March 2012 Archives

Follow us on Twitter!

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EXCITING NEWS!! As of today our Twitter account for Between The Hedges - @UGAHedgesBlog - is up and running! This account will keep you connected to the UGA Athletic Association and all of your favorite Bulldog teams by tweeting links to these blog posts, sharing pictures and videos from around campus, and just giving you an overall idea of what's going on here in Athens! We hope you enjoy it and please give us a follow!

Q&A: Pole Vaulter Morgann Leleux

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This week Between the Hedges checks in with UGA track & field star Morgann Leleux. Leleux, a pole-vaulter, was runner up at this year's NCAA National Indoor Championships and is currently the top American in the outdoor rankings. Here's what she had to say.


BtH: Thanks for sitting down to talk with us, Morgann. Why don't you tell us a little about yourself--how'd you end up pole-vaulting at Georgia?

Leleux: Well, I'm from New Iberia, Louisiana, where my dad was my pole vault coach and I was a gymnast. He was the one who gradually got me into pole vaulting and I guess I ended up being good enough to come here on scholarship.

BtH: A lot of our readers, not to mention myself, won't be too familiar with the details of your sport. Why don't you take us through a meet day leading up to your jump?

Leleux: I really try to stay relaxed, keep my adrenaline low. I try not to get too excited. And before I even go out there I give myself a number that I want to reach like 14' 4". Up until the meet starts I do my warmups, I stay relaxed, and when it comes I turn my adrenaline on and get ready to jump high. That way I come in at a high height and from there, take it and keep going higher.

BtH: I know that at your first ever competition you tied the then-school record (14' 3½''). What's your current personal best, and what are you aiming for?

Leleux: Right now, my best is 14' 5¼''. The last home meet I wasn't actually supposed to jump, but Coach [Petros Kyprianou] was like, "Hey, it's a good day! Go grab your spikes and uniform, you're gonna jump today."

BtH: Really! How'd you feel about that?

Leleux: No, it was good. It was originally just going to be a conditioning week for me, and I had lifted extra and all that, so we just treated it as practice and just gave me a fun home meet to jump without much pressure.

BtH: It's obviously a really taxing sport. Do stress injuries like shin splints ever bug you?

Leleux: I think because of gymnastics those problems don't really bother me. Doing gymnastic means you have to keep yourself really fit--I was a level 10 back home.

BtH: That's college level, isn't it?

Leleux: Yeah, I've actually been training gymnastics on the side. My coach says that if I make 15 feet then I can try and be a Gym Dog as well.

BtH: That's really cool, we'd love to see you out there. But why 15 feet?

Leleux: That's the height that'll get me a look with the Olympic team. I'm going to the Olympic trials soon. It's really stressful. Because of all the competition for spots in the US, it basically comes down to how high you jump on that one day. If I can make 15' then I'll probably end up in the top 3, and get a spot on the team.

BtH: That's awesome. Good luck, and thanks again.

Leleux: My pleasure!

-By Eliot Beckham

Senior Day already

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Just got back from shooting men's tennis Senior Day interviews over at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. It's become somewhat of a tradition for our video team to put together videos in advance of each team's final home match to celebrate the careers of that graduating senior class, and today we sat down with the foursome of Sadio Doumbia, Will Reynolds, Wil Spencer, and Ignacio Taboada.


This group is unique in that three of the four - Doumbia, Spencer, and Taboada - all transferred to Georgia last year and so they have only been playing together the past two seasons. That said, they've developed into one of the strongest senior classes in Bulldog history, with Doumbia a consistent winner at anywhere from 1-3 singles, Spencer a staple in the ITA top-10, and Taboada easily one of the toughest No. 4 players in the country with a glistening 16-1 dual match record in 2012. It's amazing to wonder where this Georgia team would be without the good fortune of having added those three guys two summers ago. It will be fun to watch them play their final regular-season home match in Athens this Sunday, and what makes it even better is that the Bulldogs are in the thick of chasing their 34th SEC championship!

Check on Thursday for the feature!

Q&A: Director of Marketing John Bateman

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John Bateman's job at the UGA Athletic Association is officially the Director of Marketing, but as he puts it, it's hard to call something you love "work." In the first edition of the Between The Hedges Q&A, we sat down with Bateman to learn what he does for the UGAAA.


BtH: Thanks for sitting down with us. Could you describe what being the Director of Marketing entails, what an average day is like?


Bateman: Well, I usually like to get in around 7:30 - I read up on what's going around in the SEC online, make sure I'm up to date on what other schools are doing - and then after that, it's really a mixed bag. On non-event days, I'll do work around the office with our student assistants and interns to prepare for and handle group and single game tickets for events coming up. On days we do have events, I'll usually organize ticket sales at the student bookstore or coordinate large sales to groups. Then I'll head to the event and make sure that souvenirs and concessions are running smoothly and that our groups are having fun. Around halfway we'll get attendance figures, and that's when the cycle begins again.


BtH: Last night's baseball game against Georgia Tech drew a crowd of 3,004, a season high.


Bateman: Yeah, it went really well. Georgia versus Georgia Tech is always such a great and competitive game no matter the sport, and always draws a large crowd. It helps when the weather is as nice as it was yesterday. We tried hard to promote it within the student body specifically, and we couldn't have asked for a better turnout. 1,044 of that crowd were students, which completely surpassed expectations. So thanks to them for making it such a great success.


BtH: The game didn't go too bad either (Georgia won by a scoreline of 7-1).


Bateman: As marketers, we don't throw touchdowns, make free throws or score goals, but we do influence the game. We try to pitch the event to the fans as what it is: an enjoyable SEC sporting event put on by one of the top athletic programs in the nation, featuring incredible student-athletes.


BtH: What you do for Georgia is really appreciated. How did you end up here?


Bateman: I grew up in Albany and came to UGA as an undergraduate in '86, graduating in '91. I got my Masters degree in education from the graduate school here, focusing in sport management. As an undergrad I had been a student manager with the basketball team, and that was where I got started. After grad school I interned for a while at the offices of the Southeastern Conference in Birmingham, but came back in '94 to work on the promotions staff. I haven't left since.


BtH: So Athens has kind of been a second home to you. What's your favorite part about living here?


Bateman: Oh, do I have to pick one? It's America's greatest college town. The food, the music, the downtown life... it's just so easy to go out and get involved, to meet people. I've had the opportunity to coach the Athens Academy 5th and 6th grade girls' basketball team, just through friends I've met. The town keeps you young.


BtH: If it's hard to pick one aspect of Athens you like most, it's got to be even harder to pick the best thing about work.


Bateman: It's hard to call it going to work, really. But getting to interact with all the students is certainly a highlight. We have an especially close relationship with the campus community.


BtH: You're the "Mayor of Milledge," right?


Bateman:  Some of the [fraternities and sororities] came up with that nickname for me a while back, just because we're so involved in marketing events and coordinating with them.


BtH: I've seen it's your twitter handle, @mayorofmilledge. You've got quite a following.


Bateman: I just talk about Georgia, and make sure people know when and where events are happening. It's not hard selling the Dawgs.


Check back next week for another edition of the Q&A!

Happy Spring Practice!

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BULLDOG NATION! It's a big day! Just wanted to wish everyone a happy first day of spring practice!! The team gets underway today for the first of its 14 dates leading up to the annual G-Day intrasquad scrimmage Sat., April 14 at 3 p.m.


Design a shirt, win $1000!

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Good Monday morning, Bulldog Nation! I hope that if you had a chance to get away for Spring Break that you had a great time and were able to stay connected to all your favorite Georgia teams along the way! 

Wanted to make sure you all don't miss a great opportunity to showcase your Georgia Bulldog pride with this great contest! State Farm - through its 2012 UGA Spirit Shirt contest - is offering you the chance to design a Georgia t-shirt for the chance to win $1,000. 

The winning design will be selected by UGA students, and must be submitted by March 21. That's just two days from now, so get designing! 

All the information you need, including how to upload your design, can be found here.

Work hard, play hard for UGA Volleyball

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The UGA Volleyball team is currently enjoying its spring break week in Wilmington, N.C., mixing a lot of fun and downtime in with some serious training and preparation for the upcoming 2012 season.


During the trip to Wilmington, the team is spending its mornings training on the beach, followed by practice at a local high school. Georgia will put its hard work into practice as it faces East Carolina in a scrimmage today. The team will also spend the time working together to cook meals and bonding.

Following the spring break getaway, the Bulldogs will continue their spring season, traveling to Chapel Hill, N.C., to take on UNC on March 24. Georgia will make the trip to Clemson on April 4 to take on the Tigers, before wrapping up the spring season on April 21 when it hosts Georgia Southern at the Ramsey Student Center at 3 p.m. Fans are encouraged to attend the match and admission is free.

Richt meets with media on Monday

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With spring practice set to begin for the Georgia football team next Tuesday (a week from tomorrow) and the annual G-Day spring game set for April 14, which will be here before we know it, head coach Mark Richt sat down to touch base with the media before he heads out of town for his own "spring break" of sorts.

Richt started by talking about the team's somewhat different approach to strength and conditioning for the upcoming season, which includes two new hires in that department. Read about that here.

With Sherman Armstrong, the team is looking to "bolster the speed element," Richt said, as Armstrong has extensive experience working with all types of athletes on speed, strength and quickness. Meanwhile, John Thomas - who comes to Georgia after 20 seasons on the staff at Penn State - will specialize in high intensity training. Richt was pleased with the fact that the team will now be able to offer a diverse approach when it comes to strength and conditioning because the plans can be different for each player. "One size does not fit all" when it comes to strength and conditioning, Richt said.

The head coach also talked about the fact that spring practice is a great time to get back to the fundamentals and work on the little things. He is excited to get to see who is already showing they're ready to play football in the Southeastern Conference, and "which guys are mature enough to get into the ballgame."  

Finally, exciting news out of the press conference was the announcement that Richt as well as Todd Grantham have signed contract extensions and will be with the Bulldogs for many years to come. Read more about that good news here.

Full video of the press conference is here.

Can't believe spring ball is already almost here! Go Dawgs!

Hey, I know you!

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At one of the largest and busiest airports in the world, you don't always expect to run into folks you know at Hartsfield-Jackson, but yesterday the gymnastics and equestrian teams did just that! 

Good luck to both teams as they compete this weekend on the road! Equestrian takes on SMU and TCU today and Oklahoma State tomorrow, while the Gym Dogs meet Michigan tonight. GO DAWGS! Hopefully they offered each other a little pep talk in the airport!

Baseball for a good cause

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By now you've probably heard about/read about/seen Georgia Baseball's exciting walk-off win over Kennesaw State last night at Coolray Stadium in Lawrenceville, but what you might not know about is what else the game was being played for. 

Four-year-old Kasyn Olivadotti - daughter of Georgia's inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti - is currently being treated for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in Atlanta, a condition Kasyn was diagnosed with after Kirk and his family moved to Georgia to take the job last year. The wives of the other Bulldog coaches, in conjunction with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), put on a fundraiser for cancer research in Kasyn's honor, where ALL proceeds from last night's game went toward the "Kasyn Cares Fund" at the Aflac Cancer Center of CHOA.

Kasyn even got to throw out the first pitch before last night's game. How about those red shoes?!

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A big thank you to everyone who helped organize the event and make the day so special for a part of the UGA family. More information on the event and CHOA can be found here

The Great Transformation

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It's always amazing to think about how many sporting events take place at UGA each week. But what most people don't realize is how many people it takes to make those events run smoothly, and how much time and energy is put into making sure our student-athletes and coaches are able to do their jobs without having to worry about any of the behind-the-scenes details. We're lucky here at Georgia to have some of the best and hardest working folks in the business, whether they've been here 30 years or 30 days. Everyone's role is important and together we're able to help our teams compete at the highest level each and every day.

One of the most striking examples of this, however, and something that doesn't get near the amount of attention it deserves is something I'll refer to as The Great Transformation. Ever stop to think about the fact that less than 24 after the Gym Dogs are through competing in Stegeman Coliseum, there are often basketball games? Or vice versa? There have been times when it had to go from basketball to gymnastics to basketball in a 3-day span, and the process of converting the building from one set-up to the other is amazing. 

After last Friday night's gymnastics meet vs. UCLA, we had the chance to catch up with facility manager Melvin Robinson, who spearheads The Great Transformation, and explained a little bit of the process that he and his crew go through dozens of times each winter/spring.

Robinson said his staff about 15-20 people usually take between 3 1/2 - 4 hours to both break down one set-up and assemble the other. 

"It's longer going from basketball to gymnastics because we have to make sure everything is right," Robinson explained. "[Assistant gymnastics coach] Doug [McAvinn] helps with making sure everything is set up properly, that the measurements are right, the weights are right, so that way takes a little more time. It's closer to four hours when we have to go that direction."


"We just get in here, tear it all apart. Tonight, we'll move all the equipment, bring the rims back out, clean the floor. We're more efficient and effective with the process now, and I really enjoy it. I like to get after it, work hard and see the end result."

Robinson said he learned the set-up and break-down process from others on his staff who had been doing it before he got here, and once you watch it happen a few times you get it.


Next time you watch a Gym Dogs meet and come back that same weekend to see a basketball game, don't forget to think about how that was possible!!

Golf and a concert!

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Happy Monday, Bulldog fans! Hope you all had a wonderful weekend and got out to watch some of your Georgia teams in action as the university enjoyed more spring season success! 

One of the events that went on this weekend was the women's golf team's trip to Hilton Head, S.C. for the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate. The team wound up taking sixth in the weather-shortened 36-hole event, led by an even-par performance from Honda Award winner Marta Silva Zamora.

But golf wasn't the only thing the team did in Hilton Head. The night before competition started, the team attended a (you guessed it!) Darius Rucker concert. This photo was sent to us by Silva Zamora, while head coach Kelley Hester tweeted the following! Wonder which artist the next tournament is named for!


Pretty cool for Darius Rucker to serenade a bunch of female college golfers in our own private concet! 

Be social!

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Good Thursday afternoon, Bulldog Nation!

Going to make this one quick, as we've all got to go home and take our naps before the big men's basketball game tonight at 9 PM ET! Georgia taking on Kentucky at the unforgiving Rupp Arena tonight on ESPN! On that note, though, I want to invite you all to participate in something really cool tied in with the game. The one and only Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) will be on hand in Lexington on a strictly social media mission. Jay is going to be faciliiating a conversation about the game using the hashtag #askbilas. Fans are encouraged to use that hashtag to talk about the game and ask Jay questions, and the best tweets will even make it to air! Please help support the Bulldogs and show them the love tonight on Twitter! 

Also in the world of social media, we've got something very new and exciting in the hopper for you. Starting now, we've embedded an page on the left side of our official Facebook (, where you'll be able to watch all the men's and women's basketball games as long as both teams are playing in their respective SEC tournaments. So log onto Facebook and click "ESPN3" on the sidebar to stay up to the minute with the action!


On that note, we're signing off on Between The Hedges. But please continue your reading and viewing here on the folks at GTV and IMG have some great videos for you this week so please check them out!

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