Just over one year ago, Peter Godber was a member of the World Team who shocked the USA team in the 2012 International Bowl in Austin.
This morning, he officially began his college career in Texas by signing with the Owls.
Just over one year ago, Peter Godber was a member of the World Team who shocked the USA team in the 2012 International Bowl in Austin.
This morning, he officially began his college career in Texas by signing with the Owls.
From the moment the first photo of the Owls special bowl game helmet design hit the social media frequencies in December, it was apparent that Rice had struck a chord with fans.
How much so became evident after one helmet was offered for auction online at RiceOwls.com prior to the Armed Forces Bowl. The winning bid was for $1,585 and when the final numbers for all auctions conducted over the holidays by all the schools whose websites are hosted by CBS Interactive, the Rice Armed Forces Bowl helmet was the third most popular auction item offered by a school.
A pair of items related to the Army-Navy game offered by Navy topped the list. An Army-Navy Rivalry Helmet went for $3,026 while and Army-Navy jersey package went for $1,860.
Among the items trailing the Rice helmet, there was both a helmet ($ 1,360) and jersey ($800) offered by Army prior to the Army-Navy game.
Nearly 60 items were offered by schools during December for auction.
The auction wasn't the only online area that saw an impressive upturn thanks to the Owls appearance in the Armed Forces Bowl.
The Owls' online store registered the second highest sales month in history, topped only by the sales in December of 2006 when Rice earned its first bowl berth in 45 years.
Katie Gater begins her senior season of college tennis as the Rice Owls open their fall tournament schedule by competing in the Midland Invitational in Midland, Texas this weekend.
She does so as the captain of a Rice team that made history in her first year with the program, winning its first NCAA matches and reaching the Sweet 16 for the first time in history.
Any emotions she might be experiencing as her senior season is about to begin pale in comparison to the emotions she felt on Monday as she watched a neighbor from home complete a remarkable journey.
It was a journey fraught with challenges that would have crumbled a lesser individual. An individual pursuit burdened with expectations of immeasurable proportion used as the standard as a nation eagerly watched each new chapter unfold.
The senior from Dunblane, Scotland, will take the court in Midland on Friday with a residual sense of pride and relief knowing that her neighbor from her hometown, Andy Murray, had outlasted Novak Djokovik in an epic five-set match to win the U.S. Open. After several gut wrenching close calls, Murray had given Great Britain its first men's Grand Slam tennis title since the 1930's.
Gater could not help but shed tears of joy as Murray rallied to win the fifth and final set after Djokovic had won two straight to tie the match. She had followed Murray's career through the struggles and drama with special interest, because the two had been neighbors since Gater's parents moved to Dunblane when she was three years old.
Gater had been born in Rochester, New York, but her childhood memories are almost exclusively of the small town in Scotland, where she grew up two doors down from Murray's house. A town of less than 10,000, located midway between Perth and Glasgow, Gater's parents found it to be the perfect location to settle after returning home to Scotland after working in the U.S. for several years.
Little did they know when moving into their new home that they were settling two doors down from a tennis-playing family, featuring two sons coached by their mother.
Judy Murray has been a competitive player in her youth and had turned her attention to coaching her two sons, Jamie and Andy along with other talented youngsters.
"She was the Scottish Junior Coach and was the one who would take teams to tournaments in Europe," Gater recalled. "We lived a street away from the local tennis courts and I would go there with my Dad. She came by the courts often and saw me hitting one day and invited me to try out for the Scottish team."
With its central location, Dunblane was an ideal training center for the junior team and it meant that Gater could develop her talents without dealing with lengthy travel challenges.
Andy Murray was already establishing himself as a promising international player, but when he was home, he sometimes drew the duty of occupying the attention of Gater and her young teammates while Judy Murray was attempting to talk to the team's parents.
"Judy would tell Andy to go hit with us so she could talk to the parents without interruptions. It was probably only a handful of times, but it's fun to remember it now," Gater said.
Judy Murray would go on to coach Gater from age 8 to 14 before she turned all her attention to supporting Andy's rapid advancement. But Gater was hooked on tennis, and Judy Murray's initial offer to join the junior team had set in motion Gater's own journey that would eventually lead her to Rice.
As Gater progressed through the junior ranks, she could marvel at the advancement Andy was making as well. He won the Junior U.S. Open, stoking the fires of the rabid British tennis fanbase who were yearning for a champion to call their own. He was soon anointed by the British press as the one who would end the long dry spell in men's Grand Slam events.
Sports history is filled with cautionary tales regarding young talents who were identified as the next big thing at far too young an age only to wither under the pressure and never meet the expectations of others. But the hopes of a nation to win tennis tournaments was seemingly trivial compared to those of his hometown, who saw in Murray a chance to cleanse a scar that was not of their doing.
In 1996, a gunman entered the Dunblane Primary school and killed 16 students and one adult before killing himself. Andy Murray was eight at the time and was locked down with his classmates while police searched for the gunman. Gater, who was four and one year younger than the victims, was not yet attending school. It remains an association the town and its citizens continue to work tirelessly to erase and are reluctant to discuss.
"Because I was so young, it's been something that people bring up to me rather than something I talk about. It's not something anyone from Dunblane likes to talk about," Gater stated.
As a burgeoning tennis star, Murray was seen by some as the perfect counter to the horror of that day. It was not a role he sought, nor was it a subject he spoke of, but the association remained.
As Judy Murray's new pupil, Gater eagerly followed her neighbor's rise up the tennis rankings, barely able to imagine what the weight of those combined expectations felt like each time he took the court.
She earned a scholarship to Virginia, where she played for two seasons. In the fall of 2011, she transferred to Rice, a move that helped spark a memorable year on the court for the Owls. After the season, she began a summer internship, just in time to see her neighbor seemingly poised to deliver on all the hopes and dreams of his countrymen by winning tennis most hallowed event, the singles title at Wimbledon.
Murray became the first native son to reach the final since 1938 and won the first set from Roger Federer. But the legendary Swiss player was chasing history of his own and rallied to win his seventh Wimbledon crown, matching Pete Sampras' record.
In the aftermath, as the awards to the winner and runner-up were presented, the crowds that packed the grounds of the All England Tennis Club in the hopes of unleashing a celebration unlike anything seen at the prestigious venue instead were struggling to come to grips with the result.
When Murray took the microphone to address the throngs, he struggled to maintain his renowned composure. The pain he felt proved too great to contain, and a nation saw its tennis prodigy in a new light as the emotion of the moment overcame him. There was hardly a dry eye amongst those who were there in person and those watching around the world.
"I cried when he was speaking," Gater said. "He's never emotional but to listen to him struggle to speak and to see all the people with him crying, it was very difficult to see."
Thankfully, Murray fans around the world would not have to wait long to see him stand in victory on Wimbledon's legendary grass courts.
One month later, Murray and Federer were back at Centre Court, but this time, the prize was an Olympic Gold Medal. Aided by the emotion of a country that was inspiring heroic efforts by the home team in venues throughout London, Murray made sure there was no comeback by Federer this time. As a country rose to celebrate his moment, Andy Murray could finally deliver the winner's speech at Wimbledon.
In Dunblane, a grateful populace painted a post office box gold in his honor after his Olympic triumph. No word yet what kind of commemoration a US Open title will merit.
As Gater watched him rally against Djokovic this week, ending 75 years of waiting for British fans, she happily shed a few more tears of joy for her neighbor and for all his victory represented.
"What Andy has done with his tennis has put Dunblane in good light," Gater said.
She holds no such weighty aspirations to her own upcoming season.
Just a chance to return to the courts with her Rice teammates, looking to build upon their 2012 success, playing the game the mother of her neighbor helped her master on her home courts in Dunblane.
2012 Rice Football season tickets are on their way to those who have already purchased their seats.
In addition to their 2012 Owls tickets, our season ticket holders are also receiving a copy of the "100 Years of Rice Football" commemorative DVD that was produced last season. This special DVD offering is only being made available to our donors and football season ticket holders.
This DVD includes rare footage and interviews with many Rice football legends. As a special commemorative bonus in honor of Tommy Kramers' induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, the DVD also contains a copy of the 1976 highlight film "The Rice Air Corps".
Rice season tickets include discounted prices for the Bayou Bucket showdown with Houston at Reliant Stadium on September 29. Those tickets will be mailed at a later date.
There is still time remaining to purchase your 2012 season tickets, and receive your copy of this special commemorative piece that is a must for every fan of Rice Football. Season tickets are currently on sale online or by calling the Rice Athletic Ticket Office at (713) 522-OWLS
Rice head coach David Bailiff stopped by the KHOU studio on Thursday to promote Thursday night's Women's Football Clinic and to present host Deborah Duncan with her plaque for being a guest coach at the Spring Game.
Funeral services for King Hill will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Forest Park in The Woodlands. A visitation will be held from 5-9 p.m. on Friday.
For driving directions, as well as to sign the guest book, please click here
The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation www.themmrf.org
National Fragile X Foundation www.fragilex.org
Rice University giving.rice.edu/
Not many qualifiers for the Olympic Track and Field trials would take a shot at qualifying in a different event the week before the trials, especially in an event they'd not run in three years.
But as Becky Wade toured Rice's Ley Track surface on June 16 in the 3,000 meter steeplechase during an all-comers meet, it was more than just an attempt to gain a second entry to the trials and the chance to toss aside her spot in the 10,000 meters. It was a return to the event that perfectly meshes her earliest love in track with the skills that made her an All American three times in her senior year at Rice.
When Wade takes to the starting line early Monday evening in Eugene, she'll do so with the ninth fastest time in the field (9:48.04), recorded nine days earlier time trial on her home track. The goal will be to finish in the top 14 and advance to the final on June 29 where a finish in the top three will give her a second chance to don the uniform of her country, something she last did as a freshman in 2008. That year, she won the US Junior title in the steeplechase and went on to compete in the Junior World Championships in Poland that same year.
The journey between that race in Poland and the one in Eugene on Monday has been filled with challenges that might have brought lesser souls to surrender. No one would have thought the worse of her if she had called it a career. Instead, they are just benchmarks along a successful construction of an amazing set of accomplishments.
Wade earned All American status in cross country in the fall with a 23rd place finish at the NCAA Championships, followed by a second honor during the indoor season by finishing 13th in the 5,000 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships. She capped her season by scoring a point for Rice with an eight-place finish in the 10,000 meters, earning a berth in the Olympic Trials along the way.
She was awarded the Joyce Pounds Hardy Award as Rice's top female student athlete, inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, named an Academic All America and was awarded a Thomas J. Watson fellowship.
But even with all her success and accolades, nary a week went by in her training for her epic senior season when Wade did not pester her coach Jim Bevan with a familiar request.
"She was always very nice about it, but also very persistent. She wasn't going to let me forget that she wanted to try it again," Bevan recalled.
Wade's grueling recovery from surgery to repair a torn labrum, requiring countless miles of running, built her strength and endurance to allow her to achieve the kind of success Bevan always believed was in her future. Both also knew that one day the steeplechase would re-enter the discussion.
"I knew I had to be conservative with the comeback from my surgery, but I never let Jim forget that I wanted to run it again at some point," Wade said. "Whenever we'd reach a new milestone and things were going well, I'd ask about doing some hurdles, but Jim would always say we needed a couple more weeks. Jim has always been there to pull the reigns and keep me in check and that's something I've needed."
For Wade, it was a return to the skills that had been her specialty when she first competed in high school track.
As a freshman at Dallas' Ursuline Academy, Wade had been identified by hurdles coach Dan Hardy as a candidate to run the 300 meter hurdles and she quickly found the event to her liking.
"He (Hardy) told me he thought I had potential in the hurdles, so I tried it some in the preseason and I thought it was fun," Wade recalled. "I enjoyed it and ran it as a freshman and sophomore. Cross country was more of a training time for me at that time."
After two years of focusing her competitive energy on the 300 meter hurdles, Wade's track future took a turn away from launching herself over barriers on the track towards the sport's longest distances.
Hardy passed away prior to her junior season and at the same time, Maureen Shinnick returned to the school as cross country coach. Shinnick saw Wade's vast potential in a sport she had only treated as a conditioning exercise and set about convincing her of where her true potential lay.
"She saw the potential in me that I hadn't really shown at that point," Wade recalled "She is a great coach and did a great job in motivating me to see that my real potential was in cross country. Before her, I really didn't know how far I could go in track."
Over the next two years, Wade validated Shinnick's vision, becoming one of the top distance runners in the state. She caught the eye of Bevan, who recruited her to Rice and to a sparkling first year that ended with a chance to represent her country in international competition.
Her introduction to the event that took her overseas was almost by accident.
"I really didn't know that the steeplechase existed when I first came to Rice." Wade recalled. "I think the first time I was exposed to it was when I saw some of the men's team working on it. We had just finished with the indoor season and I reminded Jim about my hurdling experience. He set up some hurdles on the grass infield and I guess he liked the way I took the hurdles, so I started running it that spring.
"It really was too good to be true, to find an event that combined something that I had loved doing earlier in my track career with the training I was doing for cross country," Wade added.
Along with a place on the 2008 US Junior team, Wade went on to finish second at the 2009 C-USA Championship in a time of 10:19.81, but her continued growth in the distance running events sidetracked any further time navigating the hurdles and water jumps until her return to the event less than two weeks before the Olympic Trials.
As soon as she began the race, Wade's found herself loving every step, especially in comparison to the rigors of the 10,000 meters.
"It's so fun to run the steeplechase," she noted. "It's so refreshing to be doing something new. You have something to anticipate each lap and prepare for. When you run the 10,000, you spend a lot of time thinking about splits. You run for 29 minutes to get to a lap to go. Now I run for a few minutes, clear some hurdles and get to the final lap."
Unlike most of their fellow student-athletes, college distance runners do not have an off-season. From the fall cross country campaign, through indoor and outdoor track seasons, the need to maintain a competitive focus rarely wanes.
When you consider the rigorous academic expectations at Rice, Wade's ability to maintain a 4.02 GPA while triple majoring in history, sociology and psychology, is astounding.
To do so while also enduring a long and often painful rehabilitation process is hard to comprehend, and to then see all these elements come together to place her in contention of earning a ticket to London makes the story almost too good to be true.
Wade will admit now to dreaming big dreams in the course of her long road back, but the pace with which some of those dreams come tantalizing close to reality has surprised even her.
"I always had big dreams for the outcome of the surgery, but would never share them with anyone but my parents and Jim," she admitted. "To tell people in the first months after the surgery that I expected to be running in the Olympic Trials this week would have been preposterous. But I knew I would be able to get over the challenge of rehab. This was always the goal, be it this year or in 2016. "
When Wade shattered the school 10,000 record with a 32:40.82 clocking early in the outdoor season to earn a berth in the Trials, Bevan quickly did the match and knew what it foretold.
"I knew that she was not going make the team in the 10,000, but the pace she ran to get the school record put her right in the mix for the steeplechase," he said "It was something we had to do gradually and always with an eye on keeping her healthy. We had a first workout with some hurdles, and then she came back the next day feeling great. A week later, we added more hurdles with the same result. We worked up to a final full workout that was designed to reflect a full steeplechase and she handled it like a champ.
"It was then that I knew we had to go for it. She might have had a chance to be an NCAA champion in the steeplechase, but that would have required rushing the process and risking a setback. It also might have beaten her up to the point where she might have won that race, but this would not be possible." Bevan added.
One additional advantage of switching events has been the time it has given Wade to take in some of the atmosphere surrounds the trials. She and Bevan had booked their travel to coincide with the 10,000 meter race, which was held last Friday.
She has taken full advantage of the additional time.
"I've been able to watch a lot of the competition to this point. The finish of the decathlon, with the world record, was amazing to see in person," she said. "This is an awesome place to compete and the fans here are so knowledgeable about all the events. You could see that in the way they cheered during the end of the decathlon."
Wade could soon find herself awash in a similar atmosphere as she once again combines the two distinct disciplines that defined her early track career, showcasing her trademark endurance and her affinity for hurdles, a ticket to London waiting at the finish line for the top three finishers.
It happens each year.
Somewhere between the final out of the College World Series and the last fireworks on the 4th of July, the countdown clock on the wall suddenly hits fast forward. The first football game that once seemed off in the distance is now close enough to make deadlines pressing and summer seem far shorter than it once appeared to be.
Did I say close? When I pushed the submit button to publish this blog, the realization that the opening kickoff of the 2012 season against UCLA is now less than 70 days away took firm hold.
The evidence is easy to spot.
July is less about vacations and recharging of batteries these days, and more about the advance work for the start of the season. On campus, the players are in summer classes and participating in voluntary summer workouts designed to have them report for the start of training camp on August 3 in optimum shape. Coaches will maximize the opportunity for family time, while also working furiously on lining up the bulk of the 2013 recruiting class.
Head coach David Bailiff and members of the athletic department staff will hit the road in the middle of the month to meet with Rice fans in San Antonio, Austin and Dallas. One week later, Bailiff and Luke Willson will participate in Conference USA's annual Media Day in Dallas. The whirlwind of public events then concludes with a gathering at St. Arnold Brewery on August 1 that will feature all of the Rice head coaches.
Work on the grass practice field has been completed and new sod has been laid in time to allow for it to settle in before the Owls unleash their new adidas cleats upon it in August.
At the same time, Rice's marketing team continues to develop a series of new features that are designed to vastly upgrade the pregame atmosphere at home games, from the season opener with UCLA and throughout the 2012 season.
An overall theme for athletics marketing efforts is in the final development stage and will be announced in the near future. This branding of the upcoming season will be supported by all our various media avenues and printed materials.
As previously announced, The Roost is moving from its cramped quarters on the north end zone concourse to the east upper deck at Rice Stadium. This location allows fans who want to enjoy a beer with their football to do so in much more comfortable surroundings and with the ability to watch the game taking advantage of Rice Stadium's legendary sightlines, since all seating is General Admission.
But the changes and expanded options will be obvious to fans long before they enter the stadium on August 30.
Rice and Bud Light are teaming up to revamp the pregame Tailgate Owley offerings at Rice Stadium to create a gathering point for all fans well before kickoff, similar to the pregame activities that have become such a popular feature of the Texas Bowl.
Local bands will perform on a performance stage while the Beirgarten will offer Budweiser products as well as food from Holmes Smokehouse. Rice sponsors will also be on hand with a variety of activities and special offerings for specific games.
At the same time, the Owls will debut a new "College Row" feature in which each of Rice's residential colleges will be assigned a tent of their own to decorate and conduct their own tailgate for both current members as well as college alumni.
Judging to determine the top college tailgate will be conducted during the season with special prizes announced during the SMU game at the end of the season.
Fans can purchase a Party Pass for a specific game, which provides a General Admission ticket to the football game along with unlimited food and drink in the VIP area of Tailgate Owley for just $25. Season ticket holders can purchase Party Passes for just $15 per game.
Party Passes for all Rice home football games will go on sale on July 15 as part of the beginning of single-game sales to all Rice football games.
While additional details and refinements are underway on both Tailgate Owley and The Roost, the Owls have also launched a new sales initiative with an eye on increasing the successful group sales efforts in the past.
One part of this expanded initiative includes the use of an outside professional sales force to reach out to a greater number of prospective clients, growing the total number of groups who attend Rice events and building a new generation of Rice fans.
The other is to continue to expand the inventory and the impact of the Rice 100 program. This effort in which local companies and individuals purchase season tickets that are donated back to the school to be used to host youth groups and other organizations has become a popular feature for the donors, who can take advantage of the tax incentives of the donation, as well as for the beneficiaries who have the opportunity to visit the Rice campus and Rice Stadium for the first time.
Spearheaded by longtime supporters Leonard Tallerine and John Huff, the Rice 100 program will be expanded to include interaction between local youth and Rice student-athletes, t-shirts and concession vouchers so area youngster can experience Rice as opposed to merely attending a game.
This season, the Owls will introduce a revamped and expanded "School Days" initiative that will reward area students for scholastic achievement and perfect attendance when the Owls host Southern Miss on October 27. The Rice marketing department is currently developing a special kit for each school to help promote the program to maximize the impact. Owls fans who would like to see their local school included in the program should submit the information to email@example.com
Rice Athletics will team with Cheer America to help make the season finale with SMU on November 17 a special day for young cheerleaders and school band members. Cheer America will promote and choreograph a special routine for participating squads and bands during a special halftime performance. On that same date, the Owls will once again host the students from Houston KIPP Academy. These outstanding performers in the classroom have been an enthusiastic addition to home games the last several years, and the season finale with SMU will be no exception.
With a 2012 home schedule that includes a special Thursday night kickoff that helps usher in the college football season around the country, as well as the celebration of the Rice Centennial on October 13 and all of the special initiative outlined above, Rice fans will have an exciting lineup of options to enjoy this fall, as well as to invite friends and neighbors to join them at Rice Stadium.
If you are considering the purchase of season tickets this year, please remember that in addition to the discounted seats for the Bayou Bucket at Reliant Stadium which we discussed in a previous blog, our season ticket holders will also receive a DVD of the finished version of the 100 Years of Rice Football documentary.
Rough cuts of the five chapters were shown after home games last fall, and the 90-minute finished piece represents an overview of a memorable century of history for a sport that made its debut only months after the first classes were held at Rice Institute. The one-year project involved many people on campus and a number of former Owls whose shared memories and recollections essential to the project. We hope you find it as yet another additional value to your purchase of season tickets.
Enjoy your summer, have a Happy 4th of July, and we will see you in Tailgate Owley on August 30.
UPDATE - June 18, 2012
Becky Wade set a school record in the 3000m steeplechase Saturday night (June 16) at the USATF Southwest meet held at Rice's Holloway Field/Ley Track.
Wade ran a winning time of 9:48.08 to surpass Lennie Waite's 2009 school-record time of 10:00.30. She will be one of 24 athletes running the steeplechase prelim on June 24 at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. The steeplechase final June 29 will feature 14 runners vying for three spots on the U.S. Olympic Team.
The 2012 London Olympics are fast approaching and there are several former Rice Owls that aspire to compete in the Games.
Becky Wade, a recent Rice graduate, has already qualified in the 10,000m for the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. The Dallas native will run the 3000m steeplechase Saturday (June 16) at the USATF Southwest Region Open Championship on the Rice campus at Holloway Field/Ley Track.
Wade needs to make the A Standard time of 9:55.00 to qualify or post one of the top-24 times in the U.S. She runs Saturday night at 9 p.m.
"Becky hopes to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the steeple," stated Rice head coach Jim Bevan. "If she does qualify in the steeplechase, she will not run the 10,000."
Also competing on Saturday at the South Main campus is ex-Owl and 2008 U.S. Olympian Funmi Jimoh. Jimoh will be long jumping at 4 p.m. and will be using this competition in preparation for the U.S. Olympic Trials. Her best mark thus far for 2012 is 6.82m/22-4.5 accomplished at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., and that ranks 14th in the world according to the IAAF.org. Jimoh advanced to the finals placed 12th in the long jump at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Lennie Waite, who, along with Jimoh, serves as a volunteer assistant coach at Rice, runs the 3000m steeplechase in Birmingham, England, on June 24 in hopes of making the UK Olympic squad. Waite's fast-time for 2012 is 9:48.35 and that currently ranks third among Great Britains on the IAAF world list.
Another former Owl long jumper, Alice Falaiye, will compete at the Canadian Olympic Trials in Calgary, Alberta (June 27). She captured long jump gold at the 2003 Pan American Games and the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Ex-Rice sprinter Shakera Reece will represent her native country of Barbados in the 100m sprint. Reece won bronze in the 100m at the 2011 Pan American Games.
On the men's side, pole vaulter Jason Colwick and decathlete Ryan Harlan will compete in their respective sports at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Colwick won the NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor titles while at Rice. Last summer, Harlan represented the U.S. at the IAAF World Championship in Daegu, South Korea. He won the 2004 NCAA decathlon with a school-record 8,171 points.
One notable athlete competing at Rice on Saturday is high jumper Amy Acuff, who has participated in the last four Olympics. Acuff attended Calallen High School in Corpus Christi, Texas, before winning five NCAA high jump titles at UCLA.