Chancellor's Friday Letters

Women’s Basketball ‘Champs’

Women’s Basketball ‘Champs’

March 19, 2010

Dear Friends,

“Congratulations, Champs!”

Those two words have been flying around the campus and community this week, as we celebrate with great pride the victory of our women’s basketball team in the conference tournament last Saturday.

Champions, indeed!

Because of this achievement, our student-athletes earned a spot to play in the NCAA national tournament.

No other team from our conference was invited to the tournament.

Our team encounters Stanford University in the first round tomorrow, Saturday, March 20, at 7:30 p.m. PDT (ESPN2). Stanford is ranked #2 in the nation by the Associated Press.

It is a strong point of pride to see the success of the women’s basketball program at UCR. Many of the student-athletes started their collegiate athletic careers and degree work at other universities across the nation where, for different reasons, they did not get the opportunity to contribute or flourish. Elsewhere, they were stymied in living their promise.

Other women on the current team stopped out of school and basketball last year, only to return this year and become champions in both endeavors.

In these cases, as with the new freshmen and continuing players on the team, our players found UCR to be a place where they can prosper academically, athletically, and personally. A place where they are challenged, encouraged, and supported. A University that helps them believe in themselves, because we believe in them.

Here these students find the classrooms, studios, laboratories and fields to be wonderful places to pursue their academic promise, while at the same time our nationally recognized basketball program is a wonderful place to pursue their athletic promise while contributing to our team’s good fortune.

The team overcame an amazing stretch of physical injuries early on… concussions, contusions, abrasions, along with aching joints and bones. There were days when the coaching staff didn’t have enough players to conduct a meaningful practice.

A mantra for many walks of life – including athletics – is “success breeds success.” But when the early season record is 3 wins and 12 losses, the question arises: how do you go forward?

In our case, this team – coaches, players, and medical and training staff – redoubled their efforts to focus on the next game, and realized that it isn’t how you start, but rather how you finish.

Not a bad lesson for our students, and for all of us in our lives.

Of course, some said quite publicly that they didn’t think our team could do it this year.

Fortunately, our student athletes and coaches had a different idea.

Yes, there were sleepless nights. There were long and arduous practices. There were blood, sweat and tears. There were sophisticated and patient coaches, and innovative game strategies. And there was an unyielding focus on finishing strong.

With all due respect to James Naismith, the goal of our program transcends basketball. As Coach John Margaritas pointed out to me, it’s really not about getting a round ball (original U.S. patent #1,718,305) into a hole that is about twice the diameter of the ball; rather, it is about lessons for life for these student athletes, and for all the students and fans who followed their incredible journey.

The Highlanders finished the year winning the last 14 of 17 games, including 3 victories in 3 days leading up to finals week.

And, oh yes, for athletes at the University of California Riverside who finished their eligibility with us over the past decade, 92% of them earned their degree.

That is the real finish line for UCR, and the next starting line for them.

Congratulations, Champs.

Go Highlanders, Beat the Cardinal!


Tim White, Chancellor

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The next Friday Letter will be April 2nd, as the University is closed in celebration of the Cesar Chavez holiday next Friday.

What to Wear While You Watch
Hats, scarves, sweatshirts and even kilts are available in a registered UCR tartan. Our core ethical values are embodied in the Tartan Soul campaign, which challenges all students to live with integrity, accountability, excellence and respect.

Shaking Things Up with Quake Catchers

Just look at the excitement on the faces of the second-graders children in a discussion with Elizabeth Cochran, an assistant professor of earth sciences. This front page LA Times story was well received last Friday.

Early News from Olds
Dr. G. Richard Olds, Founding Dean, UC Riverside School of Medicine, will discuss “The UC Riverside School of Medicine and a Healthy Community,” at the Citizens University Committee breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 24.

Wondering what else is going on at UCR? It’s all listed at http://www.ucr.edu/happenings/

More Information

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