Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Aggie Showcase

Almost a full day after it actually began, I'm finally getting around to watching the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Although the show is known for its grandeur, it is not known for its brevity, so I figured it's worth filling the time with another entry of Thinking Outside The Boxscore.

As most people know, Friday's production was masterminded by filmmaker Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire). Rio hosts the 2016 Games, so if the pattern continues of having an esteemed local film director create the next show, then somewhere Fernando Meirelles broke into a cold sweat watching tonight's festivities.

UC Davis Athletics in this Olympiad has centered around Kim Conley and Scott Weltz, the two recent Aggie grads representing the U.S. in the women's 5,000 and men's 200 breaststroke, respectively. The campus launched its celebratory page, adding a third UC Davis student to the watch list: sprint kayaker and incoming vet med student Carrie Johnson.

In fact, there will be a fourth familiar face to Aggie fans. U.S. coxswain Mary Whipple will look to run down a third straight medal as a member of the women's eight. Whipple grew up in nearby Orangevale and earned her bachelor's and master's degree from Washington. So why should she be familiar to those near and dear to UC Davis athletics?

I said her face will be familiar. Mary Whipple's identical twin sister, Sarah, was a member of the Aggie crew that captured the 2002 NCAA Division II championship. Incidentally, Mary Whipple is not the only Olympic star whose sister wore the Yale blue and gold. Natalie Coughlin, the 11-time medalist, is the older sister of former Aggie swimmer Megan Coughlin, a member of the Aggies as a freshman in 2003.


I mentioned before that the Grad will show live coverage of the Olympics, hosting a watch party for those wishing to see Kimmy and Scott compete. Of course, both of their prelim events take place in the morning locally, which means some of you less nocturnal types will need a caffeine boost to watch.

As a reminder, listed below are the competition times for both Weltz and Conley. Please note that this denotes when they actually compete, not necessarily when it will air on your local NBC networks.

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)

Much of the high-profile action will be quarantined for the Peacock's Primetime show in the late evening. So your best bet is to watch it on your computer or iOS/Android device. You can access the web-based stream at NBC's Live Extra site. The various device apps are also available there.


It's worth noting (and I really haven't seen this mentioned in much of the post-Trials coverage) that Kim Conley qualifying for the Olympic Games marks a return to her birthplace. In fact, she was born in Slough, a good-sized suburb on the Heathrow side of London.

I will admit I know Slough (rhymes with "cow") not because of John Betjeman's poem, nor as the home of astronomer William Herschel, nor for electing the country's first black woman mayor, but rather as the setting for The Office.

Ah, yes. Tim, Dawn, Gareth, Finchy, David Brent and Kim Conley.


In the last edition of TOTB, I gave a plug for Brandon Tucker's art show at the First Street Realty office (423 First Street in Davis). While Thursday's reception served as a launch, Tucker's works will remain on display for another two weeks. The event served as a fundraiser for the former Aggie running back, who will enroll at the Laguna College of Art and Design in roughly a month. Already the first member of his family to earn a college degree, Brandon is now looking toward an MFA and a teaching credential.

Those who wish to visit First Street Realty may enter a raffle to win one of Brandon's paintings (he specializes in oil on canvas). His artwork adorns the front two rooms of the office. The staff is very welcoming, so don't feel bashful about stopping in.

Brandon also made T-shirts to further his fundraising efforts. He took a few moments to autograph them for the youngsters in between discussing his artwork and inspiration to the guests.

However, there are two pieces you will not see on display at First Street Realty. One painting entitled Think'n, an homage (and update) of the famed Rodin sculpture, is shown at the California State Fair.

Perhaps more impressively, a painting called Up, depicting a basketball player midflight, adorns the walls some 2,000 miles away. Tucker initially entered it for exhibit at the National Art Museum of Sport on the IUPUI campus in January. Then in May, the painting relocated to the NCAA Conference Center, also in Indianapolis. Tucker's work will remain on display through next January.

This is roughly the same location as the NCAA's new Hall of Champions. We've had a few of those at UC Davis. Injuries derailed Tucker's football career but after seeing what this young man has already accomplished -- and what he still has in store for himself -- BT stands as a different kind of champion for our department.

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Finally, if I can possibly tie together two different threads, I hope we'll see a fourth installment of The Art of Athletes in 2012-13. If so, I also hope we can allow an honorary entrant: Carrie Johnson. Watch this clip to see why.

Vet med? An athlete/artist? A town with red double-decker buses? I'd say Johnson found the right place to be.

-Mark Honbo, assistant athletics communications director, extends his thanks yet again to the crew of high school friends who surprised him with an iPad as a 40th-birthday gift last spring. With the NBC Olympics and Live Extra apps ready to go, the retina display will get its best use to date during the next few weeks.

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