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A Look Back and Forward - My First Year with the Pack

A message from athletics director Doug Knuth:

As I approach the end of my first year as a member of the Pack, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the year and share some observations. Many of these observations will not be surprising to you because you are invested in Wolf Pack Athletics and you have known for many years what I am experiencing for the first time. For some fans reading this note you may be surprised at the clarity of our mission, the scope of our relationships in the community, or the size of the challenges to build the program we all want. 

 

In most organizations the ability to achieve success is determined by the quality of the people who make up the organization - internally and externally. We have great people who are focused on the mission of Wolf Pack Athletics - to serve and support the educational mission of the University of Nevada, Reno.  Our coaches and staff are educators, advisors, mentors and guidance counselors to the talented students who are preparing for life through the many lessons learned in sport and higher education.  Our coaches are committed to serving our students by providing opportunities for achievement - in academics and athletics - while engaging our campus and our community in a meaningful way. We are thankful for the opportunity to serve our student athletes as they pursue their academic and athletic dreams.

 

We enjoy great support from the Governor's Office, the Washoe County Commissioner's Office, the Mayor's offices of Reno and Sparks and surrounding communities, city/town councils and school districts throughout Northern Nevada. Wolf Pack Athletics is partnering with civic leaders and public service organizations to promote and grow our shared interests in serving the people of Nevada.

 

I am grateful for the active support of the NSHE Board of Regents, the Chancellor's Office, President Marc Johnson, our campus-wide senior administration, the Deans/Directors and the faculty/staff at the University.  There is wide support for intercollegiate athletics across campus and a shared understanding of the important community engagement opportunities that successful athletics can provide. This extends to our student body as represented by leaders in the Blue Crew, ASUN, Greek System, Residence Halls, recreation/club sports and others who proudly support the Pack.  On this campus we are a team focused on growing the University and supporting our students.  We are a united campus focused on student success.

 

I am grateful for the generous support of our business community and the efforts of EDAWN, RSCVA, Chamber of Reno-Sparks-Northern Nevada, and countless business leaders who are focused on reviving and rebuilding our economy together.  Wolf Pack Athletics is engaged on many levels with the local business community to support this effort and create synergies among our mutual interests.  We are making progress every day and I'm thrilled to play a role in supporting our business community.

 

Lastly, I am grateful to our community for their enduring support.  The many community-based Foundations and donors to Wolf Pack Athletics and the individuals who buy tickets to attend games are the life-blood of our program.  I love meeting people who share stories of 10, 20, 30 or more years of supporting the Pack through the Pack Educational Fund or buying season tickets.  I hear stories of great teams and sometimes forgotten seasons and through it all these fans remain faithful to the Pack.  I hope to share these stories in the future and honor the many people who make this One Community, One Pack.

 

The future of Wolf Pack Athletics is bright and full of both hope and opportunity, yet we have enormous challenges to regain our competitiveness amid a tough Mountain West Conference. We must invest in our future if we expect to win and enjoy the positive glow of athletics success for our University and community. You undoubtedly remember the feeling of the 2010 football season.  Why can't we do that again, what is stopping us?  Our student athletes are faced with decisions of commitment every day - how bad do you want it, what are you willing to do to get better, what is the sacrifice you are willing to make to win?  Even the most naturally gifted people in all walks of life talk about the commitment to be the best - the investment of time, money, practice and sacrifices they made to achieve. The same commitment applies to our desire to be among the best Athletic programs in the Mountain West.

 

Our challenges are embedded in four primary areas - facilities, performance/training, recruiting and retention. We have a list of facility needs that begins with updating Mackay Stadium, as well as building a University Fieldhouse indoor facility and tennis courts.  Our facility plan includes improvements, updates and construction in other areas too.  In terms of performance, we need to invest in proper nutrition by providing high performance foods which will lead immediately to improved athletic performance (I also believe academic performance can improve with proper nutrition). Most coaches will tell you the most important thing they do is recruiting - better athletes give you a better chance to win in all sports.  We need to commit additional dollars to recruiting so our coaches can do more in-person player evaluations, home visits, and scour the country to bring the best student athletes to our campus.  Lastly, retaining our best coaches will lead to long-term continuity, recruiting, player development and winning.

 

In the future we will be asking all Wolf Pack fans to make a commitment - just as our best athletes make a commitment to excellence, we need your commitment too. We will ask you to invest time, money and make sacrifices (you don't have to attend practice!) for the goal we all share. Your investment through ticket purchases, donations or sponsorship will provide our coaches the tools necessary to recruit the best and brightest students. Your investment will provide our students with the training resources they need to compete at the highest level in their sport. Your investment will create the program we all want.  Simply stated, we want to win - in the classroom and in competition.

 

In closing, a great friend of mine recently told me the secret to getting things done is inspiration more than motivation.  I am inspired by our students, our faculty, staff and coaches, and our community every day.  You inspire me to get things done that will change our world - to make a huge difference for our great University and our wonderful community.


My family and I love it here and we look forward to another great year of Wolf Pack Athletics.

Thank you for inspiring us and supporting Wolf Pack Athletics. I will be in touch again soon.

 

Go Pack!

 

Doug Knuth

Director of Athletics

University of Nevada

Reno, NV

775-682-6969

Lend Your Paws for the Cause

The following is from Tara Hawkins in our development office.

True Blue Volunteers are a group of passionate volunteers and current Pack Educational Fund members who are dedicated to raising money to support Nevada student-athletes. Volunteers do not have to be professional fundraisers to engage friends, family, and colleagues to support the Pack and help take us to the next level!
The purpose of the True Blue Volunteer Campaign is to seek new donors for scholarships and program support using volunteer relationships. The connections volunteers have in the community are invaluable and volunteers can make a difference in the fundraising efforts for the Pack. This year's campaign will run from May 5 to June 13.
Volunteers will be rewarded with 20 Wolf Pack Loyalty Points for their participation in this year's program. The volunteers who raise the most funds and who bring in the most donors will be rewarded.
Although being a volunteer will take time and effort (approx. 10 hours of your time), this program allows volunteers the opportunity to bring in new donors to our program and continue to strengthen the Pack!
If you are interested in lending your paws and becoming a True Blue Volunteer, please contact me at 775-682-6973 or at tarahawkins@unr.edu.


Happy Birthday: A Look Back at Alphie's 13 Years

Alphie for Blog.jpgSaturday, March 22 marks an important day for Alphie as the furry, lovable Wolf Pack mascot turns 13.

Nevada Athletics will throw Alphie a 13th birthday party at Saturday's baseball game when the Wolf Pack takes on Mountain West Conference foe Air Force. The party starts when the Peccole Park gates open at 1 p.m. There will be cake and cupcakes for the first 300 fans, and some of Alphie's mascot friends from around Reno will be in attendance. Alphie will throw out the first pitch prior to the game, and fans can join in singing to the Wolf Pack mascot.

Baseball tickets start as low as $6 for adults and $4 for youth/seniors and can be purchased at the gates or in advance at NevadaWolfPack.com.

With Alphie celebrating such a big milestone, we wanted to take a couple of minutes to look back on the highlights of Alphie's life so far:

March 22, 2001 - Checking in a whopping 347 pounds and 6 feet 1 inches tall, the bouncing baby wolf was born at 2:46 p.m. in Reno. Wolf Pack fans were very excited about his arrival and had a vote to pick his name. They decided on Alphie because he is the Alpha Wolf in the Nevada Wolf Pack.

Sept. 22, 2001 - Alphie saw his first football game at Mackay Stadium, cheering the Wolf Pack football team onto a 28-20 victory over Hawaii.
 
March 18, 2004 - Alphie made his first trip to the NCAA Tournament, traveling to Seattle with the Wolf Pack men's basketball team. It ended up being a long trip since he cheered the Wolf Pack all the way to the first Sweet Sixteen appearance in school history.

April 5, 2005 - One of the things on Alphie's bucket list came true when he was featured on CBS' "One Shining Moment" video after the 2005 national championship game. Alphie can be seen comforting his friend and former Wolf Pack standout Jermaine Washington at the 1:39 mark in the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7tr7aZbyI4

December 24, 2005 - 2005 ended with a bang for Alphie when he got to spend the holidays in paradise, joining the Wolf Pack football team at the Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu. He got the best Christmas present a mascot could ask for when the Wolf Pack edged out Central Florida in the thrilling 49-48 win.
 
April 14, 2007 - Alphie was on hand at Christina M. Hixson Park when Jordan McPherson threw the first no-hitter in Wolf Pack softball history, just 16 days after Nevada opened its gorgeous new softball field. McPherson walked the first batter she faced and then retired 15 straight in a 10-0 win over San Jose State. Luckily Alphie can't speak so he couldn't accidentally jinx the Wolf Pack by telling someone that they had a no-hitter going!
Summer 2007 -Alphie's life changed dramatically when his younger brother, Wolfie Jr., was born that summer, giving him a playmate to join him on the sidelines at all Wolf Pack games.

January 2010 - Alphie made a memorable trip to San Francisco when he joined the Wolf Pack football team at the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. He got to join the team in his first trip to Alcatraz and starred at a pep rally in Union Square. He then joined the 20,000+ Wolf Pack fans at AT&T Park in cheering the team to a victory over Boston College to cap off one of the best seasons in school history.

March 20, 2011 - Alphie got to cheer for the Wolf Pack women's basketball team as it hosted USC in the second round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament, the first postseason home game in school history. Alphie had a lot to cheer for that season as the Wolf Pack, led by all-conference selection Tahnee Robinson, won a school-record 22 games.

January 2, 2012 - Alphie had one of the proudest moments of his life when his little brother, Wolfie Jr., won the Capital One Mascot Challenge. It was announced that Wolfie had beaten out Buzz from Georgia Tech at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando. Fans cast more than 45 million votes in the Capital One Mascot Challenge that year and Alphie hoped that his parents would understand the overage charges on his cell phone since he had texted so many times to help his brother score the victory and $20,000 for the Nevada spirit program.

Fall of 2013 - Alphie's wolf pack grew by one more when his little sister, Luna, was born in this fall. Now Alphie has two sidekicks to share in his antics on the sidelines and help him cheer on all of the Wolf Pack's teams.

Stay tuned because after he has had so many great adventures in his first 13 years, you know the rest of Alphie's teenage years are going to be a blast!
 

Michael Allen wins again

It's turning out to be a pretty special year for Wolf Pack alum Michael Allen. In March, Allen notched the fifth win of his Champions Tour career, taking the title of the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic.
Last month, Allen was inducted into the Nevada Athletics Hall of Fame.
On Sunday, Allen brought home his fifth career Champions Tour win, beating Olin Browne in a playoff at the Greater Hickory Classic. Here's the story.

Boise State fans issue challenge to Nevada...

From our friends at the Food Bank of Northern Nevada...

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The Hunger Bowl strikes again for the Nevada- Boise State football game on Saturday, Oct. 19, at Bronco Stadium.  In addition to the food drive for the Idaho Food Bank that will take place at the game, Boise State has issued a challenge to Wolf Pack fans to compete in an online virtual food drive, to raise funds for hunger relief in both areas.   

Wolf Pack and Bronco fans anywhere can visit http://hungerbowl.org/virtual-food-drive and click on their team's logo to make a cash donation. All Wolf Pack donations will go to the Food Bank of Northern Nevada. All Boise State donations will be used for hunger relief in Idaho.  The Hunger Bowl challenge has started and is continuing through the end of  Saturday's game on October 19. 

Hunger is a very serious issue across the country and right here in Nevada.  One in four children in Nevada live in a home where there is not enough food for three meals per day, and one in five people in Nevada needs to seek food assistance to make ends meet.  Each dollar raised for the Food Bank of Northern Nevada can provide 3 meals to those who need them. 
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A Nevada graduate and former intern in the Media Services office in athletics, Katie Cavender received a promotion at the Mountain West this week.

MW Commissioner Craig Thompson announced the promotion of Cavender to Assistant Commissioner for Strategic Communications on Friday.

Now entering her seventh year with the Mountain West, Cavender will have sole managerial oversight of all aspects of the Conference website and social media outlets. She will play an integral role in the Mountain West Digital Network and continue to serve as a secondary media contact for MW football, as well as manage the league's publications.

Cavender, who was promoted to Director of New Media and Technology in July 2010, began her duties as Mountain West multimedia coordinator on August 16, 2007.  She earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nevada in 2005. While pursuing her degree, the Elko, Nev., native worked as a student assistant in the Wolf Pack athletics department, primarily in the areas of sports information, publicity and promotions. Following graduation, Cavender spent a year as a public relations intern with the Pacific-10 Conference, where she served as the primary media contact for baseball, men's and women's swimming and diving, and men's and women's tennis.

Cavender came to the Mountain West from the Boise State athletics department, where she was the assistant media coordinator for the 2006 MPC Computers Bowl and provided day-to-day support in facilities, game operations and planning. In June 2008, Cavender received her Master's of Education degree in intercollegiate athletic leadership from the University of Washington.


Hall of Famer John Polish Passes Away

Today, the 10 members of the Nevada Athletics Hall of Fame committee plan to meet to start selecting the next class of talented former student-athletes and coaches who will join that prestigious group this fall.

But as we prepare for that meeting, we learned this morning that a member of that prestigious Nevada Athletics Hall of Fame, John Polish, passed away on Monday at the age of 95.

John Polish was truly a legendary athlete in the state of Nevada, not just for his accomplishments as a football and track athlete at the University of Nevada from 1938-42. His exploits in high school were well-known and his lasting impact is still felt today as the top athlete at Yerington High School receives the John Polish Award. Below is a photo of Polish in action, carrying the ball in a 1940 game against BYU.

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Polish was a member of the second class inducted into the Nevada Athletics Hall of Fame in 1974. The press release at the time said this about him:

"Considered one of Nevada's top all-time high school athletes, John Polish entered the University of Nevada in the late 30s to star in football and track. Raised in Yerington, Nevada, Polish was a sensation at his high school. He was a super-gridder, good basketball player and did everything in track -- sprints, hurdles, weights, jumps. Although hampered at Nevada by injuries, Polish led the Wolf Pack in competition in the late 1930s. He was a hard-running halfback in football and a superb punter. In track, Polish won Far Western Conference titles in weights, jumps and hurdles."

After his college career was over, Polish went on to a career of public service, spending over 30 years as a teacher, principal and superintendent. He also served in the Nevada State Legislature. He continued to attend the yearly Nevada Athletics Hall of Fame Dinner when he could.

Dan Hinxman of the Reno Gazette-Journal wrote a great story on Polish in today's paper. Our condolences go out to Polish's friends and family.

What Sets Our Graduating Student-Athletes Apart

Nevada Athletics held its annual graduation reception at Legacy Hall today, and Wolf Pack Director of Athletics Doug Knuth, a former student-athlete himself, took some time to congratulate the 34 student-athletes who are finishing their collegiate careers.

Knuth - who played tennis at the University of Connecticut - explained to the student-athletes that being a football player or softball player at the University of Nevada will be something that defines them for the rest of their lives. He also told them that while the job market is tough, their experiences as student-athletes have given them skills that set them apart from their peers, including an understanding of hard work and teamwork, time management skills and a goal-driven focus.

He also took a moment to recognize the wide variety of majors that our graduates have, including swimmer Misha Fotoohi who is earning her degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. Others include biology, chemistry, civil engineering, communications, community health science, economics, English, environmental science, finance, general studies, human development and family studies, journalism, management, marketing, mathematics, mechanical engineering, nutrition, psychology and secondary education.

Congratulations again to all of the student-athletes who are heading out into the world - we hope you enjoyed watching them compete and grow as much as we did!

Here are just a few of our graduates from the reception today (L to R): Christina Gough & Kayla Williams (women's basketball), Keith Fuetsch (men's basketball), Stephen Jeffers (football), Gabby Guieb, Kaitlin Sartini & Chelsey Larsen (women's swimming & diving):

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Wolfie Jr. Takes the Plunge

On March 23, Nevada's own Wolfie Jr. went where few of his furry colleagues dare to go... into Lake Tahoe.

Wolfie Jr. joined about 300 of his closest friends, including several members of the Pride of the Sierra Marching Band, in the Polar Plunge Nevada, an event that raised awareness about Special Olympics Nevada.

Wolfie Jr Polar Plunge.jpgMore great photos of this event can be found on the Special Olympics Nevada Flickr page.

And Wolfie and the band even found time to take part in a Tahoe version of the Harlem Shake.

Special Olympics Nevada provides free year-round sports training and competition to over 3,000 athletes in the state. More information about the organization can be found by clicking here.

Inaugural Chili Cook-Off a big success

Holly Aycock, Nevada's director of marketing and promotions, recaps the Chili Cook-Off:
The inaugural Wolf Pack Chili Cook-Off was held before 2013 Wolf Pack Silver and Blue Spring Game, presented by Saint Mary's Regional Medical Center, on Saturday, April 20th.  Nine groups entered the chili cook off: Team Roberts; Moto Mud; The Hot Beans; Big Thick Steaming Bowl of Wolf Brand Chili; Battle Born, Tailgate Ready; Aultitude Tailgating; Wolf Pack Gridiron Chili; Spring Loaded Chili; and Nevada Cheer.

The morning of the Chili Cook-Off, you could smell chili in the air and before the judging, the Nevada Band and Cheer Team entertained all the tailgaters. Judges for the Chili Cook-Off were Keith Hackett and Rory Hickok (Senior Associate Athletics Directors), head soccer coach Missy Price, head volleyball coach Ruth Lawanson, News Channel 4's Alyx Sacks, Wolfie Jr. and Alphie. Each of the chili was judged on aroma, consistency, color, taste and aftertaste. All of the judges did a great job and enjoyed everyone's chili. 

The scores were tabulated and all contestants were invited down to the field at halftime of the game. The winner by just one-half of a point, was Battle Born, Tailgate Ready. Spring Loaded Chili took second place and Moto Mud was third place.

Battle Born, Tailgate Ready was presented the ultimate chili trophy to be displayed at their tailgates before every home football game.  The title also comes with bragging rights for your fellow Wolf Pack tailgaters.