The Time is Now to Support MT AthleticsOctober 1, 2001 · Chip Walters
Fellow Blue Raiders, the time is, indeed, now. It's time to show complete and total support for our university and athletic program. In case you haven't noticed many of the pieces of the puzzle have been put in place for a truly outstanding collegiate athletic program.
Let's start with the football program. Rarely has a program made the move from Division 1-AA to Division 1-A with the immediate success that Middle Tennessee has shown over the last two-plus seasons. Coach Andy McCollum and his staff have shown complete focus to build a program that can not only compete with the "mid-majors" of college football, but with the elite programs and conferences in college football.
August 30, 2001 was a day that many Blue Raider fans will remember with great pride as Middle Tennessee notched it's first win of the modern era against a team from the Southeastern Conference. Nearly 20,000 MT fans made the trek to Vanderbilt Stadium to witness the 37-28 win over Vanderbilt. Nearly 22,000 fans followed that up by providing a great home field atmosphere in the 54-17 win over Troy State. The time is now to continue to purchase those tickets and come to Floyd Stadium. As fans, we won't accept the team taking a day off. The time is now to hold ourselves to that same standard and keep that same atmosphere at every home game.
The same goes for the rest of the sports in our athletic program. Our basketball teams will tip things off very soon and they want and need your support more than ever. The Sun Belt Conference was a major step up for both teams. While the men's team had its struggles, the Lady Raiders finished third in an extremely top-heavy league. The time is now to make your commitment to help lift the Blue Raiders to the level we all expect and help the Lady Raiders take that next step to a Sun Belt championship.
Volleyball and women's soccer are facing the very best competition in the country and doing more than holding their own. While these programs may not be in the headlines day-in and day-out, these coaches and student-athletes also face the daunting task of managing their time between full class loads and the ever increasing time needed for workouts, practices, travel, and games. Now is the time for all of us to make the commitment to come out and support these ladies at future home contests.
Not many universities in the country can boast the success that Middle Tennessee has enjoyed in track and field. Under the direction of Coach Dean Hayes, MT has captured titles in cross-country as well as in the indoor and outdoor seasons. Coach Hayes has had 33 All-America selections during his tenure in Murfreesboro; more than all other MT programs combined. Now is the time to give this program the support it deserves to continue its conference dominance and ability to compete on a national level.
The same goes for our tennis and golf programs. While women's golf is in its initial season, both the men's and women's tennis programs have enjoyed national rankings over the past several seasons and the men's golf team dominated the Ohio Valley Conference and nearly pulled off a championship in its first year in the Sun Belt. Tennis has a beautifully renovated facility, but these programs need your support to operate at a championship level on a day-to-day basis. Now is the time to give them that support.
Women's softball is still a relatively new sport on the MT campus, but did you know that over those last two seasons the Lady Raiders captured over 80 victories? Coach Karen Green built a strong foundation and the recent hire of Coach Cindy Connelley looks to be a move that can help take the Lady Raiders to new heights. They have the beginnings of a beautiful facility, but they need your help to make their dreams a reality.
Last, but certainly not least is Blue Raider baseball. Certainly, no program at Middle Tennessee has done a better job of taking the bull by the horns and making good things happen for themselves. The wonderful 2000 season was a dream come true for Coach Steve Peterson as a record numbers of fans came to the ballpark to lend a helping hand in winning the Sun Belt championship.
Take a look around the baseball facility. Just about everything there was built with sweat equity and a handful of generous benefactors to give the Blue Raiders a home to be proud of. While the new clubhouse and training facility are among the very best in the country, the stadium is starting to show some age and suffer some growing pains. While it was the jewel of the OVC, it is about middle of the pack in the SBC. Now is the time to finish the job.
Nearly 300 student-athletes represent your university (in a first-class manner) on a daily basis. Nearly 40 percent of those student-athletes compete at a championship level while maintaining grade-point averages over 3.0. The great work of the Student-Athlete Enhancement Center is displayed each semester with the naming of the Athletic-Academic Honor Roll. Even with that success, they are in need of more resources. Now is the time to step up and give them what they need.
Middle Tennessee has now won five consecutive All-Sports titles in two different conferences. In addition to the athletes and coaching staffs, you have an administration and tireless support staff that stretches every resource and pinches every penny to keep our athletic program growing and winning. Now is the time to give this program more resources and more pennies.
If you're in business, make the choice to become a corporate partner. If you're a supporter, join the BRAA. At the very least, make the choice to purchase season tickets and be in the stands for as many games as possible for as many sports as possible.
There's something very special going on at Middle Tennessee and your support is needed to keep it going and growing. Our coaches, student-athletes, administrators, and support staff are holding up their end of the bargain. Now is the time for private and corporate support to take us to the next level.
It's going to be one heck of a ride. Now is the time to make lightning strike!
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