Athletics
President's Report: 2005-2006 University of Virginia
From the President
A Year at a Glance
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University of Virginia
A Well-Rounded Performance

Cells lining the wall of the aorta.
Shown here are cells lining the wall of the aorta in a region where atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, takes place. Brian Helmke, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, studies the dynamic 3-D structure of cells that line blood vessels to determine how blood flow forces contribute to the progression of vascular disease. In work supported by the NIH and the NSF MRSEC Center for Nanoscopic Materials Design at U.Va., he investigates how cells sense physical cues that promote or disable normal function.
The U.S. Sports Academy Directors' Cup is the ultimate measure of the depth and equity of a university's athletic program. Points are awarded based on each institution's record in up to twenty sports—ten women's and ten men's. This year, Virginia finished thirteenth out of more than 300 schools in the Division I competition. This is the second-highest ranking achieved by the Cavaliers and marks the fourteenth consecutive year since the program's inception that U.Va. has finished in the top thirty.

Our success in the Director's Cup reflects the high caliber of coaching and athletic talent in the U.Va. sports program. Individuals in twenty-one of Virginia's twenty-five sports advanced to postseason competition, including twenty in NCAA championship events. The women's lacrosse and women's rowing teams finished second in NCAA championships, while the men's soccer and men's tennis teams both reached the NCAA semifinals. In addition, the Cavaliers' Somdev Devvarman became the first men's tennis player from the Atlantic Coast Conference to win the NCAA singles championship, and the women's rowing team's varsity
The women's vasity four NCAA champions
The women's varsity four NCAA champions
four won the NCAA championship in that event for the third time in four years.

Inspired Coaching
A great team—one that performs at a high level over the long term—doesn't happen without smart, dedicated coaching. Mark Bernardino, head swimming and diving coach, is a case in point. Mr. Bernardino has been head coach of the men's and women's teams at Virginia for almost three decades. During that time he has coached more than 100 All-Americans, including Olympic medalists and world championship finalists. Under his leadership, the women's swimming and diving team won five ACC titles, while the men's team won nine. Coach Bernardino himself was named ACC Coach of the Year twenty-two times. His secret: his extensive knowledge of ACC competition, the passion he brings to the job, and his deep personal concern for his athletes.

Mark Bernardino
Twenty-two-time winner of the ACC Coach of the Year Award, Mark Bernardino
The difference a coach can make also was demonstrated this year by Virginia men's head basketball coach Dave Leitao. Last year, Mr. Leitao's first as head coach at Virginia, the Cavaliers tied for seventh in the ACC and finished the year with a 15-15 record. This year, the Cavaliers tied for the ACC regular season championship with a conference record of 11-5 and compiled an overall record of 20-9. For his leadership, Coach Leitao was named the 2007 Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year, the first Virginia coach to earn the honor since Terry Holland received the award twenty-five years ago.

While guiding the Cavaliers to a 19-15 overall record and a twenty-fifth postseason appearance, women's basketball head coach Debbie Ryan received a very special honor. During halftime of the inaugural game in the John Paul Jones Arena, Director of Athletics Craig Littlepage announced that the women's locker room would be dubbed the "Debbie Ryan Locker Room." During her thirty years at the University, Coach Ryan has coached teams to more than 600 victories, making her the winningest coach in Atlantic Coast Conference history. Coach Ryan and North Carolina State's Kay Yow shared the 2007 "Bob Bradley Spirit and Courage Award" for their perseverance and leadership in the fight against cancer while being valuable contributors to their universities.

Sean Singletary
Sean Singletary
Other Virginia coaches are at the start of their careers. This year, Steve Garland, a former All-American at U.Va., became head wrestling coach. Coach Garland served the last six seasons as an assistant coach at Cornell University, where he honed his skills by working with seventeen All-Americans, four NCAA finalists, and forty-six NCAA qualifiers. He returns to the University with a strong desire to help the wrestling program become one of the top programs in the nation.

Talent and Determination
Inspired coaching is essential for success on the playing field, but coaches need talented athletes to build winning programs. The two winners of U.Va.'s top student-athlete award highlight the caliber of athlete the University attracts and the care we take with their development.

Men's basketball standout Sean Singletary, a third-year guard from Philadelphia, finished the season with averages of 19.0 points, 4.7 assists, and 4.6 rebounds a game. He ranked second in the Atlantic Coast Conference in three-point field goals and free throws, third in scoring, fifth in assists, and tenth in minutes played. Mr. Singletary, who was a Virginia cocaptain each of the last two seasons, earned numerous All-America honors and was a first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection for the second consecutive year in 2007. Although he briefly considered joining the National Basketball Association, he has decided to complete his fourth year at Virginia.

Leah Wigger, a member of the women's golf team, won her first collegiate tournament this year in March and earned All-ACC honors for the fourth consecutive season. Ms. Wigger has a school record of twenty-four top-ten finishes and was the runner-up at the 2005 NCAA championships.

NEW ARENA INSPIRES MEN'S BASKETBALL

The Virginia men's basketball team capped a successful year with an invitation to the NCAA tournament, the first time in six years that the team has been selected for March Madness. The Cavaliers' number-four seed marks another accomplishment for Dave Leitao, ACC Coach of the Year. Coach Leitao led Virginia to a 20-10 record (11-5 in the ACC) in only his second year with the program.

There are young athletes with Mr. Singletary's and Ms. Wigger's talent and determination throughout the athletic program. Jacob Thompson, a second-year pitcher on the Cavalier baseball team, is a good example. He recorded one of the finest seasons ever for a Virginia pitcher, going 11-0 with a 1.50 ERA. In 114 innings, he surrendered just seventy-nine hits and twenty-three runs (nineteen earned). He walked thirty-two and struck out 101. He also recorded two shutouts while allowing just thirteen extra-base hits all season. For his efforts, Mr. Thompson was named a First-Team All-American by Baseball America. This marks the third All-America honor that he earned for the 2007 season, which also saw him winning Louisville Slugger and rivals.com First-Team All-America honors.

A Foundation of Solid Academics
At Virginia, athletic performance is not the only measure of success. U.Va. athletes are students first. This year, six of Virginia's athletic programs were honored by the NCAA with public recognition for their Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores. Those teams are men's golf, women's golf, women's lacrosse, women's soccer, softball, and volleyball. To receive the award, those programs posted multiyear APR scores in the top ten percent of all squads in their respective sports. The APR calculation figures in eligibility, retention, and graduation provide a realistic picture of the current academic culture in each sport.

Individual athletes were also singled out for scholastic achievement. Andrew Dumm (men's track/cross country), Sarah Kirkwood (volleyball), Meghan O'Leary (softball), Pat Mellors (men's swimming), Ben Rubeor (men's lacrosse), and Leah Wigger (women's golf) were honored by the Virginia Sports Information Directors Association for their performances both in the classroom and in competition. Mr. Dumm, who majored in foreign affairs, also was named a Fulbright Scholar and will spend the 2007–08 academic year studying in Jordan.

 

 

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