Monday, November 21, 2011

To Honor A Career

Before I move on to the business portion of this post, I must first extend heartfelt congratulations to my two fall sports for fine 2011 seasons.

Although the players might still feel some immediate disappointment following a one-goal loss at UC San Diego in Sunday's Western Water Polo Association title game, the men's water polo team deserves some props. The Aggies were selected third in the conference's preseason poll, yet they unseated four-time defending champions Loyola Marymount to advance to the championship game for the third time in five years. Furthermore, UC Davis won 22 games to tie the school record set four years ago. All in all, that's a season to be proud of.

The women's volleyball team ended its season on a high note, sweeping Pacific in three sets on Saturday. The victory was a proper sendoff for the program's two seniors, who combined for .567 hitting for the night. One senior, team co-captain Betsy Sedlak, even scored the winning point in each of the three sets. Although the Aggies suffered some losses they probably wish they could have back, they still enjoyed an outstanding year: 21 wins (the most since 1996) and five weeks of votes toward the AVCA Top 25 poll. I'll never stop singing the praises of head coach Jamie Holmes for the way she has transformed this program, and the 2011 year serves as another example of its turnaround.

Incidentally, if anyone wonders why I left the Causeway Classic football game midway through the fourth quarter, that's why. I listened to Colton Silveria's 66-yard run and Sean Kelley's game-sealing field goal while on Highway 50, grabbed the news of the water polo win as I arrived at my house in Davis, then worked the volleyball match that night. A good Saturday, I'd say.

So to seniors Luke Collins, Katie Denny, Walter Eggert, Ryan Hagens, Kevin Peat, Aaron Salit and Betsy Sedlak, congratulations both on your Aggie careers and for your great final seasons.

* * * * *

As always, I use the week of the Thanksgiving holiday to send out a reminder to the athletics staff and coaches that the nomination deadline for the Cal Aggie Athletics Hall of Fame is November 30. Of course, that email casts a relatively narrow net -- anyone is able and encouraged to submit nominations for the CAAHOF awards program.

First, here are a few links to have handy: 

The roster of CAAHOF enshrinees. Check out who has gone in during induction ceremonies past. Get an idea of the high bar required for induction, then think of others who you believe have cleared it.

The CAAHOF/Aggie Legacy selection criteria. You probably know the gist of the award; this link will provide the specifics. Some of the requirements can be a tad quirky, so I'll do my best to pick out some of the more confusing ones later in this blog post.

The CAAHOF nomination form. Fill out this form when submitting someone for the Student-Athlete, the Non-Participant (e.g. coaches, staff, administrators) or Special Recognition Awards (volunteer service to UC Davis athletics).

The Aggie Legacy Award nomination form. Use this form for submitting an individual for UC Davis athletics' newest honor. It's fairly similar to the CAAHOF form, only it focuses on the postcollegiate honors. The "main" Hall of Fame honors what a candidate did as an Aggie, with little bearing on what he/she has done since.

Year-by-year athletics recaps. I built this simple page of links a few years ago to help someone do a quick research project, but I've kept it since. These are the year-in-review reports that I create each June (then update as awards come in). If you're not sure exactly what your candidate accomplished, this is a fantastic resource. It lists major awards (e.g. All-America, conference MVP, Player of the Week) plus school records (game, season or career) and key milestones and achievements. The list goes back to 1999-2000, which was my first full year as a full-time sports information director. If you need information for a student-athlete who participated prior to 1999, either consult that sport's media guides or shoot me an email -- I can often point you in the right direction if I don't have such info immediately handy.

And here are a few key points to know, mostly because they have been common sources of confusion in years past:

A student-athlete being submitted for the 2011-12 induction class must have completed in his/her final contest on or before November 30, 2006. The five-year rule is fairly standard for sports-related halls of fame. Thus, the seniors from the 2005-06 school year or the 2006 fall season are the newly eligible athletes.

A candidate for the Non-Participant who is no longer employed by the university is eligible immediately. Yes, the standard five-year rule applies to those still working for UC Davis in another capacity. But if a coach or administrator retires and separates (human resources jargon) from the university, he or she can be submitted right then and there. This is probably the most misunderstood rule of any.

A candidate need not have graduated from UC Davis to earn induction. While we of course would like all of our student-athletes to have earned their degrees, this is not a dealbreaker for CAAHOF induction so long as the student-athlete made meaningful progress toward a degree while enrolled at UC Davis. The purpose of this rule is to allow consideration for student-athletes who were certainly on their way to their degrees before unusual circumstances interrupted their education.

A CAAHOF nomination is good for a two-year period. This relatively new policy has streamlined the nomination process both for those submitting candidates and for the selection committee. To require fans to resubmit a candidate year after year seemed tedious, especially since the nominee's pertinent info does not change. On the other hand, for the committee to see the same name pop up for six straight years becomes equally laborious: a candidate who was far from the cut in 2004 is not likely to become a prime candidate five years later unless new information comes to light. Thus, a two-year rule provided a happy medium.

In short, it works like this: a nomination submitted by Nov. 30, 2011 puts a candidate up for consideration for the 2011-12 class. If the candidate doesn't make the cut, he/she is automatically resubmitted for the 2012-13 class. No further action is necessary by the original nominator. If the candidate does not earn induction in 2013, he/she must be resubmitted (i.e. the nominator fills out the form again) by November 30, 2013. Best yet, it encourages the nominator to round up some additional support that might help strengthen the candidate's case to the selection committee.

Anyway, the purpose of my email to the staff and coaches is to remind them that the November 30 deadline is coming up. I extend the invitation to anyone in Aggie Nation who wishes to honor a former UC Davis student-athlete, coach or contributor for their role in shaping our history.

In a way, the Cal Aggie Athletics Hall of Fame induction ceremony is the ultimate Senior Night.

-Mark Honbo, an assistant with the UC Davis athletics communications office, assures the Aggie faithful that his admiration for Stanford All-American and Naismith award winner Jennifer Azzi will not in any way affect the stat-keeping at Tuesday night's women's basketball game vs. USF. After all, he is first and foremost a Jennifer Gross fan.

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