What a great time of year!
I'm so excited about the fall coming upon us and the start of the athletic season at the Academy. It's been great seeing our teams practicing. Football, volleyball, soccer, water polo, golf and cross country are in full swing; and basketball and hockey are chomping at the bit to get started.
Our football team is coming off consecutive bowl game appearances and we have agreed with head coach Troy Calhoun on a new five-year contract that will keep him on the sidelines through 2013. We have an exciting team again this year and the squad will be led by senior preseason all-conference honorees Chris Thomas at safety and offensive lineman Nick Charles.
There are some exciting things you'll see when you visit us this year, particularly at Falcon Stadium. I'm happy to announce that we have lifted the photographic lenses restriction this year. Before, we had a four-inch limit to the lenses we allowed in Falcon Stadium. This year, with the help of our Security Forces we have been able to lift it.
We announced this in the spring, but I wanted to let you know in case you don't already have your season tickets that we didn't raise ticket prices for 2009. We understand how this economy has affected everyone and this is our way to help.
If you need tickets visit us on line at goairforcefalcons.com. We have specials deals for upper level seats that are normally $28 going for $10 for the home opener on Sept. 5. We have Lightning Value Packs for the TCU and UNLV games valued at $170 that you can purchase for $69. In addition, we have some $5.50 tickets in the upper section for the TCU game to commemorate the ticket price for the 1959 Cotton Bowl against the Horned Frogs.
We're attempting to make things as affordable as ever for our fans in the difficult economy. We'd love to see you in Falcon Stadium and our other venues. Our cadet-athletes and coaches need your support now more than ever.
If you're interested in supporting our programs, please visit our website at www.goairforcefalcons.com and hit the link for ways to give. There is also information there about the Pride Club, joining the Blue-Silver Club, and tailgate information for game days.
We will once again be hosting the annual Friday football luncheons before every home game in the press box. Contact the marketing and development office at 719-333-2626 for more information. Finally, our 2009 Team T-shirts will be on sale for $5 at all home games and during the Friday luncheons. Don't miss getting this special offer.
Our women's soccer team is now under the direction of long-time assistant Larry Friend, who replaced the program's first coach, Marty Buckley. Our future is very bright, as 24 of the 28 players on the roster are freshmen and sophomores. Eight starters return, including midfielder Bridgett Murphy, who led the team with six goals as a freshman.
The men's soccer team returns 10 starters and 17 letter winners. The top nine scorers are back and two of the incoming freshmen have U.S. National Team experience. Head coach Doug Hill has done a great job and I'm excited about where our program is headed.
The women's cross country team was picked fourth in the preseason poll while the men's team was tabbed third. Men's team captain and all-conference selection Zach Nordahl returns to lead the squad while Katie Lynch will captain the women's team. First-year head coach Julie Henner will lead the programs. We'll have a competitive lineup again and may even have some freshmen step in.
The volleyball team is very young, as eight freshmen will be on the roster this season. It will be some time before we get to see the team at home, as the squad opens the season with a 14-match road swing. I'm excited to announce that our home game on Oct. 8 against Wyoming will be televised by The Mountain West Sports Network (The Mtn). This will be the first-ever nationally-televised home match for the program.
Our water polo team is once again ranked nationally heading into the season. The team hits the polls at No. 19 this season. Head coach Jeff Ehrlich continues to do a great job with this program. The team will host the East Meets West tournament at the Academy Sept. 11-13.
The golf team will again host the Falcon Invitational this season, Sept. 19-20, at the Eisenhower Golf Course. The team's top player, Tom Whitney, had a very successful summer competing in some of the most prestigious amateur tournament in the country, including the United States Amateur.
I look forward to seeing you at an Air Force athletics event soon!