June 20, 2012
RUSTON, La. - Entering the fall of last year, hopes were high around the Louisiana Tech camp that it could be a memorable 12 months for the University's athletics programs despite the uneasiness surrounding conference realignment and the future home of the Bulldog and Lady Techster programs.
However, even the most optimistic of Tech faithful probably could not have fathomed the success on and off the playing fields that the year would yield.
From the Bulldog football team's run to the Western Athletic Conference championship and an appearance in the Poinsettia Bowl to the record-setting performances by a number of student-athletes to the proverbial icing-on-the-cake announcement that the University would be joining Conference USA in 2013, the 365 days that made up the 2011-12 school year were filled with "Red Letter" moments.
"We are extremely proud of the accomplishments of our student athletes, coaches and staff this past school year," said Tech Athletics Director Bruce Van De Velde. "The athletic department has been a tremendous ambassador for the University, and all Louisiana Tech alumni and supporters should take great pride in these achievements."
Athletically, Louisiana Tech's programs made great strides. Academically, its student-athletes made impressive grades. Community service-wise, they made national headlines. It was a well-rounded year - one that saw the teams, student-athletes, administration and fans step up in more ways than one.
On the playing fields, Sonny Dykes and the Bulldog football team won seven straight games to end the regular season. Its memorable 24-21 come-from-behind win at Nevada propelled it to the program's second WAC title. Its 44-0 victory against New Mexico State at Joe Aillet Stadium before rain-soaked Bulldog faithful clinched a berth in the Poinsettia Bowl.
First year head coach Michael White and his inexperienced, self-nicknamed "Bullpups" basketball team might not have captured a title, but they did capture the hearts and respect of Tech fans with their never-say-die mentality. Their late-season run to the 2012 WAC Tournament championship game, which included a win over No. 1 seed Nevada, served as notice - there is more in store in the coming years.
Both men's golf and women's tennis had their best seasons in the last 20 years - if not longer - as Quinton Yray's Lady Techsters won the most matches since 1994 and Jeff Parks Bulldogs finished with their highest end of the year ranking in program history.
The Lady Techster basketball team posted its 38th straight winning season, advanced to its eighth WAC Tournament championship game in the last 11 seasons and ranked 31st nationally in home attendance. Sarah Dawson and the Lady Techster softball team and Wade Simoneaux and the Bulldog baseball team both made late season runs in their respective league tournaments.
Individually, there were a plethora of success stories.
Ryan Allen became the first Louisiana Tech player and the first player from a non-BCS program to ever win the Ray Guy Award as the nation's top punter. He was also the only player from a non-BCS program to win any national college football award in 2011.
Chelsea Hayes earned her fifth and sixth All-American honors of her decorated track and field career finishing third in the long jump and seventh in the 100-meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, marking the most All-America honors a single Louisiana Tech athlete has ever been awarded. She heads to the USA Olympic trials at the end of this month.
Scotti Culton and Olivia Lukasewich made Tech soccer history by becoming the first Lady Techsters to play professionally. Dacia Hale tied an NCAA Division I single-game record with 11 RBI in a 17-7 win over perennial national power Fresno State. Jeb Stefan and Alex Williams were selected in the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft.
Alena Erofeyeva won 19 singles matches, falling one short of tying the Lady Techster tennis program record set in 1982. Jasmine Bendolph and Speedy Smith were the only Division I tandem from the same school to record 15 or more assists in a game (Smith set a Bulldog single game record). Phil Maton was named to the Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-American Team.
These were just a few of the individual success stories that highlighted 2011-12. There were plenty more.
In total, Tech boasted 104 student-athletes that earned all-conference honors while Raheem Appleby (WAC Men's Basketball Freshman of the Year), Adrien Cole (WAC Football Defensive Player of the Year), Sonny Dykes (WAC Football Coach of the Year), Chelsea Hayes (WAC Indoor Field Athlete of the Year, WAC Indoor High Point Scorer, WAC Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year, WAC Outdoor High Point Scorer), Trey Hadnot (WAC Indoor Track Athlete of the Year) and Dennis Richardson (WAC Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year) won WAC specialty awards.
As impressive as the Tech Athletic Department's on-the-field accolades were ... they are challenged by the list of off-the-field successes which is spearheaded by the University's May announcement that it will join Conference USA on July 1, 2013. The move provides Tech fans an opportunity to travel to more games as the regionally-defined league will include 14 schools, seven that are within driving distance of Ruston.
"With our admission to Conference USA, enthusiasm for the athletic program is at an all-time high and we have great momentum," Van De Velde said. "Our goal in the coming year is to reach everyone within our foot print as well as our fans and alumni nationwide and ask them to join in supporting Tech Athletics and the flagship university of north Louisiana."
The University's athletic department won a number of awards during the year, including its fifth straight NCAA Pack the House Challenge making it the only school in the country to claim the award for their respective league each year. Tech was also ranked sixth in the Excellence in Management Cup, marking the third straight year it received a Top 10 ranking by Texas A&M's Laboratory for the Study of Intercollegiate Athletics.
In the classroom, Tech student-athletes boasted an all-time high 72 percent four-year graduation success rate while a total of 92 student-athletes earned Academic All-WAC accolades. Tech football was recognized nationally with the Academic Achievement Award presented by the American Football Coaches Association while the Bulldog golf team earned an NCAA Public Recognition Award.
A number of former student-athletes and officials received honors, including Willie Roaf being voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and William "Lone Star" Dietz being voted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Tech also inducted an eight-person class to its Athletics Hall of Fame in the fall which included Matt Dunigan (football), Venus Lacy (women's basketball), David Lee (football), Mike McConathy (men's basketball), Paul Millsap (men's basketball), Dave Nitz (broadcasting), T.J. Soto (baseball) and Matt Stover (football).
Hideaway Park was renamed in honor of former Tech football legend Garland Gregory while Tech launched a memorial fund drive to renovate the basketball court at Memorial Gymnasium in honor of former Bulldog basketball coach Scotty Robertson.
For the fifth straight year, Tech set a football season ticket sales record. Spearheaded by the Quest for Excellence capital campaign, Tech Athletics set an annual fundraising record with gifts totaling 6 million dollars while the Louisiana Tech Athletic Club (LTAC) set a record for annual membership with 1,252 donors.
The University's student-athletes, coaches and administrators were also busy in the community as it volunteered more than 3,000 hours towards numerous service projects, including the Ruston Soccer Club, the Lion's Club, the Methodist Children's Home, the Domestic Abuse Resistance Team (DART), the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Ruston Boys and Girls Club, and the St. Jude's Radiothon.
National headlines were made in December when Bulldog football players Adrien Cole and Quinton Patton donated their Poinsettia bowl gifts to children who were associated with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The athletics department also sponsors or is involved in a number of charity events, including Bulldogs Tackling Breast Cancer, the Wiggin' Out Dinner, the "Dig Pink" volleyball game, the WBCA's "Pink Zone" breast cancer awareness game and the American Cancer Society's "Coaches vs. Cancer: Suits & Sneakers" game.
As the start of the 2012-13 academic calendar year nears - Tech's last as a member of the Western Athletic Conference - Bulldog and Lady Techster fans everywhere can continue to make a difference in the success of the University's athletic programs.
With new construction and additional facility renovations scheduled in the near future for the south endzone project at Joe Aillet Stadium, the Thomas Assembly Center, JC Love Field at Pat Patterson Park and the Lady Techster Softball Complex, it is crucial that the athletic department's budget continue to increase significantly.
Van De Velde said that the best ways for Tech fans to assist in this is through season ticket sales, LTAC memberships and other private donations.
"As we enter a new era in Louisiana Tech Athletics, it is imperative that the Tech Nation continues to expand," Van De Velde said. "We need those who are giving to continue to give. And even more importantly, we need those who haven't given to become a part of our team.
"We know we must do our part as a University and athletic department. We know our coaches and student-athletes must do their part on the playing fields. And the fans must do their part by attending games and joining LTAC. It will take everyone moving in the same direction with the same goal to move Louisiana Tech to where all of us want to see it. For so many years it has been a dream. We are on the verge of making it a reality."
For complete coverage of Louisiana Tech Athletics please visit the official home of LA Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.
|Top 20 On-the-Field Accomplishments of 2011-12|
Football ended season on seven-game winning streak to capture the 2011 WAC Championship - first since 2001 - and earned a berth in the Poinsettia Bowl against 15th ranked TCU
Men's Basketball upset No. 1 seed Nevada and advanced to its first ever WAC Tournament championship game under first year head coach Mike White
Chelsea Hayes won her 6th All-America honor, the most of any Tech athlete in any sport, and will participate in the U.S. Olympic Trials in two events
Dacia Hale tied the NCAA Division I softball single game record with 11 RBI in 17-7 win over perennial NCAA Tournament power Fresno State
Softball joined perennial NCAA powers Hawaii and Fresno State as the only three teams to qualify for every WAC Tournament since it was reinstated in 2006
Phil Maton named to the 2012 Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-American Team
Football defeated Ole Miss 27-7 for its first road win over SEC school since defeating Alabama in 1999
Men's golf earned its highest end-of-the-year ranking in program history, finishing 77th and barely missing its first ever NCAA Regional appearance
Lady Techster basketball recorded its 38th straight winning season and advanced to the WAC Tournament championship game for the eighth time in 11 years
Ryan Allen won the Ray Guy Award as the nation's top punter
Scotti Culton and Olivia Lukasewich became the first Tech soccer players to play professionally
Alena Erofeyeva won 19 singles matches, falling one short of tying the Lady Techster tennis program record set in 1982
Tennis won the most matches in a season since 1994
Jeb Stefan and Alex Williams were selected in the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft
104 student-athletes earned all-conference honors
Techster guard Jasmine Bendolph and Bulldog guard Kenneth "Speedy" Smith were the only Division I men and women's players from the same school to record 15 or more assists in a single game
Women's basketball ranked 31st nationally in home attendance
Tech women's track sent five entries to the NCAA Championships - more than any other WAC school or state school (minus LSU) and more than 35 other BCS programs (the Lady Techsters finished 34th nationally in the championships)
Tech student-athletes and coaches garnered conference specialty awards, including Raheem Appleby (WAC Men's Basketball Freshman of the Year), Adrien Cole (WAC Football Defensive Player of the Year), Sonny Dykes (WAC Football Coach of the Year), Chelsea Hayes (WAC Indoor Field Athlete of the Year, WAC Indoor High Point Scorer, WAC Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year, WAC Outdoor High Point Scorer), Trey Hadnot (WAC Indoor Track Athlete of the Year) and Dennis Richardson (WAC Outdoor Track Athlete of the Year)
Bulldog baseball beat 2011 College World Series participant Vanderbilt, its first road win against an SEC foe since 1994
|Top 20 Off-the-Field Accomplishments of 2011-12|
University accepted an invitation to join Conference USA on July 1, 2013
Tech Athletics won the NCAA Pack the House Challenge for the fifth straight year, becoming the only school in the country to win it all five years for their respective conference
Football earned the 2011 Academic Achievement Award presented by the American Football Coaches Association for graduating over 75 percent of its football student-athletes
Student-athletes recorded an all-time high four-year graduation success rate of 72 percent which ranked as the second highest in the state among Division I football-playing public institutions and among the best in the nation
Bulldog golf earned an NCAA Public Recognition Award for ranking in the top 10 percent in multiyear APR for their respective sport
Tech student body overwhelmingly passed a new student fee and renewed a previous fee that will support the construction and improvement of several campus facilities, including the stadium field house expansion
92 student-athletes earned Academic All-WAC accolades: Fall | Winter | Spring
Tech launched a memorial fund drive to renovate the basketball court at Tech's Memorial Gymnasium in honor of former Bulldog Coach Robert "Scotty" Robertson
Willie Roaf voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2012, joining Terry Bradshaw and Fred Dean in the prestigious club
University renamed Hideaway Park in memory of legendary Bulldog football player Garland Gregory
Spearheaded by the Quest for Excellence capital campaign, Tech Athletics set an annual fundraising record with gifts totaling 6 million dollars
The Louisiana Tech Athletic Club (LTAC) set a record for annual membership with 1,252 donors
Set a football season ticket sales record for the fifth straight year with 6,057 sold
University inducted eight-person Hall of Fame Class: Matt Dunigan (football), Venus Lacy (women's basketball), David Lee (football), Mike McConathy (men's basketball), Paul Millsap (men's basketball), Dave Nitz (broadcasting), T.J. Soto (baseball) and Matt Stover (football)
Tech Athletics finished sixth in the Excellence in Management Cup (presented by Texas A&M's Laboratory for the Study of Intercollegiate Athletics), marking the third straight year it earned a Top 10 ranking
Athletics Director Bruce Van De Velde named the Western Athletic Conference's representative on the Division I-A Athletic Directors Association Executive Committee
Quinton Patton and Adrien Cole made national news by giving their bowl gifts to Make-A-Wish Foundation kids at Poinsettia Bowl
Student-athletes donated more than 3,000 hours to community service projects, including working with organizations such as the Ruston Soccer Club, the Lion's Club, the Methodist Children's Home, the Domestic Abuse Resistance Team (DART), the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Ruston Boys and Girls Club, and the St. Jude's Radiothon
Tech Athletics raised more than $12,000 with the annual "Bulldogs Tackling Breast Cancer" campaign and the inaugural "Wiggin' Out Dinner" with proceeds going to the Susan G. Komen For the Cure NECLA affiliate and the American Cancer Society's "Look Good, Feel Better" program
Participated in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's (WBCA) "Pink Zone" breast cancer awareness game and the American Cancer Society's "Coaches vs. Cancer: Suits & Sneakers" game and held the inaugural "Dig Pink" volleyball match