Grady Lee Thomas
With the new semester around the corner, students are curious to see what is in store for the 2011 spring sports season.
Seven of ULV’s athletic programs will begin regular season play – meaning a fresh opportunity for success in each respective program.
All sports ranging from softball, baseball and golf – to women’s tennis, water polo and track and field will all show their latest rendition of Leopards spring athletics.
Each team has put a lot of time and dedication toward playing well and reaching team goals.
One team in particular that is all but a lock to repeat a trip deep into the postseason is the men’s golf team, who is coming off of a fifth place finish at the NCAA Division III Golf National Championship last season.
Another team to be on the lookout for this spring is the baseball squad. The Leopards have won three Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships in the past decade and may have what it takes to win yet another in 2011 led by senior pitcher, Willie Patti.
“I feel fans can expect a very exciting season of Leo baseball as well as a memorable season being it is the last year of Ben Hines Field,” Patti said.
“Coach Winterburn has had great success coaching collegiate baseball and is very knowledgeable of the game and how to present it to the players. Players respond and work hard to accomplish coach’s goals,” senior pitcher David Bradley said.
“The seniors as a whole set examples for the younger players to follow. From a players perspective we return a strong core of position players and pitchers.
Also we have added many new players bringing in roughly 20 new recruits,” Bradley added.
The softball team is also looking to improve on their successful 2010 season.
“I feel with the returning bunch and the incoming freshmen that were brought in, we have a good chance to make it further than in previous years,” Diandra Burns, sophomore outfielder, said.
“We’re also happy to have Julie Smith as a coach. She helps us improve our game on and off of the field. She also represented the United States in the summer Olympics,” Burns said.
The men and women’s track and field teams, who have big post-season aspirations will also contend for a SCIAC championship in 2011.
“We have a lot of young talent this year, as well as several returners from last year who will have a great impact on our team. We are also optimistic that those who are coming off of injuries from last year will be able to make positive contributions to the team,” junior track and field thrower Andrew MacKay said.
“At a Division III school, it is essential to do a significant amount of off-season training both in the weight-room and on the track since we cannot train year-round with our coach. Weight training with Coach Durant and other specialized training for each event is necessary to prepare for a successful season,” MacKay said.
“Our coach has had great success in our conference in the past, and he knows what it will take to be a dominant force in SCIAC,” Mackay added. “Despite having lost some key senior runners last year, we are still optimistic with the talent we’ve gained this year.”
Another team looking to impress in 2011 is the women’s water polo team.
Going 6-23 last season was enough to motivate returning players and improve in a great way this coming season. Women’s water polo joined swimming and diving as an intercollegiate sport at La Verne in 1998, and third year coach Alex La is ready to make a solid turnaround.
There are a lot of new changes planned on campus for 2011 – new building plans, a president and a sense of optimism for ULV athletics.
Grady Lee Thomas can be reached at email@example.com.