Dear Friend of Cal Athletics:
I hope that you are enjoying your start to the summer. It’s hard to believe we already have our football team, including our incoming freshmen, on campus and preparing for the upcoming season. We also have many other student-athletes here in Berkeley who are working out, training and taking summer school as they prepare for the upcoming seasons. With COVID-19 vaccination rates rising and infection rates falling, we are heading in a positive direction, and we’re hopeful that the trend will continue. We are preparing to welcome back students with in-person classes and filled residence halls. We are encouraged about what the new term will bring and will adhere to public health and campus guidelines.
One of the exciting new aspects of the fall semester is a return to full capacity at California Memorial Stadium and our other outdoor venues. As we announced last week, we will welcome fans to football games in Strawberry Canyon, as well as the Cal Band and cheer and spirit squads, and everyone is invited to Tailgate Town on Maxwell Family Field. You can expect our plans to be similar to what you are seeing at other sporting and entertainment venues this summer, and we will communicate our event details once they are determined. The health and well-being of all who come to our events – student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans – remains our priority, and we will align all of our protocols under the state of California’s direction for mega-events.
Before the fall seasons get underway, we have a chance to cheer on our Golden Bears on the international stage at the Olympics, which start on July 23 in Tokyo. As of today, we have more than 50 qualified Olympians and expect to add more to the total over the next couple of weeks as national teams are finalized. Earlier this month, Cal Athletics played a prominent role at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials, with six swimmers – four men and two women – earning their places on Team USA. Our men’s coach, David Durden, will serve as the head men’s coach for the Olympics, while our women’s coach, Teri McKeever, will take part in her fourth Olympics as a member of the coaching staff. You can also look for Cal athletes in golf, rowing, softball, tennis, track & field, water polo and more. With more than 200 Olympic medals in our history, including 117 gold, I expect we’ll be adding to our totals before the conclusion of the Games. I encourage you to follow our Golden Bear journeys on CalBears.com and through our social media accounts.
Some of our current and former student-athletes competing this summer will certainly earn selections into our Hall of Fame one day. This year’s induction class, which we elected earlier this month, features 10 Golden Bear alumni greats. It includes former football star Marshawn Lynch, the first husband-and-wife tandem (football’s Justin Forsett and volleyball’s Angie Pressey Forsett), and our most decorated female rower ever in Erin Cafaro. The class also includes Sofie Andersson Aagaard (women’s golf), Susie Babos (women’s tennis), Bill McClintock (men’s basketball), Xavier Nady (baseball), Kort Schubert (rugby) and Ashley Walker (women’s basketball). We will have more information on how to attend the Oct. 29 induction banquet in the coming weeks.
We’ve had several other award winners in recent weeks, including junior Camryn Rogers, who captured her second consecutive NCAA women’s hammer throw title – and set a national collegiate record in the process! Look for her again at the Olympics this summer representing her native Canada. Our field hockey team also received the Pac-12 Sportsmanship Award for its courage and leadership after the tragic, unexpected passing of teammate Zoë Rogers in October. Finally, senior second baseman Darren Baker was one of five baseball student-athletes recognized nationwide as a first-team Senior CLASS All-American for his work on and off the field. Not only did he raise money for Sacramento-area businesses impacted by the pandemic, but he also donated 1,000 meals for families in need this past year. Well done, Darren!
Our diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging efforts are continuing with an emphasis on supporting the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month in June, particularly on our social media channels with several posts from coaches, staff and student-athletes. Our department also co-sponsored with the campus a Juneteenth discussion on “A Legacy of Black Freedom Movements: A Black Historical Consciousness Approach,” and we heard from football student-athletes Kuony Deng and Josh Drayden on what Juneteenth means to them.
On a national level, I expect that this year will bring a great deal of change to college athletics with the implementation of name, image and likeness (NIL) legislation and new guidelines following the recent Alston decision from the U.S. Supreme Court that removes limits on education-related benefits. For the past several months, we have been studying the issues through a working group that includes staff, coaches, current and former student-athletes, and members of our faculty. We will always be in favor of supporting our student-athletes and will be announcing a comprehensive plan around NIL very soon that takes advantage of some of the vast resources at the country’s No. 1 public university, such as the Cameron Institute, INFLCR and experts across campus. We are also reviewing the Alston case with our colleagues in the Pac-12 and across the NCAA to understand its implications and how to abide by the ruling. I’m sure there will be much more to come as the college sports environment continues to evolve.
We extend a heartfelt thank you to the Golden Bear family for supporting the Roll On campaign during the 2020-21 school year. We asked for your help to support our efforts to roll on through the pandemic, and you responded in a resounding way. We are on pace to surpass $10 million from more than 9,100 gifts, helping to ensure the health and safety of our student-athletes during a challenging year. Please make your gift by 11:59 p.m. PT on June 30 to have it count towards fiscal year 2021. Your support of the Roll On campaign has helped us surpass our overall fundraising goal of $35 million. Thank you for helping Cal Athletics provide exceptional experiences for our student-athletes!
As we head into the fall, the Gender Equality campaign to create modern facilities for our softball and beach volleyball programs will continue to be a top priority of Cal Athletics. We’ve had a superb committee led by Bill Ausfahl ’61, Lynda Brothers ’68 and Brad Brian ’74, who have worked tirelessly to raise the support that will allow us to provide equitable facilities for our female student-athletes. Take a moment to learn about Bill and Trudy Ausfahl and all they have done to champion the project through this CalBears.com feature.
Lastly, I want to express my appreciation to Brian Mann, who has led our development efforts for the past two-and-a-half years. Brian was named director of athletics at William & Mary last week, and while we will miss his leadership here at Cal, this is a well-deserved opportunity for him, and I’m confident he will succeed in this new role. I’ve asked Beth Tafolla-Voetsch, our associate athletics director for development, to serve as the interim chief development officer, and I know that our development department will be in good hands.
These past 15 months tested us in ways I never expected. We bent and stumbled a bit, but never broke. Our coaches, administration and student-athletes have displayed resilience, commitment and Cal Grit throughout, and I am still amazed at the strength and footing we have as we prepare for the fall. We are ready for the challenges ahead, and I could not be more grateful for the Cal Family that has been with us every step of the way.
Thank you … have a great summer … and Go Bears!
Director of Athletics
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