By popular demand (mainly from my mother), Warming the Bench is back for another year of exciting Triton sports commentary.
The timing is perfect, in light of yesterday’s inaugural class of the Triton Hall of Fame ceremony. Eight Triton elites, including former Athletic Director Judy Sweet, received custom-made “Triton Awards” at the event (a regulation-time, two-hour ceremony, which extended well into extra innings).
Sweet was honored for her accomplishments overseeing the first 26 of 30 Triton National championships and her 25 years of service (between 1975 and 2000) saw the program grow from a NAIA baby to an NCAA Division II competitor.
On an unrelated note, I believe that I will be inducted into the Hall of Fame for my record consumption of complimentary orange juice at a Triton Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
The Hall of Fame, announced in June of last year, marks a time of change for the department — transitioning from a few scattered smaller sports teams as an obligatory afterthought at a research university to the storied athletic program by the sea. (I swore to my editor I would not write another “I want D-I” column, but this is where I say that.)
Some of the names on the ceremony’s program included coaches and players for volleyball, soccer, swimming and water polo — though all the inductees were, understandably, contributors to the Triton dynasty pre-21st century. However, because not all of us were fortunate (or old) enough to idolize Triton tennis star Christine Behrens-Almeida or soccer All-American Ele Johnson-Jones while growing up, I decided, in honor of the launch of the new department, to present my own Triton Hall of Fame inductees from the modern era:
Chelsea Carlisle, Women’s Basketball: When I came up with the idea to do this list, Carlisle popped into my head immediately as my number one nomination. A four-year starter, Carlisle holds the all-time school record for points in a single game (46), led the team in scoring for three consecutive years and was at the forefront of a 26-win start to the season in 2011–12.
Carlisle’s teams were my first glimpse at Triton greatness, and now, as an assistant coach, I imagine it won’t be long before she takes home a Triton Award of her own.
Brian McManus, Women’s Soccer: McManus is in his 27th year of coaching. If that’s not reason enough to put him on my short list, he’s also a five-time NCAA championship winner, the winningest D-II soccer coach (of those coaching 10-plus years) and wields a winning percentage of over .800 (through last year).
Camille Gaito, Softball: The Triton pitcher who won 35 games in 2011 has got it all. The winner of UCSD’s most recent team championship had a 0.94 ERA in the 2011 playoffs, fanned 617 batters over four years and finished with 98 wins in four seasons to become the all-time Triton leader in the category.
Nick Howe, Track and Field: A former co-worker at the Guardian, Howe spent little time in the office. Instead, he racked up a resume chock-full of championships and records, including back-to-back national championships in javelin. Howe’s picture was in the Guardian so frequently that we worried about a conflict of interest. Now training for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Howe should easily make a future list of Hall of Famers.
Alec Arsht, men’s soccer: Finally, I would be remiss if I did not include my Jewish contemporary Alec Arsht. My only truly personally biased pick for this list, Arsht still has most of this year to score what I predict will be 250 goals, log 10,000 more minutes and lead UCSD to another soccer title.
Arsht started all 36 games for the Tritons his first two years on campus and was a starter on Team USA’s delegation to the Maccabiah games in Israel this summer.
If he can surpass my very conservative estimates of his abilities, then he, too, will receive a Triton Award.