Let's start by congratulating Deb Patterson and the K-State women's basketball team for their win over Marist in New York last night which improves the Wildcats' record to 9-3 on the year. Coach Patterson's charges return home to open Big 12 play against defending NCAA champion Texas A&M next Wednesday, January 4, at a special start time of 5:30 p.m. A Wildcat Weekday 4-Pack, which includes four tickets, four concession vouchers for chips, drinks and a hot dog, is available for as little as $30 - come out and support the Cats!
On the Road at Christmastime
I hope that K-Staters everywhere have had a happy and safe holiday season. The Currie family had the good fortune to roll out to Colorado for a few days over Christmas. We drove back on Tuesday, December 27, which happened to be a beautiful sunny day. Anytime I make that drive, passing through great Kansas towns like Goodland, Colby, Hays, Russell, etc, I love seeing the crop fields, elevators, oil rigs, corrals and now windmills that cover the landscape - all representing the hard work and productivity of the people of our state. I also think about the many, many hours K-State's great fans spend on the road coming to Manhattan to support the Cats throughout the year!
Speaking of Production...
K-State also produces college graduates - in fact, you should be very proud that a total of 19 players on our bowl roster have already earned their degrees from K-State, including four that have eligibility remaining next season. There are 70 schools competing in bowls this year. Reportedly only TWO (Alabama and Boise State) of those 70 have more college graduates on their bowl roster than K-State! We also had four former football players graduate in December whose eligibility expired before the 2011 season.
Oh, and another thing...
There is a lingering stereotype that many student-athletes who transfer from community colleges don't have academic success at their four-year school. Occasionally you'll hear a national media commentator or even a coach utter the phrase "juco player" in a tone that implies there should be some sort of an asterisk on their success. Another positive I've experienced since coming to Manhattan is learning that here at K-State we have a strong history of collaborative success with community colleges including general academic 2+2 agreements with many two-year institutions both in and out of the state. Together we've have helped thousands of young people earn their four-year college degrees (many of whom are first generation college students).
Those 19 graduates on this year's bowl roster include six student-athletes, names like David Garrett, Emmanuel Lamur and Sheldon Smith, who started their careers at two-year schools. It is a credit to our entire University administration and faculty, and indeed reflective of our Land-Grant heritage and mission that K-State is a place where students who choose to apply themselves can be successful in their preferred field of study!
Among the very best cards and notes we received this month was this email on December 22 from senior track and field/cross country student-athlete Sydney Messick:
"Mr. Currie, I just wanted to send you a quick note to thank you for the updates to the Ahearn women's track/cross country locker room. It looks amazing and...my teammates and I really appreciate it! Thanks again and I hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas! - Sydney Messick"
Admittedly, in the context of our $52 million 2011-12 budget the funds put into this project weren't very much. But, our standing first goal of a "World Class Student-Athlete Experience" means we strive for that result for all 16 of our teams and 444 student-athletes. When you buy a ticket for a K-State game or make a contribution to the Ahearn Fund for any amount, know that the student-athletes you are helping appreciate their experience and your support!
Meanwhile Back in the Home Office...
Since the University is officially closed this week when I walked into my office early Wednesday morning I suppose I expected everything to be really quiet. Wrong! The Ahearn Fund staff was hard at work processing year-end gifts, while the members of our Fan Experience and Operations units were making final preparations for the Cotton Bowl pep rally and getting ready for our upcoming home basketball games. Of course over in the Vanier Complex the coaching staff and football team have been preparing for the Cotton Bowl while led by Will Rodecap and Al Cerbe our equipment folks have been working double duty supporting the daily practice routine while packing up to move the entire operation south- in fact, the first equipment truck rolled out of MHK at 5:30 a.m. this morning.
Diamond Head Champs in Home Action Tomorrow
Congrats to Coach Martin and the men's basketball team for a championship performance last week in Hawaii! Start your New Year's Eve celebration early at Bramlage tomorrow as the 10-1 Wildcats host Howard at 1 p.m.. Tickets remain available for the Howard game for as little as $15 when purchasing four or more. I'm really enjoying watching this team grow and am proud to have them back in the Top 25!
Cats Gear Up for AT&T Cotton Bowl
We couldn't be more thrilled to be a part of this year's AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, one of only three bowl games this season to feature two Top 10 teams, and it certainly will be a memorable reward for our student-athletes and fans following a great season.
Remember that K-State's traditional bowl pep rally will take place on Thursday, January 5, at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Home of the Texas Rangers. Gates open at 4 p.m. and admission and parking are FREE! If you are a K-Stater living in the Metroplex, bring a friend who hasn't yet experienced the passion of the Pride of Wildcatland Band and our fans. I'm sure they'll be as impressed as I was when I experience my first K-State bowl pep rally in New York last year! The K-State Alumni Association, KSU Foundation, K-State Athletics and President Schulz co-sponsor and produce the pep rally. Our coaching staff and entire team will be there and we also promise lots of great 2011 highlights on the big video board.
Be sure to follow the Cats in Texas at k-statesports.com as our staff will have daily recaps featuring stories, videos and photos from all of the team's activities.
Help Fill Bramlage and Beat Missouri on January 7
With the Wildcat football team playing in the Cotton Bowl the night of January 6 the Fan Experience staff has several initiatives to help ensure a great crowd for our men's basketball game vs. Missouri in Bramlage on January 7 at 1:30 p.m.
We did attempt to work with our conference office and television partners to move the Missouri game later in the day to make it easier for our fans to get back from Dallas in time for tip-off, but a shift was just too complex due to the multiple television windows and domino effect for potentially six teams.
Fans who cannot be in attendance can donate their tickets to Fort Riley soldiers and families as well as area youth organizations by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and ticket location or by calling the K-State Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800-221-CATS. General admission tickets are available as well for $60 each through the K-State Athletics Ticket Office or online at k-statesports.com. Fans in attendance will also be able to purchase a concessions special that includes a large popcorn and 22 oz. souvenir soda for just $4.
Let's continue to show that Bramlage Coliseum is one of the best atmospheres in the Big 12!
That's it for today. As 2011 draws close and we reflect on the many accomplishments of the year please accept my thanks once again for your support of K-State Athletics.