Notes from Knowlton Newsletter, Oct. 2017
Oct. 12, 2017

Greetings Falcon Fans!

 

Air Force athletics is off to a great start in 2017-18! We have had a number of significant highlights this season and we’re still just getting started.

 

The women’s cross country team earned their first-ever preseason national ranking, starting the season in the 29th position. The Falcons finished third in the season opening meet at Colorado State and finished ahead of four other ranked teams at the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational. The men’s team finished second in the same two events.

 

The women’s soccer team stands at 6-4-3 overall and are undefeated in Mountain West play at 3-0-3 while the men’s soccer team is ranked 12th nationally with a 9-1-1 mark and is undefeated at 3-0 in Western Athletic Conference action. The team beat #23 Florida Gulf Coast and service academy rival Army earlier this season.

 

The volleyball team picked up its first conference victory recently and defeated Army, 3-0, for the first time since 2004 earlier this season. Our golf team finished sixth at the 49th Annual Gene Miranda Invitational at the Academy which is the program’s best tournament finish since 2013 while the water polo team is ranked 19th nationally while the fencing squad took first place in seven of 11 events at the annual Nick Toth open.

 

Our football team stands at 1-4 overall and 0-2 in conference play. I couldn’t be more proud of how they have represented out Academy and community in several high profile, nationally-televised games at Michigan, vs. San Diego State and at Navy. Although a tough start, we have an incredible coaching staff and team that will continue to prepare and I feel good things are on the horizon.

Our winter sports are just getting started, as the hockey team opened the season with a 1-0-1 in its first series in Alaska and is ranked 19th nationally as well. The team was picked to win the Atlanta Hockey Conference this season.

 

We had some other exciting news in our program as former men’s soccer goalie and 2008 graduate Capt. Brian Guyette earned the prestigious Jabara Award for Airmanship. The award goes annually to a pilot whose accomplishments demonstrate superior performance in fields directly involved with aerospace vehicles. Geyette is a B-1 Lancer pilot and flew combat missions over Iraq and Syria eradicating Islamic State personnel and positions, among other achievements. He is also credited for his work in synchronizing aircraft weapons systems now incorporated into Air Force combat aircraft pilot training. He is currently assigned to the 77th Weapons Squadron, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. Will done Brian!

 

We had two other pieces of great news about some of our own. Physical education and combative instructor Leanna Dittrich won the World Masters Championship in Jiu-Jitsu. First Lieutenant Zach Provchy, a 2015 graduate, was at a local beach in South Haven, Mich., when he saw a man struggling to get back to shore. He quickly jumped in and saved the man’s life, relying on the skills that he learned in water survival classes at the Academy. He took the time to reach out to one of his instructors, water polo assistant coach Ryan Brown, to let him know he would not have had the confidence to save the man’s life without the lessons he took from the instruction he received from Ryan in the course.

 

I would like to use this space to introduce two new key senior staff members to the department. Col. Jarvis Baker, a 1993 Academy graduate, is the new vice athletic director. He replaced Col. Brian Hill, who is the new dean of students at NATO School in Oberammergau in Germany. Jarvis was a football letterman and served as the team’s starting quarterback as a senior in 1992.

 

Col. Maiya Anderson is the new Permanent Professor and head of the physical education department. She is a 1997 Academy graduate, earned multiple All-American honors and helped the 1995 and 1996 swimming teams to national titles. Maiya is a member of the Air Force Athletics Hall of Fame as an individual as well as being inducted in the most recent class as a part of the national champion swimming teams.

 

I’m very excited to add these two leaders who will help us move the needle in Air Force athletics as we continue to build leaders of character for our Air Force and the nation.

 

The department has already hosted several “Champion” events this year. From our I-Day reception for parents of intercollegiate athletes during In-Processing Day, to our Basic Cadet Training Field Day, where basic cadets test their skill, stamina and physical conditioning to our Welcome Back Ice Cream Social where we welcome all our cadet-athletes back for the semester and set expectations as we enter a new year. These “Champion” events are vital to our continued success in the department. Keep an eye on our website about other upcoming events of this kind.

 

In addition, we just held the flag football and soccer intramural championships on our outdoor turf field. Cadet squadron 1 prevailed on the gridiron and cadet squadron 11 triumphed on the pitch.  It was an exciting event and fun to see the cadets in spirited competition. Kudos to Col. Anderson and her physical education staff for making the competition memorable for our cadet athletes

 

We have already had two major community events this fall. The Second-Annual Night of Excellence, presented by First Command Financial Service, brought together supporters to celebrate another year of Air Force athletics’ achievement and progress. Our Air Force Academy Athletic Corporation (AFAAC) raised $135,000 with all proceeds going directly to the Air Force Academy’s Excellence Fund which supports cadet-athletes, equipment and travel.

 

Our AFAAC team also coordinated our second major concert in Falcon Stadium with the Oak Ridge Boys, Big and Rich and the headliner, Blake Shelton. What a great night, as the attendance hit 25,000. We will continue to bring events like these to our community and will strive to continue to improve the experience for all.

 

We kicked off another major initiative in the department this year and if you’ve joined us for a football home game, you likely saw that we are now selling beer and wine in Falcon Stadium. I would like to take some time to explain how we came about the decision. We started a fan engagement committee two years ago and one of the desired improvements was to offer alcohol in a controlled setting at games. We have worked hard with our teammates on base to ensure we have the best practices in place to maintain a family-friendly environment.

 

The Academy’s 10th Force Support Squadron, which handles alcohol sales in other venues on base, is the lead in Falcon Stadium for this initiative. Our goal is to improve the fan experience and this decision was not made as a money grab. In fact, the revenue from beer and wine sales goes to the 10th FSS which supports readiness for airman on our base. I often say it takes a village and we couldn’t do the things we do in athletics without our partners on base and this is a great example of that teamwork.

 

In closing, thank for all you do to support Air Force Athletics. We cannot do it without you! Corey and I look forward to seeing you at an event soon.

 

Go Falcons,

 

Jim Knowlton

Director of Athletics

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