When I arrived here four years ago, the Department of Athletics and Recreation was in need of much improvement.Knowing that many changes were overdue, the athletes questioned whether the department would competitively survive.As you see today, it more than just survived ? it flourished.

UR?s athletic programs have improved immensely and I?m proud to be a part of such a historic transformation. Alongside other extracurricular activities, athletics are a major part of students? lives here on campus. Athletics provide students with a chance to get away from the rigorous studies that UR demands in its education. With the improvement in the department, graduating Yellowjackets like myself are very proud of the vast amount of changes that have taken place. We now take great pride in the direction the athletics of our alma mater are heading.

This huge task was not done alone. Many people have made the transformation in the department possible. With the appointment of director George VanderZwaag, the Department of Athletics and Recreation has made many important changes.

We now have more full-time coaches, as well as part-time coaches. This change in the coaching staff has provided more stability and consistency for the individual teams.

UR possesses many inspiring and hardworking coaches who work countless hours to see that their respective teams are prepared for game day. Many of these coaches have families, yet they make sacrifices to see that our athletes succeed and become the best they can be.On behalf of my fellow Yellowjackets, I say thanks to George and the wonderful coaches we have at UR.

The success of any athletic department also depends largely on the dedication of its athletes and that is why UR has been so successful.The Yellowjackets are an amazing group of people who are not only committed to their sport, but their classroom as well.The athletes are constantly working to make themselves better and many will stop at nothing but perfection.

In addition, without wonderful family support, our athletic career wouldn?t be possible. Most of our families travel hours to see us play and that has impacted on us all ? especially me.Knowing that your family is in the crowd during a game provides a comfort that we will never forget.

Athletics have always been so important to me, even today. My biggest accomplishment as a Yellowjacket has been the improvement in athletics, especially the football program. So, I am extremely happy that I?ll be back next year as a Take Five Scholar and to join the football staff as a defensive coach.I hope that as a coach, I can show how passionately I feel about UR and its athletic program.

Four years ago I questioned the commitment level of our athletes, but today I recognize the extreme dedication all Yellowjackets have to their sport and their teams. Without athletes like we have today, the turnaround in the department might not have been possible. For that, I say thanks to the many athletes ? especially the senior Yellowjackets ? who have made my career as a Yellowjacket such a wonderful experience.

We have all impacted UR athletics and we leave with the department far more successful than we arrived in 1997.

So to everyone who we don?t always get to thank, on behalf of all senior athletes, thank you for making our experiences so special. We will never forget you.

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