The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

    UCSD athletics charge into 2001-2002 season

    UCSD has every reason to be excited about this year’s sports program.

    Courtesy of UCSD Athletics

    The Tritons have a year of experience and maturity under their belts from competing in Division II and seem poised to improve on their impressive numbers from a year ago.

    Director of Athletics Earl W. Edwards is very optimistic about another season of Division II sports here at UCSD.

    “”We did an outstanding job last year [in our first year of Division II competition],”” Edwards said. “”We would like to use that as a foundation for this year. We expect another successful year.””

    The Tritons were certainly impressive in their inaugural season of Division II play. UCSD captured one national title and one national runner-up. In addition, seven teams made the playoffs and nine had winning records.

    These impressive stats earned the school a fourth-place finish in the prestigious Sears Director’s Cup standings. The award is given to the top athletic program in each national division of college sports.

    The high finish was a pleasant surprise to Edwards.

    “”To finish in the top five in our first year of Division II competition is a major accomplishment,”” Edwards said. “”If someone had asked me if we would even finish in the top 50 in our first year, then I would have thought that to be unlikely.””

    Another reason for optimism is the continuity of last year’s coaching staff.

    All coaches have returned from last year’s sports teams, giving the athletes the comfort level that comes from working with the same coach.

    “”Having all of our coaches back from last year will really help the program,”” Edwards said. “”Not only does it help with the current teams, but it also helps with recruiting.””

    Coaches who know a program can be better equipped to know what a team needs and recruit for those needs. Recruits would also be more likely to sign with a program if they know that they will be working with the same person during their years at the school instead of having to deal with a coaching carousel.

    In the past, UCSD has had problems recruiting athletes because of its Division III standing and lack of a reputation as a “”true sports school.””

    The move to Division II, along with the Tritons’ solid performances in the past few years, have gone a long way to change that mindset and attract more prospective athletes to this campus.

    “”I would say that without question, the move to Division II has helped us to attract more athletes,”” Edwards said. “”I would consider UCSD a public Ivy league campus, but in the past, we have lost athletes to Ivy League schools simply because they have reputations of having strong athletic programs. Now that we have made this move, we are getting more of those students.

    “”We are playing in one of the toughest Division II conferences in the nation, which is attractive to athletes,”” Edwards said.

    Another reason that UCSD is attracting more recruits are the outstanding athletic facilities that are available on this campus.

    With such phenomenal sporting venues as RIMAC Arena, Triton Soccer Stadium and Torrey Pines Golf Course, UCSD boasts some of the top home fields in the country.

    “”I feel that our athletic facilities, as well as our location, are very attractive to recruits,”” Edwards said.

    Coming into his third year as the Triton director of athletics, Edwards has two goals for the program.

    “”I want to focus on marketing the program as well as assessing our current facilities to see where we need to improve,”” Edwards said.

    As for marketing, Edwards wants to focus on advertising both on and off campus to really get the word out about UCSD athletics. He would like to get both the student body and the community behind the teams.

    In terms of athletic facilities, he was very confident that the school is among the best in the nation, with the exception of the baseball field.

    To remedy that situation, a proposal has been made to make a $4 million renovation to the current field that would include lighting for night games, a full concession stand, a team room attached to the home dugout, a press box and a training facility.

    These additions are hoped to bring the baseball field up to the high standard of the rest of the Triton athletic facilities.

    There have been several tragedies over the summer that have led to some changes in UCSD’s athletic department.

    The death of Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Korey Stringer, who passed away due to heat stroke during the Vikings’ training camp, has led to a more stringent emergency policy among the athletic teams.

    “”We are always concerned about emergencies involving student athletes,”” Edwards said. “”We don’t have extreme climate conditions [in La Jolla] or a football program that would be more prone to conditioning complications, but we have put new emergency plans into place.””

    Edwards cited communication as a major role in preventing tragedies.

    “”We saw that in the tragedies over the summer, there was a lack of communication,”” Edwards said. “”We recently purchased new radios for all of the departments so that we can keep in constant contact and react quickly if something does go wrong.

    “”Our primary concern is the welfare of the student-athlete,”” he said.

    The other tragedy, and the more recent of the two, was the terrorist attack on New York and Washington.

    Edwards said that the coaches have been in communication with the players and have spent a lot of time just talking about how they feel.

    “”Our coaches have really taken the time to talk to the kids about how they feel about what is going on,”” Edwards said. “”Talking about it is important in the healing process. As for the players, it may be hard for them, but they know that they have games to play and they know what they have to do.””

    In the end, the Tritons appear poised to work through these tragedies and charge toward another successful season in Division II competition.

    Edwards is very excited about the future of UCSD athletics.

    “”I feel extremely confident about the coming year,”” Edwards said. “”I think that it is definitely clear that [the move to Division II] was the right move for us. We will only get better with time as we are still in the learning curve.

    “”I feel very fortunate to be the director of athletics for this program.””

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