Both men's tennis and women's lacrosse recently announced new skippers. Kate Henwood, the miracle worker who turned a sub-.500 Garnet Valley High School program into one of the highest ranked programs in the nation, has taken over as the women's lacrosse team's third varsity coach. She previously served as the top assistant at Villanova before opting for some experience as a head coach. So Henwood went home to GVHS, her alma mater, guiding the Jags to consecutive 24-3 seasons and two PIAA titles during the last two years.
Now manning the helm for the men's tennis program is former UC San Diego head coach Eric Steidlmayer. If his name sounds familiar to Aggie fans, it should for two reasons: not only did he assist former head coach Daryl Lee while earning a master's degree at UC Davis, but his younger brother Luke was a standout pitcher for the Aggie baseball team. Eric Steidlmayer mentored the Tritons to 12 straight NCAA postseason appearances and a total of 182 dual wins.
Me? I'm excited about both, but especially for Henwood since women's lacrosse is one of my sports and I had the privilege of serving on that recruitment advisory committee.
Henwood came in as a bit of a darkhorse candidate, one of the few contenders whose last stop was a high school, not a university. But it took less than five minutes to get sucked into the vortex of her passion for both coaching and teaching. A half-hour later, I wanted to pick up a lacrosse stick and play for this coach. I offer a sympathetic moment to her GVHS players, who must be beyond saddened to see her go. But I look forward to this coming fall, when the Aggie lax team reports for duty. Coach Kate will resemble a walking Vitamin B shot of energy for the program, which faces a vastly expanded and improved MPSF schedule.
Besides, we're looking at a pretty healthy pattern here. Cross country/track head coach Drew Wartenburg was a high school coach less than two years before his arrival at UC Davis (he had a one-year stint at Oregon State in between). Assistant women's swimming coach Pete Motekaitis had built a dynasty at Davis High when he replaced Darrell Swenson as the Aggie men's swimming coach. Anyone doubting their abilities as coaches may do so to their faces... but you'll have to wait until they return from London first.
However, as Henwood and Steidlmayer enter through the "In" door, women's golf coach Anne Walker makes her exit. When UC Davis added women's golf some eight years ago, I knew it would be a strong sport fairly quickly -- we had a gifted coach (Kathy DeYoung) already in place, the university and town to be a good fit in the so-called "country club" sports. But three straight Big West Conference titles? Four straight years with Aggies repped at the NCAA Championship? Hard to ask for or expect more than that.
When UC Davis announced Walker's hiring four years ago, one of my friends at Cal told me, "Congratulations on a great hire... you're gonna love Anne."
So I say to Stanford, congratulations on a great hire... you're gonna love Anne.
BACK TO 'DA GRAD'
Props to Steffi Brikovich in the marketing & promotions office for finalizing a "watch party" for the two Aggies-turned-Olympians. (I assume the vet med school will do the same for kayaker and incoming student Carrie Johnson.)
As is fitting, the watch party will take place at the Davis Graduate. That's 805 Russell Boulevard, a.k.a. the University Mall. For roughly two decades, this spot has generally served as a gathering place for watching the Aggies on a big screen: NCAA championship selection shows (and ensuing championships), plus a host of football and basketball games. The Grad also lent its big screen to show screenings of MTV's Sorority Life, which ostensibly showed pledges of UC Davis' Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi chapter; and ABC's Expedition Impossible, which featured UC Davis grads Christina Chin, golfer Brittany Smith and hurdler Natalie (Russell) Smith.
The air times, converted to Pacific, for Weltz and Conley are as follows:
Scott Weltz, men's 200-meter breaststroke:
Tuesday, July 31 - Prelims at 2:47 a.m. (not shown at the Grad)
Tuesday, July 31 - Semis at 12:17 p.m. (Grad)
Wednesday, Aug. 1 - Finals at 11:30 a.m. (Grad)
Kim Conley, women's 5,000 meters
Tuesday, Aug. 7 - Prelims at 2:55 a.m. (not shown at the Grad)
Friday, Aug. 10 - Finals at 12:05 p.m. (Grad)
Note that the wee-hours slots will not be shown at the Grad.
Those who are having their own viewing parties are encouraged to hashtag their Tweets with #UCDavisOly. You may also post info at the UC Davis Athletics Facebook page.
Brandon Tucker, the former Aggie running back and the founder of the Art of Athletes show, has organized an exhibit at the First Street Real Estate offices at 423 First Street (near the Davis Commons). Although his artwork will be on display through August 16, Tucker is hosting a reception on Thursday, July 26 at 6 p.m. Admission is free, although donations are welcome.
Facebook users may visit the event page for more info. For those who have not made that social-networking leap, Brandon's flyer has the details (click to enlarge).
For those who missed previous Art of Athletes shows, here are photo galleries of each:
Art of Athletes I (October 2009): http://www.ucdavisaggies.com/view.gal?id=56112
Art of Athletes II (November 2010): http://www.ucdavisaggies.com/view.gal?id=81824
Art of Athletes III (January 2012): http://www.ucdavisaggies.com/view.gal?id=111517
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That's about it for now. The calendar summer is only a third of the way through, but my summer winds down -- the first Aggie teams report in less than a week. Enjoy yours, 'cause mine is almost over.
Mark Honbo, assistant athletics communications director, longs for a 24-hour place that could host a viewing party for the two ~3 a.m. events. Bonus points for one that pours Aggie Lager.