These are exciting times in athletics. We have a football
team that has shown it can play with anyone in the country, and we're still on
track for a great season, and we're moving closer and closer to operating as a
non-profit which will really open some doors for us.
The language for this year's National Defense Authorization
Act (NDAA) includes the authority for the AFAAA to operate as a 501c3 Colorado
Non-Profit Corporation. The language is done, passed the House on 8 Oct and
the Senate on 22 Oct on a 68-29 vote and on its way to the President. It's
hard to believe it's been almost 3 and one-half years since we started this
process. We have already started to pursue some cooperative agreements that
will help us operate the most efficiently and in the best interest of our 27
Div I teams. This is such exciting news for our department and our
athletic programs, coaches, staff and most importantly, our athletes.
I mentioned in my last edition what a great time of year it
is with the fall sports starting and school underway here. Well now, it's an
incredibly busy and exciting time of year! Our fall sports are in midseason and
our winter sports are starting to get underway. I love it!
I'm excited about our hockey program and the success Frank
Serratore and his great staff has had. Last year the average attendance was
over capacity and we have sold out of our season tickets for this year. The
squad has two preseason All-Americans in Jacques Lamoureux and Andrew Volkening
and the team was picked to repeat as Atlantic Hockey Association champions. Frank
is also zeroing in his 200th win at the Academy. Don't worry about
the slow start to the season. The 0-4 start might have been a blessing in
disguise. I know this team and I knew they'd bounce back with a vengeance --
5-4 and 3-2 over AHA rival RIT to open the conference. How about that Matt
Fairchild goal with one second left in overtime? That's Falcon hockey --
no stopping `til the final horn. I know in the end our team will be in the
midst of another championship run.
Both our gymnastics teams will be exciting to watch again
this year. The men's team returns three USAG All-Americans in Joel Uptmor,
Devin Menfee and Jacob Houder, who was the team's most valuable player as a freshman
last year. The group will be bolstered by the addition of seven newcomers as
well. The women's program returns four USAG All-Americans: Michelle Denise,
Brittany Dutton, Aftan Boudreaux and Jenna Dudley and has added four newcomers.
Our indoor track and field programs will again be one of the
conference's best. Nick Frawley returns after an All-American season in 2008
in the pole vault. Female record holders Ally Romanko and Sara Neubauer will
lead the women. We had two all-conference honorees last year with Frawley and
Rachel Simmons, both in the pole vault.
Coach Eddie Weichers returns 112-pound national champion
Matt DeMars in boxing. There are two Wing Open champions returning, along with
nine other finalists as Eddie enters his 33rd season leading the
program, the most successful boxing program in America.
The Air Force men's and women's swimming and diving teams
kicked off the season Oct. 16-17 at the Pacific Invitational, while opening
their home slate on Oct. 23 with a conference match-up versus TCU. The men
return two individual conference champions from the 2008-09 season, and will
look to place in the top three of the MWC once again, while the women will
strive to move up in the conference standings in March.
The wrestling squad starts off the season with its annual
Blue-Silver exhibition match on Nov. 5 in Clune Arena. The team returns
starters in eight of 10 weight classes this season. Our fans will get a chance
to see plenty of action, as we hosts five dual meets this season.
I'm excited to see the rebuilding process continue in men's
basketball with Jeff Reynolds and his staff. As he enters his third season,
he'll have 12 letterwinners returning and has added 10 freshmen to the roster. We'll
be a very young team again, but the future is very bright. Capable leadership
by seniors Grant Parker, Mike McLain, Saj El-Amin, and Avery Merriex will surprise
a few people in a conference that picked us last. Sammy Schafer still wants to
be President of the United States, and he might be the first 7-foot President.
He's grown an inch to 6-feet-11 and packed on 30 pounds, although it's hard to
see on his 6-11 frame. Evan and Taylor and Shawn and Tom and Scott are also
ready for a break-out year. We also welcome back Capt. Tom Bellairs, class of
2003, who returns as an assistant coach. Tommy was the conference co-freshman
of the year as a player in 2000.
Our women's basketball team returns three starters and six
letterwinners. Guard Raimee Beck is a returning all-conference performer and
the young players from last year's squad like Anna Gault and Liz Dunworth also
return with more experience. The team welcomes the biggest class in school
history with nine freshmen added to the mix. I'm excited about the program's
future and Ardie and her staff will have them ready.
The fencing team hosts the annual Falcon Open again this
year and has a solid nucleus returning, including Peter French. The rifle team
has also already started its season. The team welcomes Michael Anti as an
assistant coach this season. He brings a wealth of experience. It's our only
team led by two Olympic medalists, a gold and silver medalist. We have another
In closing, I want to thank everyone for attending our
events and supporting all of our teams. We cannot do what we do for our
student-athletes without your support, and I am constantly in awe of the great
positive feedback you give our future leaders. Get ready to take this whole
athletic program to new levels as our non-profit kicks in.