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Cal's women's crew team won its sixth straight Pac-12 championship Sunday. Here are the highlights, courtesy of the Pac-12 Networks.
Trevor Hildenberger has become an important piece of Cal's pitching staff this season, and he owes it all to teammate Justin Jones' absent-mindedness.
It was one year ago this week that Hildenberger stood behind Cal's bullpen during practice and watched Jones take his mid-week side session. Jones had misplaced his jersey so was wearing shortstop Mike Reuvekamp's No. 37 instead. That led to a discussion about the significance of jersey numbers.
"I asked (pitching coach) Mike Neu what he thinks of when he thinks of No. 26 (Hildenberger's number), and he said he thinks of a side-arm pitcher from UCLA," Hildenberger said. "I added that there was a side-armer on Washington who was No. 26, too. He said maybe I should throw my bullpen that way. I tried it out and it felt good."
And with that, the right-hander who had thrown 12 2/3 career innings in two seasons began to carve a new path that now has him entrenched as the No. 2 starting pitcher in the Cal rotation.
Hildenberger hasn't thrown overhand since that bullpen session. Shortly after the end of the 2012 season, Hildenberger joined the Bend Elks off the West Coast League. He spent the summer learning his new style of pitching, working with teammate Josh McAllister of Arizona State, who also is a side-armer.
"When I got there, I had thrown sidearm for a week," Hildenberger said. "I had a lot of work to do. Facing batters is weird for the first time. I hit the first batter I ever faced. Not on the first pitch, but on the second or third. Throwing 15 years overhand, you get used to a certain release point. And then you have no idea where to release the ball."
Hildenberger said it took about a month for him to have consistent command of his pitches as a side-armer. But by the time he returned to Berkeley for the fall, he had gone from throwing in the low 80s to mid-upper 80s with his fastball. He began the 2013 season as one of the Bears' biggest weapons out of the bullpen.
Hildenberger excelled as a reliever for most of this season. But after Cal experienced some injuries to its starting staff, head coach David Esquer was in search of help in the rotation. Hildenberger, who had averaged just 1 1/3 innings per outing during his first 23 appearances of the year, was allowed to go four innings of relief in a game against Oregon on April 12. He didn't allow a baserunner and struck out five.
That convinced Esquer to insert Hildenberger into the rotation, and he's held down the spot ever since. Hildenberger will make his fifth and final start of the season Saturday against Stanford at Evans Diamond. The Bears and Cardinal open a three-game series Friday night.
"We had no intention of having him start at all this year," Neu said. "We thought he'd be a great back end of the bullpen guy. He did a great job. But we felt like we didn't have a whole lot of options (in the rotation), and he was one of our best guys. We needed him to start, and he's taken it from there."
Hildenberger made his first start April 20 against Washington State, allowing four earned runs in four innings.
"I was terrified," Hildenberger said. "I hadn't started since high school. I didn't have a wind-up. It was a hot day. I was sweating like a pig. I couldn't feel my arm because my adrenaline was rushing so much. I walked the leadoff batter and had to just step back and take a deep breath and realize that this is no different than the seventh inning when you have to get three outs and go back to the dugout."
Hildenberger then allowed just one earned run in seven innings in his second start at Washington. As a starter, he's 1-1 with a 4.70 ERA. Take away his start against Washington St. and his ERA is 3.79.
Hildenberger hasn't decided if Saturday will be his last career start. He has one year left of athletic eligibility but has just seven units left to earn his degree in American Studies. Hildenberger will go through graduation ceremonies Saturday morning and then start the Bears' game that night.
"This Saturday is going to be weird because I have my final start against our rival school on the day I graduate college," Hildenberger said. "It's like everything is culminating on one day. This is my first year with significant innings. What would make me come back the most is going to a regional. I just have to talk about it with my family."
Since throwing sidearm is relatively new to Hildenberger, there still is probably substantial room for improvement. Neu said major-league scouts are already asking about him.
"Teams are always looking for a different look," Neu said. "He's having success throwing from a different arm slot, so teams may take a look at him. There are sidearm guys who haven't been top prospects in college but have had a lot of success. We'd love to have him back for another year. It'd be fun to see what he can do."
When Cal tennis player Riki McLachlan boarded a plane for the NCAA Tournament at Florida last week, he didn't know if he was going as a spectator or participant.
In fact, it was less than 24 hours before the Bears' first-round match against Florida State that it was determined that he would indeed make his first appearance on a tennis court in three months.
Dispelling the conventional wisdom that his season was over when he dislocated his left kneecap during a match against USC on Feb. 8, McLachlan played in Cal's first-round win over the Seminoles, winning the first set at No. 6 singles against Florida State's Michael Rinaldi before the match was stopped in the second set when the Bears clinched the team victory.
McLachlan, who formed the nation's No. 7 doubles team along with his brother, Ben, before the injury, will be back on the court Thursday when the No. 18 Bears (16-9) play No. 2 Virginia (26-0) in the Round of 16 in Urbana, Ill.
"He wasn't ready to play when we left," Cal coach Peter Wright said. "He literally got better each day. It wasn't until the day before that I said, 'Riki, you're in there tomorrow.' It really shows the strength of one young man and his desire to help the team."
Wright felt the Bears were a top-10 team this season, and McLachlan was a big reason for that. A senior and team captain, McLachlan figured to be a key contributor in both singles and doubles. But his season went down the wrong road while jumping for an overhead against the Trojans.
"It was just one of those freak things that happens in sports," McLachlan said. "It's a shot I've done a thousand times. On that one occasion, I jumped a little higher and something strange happened."
McLachlan began the arduous rehab process with no guarantees he would be able to return this season. He wasn't redshirting, meaning this was his last chance to play college tennis. Working closely with Cal athletic trainer Elaine Garcia, McLachlan overcame some sluggish days early in the rehab to make enormous progress. Garcia accompanied the team to Florida and continued to work with him until the last minute.
"Our guys were so excited to see him back," Wright said. "To feel him back out on the court, to hear guys yelling his name when he won points - it was extraordinary from an emotional standpoint. The team was boosted tremendously by it. I can't say enough about how much effort Riki put into getting back. It was day to day, hour to hour."
McLachlan was back on the court for the Bears' second-round win against Denver, but his singles match never made it past the first set after Cal clinched the victory over the Pioneers. Still, McLachlan's ability to get through last weekend and prove he is healthy again should work wonders for his confidence Thursday.
"It was three months but it felt like six or nine months," McLachlan said. "I was more excited than anything. It makes you appreciate being out there and being healthy. It's a lot of fun to compete again."
Learn about football/baseball player Jacob Wark, who has had a very busy spring:
How did the new scoreboard at Evans Diamond go up? Here's how:
The final version of the athletic year takes a look at the annual Academics Honors Luncheon.
BERKELEY - Olympic swimmer Caitlin Leverenz and former goalie Lauren Hein were multiple honorees at the annual Student-Athlete Academic Honors Luncheon on Tuesday at Haas Pavilion.
Leverenz, who won a bronze medal in the 200-meter individual medley during last year's Summer Olympics in London, led Cal to consecutive NCAA championships in 2011 and 2012 and is a Pac-12 champion in multiple events. Tuesday, Leverenz was honored with a Pac-12 post-graduate scholarship as well as being named the recipient of the Anna Espenshade Award, given annually to a female student-athlete for "successful integration of academic and athletic pursuits."
Hein, who graduated early in December, won the Neufeld Scholar Athlete Award for having the highest GPA of any graduating female student-athlete on campus (3.982). She also was the recipient of an Oscar Geballe Postgraduate Scholarship, which recognizes devotion to Cal and the combination of scholarship and athletic competition. Furthermore, Hein received the Golden Bear Individual Award for having the highest GPA on the women's soccer team.
The luncheon, held on the gym floor, honored the best student-athletes on campus with several awards and scholarships. Athletic director Sandy Barbour handed out the Tom Hansen Pac-12 Conference Medals to swimmer Tom Shields and women's basketball player Layshia Clarendon. The conference medal is awarded to a male and female student-athlete at each Pac-12 institution who best exhibits the combination of performance and achievement in scholarship, athletics and leadership.
Four student-athletes received Pac-12 post-graduate scholarships. Along with Leverenz, conference scholarships also were awarded to women's volleyball's Robin Rostratter, men's swimming's Isaac Howell and men's soccer's Kyle Marsh.
There were two other recipients of the Oscar Geballe scholarship - women's swimming's Sara Isakovic and softball's Lindsey Ziegenhirt.
Leilani Alferos of the women's gymnastics team won the Walter A. Haas Jr. Community Service Award, given annually to the student-athlete with the best contribution to community service. Alferos, a transfer from Oregon State, has been heavily involved in the community both in Berkeley and Corvallis, Ore. She has been involved with the Relay For Life, Wheel-A-Thon, Special Olympics and recycling before football games. As part of the Community Outreach Committee, she helped with Coastal Clean-Up, College Day, Hot Meals and the Blood Donation Drive. She also served as a captain for the "Jog For Jill" annual fundraiser.
Tierra Rogers of the women's basketball team won the Joseph M. Kavanagh Award for the most academically improved student-athlete.
Marin Balarin of the men's water polo team won the Jake Gimbel Award for the combination of athletic and academic pursuits. Michael Perretta of the men's crew team was the male recipient of the Neufeld Scholar Athlete Award.
Ziegenhirt also served as the guest speaker for the event. She spoke of the hardships of losing her starting job as the softball team's catcher and then putting in the work needed to reclaim her spot. Ziegenhirt also discussed her work with the SAGE mentorship program, helping a local fourth-grade student in and out of the classroom and how the experience confirmed her aspirations to go into teaching.
"It's always an honor to be recognized for working hard in the classroom," Ziegenhirt said. "Being a student-athlete is difficult, so it's really great that the university puts this on for us so we can be recognized for all the hard work we put in."
The event was emceed by Cal academic advisor Cassidy Raher.
"As we read off the awards and hand out scholarships every year, it's always amazing to listen to the accolades that they have, the biographies that encompass their careers here at Cal and obviously their pursuits after college," Raher said. "Berkeley is the No. 1 public institution in the country for a reason. For these student-athletes to accept the challenge of competing in the classroom day in and day out and obviously on the field, on the court and in the pool, it's certainly a tremendous opportunity and a tremendous honor."
There are a lot of obvious good things about doing well in school at Cal. But for Cal catcher Lindsey Ziegenhirt, the last couple of years it also helped maintain her sanity.
Thursday, Ziegenhirt was named a Capital One All-Academic District 8 First Team selection for the second time in her career. The senior has a 3.77 cumulative GPA during her time in Berkeley.
Those classroom successes were magnified during her sophomore and junior years when she struggled on the diamond for the Bears. A high school All-American from Elk Grove, Calif., Ziegenhirt opened eyes during her freshman season when she had 15 home runs and 58 RBI and was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team.
Always solid defensively, Ziegenhirt struggled at the plate each of the next two seasons. She batted just .219 as a sophomore and dropped to .156 last season. Her power numbers suffered as well.
"If I was losing confidence in softball, I knew I was going to kill it in the classroom," Ziegenhirt said. "It helped me keep my sanity."
Now a senior, Ziegenhirt is killing it both with her studies and on the field. Ziegenhirt is tied for fourth in the Pac-12 with 15 homers and ranks fifth with 49 RBI heading into this weekend's series against Stanford, the final three home games of her career. Her .311 batting average ranks third on the team.
"Lindsey has just gone back to her old form," Cal coach Diane Ninemire said. "She's worked extremely hard this year to get back where she knows she can be. She's feeling more relaxed and more comfortable at the plate. Everything has fallen into place for her. I'm just happy for her that she's back to her old form."
Ironically, it may have been one of the personality traits that helps her do so well in the classroom that contributed to her struggles at the plate. Ziegenhirt is a self-proclaimed perfectionist, which allows her to do bang-up work in school. But she said that proved to be a detriment athletically, as she let her frustrations and self-criticism snowball during her tough sophomore and junior years.
"I've always known that being positive and staying in a good mental state was something I needed to do," Ziegenhirt said. "But I'm also kid of a perfectionist, so once I start struggling a little bit, frustration takes over and it gets harder for me to get back into a positive mindset."
Faced with her last chance as a senior to get back on track, Ziegenhirt made the conscious decision to focus on the fun nature of playing college softball. She also said having an offseason to change things up is easier to do during the rigors of the jam-packed schedule of the regular season.
"It's hard to figure stuff out in the middle of a season that moves so quickly," she said. "I knew I could play better. It really was just a process of maturing and figuring more stuff out about myself as a player. Unfortunately, it took two years instead of two months. But I'm glad it happened when it did and I wouldn't change anything."
There's no question Ziegenhirt is having fun now. She's one of the Bears captains and their leader both offensively and defensively. And she is helping the Bears put together another fine season. Cal heads into the weekend ranked No. 12 in the country with a 35-12 overall record.
"She's a good example that I've used with other players," Ninemire said. "When they get into that part of their career when they are not playing well, they can look at Lindsey for strength. If you put in the time and try to stay positive, you can work through it and eventually good things will happen. You just have to make the commitment and have the dedication to work through it."
Watch Cal's men's golf team get interviewed after winning its second straight Pac-12 Championship on Wednesday in Los Angeles.
Cal's Rugby team has won 26 national championships. If the Bears make it 27 on Saturday against Brigham Young, it will likely go down as one of the most impressive and satisfying in program history.
Not only do the Bears have to face the only opponent that has consistently been in the same conversation as them over the years, they will do so on the Cougars home field. When the teams played in the national title match two years ago in Salt Lake City - which is 44 miles from BYU's campus - there were over 11,000 fans in the stands.
"That sounds like it was a neutral venue when you hear them talk," Cal coach Jack Clark said. "They are a good team and they will be especially good at home. It will be a partisan crowd. How that crowd affects the referee, how that crowd affects noise and my ability to communicate - there are some things to acknowledge there."
The Bears won the 2011 title match in Salt Lake, 21-14. But BYU has yet to lose a game to a college opponent since it started playing its home games on South Field in 2009.
"It will be a tough challenge," Cal senior center Seamus Kelly said. "In Salt Lake, that was a really challenging environment to play in. That's something we have to prepare for and be expecting going in."
The Bears (21-0) and Cougars (11-2) have met for the national championship in seven of the past eight years, with Cal winning every time except once. BYU defeated the Bears 25-22 when they met in 2009 at Stanford. The Cougars also beat Arkansas State in the national title match last year.
"It's proven to be kind of an all-or-nothing relationship," Clark said. "The vast majority of the time we've seen them has been in single-elimination rugby. The stakes have always been really high, and I think that's added to how meaningful the game is."
The good news for the Bears is even if Saturday's game is filled to the maximum - which it should be - South Field holds less than 4,000 fans. Cal's players that participated in the game two years ago in Salt Lake City feel that experience will help them Saturday.
"We just kind of went in there with no questions asked (in 2011)," Cal senior Danny Barrett said. "We knew what we had to do. It was just another game. You know it's going to have an effect playing at the other team's home stadium, but when you go in with the mindset that you can win, it doesn't really matter where you are. It's still another rugby game."
While winning national championships has become commonplace with Cal's rugby program, each team and each season is unique. Some key departures from last year made the Bears more inexperienced coming into this season, but the youth of the 2013 team has matured quickly.
"I think we've gelled stronger than the past couple national championships we played in," Barrett said. "We're a lot younger. I think the way we came together is probably better than any team I've been part of in my five years at Cal."
Maybe had she been recruited, she wouldn't have worked so hard. Maybe had she not lived in a remote village in Paraguay, she wouldn't have learned the joys of perseverance. Maybe had she never discovered she enjoyed pushing the boundaries, she wouldn't be Cal's third-leading scorer right now.
Junior Amelia Burke, a walk-on from Marin County, is thriving as a member of Cal's lacrosse team. The Bears enter tomorrow's Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament in Eugene, Ore. one win shy of their best win total since 2005, and Burke is a big reason why.
And Burke says she likely never would have been in this position if it weren't for the off-the-field experiences that have shaped her - most specifically, experiences that have made her realize she likes being out of her comfort zone, likes weathering many storms before tasting success, likes attaining what is seemingly unattainable.
Those realizations started in earnest after her junior year at Redwood High School in Larkspur, when, at the urging of her parents Katie and Jim, Burke spent the summer in a small village in Paraguay called Ciraty as part of the AMIGOS program, which sends youth abroad to promote development through community service. Burke found herself living with a family in what amounts to a shack with no running water or electricity.
"That kind of started to make me realize I'm a person that really likes to be pushed and out of their comfort zone," Burke said. "The trip definitely made me realize the rush I got from those sorts of experiences - having a very hard experience but persevering through them. I like being in an uncomfortable position and keep pushing until you can get where you want to be."
While in Ciraty, Burke was enlisted to help build fogones, a type of wood-burning stove that helps contain more smoke and thus lessens the amount of potentially harmful emissions being inhaled by the community's women. Burke also taught youth classes on topics like dental hygiene and helpful nutrients that can be found in plants.
Burke said while she was in Ciraty, she made an effort to fully invest in the people's culture. They spoke Spanish as well as Guarani, an indigenous language of South America. They also spent their afternoons outside drinking Terere, a Yerba Mate tea served cold.
"It's a very communal drink that people sit in the afternoon in a circle and pass it around," Burke said. "They have a very chill atmosphere. A lot of them said they want to live in America. I wanted to tell them, 'No, you have a pretty nice setup here.'"
Burke says the Paraguay experience definitely helped her when it came time to try out for Cal's lacrosse team as a walk-on during the summer after she graduated from Redwood.
"I was a walk-on here," Burke said. "That's something that I'm really proud of - taking situations that may seem out of my reach and trying to be successful with them."
When it came time to make plans for the summer after her freshman year at Cal, Burke had the itch once again to try something different. Her older sister, Gwen, received a grant to do some volunteer work in Peru, so Burke decided she would tag along. With assistance from her older brother, Jim, who had worked extensively in South America with microfinance institutions, Burke landed a position with Arariwa, a lender in the Cusco region of Peru.
Working with Kiva Fellows, a prestigious group of volunteers that work at alleviating poverty worldwide by granting loans to the underprivileged, Arariwa sought out borrowers in Cusco that had interest in furthering their education or starting a business. Burke's job was to interview the potential borrowers and then post their stories on Kiva's website for people to read, and then hopefully, pledge money.
"It was really difficult," Burke said. "I honestly don't think I was qualified enough to do it. I was conducting the interviews in Spanish. I'm pretty fluent but it can get pretty specific. I would write down words in my notebook and try to sound them out and try to get Google to translate them after."
Most of Burke's interviews were done on-site, meaning she would bus to someone's town or home and sometimes be faced with groups of borrowers numbering 20-30 people.
"I would walk in and try to interview each person and explain why I am there," Burke said. "They're wondering what this young-looking white girl is doing there. I feel like I can speak to any human on this earth after that experience."
The summer in Ciraty was the introduction to the world outside Burke's comfort zone. Her experience in Cusco simply confirmed her passion for spending time outside the normal box.
"In sports, I like the underdog position and having a purpose," Burke said. "The most rewarding part of my experience in Peru and Paraguay, and in sports here too, is having a larger goal. That's something that is really enticing to me - doing something that matters and having really hard experiences every day and not really thinking you can do it, those experiences where you questioned yourself. There were so many times in Peru where I just didn't want to walk into that room full of 20 people and explain what I was doing there. But then you would complete those tasks and it was awesome. I get so much satisfaction from that."
Cal's men's and women's tennis teams received bids to the 2013 NCAA Championships on Tuesday.
The women have been chosen to all 32 NCAA Tournaments and this marks the eighth season in a row they have been seeded high enough to host first- and second-round matches. The Bears enter this year's field as the No. 8 seed and will play Stony Brook in the first round. Saint Mary's and Auburn are also coming to Berkeley. The matches will be May 10-11 at the Hellman Tennis Complex.
Cal's men's team is headed to the University of Florida for a first-round matchup against Florida State on May 10. Florida and Denver are the other two teams headed to Gainesville, Fla. for first- and second-round matches.
The men are ranked 18th in the nation and finished the regular season with a record of 14-9. This will be their 14th straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
The Cal women will be looking to advance to the Round of 16 for the 12th time since the NCAA Championships went to 64 teams in 1999. The Bears reached the Elite Eight last season.
Coach Amanda Augustus, a former Cal star player now in her sixth season, led the Bears to back-to-back NCAA title match appearances in each of her first two years running the program.
"We're glad to be hosting, especially with our team finishing up their classes and going into finals," Augustus said shortly after her team watched the selections in the Haas Pavilion club room. "And it's a reward for having a good season. We've worked hard and we've had a really good regular season."
The Cal women are ranked No. 7 in the most recent national polls and finished the regular season at 16-5. The Bears feature two singles player ranked in the top 10 in the country -- No. 5 Zsofi Susanyi and No. 8 Anett Schutting.
Schutting has improved her ranking from No. 22 in the preseason, a development that has been especially important as the Bears have dealt with a couple of key injuries during the season.
"We've had some minor injuries here and there this season and at different times people have stepped up," Augustus said. "Particularly someone like Anett. She is now a consistent top-10 player with a legitimate shot."
Should the Bears get by Stony Brook and then the winner of the Saint Mary's-Auburn match, they would advance to the Round of 16 in Urbana, Ill.
Thirty years ago, Cal men's golf coach Steve Desimone took the Bears to their first-ever Pac-10 Tournament and they finished dead last by over 170 strokes.
Monday morning on the Los Angeles Country Club North Course - the same links that hosted that 1983 event - the No. 1 Bears will begin attempting to defend their first-ever Pac-12 title and tie an unofficial NCAA record with their 10th tournament victory of the 2012-13 season.
"To have the opportunity to defend our championship there and win a 10th tournament at L.A. North - I just kind of close my eyes and pinch myself and see if we can pull this off," Desimone said.
Watching the Bears these days, it doesn't seem possible they were once the doormats of the conference. The 2012-13 Cal men's golf team is one of the best ever in the history of college golf. Not only are the Bears on the cusp of tying the mark for most tournament wins in a season, they feature five golfers ranked in the top-26 in the country. That includes the nation's No. 1 golfer in sophomore Michael Kim, who has won four tournaments this season and is a candidate for the Haskins Award and national semifinalist for the Ben Hogan Award.
Junior Michael Weaver missed two tournaments earlier this month because he was competing in the Masters after finishing as the runner-up in last year's U.S. Amateur. Weaver, who will also compete at the U.S. Open in June, is the third-best Cal golfer in terms of ranking.
"I told the guys in September that I think we are the best team in the country," Desimone said. "But not in my wildest dreams did I think we'd be one away from tying the all-time record."
Despite the Bears' regular season accomplishments, Desimone acknowledges now is the time to really perform. Cal is favored to repeat as Pac-12 champions, then must finish in the top-five of the NCAA Regionals to return to the NCAA Championships. Last season, the Bears advanced to the NCAA semifinals before falling to Alabama.
"We have some unfinished business," Desimone said. "We have to take this as a step-by-step process. I think everybody understands that this is when legends are made, legacies are made. This is when it happens."
While the Bears are the prohibitive favorite to win the Pac-12 Tournament, the conference features a strong field. There are four other teams ranked in the top-10.The event is 72 holes over three days, beginning Monday at 8 a.m.
Like most corners of the globe, it's all about soccer in Denmark.
Except for the Konigsfeldt family.
Christoffer Konigsfeldt had a tennis racket in his hand before he could walk. His parents, Pernille and Thomas, were both tennis players. Both of Konigsfeldt's older brothers also played.
Tennis was a way of life in the Konigsfeldt home in Rungsted Kyst, a coastal suburb outside Copenhagen. Christoffer also played soccer for awhile as a young child, but it was a lost cause.
"I used to play in a (soccer) club, but I gave it up when I was 13 or 14," said Konigsfeldt, now a senior on Cal's men's tennis team. "I didn't have time for both tennis and soccer. At that time, I was already one of the top players in the country in tennis. I wasn't as good at soccer."
It appears as though Konigsfeldt chose the right sport. He became a member of Denmark's Davis Cup team last year and is the Bears' No. 2 singles player. He also teams up with junior Campbell Johnson to form Cal's No. 1 doubles team.
The Bears are in Ojai this weekend for the Pac-12 Championships after finishing in a tie for second place in the regular season standings. Third-seeded Cal will meet Utah in a second-round showdown on Thursday.
"Chris has a level of experience where he's used to playing in front of a hostile crowd or a really vocal crowd," Cal coach Peter Wright said. "He's not afraid of the spotlight. He's one of the guys, when we play a big match, he really gets up for it. When it comes to crunch time, he is a guy that we want to have out there in singles and doubles."
Konigsfeldt says in a small country like Denmark, the competition thins out pretty quickly at the highest level of tennis. When he got to Cal, he began facing better players more consistently.
"The competition is way higher here," he said. "In Denmark, at my age, we probably have three or four players that can compete. Here, it's hundreds, maybe a thousand that can compete at a high level. At home, you see the same three guys every weekend in the finals. Here, you see new guys all the time that can play. It's more exciting."
That being said, Konigsfeldt said playing Davis Cup is the ultimate accomplishment for a tennis player. And even though tennis itself may not be part of Denmark's daily mindset, it's a source of pride for him.
"It's not a huge deal. It's all about soccer in Denmark," Konigsfeldt said. "But you're representing your country. I was a ballkid for Davis Cup when I was growing up. I was always chasing the players for autographs. Suddenly, I'm the one the little kids are chasing. It's quite different."
Konigsfeldt has been to five Davis Cup matches with Denmark and played singles in two of them. He won a relegation playoff match in Finland last October and then was forced to skip Cal's match against Pacific in February to play in Romania, where he lost in a first-round contest.
Konigsfeldt said tennis has started to gain more popularity in Denmark since native Caroline Wozniacki ascended to No. 1 in the world in the women's game a couple years ago.
"For any tennis player, the Davis Cup is the biggest accomplishment," Konigsfeldt said.
The Bears enter the weekend ranked No. 18 in the country despite losing one of their top players, Riki McLachlan, to a knee injury early in the spring season. With contributions from players like McLachlan's brother, Ben, Konigsfeldt, Johnson and Gregory Bayane, Cal has been able to remain competitive with some of the best programs in the country. The Bears have knocked off No. 4 Duke and No. 11 Florida this season.
"The part that I'm really excited about is our guys really accepted the challenge and we've had some tremendous performances," Wright said. "We finished tied for second in the Pac-12, which is overachieving with this group of guys. We have a really good team, but for what we've been doing, I think the guys are just playing incredibly well as a unit."
This week's edition takes a look at what it takes for Cal to host a postseason tournament. The Bears are hosting the MPSF Women's Water Polo Championships this weekend at Spieker Aquatics Complex.
Highlights of Cal's walk-off win over Washington State on Sunday, courtesy of the Pac-12 Networks:
This edition focuses on Cal's 10th-ranked softball team, which hosts Oregon State this weekend.
A look back at Wednesday's Brand Identity Launch:
This edition features Cal golfer Michael Weaver, who will be playing in the Masters this week. Weaver will be the first Cal golfer ever to play in the Masters while still in college.
This week's update focuses on the men's tennis team.
Ana Cyr doesn't enjoy being the center of attention. But for one inspirational moment last week, she could live with it.
Fifteen months after undergoing an intrusive back surgery that left her playing career in limbo, Cyr trotted on to the field at Memorial Stadium to participate in a lacrosse game for the first time in almost two years. It was late in the game in which the Bears were beating Saint Mary's handily, but that didn't prevent her teammates from getting a little rowdy on the bench.
"Everyone was cheering and yelling my name," Cyr said. "That's not my style."
Cyr's style evidently is one of determination and patience. Faced with back and nerve pain so severe it left her in tears every night, she finally relented to undergoing surgery in December of 2011. The complex procedure wasn't so much to resurrect her lacrosse career. It was simply to ensure Cyr could live a normal, healthy life.
Because of a pronounced arch in her low back, Cyr was putting excessive stress on her spine. Eventually, her spine started to erode. She ended up with two fractured vertebrae, which started slipping. That put pressure on her discs as well as the nerves that go all the way down her legs. The result was a constant pain from her spine all the way down to her feet.
"I couldn't walk or sit or lay down, I was in so much pain," Cyr said. "I'd come home crying every day after practice there was so much pain."
Initially, Cyr tried to alleviate the pain through injections, but she said that worked for about a week. She finally consulted a surgeon, who told her she needed to have an operation to avoid compromising her ability to live a healthy life.
Four days after she took her last final of the fall semester in 2011, Cyr was on the operating table. The 6½-hour procedure required a vascular surgeon to move Cyr's aorta and vena cava to the side to make room for the orthopedic surgeon to work on her spine. Cyr had her injured vertebrae fused together to stop them from slipping and had a disc replaced as well.
"She's actually gotten taller," said Cal athletic trainer Dave Walden, who worked closely with Cyr during her recovery and was in the operating room or her surgery. "It's allowed her to stand more upright. It's allowed her to move without constant nerve pain."
The immediate aftermath of the surgery had Cyr simply learning to negotiate daily life again. She had to practice walking, sitting, getting out of bed. It was months before she could walk comfortably again.
"I had to learn how to stand again," Cyr said. "It was really like starting over. I couldn't put my socks on. You had to walk up a flight of stairs before you were allowed to leave the hospital.
"It took months before I could walk comfortably. I could only walk for so long and I would be exhausted. For the first three months, my exercise was walking to my classes. I had to stand up every 30 minutes. I'd sit in the back of the classroom and be standing up and sitting down."
Eventually, Cyr began resembling a healthy human being again. She attended practices and games as a spectator. And Walden recalls an afternoon in February of last year when he realized Cyr may make it back on the field someday.
"We were at Saint Mary's and she was standing up on the bench, and she jumped from the bench to the ground," Walden said. "At that point, I thought she was going to be fine. Our original goal was not to get her to be able to play lacrosse again. It was to have her be a healthy human being who could graduate from college and pick up her kids someday. Once we got to that place, then we started thinking about lacrosse. When she jumped off that bench, I knew she was going to be OK."
Finally, in January, Cyr was cleared to practice again. She didn't play in the Bears' two-game road trip to open the season but finally got back on the field in the home opener against the Gaels. She's played in the next two games as well.
Walden, who has been with Cyr as she overcame every hardship, was there on the field to embrace her after the game ended against Saint Mary's.
"I choked up a little bit," Walden said. "It was really magical. She's obviously one of the most determined athletes I've ever worked with. A lot of the credit goes to the procedure, the surgeon and all the trainers, but by and large most of the credit should go to her. Her determination, her willingness to do what's asked of her - she competed in the largest sense of the word."
The fourth annual "Jog For Jill" will be held this Sunday, March 10, beginning at the Kroeber Fountain at Noon. Registration begins at 11 a.m.
Jog for Jill is a yearly fundraiser put on by Jill's Legacy and the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation. The event honors Jill Costello, a former coxswain on the Cal women's crew, who passed away from lung cancer in 2010.
The 5K is open to runners, walkers, families and participants of all ages. Registration is $25 before the race, $30 on Sunday. The cost for kids ages 5-12 and seniors is $15. All participants who pre-register will receive a T-shirt. Those who register Sunday will receive T-shirts on a first-come, first-served basis.
The jog will take participants through campus and back to Kroeber Plaza, where a celebration of Jill's Legacy will take place. Cal is aiming to raise approximately $75,000 for Lung Cancer research through this event. Approximately $40-45,000 has already been raised through pre-registration.
Costello was diagnosed with lung cancer on June 6, 2009. Even with her illness, she competed in 2010 and led the Bears to the Pac-10 championship. She ended up being named Pac-10 Athlete of the Year and earned her degree in political economy.
This edition checks in with the women's tennis team and features sophomore sensation Zsofi Susanyi.
Heather Petri didn't come to Cal as an accomplished youth water polo player. She didn't take up the sport until she was a junior at Miramonte High School in Orinda, Calif. Petri walked on to the Bears program and was never on scholarship during what turned out to be an All-American collegiate career.
Perhaps that's what makes Saturday's special ceremony at Spieker Aquatics Complex even more remarkable. Petri, who after starring at Cal went on to play in four Olympics for the United States, will have her No. 13 cap retired before Saturday's Mountain Pacific Sports Federation opener against USC.
The presentation will take place at 12:45 p.m., with the match beginning at 1 p.m.
"I've never heard of something like this. It is such an honor," Petri said. "I've never looked at my career as something out of the ordinary. I'm very surprised and overwhelmed. I really love Cal or what it gave to me as an athlete. It's a big honor."
Petri played at Cal from 1997-99 and 2001, missing the 2000 season to play in her first Olympic Games. She was an All-American in 1999.
Petri and the U.S. won medals at all four Olympics during which she competed - two Silvers, one Bronze and a Gold Medal last summer in London. She is the only Cal athlete ever to medal in four different Olympics.
"She's an Olympic champion. There's not many of them in the sport of water polo," Cal coach Richard Corso said. "Not only is she a champion, but every time she has gone to the Olympic Games for the United States, she's come home with a medal. She's a great role model for our program. She was a great student-athlete when she was here. I can't think of any other way to honor somebody like that."
After spending all of her adult life committed fully to water polo, Petri says she is retired now. Just this week, she did a water polo practice for the first time since returning from London six months ago. In the time since, she has been able to use her Olympic status to make a goodwill trip to Africa, and in January was joined by three other 2012 Olympians - including former Cal rower Erin Cafaro - on a visit to Afghanistan to visit American troops.
"To watch how they are helping the Afghans take over is really cool," Petri said. "The people in our Armed Forces are great people. It was cool to be able to say thank you to them in person."
Without water polo, Petri now has more time for other things - simple pleasures that she never had time for in the past. She said she's taken up cooking and now has more time to foster relationships with friends and family.
"I love cooking, but I was always so tired I would just make a smoothie and go to bed," Petri said. "I'm re-connecting with my community, talking to kids. And I someone asks if I'd like to have dinner, I can actually say, 'Yes, I would.'"
Justin Howell and Elizabeth Crandall have a rule.
"We'll come home and talk about gymnastics, then shut it down," said Howell, Cal's head women's gymnastics coach.
Howell and Crandall are married, and Crandall is Howell's assistant coach.
"Our chemistry as coaches is great," Howell said. "We eat, sleep and breathe gymnastics. We don't bring work home all the time, but it's nice that we can talk about it over coffee in the morning."
Howell and Crandall have been busy coaching one of Cal's best teams in recent years. The Bears have spent most of the season in the top-25 and are poised to qualify for the NCAA regionals for the first time since 2007.
The Bears will need to have one of the top 36 regional qualifying scores at the end of the season to advance into the postseason. Cal currently sits at No. 35.
"I feel great about it," Howell said. "I'd like to feel a little more solid, but with the way this team is performing, there's no reason why we can't get back up there a little bit."
Cal will next be in action Friday night for a three-way meet at No. 12 Stanford, along with No. 9 Oregon State.
The regional qualifying score (RPS) is determined by taking a team's top-six all-around scores during the season, dropping the highest score, and then averaging the rest. Howell said the Bears' RPS has been driven down by one subpar meet at Utah.
"We're ready to get rid of that score," Howell said. "We want to kick it out of our average so we can get back in the top-25. Hopefully we'll do it this weekend."
If the Bears qualify for the NCAA regionals, they would have to finish in the top-2 there to advance to the NCAA championships.
Cal is led by junior Alicia Asturias and Mariesah Pierce, the team's top all-around performers. Freshman Serena Leong has also excelled on the vault, balance beam and floor exercise.
"We had an uncharacteristically bad meet at Utah," Howell said. "But there's no reason we shouldn't be able to drop that score. That would be a huge leap for us."
This week's edition focuses on the women's water polo team, especially All-American Emily Csikos, who is back with the Bears this season after spending 2012 with the Canadian National Team.
It took eight years, but Nancy McDaniel and the Cal women's golf team finally will get its chance again at Ruby Hill Golf Club in Pleasanton.
In 2005, the Bears hosted the Pac-10 championships at Ruby Hill and finished what McDaniel called a disappointing fifth place. Cal hasn't hosted a tournament since.
That will change this week when Ruby Hill will once again serve as the host site for a Cal tournament, this time the Cal Classic on Monday and Tuesday.
"We had a great team in 2005 and finished fifth. It was really disappointing, actually," McDaniel said. "To be able to host a tournament again means a lot to the program - to be able to give back to all of the tournaments that we participate in every year, that means a lot to us. Ruby Hill is a great facility."
Eleven teams will compete in the Cal Classic - including fellow Pac-12 teams Arizona State, Stanford and Oregon State. The field also includes Coastal Carolina, Fresno State, San Diego State, San Jose State, UC Davis, USF and UNLV. Ruby Hill features a par-72, 6,203-yard course.
McDaniel said it's a challenge hosting a tournament, particularly in finding a course that is available and determining dates that work for enough schools to field an event.
"This year, everything aligned and we're here," McDaniel said.
The Bears won their second-ever Pac-12 Championship last year and have two golfers returning from that squad - senior Jacqueline Williams and junior Nicola Rossler. Cal opened the spring season last weekend at the Peg Barnard Invitational at Stanford and finished second out of 13 teams. That included beating out two top-10 teams in the process.
Sophomore Morgan Thompson finished fourth individually last weekend, shooting a 1-under 141 for the two-day event.
Cal features two freshmen in its lineup with local ties that have played Ruby Hill in the past - Hannah Suh of San Jose and Carly Childs of Alameda.
"We feel like we're climbing the ladder right now," McDaniel said. "It's a nice place to be. This is a team to watch out for. They're not in the limelight at all at this moment, but this is a team to kind of track."
Corvallis, Oregon isn't exactly known as a factory for elite swimmers. So how did Cal freshman Jacob Pebley wind up on the USA Junior National Team?
"My family used to raft a lot, and they didn't want me to drown," Pebley said.
In the safety of a calm, contained swimming pool, Pebley has flourished. Despite training in relative obscurity in the Pacific Northwest, Pebley became one of the top backstrokers in the country. He had top programs like Texas, Florida and Georgia vying for his talents, but ultimately chose to join the two-time NCAA champions in Berkeley.
"I was always training by myself," Pebley said. "Coming here was completely different. Every practice is hard."
While Pebley swam for a club in Corvallis, there was nobody else there at his level. He was the only one to qualify for the Olympic Trials. He said there has been one other male swimmer from his club to earn a Division I scholarship.
"It's pretty cool to come from a town that doesn't have many D-I swimmers," Pebley said. "I'm used to being the big fish in a small pond, and I want to have that feeling again. But I have to work for it."
There's no question Pebley is surrounded by high-level swimmers at Cal, but the freshman is already carving out his own legacy in Berkeley. He owns the top time in the country this year in the 200 backstroke with a mark of 1:41.62.
"You don't see too many swimmers coming out of Oregon, in general," Cal coach Dave Durden said. "But his club program coach did a great job. For Jacob to come to an environment where he is surrounded by some Olympians, guys that are comparable in the world to where he is at, there is a comfort level to that. You can see him get better and better."
While being around fellow accomplished swimmers can be comforting, it is also a change from what he was used to back home. The internal competition is raising the level of his performance, as his performance in the 200 backstroke indicates.
"I like being at the top," Pebley said. "This is what I want. I feel like it's my event."
While Pebley clearly already is one of the top backstrokers in the country, next year he will have to compete just to retain that title on his own team. In 2013-14, Cal will see the arrival of six-star recruit Ryan Murphy, who has a best 200 back time of 1:40.90.
Pebley has raced internationally with Murphy and the two are friends.
"I couldn't be happier," Pebley said. "My goal is to make the Olympics, and racing a guy who has the same goal and is on the same level as me is going to push both of us every day. He's going to be great for the team."
Speaking of the team, the Bears are coming up on judgment time in college swimming. Cal hosts rival Stanford on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Spieker Aquatics Complex, then it's off to the Pac-12 Championships next week in Federal Way, Wash. The Bears will look for their third straight NCAA championship at the end of March in Indianapolis.
"It's always a different group, so even though we have a lot of guys that return with NCAA experience, it doesn't necessarily mean that much," Durden said. "There are some great experienced guys that know how to handle that meet. But it's more how that information is relayed to our younger guys. I think we have some good swimmers that have some good swims in them. But we really need to be clicking and firing as a team come the end of March, rather than just rely on a couple of individuals to take us there."
The Bear Blog will be on hiatus the rest of this week. See you next week!
Baseball coach David Esquer speaks at Bay Area Media Day:
Cal's women's tennis team doesn't get to play indoors very often. When it does, there are more differences than just a lack of uncontrollable elements.
In addition to the fact there is no wind, glaring sun or fluctuating temperature, there is nowhere to hide. And that is a good thing.
Because of the confined quarters, teammates are naturally closer to each other. That, in turn, fosters more of a team dynamic.
"It's so intense because we cheer so loud on the court," said Cal sophomore Zsofi Susanyi, the seventh-ranked singles player in the country. "It's so much more fun because of that. It's different because it's indoors and we're kind of close."
The No. 7 Bears gets one of their two indoor experiences of the year this weekend at the ITA National Women's Team Indoor Championship at the Boar's Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Va. Cal, the No. 5 seed in the field, meets No. 16 Michigan on Friday at 3:30 p.m. PT.
The Bears are one of 15 teams that advanced to the event by winning a ITA Kickoff Weekend title two weeks ago. Host Virginia rounds out the 16-team field. The Bears have reached the semifinals of the Indoor Championships in three of the past four years, including last season.
"Last year, a bunch of us lost our voices because we were cheering so loud for each other," Susanyi said. "It's a really big deal. No matter what, we are going out there to do whatever we can do to win for the team. It's so much better to win for all of us."
The Indoor Championship traditionally serves as a barometer for the nation's top teams early in the season. Most of the country's elite programs will be in Charlottesville, and the Bears are eager to see where they stack up against top competition.
"It's a national championship," Cal coach Amanda Augustus said. "It's early in the team season, so everyone is kind of getting a first look at everyone's team lineup at this time of year. It's a good opportunity for us to play out of region and play ranked teams that wouldn't ordinarily come out here and play us in a regular-season match.
Augustus said she is especially interested in exploring her doubles combinations to see what will be the team's best lineup moving forward. The Bears are strong at the top of their singles lineup with Susany and junior Anett Schutting, the nation's No. 9 singles player.
"Doubles-wise, do we have the right combination?" Augustus said. "We're pretty fortunate this year to have pretty good depth on the team, so I think we have a lot of options in terms of doubles. This is kind off a first look at it. We can move stuff around a bit. We need that doubles point to beat top-5, top-10 teams. That doubles point is huge."
Cal had a strong showing at the annual indoor championship in the fall, the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. Schutting advanced to the finals while Susanyi made the semis.
Susanyi is Cal's No. 1 singles player. She advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Singles championships as a freshman last season.
"Everyone knows Zsofi from last year," Augustus said. "I think she's ready for it and I think she's excited about it. She knows it's going to be tough."
Football coach Sonny Dykes talks about Signing Day on the Pac-12 Networks on Wednesday night:
The "Unity '13" Tour is about to get started.
The third-ranked Cal softball team opens the 2013 season Friday at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., and after knocking on the door of a Women's College World Series championship last season, the Bears are unified in the singular goal of taking that final step this June.
"Last year, we were hungry. This year, we're hungrier," Cal senior catcher Lindsey Ziegenhirt said. "We have really high expectations of ourselves this year and we expect to meet them and exceed them. Everyone is working together. It's exciting to be out here at practice."
The Bears have advanced to each of the past two Women's College World Series, but last year's ouster stung more because they were ranked No. 1 most of the season and many pegged them as the favorite heading into the postseason. The team has adopted the team motto of "Unity 13," a constant reminder to maintain solidarity throughout the 2013 season.
"They understand they're going to have to be a great team together," Cal coach Diane Ninemire said. "We'll have some youth out there at times, and our older players are going to have to be good leaders and help them out. The team is really blending well together. We're really looking forward to a great year."
While the Bears return a strong nucleus of returners, they also will be moving on without their top three hitters in terms of batting average from last season - Jamia Reid, Frani Echavarria and Valerie Arioto. In Arioto, Cal loses arguably the top player in the country.
But perhaps most important, senior Jolene Henderson is still in the circle for the Bears, and that alone makes Cal a championship contender. Henderson is a two-time first team All-American with the endurance to pitch the majority of the innings this season for the Bears. As a sophomore in 2011, Henderson led the country with 333 1/3 innings pitched.
Henderson is a two-time Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year who has led the nation in shutouts in each of the past two seasons.
"Jolene is one of the top pitchers in the nation," Ninemire said. "She's a real workhorse out there for our team. She'll throw as many games and as many innings as we need her to throw.
"She's the most durable pitcher I've ever had on this team. She doesn't tire. She just keeps going, no matter how tired she is. She's just highly motivated. She has an unbelievable work ethic. She's in great shape. I think the more she throws, the better she gets. She is going to have plenty of opportunity this year to pitch a number of games."
Arioto was also an accomplished pitcher - She started 24 games last season and went 20-3 with a 1.32 ERA. This year, the Bears don't have an experienced No. 2 starter. Sophomore Nikki Owens and freshmen Nisa Ontiveros and Taylor Lee will compete to give Henderson a break from the circle from time to time.
But Henderson and the Bears have been down this road recently. One of the reasons Henderson led the nation in innings pitched in 2011 is because Arioto missed the season with a broken leg. Without any other viable options, Henderson ended up starting 40 of Cal's 45 games.
"My freshman year, I wanted to strike everybody out," Henderson said. "I've improved mentally a lot. I started thinking about what I can control instead of trying to control everything. I've read a lot of mind books. Everyone in college is so good. The mental side can give you an edge."
Despite the loss of some firepower, the Bears still have threats up and down their lineup. Junior Britt Vonk is Cal's all-time leader in batting average (.380). Sophomore right fielder Breana Kostreba was selected to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team last year after batting .294 with 13 home runs and 42 RBI. Third baseman Danielle Henderson, Jolene's younger sister, had 16 homers and was second on the team with 101 total bases last year.
"The attitude this year is we got there last year but now we want to win it," Ziegenhirt said. "Not that we didn't want to win it last year, but this year were even more motivated because we came so close. It's really exciting to establish your own legacy. We can use the legacy of all the years before, but every year is a new team and brings something different and exciting for the season."
The Bears' first assignment this weekend will come against Kentucky at 10:30 a.m. PT on Friday. Cal is also slated to play Cal State Northridge, No. 14 Florida and Indiana.
This edition takes a look at the Cal men's swim team.
Cindy Tran doesn't have to look very far to find competition in the 100 backstroke.
The Cal junior is the two-time defending NCAA champion in the event. As of now, the top candidates to deny her a three-peat are practicing in the same pool every day.
Tran has the best time in the nation this year in the 100 back with a mark of 50.42. The two next best times belong to her teammates.
Freshmen Rachel Bootsma and Elizabeth Pelton rank second and third, respectively. Bootsma, a 2012 Gold Medalist in the 400 medley relay, is No. 2 at 50.54. Pelton has the third-best time with a 51.26.
"Even without them here, I had to push myself every single day," Tran said. "They're pushing me to be even better."
The internal competition is a direct result of Cal establishing itself as the premier women's swimming program in the country. The Bears have won three of the past four NCAA titles and are producing Olympians on a regular basis. Senior Caitlin Leverenz won the bronze medal in the 200 individual medley at the London Games last summer.
"Naturally the expectations with everything we've done are going to be heightened," Tran said. "It's naturally getting more competitive now, and our competition is not just against other schools. It's within our own team. It's challenging, but we're not afraid of the competition and the challenge. The girls on the team have embraced it. It's helped us grow."
The Bears split their first dual meets of the Pac-12 season against Arizona and Arizona State last weekend. This weekend, No. 7 Cal welcomes No. 1 USC to Spieker Aquatics Complex on Friday and No. 12 UCLA on Saturday.
Leverenz, the 2012 Honda Sports Award for Swimming after winning two individual and two relay titles at the NCAA championships, is the lone senior on this year's team. Swimmers like Pelton and Bootsma lead an impressive collection of younger talent that the Bears hope can continue to keep the program at the top of college swimming.
"Winning is of course the outcome you want, but you have to try to focus on getting better and the things you can control," Tran said. "Swimming is an individual sport but it's hard to swim by yourself," Tran said. "The support and help you give to each other is so important. That's the great things about college swimming. It's a dynamic you're never going to find by going pro or in a club."
Cal's sports programs continue to do terrific work in the classroom. At today's Intercollegiate Athletics staff meeting, athletic director Sandy Barbour announced the top three men's and women's programs during the fall semester in terms of grade point average, and it included a record-setting performance.
The women's golf team compiled a cumulative GPA of 3.466, which is the highest ever for any athletic team during one semester at Cal. The women's volleyball team had the second-best among women's programs at 3.297 while the women's tennis team was third at 3.212.
The men's tennis team had the best team GPA among all of Cal's men's programs with a 3.310. Men's golf was second at 3.163 and the men's water polo program was third with a mark of 3.116.
"The work that is put into it, you better take pride in it," Barbour said. "You've not only put in an incredible amount of work and effort and skill, but you've achieved it."
There is an internal competition among Cal's sports teams when it comes to academic performance. Since different programs can't compete against each other in the playing arena, they use the classroom setting to compare themselves against their peers on campus.
"We're incredibly competitive about what we do from an athletic results standpoint," Barbour said. "But we're actually more competitive in the classroom because it's apples to apples. They're sitting in the same classrooms. There's really a wonderful competitive drive and competition over performance in the classroom. Given the skills and the aspirations of the young people we recruit and the kind of coaches that are naturally attracted here, I think it's certainly something we are proud of and something we honor and celebrate."
This edition of This Week in Cal Athletics takes a look at the women's swimming and diving team's upcoming matches against USC and UCLA, as well as sophomore co-captain Caroline Piehl.
There will be a flurry of activity at the Hellman Tennis Complex this weekend as Cal's men's and women's tennis teams host the ITA Kickoff Weekend.
The annual tournament is held at 15 sites across the country, with four schools competing at each venue. The winner of the two-day event at each site advances to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship.
The Bears are one of the host sites and seeded first on both the men's and women's side. The men's event goes first, with the No. 14 Bears hosting No. 38 Boise State Friday at 10 a.m. The following match will pit No. 20 Michigan against No. 35 Santa Clara. The championship and consolation matches will be played Saturday.
Then it will be the women's turn, with the No. 7 Bears taking on No. 59 Fresno State at 10 a.m. on Sunday. In the second match, No. 41 Saint Mary's will play No. 51 UNLV. The losers will meet in the consolation match Monday morning at 10 a.m. with the championship match to follow.
The women's draw will have some familiar faces, as both Fresno State and Saint Mary's took part in the Cal Winter Invitational last weekend. The Bears swept that competition, as sophomore Zsofi Susanyi won the singles title and teamed up with freshman Klara Fabikova to take the doubles event.
Susanyi enters the weekend as the No. 7 singles player in the country. Teammate Anett Schutting is ranked No. 9, giving the Bears two of the top-10 singles players nationally. Susanyi advanced to the NCAA semifinals last season as a freshman, and both her and Schutting made it to the semifinals of the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in New York during the fall season.
Cal has two other ranked singles players - freshman Lynn Chi at No. 109 and senior Annie Goransson at No. 110. But the Bears also lost 2011 NCAA singles champion Jana Juricova to graduation.
"Zsofi and Anett had a great fall. We have a strong returning group," Cal coach Amanda Augustus said. "We have two really good freshmen this year. They've really stepped up. I think we're going to have a deep team."
Although Schutting played No. 1 singles last weekend at the Cal Winter Invitational, Susanyi figures to assume that role for most of the season, including this weekend.
"Anett played a bit of No. 1 last weekend, but Zsofi will play No. 1 this weekend," Augustus said. "Zsofi has the experience. She played No. 1 last year for a bit when Jana was out hurt. She understands playing that position. She learned a lot from Jana. She's ready for it."
Augustus said while it looks like Susanyi and Schutting are set as the top two players, it's Nos. 3-6 that are still fluid. Doubles is still competitive too, and with promising freshmen like Chi and Fabikova in the mix, it may take a while to sort out the Bears' lineup.
"We may try a couple of different lineups," Augustus said. "This is the time of year to figure out what our strongest lineup is."
This week's edition takes a look at the rugby team's return to Witter Field and its match this weekend against Stanford.
The women's tennis team is hosting the Cal Winter Invitational this weekend at the Hellman Tennis Complex. The Bears welcome No. 42 Saint Mary's, No. 60 Fresno State and Santa Clara to town for the three-day tournament. The event kicked off this morning and goes all day for the next three days. Action begins at 10 a.m. each day.
Today, two Olympic Gold Medalists from Cal are on a plane headed for Afghanistan, where they will take part in the "Olympic Heroes Tour" organized by Armed Forces Entertainment. Water polo player Heather Petri and rower Erin Cafaro are joining wrestler Rulon Gardner and rower Susan Francia to visit American troops on a handful of bases to show off their gold medals, shake hands and take a lot of pictures.
Cafaro says she was told it is a way for the troops to thank them. But she says it's actually the other way around.
"They said they want to say thank you to us, but we're going to say thank you to them for putting their lives on the line and serving our country," Cafaro said.
Cafaro won gold in the Women's 8+ event in both 2008 and 2012 while Petri,a four-time Olympian, helped the American win gold in London.
Cafaro and Petri, who have each gotten involved in other philanthropic causes since becoming Olympians, both actively sought out the trip to Afghanistan. The tour will last 10 days.
"I'm really excited I'm getting to go have this experience," Petri said. "I don't think a lot of us understand their lives. They afford us the right to compete. It's a way to go over there and say thank you."
In the days leading up to her departure, Petri had a message on her Facebook page asking people to e-mail her thank-you letters to distribute to the troops. Some of those who contributed letters are the members of Cal's current women's water polo team.
Petri has been busy since returning from London. In October, she took part in a swim across the San Francisco Bay to benefit cancer research. Then in November she visited underprivileged communities in Rwanda and Uganda to work with "Right To Play," an organization that attempts to empower and educate children facing adversity through play.
After her swim in the Bay, Petri was afforded the opportunity to visit the hospital the raised funds would actually go to, meeting patients and doctors and learning how the money would be used.
In Uganda, she visited refugee camps on the border of Congo where she said "thousands of kids were trying to learn and play and be kids."
"You hear about these things, but actually seeing them in person blew me away," Petri said. "To hear their testimonials was incredible."
Cafaro, along with some of her boat mates, visited the Walter Reed Hospital after winning gold in 2008. It's those kind of experiences that motivate her to pursue the experience she is currently undertaking.
"That was kind of my first validation that what I was doing isn't just selfish," Cafaro said. "It was a moment that was bigger than me. So to go over and thank them for serving our country, I'm so pumped and ready to go."
Cafaro also has recently gotten involved with "Transition Possible," a San Antonio-based organization that works with wounded veterans and adaptive athletes to provide the means for them to continue to be involved with athletics and lead productive lives. After returning from Afghanistan, Cafaro is immediately flying to San Antonio to for an event.
"I think it can only make me a better and more understanding person," Cafaro said. "I hope to make it a part of me. Everybody has their philanthropic causes. This is another way for me to serve my country."
The women's gymnastics team is getting ready to open the 2013 season with a home meet Sunday against Arizona, Auburn and Kentucky. It will be the first meet under new coach Justin Howell. The meet begins at 2 p.m. and will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks on a tape-delay basis. It will air next Wednesday (Jan. 9) at 5 p.m.
Here' s a look at Cal's event management staff preparing for the meet at Haas Pavilion.
Dr. Joon-Seo Andrew Choi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sport Industry & Management at Hanyang University in Seoul, Korea. But what he and his students saw this week is nothing like what they are used to back home.
As part of the school's Global Sports Immersion program, Choi took 10 of his students across the globe to learn about the enormity that is the sports culture in the United States. Part of the tour includes a visit to a college campus, and Choi took his group to Cal earlier this week to check out the Simpson Center and renovated California Memorial Stadium, and was given a presentation about Cal Athletics by Director of Olympic Sports Operations Aaron Schulman.
"It's unreal," said Choi, who spent seven years as an assistant professor at the University of San Francisco before moving back to Asia earlier this year. "Just the fact that college athletics could devote this much time, effort and money into sports - that's probably the biggest takeaway from my Korean students. We don't have anything similar to this. Our universities have fairly similar number of teams and athletes, but your devotion to sports and academics is unparalleled."
The Korean group spent a week in California, visiting pro and college teams as well as other organizations involved with sports business. Choi taught the same program while at USF, and Schulman is one of his former students. When Choi was at USF, he took students to Korea for a similar mission, and Schulman made the trip earlier this year.
"It was an honor and a privilege because my trip to Korea was such an influential and impactful experience for me," Schulman said. "Without question, I wanted to make it as impactful for them as my experience was."
Schulman met the group outside Memorial Stadium and took them on to the field for pictures. The group then received a tour of the different wings of the Simpson Center before winding up in the Kronk Meeting Room for a presentation that included videos about Cal Athletics and its Olympic success.
"There may be some opportunities for us to do a renovation project on campus, so this is a great benchmark," Choi said. "The whole sports industry is becoming more and more global, so I think it's a benefit for both parties - our students and an organization like Cal Athletics - to just lower the fences and borders and become a smaller community."
Schulman also spent extensive time outlining the Olympic Sports internship program, and Choi said some of his students may be interested in coming to California for such a position.
"One of the things we're trying to do here at Cal is be a world-class brand," Schulman said. "What better way to increase our notoriety as a world-class brand than to have students seek us out from across an ocean to come and see how we do things at Cal, to see our facilities and to be able to ask us questions. Nothing speaks more about our world-class brand."
Images of the group's Cal visit are below.
This edition of This Week in Cal Athletics focuses on the volleyball team's trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Cal's women's volleyball team has received an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. It's the 11th straight year the Bears have qualified for the postseason, which is a school record. Cal will open the tournament at Iowa State with a first-round match against North Carolina, which beat the Bears in the first round of last year's tourney.
Missy Franklin likes to have fun, even if it means stringing along her future college coach for a few minutes.
Before the Olympic gold medalist informed women's swimming and diving coach Teri McKeever that she wanted to come to Cal, she made it sound like she didn't.
"She went into a long spiel of how it was hard to make a decision and basically said all the buzz words you say when you want to thank someone and then say no thanks," McKeever said. "Luckily, she said she wanted to come."
Truth be told, there was never a doubt in Franklin's mind that Cal was the school for her. The high school senior from Centennial, Colo. captured the imagination of the world last summer by winning four gold medals and a bronze at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Franklin signed her National Letter of Intent on Wednesday, highlighting an elite recruiting class that included three other top-15 recruits that should keep the Bears at the top of college swimming.
When asked to sum up Cal in one word, Franklin said: "Perfect, because I can't find a single thing that I don't like about it. The team is absolutely amazing. I obviously love the coaches. The campus itself is gorgeous. I can just see myself going there. I am so over the moon. I can't believe I am going to be a freshman there next year."
During the 2012 Olympics, Franklin set a world record in taking the gold medal in the 200-meter backstroke in a time of 2:04.06. She won the gold in the 100-meter backstroke with an American record time of 58.33. Franklin was also part of the United States' gold-medal winning relay teams in the 400-meter medley and 800-meter freestyle relay. Her 400-meter freestyle relay team took the bronze.
McKeever was the U.S. Olympic Team coach, and Franklin said their relationship is another big reason she chose to come to Berkeley.
"I first got interested in Cal when I started going on national team trips for swimming and Coach Teri was almost always on the staff," Franklin said. "I always remember looking up to her and just always admiring her coaching style and how she coached the girls. I always wanted to be a part of that group and I always wanted to be coached under Teri. I've worked with so many amazing college coaches but I always felt a really, really special draw to Coach Teri and I'm so thrilled to be able to have the opportunity to work with her."
Franklin is an addition to what is becoming a long list of Olympic swimmers to swim for Cal, a group that includes 12-time medalist Natalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer and Caitlyn Leverenz, each of whom won medals in London over the summer. Leverenz is currently a senior at Cal.
Franklin obviously won't be your ordinary freshman next fall, but McKeever expects her to blend in and fully embrace everything Cal has to offer.
"I just think in my heart intellectually I felt like this was a good fit for her," McKeever said. "But I also know that I've been doing this long enough that you never know. Until I actually heard it, I wasn't going to put the cart before the horse. I'm very pleased that she's going to be part of it.
"She knew a lot about myself, she knew a lot about people who attended Cal, but she had never been on campus. That was my uncertainty, just physically how would she feel on campus. She indicated that she felt at home right away and felt comfortable and could see herself at a coffee shop studying and just engaging with the community at whole. I think that's definitely what she was looking for."
Franklin plans on swimming at Cal for two seasons before turning pro in preparation for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but plans on still pursuing her degree.
"I would love to get a degree from Cal. That's my ultimate goal," Franklin said. "Academics have always been really, really important to me, so regardless of my amateur or professional status, I know I'm going to end with a degree from Cal, which is going to be one of the most exciting parts of this entire experience and this entire blessing."
When asked what she will bring to Cal's team when she arrives on campus, Franklin's answer had nothing to do with her accomplishments in the pool.
"I hope to bring whatever it is that they need," Franklin said. "I want to be there as a friend, a teammate, a motivator, whatever it is that I can be for my teammates. I can't wait to get to know the girls even better. They are already like my family, so I can't even imagine how it's going to be once I'm actually part of the team."
When the big screen in the Kronk Meeting Room inside the Simpson Center displayed Cal's name on NCAA.com's NCAA Tournament Selection Show on Monday, it produced a mixture of applause and gasps from the Bears' women's soccer players.
Yes, the Bears were happy to be in the NCAA Tournament. They were not quite as happy that they were put on the road for a first-round matchup at Pepperdine.
"We expected to host and we hoped to host," Cal coach Neil McGuire said. "But we prepared them that either way, it doesn't matter. It's just a soccer field and another team that we have to look in the eye."
With a strong RPI, a No. 23 national ranking and a third-place finish in the top-heavy Pac-12, the Bears felt they were deserving to host a first-round match. The top two teams in the conference are Stanford and UCLA, the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country.
But the Bears will have to make the 384-mile bus trip to Malibu instead for a Saturday matchup at 1 p.m. Since Pepperdine's campus is less than 400 miles away, Cal must take buses rather than fly south.
"We're kind of used to being pushed aside a little bit," Cal senior Lauren Battung said. "It's always going to be a motivational factor. At the same time, we're prepared for any situation."
The Bears (15-5) aren't just going on the road. They have their hands full with a tough opponent. Pepperdine (12-6) is ranked 22nd nationally after finishing in third place in the West Coast Conference.
Battung said while some of the Bears feel slighted they didn't get a home match, they aren't taking their position for granted.
"We always have to be appreciative of the position we are in," she said. "That can never be overlooked. Sometimes that can be lost. We're very thankful to be there and we know we've worked hard. I'm personally very excited. I'm ready for anything that comes to us."
This week's Cal Sports Report:
Cal's men's golf team advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Championships last season before bowing out against Alabama.
Need a little something to get over that final hump and take home the national title? How about adding in someone who came four feet away from being declared the top amateur in the nation?
The Bears return their entire NCAA lineup from last season in 2012-13 and welcome back junior Michael Weaver, who was a redshirt last season. Weaver had a potential tournament-winning four-foot putt horseshoe out on the final hole of the championship match of this year's U.S. Amateur, where he ended up losing on the first playoff hole.
Teammate Brandon Hagy advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur and the Bears had five players in the tournament overall. All five of those players are on this year's team.
Not surprisingly, Cal is the No. 1 team in the country early this season, winning all three tournaments it has entered. The Bears host their only event of the season Monday and Tuesday at the Meadow Club in Fairfax.
"We knew we were going to be at full strength coming into this year," said Cal coach Steve Desimone, now in his 34th season at Cal. "It's not a surprise. The developmental progression these guys have been on has continued in a positive way. These guys have been high-achievers all of their lives. They are used to success."
The Bears have four of Golfweek's top 31 players - No. 3 Max Homa, No. 5 Michael Kim, No. 20 Michael Weaver and No. 31 Brandon Hagy. Homa advanced to the Round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur.
Desimone thought his program might be able to take the next step to this level when Hagy, Homa and Weaver arrived on campus as part of a blue-chip recruiting class in 2009. The grand plan hasn't disappointed.
"We knew that was a special group when they came in," Desimone said. "There's been no plateau, no regression. That's really unusual. In college golf, there's usually some variability, even with the best teams. We have guys who want to work hard and learn and compete. When you have that, you have a chance to do great things, and that's what's happening with this program."
The Bears haven't just been good the last couple of years, they've been consistently good. Cal has won nine of the last 17 tournaments it has entered, and it has finished in the top-five of every single one of them.
"Just practicing with each other, we push each other a lot," Hagy said. "Through the years, we've gotten better together. We've all improved a lot since my freshman year, and some of that has to do with competing against each other and practicing together."
Weaver redshirted last season to prepare for entering the prestigious Haas School of Business. He was able to still enter amateur tournaments from time to time, which clearly helped him get ready for the U.S. Amateur in August. It was a big year for Weaver, and next year will be big, too. In addition to helping the Bears try to take home a national championship, Weaver gained automatic entry into The Masters and U.S. Open with his runner-up finish at the U.S. Amateur.
"It was a great week. The finish was obviously not what I had hoped," Weaver said of the U.S. Amateur. "It was a lot of fun, but the disappointing part is I didn't win. All in all, it was a great week. It kind of validated in my own mind that I could play with all the good players. I always thought I could, but thinking it and doing it are a lot different."
The Bears lost to Alabama on the final hole of its NCAA semifinal last season. With the firepower remaining on this year's team, there is only one goal talked about among Cal's players.
"Last year provides motivation and it was a good experience, too," Hagy said. "We have to continue to make our statement, and we do that by winning tournaments. This is the fall season. These three wins are a good step for us, but we want to win the last three tournaments."
Tough loss for men's soccer today. The Bears went double overtime with Washington before losing on the road, 1-0. Luis Fuentes had three shots for Cal.
The women's soccer team won its sixth straight and 10th of the last 11th match this afternoon, defeating Arizona State on the road, 2-0. The Bears are now 12-3 overall, 5-1 in the Pac-12 Conference. Cal can move into second place in the conference standings if UCLA does not beat Washington on the road tonight. The Bears have just five regular season matches remaining, including showdowns with UCLA and first-place Stanford.
When Cal women's soccer coach Neil McGuire watched a handful of freshmen make an impact in 2010, he knew he might have something special on his hands down the road.
That road has reached the 2012 season, and McGuire and the Bears are starting to reap the benefits.
That freshman class has turned into a core of experienced juniors, and they are a big reason why Cal takes a five-match winning streak into Friday afternoon's Pac-12 Conference game at Arizona State at 1 p.m.
"When you have a seed and you pour water on it, it's eventually going to flourish," McGuire said. "They've definitely grown in maturity and stature, and they also have tremendous leadership qualities."
Several of those freshmen from 2010 are making an impact for this year's Bears, who not only have won five in a row, but have taken nine of 10 and are smack-dab in the middle of the Pac-12 race at 11-3 overall, 4-1 in conference play. Junior Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick leads the team with 34 shots and ranks third with 11 points. Emi Lawson, who has five points, is a top defender who was a Pac-12 All-Freshman Team selection along with Fitzpatrick two years ago.
Junior Emily Kruger has been the team's starting goaltender since midway through her freshman season. Fellow juniors Rachel Mercik and Genessee Daughetee are also entrenched in the starting lineup.
Throw in another productive freshman class, led by explosive forward Ifeoma Onumonu's team-best eight goals and 19 points, as well as senior and New Zealand Olympian Betsy Hassett, and it's easy to see why Cal is in the thick of the Pac-12 race.
"This team is playing well together," McGuire said. "The team is fit, for the most part it's healthy, and we're playing good soccer. When you have those three components working in your favor, it's a benefit."
While the Bears are talented and experienced, McGuire says just as important is the chemistry he's observed between teammates.
"They are a very caring group for each other," McGuire said. "We don't have any divide by class. They are incredibly close -- the most I've ever experienced in my coaching career."
This week's Cal Sports Report with Todd McKim:
With a big week of volleyball ahead on the schedule, there are a slew of activities and promotions that should make for an exciting atmosphere at Haas Pavilion as Cal welcomes No. 6 USC and No. 7 UCLA to town.
The Bears, who are 9-7 and 3-3 in the Pac-12 Conference, host the Trojans on Friday at 8 p.m. As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it will be "Think Pink, Dig Pink Day" at Haas Pavilion, meaning all fans wearing pink get in for just $3. Also, the first 500 fans will receive a free pink ribbon courtesy of Zeta Tau Alpha. The festivities will also include a special Greek Challenge at halftime where members of Cal fraternities and sororities will compete in a "pink" yogurt eating contest.
Cal then welcomes the Bruins to Haas Pavilion on Sunday at 2 p.m., and it will be Beach Day as well as Girl Scout Day. There will be beach-themed activities for all fans on Spieker Plaza outside Haas Pavilion from 1-2 p.m., including photo opportunities with a beach backdrop and accessories such as oversized sunglasses and hula skirts. There will also be face painting, Cal script tattoos, and a chance for kids to dig through a sand-filled kiddie pool to win cool Cal Volleyball prizes.
Girls Scouts will take part in pre-match poster making and also have the opportunity to participate in all of the Beach Day activities.
The first 1,000 fans will receive free leis, and all fans that bring a beach towel will get to sit courtside for the match.
Also Sunday, Cal Coach Rich Feller will hold a "Chalk Talk" session in the Haas Pavilion Club Room from 1:15-1:30 p.m. where he will preview the match and field questions from fans.
Finally, all Cal players will be available for autographs following each match this week.
For more information or to buy tickets, call 800-GO-BEARS.
The No. 15 women's soccer team looks to maintain its momentum with a road swing through Colorado and Utah this weekend.
The Bears (9-3-0, 2-1-0 Pac-12) are coming off their first conference sweep in two years and have won seven of their last eight. Last weekend, Cal beat both Oregon and No. 19 Oregon State at home.
Cal plays Colorado (6-3-3, 0-2-1) this afternoon and then visits Utah (7-2-2, 2-1-1) on Sunday. The Bears are 4-0 on the road this season.
Former Cal star basketball player Jorge Gutierrez will continue his career in Mexico. The 2012 Pac-12 Player of the Year has signed with Pioneros de Quintana Roo of Cancun. The team plays in the National Professional Basketball League.
Former Cal swimmer and Olympian Anthony Ervin just started competing in the 2012 World Cup, which will take him to Dubai, Doha, Stockholm, Moscow, Berlin, Beijing, Tokyo and Singapore. At the first stop yesterday in Dubai, Ervin swam a lifetime best 21.07 to win the 50 freestyle. He also swam a personal-best 47.04 to finish second in the 100 freestyle.
You can follow Ervin's journey here, which also has information on how to support the former Bear with his travel expenses.
The volleyball team's showdown against No. 2 Oregon tonight at Haas Pavilion will be nationally televised by the Pac-12 Networks. The match begins at 7 p.m.
Cal is 8-6, 2-2 in conference play while the Ducks are 13-0, 4-0 in the Pac-12. Oregon has dropped just three sets all season.
Still, the Bears are feeling good after their four-set win at Arizona last Sunday. It's been an up-and-down season so far for Cal, with key injuries having a lot to do with that. But Cal played its best all-around match of the season against the Wildcats. If the Bears can duplicate the same kind of performance, they should be able to give Oregon a challenge.
Tonight is the first of four home matches in a row for the Bears, who started the season by playing 10 of their first 14 on the road. Cal welcomes Oregon State to Berkeley on Friday night. Next week, it's No. 5 USC coming to Haas Pavilion on Friday and No. 6 UCLA in on Sunday.
Cal's women's basketball team has started practicing for the 2012-13 season. Here's a look at the Bears getting after it today:
The Bears lost no seniors from last year's team that went 25-10 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Cal is ranked 14th in the country in Lindy's 2012-13 preseason poll.
Last week was National Championship Week on campus. Part of the festivities included a reception at the home of Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau. Here's a look:
Defensive back Michael Lowe speaks to the media at today's weekly press conference.
A big week by the women's soccer team highlighted the Bears in action last week.
The No. 19 Cal women swept their Pac-12 home matches against the Oregon schools, including an impressive 3-1 victory Sunday over Oregon State, which came in ranked No. 12 in the country.
The Bears held a staggering 25-7 advantage in shots against the Beavers, which entered the week with a 9-1 record. Ifeoma Onumonu scored her team-best fifth goal of the season as Cal scored two second-half goals to take command.
In the win over the Ducks on Friday, Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick and Celeste Boureille scored goals as Cal registered it second straight shutout, 2-0. Fitzpatrick has five career goals against Oregon, including a hat trick last season.
In other Cal action last week:
A busy Cal weekend is underway. It started early this afternoon when Cal's field hockey team fell to Stanford 2-1 in both teams' NorPac opener. Jordan O'Reilly scored the goal for the Bears.
The No. 19 women's soccer team blanked Oregon 2-0. Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick and Celeste Boureille scored for the Bears, who registered their first Pac-12 victory of the season (1-1, 8-3 overall).
Also, today, the men's soccer team is just getting started in its Pac-12 opener against San Diego State. Tonight at 6 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks, the women's volleyball team visits Arizona State.
An early conference season men's soccer showdown highlights a busy weekend coming up for Cal Athletics.
The Bears' men's soccer team opens Pac-12 play Friday at home against San Diego State, and then welcomes conference favorite UCLA to Edwards Stadium on Sunday. The match against the Bruins will air on the Pac-12 Networks.
UCLA is ranked No. 9 in the country and is the defending Pac-12 champion, but the Bears are off to a hot start at 5-2-1 and could challenge the Bruins in the conference race.
Check out this week's edition of the Cal Sports Report
Cal's women's golf team won the Washington State Cougar Cup today, Senior Jacqueline Williams and freshman Hannah Suh tied for second individually. It's the Bears first tourney win of the season.
A look back at the week of Cal Athletics:
There is still a lot of Cal action on tap for the rest of the weekend. Here's a quick recap of what has transpired so far in Bear-land:
Cal will be featured on the Pac-12 Network four times during the rest of this week.
Tonight's women's volleyball Pac-12 opener at No. 6 Stanford at 7 p.m. kicks it off, followed by the No. 15 women's soccer team's conference opener against Arizona on Friday at 2 p.m. at Edwards Stadium. Saturday, the football team's Pac-12 opener at No. 13 USC airs on the network at 3 p.m. Then on Sunday, it's the men's soccer contest against Loyola Marymount at Noon at Edwards Stadium.
Also on Sunday, the No. 3 men's water polo team's Mountain Pacific Sports Federation opener at No. 1 USC airs on ESPNU at 1 p.m.
Cal would have obviously preferred a victory Saturday at No. 12 Ohio State, but if nothing else the Bears proved they can play with a top team on the road during their 35-28 loss in Columbus, Ohio.
In many ways, Cal outplayed Ohio State. But the Buckeyes were able to break a 28-28 tie with just over three minutes left to pull out the victory.
It was an electrifying game for sophomore tailback Brendan Bigelow, who had touchdown runs of 81 and 59 yards. His incredible 81-yarder was one of the top plays on ESPN's SportsCenter on Saturday night.
Also around the athletic department last week:
Christopher Lee has joined Cal's women's water polo coaching staff as a volunteer assistant coach. Lee is the former head coach of both the men's and women's water polo programs at Penn and has been heavily involved with the U.S. National Team program the past couple years. Lee has coached in the Olympic Development program and was the videographer for the U.S. Women's Water Polo Team that won the gold medal last month in London.
Lee has a major in computer science from Penn, where he also minored in architecture. He also has a Master of Architecture degree from the Penn School of Design. Lee is also pursuing a Master of Science degree at Cal.
Catch football coach Jeff Tedford, fullback Eric Stephens, men's soccer coach Kevin Grimes and cross country coach Tony Sandoval on Cal Coaches Corner tonight. The one-hour radio show devoted to Cal athletics airs from 6-7 p.m. on KNEW 910-AM.
We're in the middle of another action-packed weekend of Cal sports. There is still more to come, but here's what's happened so far:
The Cal Athletic Department is setting up shop in Columbus, Ohio this week, and it's not just because of the football team's visit to Ohio State.
While the Bears are taking on the 12th-ranked Buckeyes, Cal's rugby team also begins its fall 7s season at the Buckeye Sevens Invitational, also on Ohio State's campus.
Those are two of a slew of events Cal sports will be taking part in the rest of this week.
The Bears have already gone international this week, with the women's golf team taking part in the Topy Cup in Tangura, Japan. Cal and Oregon are the only women's teams competing in the event, along with a handful of men's teams. The Bears were in first place after the first day Tuesday with a combined score of 280. Junior Nicola Rossler and freshman Hannah Suh each carded 70 for Cal. The tournament runs three days (54 holes).
The men's soccer team also has already been in action this week, and they did so in fine fashion with a 5-0 rout of Houston Baptist on Tuesday. Five different Bears scored, including Tony Calciccia's team-leading third goal of the season. Cal hosts USF on Sunday.
Around the athletic department this week:
Former Cal star wide receiver DeSean Jackson is making an impact on his community in Philadelphia. Click here to read about Jackson's contribution to our country's service personnel.
Cal junior Collin Smith has been named Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Player of the Week. Smith scored 19 goals in five matches last weekend at the Princeton Invitational. The No. 3 Bears won all five matches, including two against ranked teams.
Cal's Men's Soccer Team has a rare morning soccer game today when it hosts Houston Baptist at 11:30 a.m. at Edwards Stadium.
It's the second of a seven-match homestand for the Bears, who come into the game with a 2-2 record. Cal also hosts USF on Friday afternoon.
The Bears have never played the Huskies, who enter today's tilt with a 2-3 record.
Senior midfielder Tony Salciccia leads Cal with 5 points, including two goals.
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