The Good Word

Aug. 7, 2008

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

FROM: Dan Radakovich, Georgia Tech Director of Athletics

Classes have not yet resumed here at Georgia Tech, but the new academic year is already off to a rousing start. It was sure great to see such an outstanding and enthusiastic crowd last Saturday at our Great Jacket Encounter. Estimates are that more than 3,000 fans braved the heat to secure autographs, pose for pictures and generally enjoy the surroundings of historic Grant Field at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Walking around the festivities myself, I couldn’t help but feel the optimism as we prepare to launch the Paul Johnson era at Georgia Tech. Our ticket sales continue to be steady and we urge each of you to push Georgia Tech football with your friends and colleagues. We are working hard to create a fun and festive atmosphere starting right away with Coach Johnson’s debut on August 28th. Attending the Tech-Jacksonville State game will be a fitting kickoff for the long Labor Day weekend to follow.

During the course of the last six months or so, I have been asked repeatedly what fans can expect under Coach Johnson’s leadership. Bits and pieces of Paul’s belief system and character have begun to emerge in media reports and we all are coming to know the coach and his staff better and better each day.

However, I think nothing sums up the optimistic future that lies ahead for Georgia Tech football better than a letter I received a couple of weeks ago, unsolicited, from John D. Zimmerman, Commanding Officer of the USS Jefferson City. Although the letter came to me, it was addressed to all Georgia Tech Football Fans. I feel compelled as we begin this new era with Coach Johnson to pass it along.

Dear Georgia Tech Football Fans,

I am the captain of the fast attack submarine USS JEFFERSON CITY, a 1988 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, a huge fan of Naval Academy Football, and also a big fan of Coach Paul Johnson – which is why I’m writing.

Last year the Naval Academy football team had another great season. We beat Army and Air Force for the fifth year in a row. We beat Notre Dame for the first time in over 40 years, in triple overtime. And we also beat Pittsburgh in double overtime. Since Pittsburgh would then go on the beat the then #2 nationally ranked team, West Virginia, I felt Navy should have played for the National Championship. Unfortunately, not too many others supported my view on this.

While I won’t make any predictions about your football season (Coach Johnson would never do that), I will tell you from past experience some things you can expect. 1) Georgia Tech Football will truly be a team sport. Every man will be doing his part to help the team win. 2) Georgia Tech Football will be about personal accountability. Every player’s performance will be individually evaluated for every single play – did he accomplish his assignment and how was his effort? 3) Georgia Tech Football will be exciting. If you think Paul Johnson’s offense is “three yards and a cloud of dust” you’ve got it wrong. Yes, he does run the ball. But he runs it to set up all sorts of other plays. Normally, you would expect the bigger, faster and more talented team to win as the game drags on into overtime. Yet, two of our best wins last season came in double and triple overtime. Those wins came because our kids worked as a team and knew how to execute the plays that Coach Johnson called. 4) Georgia Tech Football will be fun. Just when you start to think you might know what Coach Johnson is going to do, he will throw a wrinkle that will surprise you and your opponents.

I, like many Naval Academy Football Fans, was sorry to see Coach Johnson leave. However, we still have a great coaching staff that knows our system, and great kids who know it is teamwork that wins football games. I remain a Naval Academy Football fan, first and foremost. However, as long as they aren’t playing Navy, count me in as a new Georgia Tech Football fan! Go Georgia Tech. Beat Georgia!

Sincerely,

John D. Zimmerman Commanding Officer USS JEFFERSON CITY (SSN 759)

Thank you, Captain Zimmerman, for taking the time to motivate and inspire Georgia Tech fans everywhere.

Speaking of football, the season opener vs. Jacksonville State on Aug. 28th will be carried over the internet by ESPN360. If for some reason you cannot be in attendance and wish to view the game on your computer, then I suggest you begin making sure that you can get ESPN360 through your provider. Go to ESPN 360’s website in advance of the game to see if your network is compatible.

On a couple of other non-football related notes, we welcome our Georgia Tech Volleyball team back to campus for what should be a very successful fall. Coach Bond Shymansky has the ladies in intense preseason drills as they prepare for their season opener on Friday, August 29th at Georgia. The first home action comes September 5th vs. Arkansas.

Congratulations to Coach Paul Hewitt and his staff on picking up some outstanding commitments from future Jacket stars. This off-season is shaping up to be a banner recruiting run and gives us all great hope for a resurgence that will move Georgia Tech men’s basketball back toward the top of the ACC.

Also in men’s hoops, preparations continue for the Annual Paul Hewitt Golf Classic at Chateau Elan on Tuesday, August 19th. All proceeds go to the Boys & Girls Clubs in Gwinnett and DeKalb Counties. Registration is from 8:30 – 10:00am with a shotgun start following. Meals, team photos, premium gifts, silent and live auctions featuring Georgia Tech items, and more are all included. To register visit www.bgcma.org, www.ramblinwreck.com or call 770-417-5051.

MaChelle Joseph’s women’s basketball program has not let their back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances slow them down. Quite to the contrary. The Women’s Basketball team tips off its inaugural MaChelle Joseph Golf Classic benefiting GoGirlGo!Atlanta on September 25th. Smoke Rise Golf and Country Club in Stone Mountain, Georgia will play host to the tournament, where Coach Joseph will play a par 3 with each team. Fans will play 18 holes of golf, enjoy lunch and dinner, have a picture taken with Buzz, and have the chance to participate in a silent auction and raffle. Notables also playing in the tournament include; head women’s tennis coach, Bryan Shelton, Executive vice-president of the Atlanta Dream and Georgia Tech women’s basketball Alumna, Danielle Donehew, and head coach of the Atlanta Dream, Marynell Meadors.

GoGirlGo! is a free program for young girls, established by the Women’s Sports Foundation. Its goal is to improve the health of sedentary girls across the country and to keep girls involved in physical activity. Through supporting programs and organizations that work with girls, GoGirlGo! identifies quality resources within each community, in turn providing comprehensive education, funding, awareness, and networking support. GoGirlGo! has reached more than 621,000 girls and provided more than $2.9 million in funding to girl-serving organizations.

For more information on the tournament and sponsorship opportunities, please visit the women’s basketball homepage at www.ramblinwreck.com.

As the Olympic Games begin next week in China, make sure to keep an eye out for Yellow Jackets. We have eight current and former Georgia Tech student-athletes participating in the Games.

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