A look at the Georgia Tech football recruiting class
SpringhasSprung TEAM PREVIEWS
OLYMPIAN EFFORT Georgia Tech swimming will be well-represented at the U.S. Olympic Trials
MEASURING UP Daniel Miller develops the confidence to fit his 6-11 frame
SPRING 2012 • Volume 5, Number 3 EDITOR
David Johnson, Danny Karnik and Sam Morgan
DESIGN & LAYOUT
Simit Shah Jack Wilkinson Adam Van Brimmer Matt Winkeljohn
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In This Issue
Georgia Tech’s football recruiting class is solid and addresses needs. Women’s basketball standout Sasha Goodlett is setting a good example.
SPRING HAS SPRUNG
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Basketball big man Daniel Miller develops confidence to fit his 6-foot-11 frame.
Georgia Tech’s representation at the U.S. Olympic Trials should benefit a surging swimming program.
JACKETS ON ICE
Georgia Tech’s club hockey players sacrifice to represent school.
Smithgall overcame much more than a slow start in the classroom to excel in the business world.
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FUTURE JACKETS Georgia Tech signed 17 talented prospects on National Signing Day
Georgia Tech signed 17 prospects to National Letters of Intent Feb. 1, the first day of the signing period, head coach Paul Johnson announced Feb. 1. As has been the case in Johnson’s tenure at Tech, the Yellow Jackets focused their efforts on the state of Georgia and the Atlantic coast region. With the exception of one player from Australia and one from Maryland, every Tech signee comes from the state of Georgia or an adjacent state. Georgia Tech addressed needs at every position, including four players who come to the Flats as
defensive linemen. “I’m excited about this class,” Johnson said. “I think we not only signed some very good football players, but good students who are excited about coming to Georgia Tech. “Our assistant coaches did a good job and worked very hard to sign this class. I think this group will help us win a lot of football games.” Quarterback Dennis Andrews (Tallahassee, Fla.), who graduated from high school in December, enrolled at Georgia Tech in January and will participate in spring
practice. The remainder of the newcomer class is expected to enroll this summer. Tech dipped into Florida for a total of four signees, including Marcus Allen (Hilliard, Fla.), who is expected to begin his career as a running back, safety Lynn Griffin (Jacksonville, Fla.) and punter Ryan Rodwell (DeLand, Fla.). Alabama continued to be a fertile state for Tech’s recruiting efforts. Justin Thomas (Prattville, Ala.) a highly-touted quarterback, signed with the Yellow Jackets along with LB Tyler Stargel (Orange Beach, Ala.) and LB Beau
Hankins (Birmingham, Ala.). The Yellow Jackets signed a pair of teammates from Statesboro (Ga.) High School – WR Micheal Summers and OL Freddie Burden. Both players’ father played football on the professional level. In an effort to fill the void created by the departure of two starters on the defensive line, Tech signed four defensive linemen – Francis Kallon (Lawrenceville, Ga.), Pat Gamble (Carrollton, Ga.), Roderick Chungong (Silver Spring, Md.) and Adam Gotsis (Victoria, Australia). Cornerback D.J. White (Mc-
Donough, Ga.) comes to the Flats from Union Grove High School, the same school that produced recent Yellow Jacket linebacker Steven Sylvester. Anthony Autry (Norcross, Ga.) comes to Tech after a standout prep career on both sides of the ball. Another signee from metro Atlanta is OL Chase Roberts (Duluth, Ga.) of Greater Atlanta Christian. Travin Henry (Sparks, Ga.) comes to Tech listed as an “athlete” and will get a strong look at wide receiver, a position where the Yellow Jackets lost both starters.
B-Back/LB 6-2 – 210 Hilliard, Fla. (Hilliard Senior)
Played for head coach Paul Whittenburg at Hilliard Senior in Hilliard, Fla…. Versatile player that can play on both sides of the ball… Averaged 6.0 tackles per game and rushed for 812 yards and seven TDs last season… Averaged 7.06 yards per carry… Related to NFL players Champ Bailey and Boss Bailey.
QB – 6-0 – 190 Tallahassee, Fla. (Godby)
Played for head coach Ronnie Cottrell at Godby High in Tallahassee… Considered one of the top “athletes” in the 2012 class… Rated No. 79 at quarterback nationally by Scout.com and the No. 44 overall prospect in Florida
by MaxPreps.com… Passed for 5,426 yards and 36 TDs in his high school career, including 2,073 yards and 17 TDs as a senior… Averaged 4.8 yards per carry in his career (1,915 yards) and scored 22 rushing TDs... His father Dennis Andrews was a fullback at Florida State and his uncle played safety at Alabama.
WR/S – 6-2 – 180 Norcross, Ga. (Norcross)
Played for head coach Keith Maloof at Norcross… Talented on both sides of the ball… Named the defensive back of the year by the Touchdown Club of Gwinnett… As a senior, recorded 53 tackles and five interceptions, including two INT returns for touchdowns… Offensively, caught 20 passes for 515 yards and scored seven TDs... Rated with three stars by Rivals.
OL – 6-3 – 290 Statesboro, Ga. (Statesboro)
Played for head coach Steve Pennington at Statesboro... Was a tight end in high school... Rated with three stars by rivals.com... A very good blocker with good speed in a rush-heavy offense at Statesboro... Statesboro finished 10-1 overall and 6-0 in the league... Lifelong friends and high school teammates of another Tech signee, Micheal Summers... His father Willie was a running back at NC State in the
2012 Georgia Tech Signees Signee Marcus Allen Dennis Andrews Anthony Autry Freddie Burden Roderick Chungong
Pos BB/LB QB WR/S OL DE
Ht 2-Jun Jun-00 2-Jun 3-Jun 3-Jun
Pat Gamble Adam Gotsis Lynn Griffin Beau Hankins Travin Henry Francis Kallon Chase Roberts Ryan Rodwell Tyler Stargel Micheal Summers Justin Thomas DJ White
DT DL S LB ATH DE OL P LB WR QB CB
5-Jun 5-Jun Jun-00 1-Jun 4-Jun 5-Jun 3-Jun 2-Jun 3-Jun 1-Jun 11-May 11-May
Wt Hometown / School 210 Hilliard, Fla. / Hilliard Senior 190 Tallahassee, Fla. / Godby 180 Norcross, Ga. / Norcross 290 Statesboro, Ga. / Statesboro 250 Silver Springs, Md. / Our Lady of Good Counsel 275 Carrollton, Ga. / Central-Carrollton 300 Abbotsford, Victoria, Australia / Kew 200 Jacksonville, Fla. / Trinity Christian 230 Birmingham, Ala. / Jackson-Olin 227 Sparks, Ga. / Cook County 245 Lawrenceville, Ga. / Central Gwinnett 285 Duluth, Ga. / Greater Atlanta Christian 210 DeLand, Fla. / DeLand 250 Orange Beach, Ala. / Gulf Shores 190 Statesboro, Ga. / Statesboro 185 Prattville, Ala. / Prattville 188 McDonough, Ga. / Union Grove
mid-1970s and played in the CFL for the Calgary Stampeders... He was the CFL Most Outstanding Player in 1975.
DE – 6-3 –250 Silver Spring, Md. (Our Lady of Good Counsel)
Played for head coach Bob Milloy at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Olney. Md… A three-star Rivals recruit… Good Counsel finished 12-0 for the first undefeated season in school history…Team Captain… Totaled 18 tackles for loss and nine sacks as senior... First Team All-Conference pick... Consensus All-State pick and an All-Metro selection by the Washington Post... Played on the interior in high school, but was recruited to Tech as an end.
DE – 6-5 – 275 Carrollton, Ga. (Central Carrollton)
Played for head coach Grant Chestnut at Central in Carrollton, Ga… Was the No. 26-rated defensive tackle in the country last summer… Rated with three stars by Rivals and Scout.
DL – 6-5 -300 Abbotsford, Victoria, Australia (Kew)
Selected to the IFAF World Team roster that face dTeam USA in USA Football’s International Bowl on February 1 in Austin, Texas… Played Australian Rules Football for eight years... Played American Rules Football for the premier team in Gridiron Victoria, the Monash Warriors... That team has won seven of the 10 Vicbowls that have been contested since 2000.
S – 6-0 – 200 Jacksonville, Fla. (Trinity Christian)
Played for head coach Verlon Dorminey at Trinity Christian in Jacksonville… Rushed 91 times for 654 yards (7.19 avg.) and 11 TDs
as a senior… Also had 52 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble… A Rivals three-star recruit and a Florida Times-Union Super 24 selection.
LB – 6-1 – 230 Birmingham, Ala. (Jackson-Olin)
Played for head coach Terence Amos at Jackson-Olin… Amassed 122 tackles, 32 tackles for loss, six sacks, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles as a senior... Rated with three starts and ranked the No. 30 recruit in Alabama by Rivals... Ranked the No. 35 prospect in Alabama and the No. 39 inside linebacker nationally by 247Sports.com.
ATH – 6-3 – 227 Adel, Ga. (Cook County)
Played for head coach Ed Cofer at Cook County… Rated with three stars by Rivals… Ranked the No. 76 recruit in Georgia and the No. 134 wide receiver in the nation... caught 47 passes for 987 yards and eight touchdowns last year... Also played outside linebacker... Clocked at 4.5 in the 40-yard dash.
DE – 6-5 – 245 Lawrenceville, Ga. (Central Gwinnett)
Played for head coach Todd Wofford at Central Gwinnett... Rated with four stars by Rivals... Ranked as the No. 18 defensive end prospect nationally and with four stars by Scout... Played just his first season of organized football this past year after he and his family moved to the United States from England... Finished the year with 70 tackles, seven sacks, three fumble recoveries and two blocked kicks... Recorded 19 total tackles, six tackles for losses, two sacks, two fumble recoveries and a blocked punt in his first two prep games, which sparked instant recruiting interest... An outstanding student in the classroom with a 3.9 GPA... Played rugby in England.
OL – 6-3 – 285 Duluth, Ga. (Greater Atlanta Christian)
Played for head coach Tim Cokely at Greater Atlanta Christian… A polished offensive lineman that played tackle in high school, but could play the interior… Explosive speed for a 285-pounder… Also played tennis at GAC... Three-star recruit by Scout and rated No. 32 nationally at guard... Has strengths that will equate well in Tech’s offense.
Ryan Rodwell P – 6-2 – 210 DeLand, Fla. (DeLand)
Played for head coach Ryan Smith at DeLand (Fla.)… Averaged 43.6 yards per punt as a senior… Earned All-State honors… Also kicked for DeLand and was 33-of-36 on extra point tries and four-of-six on field goals… Booted the game-winner in overtime to beat Seabreeze, 2017, last season… His career-long 45-yarder also came in that game.
ILB – 6-3 – 250 Orange Beach, Ala. (Gulf Shores)
Played for head coach Ben Blackmon at Gulf Shores (Ala.)… Played at Pickens High outside of Atlanta as a freshman before family moved to Alabama… Rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals and Scout... Finished his senior season with 79 tackles, three sacks, four blocked kicks, three caused fumbles and a fumble recovery… His 79 stops led the league and was fourth in the state.
Micheal Summers WR – 6-1 – 190 Statesboro, Ga. (Statesboro)
Played for head coach Steve Pennington at Statesboro… Rated with three stars and ranked No. 85 at the safety position by Scout … Recruited to Tech as a wide receiver… Played both sides of the ball for Statesboro… Totaled over 1,400
Logan Walls (above) and Jason Peters are two starters the Yellow Jackets must replace on the defensive line.
yards of total offense and scored 13 touchdowns… First Team AllRegion pick… Lifelong friends of another Tech recruit, Freddie Burden.
QB – 5-11 – 185 Prattville, Ala. (Prattville)
Played for head coach Jamey DuBose at Prattville (Ala.)… He’s ranked as a four-star prospect and the No. 19 all-purpose athlete in the country by Rivals… Led Pratville to the Class AAAAAA state championship this past season… Recruited to Tech as strictly a QB… Completed 66 percent of his passes this season for 1,652 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushed for 896 yards and seven TDs… Ranked second in the state in total offense and fourth in passing.
athlete that averaged 8.59 yards per carry, 21.85 yards per catch, 16 yards per punt return, 22.3 yards per kick return, made 21 tackles
and recorded an interception last season. ■
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CB – 5-11 – 188 McDonough, Ga. (Union Grove)
Played for head coach Paul Burgdorf at Union Grove in McDonough… First name is David… Rated with three stars and ranked No. 121 at cornerback by Scout… A speedy prep
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wB women’s basketball
IN-SASHA-BLE Women’s basketball standout Sasha Goodlett is setting a good example
By Adam Van Brimmer
Sasha Goodlett, like many elementary school children, declared “professional athlete” her career choice before she could spell the words. Unlike most other primary schoolers, though, Goodlett’s pronouncement carried a hint of promise. When you stand taller than your teachers from the third grade on yet move with a dancer’s grace, the idea that you could be the next Briana Scurry sounds reasonable, if not achievable. A decade-and-a-half later, Goodlett is a few months away from making good on her pro pledge – albeit in the Lisa Leslie mold, not Scurry’s. She has an absurd vendetta to thank for turning her from soccer goalkeeper protégé to basketball star. A select soccer club cut Goodlett from its early-teen team when she was in seventh grade, and not because she wasn’t good enough. Goodlett’s talented older brother, Michael, quit the club that fall, and the coaches took out their anger on Sasha. Goodlett’s middle school didn’t field a team, so she was forced to take the year off. Goodlett’s plight circulated around the school, and soon the girls’ basketball coach approached the then 6-foot-tall Goodlett about trying hoops. “If nothing else, play basketball to stay in shape for soccer,” the coach told her.
For most of Goodlett’s first season on the hardwood, pacing her teammates in conditioning drills was the extent of her contribution. She didn’t get in a game until the season finale, and only then because “we were getting blown out.” She subbed in midway through the fourth quarter. “I scored 10 points and had four rebounds,” Goodlett said. “The coaches were like ‘Why didn’t we play her earlier.’ They asked me to come back.” Basketball intrigued Goodlett, but soccer remained her passion. The next year, as an eighth grader, Goodlett petitioned to play up with the high school soccer team. The coach initially declined. Unwilling to return to the select club, she elected to play basketball again.
Shortly after her hoops decision, the high school soccer coach had a change of heart. Would she still be interested in minding his team’s net? “It was a tough decision, because I’d made a commitment to basketball at that point,” Goodlett said. “My brother took me aside and told me he’d work with me and teach me soccer and to go ahead and play basketball.” Goodlett scored “something like 264 or 274 points in 12 games” on the eighth grade basketball team. “It should have been a lot more – I missed all kinds of free throws because the only things they’d show me how to do at that point were layups and rebound shots,” Goodlett said. “Basketball became an option at that point.”
Goodlett today boasts a well-rounded offensive repertoire. She’s also 6-foot-5 with a broad frame. Her combination of skill and size will likely make her a top-20 pick in this year’s WNBA Draft, according to Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph. “She is a true post center,” Joseph said. “And she’s evolved into someone who is the best playing post player in the ACC.” Goodlett ranks among the league leaders in scoring and the rest of the frontcourt-related categories, like rebounding, blocked shots and field goal percentage. More important to Goodlett personally is her being part of the most successful class in Georgia Tech history. The Yellow Jackets broke or equaled the school record for victories in each of Goodlett’s first three seasons and is on pace to challenge the mark again. Goodlett, in many ways, is the inspiration for the program’s rise. She’s become the epitome of what hard work, self-discipline and perseverance can produce, and every person exposed to the program has taken notice. Goodlett’s broad frame carried a heavy load when she arrived on campus four years ago. Obesity runs in Goodlett’s family, and she fit the definition of overweight like a model does a string bikini. Joseph remembers the incredulous look on Goodlett’s
wB women’s basketball
face when the coach told her of the team’s conditioning requirement of running three miles in 28 minutes. “She didn’t know that she could run three miles in a day, let alone 28 minutes,” Joseph said. “We laugh about it now.” The amusement comes from the fact Goodlett’s beat that mark all four years. She now makes it easily, a product of her shedding 60 pounds during her career.
That’s right, 60 pounds.
“Losing 60 pounds is hard for anybody, but given her self-discipline, it never seemed like a big deal,” teammate and close friend Metra Walthour said. “That’s what she needed to do to become the type of player she wanted to become. So she just did it. Looking back, it’s an incredible example that she’s set.”
Think healthy, not skinny
Goodlett charted her weight loss only in terms of minutes played. She never followed pound-for-pound progress or took part in monthly ceremonial weigh-ins, a la some weight watchers meeting. Her goal was to improve her conditioning in order to better play Joseph’s up-tempo style. Georgia Tech strength coach Scott McDonald encouraged her to “live healthier” rather than “lose weight.”
She’s succeeding by her own measure.
“On the court this season, I’ve played 30 minutes-plus in stretches of four or five games straight where last year I played 30 minutes in only one or two games period, and my first two years I never did,” Goodlett said. “I never dreamed I’d be able to play this much and have the energy I have and sustain it. It baffles me how conditioned I am and how far I still have to go.” Goodlett is also amazed by the impression her downsizing has had on family members. Her mother telephones a couple times a week to tell Sasha she’s been out walking. Her sister recently called to relay the healthy meals she’s making part of her diet. “Every time I find it hard to deal with the fact that I can’t go out and eat whatever I want, I remember the blessing it’s been to my family to see me lose weight and get healthier,” Goodlett said. “I never would have thought I could be such an influence on them.” Then again, she should be surprised. She never thought she’d play basketball either. ■
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MB men’s basketball
Basketball big man Daniel Miller develops confidence to fit his 6-foot-11 frame By Adam Van Brimmer
Rarely is the big man a mean man. Maybe it’s because others have always shrunk from him. Maybe it’s because the one time he retaliated against the teasing bully he was admonished for it, told to pick on someone his own size. Maybe it’s a genetic joke, that the height chromosome is somehow tied to the meek chromosome. Regardless, the gentle giant syndrome is widespread. Aggression is not in their nature. And in the game of basketball, where folks universally expect the big man to dominate, the criticism comes loud and long when he doesn’t. The abuse hinders the non-aggressive big man’s other path to success: Confidence. Daniel Miller lacked self-assurance his first two years at Georgia Tech. His standing as an overnight fan favorite aside – a status gained by leaving the rival, Georgia, at the recruiting alter and signing with Tech – his confidence was fragile. He took his lumps his redshirt year. Playing against future NBAers Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal and physical veteran Zach Peacock in practice every day humbled him. Then last year former coach Paul Hewitt relegated him to “The Defensive Man,” in Miller’s words. Enter new coach Brian Gregory and assistant Billy Schmidt last spring. They saw a coordinated 6-foot-11, 260-pound center and resolved to dump confidence over the kid’s head until some of it seeped into his pores. “From the first day I worked him out, I knew we had something,” Gregory said. “It was just a matter of getting him to believe in his abilities.” With Gregory mandating Georgia Tech’s offense run through the post on “virtually every possession” this season, Miller’s shown his aplomb. He scored in double figures in six of the Yellow Jackets’ first 10 games and has since countered the newfound attention from the defense with his passing skills. “When I first came in, I didn’t have any trouble guarding Daniel despite giving up a few inches,” Miller’s frontcourt mate, Kammeon Holsey, said. “But he’s gotten so much stronger. He’s so skilled. He makes us a challenge for other teams to scheme against.”
Miller’s transformation from gentle giant to big man on campus has been far from painless, probably because he’d previously been both at the same time. Miller’s parents stand 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-3. Miller towered over his peers in middle school and high school, and he spent his prep career at a small private school, Loganville Christian Academy, where he stood “two feet taller” than every other player on the floor. Miller exaggerates his height advantage, but he was sufficiently taller than his opponents to average 20.8 points on 73 percent shooting. He often played only the first half as Loganville Christian went 71-2 during his career. Miller could be his unassuming self and still be a star at Loganville. And he played only one year on the AAU circuit, limiting his exposure to what awaited him at Georgia Tech. Once Gulliver started going up against someone other than the Lilliputians, an adjustment period had to follow. “The college game is such a tougher adjustment for a big man than a guard,” said Nate Hicks, Miller’s teammate and one of his closest friends. “In high school, you are going up against guys 6-5 or 6-6 every night, and then almost overnight everyone is your height or taller. You have to learn how to score again, almost how to play again.”
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Miller has. Favors and Lawal showed him being tall enough wasn’t good enough, but he channeled his frustration into the weight room. He added 20 pounds his freshman year, with he and fellow redshirt Holsey making up a twoman support group. Miller’s shoulders “challenge the width of a doorway,” Holsey said, and Holsey is constantly reminding Miller he is one of the most imposing players in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Enjoying the ride
The roughest portion of the big man’s ride behind him, Miller is reveling in the experience. He, Holsey and Hicks are inseparable. Miller and Holsey’s frontcourt rivals their first year at Georgia Tech – Favors, Lawal and Peacock – all left school after that season. That left Miller, Holsey and then newcomer Hicks as the only post players on the roster last season. They played extensively as a result and spent many of their off-court hours together as well, be it in the film room, weight room or the lunch room. They’ve visited each other’s homes, and Miller’s favorite getaway is the
Hicks’ family spread near Panama City, Fla. He enjoys shark fishing from the beach and draws as many onlookers as the catch. Something about the sight of a 6-foot-11 man surfcasting or fighting a four-foot shark attracts a crowd. And he’s still hailed as a hero by Georgia Tech fans for his unlikely betrayal of the Bulldogs. His step-father, Preston Towns, is the son of Georgia great Forrest “Spec” Towns. Everything “Daniel had heard about sports was Georgia,” his step-dad told reporters soon after Miller left the Dogs for the Yellow Jackets, ostensibly because of the hiring of Mark Fox to replace the coach who had recruited him, Dennis Felton. Miller cemented his standing earlier this year by helping Georgia Tech end a three-decade-long drought in Athens. He scored 10 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked four shots in the win. And it wasn’t a fluke – he posted a similar performance three nights later against Savannah State and has carried over into ACC play. “Confidence makes all the difference,” Miller said. “I’m not thinking about what I should do or I’m not doing. I can just play. ” ■
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SPRING HAS SPRUNG Team previews Baseball
Reaching the College World Series is always the goal of Danny Hall’s Georgia Tech baseball teams. This season, though, the Yellow Jackets’ focus is on a tournament staged a few weeks before the national championship. Georgia Tech hasn’t advanced past the NCAA Regionals since 2006, a desert-like drought for a program reputed as one of the most consistently successful in the country. Playing better in regionals is what the Jackets need to “move forward,” according to Hall, who in 19 seasons on the Flats has never been one for hyperbole. “It is definitely a process we have to go through, but our goal is
always to get to Omaha at the end of the year,” Hall said. He has the material, with preseason All-Americans Kyle Wren and Buck Farmer leading the charge. Wren, a centerfielder, hit .340 last year while Farmer pitched Georgia Tech to 11 victories. The Yellow Jackets also get back
first baseman Jake Davies (.347 batting average in 2011), shortstop Mott Hyde (47 RBIs) and closer Luke Bard (8 saves, 2.72 ERA). Tech returns nine starters in all from a team that went 42-21 and tied for the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division title during the regular season last spring. And the 14 back from one of the nation’s largest rookie classes in 2011 team are now veterans. “Our expectations are always extremely high and we expect to be good every year,” Hall said. “I think the history of Georgia Tech baseball and the tradition is that we are going to be good every year.” Yet Hall acknowledges this year’s team will only be as good as their pitching rotation. NCAA bat changes cut home runs in half last year, and Georgia Tech scored fewer runs. But a starting rotation that produced 36 wins offset the scoreboard shortfall. Two of those starters were drafted, however, and while Hall is confident other top hurlers will emerge, he knows how fleeting pitching success can be. “(We lost two) guys who were not only good pitchers but also logged a lot of innings and that’s hard to replace,” Hall said. “I am definitely concerned about guys who will fill those two roles.”
Coach Sharon Perkins has lifted Georgia Tech’s softball program to the level where she could just roll out the balls, pass out the mitts and
bats and relax in the dugout every spring. The Yellow Jackets have won the ACC tourney title two of the last three years and advanced to the NCAAs in each of her five years coaching on the Flats (the Jackets are currently on a 10-year postseason run). And this season, the Yellow Jackets return big bats – seven of the top nine hitters – and strong pitching arms – two of three starters -- from last year’s 45-12 team. So why is Perkins tinkering by shuffling her infielders to new positions heading into this, her sixth season? To give the Jackets the best chance to reach an even higher level. Moving All-American shortstop Kelsi Weseman to third base and second baseman Ashley Thomas to shortstop makes room in the lineup for highly regarded freshman Chelsie Thomas at second base. Weseman and Ashley Thomas are “versatile” fielders, and Chelsie Thomas will give Georgia Tech an added dimension on the base paths. Chelsie Thomas has sprinter’s speed and set her high school records for runs scored and steals.
“We have a strong core of returners and will mix in some new faces that were successful during the fall” season, Perkins said. Georgia Tech will look to win the Atlantic Coast Conference’s regular season championship for the fourth straight year and the tournament title for the third time in four years. The ultimate focus is on the NCAA tournament. Perkins stacked Georgia Tech’s nonconference schedule to prep them for the postseason run. The Yellow Jackets face three 2011 Women’s College World Series teams in the season’s opening weeks and play 15 more NCAA participants during the regular season. Of their 56 games, 22 are against teams that played in last year’s NCAA tournament. Weseman will lead the Yellow Jackets. The slugger hit .424 with 21 home runs and 65 RBIs, all team highs, last year. Six more returning Yellow Jackets hit better than .300. At the pitcher’s rubber, Georgia Tech loses last year’s ace, 20-game winner Kristen Adkins, but returns Lindsey Anderson (13-2 last year) and 2010 All-American Hope Rush (12-4).
If there’s one Georgia Tech program that reloads rather than rebuilds, it is Bruce Heppler’s golf team. So the fact the Yellow Jackets graduated three of their top-five players, including Atlantic Coast
Conference tourney medalist Paul Haley, comes as little concern. All-American James White is back, as is sophomore Seth Reeves. And the Yellow Jackets’ best player in the fall season was a freshman, Anders Albertson. The team is more inexperienced than most in Heppler’s 17 years, and inconsistency is the main hazard in front of the Yellow Jackets. They showed hints of vulnerability in the fall, losing a lead on the final nine of the U.S. Collegiate by shooting a combined 20-over par during the stretch. But then they also won the Brickyard Collegiate by 17 shots and finished in the top-four in three of four fall tourneys. “The key is not to make a big deal out of any specific result because cause-and-effect relationships are very hard to prove,” Heppler said. “A key is not to create an issue that they worry about when they are playing. With so much time between shots, it is imperative that the focus be on the job at hand, not some prior result.” Along those same putting lines, Heppler will play down the standard the team has set over the last three years. Georgia Tech set an ACC Tournament scoring record – 33-under par -- in winning the event last spring and reached
of the Year season at Georgia Southern. Thorne calls King the “most dangerous player in college tennis.” The southpaw won the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional title in the fall season. He and Juan Spir enter the spring as the No. 2 ranked doubles team in the country after making the semis of the NCAA Championships last spring. Spir is also an accomplished singles player – an ITA All-American – and senior Dusan Miljevic brings veteran depth to the team. “We have had some people step up to fill some of the positions we lost last year and that is exactly what has to happen,” Thorne said. “We expect big things each year at Georgia Tech and we are excited to get things going.”
the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships the last two years, losing to eventual national champ Augusta State both times. Tech finished 10th at the nationals in 2009. “The major focus remains on the every-day effort of each player and the commitment to improving their skills set,” Heppler said. “As their individual skills improve, so will our overall team results.”
When Bryan Shelton uses words like “special” and “magical” in discussing his current Georgia Tech women’s tennis team, expect plenty of both. Georgia Tech returns six players and adds a ranked transfer and one of the nation’s most coveted freshman. The veterans played on a team that advanced to the NCAA tennis tournament’s Sweet 16 last spring. Comparing the potential for this year’s team to the 2007 national championship squad is valid, Shelton said. “When we look back at our team in 2007, we had great leadership, we had firepower at the top of the line-up, we were very fit and we were extremely deep,” Shelton said. “There are certainly some similarities with this team.”
Georgia Tech fans will call for another encore from their men’s tennis team this spring. Delivering a third straight NCAA Championship appearance and an 11th in 13 years will be as difficult as mastering a kick serve, however. Coach Kenny Thorne lost five seniors, including All-American Guillermo Gomez, from a team that advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 and posted the second most wins – 21 – in school history. Yet the Yellow Jackets return top-10 singles player Kevin King and add a transfer, Juan Melian, coming off a Southern Conference Player
Ace Jillian O’Neill certainly can play the role of 2007 star Kristi Miller, the most decorated player in program history. O’Neill advanced to the NCAA Championships as an individual and finished as the nation’s 30th-ranked player last
spring. She and teammate Caroline Lilley make up one of the country’s most feared doubles teams. O’Neill is coming back from off-season foot surgery that cost her two months last summer. The newcomers are Alex Anghelescu, who won 21 matches last year as a freshman at Georgia, and freshman Jasmine Minor, recognized by the USTA as the top female player in the Midwestern U.S. last year. “We feel this team is a special one,” Shelton said. “We know the best is yet to come, so we’ll continue to practice and play with our longterm goals in mind and who knows, that could result in another magical finish.”
Track & Field
Georgia Tech’s track and field success typically comes one runner, jumper or thrower at a time. This spring promises a more collective effort. Georgia Tech’s men’s team boasts four student-athletes that excelled during the indoor season while the women’s team should benefit from a talented group of newcomers. Men’s coach Grover Hinsdale is expecting “breakout seasons” from juniors Shawn Roberts and Perron Jones. Roberts, a distance runner, won the 3,000 meters at the Kentucky Invite this winter while Jones, a sprinter, recently broke the school’s 60-meter dash record. The arrival of transfer Rick Scheff, a 2009 All-Big 12 runner at the University of Missouri, gives the Yellow Jackets depth in the distance events. And senior pole vaulter Aaron Unterberger should pass the 17-foot barrier this season, Hinsdale said. On the women’s side, coach Alan Drosky must replace two NCAA Championship participants from last year and the school record holder in the pentathlon. Yet Julienne McKee, who competed in the long jump and the triple jump at the NCAAs last spring, returns to lead a team with “great potential,” Drosky said. The young talent is spread across the disciplines, particularly in the running events. Drosky expects contributions from three freshmen sprinters and two freshman distance specialists. “We expect almost every area of our program to be improved from last year,” Drosky said. “Areas where we face significant losses from last year’s roster still have some great potential this year.” ■
SD SWIMMING & DIVING
Left to right: Alexis Weber, Eric Chiu, Kate Woolbright, Andrew Kosic, Jordan Evans, Matthew Vaughan, Heidi Hatteberg.
Georgia Tech’s representation at the U.S. Olympic Trials should benefit a surging swimming program
By Adam Van Brimmer
The pool deck at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials can resemble the school spirit section at a campus bookstore. Clothing bearing college logos hangs across shoulders and hugs heads everywhere. The Stanford S and the Michigan M and the Georgia G. The Texas longhorn. The Cal and UCLA script. Yet one emblem has been notoriously missing from past Trials: Georgia Tech’s. Come this June in Omaha, Neb., however, the interlocking GT logo should be hard to miss. Seven Yellow Jacket swimmers qualified for the Trials prior to the new year. Several more can clinch spots at meets this spring. The number of Georgia Tech participants will mark a program high. “It’s a pretty big compliment when you consider four years ago Tech was represented by only four swimmers and now we’re going to double that number or more,” said Heidi Hatteberg, arguably the best swimmer in the brief history of Georgia Tech’s women’s team. “The women’s program has been around for only 10 years, and we’re improving every year and can take it to the next level. It takes time but we can be competitive with all those other teams that go to the Trials en masse every four years.” Hatteberg will forever be remembered as Georgia Tech’s pied piper.
The 2012 Trials will be her second, although she was a 17-year-old club swimmer when she competed in 2008. Hatteberg is qualified in two events, the 100 and 200 backstrokes. Joining her in Omaha this summer will be fellow seniors Alexis Weber (50 freestyle) and Jordan Evans (100 freestyle) and freshman Kate Woolbright (400 freestyle). On the men’s side, freshman phenom Andrew Kosic will swim the 100 freestyle. Senior Matt Vaughan (100 breaststroke) and junior Eric Chiu (100 butterfly) will also compete. “I still marvel at the talent here considering I came from a team where there were only two or three fast swimmers,” Chiu said. “The Trials exposure will definitely help the program.”
The sight of all those GT swim caps and warm-up jackets around the CenturyLink Center should help ease Trials’ anxiety for the Yellow Jacket qualifiers. The Trials are more nerve-wracking than the Olympic meet, said Georgia tech coach Courtney Shealy Hart. She speaks from first-hand experience, having competed in three Trials (1996, 2000 and 2004).
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“To make our (U.S.) team is harder than swimming in the Olympics,” said Shealy Hart, who qualified for the 2000 Olympics and medaled – including two golds -- at the Sydney, Australia Games. “USA swimming is just so fast. And to make the team, you have to be in the top-two in your event on that day. You could be the world-record holder, but if you don’t swim your best at the Trials, it doesn’t matter.” Having so many familiar faces at the meet will help, according to Hatteberg. She admits to having been intimidated and star-struck in her 2008 Trials experience. She’ll have several of her closest friends and confidants to lean on, talk to and hang out with this time around. “The Trials is an individual meet, but having teammates around who are representing the same thing you are and striving for the same thing should ease the pressure,” Hatteberg said. “Having that energy and motivation will keep us going.” They’ll need it. The Olympic Trials tests a swimmer’s ability to focus. It is as much festival as competition, with “fireworks and light shows and everything else,” said Shealy Hart. She’ll be in Omaha to lend her experience to her charges, as will assistant coach Robert Pinter, who swam for Romania in the 1992 Olympics. Their advice to the swimmers? Stay relaxed and stay confident.
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The Olympic Trials mark the proverbial “moment you prepare your whole life for” for most American swimmers. Not only is the Trials as competitive as the Olympics, as Shealy Hart said, but the event is at best a twice-in-a-lifetime proposition for all but the Dara Torreses and Michael Phelpses out there. The Olympics, remember, are held only once every four years. “You work for years to get that chance at the
Olympics, and if you miss it, you have to wait four years more,” Chiu said. “It’s been on my shoulders since freshman year.” Qualifying for the Trials eases part of the strain, the swimmers said. Five Yellow Jackets qualified in the same meet back in early December. Those swimmers have enjoyed solid seasons since and head into the Atlantic Coast Conference Championships in mid-February confident they can advance to the NCAA Championships in March.
Several of Georgia Tech’s international swimmers will compete to make their own countries’ Olympic teams. “Overseas it is a little different,” Yellow Jacket swimming coach Courtney Shealy Hart said. “Some places they have trials and other places they have a qualifying standard. It depends on each country. But our international students have a chance.” Diver Brandon Makinson is a shooin for Team Canada. Nico van Duijn is Switzerland’s top butterfly swimmer. Anton Lagerqvist is Sweden’s best in the breaststroke. Andrew Chetcuti swims regularly for Malta’s national team. Georgia Tech’s women’s team boasts a talented Israeli, Keren Siebner, and up-andcoming South African Catherine Richards. “The expectations are high, and they should be,” Hatteberg said. “Some of us haven’t gotten into our tapering yet and we’re swimming fast. We’ll be rested and pumped and have more energy. “Then we’ll have some time off to get ready for the Trials the same way.” ■
IH ice HOckey
JACKETS ON ICE
Georgia Tech’s club hockey players sacrifice to represent school By Adam Van Brimmer
The time is 9:30, and Georgia Tech star Taylor Menford is late for practice. He grabs his gear and rushes out of his room. His destination doesn’t lie across campus off Fowler or 10th Street. His practice facility is a half-hour’s drive up Georgia 400 in Forsyth County. His gear includes ice skates and a stick, not shoulder pads or a tennis racket. And it’s 9:30 at night, not in the morning. Menford is a Yellow Jacket ice hockey player. Hockey is a club sport at Georgia Tech. The program is not funded or supported by the Georgia Tech Athletic Association, which operates the Yellow Jackets’ varsity sports programs, like football, basketball and baseball. Yet the passion and commitment these Yellow Jacket athletes bring to their sport is similar
to what’s on display on fall Saturdays at Bobby Dodd Stadium and spring Sundays at the Rusty C. “The varsity athletes, they’ve got it made,” said Menford, a senior goaltender and the club’s current president. “We don’t have their skills, but I’d say we’re just as dedicated. We do everything, from maintaining our own website to sharpening our own skates to driving 45 minutes just to practice.”
Georgia Tech hockey dates to 1973, before ice rinks dotted most every North Atlanta suburb. The club, then made up largely of students hailing from north of the Mason-Dixon line,
was more social than athletic. Players saw ice time rarely, usually when they traveled to play opponents, which included high school and other club teams. Practice was conducted on wood floors in sneakers or socks rather than on ice in skates. Atlanta’s population explosion in the 1990s started a shift. Private rinks opened up. Youth leagues formed. Interest in the game grew. The hockey club sharpened its edge late that decade when a New York high school hockey coach, Greg Stathis, moved to Atlanta. He agreed to manage the team and established a club hockey division for southern colleges and universities. Georgia Tech qualified for the college club hockey nationals in 2000 and finished as the
runner-up. The Yellow Jackets returned to nationals six times over the following decade. The team’s reputation grew among the kids learning the game in the local rinks. Yankees – and Canucks – still dominated the roster, but the Southern influence became more pronounced. “We gradually saw more and more Georgia kids, then the high school league started up and interest really went up,” said Brian McSparron, who was one of Stathis’ original assistants and succeeded Stathis as head coach in 2008. “We still have kids from all over, but we have more homegrown talent now.” Now with rinks in Duluth, Kennesaw, Alpharetta, Marietta and Cumming, the Atlanta pipeline is as wide as the goal’s mouth.
Even with ice available all over town, accessibility is an issue. Georgia Tech takes the ice to practice while other Atlantans are settling in for the late-night news because that’s when the rink is available. Demand is high, with youth hockey leagues, figure skaters and the public all claiming ice time. The Yellow Jackets get the late shift by default. Georgia Tech practices at The Ice, a oneyear-old facility in Cumming, one night a week. Players carpool the 30 minutes to the rink. The club gets the ice to themselves from 10:15 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. “It can be tough sometimes, especially if
there’s an 8 a.m. class that you have to take,” Menford said. Yet the Yellow Jackets have it easy compared to some of their rivals. The University of Florida club team has to travel to Orlando or Jacksonville to practice. Florida State’s players commute to Columbus. And rival Georgia has to travel to Duluth to find ice. As for games, the opening face off typically comes before the normal practice time – by five minutes. The 10:10 p.m. start times benefit the club, at least in terms of support. Games rarely conflict with campus activities and carloads of rowdy students turn out to root them on. The club’s small but loyal following includes several members of the pep band, who bring their instruments and give Yellow Jacket hockey games the feel of a basketball game. “We definitely have a home ice advantage thanks to the students who show up and the pep band that livens up the crowd,” said Zack Berry, a senior forward. “They get us motivated.”
School year-round sport
Georgia Tech’s hockey season is as long as an ice shift is short. The club convenes days after school starts in August for a training camp. The season opener typically falls on the last weekend of September. The national tournament is in March. The team plays approximately 25 games a year, about 15 of those on their home ice.
The 2011-12 Yellow Jackets won’t be checking and high-sticking this March. The club had heavy turnover last year, losing six seniors and adding six freshmen. Two of the best returning players did co-ops this year – one in the first semester, the other currently. The team’s record has hovered around .500 all season. Still, the Yellow Jackets won what they consider the biggest tournament of the year: The Savannah Tire Hockey Classic, held each January in Savannah. The two-day tourney features the club teams from Tech, Georgia, Florida and Florida State and attracts 4,000-plus fans to the Savannah Civic Center. The full pep band made the trip this year, and a Ramblin’ Wreck replica owned by Savannah-area grad Alan Mitchell stood in as the team’s mascot. The Yellow Jackets went 2-0 in the tourney to claim the championship trophy, the Thrasher Cup, for the seventh time in 14 years. “For us, it’s like the football team winning the ACC championship and going to the Orange Bowl,” Menford said. “It’s on a much smaller scale, but for a club team that usually plays late at night in front of a handful of fans, it’s huge.” For more on the Georgia Tech ice hockey club, visit www.gthockey.com. ■
at alexandertharpe fund
Smithgall overcame much more than a slow start in the classroom to excel in the business world
By Simit Shah
His friends call Charles Smithgall “Lucky Chucky.” In his nearly 70 years, there’s not much he hasn’t done, and along the way, he’s defied death more than a few times. The beginnings of his extraordinary life began with a very common experience. Smithgall’s freshman year in 1961 at Georgia Tech was like that of many students before and after him. “The first quarter I didn’t study a single night and got a 2.2 (GPA), and I thought, ‘Boy, this is easy. I’m not even going to class next quarter.’ I didn’t, and I made a 1.3,” remembered Smithgall, who was on the freshman football team. “During spring quarter, I went to Daytona with a bunch of football players, and they ended up leaving me down there. I didn’t get back until the next Friday, so I missed all my exams. I made an F in everything except English and PT, so I got a .9. “My grade point average was so low that it got smaller when you squared it,” he laughed. However, the Gainesville, Ga. native rose to the academic challenge and turned things around, earning a 3.0 or higher GPA each quarter thereafter. In 1965, he received his degree in Industrial Management. “It was a real struggle, but I really enjoyed it,” he noted. “Georgia Tech taught me a lot about working under pressure.” While it was a minor miracle that he rebounded to earn a degree, there was no question as to whether he would attend Georgia Tech. His father, Charles Jr., graduated from Georgia Tech in 1933 and went on to become a prominent radio and newspaper entrepreneur. As a result, Charles III grew up as a big Yellow Jackets football fan, attending his first game when he was four years old. He went on to play fullback and cornerback at a prep school in Chattanooga before coming to Georgia Tech. “I didn’t even apply to any other schools,” he stated. “I knew Georgia Tech was where I wanted to be.” While the academics rigors became more manageable over time, success on the gridiron proved elusive for Smithgall. The legendary Bobby Dodd was in the midst of his spectacular run as head coach, so cracking the lineup proved to be a tall order. “I thought I was pretty good in high school, but then I got to college and found out that I wasn’t as good as I thought,” he said. After graduating from Tech, Smithgall went on to the Wharton School of Business for a year before spending time in Canada on several
cattle ranches. He then joined the Army and served tours in Korea and Vietnam. Upon leaving the service, Smithgall headed west to start a career as a ranch manager, but he found the financial rewards to be less than spectacular. “It looked like the most you could make was $400 a month and all you could eat,” he remarked, “so I decided I’d rather be a ranch owner.” Smithgall headed back to Atlanta and joined Holder Construction, rising to vice president. He then left to pursue a degree at Harvard Business School. A chance meeting with Ted Turner at a cable convention in New Orleans sparked his next career move as a cable franchise operator in Chattanooga. Several years later, Smithgall returned to Atlanta and joined Turner as a sales consultant. The colorful visionary was just beginning to build his media empire, and Smithgall was there for some historic moments, including the launch of CNN. In 1981, Smithgall bought a local AM radio station (680) and Turner urged him to rename it WCNN and switch to an all-news format. Four years later, the station won the rights to broadcast Georgia Tech football and basketball, which WGST had carried for 61 years. That gave Smithgall the opportunity to renew his relationship with Dodd, who hosted a weekly show on the station. Smithgall often drove the longtime coach to the studio and received plenty of sound advice. “He was such a competitor, and he taught me a lot about how to be successful in business,” Smithgall said. “He said that he always had a knack for spotting talent and finding winners. I’ve used that all the time in business. If you get good enough people around you, they’ll make you a winner.” Smithgall also got a taste of Dodd’s competitive nature on the tennis court. Though he was in his 70’s, Dodd was an avid tennis player, and Smithgall often challenged him to a doubles match. Dodd finally gave in one day, and the match at the Piedmont Driving Club paired Dodd and his son against Smithgall and Terry McGuirk, formerly head of Turner Sports and now CEO of the Braves. “Coach Dodd told me, ‘Charlie, I don’t play for nothing. For every set you guys win, I’ll buy lunch at the Capital City Club, and for every set we win, give me four Braves tickets for my grandchildren,’” recalled Smithgall. “Well, they beat us like a drum. They just pounded us. After four sets, I said, ‘You know
Charles Smithgall “Lucky Chucky”
what? I don’t think we want to play anymore.’ If we had kept going, we were going to lose every ticket Terry had.” Smithgall, who has three children with his wife Griff, later sold the station and started a new company, Smithgall Enterprises, which operates over Aaron’s Rents stores in the northeast and midwest. They opened their first in Louisville 16 years ago and are set to open their 100th store this year. “This my fifth career, from construction to cable TV to Turner, then radio, and now this,” said Smithgall, who is a Life Member of the Alexander-Tharpe Fund and sits on the board. “The longer I live, the more I realize how my degree from Georgia Tech has meant to me personally. This summer, I will celebrate my 70th birthday, almost 50 years since I was on campus as a student, and it seems that I am still interacting with Georgia Tech people almost every day.” Smithgall quickly rattles off fellow Tech alums like Tommy Holder, Russ Chandler, Roe Stamps, Al West, Richard Beard and Sonny Seals who are intertwined in his professional and personal life. “I hope to work another five to 10 years if I stay healthy,” he said. ”Why not? I’ve survived numerous car crashes, a serious bout with cancer, a total airplane crash, two Tet offensives in Vietnam, bankruptcy, crashing a hang glider into power lines, so I must be destined to live out my life in some fashion, and I plan to make the most of it. My goal is to be around for my three children and give back in as many ways that I can.” ■
By Jerome RoDgers Associate Athletic Director/ Compliance
Student-athletes have a voice at Convention and beyond NCAA.org
When the presidents on the Division I Board of Directors came into the boardroom on Jan. 14, they were poised to continue the fast-moving changes that began with the presidential retreat last August. Having just spent two hours at breakfast with student-athletes representing almost all the Division I conferences, they also were armed with the unique perspective that only the student-athletes could give them. In small groups, the presidents and student-athletes discussed the reform agenda and what the Board would vote on later that day. The student-athletes took full advantage of that opportunity, and several presidents said their opinions on certain issues – and ultimately their votes – were swayed by their interaction with the people those decisions affect the most. “If you don’t hear the voices of those most affected by the changes you are making, you get all these unintended consequences that could have been avoided. The most important thing we do I believe wholeheartedly is to protect the welfare of these student-athletes,” said Wright State President David Hopkins. “We have to create more opportunities to hear their stories, to understand their challenges and to understand the impact of the policy changes we are making.” Oregon State President Ed Ray, who also chairs the Executive Committee, said the discussions with the student-athletes, both at the breakfast and during the Division I Issues Forum, informed the Board’s thinking leading up to the votes. “In my opinion, student input was critical to leading us to the right decisions,” he said, noting that on one occasion, the student-athlete input helped improve language in a proposal, and on other occasions swayed opinion significantly.” The student-athletes were thrilled that the Board was so receptive to their messages. Maddie Salamone, lacrosse student-athlete from Duke and vice chair of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, said that when she and her colleagues talked, the presidents really listened. “We were able to sway what they thought based on our experiences and the impact we believed some of the policies they were considering would have,” Salamone said. “While we agree with their initiative and the sentiment to benefit student-athletes, they could do things differently.” The SAAC has a representative on each of the presidential working groups, and the student-athletes aren’t afraid to influence the policies and proposals as they are formed. SAAC chair Eugene Daniels, football student-athlete at Colorado State, said the student-athletes feel empowered to speak up if they disagree, and they feel respected when they do it. “I think (the governance representatives) respect us because we’re so well-informed, intelligent and hard-working,” Daniels said. “That’s what it takes to be a student-athlete.” www.ramblinwreck.com
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The Buzz Magazine - Spring, 2012