Former Nevada coach headlines Boys and Girls Club Dinner

By Nick Beaton
Social Media Intern for Nevada Athletics and PR Coordinator for Boys and Girls Club of Mason Valley

Last Saturday, in a night that had constant feelings of appreciation, joy and reflection, Boys & Girls Clubs of Mason Valley honored their youth, volunteers and other members of the community in a packed gymnasium at their annual Youth of the Year ceremony. The ceremony kicked off with the singing of the National Anthem by local youth Tierra Marshall. Former Nevada football coach Chris Ault then took the stage as the keynote speaker.
Ault spoke about his experiences as a player and coach in dealing with adversity and how to get done what needs to get done. He brought up his first coaching stint with Nevada, and all the hard work and dedication it took to move up the rankings and through the lower divisions until finally the Wolf Pack was playing Division I football. Through it all, Ault said, one thing remained important.
"Our youth were always the focus," Ault said.
He also spoke about what a wonderful thing it was to see a community, like Reno, rally around a cause.
Throughout the night, the audience heard speeches from each of the seven Youth of the Year candidates, including Matt Phillips, Tommy Crowder, Jeffrey Valladares, Carlos Rodrigues and Shawn Spurlock from Yerington and Ashley Keith and Yerith Anaya from Silver Springs. Each member talked about struggles in their lives, such as experiences with suicide and divorce, and how the Club helped them to find some stability and support. The Youth of the Year candidates also spoke about their accomplishments and the impact they believe Boys & Girls Clubs can have on youth nationwide.
Various awards were also given throughout the night, including the Great Futures Start Here award, given to owners Leo Bergin, Pam Peri and David Peri of Nevada Fresh Pak, and the Champion of Youth Award, given to Lyon County School District Superintendent Keith Savage.
As the ceremony came to a close, Valladeres was announced as the 2015 Youth of the Year. He walked to the stage as the room stood up, and approached the podium with tears of joy.
"This is such an honor," Valladeres said. "I truly do love this Club."
Valladeres will represent the Club in Carson City at the Governor's Mansion on February 11 in the state competition.

Christenson earns spot in World Cup rifle competition

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RENO, Nev. - Dempster Christenson a former member of the University of Nevada rifle team has earned a spot on the United States World Cup team.  The World Cup will be held in Changwon, Korea in April.

The selection match was held at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. and determined the competitors for three-position and prone rifle.  Christenson will compete in both events at the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) World Cup in Korea, April 8-16.  It also serves to help determine the smallbore rifle teams at the World Cups in Fort Benning, Ga. and Munich, Germany in May.

The four ISSF World Cups and the Pan American Games are the remaining opportunities for athletes to earn quota slots for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Christenson from Sioux Falls, S.D. finished second in three-position and third in prone.  In the three-position he finished 20 points back with a score of 2351.  In the prone event his score of 1257.4 earned him third.

Photo credit: Kris Mychasiw

University of Nevada track & field freshman Katherine Surin squared off yesterday afternoon in a friendly 30m race against her father, Bruny Surin.

On the surface it might seem like a piece of cake for Katherine, but her father Bruny is no pushover in the world of track & field. In the 1996 Olympic Summer Games, held in Atlanta, Ga., the elder Surin won a gold medal for Team Canada as part of the 4x100-meter relay team, which remains as Canada's only gold medal in the event. He is also the Canadian 60m and 100m record holder and was elected into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.

His daughter, Katherine, is about to begin her first collegiate track & field season with the Wolf Pack when Nevada kicks off the indoor schedule next weekend at the Ed Jacoby Invitational in Nampa, Idaho.

Find out which Surin earned bragging rights by following this link:

Dear Wolf Pack Fans:

Happy 2015!  On behalf of our nearly 400 student-athletes, coaches and staff, please accept my best wishes for a wonderful New Year.

As we quite literally turn the page on a new year in our calendar and begin a new academic semester on campus, I wanted to peek backward for a brief opportunity to share some really good news from the recently completed fall semester.

In addition to beating UNLV in football and bringing the Fremont Cannon back to the north for all Nevada fans to enjoy, we enjoyed success in another important area that you should have great pride in knowing. 

During the fall semester, our teams earned a collective grade-point average (GPA) of 3.019 on a 4.0 scale. That's a B average for all 400 student-athletes. Our athletic successes are readily evident. It's important to recognize our academic successes as well and I believe these results show the effort and dedication of our student-athletes in the classroom.

The results are highlighted by:
  • -    3.207 GPA for all women's teams
  • -    2.849 GPA for all men's teams
  • -    Five teams with a 3.0 GPA or better: Women's basketball, women's cross country, women's golf, women's swimming and diving and rifle. Five additional teams with a 2.9 GPA: Baseball, men's tennis, softball, women's soccer and women's tennis
  • -    177 students (44% of all student athletes) earned a 3.0 GPA or better - every sport had at least two students with this GPA
  • -    16 students earned a perfect 4.0 GPA - represented in these sports: Women's swimming and diving (4 students), women's track and cross country (4), baseball (2), rifle (2), women's basketball, women's golf, softball and football
Congratulations to our student-athletes, coaches and staff who worked so hard this semester to earn these results.

We are grateful to the academic leadership across campus. At all levels of this university we enjoy great support.  We are united in our efforts to promote student success - in the classrooms, libraries, residence halls, student support services, admissions and financial aid and many other areas of campus.  Many thanks to our faculty and staff for supporting the Pack and helping students pursue success.

We are thankful for the great support of Wolf Pack fans as well. Your support through ticket purchases and donations helps to make these results possible. You are helping us grow the program and we are grateful. We are in need of additional support in purchasing laptops and funding important summer school classes - please let me know if you or your company is interested in making a tax deductible contribution to help make this possible for these talented students.

Lastly, our continuing gratitude to the many families who helped fund and build the Marguerite Wattis Petersen Academic Center - a facility which continues to add tremendous value to Wolf Pack Athletics every day.

Happy New Year Wolf Pack Nation!

Former University of Nevada track & field student-athlete Landis Hanson passed away on Dec. 16 at the age of 51.

Hanson attended Nevada on a track & field scholarship and was a decathlete for two years, eventually becoming a team captain. A native of Reno, Hanson was a track & field standout at Hug High School, as well, setting records in the hurdle and won a Nevada state championship in hurdles his senior year.

For the past four years, Hanson had been a volunteer track coach at Damonte Ranch High School. Prior to that, he volunteered at Hug, Reno High School and Spanish Springs High School.

Hanson graduated from Nevada in 1989 with a degree in pre-med. In 1990 he obtained a degree as a medical laboratory scientist and was employed at Reno VA Medical Center from 1990-2014.

A memorial service for Hanson will be held at 2 p.m. Jan. 11 at St. Luke's Lutheran Church, 3835 Lakeside Drive, Reno.

Tonight's Wolf Pack basketball game will feature "Kindness Minute"

From Brian Williams, Nevada alum and founder of Think Kindness:

During the Nevada men's basketball game against Cal State Fullerton tonight, Wolf Pack fans will be asked to partake in the first ever 'Kindness Minute.' Nevada cheerleaders will run throughout the stands for 60 seconds asking fans to give loose change and donations into megaphones. All proceeds will go towards the purchase of toys for Toys For Tots.

The Kindness Minute is an initiative put forth by the University of Nevada's Cheer4Kindness team, which challenges cheerleaders from across the United States to carry out community acts of Kindness.

"It went from a coffee shop table side chat, to a social media post, to over 2,300 cheerleaders signing up across the country within the past 4 weeks," said Kim Anastasaatos, Nevada's head cheer coach. "When we work together, big things can happen."

The University of Nevada cheerleaders are now inspiring teens from across the country to cheer through their actions, not just their words. Today, the challenge will be passed onto Pack fans to ban together, donate loose change and carry out one single but powerful act of kindness.

Think Kindness is a local non-profit that inspires measurable acts of kindness in schools and communities around the country. Funds raised tonight will be used to purchase toys for children throughout Washoe County.

"Thousands of people doing one simple act of kindness will, in turn, impact hundreds of children in our community, in just 60 seconds," said Brian Williams, the founder of Think Kindness. "From a dime to a dollar, we will make a ripple of good in our community this holiday season. Kindness has no boundaries, especially at a Nevada basketball game!"

The Cheer4Kindness & Think Kindness team will be filming a video to showcase the impact every donor made in our community.

"We will show the act of kindness go full-circle," said Williams.

Tip-off for the game is 7 p.m. at Lawlor Events Center. 

Dear Wolf Pack Fans,

I have some exciting news to share with you as earlier today, our Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Board of Regents gave approval to our plan to make some necessary upgrades and additions to Mackay Stadium.

We are grateful to President Marc Johnson, the senior leadership of the University and the NSHE Board for their support throughout the planning and approval process.

These changes are long overdue and the heart of the project centers around you, our fans. We want to improve the condition and safety of our stadium. We want to raise the level of the fan experience in our stadium. We want to make Mackay Stadium a destination on Saturdays in the fall for our community here in Northern Nevada.

For nearly three years, our team here has developed this project, working directly with fan focus groups and analyzing data collected in fan surveys. Ever since my arrival, I've listened to your feedback about the gameday environment at Mackay Stadium and heard a familiar message - the stadium needs improvement. We have a great stadium but we were not meeting the expectations of fans.

The result was the proposal that was approved today to enhance the safety, comfort and enjoyment for Wolf Pack fans. We will widen the aisles and add handrails for safety. We will move our ADA seating to a more prominent and accessible location while increasing the number of spaces for wheelchairs.  In seven sections of our stadium, we will remove the metal bleacher seating and add more comfortable chairback seating. We will add more seating and hospitality options with an indoor stadium club, club seats and loge boxes. And lastly, we will expand the eastside suites to include a patio area for indoor and outdoor seating.

For season ticket holders in the lower east and west sides of the stadium, the new seating areas and amenities will result in some changes to your particular seating area at the stadium. Our goal and the bulk of our work leading up to the 2016 season will be to keep fans in similar seats and sitting with the people they want to sit with at games.

We know you are eager to hear more about the changes coming to Mackay and we know you may have questions about the project. Over the next two months, our team will be fine-tuning the project and ironing out the final details. In February, we want to be able to share with you the final plans, answer your questions and begin implementing the renovation process.

As we go through the renovation process we will be communicating with season ticketholders via mail, email and phone.  You can ensure we have your correct contact information by calling (775) 348-PACK.  If you are not a season ticketholder, you can register to receive more information by clicking here or by calling (775) 348-PACK.

Exciting times are ahead and I hope you share in our enthusiasm for the future of Mackay Stadium and Wolf Pack Athletics.

Go Pack!

Doug Knuth

Wolf Pack Fans, Reward Yourself and the Team

A letter from Nevada athletics director Doug Knuth ...

Wolf Pack Fans - Reward Yourself and the Team

What if we could watch the great Colin Kaepernick, or the legendary Frank Hawkins, don a Wolf Pack jersey and play one more game in Mackay Stadium?  Would you be there to see one of the all-time greats play again?  Most of us would do almost anything for that opportunity. You wouldn't miss that opportunity - weather forecast or game time be damned.

Well here we are with that opportunity, but instead of Kaepernick or Hawkins, we have one of the all-time greats in Cody Fajardo and his teammates Brock Hekking, Kendall Brock, Matt Galas, Jonathan McNeal, Charles Garrett and many other memorable Wolf Pack players (the full list follows below). This team is on the doorstep of winning the Mountain West Conference West Division and can take an important step in that direction Saturday night.  

So I say reward yourself and your family - come to Mackay Stadium on Saturday to see some great players and help the team take a step toward a championship.  This is a lasting memory you don't want to miss.  We have one more chance to say thank you, to recognize their efforts this season, to reward the team with a big ovation.  One more time to celebrate a big victory at Mackay.  

Speaking of saying thank you - I'll close this short message with this thought.  We have 15 senior football players, 5 senior cheerleaders and 20 senior members of the band - these young men and women work their tails off to represent our University and our community.  On Saturday night at Mackay Stadium we get ONE LAST CHANCE to say thank you to these wonderful students.

As I said before, weather forecast and game time be damned, I hope you will join us on Saturday night to recognize one of the great quarterbacks in school history, celebrate the accomplishments of our senior student athletes, cheer and band members, and celebrate an important victory for the Pack over a tough Mountain West Conference Divisional rival.

You can buy your tickets by calling (775) 348-PACK or online anytime at

Thank you and Go Pack!

2015 Senior Football Players
Kendall Brock
Devin Combs
Cody Fajardo
Evan Favors
Matt Galas
Charles Garrett
Nigel Haikins
Jordan Hanson
Brock Hekking
Gabe Lee
Nate McLaurin
Jonathan McNeal
Kyle Roberts
Dupree Roberts-Jordan
Richy Turner

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The morning after defeating the Academy of Art, 74-51 in an exhibition contest, the University of Nevada women's basketball team came straight back to Lawlor Events Center bright and early Saturday morning to host a free skills clinic. The Wolf Pack coaching staff and student-athletes ran the clinic from 9 a.m. to noon for girls in grades 1-8, with about 70 girls in attendance. Drills included shooting, passing, dribbling, defense, among others and all participants received a free t-shirt.
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Longland Takes on Medical School Next

Former Wolf Pack swimmer Nikki Longland is in her first year of medical school in the University of Nevada's School of Medicine.

She joins a long list of former Wolf Pack student-athletes who have gone on to professional schools. Most recently, Nevada has seen Shavon Moore (women's basketball), Jacob Anderson (baseball) and Katie Lyons (skiing) go on to medical school, Alex Borcherts (women's golf) enroll in nursing school and Meghann Morill (rifle) and Kimberly Medina (swimming) enter law school just to name a few.

A local product from Sparks, Longland earned her bachelor's degree in biology in May of 2014. She competed in numerous events for the Wolf Pack swimming team during her career including the backstroke and breaststroke disciplines as well as the medley and medley relay events. An academic all-conference honoree, she won Nevada's Give Back Like Jack Community Service Award in 2014 for her dedication for giving back to the community. She is a certified emergency medical technician (EMT) and volunteered more than 350 hours in the Northern Nevada Medical Emergency Room and more than 60 hours as a volunteer in the Student Outreach Clinic on campus.

We recently caught up with Longland to talk about entering medical school and how her athletics experience will help her in her career endeavors.

Q: What are your ultimate career goals?
A: My ultimate career goal is to become the best physician that I can be. I'm not quite sure what field I want to go into yet. But, for whatever field I eventually chose, I want to be somewhere that I can help patients and enjoy work every day.

Q: When did you decide that you wanted to pursue medical school?

A: At the end of my freshman year of college I saw medicine as a potential field that I may be interested in.  I began volunteering in an emergency room and I became an EMT. These experiences made me realize how interesting and fun I found medicine to be, and I decided during my sophomore year that I wanted to become a physician.

Q: What did you do this summer to prepare (or to take a break from school)?

A: I prepared for medical school this summer by taking a complete mental and physical break. I spent a lot of time with my family and did some traveling. This break made me really excited to start school, and I think it was the best way to prepare for the next four challenging years.

Q: What do you think will be the most difficult part about your first year in medical school?
A: I think that the most difficult part of my first year will be adjusting to being just a student. I will need to put all of my time and energy into school, where previously I had always had multiple things to focus on. I am used to thinking about school, swimming, volunteering, and everything else. This will be the first time that I can put all of my work into school.

Q: How do you feel like your background as a high-level swimmer will help you as you pursue high-level post-graduate work?

A: There are so many ways that swimming has prepared me to be a better medical student. I have learned how to best manage my time. Also, the dedication, hard work and toughness that swimming required have taught me how to not only push though hard situations but to thrive in them. And it has also taught me that people are capable of much more than they ever thought they could be. I was always surprised at the end of a season at how much my teammates and I could accomplish. This has shown me that I can do more than I give myself credit for.

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