As our fall teams celebrate their may successes, I would like to share with you the great pride I take in our student-athletes' efforts off the field and their ability to make a difference in the lives of others, particularly during this holiday season.
Recently, the athletes from our 17 varsity programs donated 5,183 items to the Second Harvest Food Bank in time for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. We participated in this program in the past, but this year's efforts yielded seven times the donation we made a year ago.
The Campus Ministry, the campus organization that sponsors the food drive, estimated that the athletic department gathered more items for donation than the rest of the campus community combined.
The Student-Athlete Leadership Committee spearheaded the effort and each of the athletic teams were asked to compete to see which team could make the biggest contribution. The competition was based on the average number of items collected per person for each team. The men's golf team won the competition, gathering 167.89 items per golfer. The women's golf program came in second, at 105.90. Rounding out the top five were men's cross country (43.07), women's water polo (33.42) and softball (21.87).
Through a coordinated community outreach and promotional effort, the athletic department will be conducting several opportunities for Bronco fans to make a difference this holiday season.
We will be offering discount tickets for fans who bring toys for underprivileged children or a coat for the homeless to use during the cold winter months. Our women's soccer team coordinated a discounted ticket and team appearance at a local hospital. We are working with the Alumni Association to collect toys to benefit the Family Giving Tree, a non-profit organization that provided gifts to 35,000 needy Bay Area youngsters last season.
Serving our community is an important component of the education process at Santa Clara University and I'm proud that our student-athletes are leaders in this effort. Please call the athletic department at 408/554-4063 to find out more about our community efforts and how you can help.
Once again, our fall sports teams have out shined the competition. We finished the fall leading the West Coast Conference Commissioner's Cup for the second-straight year and four of our five fall league sports finished in second-place or higher in WCC standings.
Our women's soccer program has defending its national championship with pride and distinction, despite having five players missing matches due their participation on a variety of national teams. Those appointments are a true reflection of the excellence of our program. Yet, they certainly provide a significant challenge to field the best possible team week-in and week-out.
Jon Wallace has done a phenomenal job with the women's volleyball team, achieving a best-ever national ranking of 11th despite the loss of two major players due to season-ending injuries early in the season. Recruiting has never been better and I am really excited to watch this program join the ranks of the nation's elite the next few years.
As you can tell, optimism is running high right now for Bronco Athletics. Despite an extraordinary number of injuries, Dick Davey has his team winning games early in the season and they are clearly on track to have another strong league showing.
The women's basketball team has made a quick adjustment to first-year coach Michelle Bento and I expect they will be in the thick of things when the conference season comes around in January.
If you haven't had chance to see the Bronco basketball teams in action, I encourage you to do so. Both the men and women's games are entertaining, affordable and exciting family-oriented fun. Check out the schedules or call the ticket office at 408/554-4660 for more information and come out and watch our teams play.