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May 2008

HE’S BACK PE D R O ALVAR E Z R ETU R N S TO LEAD VAN D E R B I LT


table of contents 2 4 6

Connecting With The Web National Commodore Club In My Words

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Commodores Cubed

Rita Jorgensen Know your Commodores

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Point of View

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Child’s Play

Brooke Shinaberry Former ’Dore writes children’s book

11 Commodore Tidbits By the numbers

13 It’s My Turn — Rod Williamson Vanderbilt Hall of Fame update

14 Benefiting Nashville RBI Commodores donate baseball tickets

16 Staying Fit The Commodore Way Subtract strokes from your golf game

17 Community Service Spotlight Amy Baumann

19 Julie Ditty Turning Heads Former ’Dore playing well on WTA Tour

20 Quick Hits A look at Vanderbilt’s sports teams

23 Alvarez Leading Resurgence A healthy lineup pays dividends

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Connect with

VUCOMMODORES.COM Editorial Publisher: Vanderbilt University Editor-in-Chief: Ryan Schulz Director of Media Relations: Rod Williamson Designers: Jeremy Teaford Ryan Schulz

Digital Image Specialist: Julie Luckett Turner Photographers: Neil Brake

Around The Web

Purchase Tickets

Daniel Dubois

Each day, links to all the stories on the web relating to Vanderbilt athletics are posted on VUCommodores. com. The links also are archived so you can go back and view stories from weeks past.

Interested in attending an upcoming Vanderbilt athletic event? Fans can purchase tickets and view seating charts on VUCommodores.com. Season tickets already are available for the 2008 football season.

Steve Green Mason Hensley Stan Jones John Russell Mike Strasinger

Contributors: Andy Boggs Chad Crunk John Erck Larry Leathers Nick Petrone Thomas Samuel Brooke Shinaberry Curtis Turner Chris Weinman

Administrative

Vanderbilt Merchandise

Photo Store

The latest Vanderbilt merchandise is available for purchase at Vanderbilt’s official online store. The store features more than 100 items ranging from T-shirts to autographed basketballs to ties.

Decorate your home or workplace with the purchase of exclusive Vanderbilt photos. The photos range from images of Vanderbilt’s campus and athletic venues to action shots from Vanderbilt’s sporting events. There are three ways to purchase photos: custom framed, gallery wrapped canvas and unframed prints.

Chancellor: Nicholas S. Zeppos Vice Chancellor for University Affairs: David Williams II Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs: Michael J. Schoenfeld Exec. Director National Commodore Club: Jeff Ulmer

Vanderbilt University’s Mission, Goals and Values Vanderbilt University is a center for scholarly research, informed and creative teaching, and service to the community and society at large. Vanderbilt will uphold the highest standards and be a leader in the quest for new knowledge through scholarship, dissemination of knowledge through teaching and outreach, and creative experimentation of ideas and concepts. In pursuit of these goals, Vanderbilt values most highly intellectual freedom that supports open inquiry; and equality, compassion and excellence in all endeavors. Vanderbilt University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action university. ON THE COVER: Pedro Alvarez (Photo by Neil Brake)

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Online Auctions

DVD Store

Place a bid on exclusive Commodore merchandise through Vanderbilt’s official online auctioning. A few recent items up for auction have been an autographed baseball by Tim Corbin and an autographed football by Bobby Johnson.

Bring your favorite Commodore moments into your living room by purchasing a DVD from the DVD Store. Included in the selection of DVDs is the men’s basketball team’s win over then-No. 1 Tennessee on Feb. 26.

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POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to National Commodore Club, 2601 Jess Neely Drive, Nashville, TN 37212. SUBSCRIPTION: To subscribe to Commodore Nation, please contact the National Commodore Club at 615/322-4114. ADVERTISEMENT: To advertise with Commodore Nation, please contact Vanderbilt ISP Sports. Jeff Miller, General Manager 615/322-4468 jmiller@ispsports.com


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C O M M O D O R E C LU B

COR N ER Still Time To Come Through In The Clutch!

PHONE: 615/322-4114 vucommodores.com

WOMEN’S SEC TOURNAMENT The NCC hosted several friends in a suite at the Sommet Center during the Women’s SEC Tournament.

By Jeff Ulmer NCC Executive Director Once again the Commodore men’s and women’s basketball teams made it to the first and second rounds of the NCAA championships, respectively. Our studentathletes worked very hard this year and excited us with some fantastic finishes and great victories over conference rivals. I had the opportunity to travel to Albuquerque with the women’s squad to witness Commodore victories over 13th-seeded Montana and fifth-seeded West Virginia. I was impressed with the way they prepared for each game. They played with discipline and good sportsmanship, and they conducted themselves like true champions. What I was most impressed with was seeing the girls catching up on their school work in the airport after the final game. As excited as they were about their sweeping victories in the first round, it was very late and they were very tired, yet their studies were still their highest priority.

Barb and Dick Davis

Raymond and Gloria O’Steen

MEN’S NCAA TOURNAMENT The NCC pregame party in Tampa drew Vanderbilt fans and NCC members from across the nation for the NCAA tournament.

If we could measure character the way we determine victories, all of our student-athletes would be National Champions. They work hard, play hard, and achieve a level of success that many athletes at other institutions only dream of. We are in the final months of the 200708 National Commodore Club campaign. The fiscal year ends on June 30th and we have a lot of work to do to reach our goal of $3 million. If you have already made your 2007-08 NCC gift, thank you for your investment in our student-athletes. If you haven’t yet made your NCC gift, I hope you will consider doing so at your earliest convenience. The Commodores are relying on you to come through in the clutch. After all, that’s what Commodore MVPs do!

Sarah Creekmore, Matt Cole, Thomsen Smith

Sally Smallwood, Carolyn Baker, Tom Rupp

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JOIN THE NCC OR RENEW TODAY!

STUDENT CALLERS

You should have recently received your membership renewal for the National Commodore Club. Please mail it in, call 615/322-4114, click vucommodores.com or stop by the office in the McGugin Center to make your gift. Every gift is allocated toward the goal of funding student-athlete scholarships. This year’s membership deadline is May 30 (Vanderbilt’s fiscal year ends June 30). Thank you for your continued support of Vanderbilt Athletics. Your Membership Matters!

You already have probably received a renewal call from one of Vanderbilt’s Student Callers. Take a look at this photo and put a face with a name!

JOIN THE BLACK AND GOLD ENDOWMENT SOCIETY Vanderbilt Athletics and the National Commodore Club endeavor to endow all athletics scholarships. To help in that task, the NCC has created an endowment level called the Black and Gold Society. Black and Gold Society members create an opportunity for a student-athlete while receiving full benefits of the Dudley Society with a five-year, $100,000 commitment. For more information on the Black and Gold Society and Athletic Scholarship Endowments, please contact John Erck at: john.erck@vanderbilt.edu or 615/322-7922.

Left to right: Kat Tennis, Danielle Woods, Alex Barker, Kadoria Ivory and Alyssa Fesmire

WOMEN’S NCAA TOURNAMENT

2020 SOCIETY The 2020 Society comprises members of the National Commodore Club, age 40 and younger, who contribute at least $100 annually. If you have been giving to the NCC at this level and are younger than 41, you automatically are in the 2020 Society. The society is a creation of the 2020 Advisory Committee, a group of young alumni committed to increasing young membership in the National Commodore Club and promoting VU Athletics. If you are a non-alumni member of the NCC and qualify for the 2020 Society but have not been notified, please contact Cal Cook at: cal.cook@vanderbilt.edu or 615/343-4878.

Fans gather with their Vanderbilt Tourney Towels in the women’s basketball team’s hotel at the NCAA Tournament in Spokane, Wash.

BASKETBALL TICKET DEADLINE The deadline to renew your basketball tickets is Friday, May 30. You should have already received your renewal form in the mail. Please note that if your seats are in an NCC priority area, your seats will NOT be reassigned unless you have made your appropriate 2008-09 NCC Contribution. Seat location is guaranteed ONLY IF both payments are made by the May 30 ticket deadline.

Margaret Wiley poses with Mr. Commodore before the Sweet 16 game against Maryland.

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In My Words

Rita Jorgensen

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t is hard to believe that Rita Jorgensen is just a freshman. With NCAA Regionals and possibly a trip to the NCAA Championships still to come this season, Jorgensen is well on her way to completely rewriting Vanderbilt’s track and field record book. A native of Memphis, Tenn., Jorgensen hasn’t missed a beat since graduating from White Station High School , where she won state titles in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters in 2007. She made an immediate impact last fall when she was selected as the cross country team’s Most Valuable Performer. This spring, she won three events in her first two outdoor track meets en route to posting the first NCAA regional qualifying mark of her career in her third meet. On what she credits with her success as a freshman Good training and people on my team pumping me up and being encouraging. I also attribute it to good high school training and the coaching I’ve received at Vanderbilt. On what it meant to be named the team’s Most Valuable Performer in cross country as a freshman Coming into college, I didn’t know how fast I would be on the team. It was a pretty neat honor. On the biggest change from running in high school to college The meets are a lot more competitive. There is just so much good competition in every meet. The high school meets were really easy and more laid back. Every meet that I get into in college is really competitive and intense. On her pre-race routine I like to write down my goal times on a piece of paper the night before the race. During the race, I’m less focused on the times and just focus on staying with the pack. On her favorite event to run I really like the 1,500. I just like running four laps because it just feels right.

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On running for Coach Steve Keith It is fun. He has really good workouts for me. He knows how to push me to the right level without pushing me too far.

Commodores Cubed

On why she chose Vanderbilt It just felt right. It was close enough to home, and I saw that the program was really picking up. I could tell that Coach Keith was really dedicated, and it just felt like the place to be. On how important it is to be a part of building the track and cross country programs It is really important. That is one of the reasons why I really wanted to come here to help build it up. I can see really good things in the future for the program. The whole coaching staff has everything moving in the right direction. On the other schools she looked at I was looking at Arkansas, Duke and Wake Forest before deciding on Vanderbilt. On her favorite part about Vanderbilt I like the people I have met on the team, and I like the location of the college in Nashville. I also like the educational opportunities that Vanderbilt provides. On her hobbies away from track I really like to water ski and wakeboard. I’ve been doing both of those since I was really young. On what she would like to do after college I’d like to be a civil engineer and build skyscrapers. I’ve always found that to be fascinating. On her summer plans Hopefully, I’ll spend part of my summer running at the NCAA Championships. Besides that, I really want to go to Nicaragua and do community service with the Manna Project. ■

JOHN RUSSELL (PORTRAIT); MIKE STRASINGER (ACTION)

ryan HASELDEN

SMITH

lauryn

ashley PASCHALL

Baseball

Golf

Track & Field

Lacrosse

Horseshoes

Sport I Play The Worst

Soccer

Football

Basketball — I always ran faster than I could dribble

My Introduction Song Would Be

The Gambler by Kenny Rogers

Anything Tom Petty — maybe I Won’t Back Down

We Are The Champions by Queen

Independent by Lil’ Boosie

Favorite Class During Spring Semester

Sports Econ with John Vrooman

History of Western Civilization Since 1700

Technical Communications — it is actually fun

American Popular Music

Childhood Sports Idol

Ken Griffey Jr.

Tiger Woods

Water Park or Amusement Park

Water park — Splashtown Water Park (Houston, Texas)

Water park for sure

Amusement park — I don’t like getting my hair wet

Water park

Moment In History I Would Like To Have Seen

The day Christopher Columbus discovered America

The Battle of Troy and the Trojan Horse

Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech

1980 U.S. Olympic ice hockey team beating the Soviet Union

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not in Panama City, Fla.

Italy

My mom

Tom Brady

Favorite Place I’ve Visited

If I Could Spend a Day With Anyone, It Would Be

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shea ROBIN

Scotland or Skiing in Los Cuemos Park City, Utah Ranch in South Texas

Ted Williams

Benjamin Franklin

The pink ranger from Nancy Kerrigan Power Rangers

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Point of View

By Brooke Shinaberry Editor’s Note: Each month “Commodore Nation” will ask a varsity athlete to sound off on a point of personal interest. Shinaberry is a senior on the lacrosse team and is working on a master’s in education in international education policy and management.

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NEIL BRAKE (ACTION)

come to realize that my life embodies straddling two worlds. One foot in the deaf world, yet still part of the hearing world. One foot as an athlete, yet still resembling characteristics of your everyday college student. One foot in America, yet my heart still lies in Africa. It’s an awkward place to be, as it stretches the legs upon which I stand. I would prefer to be in one place instead of straddling awkwardly across these different worlds. Contrary to American doctrine, however, I think we’re supposed to be a little bit uncomfortable as we live within the tensions of this complicated world. Lately, I come to realize that it’s not just a sound, a gift, or an ocean that separates me from these different worlds. Greater barriers have caused a distance between these contradicting worlds that I straddle, but yet I still stand strong, not battered, broken, or defeated. I was born with a mild hearing loss and fi tted for behind-theear hearing aids. I never let that stand in my way and turned to sports as a way to prove to the world that I am worthy. Don’t get me wrong, I have endured my share of doubt and ridicule from peers and strangers, but I chose to not let anything or anyone stand in my way of achieving my dreams, which has led me to this amazing place I have come to call home, Vanderbilt University. Shinaberry is VU’s Three years ago, my life starting goalkeeper. changed within the blink of an eye. I returned to campus ready to start my junior year, where I was in the process of completing a double major in human and organizational development and anthropology. I began to notice that I was not able to hear things that I normally would have been able to hear and went to visit my audiologist. He told me that my hearing was rapidly declining. Within three months I had gone from a mild hearing loss to a profound hearing loss in both ears for no apparent reason. I was no longer able to hear the wonderful sounds that God has placed in this world, but rather I walked around in silence. This may seem like a scary thing, but for some reason I was at peace with it, and looking back, it was the best thing that ever happened! I have never let anything stand in my way, and I was not going to let deafness stop me from achieving the dreams and goals that I have set in my life. I opted to have surgery for a cochlear implant at Johns Hopkins University, and I have not looked back since. I put all my energy into excelling in the classroom, on the field and in life. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, and losing my hearing was God’s way of opening my eyes and heart to what life has to offer. ■


Former Commodore Writes Children’s Book

COACHES’

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CORN E R

t times there can be a misconception that playing minor league baseball is glamorous, when in fact it is a far cry from the lifestyles enjoyed by those in the majors. Players in the minor leagues endure long bus rides, long seasons and relatively low pay. To compensate for the low pay, most players find second jobs during the offseason to supplement their income. One minor leaguer who is taking on an additional role is former Vanderbilt third baseman Tony Mansolino, who is in his third season in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. Having already worked as a substitute teacher, a bus boy and a caterer during the off seasons, Mansolino recently took a much different route when he authored a children’s book called “Dreams Will Come, Dreams Will Go.” “One thing I did when I first started (minor league baseball) was to find a way I could supplement my income using the talents that I had, and I just started thinking,” said Mansolino, who graduated from Vanderbilt in 2005. “Writing is something I’ve always loved to do — even as a kid.” The subject that Mansolino chose to write about is one that he is very familiar with — the life of being a minor league player. The main character in the book is a journeyman minor leaguer named Rock Rogers, who has never reached the majors during his 12-year career. “I wanted to tell the story of what minor league baseball is like,” Mansolino said.

Mansolino started writing the book in January 2007 and finished in August, but there were times when he didn’t think he was going to be able to finish it. “I wanted to quit at one point because I really didn’t want to do it when I started realizing how much work this was actually going to be,” Mansolino said. “There were so many people and family and friends that were expecting me to do it, and I just kept going and going.” To publish the book, Mansolino opened his own company called Play Ball Publishing (Playballpublishing.com) after others turned him down. Even though the book initially began as a way for Mansolino to earn additional income, it has turned into much more than just that. In fact, a portion of the proceeds from the book will be donated to the Bruce Kaye Brain Tumor Foundation, which was started by former Commodore John Kaye. “Supporting that foundation is definitely one of my top priorities for the whole book,” Mansolino said. “The guy that is really impressive is John Kaye and what he has been able to do. That guy has given up so much to help so many people with this foundation, and I just want to help as much as I can. “This book has taken me all kinds of places so far. Ultimately, what got me doing this was probably trying to supplement my life, but as the process evolved it became much more.” ■

COMPLIANCE

COR NER Q: A:

Various members of Vanderbilt University sport teams have been invited to speak at one of the local booster club meetings about their teams and preparations for the upcoming season. The booster club would like to provide lunch during the meeting and plaques for their hard work on the field last year. Is it permissible to receive such benefits? Yes. Student-athletes are permitted to receive a meal and transportation in conjunction with the booster club meeting, but it is NOT permissible for the club to provide the athletes with a tangible award. NCAA Bylaw 16.10.1.6 states that a student-athlete may accept transportation and meal expenses in conjunction with participation in a luncheon meeting of a booster club or civic organization, provided the meeting occurs within a 30-mile radius of the institution’s main campus and no tangible award is provided to the student-athlete.

Compliance questions? Please contact: Candice Storey Director of Compliance 615/322-7992 candice.storey@vanderbilt.edu

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George Midgett Compliance Coordinator 615/322-2083 george.d.midgett@vanderbilt.edu

John Peach Compliance Coordinator 615/343-1060 john.w.peach@vanderbilt.edu

Robbie Caldwell Assistant Head Football Coach/ Offensive Line Coach Caldwell is in his seventh season at Vanderbilt and serves as assistant head coach and offensive line coach. Caldwell is working to rebuild an offensive line that lost all five starters to graduation last fall. How rewarding is it to you as a coach to see Chris Williams be a top draft pick in the NFL? It is a great feeling to see a young man develop anytime and exceed all expectations. The first time I met him, he was 235 lbs. and then he was 245 lbs. when he reported. The rest is history. Chris is one of those guys that took everything I said to heart. He worked hard because he knew the expectations and requirements we had for him. He actually tried to do everything you told him, and he’s told other players that. He had a desire to be the best. How big of a challenge is it to replace all five starters from last year’s offensive line? People-wise everybody is different. You don’t ever replace some of their characteristics and the fun and fellowship you develop over four years. This group has a new identity. They will be faster. They are not as big or as strong, but hopefully they will be. We’ve got some guys in this group that could exceed everyone here if they take to heart exactly what we are teaching as the group before them did. I can’t put that in a guy, I can encourage it, I can teach them how to play, but deep down in their heart that is something they have to develop. Who is someone on the offensive line that really shined during spring practice and may surprise some fans next season? The leadership of Bradley Vierling and his effort and talent. He is going to be really good. He is going to be one that continues to work hard, and he will definitely play at the next level. He loves to play, and the rougher it gets, the more he likes it. How much has Thomas Welch grown as an offensive lineman after being converted from tight end? It has been tremendous. He has adjusted to that well, and he is still a process in the making. Last year was his first full season at offensive line. Where he is at right now is pretty amazing. ■

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COM MODOR E

T I DB I T S • Vanderbilt had 15 student-athletes named to the 2007-08 SEC Winter Academic Honor Roll, announced on April 9. The bowling team led the Commodores with seven representatives. • Shan Foster was selected as the recipient of the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award on April 5 at the Final Four. The award is presented annually to college basketball’s outstanding NCAA Division I senior.

By The

NUMBERS 5

Active players on Vanderbilt’s baseball team are ranked in the top 20 all-time for hits at Vanderbilt. (Pedro Alvarez, Dominic de la Osa, Alex Feinberg, Ryan Flaherty and David Macias)

• Vanderbilt’s Ryan Preston (tennis) and Amani Floyd (track and field) were the Commodores’ recipients of the SEC H. Boyd McWhorter Postgraduate Scholarship. • On April 4, sophomore women’s golfer Brooke Goodwin made a hole-in-one on the 176-yard sixth hole of the Karsten Golf Club at the ASU/Ping Invitational. • Margie Curran, a senior on the lacrosse team, broke VU’s all-time career records for assists and points against Ohio State on April 11.

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The percentage that 2008 football season ticket sales are up over this time last year.

• Former Commodore Brandt Snedeker tied for third at the Masters, finishing just four strokes behind champion Trevor Immelman. • Head Football Coach Bobby Johnson announced the team captains for the 2008 season on April 1. The captains are safety Reshard Langford, offensive lineman Bradley Vierling and wide receiver George Smith. • After tying for third at the 2008 NCAA Championships, the bowling team now has an average national finish of third place the last three seasons.

1,750

The composite weight in pounds of bowling balls lifted and thrown by a bowler during a typical day of competition.

• Center fielder David Macias was named SEC Hitter of the Week on April 15.

6

The number of home runs David Macias hit in Vanderbilt’s first 32 games this season, after hitting just one in the first 514 at bats of his career.

1914

The last year Vanderbilt’s baseball team earned a sweep at Mississippi State until doing so April 11-13.

$

15,645,166

The combined salary in 2007 of the six former Commodores who played in the NFL last season according to USA Today.

1

The number of Vanderbilt players on MLB opening day rosters. Jensen Lewis of Cleveland was the only Commodore to make a team’s 25-man roster out of camp.

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It’s My Turn By Rod Williamson few months ago we discussed the plan for our new Athletic Hall of Fame in this space. There has been a lot of water over the dam since, so let us get updated. You might recall we will induct our first Hall of Fame Class at an event Friday, Sept. 5, the evening after our opening home football game (that’s right, the South Carolina game is on Thursday night to avoid Labor Day weekend conflicts). We asked fans to nominate worthy candidates based on any of three possible criteria: a Commodore great — the super stars; lifetime achievement — ’Dores that went on to accomplish special things; distinguished faculty and staff — coaches, staffers or faculty that made a lasting contribution to Vanderbilt athletics. The nomination deadline has passed and we had many. I don’t believe anyone has actually counted them, but I’d estimate there were 50 to 60 men and women nominated. The senior management team for Vanderbilt Athletics has reviewed and discussed each nomination. These strolls down memory lane were fun, but the task also is difficult. Stop to consider; Commodores have played ball since the 1880s and now we are going to select about 15 to 18 for our hall’s first class. Wow! We found ourselves trying to compare the achievements of a 1925 baseball player with those of a recent tennis star. That is a fool’s errand, by the way. Of course we cannot run through a list of nominations, but it appears pretty complete: those deceased and very much alive, women and men, coaches, administrators and student-athletes, the legendary players and the post-Vanderbilt achievers. One thing everyone should keep in mind is that everyone can’t be inducted the first year — that would take all the fun out of the future years and make for one humongous initial class. While it is just one man’s opinion, many of the nominees seem to be “nobrainers” as far as someday getting voted into our Hall of Fame. Just not this year. We will keep you posted. It will be of interest to the media, as well, so there will be plenty of publicity for this exciting project.

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Excitement Comes in Many Forms Ask most college sports fans which teams they typically support with their attendance and the answers are football, basketball and baseball. Indeed they are deeply etched into American culture, they are the ones followed in the media. Here’s a suggestion: watch one of our Olympic sport teams play. Catch a soccer or a tennis match, a golf tournament — pick a sport and show up. There is nothing like seeing for yourself. On a sunny Sunday afternoon I watched our outstanding women’s tennis team play a top SEC opponent. It was a tremendous experience, but unless you were among the near-capacity crowd at the Currey Tennis Center, it is doubtful you can appreciate it. We have some darn good teams, and nearly every week one of them is involved in a photofinish. Our only home bowling tournament of the year had 22 teams, and the top two each knocked down more than 10,000 pins — only to have a measly two pins provide the margin on literally the last ball of the event. Scoff if you will, but I guarantee that your heart rate would have increased while you fidgeted those last few frames. We’ve put professional golfers on both major tours. Former Commodore tennis players are on the world circuit. Others, as the NCAA says, will have stellar careers in something other than sports. You probably have no relationship with these teams or believe there just aren’t enough hours in your day. We understand that. But we all have that occasional evening or afternoon with nothing going on. The events are free; you will not be sorry. ■

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STEVE GREEN

Corbin And Price Join Forces To Benefit RBI

Members of Nashville RBI

hat was once a baseball field at the intersection of 17th Avenue North and Herman Street in Nashville is now overrun by weeds, which conceal where the infield used to be. Fences are nonexistent, and only a backstop identifies that this once was a baseball field. Unfortunately, this image can be seen in almost every large metropolitan area in the country. Football and basketball are king among inner-city youth, and baseball has fallen farther and farther off the radar. To see the decline in interest in the sport among African-Americans, you need not look further than Major League Baseball itself, where the Associated Press reported that African-Americans made up just 8.2 percent of major leaguers in 2007, the lowest level in at least two decades. With the need to reestablish baseball among inner-city youth at an all-time high, Vanderbilt baseball Coach Tim Corbin and former Vanderbilt pitcher David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays are doing their part to increase the interest in baseball among Nashville’s inner-city youth. The two teamed up to split the cost of purchasing 100 tickets for members of Nashville RBI to attend every Vanderbilt Sunday home SEC game throughout the 2008 season. The children also receive a David Price shirt, a free hot dog and an opportunity to take the field with Vanderbilt’s team for the national anthem. Corbin was initially approached with the idea by Vanderbilt’s marketing department, and it didn’t take any persuading to get him started. “It didn’t really take too much thinking to get involved in something like this because it is for the city, and it’s for kids to get them involved in baseball,” Corbin said. “In this program, we’ve got some role models like a David Price or a Pedro Alvarez or an (Alex) Feinberg or (Ryan) Flaherty. I think they are personalities that kids can attach themselves to, and they are good players, so I thought this was as good a time as any.” Like Corbin, Price is happy to be able to provide the children in RBI with an opportunity to attend a Vanderbilt game, and he hopes the initiative helps keep children interested in the game. “It is fun to see kids wanting to learn about baseball, and RBI gives them that chance,” Price said. “I hope the kids are able to enjoy the Sundays at Hawkins Field and stay interested in the game.” RBI, which stands for Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, was started in 1989 and encompasses more than 200 cities in the United States. Thanks in part to an $8,000 grant from Major League Baseball, Nashville’s RBI program was founded in 1996 by Reggie Whittemore, who played at McGavock High School and Lipscomb University before playing seven years of minor league baseball in the Boston Red Sox organization. Since its inception, Whittemore has seen the number of participants rise from 60 to more than 1,300 boys and girls ages 6 to 14. Helping sustain and grow the program are opportunities

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such as the agreement between Nashville RBI and Corbin and Price. “We have an opportunity to bring kids to see a college baseball game and have kids on a college campus, and they wouldn’t have an opportunity like this if it wasn’t available to them,” Whittemore said. Going to a Vanderbilt game not only exposes the children to a high level of baseball, it also gives them an opportunity to experience something most of the participants, 90 percent of whom are underprivileged according to Whittemore, wouldn’t be able to afford. “They get to see enough violence and enough hatred going on in their neighborhoods,” Whittemore said. “This is an outlet for them to be a part of something positive.” Corbin believes that donating tickets to Nashville RBI is a small, but necessary step toward increasing interest in baseball among inner-city youth. “When you impact kids, you impact the community more than anything,” Corbin said. “I think where it starts is that people have to reach out into the inner city to grab those kids and pull them into an environment in which they can see kids they identify with.” One of those individuals Corbin thinks kids identify with is Price. “He came from a situation like that, albeit it was Murfreesboro (Tenn.), but still, he was given the opportunity to play, and look what he’s done with it,” Corbin said. “I think there are a lot of David Prices out there.” It may be hard to judge how much of an impact the program will immediately have, but one thing that is for sure is that Corbin and Price leading the charge is a winning combination. ■


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Staying Fit The Commodore Way Subtract Strokes From Your Game ummer is quickly approaching, which means it is time to pull your golf clubs out of the attic and head to the course. But before you knock the ball around the course, Curtis Turner, Vanderbilt’s strength and conditioning coach for the men’s and women’s golf programs, will take you through a few recommended exercises with seniors Liebelei Lawrence and Billy Whalen. It wasn’t too many years ago that fitness was viewed as an afterthought in golf, but thanks in part to Tiger Woods, fitness now is a very important part of the game.

S

Good Morning

Split Squat

There are two goals for this drill. First, you will use the range of motion as a warmup to prepare the entire backside of your body for training or play. Second, this drill will help you reach or maintain the needed forward bend used in the address position and throughout the swing. Starting Position: Stand with feet shoulder width apart and toes facing straight ahead. Grab both ends of a driver and place the club across the top of your shoulders. If you are unable to hold the club behind your neck due to shoulder restrictions, you should cross both arms and keep them tight to your chest. Shift your weight to your heels.

S T A R T

Action: Lower your upper body and hips straight down by bending both knees. Allow the heel of the back leg to move off the ground and shift support to the front of the foot. Make sure that the front leg shin is straight up and down.

Action: Slightly bend your knees (maintain throughout) and move the hips backward, focusing all movement at the hip joint. Only move through a comfortable range of motion that loads the hips. Return to the starting position and repeat. Coaching Points: Avoid moving into a rounded lower back. Keep in mind that Liebelei is demonstrating an advanced range of motion in the example photo. Perform 1-2 sets of 8-15 reps.

A C T I O N

Helicopter The primary goal is to warmup the upper body for the shoulder turn and hopefully increase range of motion with the obvious benefit of greater distance and a healthier swing. The secondary goal is a continuous stretch of the back side of the body with an emphasis on the groin and inner thighs, forcing the lower and upper body to work together. This is a great drill to help those with a reverse spine angle, which many believe to be the leading producer of back pain in golfers.

Coaching Points: Be patient in reaching the goal of pointing the club to the ground. Be sure that you do not allow the lower or upper back to round in order to gain range of motion. Perform 1-2 sets of 8-15 reps. Again, keep in mind that Billy is demonstrating an advanced range of motion in the example photo.

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A C T I O N

Coaching Points: Only lower yourself to a position that you can easily handle to begin. Attempt half of the distance of the picture and work down from there. In all of these drills, never move into pain. Perform 1-2 sets of 5-10 reps with each leg forward.

Dumbbell Bent Over Row S T A R T

The row exercise will be used to strengthen the back muscles that are responsible for acceleration and deceleration of the club during the swing. You also will be working to prevent injuries of the shoulder, elbow and wrist.

S T A R T

Starting Position: Holding a moderately weighted dumbbell, bend at the hip joint (knees bent, too) and place your hand on a support 15-20 inches high.

Starting Position: Stand with a wide stance (outside shoulder width) with a club across your shoulders held with arms crossed. Bend just as you did for the “good morning” and hold. Action: Keep your knees slightly bent and hips as still as possible. Rotate your shoulders, attempting to point the end of the club to the ground.

Starting Position: Stand in a natural position and take a large step forward (about 1.5-2 feet based on height and comfort). If you are able to safely hold this position, place a club on your shoulders and hold just as you did in the “good morning” drill, making sure to keep your chest upright. You will maintain this split position for the total number of reps assigned.

A C T I O N

Action: Line up the arm with the dumbbell directly under the shoulder and pull the elbow up and dumbbell to the ribs. Keep the shoulders and lower back flat so that if you placed a golf ball on your middle back, it wouldn’t roll off to either side throughout. Return to starting position and repeat. Coaching Points: Move slowly making sure the shoulder blade slides in as the elbow rises toward the ribs. Because this drill is easy to get better at in a short amount of time, move up in reps each workout with the same weight dumbbell or, if you have access, attempt a slightly heavier dumbbell when you can perform 10 reps easily. Perform 1-2 sets of 8-15 reps.

A C T I O N

PHOTOS BY STEVE GREEN

S T A R T

In this drill, you will work to gain mobility in your hips and strengthen the entire lower body, reducing the possibility of many swing faults such as sway and slide. Many upper body swing faults also are found to be caused by the arms compensating for a weak lower body.


Glute Bridge

COMMUNITY SERVICE SPOTLIGHT

S T A R T

Starting Position: Lie on the floor or an exercise mat. Bend your knees and pull your heels to your butt, keeping both feet flat on the ground. Place your hands by your hips with palms toward the ground for support during the drill.

A C T I O N

Action: Raise your hips by squeezing your glutes and pushing your feet into the ground. The finish position should align your knees hips and shoulders. Lower yourself all the way to the ground and repeat. Coaching Points: The range of motion in this drill is small, so perform each rep slowly and aim for perfection. For a tougher version, slightly elevate your feet or try with a single leg. Perform 1-2 sets of 8-15 reps.

Elevated Pushup This drill is simply used to strengthen the upper body to increase power and control while reducing injuries to the shoulders, wrists and elbows. There also is a huge core stability component that is trained while holding the body in a straight line.

S T A R T

A C T I O N

Starting Position: Keep your body in a straight line from ankles to ears with the front of your feet on the ground. Place your hands about shoulder width apart and located below the shoulder joint or just in front. Action: Bend your elbows, keeping them close to your ribs, and lower your chest as far as possible. Attempt to Keep your entire body in a straight line throughout not allowing your hips to drop or rise. Raise to the starting position, hold for 1-2 seconds, and repeat. Coaching Points: The starting position will be different for everyone. I suggest you start by using a tall support for your hands that allow perfect technique and a straight body for 10 reps. Lower the support each time you can easily perform 10-15 reps. When you can perform 20-25 reps with your hands on the ground, start to elevate your feet for added difficulty. Perform 1-2 sets of 5-20 reps.

vucommodores.com

AMY BAUMANN soccer Baumann exhausted her final year of eligibility this past fall as a member of Vanderbilt’s soccer team. A native of Highlands Ranch, Colo., Baumann is so entrenched in the community that she was named to the SEC Soccer Community Service Team.

MASON HENSLEY

You will use this drill to strengthen the glutes and hamstrings while stabilizing the lower back. Lack of strength in the glutes and stability in the lower back can result in hanging back, early extension, casting, and chicken-wing swing faults.

What type of community service work are you involved with? I enjoy working in the low-income areas of East Nashville with teens, young children and parents, the homeless or people trying to improve their current situation. At the moment, I volunteer for the Salvation Army GED program in East Nashville on Tuesday and Thursday nights. I am a tutor, and I mainly help students with math and some verbal skills. Why is it important for you to do community service? Doing community service has helped me gain perspective on poverty, homelessness, etc., that I would surely not have gained otherwise. It has shown me above all that I really have a small, slightly skewed and naive perspective on what is actually happening in the world. Most importantly, I have been blessed to see the other side of being “less fortunate.” Many of the people and families that I work with have such incredible faith despite their seemingly unfavorable circumstances. I volunteer to help others reach the goals and improvements they have chosen to make in their own lives, but they give me more than I could ever give them. How good of a feeling is it when you are doing community service? There is nothing like it. Being told that you are a blessing in someone else’s life is the greatest compliment that anyone could receive (Yes, even better than “AllSEC”). How much does community service make you realize how fortunate you are? It is a great reminder of how fortunate I am; I have been blessed beyond measure. But as I said earlier, the people I have worked with have shown me a lot of ways where they are more fortunate than I am. Wealth, a big house, a Vanderbilt education means very little in comparison to the faith and hope that many of them obtain despite their being “less fortunate” than many of us. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from them. I highly recommend doing some type of community service. Whatever cause you choose to serve will probably influence you more than you could imagine.

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Ditty Making A Name For Herself On The Tour

Ditty earned All-America honors in singles in 1999 and 2001. ay Cutler and Brandt Snedeker may be the most recognizable former Vanderbilt student-athletes in the professional ranks, but they are far from the only Commodores who have taken their athletic success at Vanderbilt to the next level. Among the host of Commodores making their mark at the highest level is former All-America tennis player Julie Ditty. However, unlike others who found immediate success after their time at Vanderbilt, Ditty’s road to where she is today has been much longer. After graduating from Vanderbilt in 2002 with a degree in early childhood education, Ditty set off on a journey that took her to tennis tournaments across the world. She dominated the ITF circuit, earning eight singles titles from 2001 through 2007, but was still in search of a breakthrough moment at a WTA tournament. She made her debut in the main draw of a WTA event in 2005, but she never advanced past the second round at a WTA tournament. Ditty’s fortune finally changed last November when she had her coming-out party at the WTA’s Bell Challenge in Quebec City, Canada. Following a singles title at an ITF tournament in Lawrenceville, Ga., Ditty advanced to the semifinals of the Bell Challenge after battling through three qualifying rounds. Because of her success, Ditty vaulted up the rankings and into the top 100 for the first time in her career. This last March, she earned a career-best ranking of No. 89. “We are all extremely proud of her,” said Vanderbilt Head Coach Geoff Macdonald, who recruited Ditty to Nashville. “(Being ranked in the top 100) is an incredible accomplishment when you think that more people play tennis than any other sport in the world.” Ditty’s ascent also landed her a spot in the main draw of her first Grand Slam event this past January when she played in the Australian Open, losing in the first round to Australia’s Jessica Moore. “It was a little overwhelming,” Ditty said. “I’ve played in front of bigger crowds, but it was my first Grand Slam event in the main draw and I was just really nervous. I didn’t realize how nervous I was until I got on the court.” Although she lost in the first round, the accomplishment of making the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament is a feat in itself. “It is a lifetime achievement,” Macdonald said. “If you are able to play a Grand Slam event, it is like starting in the NBA. Only the top 100, give or take a few, get into a Grand Slam.”

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Making Ditty’s ascent in the professional ranks even more impressive is that she is making her move at the age of 29 in a sport that is dominated by young faces. Her rise in play is something she credits to her newfound approach to fitness. “I really started focusing on my fitness and conditioning and just got in really good shape last September and October,” Ditty said. “Really, I think the key for me is just being able to stay in shape. I’m 29 years old, and I feel like if I can stay fit at my age, the rest will come.” So far Ditty’s new emphasis on fitness is paying off, and she understands just how important her fitness is to prolonging her career on the tour. “I know I don’t have that much longer, probably, to play at this level,” Ditty said. “As long as I stay in good shape, I think I still have a few good years left in me.” With a new emphasis on fitness, Ditty is primed for the most successful season of her career. In addition to playing in the Australian Open last January, Ditty is planning to compete in the main draw of the remaining three Grand Slam tournaments, starting with the French Open at the end of May. In order to ensure her place in the main draw of those events, Ditty knows she must continue to produce on the court and keep her ranking in the top 100. “A good win in a few good tournaments is really all I need to get my ranking up a little more,” Ditty said. “I’m starting to play in bigger tournaments and the competition has been a lot stronger, but I think once I get more experience and am able to play against the top players more, it will help me.” The increase in the talent level of Ditty’s competition is something that didn’t take her long to notice. “Mentally and physically, the girls are just a lot stronger at the top level,” Ditty said. Even though the best may still be to come for Ditty, she already has established herself as the most successful women’s tennis player ever to come from Vanderbilt. “One of the things that I’m proud of here is how many players have gone on and achieved,” Macdonald said. “A number of players have gone on to play pro, but she is the best by far. We are all really proud of what she is has done and that she is associated with Vanderbilt.” As happy as Macdonald is for Vanderbilt to be associated with Ditty, she is just as happy to be associated with Vanderbilt. “It was great,” Ditty said of her time in Nashville. “I had a great experience at Vanderbilt, and I really had fun being a part of the team. It really prepared me for professional tennis.” Attending Vanderbilt not only prepared Ditty for life in the professional ranks, it also has prepared her for life after tennis. In a day and age Julie Ditty where a lot of players are leaving college early or bypassing it altogether to turn pro, Ditty had the foresight to stay in college and earn her degree. “I definitely think the girls should go to college before joining the tour,” Ditty said. “I think it is so good to get a college degree in case you got injured or something else happened. I just think it is really important to get that experience of playing on a team because when you get on the tour, you are pretty much by yourself and it is a huge difference.” Where Ditty is in professional tennis coupled with already having a college degree makes her accomplishments even that much more special for Macdonald. “She is playing grand slams with a Vanderbilt degree,” Macdonald said. “That is a pretty remarkable person who is achieving at a high level in a lot of ways. “She’s a testament to the human ability to persevere, and I’m very proud of her for that. As good as she is at tennis, she is just as great of a person.” ■

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Quick Hits MEN’S SPORTS Baseball • After missing 23 games with

a broken hand, Pedro Alvarez returned to the lineup on April 1 against Southeast Missouri State. Tim Corbin • Senior outfielder David Macias was named SEC Hitter of the Week on April 14. VU’s leadoff hitter went 13-for-23 (.565) in five games with four RBI and nine runs. • With wins April 11-13, Vanderbilt swept Mississippi State in Starkville for the first time since 1914. • The sweep was VU’s first in conference play on the road since sweeping Georgia April 15-16, 1993.

Basketball • Shan Foster was selected as

the recipient of the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award on April 5 at the Final Four. The award is presented annually to colKevin lege basketball’s outstanding Stallings NCAA Division I senior. • Foster earned second team All-America honors from the Associated Press on March 31, becoming the first player since Billy McCaffrey in 1994 to receive the award. • Ross Neltner and Davis Nwankwo were named to the 2007-08 SEC Winter Academic Honor Roll, announced on April 9. • At the Black and Gold Banquet, Shan Foster earned the Jim Robins Award and “Play of the Year” for men’s sports. • A.J. Ogilvy was named the Men’s Newcomer of the Year, and Davis Nwankwo was named Male Comeback Player of the Year at the Black and Gold Banquet.

Men’s Golf

Women’s Cross Country

• Junior Jon Curran was named SEC Golfer of the Week on March 31. • Head Coach Tom Shaw caddied for former player Tom Shaw Michael Thompson at the 2008 Masters. Thompson played for Shaw at Tulane before transferring to Alabama before last season. • Sophomore Chris Rockwell was named to the SEC Men’s Golf Community Service Team. • Junior Tyler Matthews led VU at the SEC Championships by finishing 24th. The team finished 10th.

• Head Coach Steve Keith an-

Tennis • Senior Ryan Preston was VU’s male recipient of the SEC H. Boyd McWhorter Postgraduate Scholarship. • Senior Evan Dufaux was Ian named to the SEC Men’s Duvenhage Tennis Community Service Team. • Ryan Preston also earned All-SEC honors for the third straight year. He received first team honors on April 16. • VU made it to the second round of the SEC Tournament for the first time since 2003. • With his win on March 30th against Mississippi State, Nick Cromydas clinched a 4-3 win for VU in SEC play for the second time this season. Earlier this season, he clinched Vanderbilt’s 4-3 win over South Carolina.

WOMEN’S SPORTS Basketball • On April 9, Jennifer Risper and Christina Wirth were named to the 2007-08 SEC Winter Academic Honor Roll.

Men’s Cross Country men’s cross country team hosted its second annual “Vandy Mile Bonanza” on April 1 to benefit a scholarship program at Nashville’s Pearl-Cohn High School.

• The

Steve Keith

Football • Safety Reshard Langford, of-

fensive lineman Bradley Vierling and wide receiver George Smith were elected as team captains for the 2008 seaBobby son. Johnson • ESPNU will televise VU’s 2008 opener on Aug. 28 at Miami (Ohio). Kickoff is 6:30 p.m. CT. • Former Commodore great Herb Rich passed away on March 28. Rich was an All-SEC tailback and won a pro football world championship ring in 1951. • Jonathan Goff was named Mr. Commodore at the Black and Gold Banquet.

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Lacrosse • Sasha Cielak was named the

American Lacrosse Conference’s Player of the Week on March 25 for her play against Cornell and Penn State. Cathy • Brooke Shinaberry was seSwezey lected as the recipient of the 2007-08 Brad Davis Southeastern Conference Community Service Post-Graduate Scholarship on April 4. • Shinaberry also was named the American Lacrosse Conference’s Player of the Week on April 7 for her play in Vanderbilt’s double-overtime victory over Johns Hopkins. • On April 21, Shinaberry was named WomensLax.com Player of the Week. • Senior Margie Curran broke VU’s all-time career records for assists and points on April 11 against Ohio State. • At the Black and Gold Banquet, Brooke Shinaberry was named Miss Commodore and won the Community Service Award. • VU’s win on April 20 over No. 7 Duke gave the Commodores their school-record 12th regular season win.

Women’s Golf Melanie Balcomb

Bowling

• The

nounced the signing of Erin McManus (Potomac, Md.) to a National Letter of Intent on March 29. Steve Keith • Freshman Rita Jorgensen was named Female Newcomer of the Year at the 2007-08 Black and Gold Banquet. • Freshman Adrienne DiRaddo was named Female Comeback Player of the Year at the 2008 Black and Gold Banquet.

bowling team had seven members selected to the 2007-08 SEC Winter Academic Honor Roll, the most by any eligible VanJohn derbilt team. Earning the Williamson honor on April 9 were Ashleigh Beamer, Ashley Belden, Josie Earnest, Karen Grygiel, Tara Kane, Michelle Peloquin and Kaitlin Reynolds. • The team tied for third at the NCAA Championships. • Josie Earnest won the “Play of the Year” for women’s sports at the Black and Gold Banquet. • Signee Brittni Hamilton is participating in bowling’s “Clash of Champions”, televised live on CBS May 10 (4-5 CT) and May 11 (3-4 CT). This event includes professionals and amateurs, men and women that have won major national titles.

• Senior Liebelei Lawrence led VU at the SEC Championships by tying for 23rd. The team tied for ninth at the tournament. Greg Allen • Sophomore Brooke Goodwin made a hole-in-one on the 176-yard sixth hole of the Karsten Golf Club on April 4 at the ASU/Ping Invitational. • Liebelei Lawrence was named to the SEC Women’s Golf Community Service Team.

Soccer • Vanderbilt was honored by

the National Soccer Coaches Association of America with the organization’s Team Academic Award. Ronnie • To be eligible, a team must Coveleskie have had a GPA of at least 3.0 for the 2006-07 academic year. Vanderbilt earned the award with a 3.20 GPA. • Individually, Sarah Dennis received honorable mention honors as part of the 2007 NSCAA/adidas College Woman Scholar All-South Region team.


Swimming • Four

members of the swimming team were named to the 2007-08 SEC Winter AcaJeremy demic Honor Roll. Organ Earning the honor were Malisa Arnold, Shannon McConnaughey, Alex Walsh and Suzanne Wetz. • Freshman Rachel Dyer was named to the SEC Women’s Swimming and Diving Community Service Team on April 2. • Shannon McConnaughey won the Dr. Jerry Reves Award at the Black and Gold Banquet for having the highest GPA among graduating seniors.

Tennis • Senior

Amanda Taylor was named to the SEC Women’s Tennis Community Service Geoff Team. Macdonald • Seniors Taka Bertrand and Amanda Taylor were named first team All-SEC, while sophomore Catherine Newman was named second team. Fresh-

man Keilly Ulery was selected to the All-Freshman team. • Freshman Keilly Ulery was named SEC Freshman of the Week on April 15. • The team won the Tolbert Cup at the Black and Gold Banquet for having VU’s best combination of community service, athletic performance and academic success.

Track and Field • Amani Floyd was

VU’s female recipient of the SEC H. Boyd McWhorter Postgraduate D’Andre Scholarship. Hill • Kristabel DoebelHickok set a school record in the 10,000 meters at the Stanford Invitational on April 6. The previous mark was set 19 years ago by Stephanie Black. • Valerie Kazmer and Rita Jorgensen posted NCAA regional qualifying marks in the 3,000meter steeplechase and 1,500 meters, respectively at the Stanford Invitational on April 6. • Carmen Mims, Rita Jorgensen and Cherice Robertson won events at the VU Invitational.

The Month Ahead Men’s Sports Baseball 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.6 5.7 5.9 5.10 5.11 5.15 5.16 5.17 5.21 5.22 5.23 5.24 5.25 5.30 5.31

at Tennessee at Tennessee at Tennessee vs. Memphis (Jackson, Tenn.) Tennessee Tech at Georgia at Georgia at Georgia at Florida at Florida at Florida at SEC Tournament (Hoover, Ala.) at SEC Tournament (Hoover, Ala.) at SEC Tournament (Hoover, Ala.) at SEC Tournament (Hoover, Ala.) at SEC Tournament (Hoover, Ala.) NCAA Regionals NCAA Regionals

6pm 3pm 1pm 7:05pm 6pm 6pm 2pm 1pm 5:30pm 5:30pm 12pm TBA TBA TBA TBA TBA TBA TBA

at NCAA Regionals at NCAA Regionals at NCAA Regionals at NCAA Championships at NCAA Championships at NCAA Championships at NCAA Championships

All Day All Day All Day All Day All Day All Day All Day

Golf 5.15 5.16 5.17 5.28 5.29 5.30 5.31

Tennis 5.9 5.10 5.11 5.16-26

at NCAA Regionals at NCAA Regionals at NCAA Regionals at NCAA Final 16 (Tulsa, Okla.)

TBA TBA TBA TBA

Women’s Sports Golf 5.8 5.9 5.10 5.20 5.21 5.22 5.23

at NCAA Regionals at NCAA Regionals at NCAA Regionals at NCAA Championships at NCAA Championships at NCAA Championships at NCAA Championships

All Day All Day All Day All Day All Day All Day All Day

Lacrosse 5.3 5.4 5.11 5.17 5.23 5.25

at ALC Tournament Semifinals (Evanston, Ill.) at ALC Tournament Championship (Evanston, Ill.) at NCAA First Round at NCAA Quarterfinals at NCAA National Semifinals (Towson, Md.) at NCAA National Championship (Towson, Md.)

TBA TBA TBA TBA TBA TBA

at NCAA Regionals at NCAA Regionals at NCAA Regionals at NCAA Finals 16 (Tulsa, Okla.)

TBA TBA TBA TBA

Tennis 5.9 5.10 5.11 5.15-26

Track and Field 5.3 5.15 5.16 5.17 5.30 5.31

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at Ole Miss Invite at SEC Outdoor Championships (Auburn, Ala.) at SEC Outdoor Championships (Auburn, Ala.) at SEC Outdoor Championships (Auburn, Ala.) at NCAA Regional Champ. (Fayetteville, Ark.) at NCAA Regional Champ. (Fayetteville, Ark.)

C O M M O D O R E N AT I O N

All Day All Day All Day All Day All Day All Day

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t hit like a sack of bricks on Feb. 27. National Player of the Year candidate and two-time All-American Pedro Alvarez had a broken bone in his right hand and would be out for a minimum of six weeks. Alvarez missed 23 games with the injury, and the team went 17-6 without their third baseman before he returned on April 1 against Southeast Missouri State. With the team still adjusting to having Alvarez back in the mix, the Commodores suffered their worst week to date, losing four of five games from April 1 to April 6. Making matters worse, Vanderbilt was dealt another blow on April 5 when 2B Alex Feinberg suffered a broken jaw at Ole Miss. He was expected to miss two weeks, however, Feinberg shrank his recovery time to less than a week and returned to pinch-hit at Mississippi State on April 11. What Feinberg found when he returned was a team that had won two straight games over Western Kentucky and Austin Peay, while allowing just two runs over 18 innings and not committing a single error. With Feinberg back in the lineup, Vanderbilt parlayed its two almost-flawless games into its first sweep at Mississippi State since 1914 and its first sweep on the road against an SEC foe since sweeping Georgia in 1993. “That was a big week for us,” Head Coach Tim Corbin said. “It was a time

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where it was fight or flight, and we won two midweek games and then came into Mississippi State. That weekend hinged on the fourth inning Friday when we were down 7-3 and came back. It was good for the confidence.” Corbin attributed VU’s success that week to what he considered to be the team’s most consistent play of the season. “There was a time that in every facet of the game, we weren’t very consistent,” Corbin said. “I think that was as close to consistency as there has been, at least up to (that) point in the season.” Corbin also believes that the week could be a turning point in Vanderbilt’s season. “Alabama and Mississippi both turned their seasons around against us,” Corbin added. “I told the team that the problem is that other teams think more of us than we do of ourselves. I said we are kind of playing like a pretender rather than a contender, and you have to get to the point where you feel like you are the contender and playing like the team you are capable of playing. I think we started to do that (against Mississippi State).” Although Alvarez’s return to the lineup was overshadowed by the team losing four of five games in his return, his arrival has played a major role in Vanderbilt’s resurgence. “Even if he is just standing there with a bat superglued to his shoulder, it gives

NEIL BRAKE

Alvarez’s Return Fuels Commodores

(Ryan) Flaherty a chance to hit with runners on base and (Dominic) de la Osa a chance to hit with runners on base,” Corbin said. “If he’s not in the lineup, those guys get pitched to and they don’t have the same set of circumstances. He adds a completely different dimension to our lineup when he is in.” With Alvarez and Feinberg back fortifying the middle of the lineup, the Commodores could be nearing the playing expectations that were laid upon them in the preseason. That is, as long as the team stays healthy. “I think the more we play together, and the more we have a full unit out there, we are going to become a better team,” Corbin said. “Our best baseball is ahead of us.” ■

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The Last Look

WATCHFUL EYES NEIL BRAKE

Members of VU’s baseball team watch from the dugout during the Commodores’ 8-1 win over Austin Peay on April 9.

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Commodore Nation - May 2008