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SEC Digital Network: From Marine Corps To UGA

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**The following story was published by the SEC Digital Network on Georgia track & field athlete Elizabeth Tepe. Tepe is was a member of the Marine Corps from 2006-10, before competing for two years in junior college and transferring to Georgia this year. Beginning this spring, she will compete for the Bulldogs in the hammer throw, ready to use her many life lessons.**

By: Sean Cartell


SEC Digital Network

ATHENS, Ga. - She may have been just 18 years old, but Elizabeth Tepe could feel her life spiraling off course.

Her grades were poor, her home life even worse and her outlook for the future dim. A prep softball player at Ponderosa High School in Parker, Colo., Tepe was a non-qualifier out of high school with few options available to help recalculate her path.

 "When I was in high school, I had kind of a rough home life," Tepe said. "I moved out of my house when I was 16. I didn't have much experience or knowledge of the world, and that comes with being young."

Tepe, now a junior on the University of Georgia track and field team, knew she had to make a change. Following her high school graduation, Tepe enlisted in the Marine Corps.

"I decided that I just needed to find a better path in life," Tepe said by telephone on Thursday. "I enlisted in the Marine Corps, graduated a month later and was in boot camp. It's one of those things you just know in your heart that you need to do."

Perhaps looking at the surface, one might not have been able to predict a bright future for Tepe. But if there was an understanding of the importance and maturity of her extreme perceptiveness and self-awareness, one would have felt the extraordinary character and determination she has always exuded.

"I think having to grow up quickly makes you bet on yourself a lot more," Tepe said. "Sometimes we're afraid to take a chance on ourselves and trust that we're going to do everything we can to make it. I was kind of forced to do so from that perspective."

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From 2006-10, Tepe served as an ammunition technician in the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton in California, where she supported Combat Logistics Regiment-15 for training and deployment exercises.

"You don't find out right away what you're assigned to until the end of boot camp," Tepe said. "Essentially, I was a BB counter. I counted bullets, got them to units, went out in the field and traveled with them to field ops taking ammunition, making sure the ammunition was accounted for and everybody knew what they were doing. I moved to more of an administrative unit, where I was over a unit of more than 1,000 Marines."

The experience in the Marine Corps provided Tepe with much more than practical experience. It also introduced her to fellow female Marines who carried themselves in a way in which she wanted to emulate.

"I think being a female Marine is even a little bit more poignant for me," Tepe said. "It's hard to find good female role models. It was good to see women alongside me who were strong and motivated to do good things with their life. Serving your country and putting on that uniform, you realize who you want to be and who you can be. I took so much confidence from that and it made everything else just seem easy."

Her time in the Marine Corps helped teach Tepe everything she expected and much more. She emerged a highly confident and disciplined individual, and had married fellow Marine Jarrod Tepe.

"I went in knowing I needed discipline, knowing I needed to find a little direction," Tepe said. "When I came out, I had gotten married and I had experienced so many amazing things. You learn self-confidence, self respect and really, all the way around, I grew as a person. I became a woman and I became more athletic. I was always an athlete, but I became a little more pointed in my direction. I knew I had the confidence that I could really handle anything I needed to."

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Following her time in Marine Corps, where she received the Good Conduct Medal, Tepe enrolled in Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., a two-year community college. Her husband had recently deployed and Tepe was looking for an activity to fill her time.

"I had gotten an exit in the Marine Corps and school, at that point, was a little too easy," Tepe said. "You need to be preoccupied when your spouse is on deployment. I thought I would go out for track and I was attempting to run a 200. The throws coach, Shawn McGinley, came up to me and asked if I was interested in throwing the hammer. I told him that I didn't know what it was, but I would try it."

Tepe found that the hammer throw, surprisingly, had a direct correlation to some of the skills she had perfected in the Marine Corps.

"I tried it and just really fell in love with it," she said. "In the Marine Corps, you drill a lot and there is a lot of footwork. With the hammer, there is a lot of intricate footwork, so it sort of came naturally."

For Tepe to say the hammer throw came naturally is a bit of an understatement. She thrived in the event, setting the national junior college record in the event with a personal-best mark of 186-9 her sophomore season. That was nearly a two-inch improvement from the previous record set by Michelle Amete of Mesa [Ariz.] College in 2006.

Tepe finished third at the California Community College State Track and Field Meet in 2012, helping her team to a tie for sixth place overall. It marked the best team finish for the Saddleback women's program since finishing fifth in 1986.

Tepe's successes, however, weren't just limited to the track. She finished her junior college career with a 4.0 grade point average and was named the U.S. House of Representatives Student Veteran Leader of the Year.

"By the time that I got to junior college, I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do," Tepe said. "I was hungry to know about the world, and junior college presented that to me with books and class and learning. I wanted it. Before I joined the Marine Corps, I knew I wasn't ready. I just needed to grow."

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Tepe's impressive performances didn't go unnoticed. Several coaches on the West Coast, including legendary UCLA throws coach Art Venegas, took notice and passed the message along to Georgia throws coach Don Babbitt, a former UCLA letterwinner.

That led to a conversation between Babbitt and McGinley that ultimately helped lay the path for Tepe to attend the University of Georgia.

"I learned about Elizabeth from her junior college coach, whom I spoke with while on a trip to the West Coast," Babbitt said. "He told me she was a very good athlete, learned very quickly, and she was a good person."

Though Tepe is a relative newcomer to the event, given her track record, Babbitt knew that she could immediately be a strong contributor on his team.

"I think she can be very good," Babbitt said. "She is still very new to the event, but she has good base technique and leans very fast. She should score well at the SEC level and has a great shot to make it to NCAAs."

Since arriving in Athens prior to the 2012-13 academic year, Tepe has been made to feel at home, affirming her decision to move across the country.

"The team is awesome; I couldn't have expected anything more," Tepe said. "Everybody is so nice, making sure that I'm adjusting well. Moving 3,000 miles away from home is not easy, but the team definitely made it a lot easier. School was rough at first, trying to balance my practice schedule and classes, but I've definitely gotten used to it. I'm having a good time."

Tepe is certainly at a different stage of her life than the majority of her teammates, but that hasn't prevented her from fitting in well among her team and throws group.

"They keep calling my husband my boyfriend because they're not used to it," Tepe said with a laugh. "I think everybody's been very accepting of it. I just try to be a good role model and do the right thing. I wish I had somebody when I was 18 or 19 that was 25 that I could look up to. I hope to be that for them."

Babbitt agrees, saying that he is excited about the positive influence Tepe can provide for her teammates.

"I think she will be a voice of reason and experience, and help keep things in perspective for the younger throwers," Babbitt said. "She has a good outlook on life, and realizes what is truly important and what is not important. I think she has a great perspective and is thankful for the position she is in. I think this could be very, very beneficial for the team and her teammates."

*****

Tepe will begin competing for the Bulldogs this spring and Babbitt believes that his newest pupil has the ability to accomplish even greater things at the NCAA Division I level.

"I think she can be top eight at the NCAA level and she has a shot to win the SEC title down the line," Babbitt said. "She still has a ways to develop, but I can see she has tremendous potential."

Tepe's time in the Marine Corps prepared her to achieve far more than she ever thought possible. That is one key attribute she has carried over to her collegiate athletics career, along with many other transferrable abilities.

"I think that they go hand-in-hand," Tepe said. "There are so many things that you need to be an athlete and that you need to be a Marine or person in the military. You have to have discipline, judgment and justice. When you see somebody do something wrong, you have to call them out. You have to have your own set of morals established and then there is the whole physical side of it. The transition from the Marine Corps is hard, but to go into something like athletics seemed very natural."

Her coach agrees, saying that her accomplishments have been nothing short of impressive.

"I think she has had to stay very motivated and disciplined these past few years," Babbitt said. "That is hard to do. Many can't or don't do that at her age. I am very impressed by it. She will be very successful in the future because of her attitude."

Experience is a valuable asset and Tepe has more than most 25 year olds. She hopes to be able to use her knowledge to help others achieve their dreams, including her own teammates.

"I hope they can see what I've done and not compare themselves, but understand that anything is possible," Tepe said. "Something I always go by is that it's not the fact, but your attitude toward the fact that determines the outcome. I try to pass on that you need to do the right thing, even if it's a hard situation. You are able to get through it if you have the right attitude."

Being Hairy Dawg

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Ever wonder what it's like to be Hairy Dawg? Wonder no more! Thanks to Parker Moore, one of the four UGA students who split time serving as the Georgia mascot, we get a glimpse inside that life. 

This story originally ran in the Georgia Football game program distributed at the Ole Miss game. 

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Georgia Spotlight on Hairy Dawg: An Insider's Look At The Bulldog Mascot
By Parker Moore

My love for all things Georgia (minus Tech) did not come through environmental influences in my geographical culture. I was born in Columbia, S.C. where seldom was heard an encouraging word about UGA. When I was less than a year old, we moved to New York City where indifference and apathy reign supreme when it comes to college football. Phrases like "Hunker Down Hairy Dawg", and "Gooo Dawgs, sic em" could be taught as a foreign language in NYC public schools. "Between the hedges" is where your property line ended, and prophesies like "Man is there gonna' be some property destroyed tonight" were sometimes heard but had nothing to do with a celebrating a win over Florida. The football universe for the average New Yorker starts with the Giants and ends with the Jets who play in the same building across the Hudson in New Jersey.

My love for Georgia football can be traced back to my mother, Anna, who grew up in Armuchee near Rome in Floyd County. She met my father, Ed, in 1982 at Prince Avenue Baptist Church in Athens when they were both students at UGA.  At the time, he was on the football team. He didn't grow up loving the Dawgs as my mother did. He grew up in Western Pennsylvania and transferred to Georgia from Pittsburgh as a sophomore. After college, they married and my dad went into the ministry. In 1992, he accepted a call to be the pastor of a small Baptist church in Queens (NYC), and they have been there ever since.   We would try to travel to a game each fall where I would get to see Athens in all its glory.  It was a thrill to walk out onto the field at halftime when my father's teams would be recognized.   But primarily my love for and knowledge of Georgia came from inside the home. In a city of eight million people, we were, to the best of our knowledge, the only family who decorated the house and the yard in Red and Black every autumn Saturday. I am a New Yorker to the core who loves the Georgia Bulldogs.

As a home-schooled student, I never had an opportunity to play football growing up.  My sports career consisted of Little League baseball in the spring and touch football in the fall.  When I transferred to Armuchee High School for my senior year, I was on the football team and played on special teams and as a back-up defensive end. That was the first time I had ever put on a football uniform. So I find it a bit comical that I am the only one from my high school team that still suits up in full pads every weekend. 

I also have the privilege of wearing silver britches with a tail on the back of them, a football #1 jersey, oversized paws with only 4 fingers, and an enormous bulldog head commonly known as Hairy Dawg. Contrary to popular belief, the suit itself has no ventilation system, which means temperatures in the suit rise anywhere from 25 to 30 degrees hotter than the immediate surroundings. There are only a few students that get to assume the responsibilities of Hairy Dawg. One student suits up for the pregame Dawg Walk, another works the first half, and the third handles the second half. We rotate each week.

In addition to UGA sporting events, we are often called to make appearances at private and corporate functions as a goodwill ambassador for the University.  From the perspective of the attendees, Hairy Dawg just appears. My highest profile "gig" to date was an opportunity to shoot two commercials in Bristol, Conn., at the ESPN studios.   ESPN contacted UGA this past January and asked for Hairy Dawg to make an appearance in a commercial with former Bulldog and current NFL quarterback Matthew Stafford. Also, they shot another one with Hairy Dawg and Robinson Cano from the New York Yankees.

The ESPN gig was a thrill, but it does not rank as my highest honor serving as Hairy Dawg.  What brings me the most joy while being the mascot is being able to brighten the day of those who often need it the most. I often get to visit hospitals, assisted living facilities, special education classrooms, and even handicapped sections at sporting events. There is no greater feeling than seeing a little boy in a hospital bed light up, or being able to hold the hand of a child in a special education classroom or hug those in wheel chairs who are unable to stand up; that rare opportunity is the primary motivation for why I am the mascot. Being Hairy Dawg gives me a unique chance to bring joy to so many different types of people. It truly is an honor.

In order to assume the reigns of the great Hairy Dawg, one must try out. A two-minute dance or skit must be performed in front of former Hairy Dawgs, the dance coordinator, the cheerleading coach/spirit squad coordinator and various judges. I have always loved to dance so naturally, my tryout consisted of mostly dancing. The first time I had ever put the suit on was the day of tryouts, and I was scared to death. Fortunately, the judges liked my routine enough to select me as one of the next Hairy Dawgs. The position is not handed down from year to year so I had to try out again this year. Being a returner, I knew my tryout had to top all others (and there were 22 of us trying out). I pulled a few strings and actually recruited 20 members of the Red Coat band to come to the coliseum. For my grand finale, I lead the band in a rendition of "Shout It Out." The judges approved, and I am currently in my second full season as Hairy Dawg.

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The role of Hairy Dawg is shared between four Georgia students including (l-r) Colton Fowlkes, Charles Purcell, Parker Moore and Billy McWhorter (not pictured) {Photo by Lindsay Boyle}

Bulldogs to host more championships

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**Very exciting news out of Athens today as UGA was selected to host the 2014 NCAA Men's & Women's Tennis Championships as well as one of the 2014 NCAA Gymnastics Regionals. Georgia consistently bids on hosting opportunities, and is often awarded those championships. The Bulldogs have hosted the tennis tournament more than any other school in the country - now 30 times for either men, women, or both. We know the players and coaches and are pumped and the staff is already updating its to-do lists!**

Below is the full release that ran on Georgiadogs.com today.

Also noteworthy, Georgia will host the 2013 NCAA Women's Golf Championships this spring.

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ATHENS, Ga. --- The University of Georgia will host the 2014 NCAA Men's & Women's Tennis Championships as well as a 2014 NCAA Gymnastics Regional, according to an announcement from the NCAA on Thursday.

The Dan Magill Tennis Complex has hosted the men's tournament 24 times and the women's event three times, in addition to three combined tournaments for a total of 30, most recently in both 2010 and 2012. The event has been combined since 2006. The Georgia men's tennis team has won six NCAA titles on the men's side - five of which came while playing in Athens. The women claimed the national title in 1994 and 2000 - the former coming at home.

The NCAA has recognized a national champion in men's tennis every year since 1946. It has done so in tournament format since 1977. The first women's championship was held in 1982. The tournaments have undergone some changes since their inceptions, including moving from a 16-team field to the current 64-team field in 1999. The first two rounds are held at on-campus sites, followed by the Round of 16 and beyond at the designated NCAA Championship site.

In the inaugural men's tournament held at the University of Georgia, Stanford defeated UCLA in the team portion while the Cardinal's Matt Mitchell was the singles champion and Bruce Manson and Chris Lewis of Southern California claimed the doubles crown. In the first women's tournament, Stanford defeated UCLA in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Cardinal's Alycia Mouton won the singles championship and the Bruins duo of Heather Ludloff and Lynn Lewis took the inaugural doubles honor.

"We are extremely excited to have been selected again," said 25th-year men's tennis head coach Manuel Diaz. "It's a credit to the many wonderful people in our athletic department who make the event so special, as well as all the volunteers in our community and the fans from around the country who make it the best collegiate event in our sport. Our athletic director [Greg McGarity] and everyone here at UGA are committed to continuing to host championships."

"This is fantastic news for the University of Georgia and the community of Athens. We're very excited and honored to host the incredible NCAA Tennis Championships again," said Jeff Wallace, in his 28th season as the head coach of the women's tennis team. "It all started with Coach Dan Magill in the 1970s and his vision to make Georgia the 'mecca of college tennis,' which it became under his leadership. Some of the greatest moments in our program's history have taken place at the complex that most deservedly bears his name. We're looking forward to having the nation's best players and teams come to Athens, and our staff and community always do a tremendous job of supporting the event."

Georgia is also one of six host sites for a 2014 NCAA Gymnastics Regional. The regional competition will be held at Stegeman Coliseum on Saturday, April 5, 2014. Teams and all-around competitors advancing out of the regional championships will compete at the 2014 National Collegiate Women's Gymnastics Championships in Birmingham, Ala., hosted by the University of Alabama and the Alabama Sports Foundation.

The other five host institutions for NCAA Regionals include Arkansas, LSU, Minnesota, Penn State and Washington. Georgia has served as host of a regional 11 times, most recently in 2011.

"To be able to host a regional championship is a bonus for our fans and our team," said first-year gymnastics head coach Danna Durante. "Georgia always puts on well-run championship events, and Stegeman Coliseum is an outstanding venue for a regional championship and the teams traveling in. Looking at our 2014 schedule, we have tough road meets against several national powers, so for us to be able to host regionals is really beneficial from a planning standpoint. We are looking forward to it."

Pep Rally - with Special Guest!

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The following was just posted on Georgiadogs.com to announce the upcoming Georgia Football pep rally set for this Thursday as the Dawgs prepare to head to Kentucky.


ATHENS, Ga. --- Members of the Georgia football team and head coach Mark Richt will headline a special  "Tailgate with the Team" event Thursday, Oct. 18, at 8 p.m. at Legion Field on the UGA campus. Admission is free and open to all students, faculty, and staff. A very famous surprise guest will also be present.


The team members will meet and greet students and fans before heading to Lexington Friday for the Georgia vs. Kentucky game. Richt will speak, team members will sign autographs, and there will be an assortment of entertainment and giveaways.


There will be free t-shirts and Fox's Pizza Den will provide their "BIG ONE" -- 30 inch wide pizzas! All giveaways are first come, first served while supplies last.

It's Midnight Somewhere!

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You've heard of basketball teams holding Midnight Madness to kick off the season... well, Georgia is about to do the same thing, from 7-10 PM this Friday night in Stegeman Coliseum. It's not exactly "midnight," but it's still going to be a great event and we hope you'll join us for Basketbash! 

Information on the event, including can't-miss giveaways, can be found here

Also make sure you view the men's and women's season previews from the good folks at GTV.

For an unprecedented amount of updates on men's basketball, be sure you're following @UGABasketball on Twitter - seriously, you won't believe how many updates! And speaking of Twitter - wonder when @UGACoachLanders will start taking pictures of his cow and sharing them with us again. It doesn't get much better than that during WBB season.

It's Football's bye week so be sure you come out and support the Hoop Dawgs this Friday night! See you there!

Georgia-Florida Beach Sweep

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***Editor's Note*** The following was posted on Georgiadogs.com today. Please consider helping out if you plan on attending Georgia-Florida weekend at the end of the month. Let's be responsible for our actions and represent Bulldog Nation well!


Brunswick, Ga. - Brunswick community members and volunteers will gather to "sweep" the beaches of St. Simons Island on the morning of Oct. 27 as football fans head to Jacksonville, Fla., for the Georgia-Florida game. The community cleanup is part of the fifth annual Georgia-Florida Football Weekend Community Beach Sweep.

Between 5,000 and 6,000 football fans will gather on St. Simons Island's East Beach on Oct. 26, an annual tradition that occurs the Friday before the Georgia-Florida football game. In years past, on Saturday morning the beaches have been littered with large amounts of waste--such as Styrofoam coolers, beverage cans and glass bottles--which pose a threat to marine life without cleanup efforts.

College students and football fans are asked to do their part--and to "stash their trash" in the provided beach trash and recycling containers and to refrain from using Styrofoam products, said Lea King-Badyna, a Glynn 4-H Advisory Council member and beach cleanup organizer.

"This year we are concentrating volunteer efforts on Saturday morning of the Georgia-Florida football weekend," she said. "On this high-volume weekend, fans, civic clubs, church groups, youth groups and individuals are all invited and encouraged to come out and help keep our Georgia beaches litter-free. This is an opportunity for community members to make a big difference in preserving a healthy coast."

Beach cleanup volunteers are asked to meet Oct. 27 at 7:30 a.m. at the old Coast Guard Station beach entrance boardwalk on St. Simons Island. Trash bags and gloves will be provided on site. Actual volunteer work time is anticipated at two hours.

The community beach sweep initiative is organized by the Glynn County 4-H Advisory Council in partnership with Keep Brunswick-Golden Isles Beautiful, Glynn County Parks and Recreation, Georgia Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resources Division, the UGA Cooperative Extension Office in Glynn County, the UGA Marine Extension Service and Georgia Sea Grant.

For more information or to participate, contact the Keep Brunswick-Golden Isles Beautiful offices at 912/279-1490.

Interviewing 101

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With millions of people on Twitter, Facebook, and every other social networking tool out there, it makes sense that collegiate student-athletes - often in high-profile positions in campus - would be right in the thick of things when it comes to sharing information this way. In dealing with the ease with which fans, media, and donors can readily view student-athletes social media profiles, and the fact that nothing is private these days (and once it's out there, it's permanent), it has become increasingly important for these student-athletes to be educated, to learn what to do and - perhaps more importantly - what not to do, as well as to understand how they can use social media to benefit themselves and their teams.

On Monday the UGA Athletic Association welcomed husband & wife media training specialists Randy Minkoff and Sue Castorino to campus to give lessons to specific teams and to freshmen on social media tips and interview etiquette. While many social media tactics, such as not posting negative comments about your opponent or photos of yourself holding a beer, might seem like common sense, student-athletes get in trouble for these very things every day, and Randy and Sue did a great job of reminding the Bulldogs to be smart.

Soccer players Tori Patterson and Elizabeth Johnson (team pictured below) spoke afterwards in an interview about how proud they are to put on a Georgia jersey and represent this university every day, which is why they said they enjoyed the tutorial on how to make sure they do a good job while they're here in this spotlight - regardless of how big or small it might be. Because someone is always out there listening.

Here's to hoping the next time you read about a Georgia student-athlete, they're conducting themselves in a way that would make you proud! Go Dawgs!

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Following the #Dawgs: Updates

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Georgiadogs.com and GTV are pleased to announce several new digital products to make following your Bulldogs much easier.

Mobile Apps

Georgiadogs.com has deployed a new and improved mobile experience for Bulldogs fans with iOS and Android devices. The official mobile application of University of Georgia athletics offers iOS and Android users easy and instant access to up-to-the-minute news and info for the 2012-13 school year. The mobile application is free to download from the App Store and Google Play Market. New to the application this year, users may now enhance their experience by purchasing access to live video and audio broadcasts from within the app.

In addition to the newly improved smartphone application, georgiadogs.com is now offering an iPad application! The new iPad app delivers the experience fans have come to love from georgiadogs.com, in a format optimized to take full advantage of the iPad's technological capabilities. Georgiadogs.com's iPad application is the definitive, premium tablet source for official Bulldogs content.

Bulldogs fans can gain access to live video and audio broadcasts with a paid in-application upgrade. The live media upgrade costs $4.99 per month/$19.99 per year for iOS users and $9.99 per year for Android users.

The update to the free application will include access to the following enhancements and features:

  • New design and optimized touch functionality
  • Live Video and Audio Broadcasts
  • Full GameTracker sport coverage
  • Newly added General Athletics section
  • Clickable pre/post-game functionality for the robust, new schedule section
  • A new in-app notifications system
  • School blog integration
  • Redesigned photo gallery presentation
  • Twitter integration on events pages, as well as more sharing options
  • Audio and video have been separated for ease of use
  • Bug fixes

The official mobile application of Georgia athletics is compatible with iOS devices and requires iOS 5.0 or above (iOS 4.3 support coming soon). The Android version is compatible with any Droid device running Android 3.2 (tablet) or 4.0 (smartphone) and up.

The application can be downloaded on your phone via the App Store or Google Play Store by searching for "Georgia Bulldogs."

Mobile GTV Video Player

Also, georgiadogs.com, in conjunction with CBSSports.com, yesterday rolled out the first version of an HTML5 video player within GTV that will allow you to view GTV on-demand content on your iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, and iTouch). We plan on this being available on "embedded" stories, and live game broadcasts soon.

Fans won't have to do anything different to access on-demand video. Our site will determine if the user is browsing georgiadogs.com on an iOS device and present the HTML5 player accordingly.

Iphone link: Georgia Sports - CBS Interactive, Inc.
Ipad app: Georgia Sports - CBS Interactive, Inc.

Bulldogs at the Paralympics Update

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By Connor Nolte

I know its a football Saturday but I wanted to give an update on Jarryd Wallace from London. I was able to watch him race last night and it was pretty incredible.

After the race, I was down in the "mixed zone", which is the tunnel that the athletes are interviewed by every reporter and broadcaster known to man. I gave Jarryd a big hug and congratulated him on how he ran. He finished 4th in his heat and only the top 3 advance to the finals. One last spot is  awarded to the sprinter with the next fastest time after the 6 auto qualifiers.

I wasn't sure if he was going to get that last spot so I was just talking to him about the overall experience when he looked over my shoulder and his face lit up. He had seen the start list for the final on a monitor and it included his name. Tonight, Jarryd races in the final of the 400m, an event in which, including last night, he has only run twice in competition since his amputation. A pretty incredible story. I'll be there again cheering him on as he races against Oscar Pistorius for the second straight night and two other Americans, Blake Leeper and David Prince.
 
 
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Checking in from the Paralympics

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**NOTE: Jarryd Wallace races in the 4x100m in London TODAY! Watch online at Paralympics.org between 5:07-5:14 PM!

By Connor Nolte

I guess this blog is long overdue. A lot has happened since I last reported on my experience with the United States Olympic Committee (read here).

My internship at the USOC has officially ended. I had a great summer in Colorado Springs working in the marketing department on Team USA's digital media efforts. While that internship is finished, I offered my services to the communications department for US Paralympics. They took me up on the offer and I am currently in London, England, with Team USA. It has been an incredible experience and I am so honored to be a part of the 2012 Paralympics.

My role here consists of covering events, posting stories to USParalympics.org, and posting Instagram images to the @USParalympics account. I've been covering just about everything. My favorite assignment to receive is the wheelchair basketball teams. My eyes have been opened to what an amazing sport it really is.

There hasn't been much time for sightseeing in London but I have been able to see most of the Olympic/Paralympic venues here and was even able to attend the Opening Ceremony. My credential gets me into every event and I've been trying to make my way to as many venues as possible.

I can't really describe what the atmosphere is like over here. I've never seen anything like it. Everywhere you look there are people and most are decked out in clothes that show support for their home countries. The scale of this event is incredible. I work out of the Main Press Centre most of the time, and it is a gigantic building with hundreds of computers and thousands of journalists file in and out each day.

I am planning on being at the Olympic Stadium to see fellow Bulldog, Jarryd Wallace, compete on the world's biggest stage. What an amazing opportunity! I haven't met up with him since he has been in London but am hoping to see him at some point while I'm here.

I also have some good news regarding my master's program. I completed my internship and passed the exit exam so I will be officially graduating with my Master's degree in Sport Management in December. I am extremely proud to have earned not one, but two degrees from the University of Georgia!

After the Paralympics I will be traveling in Europe for two weeks before heading back to the States. I'll be stopping in Paris, Rome, Greece, and Barcelona during my travels. I hope to post one more update after watching Jarryd race and the Games end.

Go Dawgs!

-Connor

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