beach FL, 386.676.4050, floridastateparks.org/bulowcreek GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012 35
Hook. Line. Sinker.
As of April 2012. Courtesy of Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Water levels continue to remain down two to three feet in this lake, but the State Park boat ramp is still usable. Water color is a productive, fish-growing green. This points to an increase of available nutrients that can be beneficial to the shad component of the forage base. Fishable maidencane edge has been reduced to about three feet or less and the submerged logs of the southwestern shoreline are high and dry. The abundant panfish population of this lake will start their bedding rituals this quarter. Black crappie will take to the maidencane edge for their spawning activities. As the largemouth bass behavior transitions from bedding and nest-guarding this quarter to a more dispersed post-spawn habit, traditional summer baits and approaches will apply.
The prolonged drought in north central Florida has greatly influenced access to the fisheries at Newnans Lake. Access is currently only possible with small vessels that can be hand-launched or pushed off of their trailers. For those anglers that manage to reach the lake, most are fishing the relatively deeper water near Palm Point from bream, catfish, and black crappie. Anglers should be aware of tagged black crappies with rewards.
The prolonged drought in north central Florida has eliminated access to the fisheries at Orange Lake. Orange Lake is completely inaccessible at all boat ramps surrounding the lake.
Lake Santa Fe
A recently conducted largemouth bass population survey (March 2012) indicated that it is an excellent year for fishing Lake Santa Fe. Several large bass (over six pounds) were found under docks in deeper water, primarily along the Northwestern shoreline of Little Lake Santa Fe, as well as around the Cypress trees in the Southwestern shoreline of the big lake. Large bass were also found under the two fish attractors in the big lake in deeper water. Large crappie were found close to the shoreline in Melrose Bay along the maidencane grass, and large bluegill and redear sunfish were found among the cypress stands.
Suwannee & Santa Fe Rivers Boaters should be extremely cautious on both rivers, as low water has made clearance over sand bars and other underwater hazards less certain. Use low water periods to develop better understanding of what exposed areas look like under normal river levels.
An annual largemouth bass electrofishing survey was conducted by FWC biologists in the section of the Suwannee River downstream from the Suwannee River State Park. This section revealed a robust population of legal and aboveaverage sized bass, both Suwannee and largemouth. Good numbers of harvestable-sized panfish (redear and redbreasted sunfish) were also observed. Farther downstream near the Gopher River tributary, bass were surveyed holding in deeper water along outside bends of the river and areas that support spatterdock and eelgrass. Redbreast sunfish fishing will pick up this period with ultrasmall crankbaits fished by drifting being the preferred lure and method. In the Santa Fe River mullet numbers are high between Route 129 and Rum Island.
Rodman Reservoir Look out for floating logs. To prevent boating accidents during the drawdown, boaters are asked to watch their wake and be courteous to anglers fishing along the Barge Canal and river channel.
By the beginning of April, the three-month reservoir drawdown will be over, and reservoir water will be back to normal levels. Largemouth bass catches during the drawdown were hit-and-miss according to reports, but many testimonies of trophy fish were reported. At normal water levels, Rodman Reservoir still offers some of the best bass fishing in the area due to the drought in north central Florida that is affecting many of the surrounding lakes. As water temperatures increase, largemouth bass will move to deep water in the stump fields. For redbreast sunfish, fish the riverine section of the reservoir (Orange Springs to Eureka).
Upper St. Johns River & Lakes
Water levels in the upper St. Johns River basin are generally at their lowest this time of the year, but levels are presently much higher than last year at this time. Expect good fishing success in the river sections between Lakes Winder and Poinsett (Middle River), Washington to Helen Blazes, and from SR 520 to SR 50. Shallow draft or smaller boats typically have an easier time navigating sand bars and secondary channels in the river than their larger counterparts this time of the year. Largemouth bass and panfish (bluegill, redear sunfish, spotted sunfish, redbreast sunfish, and warmouth) should be concentrated throughout the deeper portions of the river. Anglers should focus their efforts around the offshore bulrush patches and emergent grasses for bass and panfish.
For the latest updates, visit myfwc.com. 36 GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
Fact: UF has captured the SEC All-Sports Trophy 19 of the last 20 years.
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1 http://money.cnn.com/2011/06/03/pf/weight_loss_programs.moneymag/index.htm 2 Based on data from approximately 8,400 patients. These patients lost on average 26.9 pounds during the first 9 weeks (total of 10 visits, including the Initial Consultation). This cost per pound is inclusive of all items patients purchased including supplements. † On average, Medi-Weightloss Clinics® patients lose 7 pounds the first week and 2 to 3 pounds each week thereafter for the first month. Rapid weight loss may be associated with certain medical conditions and should only be considered by those who are medically appropriate. © 2012 Medi IP, LLC. All Rights Reserved. GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
Gadgets For The Summer
Gear Up! By Daniel Sutphin
Coleman Hooligan 3 Camping Tent
For the recreational outdoor adventurers, the Coleman Hooligan 3 Tent is designed for easy setup. It holds three people comfortably. A full rainfly, dry-entry entrance and interior accessible window provide easy access and adjustable airflow. The rainfly provides complete protection from the elements and extends beyond the tent’s base for a convenient, multi-use opening. $104.99 www.coleman.com
Coleman Quad LED Lantern
Whether at the lake or hitting the beach, late night walks by the water can always be a fun experience with the family. The Quad hosts four removable LED panels making it a perfect light for group camping trips and any other activity where guests might split off into smaller groups during the night. Each of the panels is a fully functioning light with six white LEDs, a rechargeable NiMH battery, an independent on/off switch, and a top handle for carrying or hanging. $79.99 www.coleman.com
With work, kids, spouses and the plethora of errands that accompany them, it can be difficult to find time to hit the gym. With Fitdesk you can work and exercise at the same time. The FitDesk Pedal Desk is an innovative product that allows a person to exercise comfortably on a stationary bike while using a laptop computer or playing a video game. This unique, patent-pending design provides comfortable rests for your forearms on a padded and contoured desk surface! $229.99 www.fitdesk.net
38 GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
Fact: In 1949, George Edmonson, Jr., known as Mr. Two Bits, would go to the center of Florida Field to lead the “two bits” cheer
Gadgets For The Summer
Grace Digital Audio: Eco Terra
It’s always fun to listen to some tunes while playing in the water. The problem is the potential destruction of the music’s source. Eco Terra Boom Box is a floating IPX7 waterproof iPhone/MP3 player case that is fully submersible in water. The Eco Terra is built with two large waterproof stereo speakers and is powered by four C-Cell batteries or included AC Wall Charger. The two full-range, forward firing speakers provide a clean sound and can be played in virtually any position. The internal waterproof storage compartment holds and protects your keys, MP3 player, credit cards, driver’s license and cash, keeping it safe from sand, sun and the water. $149.99 www.gracedigital.com
Coleman Signature Series All-in-One Cook System
Carrying all the equipment to the campsite can often be a frustrating experience. To help relieve some of the burden in this effort, Coleman’s All-in-One Cook System provides a full range of cooking options in one portable system. The Cook System includes base, burner, grill and griddle. The parts nest together and lock in place for convenient carry to the campsite. $119.99 www.coleman.com
Coleman Signature Series Slow Cooker Add-On
Coleman also offers its Slow Cooker Add-On to add even more versatility to the All-in-One Cook System. The slow cooker works great for making delicious crockpot-style meals while camping. $49.99 www.coleman.com
Fact: In his first season as head coach, Ray Graves took his team to play Baylor in the 1960 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.
GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012 39
AN EYE ON THE MINORS Matt Den Dekker, a 2010 UF graduate, hit 17 homers and drove in 68 runs for the Binghamton Mets last season. Photo courtesy of the Binghamton Mets.
GATORS IN THE MAJORS NAME POS. ORGANIZATION Bryan Augenstein P St. Louis Cardinals Mark Ellis INF Los Angeles Dodgers Darren O’Day P Baltimore Orioles Ryan Raburn INF Detroit Tigers David Ross C Atlanta Braves
Draft Year 2007 1999 2006 2000 1998
GATORS IN THE MINORS
By Andrew Spivey
NAME POS. ORGANIZATION MINOR LEAGUE TEAM Bryson Smith CF Cleveland Indians Bakersfield Blaze Ben McMahan C Milwaukee Brewers Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Josh Adams INF Miami Marlins Greensboro Grasshoppers Tommy Toledo P Milwaukee Brewers Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Alex Panteliodis P New York Mets Savannah Sand Gnats Anthony DeSclafani P Toronto Blue Jays Lansing Lugnuts Nick Maronde P Los Angeles Angels Inland Empire 66ers Jeff Barfield P Detroit Tigers Connecticut Tigers Matt Den Dekker OF New York Mets Binghamton Mets Kevin Chapman P Kansas City Royals Corpus Chrisiti Hooks Mike Mooney SS Baltimore Orioles Delmarva Shorebirds Stephen Locke P Los Angeles Angels Inland Empire 66ers Patrick Keating P Kansas City Royals Northwest Arkansas Naturals Tony Davis P Minnesota Twins Fort Myers Miracle Avery Barnes OF Colorado Rockies Asheville Tourists Jon Townsend INF Los Angeles Angels Arkansas Travelers Cole Figueroa SS San Diego Padres Montgomery Biscuits Matt Laporta 1B Cleveland Indians Columbue Clippers Brian Jeroloman C Toronto Blue Jays New Hampshire Fisher Cats
Year Affiliate 2011 A 2011 A 2011 A 2011 A 2011 A 2011 A 2011 A 2010 A 2010 AA 2010 AA 2009 A 2009 A 2009 AA 2009 A 2009 A 2008 AA 2008 AA 2007 AAA 2007 AA
Down on the Farm Several former Gators making waves in the minor, major leagues
The Florida baseball program has been among the elite in the country since coach Kevin O’Sullivan took over in 2008. With having a top program one would expect the Gators to be well represented with players in the major and minor leagues. Heading into the 2012 baseball season, Florida will have five players on major league rosters and 19 players in the minors. O’Sullivan is responsible for 15 of those minor league players, but has yet to place a player into the majors. To be a fair, he has a number of former players in the higher classes in the minors. Matt Den Dekker is one of the highlight players as he has quickly risen to Double-A ball after graduating in 2010. Den Dekker was invited to the New York Mets spring training this spring before being assigned to the Binghamton Mets. Last season, Den Dekker batted .265 with 17 home runs and 68 RBI for Binghamton. 40 GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
Here’s a look at the rest of the former Gators in the minors: Bryson Smith
Last season in 19 games Smith had five homeruns while hitting .368 on the season.
McMahan was selected in the 23rd round last season and went on to play in 39 games in Class-A ball last year. In those games McMahan had a .315 batting average while scoring 26 runs.
Pantelidodis enters his first year of minor league ball this year. He will be called upon as one of the starters this year for the Savannah Sand Gnats.
The 2011 draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays enters his first season with Lansing Lugnuts as one of their five starters this year.
In 53 games last season Adams struggled with a .244 batting average but has started this year off by hitting four homeruns in just 7 games.
Toledo was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 11th round of last June’s MLB draft. In 10 games last season, Toledo struggled with a 1–5 record.
In 11 games last season, Maronde posted a 5–0 record with a 2.14 ERA. Maronde was named a minor league organizational all-star for the Los Angles Angels last year.
Barfield was signed by the Detroit Tigers as an undrafted free agent in 2010. In two seasons of minor league ball, Barfield has a 4–8 record with 4.81 ERA in 34 appearances.
Fact: Equipment in a 1960’s press box included a microphone, telephone, binoculars, stat sheet and food.
AN EYE ON THE MINORS
Matt Den Dekker
The former second-team All-SEC player was named an All-star last year in A ball. Den Dekker in his career has a .300 batting average.
Chapman has 13 career saves in two seasons of minor league action. Chapman has struck out 110 batters in 80 innings pitched.
Last season Laporta split time between the majors and minors. This season, he will start in AAA. LaPorta has hit 87 home runs in his five seasons.
A four time minor league all-star, Jeroloman has made a name for himself as an everyday catcher. Jeroloman has 192 RBI in five seasons.
A career .202 hitter Mooney in three season of A ball. Mooney has been a steady everyday player at shortstop.
The following players represent Florida in the majors:
Locke earned the honor of pitcher of the week in 2010 and was 8–7 on the year. In his career, Locke has posted a 14–12 record.
Keating was a minor league organizational all-star for the Kansas City Royals in 2010. The former Gators pitcher has a career record of 12–5 in three seasons.
Augenstein was a member of the 2011 World Series team with the St. Louis Cardinals. In two seasons of major league experience, Augenstein has started just two games. He had 23 wins in minor league action.
O’Day has spent the last four seasons in the majors with three different teams. He was a member of the Tony Davis Texas Rangers during The former National Honor Society member has appeared in their unsuccessful World Series appearance. 82 games in his career while posting a 5–7 record overall.
Barnes was a former 11th round pick of the Colorado Rockies and has been in the minors the past three seasons. Barnes has 149 hits in 235 career games.
An undrafted free agent, Townsend has spent the past four season in the minors as a steady second baseman. In his career Townsend is a .259 hitter.
The two time all-star Figueroa has steadily moved up the ranks before making it to double A last season. Figueroa was drafted by the Padres before finally settling down with the Tampa Bay Rays.
A two-time minor league All-Star, Raburn has spent the past five seasons with the Detroit Tigers. Raburn has 53 career home runs in 505 games.
In nine major league seasons, Ellis has a career .265 average in 1,132 games. Ellis was player of the week in 2009 for the Oakland Athletics.
Ross is known as one of the best back-up catchers in baseball as he has spent the past 10 seasons in the majors. Ross has appeared in 597 games while hitting 75 home runs and driving in 227 runs.
Fact: The ‘50s saw a growing awareness of good training, eating and exercise for the Gators.
GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012 41
SHOWING SOME LOVE The group is named after Gators player Kitty Cullen, because she had an “awesome name” and was the team’s top scorer in 2011.
e Capshaw By Max Mattern Photos by Mik
‘Kitty’s Korner’ leads lacrosse crowd Four students saw a need ‘to help’ Gators lacrosse team after 2012 season opener It’s another beautiful day in Gainesville, Fla. The sun is out and there’s not a cloud in sight as fans walk through the gates of Donald R. Dizney Stadium for a Florida Gators lacrosse game. After getting a hot dog and water, fans head for the stands. As they take their seat, they look out and see the Gators jogging around the field, but wait? In the front row, there are four guys jogging, too? Now out on the pitch, the girls start prepping for the game by stretching their legs. Once again though, the four guys in the 42 GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
stands are stretching their legs out as well. The foursome is decked out in orange and blue wigs, hats, shirts and other accessories – they are definitely Gators fans. As the lacrosse team prepares to take the field, the girls get together, put their hands in, and cheer ‘Go Gators’, and these four fans get together and cheer in the stands along with them, too. Who are they? Larry Delaney, Adam Janik, Seth O’Brien and Kyle Gooding, but these UF students call themselves “Kitty’s Korner.”
Before every game, these guys carry a tarp that says “Kitty’s Korner” and drape it over the front row of the bleachers. They consider themselves part of the team by warming-up, competing and cooling-down with the team each game. This idea originated during the 2012 season-opening exhibition game against the English National Team and these four guys were heading to the stadium looking forward to their first lacrosse game. They all figured the Gators might lose because, after all, it was the English National Team. To their surprise, the Gators dominated en route to an 18–3 win. Janik’s first reaction was simple, “We have to help these girls.” Throughout the entire game though, they sat in silence – along with the rest of the fans, Larry said. “We were wondering if we were allowed to yell,” Janik laughed. “So after the first game, we just started being Rowdy Reptiles.” The Rowdy Reptiles are an official student group for the University of Florida athletics, but it was nonexistent at lacrosse games. Janik was the one who spawned the idea. “Everybody accepted us, and it grew,” Janik said. Kitty’s Korner is as much involved before the games as it is during the games. The four of them incorporate plenty of ideas throughout the match. “Every time we score,” Delaney said, “we do the wave, starting off on one side then going to the other and then coming back to the original side. It’s always fun.” Many of their ideas incorporate the players, too. Each week they try to figure out something that can be personalized for every player. “With Caroline Chesterman,” O’Brien explained, “We always sing ‘Sweet Caroline’ every time she goes out on the field or every time she scores. “Also, we just started with Mikey [Meagher],” O’Brien added. “When she makes a save, we sing ‘She’s a Brick House.’” Of course, Kitty’s Korner brings their own personal materials to make them stand out. Along with the usual Gators garb, they each have their own yellow and red cards they carry in their pockets. Whenever someone gets carded in women’s lacrosse, the player has to walk over to the substitution box and sit out for two minutes. These guys make sure the trip to the box for
Fact: One of the new traditions in the Coach Woodruff era was the ringing of the so-called Victory Bell after an important win.
SHOWING SOME LOVE
the opponent is as long and embarrassing as possible. “It’s just like basketball,” O’Brien said. “You walk them off the court yelling, ‘Left, right, left, right,’ (for each step) until they get to the end and yell, ‘Sit down.’” They also bring a huge cardboard cut-out of junior Kitty Cullen’s head to the games. They make sure to raise it up whenever she scores. The reason why they based the name around Cullen was simple … “We saw her name and we were like, ‘That is an awesome name,’” Janik said. “She was also the leading scorer last year, so it kind of just worked itself out,” O’Brien added. Even with the cardboard cutout and wearing unique eye-paint like Cullen, they have never met her in person. They are Facebook friends, though. One of Kitty’s Korner’s biggest supporters is one of Cullen’s biggest supporters as well. “We actually sit with her dad,” O’Brien said, “He sits with us, and if he is not here we will email him during the game to update him.” Overall, the players, their parents and the coaching staff have been supportive of Kitty’s Korner and their cause. They are trying to get as many people as possible to back this team. “One of the coolest parts about this,” O’Brien said, “Is the fact that we get to make more of an impact.” Basketball, football, and
the rest of the bigger sports on campus have had consistent and dedicated fans throughout the years, but that tradition did not extend into lacrosse, a program in only its third season of fielding a team. “Now we have the opportunity to start something, try to make it grow, and hopefully make it stick,” O’Brien added. All of the Gators fans love the energy and excitement these young men bring to every game. Those four guys are able to start a small, simple cheer like “It’s great to be a Florida Gator,” and get the hundreds of fans at the game to cheer along. O’Brien said they are just trying to make the experience better. Whether it is adding another cheer or accessory to their repertoire or getting one more fan to cheer with them. They want everyone to realize how good this Gators team is by backing it 100 percent. “Coach [Amanda] O’Leary has done some great things,” O’Brien said. “So it’s pretty awesome to see them grow and see how young the team is and what they can become.” All Gators fans are welcome to join them in the front row. Fans can join them by standing up with them, cheering with them or join in with any of the little things they do. If one wants to have a conversation with them though, make sure it’s at pregame, halftime, or postgame. “As long as we are not on the field competing, you can talk to us,” O’Brien said.
Kitty’s Korner got its start after a group of students noticed how quiet the crowd was during the first game of the season, an exhibition match against the English National Team. Fact: Steve Spurrier was not only a great quarterback, but also an effective kicker.
GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012 43
in the spotlight Through the Gators’ first 39 games, Hannah Rogers had posted a 20–2 record with an 0.80 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 140.1 innings pitched.
Position: Righthanded pitcher Height: 5-foot-10 Class: Sophomore Hometown: Lake Wales, Fla. Notable: In 2011, Rogers was named a second team NFCA/Louisville Slugger All-American and to the Freshman All-Southeastern Conference team.
The clock was hovering around midnight. The Gators’ softball team was fresh off clinching the Georgia series and on the cusp of a long trek back to Gainesville. Usually, pitcher Hannah Rogers said, a squad would be in the midst of a comfortable slumber – but such wasn’t the case for the orange and blue. They told their coaches to turn up the stereo to bubblegum pop song, “Call Me Maybe,” a tune by Carly Rae Jepsen that has swept the nation’s speakers. The coaches blared the tune and the players began to belt it at the top of their lungs. It’s moments like these, Rogers said, that pins the UF softball team as goofballs. “We were all screaming and we had all the lights off,” Rogers said of the ride. “The coaches turned them all on and we were all jumping around in the back.” Rogers giggled and Kelly Reynolds, UF’s assistant director of communications for softball, chimed in, “I have the video to prove it!” Silliness and all, it’s no joke watching Florida take command on the clay, and it all starts with a ponytailed blonde Rogers in the circle. The sophomore right-hander entered the season with a slew of accolades from her first year for Florida, including school freshman records for wins, starts, complete games, shutouts, strikeouts, appearances and innings pitched. Rogers assumed a heavy role for UF by stepping up when then-senior star pitcher Stephanie Brombacher was plagued with a torn bicep. Rogers said her team embraced her new role with open arms, picking her up when she was feeling down and giving her praise when she pitched well. She said injured teammate Brombacher had her back, too. “Stephanie being hurt, she could have 44 GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
Hannah Rogers takes charge for Florida from the heart of the field.
Center of the Circle By Allison Banko Photos by Saj Guevara
easily been mean,” Rogers said. “But she was there for me, telling me how good I was doing.” Despite rising to the occasion during her first year with the orange and blue, the Lake Wales, Fla., native said she wasn’t timid to assume the new role. “I felt like I had had a few games of experience before it actually happened,” she said. “Just knowing that we had the offense we had – being able to hit – I knew that everything would be OK.” Once regular-season play had ended, everything was certainly more than OK for the Gators. Tim Walton’s Gators reached the championship round in the NCAA Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City. “It was crazy,” Rogers said of the WCWS. “When I had my first time on the mound, I had all these butterflies because there’s people everywhere – on the front of you, on the sides of you, on the back of you. There are just so many people and it’s so loud. It was a lot of fun, though, being able
to see all the teams and how they’ve all worked so hard to get there.” Though Florida lost to Arizona State in June’s WCWS finale, Rogers exited the season as the team’s first freshman AllAmerican since Aja Paculba in 2008. Rogers’ experience in the circle paved the way for her maturation as a pitcher coming into the 2012 season, she said. She has become accustomed to what spots to hit at the college level, differing from high school play where rifling consecutive fastballs would strike batters out. Rogers also said she is more comfortable communicating to pitching coach Jennifer Rocha, something she said benefits her and the rest of her team. “I feel like I let (Rocha) know more when I come into the dugout what pitches are working, what pitches are not,” she said. “Whereas last year, I might have been a little bit scared to talk to her about certain things.” This season, Rogers can also bask in more company in the confines of the
Fact: The president of the school during the 1901-1902 school term, Dr. T.H. Taliaferro, offered to help Farr in coaching the team if time would allow.
in the spotlight Florida sophomore pitcher Hannah Rogers’ ability to let loose while maintaining a competitive edge has been a key to the Gators’ success this season. also helps her out when she’s pitching. bullpen with freshmen pitchers “It’s always good to go up to Hannah Lauren Haeger and Alyssa Bache. because she has pitched against all these “I think it’s great that we all have each teams before,” Haeger said. “She’s like, ‘Hey, other,” Haeger said. “To be honest, I’ve it’s alright. It’ll be OK. You’re doing great. never been on a team with three great We’re down by one pitchers that can all (run), you’ll get it can go in a game and win it for us. It’s been “To be honest, I’ve never been on back.’ Even though good just knowing a team with three great pitchers she isn’t playing, she’s there for you that the pressure is that can all can go in a game and always if you walk in the not on any one of win it for us. It’s been good just dugout and need a us – we can rely on each other if one’s knowing that the pressure is not pick-me-up.” Rogers said she’s having a bad day.” on any one of us – we can rely trying to help out the Haeger added on each other if one’s having freshmen pitchers like Rogers’ attitude in a bad day.” Hannah Rogers Brombacher helped the circle is one her, but she said she admires. it’s not one-sided. The freshman said when she’s “They help me out, too, just letting playing first base and is talking to Rogers me know what spots (to hit) and how the between pitches, her focus is especially umpire and the other team is,” Rogers present in her words. “I’m going to get this batter out,” Rogers said. “We’re good for each other and we all work hard.” will tell her. “She’s not getting on base.” According to Rogers’ account of the Haeger said though Rogers leads by atmosphere in the bullpen, the three may example on the field, the sophomore
be too good for each other. She said they often are laughing and joking around in the bullpen, prompting Rocha to straighten them out. “Alright. It’s time to pitch,” she’ll say. Then, it’s back to business. “We just have fun and work hard,” Rogers said of she, Haeger and Bache. It’s Rogers’ ability to let loose while maintaining her competitive edge that has contributed to the success of the Gators this season, especially when it comes to making the freshmen feel at home. “Hannah’s not one to scream and yell,” Haeger said. “She’s a leader who you feel comfortable going and approaching her if you have questions. It’s really nice to have Hannah just to be more of a friend than an authority. She’s quiet, but she leads by example. She gets the job done.” According to Rogers, if getting the job done comes equipped with a few laughs, it’s what’s best. “I feel like when we’re goofier and are having fun, we play better,” she said. So far, the results are ringing true.
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www.teamperformanceproducts.com Fact: After much reluctance, and at the urging of state legislators and Governor Leroy Collins, UF agreed to play the new Seminoles team of FSU in 1958.
1-855-873-2582 GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012 45
a final send off
mugshots courtesy UF Communications
Seniors reflect on their gymnastics careers at the University of Florida By Elizabeth Rhodes
As the 2012 Florida Gymnastics season comes to a close, Gator Country sat down with the three seniors on the squad and asked them about their careers at the University of Florida. At press time for this issue, the seniors were set to end their collegiate careers at the NCAA Championships from April 20–22 at The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga. 46 GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012
Nicole Ellis was a second team All-Southeastern Conference performer in 2011 and was a four-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll. Photo by Saj Guevara
Hometown: Naperville, Illinois High School: Naperville Central High School Club Team before Gators: Arena Gymnastics Most memorable moment of the season: “I would say Senior Night would probably be the most memorable,” Ellis said. “Just because my family was all there and it was the first time my whole family was in Gainesville. It was just really fun to be able to experience that night with them.” Most memorable moment of career: “When we won SEC Championships in 2010, because it was the first time in my career that we had won a big championship,” Ellis said. “I just remember how exciting that night was and it was just an amazing experience to have with all those girls and it was like our hard work was finally paying off. It was just a great memory.”
What she will miss the most about being a Florida Gator: “I think I’m going to miss the relationship I have with all the girls on the team,” Ellis said. “It’s a really special bond that we share. It’s more like a family than I think any other group of friends can say they have. I think I’ll miss that the most because it’s going to be hard to find this great group of girls that know how to work together so well and we are just very in tune with what each and every person needs and how to respond to whatever situation that we’re in. It’s just really a special bond.” Words about coach Rhonda Faehn: “It’s been a honor to be coached by her,” Ellis said. “She has so much experience and she has coached so many great athletes that I feel really honored. It’s just really nice to know that she’s such an amazing coach and I’ve had the opportunity to work with her.”
What will she miss the most about being a Florida Gator: “Probably just the people in general,” Mahlich said. “Everyone is so nice and they just appreciate gymnastics in general. And people helping out with school like our advisors, it’s just very helpful.”
Most memorable moment of the season: “Winning SECs was amazing,” Mahlich said. “It really was.”
Words about coach Rhonda Faehn: “I love Rhonda,” Mahlich said. “She’s a great coach and I really love working with her on beam especially.”
Hometown: Mason, Michigan High School: Mason High School Club Team before Gators: Twistars What it was like transitioning from Michigan to Florida: “It was really different,” Mahlich said. “Especially changing into a new team and just a bunch of new people and then starting college. It was different but it was good change. I knew one or two of the girls before I came here so that helped.”
Most memorable moment of career: “I would have to say regionals my sophomore year,” Mahlich said. “I flew off the bar on our 30-second touch and I competed still. I still had to do beam and ended up getting my highest beam score, so that was exciting.”
What word best describe this year’s team: “I just love my team,” Mahlich said. “I would just call them ‘phenomenal’. They’re amazing.”
Fact: The SEC was one of the founding members of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS).
a final send off Amy Ferguson
Mug shots courtesy of UF Communications
Hometown: Palm Harbor, Florida High School: Palm Harbor University High School Club Team before Gators: LaFleurs Tampa Gymnastics Most memorable moment of the season: “I just think this year as a whole has been something so completely different than all the other years I’ve had here,” Ferguson said. “If I had to pick one time during this year… of course the SEC Championships was amazing to come through with a win in that meet was something. I couldn’t have asked for a better meet, especially to end senior year with being SEC Champions.” “My Senior Night was also a lot of fun,” Ferguson said. “I think it was the first time I actually took everything in and just stood there and looked into the crowd and watched everyone else’s emotions and the crowd’s emotions and I just really took in every second of that meet.”
Gator Country reporter Elizabeth Rhodes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A four-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, Elizabeth Mahlich also was named to the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches Scholastic All-America team and to the 2011 SEC Gymnastics Community Service Team. Photo by Tim Casey Fact: The SEC expanded from 10 to 12 members in 1991.
Most memorable moment of career: “I don’t even think I could pick just one,” Ferguson said. “There has been so many. There’s my freshman year when we made it to nationals and then made it to Super Six with only seven girls. My sophomore year winning SEC Championships. And this year winning SEC Championships. This year, as a whole, has just been so incredible. This team is out of this world amazing and we are all just on the same page with where we want to be, what kind of team we want to be and what kind of athletes we want to be. We are all willing to sacrifice everything to be the best team in the nation, and it’s a great feeling knowing that all of your teammates have your back.” What she will miss the most about being a Florida Gator: “The people,” Ferguson said without pause. “This team, the staff – everyone is just so supportive and is always there for you in any way no matter when, where, what time. If you ever need anything they are there for you. I’ll miss this atmosphere and being part of such an incredible group of people.” Words about coach Rhonda Faehn: “She’s great,” Ferguson said. “She’s so supportive, so understanding, really motivating and always challenges us to do our best and I think that’s really great coming from a coach. She’s never negative towards you – she always wants to help you, always positive and is just really understanding, really supportive.” Growth from freshman year to now: “The team has definitely helped me to break out of my shell and to really define myself as who I’m going to be as a person and what I’m going to stand for,” Ferguson said. “I think the coaches really do bring the best out of everyone and I’ve enjoyed this team.” GATOR COUNTRY | MAY/2012 47