The Dean's List
Welcome to this week's investiture of the Dean's List where, for the first time in modern history, Georgia is both a Eurasian country recovering from an armed invasion and the No. 1 college football team in the U.S.
Before he was a Hall of Fame college basketball coach, Jim Calhoun was a scrapyard worker, granite cutter, headstone engraver, shampoo factory worker and gravedigger. Now add to that list three-time cancer survivor. The UConn basketball coach has spent this summer undergoing radiation treatment after having a mass removed from his neck (he's been diagnosed with skin cancer twice and also had prostate cancer surgery). He's lost almost 20 lbs. from treatment, but that won't stop the determined coach from patrolling the sidelines when the Huskies return to the court later this fall. You see, above all else, Calhoun is a fighter, which is common knowledge for anyone who has ever attended his press conferences. So what makes a man? How about two national titles, three battles with cancer and being able to honestly say that you were once a gravedigger.
To be a top-notch college football coach, you must possess a wide variety of traits -- strength, decisiveness, discipline and of course, flexibility. For the third straight year, Georgia football coach Mark Richt took his team to the pool and performed two back flips from the 10-meter high dive. That's a back flip from 33 feet above the water for a 48-year-old! The preseason ritual started back in 2006 as a way to break up the monotony of two-a-days and has become a Bulldog tradition. This year, a few of Richt's players ventured up to the high-dive and peered down but none were able to replicate their coach's exploits, which is probably a good thing since the last thing the No. 1 ranked team in the country needs is a player breaking his neck going off the high dive.
When it comes to big-time scandals, we always seem to focus on the losers. Their pain and indiscretions are so much more dramatic. But with any conflict, there are always winners. Even the Duke lacrosse scandal had a winner. It's not the Duke lacrosse players (although, they were granted an extra year of eligibility to make up for their lost season), the accuser or the North Carolina justice system, but rather Bryant University. The Rhode Island school, which is currently making the transition to Division I, not only hired former Duke lacrosse coach Mike Pressler, but has also recruited former Blue Devil attackman Zack Greer for the 2009 season. Greer, the NCAA all-time goals leader with 206, graduated from Duke this spring but was granted one more year of eligibility by the NCAA. Suddenly, lacrosse games in Smithfield just got a whole lot more exciting.
My freshman year, I tried to walk on to my college basketball team. The squad was the worst team in a bad conference, but I still couldn't make it. The odds were too great and I quit before the coach could cut me. That's what makes Jamie Vanartsdalen's story so special. She never quit, not even when quitting made complete sense. The senior field hockey player at Bloomsburg University, which has won 11 national championships in Division II, wasn't recruited out of high school. She had to walk onto the team as a freshman. But that didn't phase Vanartsdalen. She survived pre-season cuts and now, three seasons later, the former walk-on is the the 2007 Division II Player of the Year. She enters this season with 80 goals and 36 assists and is on pace to break the D-II scoring record. Not to jump to conclusions, but does this mean that if I had kept trying out for my college basketball team, I'd be playing in the NBA right now? Probably not.
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