Ron Wellman Writes on Wake Forest's Olympic Sport Success

Nov. 18, 2009

Wake Forest University Director of Athletics Ron Wellman will write a biweekly column for WakeForestSports.com that deals with issues specific to Wake Forest and its intercollegiate athletic program.

While football dominates most of the headlines during the fall, we are now entering that time of the year where our Olympic sports shine. And with the football team enjoying an open date this week, our fall Olympic sport teams will get more of the spotlight that they richly deserve.

The NCAA Field Hockey Final Four comes to Winston-Salem this weekend with two semifinal matches on Friday and the national championship game on Sunday at noon. This marks just the first time in 10 years that Wake Forest has not qualified for the Final Four. Jen Averill's team had another fine year and will serve as excellent hosts for this weekend's festivities.

We have always taken great pride in the success of both our men's and women's soccer programs. Of course, most are aware of the men's soccer national championship in 2007 and the three straight trips to the College Cup. Jay Vidovich has built a powerhouse college soccer program that represents Wake Forest very well. We wish Jay and his staff and student-athletes all the best as they commence play in this year's NCAA Tournament on Sunday, Nov. 22 at 5 p.m. at Spry Stadium.

Tony da Luz and his staff have also enjoyed a terrific season, posting a 15-5-2 record and reaching as high as No. 5 in the nation. The Deacons defeated Kennesaw State and West Virginia to advance to the third round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999. Wake Forest will travel to Columbia, S.C. to face the Gamecocks on Friday night at 7 p.m.

This weekend also marks the final home matches for our women's volleyball program. After a difficult start to the season, Heather Kahl Holmes has led the club to the 500th victory in program history and also the 100th ACC win.

We are fortunate at Wake Forest that we have outstanding facilities that allow us to host NCAA Championship events. Both the men's and women's soccer teams and the field hockey team were granted home field advantage for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. But just having good facilities is not enough. The NCAA also looks at the game operations and field maintenance abilities of each school that bids to host a championship. At Wake Forest, we have outstanding staffs in our Operations and Facilities areas. Much of what they do goes unnoticed by the public. With all the rain we experienced last week, the staff was challenged to have Spry Stadium and Kentner Stadium in tip-top shape. They came through with flying colors and we should all salute them for their efforts.

While this has been a disappointing football season in terms of the number of victories, let's remind ourselves of what this group of seniors has accomplished over their four seasons. Three bowl appearances, two bowl wins, an ACC Championship, and 32 victories...and as good a four years as any in our history. Their accomplishments have only been equaled by one other senior class in school history and that was last year's group of seniors. We will miss seeing these young men at BB&T Field and they leave us many fond memories.

And their season is not yet finished, with one game remaining at Duke on Nov. 28. It presents an opportunity for our team to end the season on a good note...and serve as a springboard to next season.

Go Deacs!

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