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The Good Word

April 17, 2008

I would certainly be remiss in not starting this week’s column by expressing once again my heartfelt condolences to the family of Michael Hutts and to our baseball coaches and student-athletes in this very difficult time. All of us in the Georgia Tech family send our thoughts and prayers to Mark and Vicky Hutts and to Michael’s brother Matt.

I want to thank all of you who have expressed your support to us in many ways. I want to send a special thanks to our friends at Russell Athletic. Many of you may know that we were scheduled to join with Russell last Monday for a celebratory luncheon in which we would present some exciting news about our future. When we mutually agreed to postpone the occasion over the weekend, Russell offered to donate the catered food to the Hutts family for use at the memorial service reception.

As we move forward toward the close of another academic year, this can only mean it must be time for our annual T-Day Spring Football Game! And this one is not your ordinary show. It is our opportunity to officially cruise into the Paul Johnson era at Georgia Tech. We’ll have pre-game festivities and music for the kids, the marching band, cheerleaders, dancers and the Ramblin’ Wreck will lead the team onto the field. We’ll have our full video show with interviews and highlights galore. This is a Saturday you don’t want to miss. The fun starts at 11 a.m., kickoff is at 1:00 p.m.

Watch an exclusive video as Wes Durham talks with Paul Johnson about the upcoming T-Day Game.

If you are a football season-ticket holder, earlier this week you received an e-mail from us announcing an exciting advance in our ticket operations which will go into full effect for the 2008 season. With digital ticketing it will now be possible to print your tickets at home when purchased online. You will be able to have your tickets scanned at the gates, adding more security, and even e-mail your unused tickets to friends and family. Most of you have already used this technology either with airline boarding passes or perhaps at some of the professional sports venues.

Although Saturday’s T-Day Game is a free event, our e-mail gives our season ticket holders a chance to help us test the system by printing a ticket at home and having it scanned by our staff at Gate 4 only. By participating in the process, fans will be eligible to win an assortment of prizes randomly drawn during the game on Saturday. Remember, this is only if you are interested in helping us test. No ticket is required to enter the stadium. This is a free event.

As if that’s not enough activity for one day, mix in the ACC Track and Field Championships on our campus and a softball doubleheader vs. Boston College. I hope to see you all on the Flats this weekend.

I always make an effort to keep you all informed of upcoming events – many times off the field as well as on – and this week is no exception. On Monday night we have the pleasure of getting all of our 350-plus student athletes together for our annual awards ceremony and dinner. It is always fun to recognize all of the student-athletes who have excelled in life, in the classroom and in the field of play – especially to recognize them in the presence of their peers.

I want to also remind you all again about our Yellow Jacket Caravan starting with our first stop on May 1st at the Cobb Galleria. I’ll be appearing with coaches Johnson, Hewitt, Joseph and our venerable MC Wes Durham as we make five stops in the month of May. Make sure to click here for a complete schedule and I hope to see you all at one of our events, if not all of them. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the show!

Georgia Tech Athletics is also participating in an event on May 13 that will roast and toast longtime AJC columnist Furman Bisher. Legendary Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda will serve as MC for the event, but there will be a distinct Tech flavor as Pepper Rodgers and Bill Curry are scheduled to join the panel of roasters. Also, a few dozen former Yellow Jacket greats will be in attendance. Bisher has had a long time affinity to Georgia Tech, was a close friend of Bobby Dodd and was actually voted an official member of the 1952 National Championship team. Proceeds from the event go to Eagle Ranch and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

Now for an event that Georgia Tech is proud to host that falls outside the norm. The 2008 Olympic Weightlifting Trials will be held at the Ferst Center on the GT campus on May 16 and 17. This is a fascinating nationally-televised event that will determine the weightlifters that will represent the USA in the Olympic Games this summer in Beijing, China. We are most proud that the field is full of many competitors from the state of Georgia, including Georgia Tech’s own Chandler Alford. Our player development chief, Eric Ciano, will play a big support role in the local effort. For more information on this event including how to purchase tickets visit www.olympictrials2008.com (or click here).

And now for some on-the-field tidbits:

PEACH STATE SWEEPS WEEK
Just over a week ago, the coach Danny Hall’s baseball team beat nationally-ranked Georgia 9-4 in front of a record crowd at Russ Chandler Stadium. On that same day (April 9th), coach Sharon Perkins’ softball team swept Georgia in a doubleheader here in Atlanta. Earlier this week, the baseball and softball team both won on the same day, on the road, against Georgia Southern. The baseball team is 9-0 this season against in-state opponents with two more games against the Bulldogs in May.

GOLF EYES THIRD STRAIGHT TITLE
Eighth-ranked Georgia Tech competes for its third consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference golf championship Friday through Sunday at the Old North State Club in North Carolina. To really appreciate how remarkable that is, you need to understand that the ACC has long been one of the nation’s premier conferences in golf, beginning with Wake Forest’s domination in the 1950’s and 1960’s and more recently, the emergence of Tech, Clemson, North Carolina and others as a national contender. Good luck to Bruce Heppler’s team.

MEN’S TENNIS OUT IN FLORIDA
Coach Kenny Thorne’s men’s tennis team got good news this week when freshman Guillermo Gomez was named to the All-ACC team. The Yellow Jackets, however, were bumped 4-3 in the opening round of the ACC Tournament Thursday near Orlando.

CHIOMA WILL STAY IN ATLANTA
Chioma Nnamaka, who recently won the three-point shootout in San Antonio, was selected in the second round of the WNBA Draft and immediately traded to the new Atlanta franchise, the Dream. Nnamaka and former teammate Jill Ingram will both lace `em up for the Dream this season. Three other former Yellow Jackets – Kasha Terry, Stephanie Higgs and Janie Mitchell – are hopeful of making a WNBA roster.

JACKETS CHASING FOURTH STRAIGHT NET CROWN
Georgia Tech is the top seed this week at the ACC Women’s Tennis Tournament in Florida. Coach Brian Shelton’s team, which will begin play in the quarterfinals on Friday, is looking for a remarkable fourth consecutive league championship. By the way, you can catch all the action live on your computer by going to ACCSelect.com, which broadcasts via the internet every league championship.

ACC TRACK ON THE TECH CAMPUS
The ACC Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Championships are going on this week – Thursday through Saturday – at the George C. Griffin Track. Hosting a championship of this magnitude requires the hard work of many people, including the Athletic Association’s Jeff Gilbert, Shawn Teske, Dan Goldberger and many others, as well as the entire track coaching staff.

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