March 1, 2006
By Erin Hussey
Athletic Media Relations Intern
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - On Monday night as the forceful rain storm drenched the Bay Area, a flood of recognitions followed by applause filled the Leavey Center during the Bronco men's final 2006 season game.
As the students began to fill their center court section, their usual sea of red was accented with a touch of white. On the right bicep, just above the elbow, of every ruff rider was a white arm band with the number 41; an honor to Santa Clara's lone senior Travis Niesen. Signs of well wishes scattered around the gym including one which read "Niesen is God." The Bronco Pep Band also wore handmade No. 41 Niesen jerseys.
In his final introduction on his home court, Niesen was described as one of the most competitive players ever in the history of the men's basketball program. The North Carolina head coach was quoted as saying, "He is the kind of player you don't want to play against, but a player you would love to have." Niesen's parents, Jeff and Debbie were also recognized. They have never missed a game. And to top it off, during tip-off and sporadically throughout the game, fans would chant, "Travis Niesen, Travis Niesen."
Following the cheerleaders, the conference champion women's basketball team took the court. It is the first time since the 1998-1999 season that team has grabbed the conference title. Coach Michelle Bento-Jackson was announced as the WCC coach of the year. Senior guard Michelle Cozad was awarded WCC player of the year. She is the first Bronco in nine years to earn such an achievement.
The last honoree was Lou Lucas for his outstanding dedication to Bronco athletics. During his years at SCU he was the catcher for the baseball team and helped lead his team to a 62-39 record. After graduation he entered the military for two years before returning to work and coach at Bellermine Prep. He has volunteered his time at Santa Clara Athletics for the past twenty years. He is currently in charge of the travel and lodging for all the Bronco sports teams. A standing ovation thanked Lucas for his years of undying love and support.
After all the recognitions were finished and the final seconds on the clock ticked away, Niesen walked off his home court with a smile, proud to be a Bronco.