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Harris Looks Back on Special Summer

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With the beginning of the 2014 season on the horizon, Rice sophomore volleyball standout Chelsey Harris had time to look back on a summer of a lifetime that saw her play in Europe while representing the U.S. These are the words of Chelsey Harris...

I set off for the Olympic Training Center this year in Colorado Springs, CO with hopes of having a great three days of volleyball at the open tryout for the US Women's National Team. Soon after in April, I was informed that I made the roster for the U.S. Collegiate Women's National Team of 36 representatives to play in Minneapolis, MN. I was extremely thankful to know that my performance at the tryout had granted me the opportunity to perform with such amazing players and learn such amazing things from a group of awesome coaches. I was anxious, and extremely eager to get on the road and train with these athletes and experience what was considered to be another shot at trying to get on the National Team roster.

After being informed about my place on the Minneapolis roster, as well as the roster for the college national team traveling to Europe, I reflected on a previous time in which I had the opportunity to represent the U.S. in Des Moines, Iowa at the High Performance Championships at the junior level. That meant so much to me at the time, and it was a huge deal because it was then that I decided that I ultimately wanted to continue representing USA as a volleyball player. I really looked forward to representing the U.S. now that I had started my college career and I had had time to grow. I was so thankful and ecstatic knowing that my performance at the tryout in Colorado Springs had not gone unnoticed. Knowing my performance had been worthy enough to make these rosters gave me chills, because I remembered how overwhelmed I felt at the tryout. During the tryouts, I continually had thoughts about the evaluation, and how intense it must have been for the staff to somehow manage effectively evaluating over 200 players in such a small amount of time.

Reflecting on my time in Minneapolis, I would say that the time I spent there was very valuable. After a few training days, we were split off into three teams, where we would compete against one another at the Junior National Championships. As soon as my team had gotten together, it seemed like we were automatically in sync and we had it all together during the first few sessions we trained together. We were winning scrimmages and we were immediately successful. However, toward the end of the championships, we ran into trouble in terms of how we should take steps and aim toward maintaining the spark we were showing beforehand once our performance was lacking. I felt like the discussions we began to have and various expressions of each of our team's members were very similar to the discussions of our volleyball program here at Rice. It was definitely a great privilege to be able to share thoughts with these players outside of Rice, getting to establish relationships with them, and essentially getting to listen and have open dialogue about important parts of the game with them.


The experience was very helpful for me and I've gained some great insight on the importance of becoming a great teammate and catering to a teams needs. Evaluation of what works and what doesn't for a team is extremely critical in volleyball when you have hopes of making great achievements like I do for the volleyball program at Rice. Most of the players had more years of experience, which especially made the information they were sharing with me appreciated. Even though I had less than a week between my Minneapolis trip and Europe, I had goals of keeping my insight from the Minneapolis trip in mind as I departed for my next trip.

Being selected for the College National Team European Tour to represent the U.S. overseas is without a doubt one of my biggest accomplishments. Participating in the annual Global Challenge Tournament in Pula, Croatia and having the opportunity to play under the coaching staff of UCLA's head women's volleyball coach Mike Sealy, Northern Colorado's Assistant Head Coach Jenny Glenn, and Long Island's coach Kyle Robinson was phenomenal. I realized very soon that coaching styles and attitudes of players in Europe were very different than those of the U.S.  Over the course of the two weeks I spent overseas, I developed a new appreciation for my ability to be able to play the sport I love and I learned so much about individuals that are just as passionate about volleyball as myself. I was afforded the opportunity to train and explore in multiple cities in Slovenia, Pula (Croatia) and also Venice, Italy. Being able to represent the country in such amazing places this summer has really been a blessing, and the memories I've made with the other collegiate athletes of the US will always be cherished. I can honestly say that I'm extremely happy to have been able to meet such amazing people both on and off of the court and the trips I've been on this summer have afforded me relationships that will probably last a lifetime! I'm looking forward to remaining in contact with my teammates, and keeping up with them as our seasons go on. In addition, I'm also looking forward to representing the USA more, with hopes of potentially fulfilling my goal of possibly making the women's national team roster as well. Wearing a USA jersey, giving my best effort, and going after it during practices and game time will never get old to me, and I find comfort in knowing that I have time to keep growing and working towards my goal.

NEWTON, Kan.  - The initial 2,848 entrants into the 2014 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship have whittled down to just 32, including Rice sophomore Kevin Reilly, following Wednesday's match play win in the Round of 64.

USAPL Flag SickReilly rallied from a pair of early deficits and led the entire back nine en route to a two-up triumph over Ryann Ree (Redondo Beach, Calif.) at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.

Though the actual scores aren't reflected in the match play format, Reilly tallied a 67 (-4) with six birdies to top Ree, who recently completed his sophomore season at Oregon. In all, Reilly won six holes to Ree's four and the competitors tied on the remaining 10.

The Oviedo, Fla. native advances to face 2014 Nebraska graduate Matt Record, who tied for 20th at this season's Big Ten Championship. Record knocked off his opponent with a one-up win in the group ahead of Reilly.

With his head coach acting as caddy for the event, Reilly breezed through the opening two rounds of stroke play at 71-70--141 (-1). He claimed 17th place among the 1566 qualifiers at Sand Creek Station Golf Course.

The winner of Thursday's morning match will play again in the Round of 16 at 1:10 p.m. that afternoon.


USAPL Match Tree | USAPL Home | Reilly Tees Off USAPL Match Play (RiceOwls.com)

Friends and Supporters of Rice Athletics,

Thank you so much for the warm welcome Jill, Charlie, and I have received since our arrival in Houston last fall. Your outreach and kindness has helped us develop a deep affinity for the community we now call home. We are grateful for all of your support.

Thank you as well to our Owl Club donors. As we look toward the future, your support of Rice Athletics will be critical in helping us realize our potential. I'm thankful for what you do to help our student-athletes and coaches reach for success in all aspects of their lives.

Now that we're nearing the end of our spring season, I wanted to share with you some of my observations and aspirations for Rice Athletics. I've deliberately taken time to learn as much as I can about Rice, what strengthens us, and where we need change. I'm very excited about what I've found.

First, let me say that David Leebron is a fantastic president and partner. He cares deeply about the fortunes of our athletics program, and he wants to win. He understands our challenges and has been very supportive of our efforts to improve. I'm delighted to work with him. We strategize together, we share some laughs, and we enjoy watching our students perform at a high level.

Under David's leadership, Rice University fully supports our efforts to be successful, and they continue to step up in new ways. Counting the full cost of a grant-in-aid for our student-athletes, Rice underwrites nearly two-thirds of our total operating budget. I think it's important to recognize this, since we paid back the full cost of scholarships to the university at my previous institution. Rice has also provided the funding for a new artificial turf in Rice Stadium and helped us with compensation packages for our conference championship football staff. What Rice University contributes to the athletics program in the way of tuition, operational support, and enhancements is astounding, and we should be grateful for it.

For our programs to grow and prosper into the future, we need to generate more support from the surrounding communities. We must sell more tickets and recruit new donors to the Owl Club. Our current ticket and donation revenue streams will need to generate three times our current rate for us to have the resources we need to be competitive in 2020 and beyond. We will commit to funding the positions and technology to make that happen beginning next year. 

I believe we have reached a period of relative stability regarding conference realignment. The Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten, ACC, and SEC have each brokered agreements with their member institutions regarding the grant of media rights. These rights agreements stretch 10 years or more, meaning that institutions from these conferences have given their first, second, and sometimes third-tier media rights to the conference for the next decade. Such grants typically preclude institutions from moving to a different conference, since their rights are owned by their current conference. We've also seen these five conferences move to a model of equal revenue-sharing, such that any new members would need to bring a pro-rata share to the existing contract.

For Rice, conference affiliation isn't the primary goal anyway. Our aspiration is to win conference championships and finish in the top 25 in each of our 16 varsity sports. While staying true to the values of Rice University, we will pursue any opportunities that enhance our ability to be a national caliber athletics program. For us to be great, and to do so with some degree of consistency and sustainability, we have to invest in areas where we can grow revenues and then be very careful about where we allocate the incremental resources we generate.

I'm very bullish on the future of Rice Athletics. We can and will win. We have a supportive president who values the merits of a successful athletics program. We have coaches and staff who are committed to teaching the values of leadership, teamwork, perseverance, and hard work. We have a talented and motivated group of student-athletes. And we have an enthusiastic community of friends, fans, and alumni who care deeply about the university and success of Rice Athletics. I'm honored to serve as your director of athletics, and I look forward to partnering with you to ensure a successful and sustainable future for our Rice Owls!

Best regards,

Joe Karlgaard



Meet The New Voice of Rice Women's Basketball

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The Owls women's basketball squad tips-off the 2013-14 season tonight at Prairie View A&M at 7 p.m. and with it, the debut of the new voice of Rice ladies hoops, Lane Zieben. The Houston, Texas native is in his first season as a member of the Rice IMG Sports Network and we had a few moments to get meet the newest Owl:


Q: What type of radio background do you have?
LZ: I started broadcasting in high school at Elkins High School in Missouri City in 2005. I then worked for Texas Sports (radio and television) at the University of Texas (2006-2012) for six years calling women's basketball, volleyball, soccer, and softball. I graduated from Texas in 2009 but continued calling games after. I was hired as the first broadcaster for the Sugar Land Skeeters Independent Minor League team in 2012. In total I've been involved in over 140 live broadcasts on the radio. I have also called games for Fox College Sports, National Pro Fast Pitch Softball and Texas High School Football.

Q: What is your favorite broadcasting memory up to this point?
LZ: Probably being able to call Roger Clemens' comeback with the Sugar Land Skeeters last summer (2012) at Constellation Field in Sugar Land. It was his first start since he retired from MLB.

Q: What made the Rice job appealing to you?
LZ: I have been fortunate enough to stay in the city I grew up in. There is a high standard of excellence when it comes to academics at Rice, and I want to bring the same expectations into the broadcast booth for a sports program that is growing within the realm of college sports. IMG & Rice are giving me the opportunity to evolve the position from what it has been in the past. Without reinventing the wheel, I think I can help broaden the university's reach on the mic.

Q: Who do you look up to in radio broadcasting?
LZ: Mike Tirico's versatility, Al Michaels' calming demeanor and Carter Blackburn's delivery on the mic.

Q: What excites you the most about this upcoming Rice season?
LZ: The stability Rice has returning from last year.  Ten out of 13 players are returning, which provides great depth and team chemistry. Also, the competition level rises with the additions to CUSA.  Rice is in a great position to be part of a bigger stage this year.

To listen to all Rice women's basketball throughout the season, be sure to visit this link: http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/rice.portal#.

A Salute to our Record Setters

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    While the first classes are still two weeks away, there is a constant hum of activity around the athletic facilities on South Main.  

    Starting at the crack of dawn, members of the Rice football, soccer and volleyball teams are feverishly preparing for the start of seasons that are filled with promise and heightened expectations, based upon the predictions of conference coaches.  

    Each will open this season riding a wave of momentum generated in 2012-13 year not only in competition, but in the support of members of the Owl Club, who stepped up in record numbers in their support of Rice Athletics:  

                Owl Club members generated an increase of 26% in their annual giving, donating over $1.8 million in fiscal 2012 and an increase of 64% from fiscal 2010 when the benefit structure of the Owl Club was modified.

                1146 donors made gifts to the Owl Club, 242 more than fiscal year 2012.

                SIG annual fundraising improved to a combined $929,430 in FY13 from $855,936 in FY12 (9% growth).

                Combined annual fundraising (Owl Club and SIGs) $2.75m, 20% increase from FY12.

    RiceOwls.com and the R Blog will soon chronicle record-breaking performances by the Owls in competition, but it only seems fitting before the competitions begin to acknowledge the record-setting efforts off each member of the Owl Club.


    Go Owls!


Postcards from Kazan

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Rice tennis player Dominique Harmath is representing Canada at the 2013 World University Games in Kazan, Russia and will be sending updates throughout her time at the games:  



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I can sum up these two amazing weeks as simply as this: Hard work pays off.


The opportunity to play at the World University Games was worth everything I put into the sport of tennis. I was able to compete at a very high level of competition and experiences like this continue to motivate me to play the sport I love.



 The Russian culture was intriguing to see and I really enjoyed experiencing it up close. At the same time, the games had a unique culture all its own.  Gear trading certainly was a large part of the experience. Hundreds of athletes would gather in the center of the village every night to swap clothing. I made some good deals with athletes from Uruguay, Australia, Portugal, and Brazil.


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But more than just while trading items, what was most fascinating was seeing the improvisation in communication taking place between different countries. You would see Serbians communicating with the Croatians, and the Brazilians, Spaniards, Italians, and French with each other. Without knowing each other's language, the athletes would still find a way to communicate. 

My trip ended with the closing ceremony that proved to be another one for the books. It included a recap of some gold medal moments that gave the entire stadium goose bumps. It was another reminder of why athletes train so hard.  The feeling of euphoria that comes with success makes everything worthwhile. 

Thanks reading along these past two weeks.  I know it's a long flight, but I am looking forward to getting home again.  It's hard to believe that the start of my senior year is just around the corner.



Go Owls!





July 12


Sorry I missed yesterday, which was successful but very busy. I started with my opening match in singles consolation, which I won 6-0, 6-0 over a girl from New Zealand and then Isade Juneau and I opened play in mixed doubles against a team from Madagascar and won  6-4., 6-2.



I wish I could say our momentum carried over in mixed doubles today, but we lost a heartbreaker to the fifth seeded team from Korea.   We won the first set 6-3, but they came back to win the second, and then won the tiebreaker 10-12.   I'm not done with my tennis, since I play Ellie Yates from USC (editor's note: a number of American collegiate teams are representing American in various events in Kazan.   Yates was a combined 14-2 as a freshman for USC, primarily playing #6 singles).



Russia continues to surprise me. Despite the language barrier, we seem to be managing with hand gestures. It took us some time to order a McFlurry from McDonalds today and after we were able to get the basic message across, we gave the cashier the decision of choosing our flavor. The ice cream was well worth the effort. 


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We also ventured outside the athlete's village gates for the first time and took a cab to the Canada-Russia soccer game. Driving in Russia is nothing like driving in America, but on the other hand, the soccer game kept us on edge. We were well out-numbered in the stands but were highly entertained with the the Russian chants going back and forth from one side of the stadium to the other. 



We were also able to watch some gold medal events and at the end of this buys day, I seem to have lost my voice after all the cheering. 



The atmosphere of the games is continuously energizing and I'm looking forward to the week ahead. 








July 10

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I had an off day today from competition so I spent the time cheering on my teammates at the tennis courts.



We then moved to cheer Canada on in water polo and men's soccer. As you can see from the photo to the left, the atmosphere was fantastic and full of energy with cheer battles going on left and right between fans for each country.



Canada's soccer team tied Brazil 1-1 to move on to the playoffs. I'm hoping to support my fellow Americans in some events when I get the chance as well. 

I will be playing my mixed doubles and singles consolation match tomorrow so it will be a busy day on the courts. 


That's all for today




After another long wait because of the rain, I finally was able to get on the court to play my first singles match, but as you might have seen from the scores, things did not go well for me.  I lost 6-2, 6-0.

I definitely had my chances, but I have to give my opponent from Korea (Mirea Ham) a lot of credit.   She was a solid player all through the match.

I still have the consolation draw in singles to play and on Thursday we open Mixed Doubles play.   Tomorrow will be a day devoted to rooting on my teammates on the Canadian Tennis team, as well as cheering for Canada in water polo and soccer.

It was a long day waiting for the rain to stop and I am pretty tired, so that's about it for today. 

Talk to you tomorrow,


July 8


My first match was rained out today!   We waited around for five hours before they finally postponed things but we found a funny way to kill the time.   While we sat there waiting for some updates, the volunteers at the tournament venue began approaching us. Entertaining.jpg


Despite the language barrier, two of my Canadian teammates Phil (Anderson who plays at New Mexico) and Isade (Juneau who played for Indiana) had no problem entertaining the crowd with their combined total of three words they knew in Russian and Tartar.  The photo on the right shows them entertaining everyone.


They're calling for rain tomorrow as well, but I'll keep my fingers crossed it doesn't come back. I'm scheduled to not start before 11 am. (2 a.m.  Houston time).


Thanks and I will check back tomorrow.



July 7

Yesterday was one of the best days of my life so far. The festivities began when we arrived at the stadium and had to wait 2.5 hours before we could walk. We made exceptional use of that time to trade pins with other countries and met some great people along the way. 1005304_639512199412306_677744767_n.jpg

When the opening ceremony rolled around it was much more than I expected with more than 45k in attendance. The show included a performance from Cirque de Soleil and a speech from Vladimir Putin, the president of the Russian Federation.

What was even more surreal was the fact that I was able to play a part in the whole event, walking a lap around the stadium with Team Canada waving to the cheering crowd. It was definitely a night to remember.

Here's Vine video that I took from our seats: https://vine.co/v/hW0bJTqXXHa

Here's another video shot by the Canadian Interuniversity Sport: http://youtu.be/c_3zEKjNomg


Draws for singles come out today and competition begins on Monday at 9 a.m. Kazan time, which is nine hours ahead of Houston time.   Here is the schedule and results link: http://english.cis-sic.ca/universiade/summer/2013/sports/tennis/sched_results








Sharing an Honored Jersey

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Cameron Nwosu honored former Owl O.J. Brigance by switching to his jersey number prior to the 2012 season and wearing it proudly through a season that concluded with a win in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.

Last weekend in Baltimore, he found a way to further honor Brigance, whose battle against ALS inspired the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl Championship, by presenting his Armed Forces Bowl jersey to him.


Nwosu and Brian Raines '09, another former Owl linebacker who drew comparisons to Brigance during his playing career, flew to Baltimore along with Donald Bowers '91, who was a teammate of Brigance's at Rice, to attend the 7th Annual Fiesta 5K for ALS Research on May 4.


Brigance and his wife, Chandra, served as co-chairs for the event which saw over 2,300 participants raise over $410,000 for the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins.  The Center is the only international research organization dedicated solely ALS research.


Raines presented a check from money raised during the recent Football Lettermen's Golf Tournament for the Brigance Brigade, but Nwosu knew he was not coming to Baltimore empty handed.


"Donald Bowers came up with the idea in March to attend the event, and I was excited about the chance to go and support O.J.," Nwosu said. "After we made sure everything was cleared through the NCAA, I couldn't wait for the weekend to get here."


Nwosu knew immediately that he would present the jersey he wore in the Armed Forces Bowl to Brigance and told Bowers of his plan, but only if it remained a secret.  He had the jersey dry cleaned and carried it with him to Baltimore.


"You could see his face light up when I showed it to him and then said it was his," Nwosu recalled. "It was a very special moment for me to do that for him. He means a lot to me and to this University."


Nwosu immediately experienced Brigance's well-known quick wit .


"He looked at it for a second and saw how small they are and asked me if it really fit me," Nwosu recalled.  "It was a funny moment."


Raines also made note of Brigance's humor. 


"I had a wonderful time seeing all the individuals he inspires at the walk, but the best part of the weekend was spending time with O.J. telling jokes with everyone. "


Bowers, Nwosu and Raines were not the only Owls on hand to support Brigance in Baltimore.

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They were joined for the event by football lettermen Courtney Cravin '92 and Will Hollas '90, tennis letterwinner Liz Sulzberger Hollas '91, as well as George Hall '81 and Kelsie McVea McQuietor '91.


"We enjoyed a fantastic weekend at the Fiesta 5K," Brigance said. "I was so blessed to be surrounded by my Rice family. I had a great time connecting with old friends and meeting the next generation of Owls. Cameron is a phenomenal young man and I was touched by his jersey presentation."


Brigance has received countless accolades and honors in his career, including a pair of Super Bowl rings, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Rice and the support from many as he continues his fight against ALS.  Through his own efforts with the Brigance Brigade and his support of the research at Robert Packard Center for ALS, he has led the charge to support fellow ALS patients as well as for research on the disease.


During their run to the Super Bowl title in February, the Ravens repeatedly referenced Brigance as a source of inspiration.  He won a Super Bowl ring as a player with Baltimore and then joined the front office after retiring.  He remains in his role as the Raven's Senior Director of Player Development and head coach John Harbaugh called Brigance "a shining light in our building". 


His impact on the Rice program will remain intact as well as Nwosu takes the field again this fall wearing #57 in his honor.

The Class of 2013 Senior Scholar-Athletes group is on track to achieve 100 percent participation in the inaugural Owl Club Senior Gift initiative. 

photo (8).JPGDespite the rainy weather, a number of senior Owls took a break from the last week of classes to attend the Class of 2013 tailgate and cheer the baseball team on to an 11-2 victory over Texas Tech. 

The Senior Student Athlete Gift campaign and tailgate, organized by Rice Athletics and Owl Volleyball player Mariah Riddlespringer '14, offered the graduating class of scholar-athletes an opportunity to make their first gift to the Owl Club and lay a foundation for athletic giving post-graduation.

Women's basketball Lacey Neu was one of the Owls to make a commitment.  "Throughout our careers, we've learned how much Owl Club members provide each of us, financially and emotionally," she said. "They are a constant support system to us, cheering in the stands, and providing the scholarship support that allowed us to be Rice Owls in the first place. It's exciting to join a great group of fans like those in the Owl Club."

"100 % participation is the goal and we know we can achieve it", Riddlespringer stated.  "To have our senior teammates rise to the challenge and make a gift shows incredible loyalty to Rice Athletics and to each of us."

Riddlespringer's interest and enthusiasm for the Owl Club grew as she participated in various volunteer opportunities.  She participated in the Thank-a-thon calls and as a Scholar-Athlete Ambassador in donor hospitality areas.

 "I visited with our donors and heard how touched they were to talk with me or a teammate, and to hear about our Rice experience," she said. "It's a great honor to represent each Rice fan through Athletics so it was nice to get the chance to thank them as well.  It's also very exciting to help obtain new Owl Club members by throwing the Senior Class tailgate."

"Through the Owl Club, Rice Athletics continues to attract the highest caliber of scholar-athletes to represent Rice University," said Rick Greenspan, director of athletics. "To have the senior scholar-athletes make their first gift to the Owl Club before they graduate exemplifies the future leaders our department and the university seek to cultivate and provides each student with an appreciation of the gifts they received from our current donors." 

The senior gift campaign continues through graduation on May 11.  If you'd like to make a gift to the Owl Club in honor of the Class of 2013 and support scholarships for Rice Owl scholar-athletes, please contact the Owl Club at 713-348-OWLS(6957) or make a gift online at giving.rice.edu (and select 'Athletics-Owl Club' from the drop down menu.)

The Student Graduates As An Athlete

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 6611190.jpegThis weekend sees the collegiate tennis dual season draw to a close for both the Rice men's and women's teams. A year's worth of practice, conditioning, tournaments and dual action all wraps up with dual matches for the women on Saturday and the men the following day.

 Both teams will pause to honor the senior members of their teams, an annual final salute to players who came to Rice to continue their tennis careers while parlaying that success as juniors and in high school into an opportunity to avail themselves of one of the top educational opportunities in the country.

Five of the six have led dual lives during their entire time at Rice, balancing the sometimes conflicting pursuit of excellence in the classroom and on the court in a manner that few outside the hedges can fully comprehend.  Through sleepless nights soaked in doubt and faced with seemingly impossible deadlines, they have emerged as the latest evidence that while difficult, the twin pursuits can blend to produce a graduate ready to face down whatever challenges lie ahead in their futures.

The sixth will take his bows having lived a far more unique existence. 

Dylan Tozier will be the third of three men's tennis seniors honored at Jake Hess Tennis Stadium on Sunday, ending his one season as a varsity athlete after attending Rice three years focused upon his academic pursuits.

While there are any number of former athletes at Rice who have transitioned to student life after injuries cut short their dreams of competitive success, it is rare to find a dedicated student, especially one who was hoping to earn admission to Cal Tech for graduate studies, who would suddenly opt for the physical and schedule demands of collegiate athletics.

Tozier was happy to take on the challenge, and on Sunday he will gladly take his bow and proudly accept his letterman's jacket, forever being affirmed as a student-athlete.

"He was a great addition to our team," Rice head men's coach Efe Ustundag said. "It would have been very easy for him to say that with the academic demands he had in front of him that it was too much to continue.  But he never complained, and he always made up any practice time he had to miss because of classes.   I think he gave the rest of the team a new perspective on the game, because he loves to play and was driven to improve and be an asset to the team."

Tozier was no stranger to a tennis court.  He first began playing the sport while growing up in Tampa after souring on baseball when his youth league coach showed a stubborn tendency to play his own son over the best interests of team.

"I was 10 and at that point, I decided I'd had enough of baseball," Tozier said. "My mother had played tennis in high school and still played, but she wasn't too serious about it. But I was watching Wimbledon when I was nine and I made the comment to her that I wanted to play tennis, so she signed me up for lessons.   I played high school tennis and competed in a few USTA tournaments, but I never took it too seriously.  It was more of a hobby for me."

He was a two-year captain of his team at Plant High School in Tampa, but never considered himself in the class of player who could count on tennis to aid in his choice of colleges.

At Rice, he continued to dabble in the game, playing club tennis and serving at the club's President.  He reconnected with Andy Wang, another player from Tampa who was playing for the Owls, and the two occasionally played a set or two.

Wang encouraged Tozier to look into joining the team.

"He said I should look into it, and after I thought about it for a while and realized it was the last chance I had to play a D1 sport, so I decided to go for it, " Tozier recalled.

Wang graduated last spring, but before leaving, he told Tozier that he had asked new Owls head coach Efe Ustundag to stop by to watch them play.  Ustundag, who was taking over for Ron Smarr, knew that his squad for 2012-13 was lacking the depth needed to conduct full practices.  He was looking for potential walk-ons. After watching Tozier hit with Wang, Ustundag was encouraged enough to tell Tozier to check back in at the start of the fall semester if he was still interested.

Tozier knew that he needed to vastly improve all aspects of his conditioning and play.  A set with a friend while the coach was watching was one thing, being able to assimilate into a routine that others have followed for most of their lives was another.

The only problem was that most of his summer would be spent on an internship in Washington, D.C. and his free time was minimal.  Thankfully, he had a three-week break from the end of his internship to the start of classes in the fall, and for those three weeks, Tozier became a tennis junkie.

"I had a lot of kinks to get out after three years of not playing at a competitive effort," Tozier said. "I started working out for the first time in my life.  I wasn't able to play much tennis while I was on my internship,but I got into decent shape. In those three weeks at home, I pretty much played tennis all day, every day to get ready."

Tozier made his follow up call to Ustundag who was true to his word and invited him to come over to Jake Hess and hit with the team.  Ustundag extended the offer to join the team and Tozier immediately set out to show that he did not take the invitation lightly.

"I decided if I was going to join the team, I didn't want to do it half-hearted. I wanted to improve to where I would be able to contribute.   If I wasn't practicing as much as the rest of the team I would never get anywhere close to their level. I knew from the beginning that I had to make a full commitment. I have definitely gotten a lot better and I am to the point where I feel like I can keep up with practice and contribute in some ways."

Tozier became the tennis rookie on a team with four veteran student-athletes (Jonathan Chang, Peter Frank, Phililpp Seifert and Leif Berger) and three rookie college students in freshmen Tommy Bennett, Gustavo Gonzalez, Adam Gustafsson.  The four newcomers found themselves in a unique position to share experiences with the other.

"I was a senior but at the same time, I was the newest guy on the team, because the freshmen had been in for a while and had been practicing with the team.  It was an interesting place to me. I had the three years of experience in academics at Rice so I got to talk to them about classes at Rice and they talked to me about how to get better at tennis.  It worked out pretty well."

What his Owl teammates learned quickly was that while Tozier had a clear understanding of his role, he was not willing to cut corners. He fully committed to be a full member of the team, making up any missed sessions with the team due to class commitments, a commitment that resulted in a major change in the routine he had for his first three years.  

6589787.jpeg"It's a lot different, I don't see people as much around campus, but it is definitely enjoyable.  I was quite excited about the opportunity, It definitely makes the academics more difficult since a significant amount of your time is taken up with practices.   These last couple weeks have been tough because my Senior Design project is coming due."

Over the past eight months, Tozier and his friends have gained a new perspective on the rigors of the dual assignment of academics and athletics.

"It's been eye-opening to my roommates, because now I am the one telling them I have to get to sleep because I have morning conditioning before classes.  I don't think any of us really understood what kind of schedule it takes to be an athlete at Rice."

His academic work paid dividends when he was accepted Cal Tech, where he will do graduate work in the school's Material Science graduate program.

His athletic work reached a milestone in March when he up his first career win at as Owl, teaming with Gonzalez to defeat a duo from USC in the opening round of the West Coast Doubles Championship in La Jolla, California.  On Sunday, he will close a brief collegiate career by playing against Prairie View in the second of two matches that day.  But he doesn't plan for it to be his last time facing college tennis players.

 "I noticed that they have a DIII men's tennis team at Cal Tech, so I am sure I will find a way to hit some balls with them," he smiled.  


The Rice University Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and Methodist Hospital Blood Center are sponsoring  the third annual "Pitches for Pints" Blood Drive on Friday between 3-7 p.m.  in Fox Gymnasium which is adjacent to Tudor Fieldhouse, near the entrance to Reckling Park.   Participatnts will also have the opportunity to register for the bone marrow "Bet a Match" program, even if you are not able to donate blood on Friday. 

 What is "Be a Match"?  Former Owls pitcher, Stephen Bess '99 explains:

If you had the opportunity to save the life of a lymphoma or leukemia patient with virtually no risk to your personal health, could you say no?


Did you know you could register to become a bone marrow donor with a simple mouth swab, and that a life saving blood stem cell donation requires no surgery?


Bess015.jpg These are questions I ask when discussing the often misunderstood "Be The Match" global bone marrow registry with friends. My name is Stephen Bess, Rice class of '99.  I'm a proud Sid Rich college grad, and a member of the Rice baseball team from '96-'99.  Because of my involvement in sports my entire life, I was fortunate to be healthy well into my mid-30's.


This past November, I was diagnosed with A.L.L. leukemia, a blood cancer of the white blood cells. My diagnosis came as a big surprise, and it has certainly changed my perspective on life. My hope for a cure and complete remission relies upon a bone marrow transplant from a volunteer blood donor hero just like you.


I'm fortunate to receive excellent care at City of Hope in Los Angeles, a national leader in bone marrow transplants.  I'm writing to encourage all of my fellow Rice grads, plus your family and friends, to consider becoming bone marrow donors.  The process is easy and 100% voluntary from beginning to end, and again, the stem cell transplant requires no surgery on your part. 


Registration begins with a simple DNA mouth swab, and if your genetic makeup matches with a blood cancer patient in need, your stem cell donation could save a life.  I encourage you to research the donor match process at www.marrow.org to see if it's right for you. 


If you decide to register, you can start the process at this Friday's Rice vs Harvard baseball game at Reckling Park. For thousands of blood cancer patients out there, our only hope for a life saving cure is to match with a volunteer bone marrow stem cell donation.


Please consider registering with Be The Match to save a life, and Go Owls!


Stephen Bess

Rice class of '99





"Pitches for Pints" Blood Drive/Bone Marrow Donation Registry FAQ


What should I expect?   The process should take about 20 minutes start to finish and is pain free. Donors will receive juice or a cookie and a t-shirt afterward.


What if I can't give blood?   Don't worry! "Be the Match" Tissue typing for bone marrow registry will also be located in Fox Gym. Stop by to add your name to the registry-it only takes a minute!

Other Questions?   For FAQs and Donor Eligibility visit the Methodist website http://www.methodisthealth.com/basic.cfm?id=35889call the Methodist Blood Donor Center at 713.441.1788 or email Halsey Fowler at hgf1@rice.edu.







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