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The End of a Historic Season...
The Zips had their NCAA Tournament run dashed by Purdue this afternoon, but it was a mere blip on the radar of what was the most successful and memorable season in the 40-year history of Akron women's basketball.
UA tied the record it set last year for most wins in a single season at 23, won its first ever Mid-American Conference title and made its first appearance in the "Big Dance". The five seniors - Kacie Cassell, Cari Guyton, Hanna Luburgh, Rachel Tecca and Carly Young - will hang up their shoes with the Blue and Gold as the winningest class to come through the program, collecting 74 victories in four years.
In the postgame press conference, Coach Kest did not hesitate in saying that one game does not define this season, nor discredit the quality of work this team has put in to make the program what it is today. Hear from Coach, Kacie Cassell and Rachel Tecca in the video below:
The loss stings, but only one team in the country finishes the season with a win. The Zips have a lot to be proud of, and the future of the program is bright. Rachel Tecca sums it up with the blog she wrote that was posted on SwishAppeal.com just yesterday.
"I want to be a role model and a good example for the Akron community. To show that Akron is a great place to be, whether it relates to school, sports, or a career."
Tomorrow, a bus filled with 15 role models will return to Akron with their heads held high.
What becoming a MAC champion means to Akron's Rachel
Just five short years ago, I was a student at Archbishop Hoban High School. The school features an infamous gold dome that sits on a hill, overlooking the entire city of Akron. From the top of the hill, you can literally see The University of Akron.
I never imagined I would attend Akron for college because it was only two miles from my high school.
I thought I wanted to go away for school and experience the "true" college experience. However, you and I both know that did not happen - after visiting schools, I realized that Akron had everything I ever wanted in a college: a spectacular campus, great curriculum, determined coaching staff, a welcoming team, new facilities, etc. So, at the end of my junior year of high school, I committed and signed on the dotted line to attend The University of Akron and play college basketball.
And I could not be happier with my decision!!
Which is easy to say now...I have accomplished so much individually and as a student-athlete. I have an undergraduate degree in Marketing and Sales. I will finish my Masters in Business Administration in May. I am the school's all-time leading scorer and rebounder. I am an Academic All-American. I have fantastic teammates and l have made lifelong friends...and the list goes on.
However, college basketball has not always been that easy. I have had to overcome a lot of injuries throughout my collegiate career. I have had bi-lateral compartment syndrome surgery, reconstructive ACL surgery, shin splints, a broken nose, and hamstring fatigue.
It felt like I lived in the doctor's offices and training rooms. However, I have been fortunate and blessed to have had such wonderful doctors, physical therapists, and trainers who have helped me endure. As the saying goes, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" and all these hardships have definitely made me into a stronger player and person.
That is why becoming a MAC Champion means the world to me. It means more than all the individual accolades. It is a team honor -- an accomplishment that represents everyone's hard work. It is something you share with coaches, players, managers, teachers, family, friends, and the community. All the people that have supported me throughout my career now share in a memory that I will cherish forever. Choosing Akron was the best decision of my life.
I want to be a role model and a good example for the Akron community. To show that Akron is a great place to be, whether it relates to school, sports, or a career. That is why when I saw "Akron" on the ESPN Selection Show on Monday, it was surreal. An unbelievable moment I will never forget. A moment that I hope changes the perception of Akron women's basketball. I am proud of this city, I am proud of this university, and I will forever be proud to be a "ZIP".
We're Talkin' About Practice...
As the first full day at the NCAA Tournament comes to a close, the Zips can be proud of the way they represented their team and The University of Akron on the national stage. After a film session this afternoon, the travel party climbed back on the bus to make the short five-minute drive to Mackey Arena to kick things off.
Coach Kest, Kacie Cassell, Hanna Luburgh and Rachel Tecca addressed the media at a formal press conference prior to practice, answering questions about Akron's road to the NCAA Tournament, what they felt the turning point was in the season to get them here, and how they were handling their time in the spotlight.
Click here to view the complete video from the press conference. You can also access the written transcript here.
After the press conference, the team got ready for their 90-minute practice session on the floor they will take in less than 12 hours when they face Purdue. The TV talent was on-hand to observe the Zips and prepare for their live broadcast on ESPN2 tomorrow afternoon.
The team made the most of their time in preparation for a nationally-ranked Purdue team tomorrow. The Zips and the Boilermakers will tip-off at 1:30 p.m. ET, live on ESPN2. Don't forget, for those fans who can't be with us in West Lafayette, there is a watch party at Johnny J's in the Valley.
Check out the complete video from Akron's afternoon at Mackey Arena:
The Calm Before The Storm...
The Zips rolled into West Lafayette about 12:30 a.m. last night, but were able to sleep in and have a nice breakfast this morning at the hotel. Each of the four teams playing in this site is staying at their own hotel, so Akron is the only school here at the Four Points by Sheraton. The staff has been very accomodating and the place is decked out in Blue and Gold!
Front desk staff sporting their #ZipsGameday shirts!
The team has had a relatively slow morning so far. Film session is scheduled for later this afternoon before we head to Purdue's Mackey Arena for official media day and practice. Follow the team on Twitter at @ZipsWBB, and don't forget to use the hashtag #KaciesCourt to chat with senior point guard Kacie Cassell!
Luburgh's Look at the MAC Championship...
In case you missed it, earlier this week senior guard Hanna Luburgh wrote a guest blog for SwishAppeal.com about her experience at the MAC Tournament last week. Even if you read it the first time, it's definitely worth a second look. Her writing is as good as her pull-up jumper!
Senior Hanna Luburgh
discusses Akron's 2014 MAC Tournament Championship
The week of the MAC tournament had finally arrived and this time we were on a mission. Taking it one game at a time, we were focused and ready for our last chance as the senior class to make history and become CHAMPIONS.
The first game was Thursday and we played Toledo. I was nervous; then again I am always nervous. Toledo is experienced in the tournament; they come from a winning program, so we knew we had to be ready.
We came out pumped and we were on fire! Everyone was making shots and we went into halftime with a 20 point lead. We knew we had a 40 minute game and we had to finish strong, that's just what we did. One game down, two to go.
We got back to the hotel and we all got in the dreaded ice baths to get ready for an up-tempo game with Central Michigan on Friday. Finally, we get another shot at Central. We headed up to film to see what we were going to do to stop such a strong team.
We found out Wednesday that Crystal Bradford, MAC Player of the Year, was injured in practice Tuesday and cannot play. She is crucial to their team; however, they have so many great players we knew it was going to be a battle. We still had to play a full game to win and we were ready. Our coaches put together a new game plan and we said we were not losing to them again.
It was finally Friday, time for game #2. We slept in and didn't have a walk through, we know Central Michigan's personnel just like they know us. We know their offense; we just need to follow the game plan. We normally take a nap after pregame meal but we were so excited there was no way I could fall asleep.
Rachel Tecca is my roommate and we just sat there talking. We talked about how this is it, this is our last chance, and we can't get to the championship game if we don't beat Central. I kept thinking about what I needed to, running every scenario through my head. It was game time.
The game started out fast. They jumped on us quickly and were up by 10. Being a veteran team we didn't panic and knew we needed to make our run. We went into halftime tied and had 20 minutes left to get one step closer to our goal. The second half we came out strong and finally got a 10 point lead and didn't look back. We finally beat Central and we were one step closer to our goal. Two games down, one to go.
We got back to the hotel after the game and did what we needed to do for recovery. We went to Coach Kest's room and watched film to prepare for Ball State. We had to do what we do best, which is run the floor. They had played 5 games in 6 days and we knew that could be an advantage for us. I was ready, the team was ready.
Finally the sunlight came through my window on Saturday morning. I barely slept Friday night, I'm not sure if anyone on the team really slept. I kept picturing the championship. I kept picturing the confetti falling, holding the trophy, cutting down the nets, and of course wearing the hat. We are so close, and now we just had to go get it. We were leaving the hotel room and I told Rachel, "Next time we come back to this room we will be MAC champions."
We arrived at Quicken Loans Arena and the whole team was pumped up. We went on the court too early and had to wait a few minutes to touch the basketballs. We huddled up and kept saying one game. One game left to reach our goal. This is what we have waited a year for, and what the university has waited 40 years for. It was time to bring a championship to Akron for women's basketball and that's what we were going to do.
We went into the locker room and Coach Kest told us to play our game, use the experience we have to our advantage and that our time is now. Coach Jackson told us we can sleep tomorrow, to go out there and give it everything that we have. We ran out of the locker room and there were so many fans.
When I first came to Akron I think the only people in the stands were our parents. Four years later, we are playing for a league title and Quicken Loans Arena feels like a home game at the JAR. My heart was racing, it was game time.
We took control of the game and never lost the lead. Ball State is a tough team and battled till the very end. The whole game I felt comfortable. I knew that if we did what we do best we will win this game. The final minute was ticking down and I knew we were champions. I was full of so many emotions. The game clock hit 00:00 and the moment I had been waiting my entire life for was happening.
I hugged my teammates and coaches and couldn't wait to hug all of my family. I had a few happy tears and was almost speechless. They were handing out our medals and the trophy and I looked into the stands to take it all in. The confetti started falling and I can honestly say that it was the best moment of my life.
Four years ago when we came into the program we said we were going to be MAC Champions, and we did it. We were able to make history and I feel honored to be a part of this team.
Another journey begins when we find out who we play in the NCAA Tournament. We hope to add a little more history to the books. A new mission begins this week. It's time for the Zips to go dancing!
And We're Off! Purdue Bound...
It’s been a whirlwind week, but it’s finally time to get back to business. The team has been preparing for Purdue for the last three days, and this afternoon our travel party hit the road for West Lafayette. The bus left James A. Rhodes Arena around 4:30 p.m. and we are scheduled to stop for dinner around the Fort Wayne area.
Check back to the Zips Insider blog often for updates throughout the Zips’ NCAA Tournament run, including photos, videos and interviews. Don’t forget to follow @ZipsWBB and @ZipsDana on Twitter for all the latest updates on the trip via social media.
See you in West Lafayette! #GoZips
Hall of Fame Weekend...
By Gregg Bach (@ZipsGregg / @FollowTheRoo) Feb. 28,
champion for the success of Zips Athletics, will complete his
15-year presidency in June, while Zippy, the 2007 Capital One
Mascot of the Year, celebrated her 60th birthday in 2013.
Former Zip John Loyer Making His Mark in the NBA...
With the NBA All-Star Break in the rear-view mirror, former Zip John Loyer is looking to make his mark on the Detroit Pistons and the NBA's Eastern Conference.
After being named interim head coach on Feb. 9, Loyer's Pistons enter the home stretch just a game-and-a-half out of the No. 8 seed in April's Eastern Conference playoffs.
It didn't take long for Loyer to earn his first NBA win as the Pistons downed San Antonio, 109-100, one day after he took over the first chair. Two days later, he faced the Cleveland Cavaliers in a game that many in Northeast Ohio hold in fond regard. However, the Pistons have gained a few more followers in the Akron area in the last 10 days.
Loyer, a 1983 graduate of Northmor High School in Galion, Ohio, is a 1987 graduate of The University of Akron. During is time on campus, he earned four letters for the Zips on the hardwood.
Loyer helped Akron win the 1986 Ohio Valley Conference regular season and tournament championships under former head coach Bob Huggins. The 1985-86 squad was the first to appear in the NCAA Tournament at the Division I level after the Zips made the jump to basketball's top tier in 1980. Loyer also helped the Zips to the 1987 NIT.
Following his playing career, he spent two seasons as a graduate assistant under Coach Huggins (1987-89), helping Akron to its second NIT bid in three seasons. He would follow Huggins to Cincinnati for a 10-year stretch where he also roamed the sidelines with Akron's Director of Basketball Operations Dan Peters.
Twenty-five years after leaving Akron and 14 years after entering the NBA coaching ranks, this former Zip has made it to the top of his profession.
Zips' fans everywhere should cheer on the Pistons and support this former Zip...unless the Pistons are playing the Cavaliers. At that point...a tie may be preferable.
African-American History Month Spotlight: Jack Jones, Baseball
Jack Jones came to The University of Akron in the fall of 1974 for an education. Before coming to UA, he had only known of Akron by childhood idol and former Zips basketball player Harvey Glover. A native of East Orange, N.J., Jones said, “I started to get to know the university through a guidance counselor back in high school, and I figured I would give Akron a try.”
Jones believed in receiving an education above all else. He says he was never highly recruited for athletics out of high school and didn’t have major intentions of playing college baseball. Eventually, he joined the Akron baseball team as a walk-on freshman for former head coach David Fross’ squad in 1975. Jones excelled in his opportunity with the Zips, as he batted .338 and was the team’s first basemen throughout the season. “I just wanted to play ball,” Jones said.
However, a collision at first base at the end of his freshman campaign would force him to miss the entire 1976 season. Jones bounced back following his rehabilitation in 1977 by starting at first base and leading the team with a .311 batting average. He was able to repeat the feat in 1978, hitting at a .329 clip.
In 1979, Jones moved to right field, and did so at his own request to give the team the best chance for success. At the time Coach Fross said of the change, “It was an unselfish quest to strengthen our defense.” Jones not only aided the Akron outfield defense, he also hit three homeruns and increased production in runs, walks and runs batted in. The Zips finished the season with a 26-18 record and went to the NCAA Tournament, the first postseason berth in program history.
Jones, who was voted team captain from 1978-79, earned several accolades in his time at Akron. He was most notably named UA’s Athlete of the Year in 1979, the first Akron baseball player to earn the award. “As captain the last two years, “JJ” has been a true catalyst in our rise to success,” coach Fross said at the time. “He was a dynamic, take-charge player who unselfishly gave of himself for the good of the team.”
Now Jones remains in the Akron-Canton area, working as a retail manager at Levin Furniture. He has a son and daughter who have gone on to become a pilot and teacher, respectively. He still keeps up with the Akron baseball program when he can, and remains friends with former teammates to this day.
When asked about the advice he would give to young athletes, Jones said, “Number one thing is to focus on is school, and also to dedicate yourself to your academics, your sport and your health. The work ethic learned through athletics will help throughout all parts of life, and I’m glad I was given that opportunity at Akron.”
Baseball visits with Mason Community Learning Center students...
A few members of the Akron Zips baseball team visited the Mason Community Learning Center on Monday afternoon for an after-school Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Assistant coach Fred Worth opened the visit with a talk to the students about succeeding in life through academics. “School will help you become the best you can possibly be,” coach Worth said in his speech.
Following Worth’s discussion, Pat Dyer, James Sheltrown, Brady Stewart and Devan Ahart were able to share their experiences in school and their baseball careers. Some of the inspired students even acknowledged that they want to have a future in collegiate athletes.
Before the team left, each student received a University of Akron winter hat and a “Hitmen for the Mob” t-shirt.
The countdown to the season opener is down to just four days, as the team heads south to Rock Hill, S.C., this coming weekend (Feb. 14-16) for a three-game set vs. Winthrop University.
Just before the team left for practice, coach Worth and the players got the students to give their most boisterous "Go Zips!" chant.
Softball Preseason Notebook...
By Dana LeRoy (@ZipsDana / @ZipsSB) Jan. 25, 2014, Softball
Although the outdoor conditions in Akron have not been favorable for the last few months, it hasn’t stopped the softball team from working hard to prepare for the 2014 campaign that is quickly approaching. From hosting camps and clinics on campus at Stile Athletics Field House to kicking off spring practice, the Zips have been making the most of their time indoors.
Head coach Julie Jones recently spoke at a coaching clinic sponsored by the OHSAA in Columbus, addressing over 800 high school fastpitch coaches about different aspects of the game. The Zips’ coaching staff is also set to host a coaching clinic of its own on Sunday, Jan. 26, from 7-11 a.m. at the field house. The staff will cover philosophies on fielding mechanics, hitting, situational drills, baserunning, pitching and conditioning. The attendees will also be able to observe Akron’s staff during an actual practice in the afternoon.
Last weekend, the field house was home to 14 high school teams that participated in one of the Zips’ team camps. Jones, her staff and her team have seen an impressive response to their offseason camps during the 2013-14 academic year. During the winter months, Akron has hosted a total of 54 teams and 900 student-athletes at its team camps.
Coach Pratt talks to teams in the field house during Team Camp on Jan. 19.
UA’s preseasons skills clinics will conclude with the final day of instruction set for Sunday, Feb. 2 at the field house. Spaces are still available for all sessions, including: beginning and advanced pitching, power hitting, bunting, slapping and baserunning, and fielding skills. Click here to register.
The Zips officially begin the 2014 season on Friday, Feb. 7-9, when they travel to the Southeastern Louisiana Invitational. Akron will open with a doubleheader against Texas Tech and Alabama State. Check GoZips.com next week for the complete season preview!
Former Zip Chris Bassitt making waves with White Sox...
Former Zips baseball player Chris Bassitt has made quite a name for himself since being drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 16th round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft. The White Sox announced on Tuesday that Bassitt will be a non-roster invitee during spring training for the club, a well-deserved recognition following an outstanding season.
In 2013, Bassitt committed to a starting role in the White Sox farm system. He went 11-4 with a 3.08 ERA over the season at Chicago’s High-A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham squads. The native of Toledo, Ohio collected 138 strikeouts over 26 starts, the most strikeouts in the organization. His accomplishments earned him a trip to the MLB Arizona Fall League All Star Game.
Bassitt’s climb through the organization was also crucial to the Birmingham Baron’s playoff run that ended with a Southern League Championship in 2013. He earned the series-opening start, and responded without allowing a run over 5.2 innings to go along with seven strikeouts. Bassitt is one of six former Zips baseball players to be drafted since 2003.
Celebrating the life of Coach Tank...
By Gregg Bach (@ZipsGregg / @ZipsFB) Jan. 23, 2014, Football
Tonight, Zips Athletics celebrated and memorialized the life of late football assistant head coach and offensive line coach Alan "Tank" Arrington, who passed away on Dec. 23 following an automobile accident in the state of Mississippi.
Several hundred people filled the fifth floor of InfoCision Stadium to hear eulogies from Zips senior o-lineman Jarrod Pughsley, Arrington's brother, Perry, and UA head coach Terry Bowden.
"He'd tell me all of the potential that I had," Pughsley said as part of his emotional remarks. "And he was the first person to say it like he really believed in me."
Arrington joined the Akron coaching staff prior to the 2012 season after six years at North Alabama. His last three seasons at UNA he worked under Bowden and in addition to being colleagues the two were the best of friends.
"He was always thinking about the things he could do for you," Bowden said during his remarks, to the players in attendence.
Much of Arrington's focus during the postseason was on improvements to the team's locker room and player lounge as well as a uniform redesign for the 2014 campaign.
"Breaking throo" to the West Coast...
By Dana LeRoy (@ZipsDana / @ZipsWBB) Nov. 28, 2013, Women's Basketball
Happy Thanksgiving from California!
The Zips women's basketball program has set up shop in San Luis Obispo for the next few days in preparation for the Cal Poly Holiday Beach Classic. While the team and coaching staff are looking ahead to two important games this weekend against tournament host Cal Poly and UC Davis, it's not every day that our travel party gets to experience life on the west coast, and we took full advantage of that as soon as we landed in Los Angeles yesterday.
A five hour flight from Cleveland to LAX successfully left the snow in our wake and we stepped out into bright sunshine and temperatures in the low 70's. We took a short bus ride over to Venice Beach where the team had a blast exploring for a few hours and enjoying the weather.
San Luis Obispo was another four hour bus trip north of Venice Beach, but we were able to travel up the Pacific coast and take in some beautiful views. We drove through Malibu and saw some incredible houses where some of the players are now intent on living someday.
As for today though, the team will practice at Cal Poly in preparation for its game against the Mustangs on Friday at 10 p.m. ET. Check out Coach Kest's latest video interview to hear her thoughts on the competition this tournament brings:
Tonight, we are having Thanksgiving dinner as a group at our hotel, and are lucky to be joined by family of our support staff and some parents as well. We definitely have a lot to be thankful for today, let's hope we can add two more wins to the list this weekend!
Happy Thanksgiving from Zippy...
By Zippy (@FollowTheRoo) Nov. 27, 2013, General
Season's Greetings, Zips Nation.
As we prepare for Thanksgiving , I wanted to share with you the many blessings within Zips Athletics for which I am thankful ...
... our 450-plus student-athletes who impact our 19 sports: Their hard work and dedication, both in the classroom and in competition, represent what it means to be a Zip ...
... our coaches, administrators and support staff for their impact on our student-athletes: Their dedication is second to none, and the help and guidance they provide is invaluable ...
... our fans for the impact they have: Zips Nation features one of the best cheering sections around, and home or away our student-athletes and coaches appreciate your support ...
... our University community for its impact on our ability to be continually successful: State-of-the-art facilities for training and studying have been built to help current student-athletes excel and to attract prospective ones ...
... the opportunity to be your mascot: It has been an incredible 60 years and I look forward to making an impact for many more ...
From everyone at Zips Athletics, Happy Thanksgiving!
Also, be on the lookout next month when we will share more about our impact on each of you and your impact on us.
Your Favorite Marsupial,
P.S. Hope to see you at noon Friday for our Senior Day football game at InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field!
Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Women's History Project...
By Dallas Moyer (@ZipsDallas / @ZipsMBB) Nov. 26, 2013, Men's Basketball
Last week, men’s basketball head coach Keith Dambrot had the opportunity to speak at the 30th anniversary celebration of the Women's History Project of the Akron Area. The event held significant meaning for Coach Dambrot as his late mother, Faye Dambrot, was one of the co-founders of the project.
His mother played an important role in shaping women’s rights in the Akron community and was a trend-setting professor at The University of Akron. She was an instrumental part in the formation of the women’s studies program at The University.
Here is a link to an article that ran in the Akron Beacon Journal on Nov. 24 talking about the event and everyone that attended. Also, Coach Dambrot took a few minutes out of his preparation for tonight’s Malone game to talk about his mother’s impact on the Akron community, The University and on his own life.
The Swedish 1-2 Punch...
By Jenny King, Women's Golf Head Coach (@ZipsCoachKing / @ZipsWGolf) Nov. 25, 2013, Women's Golf
I was lucky enough this summer to book my first international recruiting trip. For years, I had been recruiting players from other countries without stepping foot out of the United States. However, recruiting international players via the computer is getting harder and harder. The international players need more face time and the trend for coaches nationwide is to connect with those players1 to 2 times each summer at certain events. I felt it was time for me to make the leap and I chose to take my first international recruiting trip to Sweden.
During my assistant coaching days at the University of Kentucky, I was trained heavily by the head coach to learn the junior golf system in Sweden and ever since then, my main focus has typically been on those golfers. Upon starting the program here at The University of Akron in 2007, one of the first people to sign with our program was a player from Sweden, Hanna Ek. Hanna visited campus, saw everything Akron had to offer and the rest was history. She ended up being one of our program's best players and overall best people in our short existence.
Since then, we have added two other players from Sweden to the roster. They are currently serving as our very own Swedish 1-2 Punch! Sophomore Frida Fougberg came in as a freshman last year and would lead the team in almost every single event. She became our team MVP as a freshman and hasn't missed a beat since she returned for her sophomore season this past fall. Frida is getting some strong support, however, from her other Swedish teammate, freshman Lina Bengtsson. Lina's steady play as a freshman has been a big bonus for our team. She currently is leading the team with the lowest stroke average and after the fall slate she leads all MAC Freshmen with the lowest stroke average.
What makes both of these players special is not just their abilities with their ball striking or their short game, (of course they are very good in those categories or they wouldn't be top players on this team), but they also have something that many players do not: a level of mental toughness and mental maturity that you sometimes only see in your upper classmen. This is what makes them excel so early in their careers. It also can be contributed to the fact that they both are extremely consistent golfers. Consistency, throughout our entire roster, is something that our program is working towards achieving. It is the single most important thing that our program needs to become a factor in our conference championship and a top team in the country. The Swedish 1-2 punch is a great start!
Freshman Lina Bengtsson (left), head coach Jenny King (center) and sophomore Frida Fougberg (right) during Coach King's visit to Sweden last summer.
Sight seeing in Gothenburg, home of Frida and Lina. Picture
of the sailing ship Viking.
Education Day Gets a Gold Star...
By Dana LeRoy (@ZipsDana / @ZipsWBB) Nov. 13, 2013, Women's Basketball
Women’s Basketball hosted its first ever Education Day yesterday (Nov. 12) in conjunction with its home game against Tennessee Tech, and the event was huge success both on and off the court.
UA set a new school record for most points in a single game, defeating TTU by a score of 118-71, and over 430 fifth-grade students from Akron area schools were on hand to witness history.
Curriculum containing practical lessons in geography, reading, and statistics were mailed to the students weeks in advance to prepare them for the game. In addition to the gameday packets they received when they arrived at Rhodes Arena, some lucky students were also chosen to represent their schools as ball kids and guest announcers, reading the names of Akron’s starting five during pregame introductions.
The Zips’ Athletics marketing staff, along with volunteers from the College of Education and other student-athletes, volunteered their time to ensure that the young fans enjoyed their interactive educational experience.
Check out the news clips and photos below recapping the first successful Education Day! The women’s basketball program and marketing staff hope to establish this event as an annual tradition and grow the event in the seasons to come.
Akron Beacon Journal…
Fifth-graders get schooled at University of Akron women’s basketball game
AkronNewsNow.com (WAKR Radio)...
Watch Out for the Zips...
As Akron is set to begin regular season play at James A. Rhodes Arena this evening, it's no secret that the 2013-14 season will be another big one for the Zips. With the return of national assists leader Kacie Cassell, reigning MAC Player of the Year Rachel Tecca, and All-MAC selection Hanna Luburgh, the Zips have received a multitude of preseason accolades.
ESPN’s Graham Hays gave the Zips a fifth place nod in his Preseason Mid-Major Poll. Hays highlights last year's Tecca as Akron's player to watch, after she set Akron’s single-season scoring record in 2012-13.
Topping the list at number one was nationally-ranked Dayton, the Zips' Nov. 15 opponent, and fellow MAC team Central Michigan came in at number seven.
As the Zips are coming off their most successful season in program history, the Mid-American Conference is also set to be at its most competitive.
Akron joins five other MAC teams earning votes in CollegeInsider's Top-25 Mid-Major Poll. Toledo, Central Michigan, and Bowling Green are featured in the Top 25, while Akron received 16 votes. League foes Ball State and Buffalo also received nine and three votes, respectively.
In addition, the MAC released a preseason coaches poll of its own, and after receiving nine first place votes, Akron was project to repeat as the East Division champions. The Zips were followed by Bowling Green with three votes first-place votes. Central Michigan was the unanimous choice among the head coaches to win the West Division. Tecca and Luburgh were also tabbed as Preseason All-Conference players.
Though conference play is a little less than two months away, the Zips are set to begin competing tonight and aim to continue earning the attention of media, coaches, and fans across the country as the 2013-14 season gets underway. Tip-off for UA’s season opener against Florida Atlantic is set for 5:30 p.m. at the JAR.
Check out what head coach Jodi Kest had to say earlier this week about tonight’s game:
Coach Dambrot Returns to National Coaches Diary Series...
What's great about the blog is that it gives head and assistant coaches a chance to give fans across the country an inside look into their programs.
In his first entry of the season, Coach Dambrot talks about his Akron roots, the 2013-14 Zips and Akron's early schedule.
PNC Wagon Wheel Challenge Saturday...
Prior to this three-game slide, UA had won
three-straight and five-of-six meetings (2004-09), and this is the
longest KSU has retained possession of the wheel since winning nine
in a row from 1946 through 1954.
Softball in Fall Swing...
By Dana LeRoy (@ZipsDana /
@ZipsSB) Oct. 11, 2013, Softball
The Zips have been busy since school started, racking up wins in the offseason as they forge ahead in fall ball action.
Akron has gone 7-0 so far during its fall schedule, and although the games don’t count toward the spring season, head coach Julie Jones has been able to get a look at her team in a variety of different lineups.
Jones has guided UA to fall victories over Tiffin (7-1), California Pennsylvania (3-2), Cleveland State (3-1 and 5-4 in eight innings), Fairmont State (3-0), Hillsdale (6-1) and most notably, Ohio State (6-4 in nine innings).
Akron returns 13 letterwinners overall from last year’s squad and welcomed four newcomers – two freshmen and two transfers – for 2013-14. Right-handed pitcher Sara Pearson, a junior transfer from Memphis, has already made a big impact in the rotation, combining with MacKenzie Conrad to lead the Zips in the circle.
The Zips will wrap up their fall schedule on Saturday, Oct. 12 at noon when they host rival Kent State at Lee R. Jackson Field. The game also marks the kickoff of the Zips vs. Flashes Alumni Challenge, which both programs announced today.
Tomorrow wouldn’t be a bad day to enjoy the beautiful fall weather and take in some Zips softball!
The Tropical days of fall...
By Sam Baldwin (@ZipsSam / @ZipsBB) Oct. 10, 2013, Baseball
Hawaiian shirts of all different colors dotted Lee R. Jackson Field this afternoon as Akron baseball took the field for fall practice. To shake things up, the players decided to don their tropical gear for a beautiful day in Akron.
Akron baseball is preparing for the fast approaching Fall World Series, a five-game intrasquad series set to begin on Friday, Oct. 18 at 3 p.m. on Lee R. Jackson Field. Prior to the beginning of the Series, the Zips will have an exhibition contest against the Toronto Mets, which is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 14 at 3 p.m.
Tailgating food is something to cheer
They should rename the sport foodball.
To prove this point, look no further than the tailgate parties at the University of Akron's InfoCision Stadium.
Dambrot relishes "old school approach”
By: Jonathan Cooper, ESPN.com, Oct. 4, 2013, Men's Basketball
The following Q&A with men's basketball head coach Keith Dambrot ran on October 2 on ESPN.com (link).
The University of Akron basketball team held its first practice of the 2013-'14 season last Friday. Led by 54-year-old coach Keith Dambrot, a 1982 graduate of the school, the two-time defending Mid-American Conference regular-season champions—only the third team in 30 years to earn that honor—personify that dangerous mid-major that flies under the radar, ready to pounce on an unassuming powerhouse foe. For the last eight seasons, Akron has won at least 20 games, one of 15 teams nationwide to do so. With Dambrot at the helm, it's the third-longest active streak of 20-win seasons among mid-major coaches (in 2004-'05 the team just missed the cut, winning 19). Last season, Dambrot earned MAC Coach of the Year after leading his alma mater to a school-record 26 wins, to MAC regular season and tournament championships, and to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years and the third time in five (the school has a total of four NCAA Tournament appearances). Ironically, the Zips were eliminated by VCU, which is coached by Shaka Smart, Dambrot's assistant at Akron from 2003 through '06. Akron knows what it has in Dambrot, who signed a 10-year contract in 2012, andreceived a one-year extension last month, taking him through the 2022-'23 season. A day before that first practice, Dambrot took time to talk with ESPN Events, touching on the tradition of Akron basketball, and the opportunity to play in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.
Q: As you head into the first day of practice for
2013-'14, what's your mindset?
Q: Do you see an advantage in the NCAA's the new rules
allowing more days to practice, even if the number of hours remains
Q: You need to replace Zeke Marshall, the MAC's
Defensive Player of the Year and the school's all-time leading
shot-blocker. Who are you looking at to pick up the
Q: What's been the key to keeping Akron so successful
during your tenure?
Q: You have the most 20-win seasons and the most
consecutive 20-win seasons in school history. You're also the first
Akron coach to have this many consecutive 20-win seasons since Bob
Huggins coached the Zips. How do you see your place in school
Q: There are a lot of Akron alumni on the coaching
staff. As an alumnus, how important is it to bring back former Zips
who are familiar with the tradition?
Q: The Zips will play in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond
Head Classic (Dec. 22-25). How important is it for the program to
get exposure by participating in these early season
Q: Among your most successful assistants to move on to
major conference jobs is VCU head coach Shaka Smart. Did you know
he was going to be as successful a head coach as he's
Women's Soccer Light the Night Walk with LLS
By: Sam Baldwin (@ZipsSam / @ZipsWSOC), Sept. 24, 2013, Women's Soccer
The Akron women's soccer team recently held an event for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, following Sunday's home match, to bring awareness to the organization and help with the cause.
Senior Rachel Dennis, who was a major part of organizing the event, had this to say:
"The Akron Light The Night walk was a big success. All summer for my internship, the LLS employees worked hard on creating successful walks. I felt this was the perfect opportunity to get Akron women's soccer more involved with LLS than in previous years. We have a great group of girls here, and I knew in reaching out to my teammates that they would be interested. A lot of my teammates helped raise funds with the bake sale we hosted for the home opener. In the end, our walk team raised a little under $2,000 for LLS. I think for all the girls that walked it was an eye opening experience seeing the people who have survived cancer, and also seeing how passionate people are about the cause. I couldn't ask for a better group of girls to spend so much time with, and also a better organization like LLS to work with."
Head coach Vernon Croft was also able to meet Ava, a leukemia survivor, prior to the home opener on September 9 as a part of LLS Day at FirstEnergy Stadium - Cub Cadet Field.
Coach Croft said of the his team's involvement in the event, "I am extremely proud of our players, specifically Rachel, for their understanding that there is more to life than just the game. Each one of us either directly or within a person removed has been touched by cancer and possibly even as specific as a blood cancer, like Luekemia or Lymphoma. For our players to donate their time, money, and energies to help support such a wonderful group and help them increase awareness is just outstanding."
In other news, be sure to tune into tonight's men's soccer match against Ohio State, as Coach Croft will be a featured guest during the second half of the NSCAA.TV broadcast of the game. To view the broadcast tonight at 7 p.m., follow this link.
Sometimes it's about more than football at a football game ...
A Michigan Fan
Salutes the Zips
The following letter appeared in the Sept. 18 "Letters to the Editor" section of the Akron Beacon Journal.
I, like many Michigan fans, was complacent before the football game with the Akron Zips. We even seriously discussed leaving after the third quarter if the score was 50-0, and the third string team was playing.
I had the pleasure of attending the game with my two sons. What we were treated to was a game for the ages and great memories.
It was a testament to the Zips and their coaching, talent, execution and perseverance. A lesser team would have crumbled in the Big House. Instead, the offense owned the front line, having twice the rushing yardage of Michigan at halftime.
It seemed that the Michigan offense was often going the wrong way, as it was being pushed back by Akron. Except for a costly interception in the end zone and a pass interference call, the game could easily have gone the other way.
The composure the Akron offense showed executing the final two-minute drill was impressive. It was a great teachable moment with my sons, showing them the power of passion, dedication and teamwork.
I do not know when Michigan and Akron will meet again on the football field, but I hope to be there. I have the utmost respect for their kids and their football program.
The Big House has been home to many memorable and storied games. This ranks with the best of them.
The Turning Point is Upon Us
By: Dallas Moyer (@ZipsDallas), Sept. 16, 2013, Football
History tends to repeat itself...
How many times have you, as a college football fan, climbed out of bed on a Sunday morning and read about how a heavy favorite struggled and/or lost to a big underdog on Saturday the week following a big win? I've already lost count how many times it has already happened this season.
So the story came and went over the weekend as the Zips went into the "Big House" – the largest college football stadium in the nation and home to the program with the most all-time wins – and stood toe-to-toe with the No. 11/12 Wolverines.
The Zips out-played the Wolverines in many aspects, forcing four turnovers, holding UM to 30 percent in third-down conversion, etc. And when it came down to the end, a blitz on fourth-and-goal was the difference.
As Coach Bowden said today in his MAC Coaches Conference Call, "...rarely does a loss feel like a win, but this one does."
However, a loss is a loss. History may repeat itself, but history can also be changed. This team cannot be like the Wolverines and have a letdown following an emotional game.
So, what can we hope for this week?
We hope for a packed ZipsFest with fans on hand to welcome the football team when it arrives at 4 p.m. to face Louisiana.
We hope for InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field to be filled with an energetic, confident fan base, just like the team that took the field at practice today and that will take the field on Saturday.
We hope to see a team take the next step.
We hope to see the players carry the momentum and make a statement, a statement that can allow them to one day say: "I was there when this Akron Zips team took the program to the next level."
Coach Bowden talks about commitment when he talks about Zips football. Commitment to his players, to one another, to the program, to the university and to Northeast Ohio.
This team is committed to taking the next step...are you?
Fall Practice in Full Swing for Baseball
By: Sam Baldwin (@ZipsSam), Sept. 11, 2013, Baseball
Zips baseball is back on the diamond as the team started fall practices this week. On Monday, head coach Rick Rembielak spoke about the fall practices, his incoming players and the 2013 Fall World series coming up in October.
Rembielak has found two new coaches for the 2013-14 school year in pitching coach Kyle Smith and volunteer assistant coach Spencer Schmitz, who join assistant coach Fred Worth on the coaching staff. For continued information on the Zips during fall practice, follow the team on Twitter at @ZipsBB.
Where Did the Summer Go?
By: Men's Golf Head Coach David Trainor (@ZipsMGolf), Sept. 6, 2013, Men's Golf
It seems like just yesterday we finished up our 2012-13 season at the MAC Championship. The summer – which never felt like summer because it just never got that hot – flew by with the majority of my time being spent on the recruiting trail. With all of that being said, summer is over, the student-athletes are back and it is nice to have the campus buzzing again.
From a golf standpoint, we start the fall off the same every year. The guys come back, they have a plethora of meetings the first couple of days and then get to qualifying for the first tournament almost immediately. This year we played five rounds to determine the line up for the frst event. I laid out the stipulations for the qualifier before we started and let them get after it.
We finished the "qualifying tournament" earlier this week, and I must say it was great to watch. I let them play and all I did is watch. It gives me a chance to see who is sharp, who isn't, some strengths and weaknesses, as well as who likes the pressure of competition. I must say I saw a lot of great things this qualifier, and I am excited to get the year started. We leave today for Pawleys Island, S.C., and our first round of the year is Sunday, September 8th.
I will try to keep everyone updated on how we are doing through Twitter (@ZipsMGolf) after each round.
Thanks for everyone's support – GO ZIPS!
Zips In NYC...
By: Paul Warner, September 5, 2013, Men's
After playing in 90-degree weather last weekend in South
Carolina, weather conditions will be quite different when the Zips
take the pitch at No. 23 St. John's tomorrow night. With a true
Fall night projected in the forecast and an 8 p.m. ET kick off, it
will be a welcome break from last weekend's heat.
By: Dana LeRoy, September 5, 2013, Volleyball
The eve of the Akron Invitational is upon us!
For the 19th season in its 40-year history, Zips Volleyball is hosting its own non-conference invitational. Tennessee Tech, Niagara and Milwaukee are en route to Akron and the JAR for the tournament that starts tomorrow and continues through Saturday. The complete tournament schedule is below:
2013 AKRON INVITATIONAL
Akron is coming off a sweep of the SIUE Cougar Classic last weekend, where Alex Cocklin was named MVP and Mary Delich and Kelsey Wilson earned All-Tournament team accolades for the first time in their careers.
Jill Paluch also reached a career milestone, surpassng 1,000 digs. On a related note, there will be special presentation prior to the start of the Zips' 7 p.m. match against Niagara tomorrow night, you won't want to miss it!
The Zips getting in some last-minute practice for their home opener tomorrow
Coach Arenz will be a guest on Zips Live presented by Lee Hyder & Associates tonight to preview the tournament. The radio show airs live from Johnny J's in the Valley from 7 to 8 p.m. on 1350 AM (WARF). You can listen live here or come and join us for dinner at Johnny J's!
There is a lot of hype heading into this first #ZipsGameday on campus – we are hosting volleyball all day tomorrow, doubling down with volleyball and football's home opener on Saturday, capped off with women's soccer on Sunday.
Stay up-to-date with the action of all of our fall sports through our Twitter accounts and GoZips.com!
A Letter to My Team...
By: Women's Golf Head Coach Jenny King (@ZipsCoachKing), Sept. 5, 2013, Women's Golf
Each year I write my team a letter and include it in our team handbook. Usually this letter encompasses a common theme that we need to focus on to be successful and to reach our goals individually and as a team.
This year we will do our best to focus on ACCEPTANCE on the golf course. Choosing the positive outlook on each shot, each hole, each round, instead of focusing on results only, will get us closer to where we want to be as a team. Below is this year's letter.
Welcome Back Ladies!
It is good to have everyone back and, as usual, I'm very excited to get started this year!
One of the highlights of summer for me was watching the Solheim Cup. Nothing like great team competition on the golf course to get me ready for our season! Now, if you were keeping up with the competition at all, you know that Team Europe retained the Cup in dominating fashion.
One of the stars for Team Europe that week was Solheim Cup rookie, a 17-year-old Brit, Charley Hull. Hull handled the LPGA veteran Paula Creamer easily, winning her singles match 5 and 4. The young Hull played each of her matches with great ease and she said she rarely felt nervous...
"I'm not going to die if I hit a bad shot. Just hit it, find it and hit it again," Hull said in an interview after her singles match against Creamer.
At 17 years old, Hull overcame one of the biggest obstacles we all face in the game of golf: FEAR. She overcame fear with ACCEPTANCE. Even the professionals do not hit perfect shots.
Consider this scenario: You are on the first tee of a big tournament. There is a gallery and you are nervous. You step up to the tee, go through your routine and top the ball into the rough in front of the tee. How do you respond?
Now think about it this way: You are on the first tee of a big tournament. There is a gallery and you are nervous. You step up to the tee, go through your routine and top the ball into the rough in front of the tee. You go on to shoot a 68 and win the tournament. How do you respond to the bad shot now? (via Fred Shoemaker, Extraordinary Golf)
If you knew that one bad shot would not affect the outcome of your round in a negative way, would that shot bother you? Probably not! Can you choose the correct attitude on the golf course instead of being reactive to results? YES!
Let's hold our heads high and act like champions! LET'S GO ZIPS!
I hope you enjoy this inside look at our Women's Golf Program here at The University of Akron! We are looking forward to representing the Zips with positive attitudes and confidence this weekend at the Golfweek Program Challenge in Pawleys Island, S.C.
New Rifle Member Succeeds at NRA Championships...
By: Sam Baldwin, September 3, 2013, Rifle
The 2013-14 Zips rifle season is just about a month away from the opener at the Mid-Atlantic Conference Open in Annapolis, Md., on Oct. 6. The team brings back 11 members of the 2012-13 roster, while also adding six newcomers.
One of the newest members of Zips rifle, sophomore Matthew Chezem, has already made a name for himself outside of shooting in the collegiate ranks. This summer, Chezem finished second in the nation at the NRA National Smallbore Rifle Championships.
Shooting Sports USA recently published an in-depth article about the Championships, which can be seen here on page 27. Matthew is a strong addition to an Akron rifle team that looks to defend it MAC Smallbore Championship for the third year in a row.
As Things Change, They Stay The Same...
By: Paul Warner, August 31, 2013, Men's
With a new head coach and a number of new faces on the team, its
was the same dominating brand of Akron Soccer that we have been
accustomed to in the Zips' 2-0, season-opening victory at the
College of Charleston last night. UA out-shot the Cougars 23-5
overall and 11-3 on-goal to earn its first W of the year and secure
the first victory of what will likely be many in the Akron head
coaching career for longtime assistant Jared Embick.
It was also great to see all the support from our incredible
network of current professional players following the match.
It will be a quick turnaround for the Zips this weekend however
as the team will have just one day to recover and prepare for
Furman Sunday. Then they take the field against the Palladins, they
will see a familiar face in senior midfielder Martin Ontiveros, who
appeared in 12 matches as a true freshman at Akron during the 2010
NCAA National Championship season.
After a late breakfast this morning, the team went back to the
practice field for a stretch and light training. During the
session, which lasted approximately an hour and 15 minute session,
assistant coach Carl Capellas, who may have the most energy of
anyone I've ever met, got in the goal box to take on some of the
coaches in a 1v1. Check out Coach Capellas' keeper skills in the
Zips Eager To Begin Season...
By: Paul Warner, August 30, 2013, Men's
Just got back from today's light training session and stadium
walk through. The team is looking sharp and itching to get the year
started. Here are a couple snap shots from this morning.
Soccer Central At The Sleep Inn...
By: Paul Warner, August 30, 2013, Men's
College soccer season is here. If that wasn't already apparent,
we were all reminded of it this morning as the team went down to
the breakfast area only to find women's teams from Jacksonville
State and Canisius, who will be competing at at tournament hosted
by The Citadel this weekend, already enjoying their meals. With
student-athletes spilling out into the lobby and food disppearing
by the second, the coaches turned to Plan B. Bagel run!