The Good Word

TO: Fans, Friends, and Supporters of Georgia Tech Athletics

FROM: Dan Radakovich, Georgia Tech Director of Athletics

How time flies when you’re having fun! Welcome to the 100th edition of The Good Word since my arrival in April of 2006. I hope you continue to enjoy the musings in this space every other Thursday.

The defending ACC Football Champions will be on display at Bobby Dodd Stadium Saturday! I hope you are making plans to visit the Georgia Tech campus for our annual T-Day Spring Football Game. It promises to be a fun affair as we continue to improve the fan experience from year to year. Game time is 12:30 p.m. Saturday, but activities will begin on Callaway Plaza at 11 a.m.

The pre-game festivities will include interactive games, music, face-painting and merchandise sales. Our cheerleaders, Buzz and the GT band will be on hand. You’ll even have the opportunity to have your picture taken with the ACC Championship Trophy. Stadium gates will open at 11:45 with all access through North gates 4 and 7. Once again we’ll have the full video board with replays and stats and Wes Durham will be on the field with interesting and informative interviews with current and former Jackets and special guests.

For those of you who are not season ticket holders, we will be conducting a select-a-seat opportunity. Available seats and sections will be marked, and members of our Georgia Tech Ticket Sales Team will be on hand to assist you. All in all, we have a great day planned.

One new feature at this year’s game will be the attendance of several hundred members of Georgia Tech’s incoming freshman class. Director of Admissions Rick Clark, associate Nancy Estes and staff have invited our new freshman class to come out to campus for a sneak-peek of what lies ahead when they enroll in August. Rick tells me Tech had its largest pool of applicants ever and that the academic profile of our incoming students continues to climb.

Our 2010 season ticket renewal deadline passed last Friday and our tabulations are showing that we are trending at very near the same level of a year ago at this point. I’ll have more complete ticket sales information in the coming weeks. I can tell you that our Georgia Tech Ticket Sales Team is continuing to pay dividends. To date, they have sold more than 750 new season tickets for the 2010 season and have generated more than $250,000 in revenue this year. In all, this aggressive telephone sales program will surpass the $1 million mark in the coming days since its inception last July.

In other news, here’s an invitation to everyone in the area to come out and support our baseball Jackets this weekend. At 33-5 and leading the ACC, this team is fun to watch. Virginia Tech visits this weekend for a three-game series. We have moved the Saturday afternoon game to 4 p.m. in order to accommodate a football-baseball doubleheader. Friday’s series opener is at 7 p.m. with the Sunday finale at 1. We need to rally behind Danny Hall’s bunch as they are putting together one of the best seasons in recent years.

We are also closing in on our annual showdown with UGA at Turner Field. Next Tuesday brings this year’s Spring Classic to benefit Children’s Health Care of Atlanta. This game has traditionally drawn 25,000-30,000 fans and is a real showcase for college baseball. This year we’ll be going for the three-game sweep, having won games at Russ Chandler and in Athens.

Since my last Good Word column, we have had the opportunity to celebrate a couple of very special “senior days” on campus. It was great to see softball standouts Jen Yee and Kelly Eppinger honored last weekend. Yee has had a simply amazing career and is a candidate for national Player of the Year. We look forward to some continued heroics from these ladies as our team heads toward post season play.

And I want to pass out a special mention to senior tennis star Amanda McDowell, who was also in the spotlight last weekend. Although she’s been fighting a back injury this season, Amanda’s career at Georgia Tech brought us a team national championship in 2007. To top that off, Amanda won the individual NCAA Championship in 2008. She is a model student and has been a tremendous representative of our program.

Speaking of women’s tennis, we found out today that Irina Falconi has been named the ACC Player of the Year. Irina, just a sophomore, is very deserving of this prestigious award.

I am happy to report that Kenny Thorne’s men’s tennis team is enjoying its best season in years. Guillermo Gomez and Kevin King were named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Tennis Team, announced Thursday by Commissioner John D. Swofford.

Gomez, a junior from Alicante, Spain, and the nation’s third-ranked singles player, made the team for the third time having also been named ACC Rookie of the Year in 2008. He is the seventh Tech men’s tennis player to make the team three times or more. King, a sophomore from Peachtree City, Ga., ranked No. 78 nationally, is a first-time honoree.

The stellar overall records of our spring sports teams bring me to another thought I’d like to pass along. In a recent conversation we were discussing the fact this has been an exceptional year for just about every one of our sports teams. It led me to wonder just how good this year has been overall compared to past years. Well, that sent our sports information staff scurrying. Turns out, this has truly been a banner year. Just where does this year rank? I’m going to have the results of our study as part of my presentation at our Caravan stops this spring so stay tuned.

We begin our five-stop Spring Caravan next week with the initial program at the Cobb Galleria on Thursday the 29th. I’ll be joined by Wes Durham and coaches’ Johnson, Hewitt and Joseph. There is still room to attend. Admission is free but we ask for you to complete the RSVP form at http://ramblinwreck.com/caravan. You will find a complete list of Caravan stops on that page as well. This event and all of our Caravan stops run from 6-8 p.m. Please pick your event and come out to join us.

I thought you’d be interested in an event that is not open to the public, but one that is very special to our athletics family. Next Monday night is our annual Yellow Jacket Celebration. This is the chance for us to recognize the great accomplishments of our student-athletes during this academic year. Coaches, administrators and student-athletes vote for a myriad of annual awards and the winners are honored with video presentations and keepsake awards. This year, former Jacket great Jon Barry will emcee the awards night. Results will be published next week on www.ramblinwreck.com.

Update On Sting Extra
The majority of you receiving The Good Word every other Thursday were also, for the last eight months or so, receiving Sting Extra, a six-day per week electronic newsletter. And you have most likely noticed that Sting Extra has been on a hiatus of late.

Here at the GTAA, we were big fans of Sting Extra. Six days per week it provided feature stories on our student-athletes and coaches and stories on Georgia Tech athletics in general that you just don’t get anywhere else. In today’s world of shrinking newspapers and less time for sports on the local newscasts, Sting Extra was a perfect outlet for Yellow Jacket fans. Through the creative and unique writing styles of Matt Winklejohn and Jon Cooper, Sting Extra was a big hit with more than 40,000 people.

Sting Extra was operated by a company called Official Sports Report. To get to the point, Official Sports Report (OSR) suddenly went out of business, leaving us and 13 other schools without a daily newsletter. GTAA feels strongly enough about Sting Extra that it plans on producing it in-house, with the same writing staff and a similar look, beginning at some point in May. Keep an eye on your in-box in the next few weeks for the re-launch of Sting Extra (we may give it another name) and forward it on to your Yellow Jacket friends to subscribe at no charge.

Golf To Defend ACC Crown
Georgia Tech’s 17th-ranked golf team will begin defense of its 2009 Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Friday when the ACC Men’s Golf Championship begins at the Old North State Club at Uwharrie Point in New London, N.C.

The 54-hole event runs through Sunday, with 18 holes being played each day, on the 7,100-yard, par-72 Old North State Club course. Live scoring will be available on www.golfstat.com. Live web streaming will be available for free on Saturday, April 24 from 2 p.m. to the conclusion of play and Sunday, April 25 from 2 p.m. to conclusion of play on theACC.com. Please visit the ACC website (www.theACC.com) for complete details. The championship is free and open to the public.

Track Update
There is a good story on Alphonso Jordan on our Web site.

Both the men’s and women’s track and field teams finished seventh at the recent ACC Outdoor Championships. Several individuals from those teams are participating this weekend at the Penn Relays and many are trying to qualify for the NCAA postseason.

Softball On The Road
Despite a Wednesday night loss at Georgia, the Yellow Jacket softball team (41-7 overall) has put together quite an impressive spring. Coach Sharon Perkins’ squad, which plays a three-game series at Florida State this weekend, is in the middle of eight consecutive road games to close the season.

The Yellow Jackets will defend their ACC championship May 14-16 in Blacksburg, Va. and are a likely choice to host an NCAA Regional May 21-23.

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