General: November 2012 Archives
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."
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