June 19, 2021
  • June 19, 2021

Knowton’s Notes: Grateful for All We Have Accomplished

By on May 29, 2021 0


Dear Cal Athletics Friend:

Wow! Hard to believe that we are ending the academic year! It has been thrilling, thrilling, empowering and rewarding, and our student-athletes, staff and coaches have demonstrated their hallmark courage, determination and resilience as we navigate unprecedented and uncharted waters. I couldn’t be prouder of this Cal family. Not only are we still standing, but we have thrived and continue to raise the bar.

Since the start of the pandemic, we have performed over 25,000 COVID-19 PCR tests with a positivity rate close to 0.35%, and the vast majority of our teams have performed all of their scheduled events. I’m proud of how we supported our 30 teams simultaneously and how our student-athletes held themselves accountable and excelled. We have asked for a lot and received a lot in return.

On Saturday May 15th, we celebrated our successes – albeit always virtually – first with the graduation ceremony on campus, followed by our own student-athlete graduation celebration where we recognized our more than 150 senior graduates and announced many of our academic awards and graduate scholarships. . Among the winners were Darren Baker (baseball) and Deshae Wise (women’s athletics), who received the Tom Hansen Conference Medal as graduate male and female student-athletes who exhibit “the greatest combination of performance and achievement. in scholarship, athletics and leadership. ”Ben Harper (men’s athletics) and Archer Olson (women’s basketball) won the Neufeld Award with the highest GPAs among our senior graduates, while our basketball team Feminine won our award for having the highest GPA of all our programs with a 3.61 GPA Congratulations to each of our winners!

On Sunday, our campus gave all graduates the opportunity to “walk” in a modified ceremony at the Greek Theater. Although no friends or family could attend, thousands of students took advantage for five days. I had the honor of being the first member of the Chancellor’s cabinet to distribute parchments, starting Sunday May 16 at 8 a.m. Although we were in an almost empty room, it was heartwarming to see and hear the joy and excitement among the students who graduated from the world’s No.1 public university, saluting and hammering him for their parents and family members watching live.

When I look back on the accomplishments of this past semester, there are a few important highlights:

  • A total of 122 Golden Bears from our fall and winter teams have been named to the Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll, all with a GPA of at least 3.3. Football and women’s soccer led the way with 29 and 20 caps, respectively.
  • Senior George Finlayson received the Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year award for men’s rowing, becoming the third Golden Bear honored this year, after Michael Saffell (football) and Emily Smith (women’s football). George received his degree in History and a minor in Creative Writing, and he was accepted to the University of Cambridge to pursue a Masters in Philosophy of Management.
  • Our female tennis coach, Amanda Auguste, deserves a big Go Bears! after winning the Pac-12 Coach of the Year title. She guided her team to their first Pac-12 tournament title and to the knockout stages of the NCAA tournament.
  • I am also delighted to say that three members of our team have received Management Excellence Awards from the Berkeley Staff Assembly – Ryan Cobb, Josh Hummel and Jenny Simon-O’Neill. This year’s theme suited our leaders – “Leading in Tough Times”, with a focus on resilience, inclusion, compassion, adaptability, work-life balance and well-being / morale. . I couldn’t be more proud of how our entire team has handled this past year, and I especially want to congratulate Jenny, Josh and Ryan for their hard work and advice.

While our student-athletes excelled in the classroom and on the field, we were also able to host our first Leadership Showcase hosted by the Cameron Institute and supported by the Cal Athletics Fund. The TED Talk-style online event featured four student-athletes and a former student, who spoke about leadership and their life journey – Cameron Kondo (softball), Camryn Rogers (women’s athletics), Catherine Roxas (lacrosse) ), Fernando Andrade (men’s athletics), soccer) and Matt Friend ’99 (baseball). To hear their incredible stories, please click on the link above.

In our efforts to embrace diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging efforts, including Black History Month and Women’s History Month earlier this year, we have focused on Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May. Our staff members shared moving stories through listening sessions, staff meetings and writing. We have published several feature articles and blog posts about their experiences. Earlier this week, we also hosted a DEIB Playbook discussion that brought together several panelists from our Cal family and from across the country. I am grateful to the members of our AAPI community within Cal Athletics for training and accelerating our department.

As we continue to stay in touch with our supporters, we have hosted a number of events that have brought our alumni together, including recent events with our men’s gymnastics and women’s rowing programs. The virtual men’s gymnastics team event on May 2 commemorated the 10th anniversary of the program’s reinstatement in 2011 and celebrated the program’s historic legacy. He presented interviews with the former head coach Brett McClure (now Executive Director of USA Gymnastics) and alumni Don Bailey ’14 and Steve Mikulak ’89. Thank you to the 88 donors who helped us raise over $ 75,000 to support exceptional student-athlete experiences. Meanwhile, on May 21, Cal’s women’s team honored the program’s 45-year history as a varsity sport with a virtual celebration. Guests appreciated features recognizing the 1980 National Women’s College 8+ title and Kara Kohler ’14, the first rower named to the 2021 US Olympic team. We appreciate everyone who helped raise approximately $ 34,000 in the tournament. part of the event fundraising initiative to help the program purchase a new team van. Thank you for helping us end the year strong!

I am delighted that we are starting our summer planning, including our annual trip to Gar Woods in Lake Tahoe. I invite you to join the Coaching Caravan on Thursday, July 1 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Gar Woods (5035 North Lake Boulevard) in Carnelian Bay. Bears in the Woods, the California Alumni Association chapter serving Reno, Lake Tahoe and Truckee, will host its annual summer update on Cal Athletics in partnership with Cal alum Tom ’76 and Maurine Turner. We are grateful for their incredible hospitality at Gar Woods every year! Please sign up here to join me and several of Cal’s coaches for an in-person preview of the 2021-2022 sporting seasons. Space is limited. The full Coaches Caravan series will be announced soon. We hope to see you in beautiful Lake Tahoe!

I’m excited about our new Pac-12 Commissioner, George Kliavkoff, and look forward to meeting all of the conference athletic directors in Las Vegas next week. This is an important starting point as we discuss the central issues of our conference and varsity athletics as we seek to build the Champions Conference of the future.

July brings the Tokyo Olympics, and we will once again be well represented on the international stage. Nearly a dozen Golden Bears have already been officially added to the Olympic rosters, and I expect many more to be announced in the coming weeks. Two of our coaches will also lead the teams at the Games – Dave Durden is the Head Coach of the US Men’s Swimming and Robyne johnson is an assistant for the United States Track and Field Team. Good luck, Dave, Robin and all of our athletes! Hope you bring home the gold!

As we move into the summer months and drastically reduce the state’s COVID restrictions after June 15, we look forward to a much more normal fall with a bustling campus and full stadiums. Almost 95% of our 2019 football season ticket holders have renewed their seats for this season, and demand for new season tickets is strong. If you haven’t secured your tickets yet, please do so now to ensure you get the best available location. Our six-game home schedule kicks off against Nevada on September 4 and runs through November 13 when we host USC. To order tickets, visit CalBears.com/tickets or call (800) GO BEARS (462-3277) and press option 3.

I am very grateful for all the support Cal Athletics has received from so many people this year. I am proud of our Cal family and look forward to seeing many of you in person in the months to come. Have a great summer and go bears!

Jim Knowlton
Director of Athletics





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