The Good Word

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

FROM: Dan Radakovich, Georgia Tech Director of Athletics

It is always a happy note in the last week of April each year to congratulate all of our student-athletes who are graduating from Georgia Tech. On Saturday, 35 of our finest young men and women will receive degrees. What a tremendous accomplishment to compete at the very highest level in intercollegiate sports and still have the discipline and work ethic to achieve a degree from this prestigious Institution. We are so proud of each and every one of them. (For a list of spring 2009 graduates, click here.)

While I am on this good news roll, let me also congratulate those student-athletes who were honored by their peers at our annual Yellow Jacket Celebration last week. Awards were presented to those student-athletes who have performed above and beyond the call of duty — those who were stellar, not only in their respective sports, but in the classroom and in the community. Once again, former Tech football standout Ryan Stewart did an outstanding job as our master of ceremonies. Perhaps the highlight of the evening was an inspirational message delivered by former quarterback and hugely successful business magnate John Dewberry. John thankfully reported a full recovery from a recent battle with cancer. (For a recap and video highlights of the Yellow Jacket Celebration, click here).

Our 2009 football ticket sales continue to increase. As of yesterday, we have sold 23,289 season tickets, less than 700 shy of our totals from all of last year — and we’re not even to May 1 yet. We intend to stage an all-out sales effort in the coming months and want to push hard to drive toward 30,000. Help us with referrals and advancing our message if you have an opportunity.

For those of you who are currently season ticket holders, you can expect to receive the single- and away-game ticket application in the mail around May 15. At about that same time, we will make online ordering of these single- and away-game tickets available at Ramblinwreck.com/tickets. This will also be your opportunity to order additional tickets to the Tech-UGA game, so be on the lookout in mid-May. You will have until mid-June to respond in order to receive priority attention on availability and location. Remember, only Georgia Tech season ticket holders will be given an opportunity to purchase additional Georgia tickets at this time.

One other note on tickets: for those of you who are still contemplating a season ticket purchase, please be aware that the price for the full season ticket will increase from the season ticket renewal price of $260 to $275 after May 15. This still represents a saving of $25 off the face value of the six single-game tickets. But, by purchasing now, you can save even more money and get in on a truly great bargain at our renewal price of $260.

Switching hats to baseball and softball, take note that both of our Tech teams are in the hunt for ACC titles as we move down the stretch. Sharon Perkins’ softball team needs to take two of three games at Maryland this weekend to clinch the league regular season title. Danny Hall’s baseball team, after a home series this weekend with non-conference Presbyterian, will finish with a home series vs. Florida State and a road series at Duke. The Jackets are in a hotly contested battle for the ACC Coastal Division title with North Carolina and Virginia. The three teams are separated by only one game in the loss column.

I hope you’ll plan to get out to Russ Chandler Stadium both this weekend and next. Be aware that this Sunday’s game with Presbyterian is already a virtual sellout. Our sincere thanks to the Murphy-Candler Little League organization for essentially buying out the ballpark to allow their young players and their families to enjoy an afternoon of Yellow Jacket baseball. Should be quite a day! Only 60 or so seats remain available for Sunday’s game.

Finally this week, I want to share with you the continuing efforts we are making within the athletic department to address our FY 10 budget. As I have communicated to you in this space before, the state of the economy in our country is forcing us to change the way we conduct our business. We are not alone. I’m sure you read every day about the devastating toll the past two years has taken on the business climate in America. Our colleagues in the ACC and across all levels of college athletics are feeling the effects, just as we are. Many are in even worse situations.

In this regard, I, along with our senior administrative staff, have spent countless hours in the last three months evaluating the operation and financial future of our department. Because of a myriad of economic factors, we have found it necessary to reduce our expense budget in FY 10 by approximately $3.5 million. Needless to say, this has been a very tedious, sometimes painful, undertaking. In the process though, we have created a leaner and hopefully more efficient and effective operation, and one that will continue to operate within our means.

Sadly, we, like many other businesses within our community, were forced to reduce our work force. Thirteen employees were laid off within the last week and a number of other positions will remain unfilled. Each of these individuals have made contributions to our athletic program in many ways. They have been our friends and co-workers and we heartily thank them for their service and wish them and their families Godspeed in this difficult time.

I will close with an excerpt from a letter I sent to all of our staff this past Monday:

“As I have made abundantly clear, this is a different and trying time and it calls for tremendous ingenuity, strength and togetherness if we are going to emerge as a better organization at the other end of the tunnel…We all need to make an effort to help where needed and to do all we can to fill the gaps and handle the responsibilities. I have no doubt that in each of you we have the makeup of true champions, willing to do what it takes to move us forward.”

And move forward we will. With a great resolve to provide a vibrant and successful program that will continue to make you all proud.

SWIM COACH: Courtney Shealy Hart
Courtney Shealy Hart, a Georgia Tech assistant coach the past two years, was named head coach of the Yellow Jackets’ swimming programs today. Hart is the eighth head coach in the history of the program, succeeding Stu Wilson, who resigned earlier this month.

“Courtney has all of the ingredients necessary to lead our swimming program to great success,” said Radakovich. “She has been extremely impressive as an assistant coach, gaining the admiration of her colleagues and student-athletes. Her own record as a two-time Olympic gold medal winner and a two-sport athlete herself speaks to her passion, drive and dedication.”

SWILLING GOING INTO HALL OF FAME
Congratulations to former Yellow Jacket All-American Pat Swilling, who will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Swilling holds school records for sacks in a game and in a season and he was first team All-American and first team All-ACC in 1985. The 17th Georgia Tech representative in the Hall of Fame, Swilling went on to an outstanding NFL career in which he played in the Pro Bowl five times.

WOMEN’S TENNIS HOSTING NCAA REGIONAL
The eighth-ranked Georgia Tech women’s tennis team will serve as a host team for first- and second-round action in the 2009 NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships after receiving an at-large bid, the NCAA announced Tuesday afternoon.

The Yellow Jackets (16-7), the No. 9 national seed, will face Jackson State (13-7) at 1 p.m. Friday, May 8, while Mississippi (14-9) meets Denver (16-5) at 10 a.m. in the first round at the Bill Moore Tennis Center. The winners of Friday’s matches will square off at 1 p.m. Saturday in the second round for a slot in the NCAA Round of 16, which will be held at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center on the Texas A&M campus in College Station, Texas May 14-19.

MORE TENNIS: INDIVIDUAL NCAA QUALIFIERS
Georgia Tech men’s tennis sophomore Guillermo Gomez has qualified for the 2009 NCAA Singles Championships, May 20-25, in College Station, Texas. Gomez earned one of the top-16 seeds in the tournament while garnering his first ever All-America honors in the process.

The women’s tennis team will be represented by four Yellow Jackets in 2009 NCAA Singles and/or Doubles Championships. Irina Falconi and Amanda McDowell headline the list as both Jackets earned spots in the singles and doubles fields. Falconi was awarded a top-16 seed in the singles draw after a tremendous rookie season on the Flats. McDowell, the 2008 NCAA Singles Champion, will try and repeat. The duo will team together in the doubles draw. Senior Christy Striplin earned her first career appearance in the singles field after a stellar final season at Tech. Sophomore Noelle Hickey was named the No. 1 alternate for this year’s singles tournament.

ACC CHAMPION GOLF TEAM
Since the last Good Word was printed, our men’s golf team performed extremely well in winning the ACC Championship. Congrats to Bruce Heppler and his team. The Yellow Jackets, with the ACC title, have an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship and will learn Monday afternoon to which of the six NCAA regional tournaments it will be sent (May 14-16). The top five teams in each of the regionals advance to the NCAA Championship May 26-30 in Toledo, Ohio.

TRACK TEAMS HIT HOMESTRETCH
Fresh off a solid performance at the Penn Relays, the Georgia Tech track and field teams go to Tallahassee (Fla.) May 8-9 before hosting the Georgia Tech Invitational May 15-16.

SPRING CARAVAN BEGINS MAY 5
Georgia Tech’s annual Spring Caravan, featuring Yellow Jacket head coaches, athletic director Dan Radakovich and the “Voice of the Yellow Jackets” Wes Durham, hits the road for the first of five stops on May 5th. All five events are from 6-7:45 p.m. Admission is free, but fans are asked to register online at www.ramblinwreck.com/caravan. Light snacks and a cash bar will be available.

Head football coach Paul Johnson, men’s basketball coach Paul Hewitt, and women’s basketball coach MaChelle Joseph, are expected to attend. Each coach will speak and will also take questions from the audience.

Caravan stops:
May 5 — Cobb Galleria in Atlanta (2 Galleria Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30339)
*Women’s tennis coach Bryan Shelton will fill-in for MaChelle Joseph
May 14 — Idle Hour Country Club in Macon (251 Idle Hour Dr., Macon, GA 31210)
May 19 — The 1818 Club in Duluth (6500 Sugarloaf Parkway, 3rd Floor, Duluth, GA 30097)
May 26 — The Farm Golf Club in Rocky Face (1000 Mill Creek Rd., Rocky Face, GA 30740)
*Baseball coach Danny Hall will fill-in for Paul Hewitt
June 2 — Dolce Hotel & Resort in Peachtree City (201 Aberdeen Parkway, Peachtree City, GA 30269)

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