*Hernus Pieters, Georgia
*Ignacio Toboada, Georgia
Tom Jomby, Kentucky
Anthony Rossi, Kentucky
Nik Scholtz, Ole Miss
George Coupland, Mississippi State
*MVP: Ignacio Toboada, Georgia
By Steve Colquitt
The SEC Men's Golf Championships will be held Friday through Sunday at Sea Island Golf Club on Sea Island. Rob Matre, an accomplished golf photographer, shared with us a hole-by-hole look at the course. Take a look -- and it will make you wish you were a golfer from the SEC.
By Whitney Tarpy
Current and former Bulldogs recently put together a home run derby for a good cause. "Swinging for Shepherd" took place on Sunday, April 1 at softball's Jack Turner Stadium following the conclusion of the game against Florida. Kristyn Sandberg, Alisa Goler, Tori Moody, Dallas Lee, Anne Marie Armstrong, Jasmine James, Emilie Burger, Mary Katelyn Williams, Laura Guest, Will Dyer, & Meghan Purvis helped put the event together while participants included Goler, Taylor Schlopy, Bri Hesson, Tori Moody and Ben Jones as well as former Gator softball player Francesca Enea.
The event also included a silent auction with most items being signed apparel. Ranging from game worn cleats, batting gloves and jerseys, the John Hancocks included lots of softball greats like Jennie Finch, Jessica Mendoza, Cat Osterman and more.
Though former Gator Enea technically won the derby, everybody who helped with this great cause was the real winner. Between each hitter having two sponsors at $5 a hit, percentage night at YoDawgs, auction items and outside donations, they raised over $2,100 dollars for the Shepherd Center.
In this edition of the Between The Hedges Q&A, we check in with former men's tennis standout Drake Bernstein - who is now the assistant women's tennis coach at the University of Alabama. Bernstein was back in town with the Crimson Tide for last Friday's dual match, and we caught up with the All-SEC and career 100-match winner.
BtH: So this is your first season spent out of Athens, and Winder even before that--how does it feel coming back?
Bernstein: It's good. This place is still home in a lot of ways, being around the courts especially. It's different from being on the other side of it, both coaching and not being at Georgia.
BtH: Definitely must have a different feel not being here. What do you miss most about Athens?
Bernstein: This tennis center, probably. I've spent a lot of time here, growing up watching the matches, learning the tradition, and then getting to be a part of it. That's the most special thing for me. Everything else is great, but this is the first place I go when I come back and what stands out for me.
BtH: How's being a coach somewhere else treating you?
Bernstein: It's awesome, I love it. We've got a really good team, all hard workers and good listeners. The best part for me has been the head coach, Jenny Mainz, who has help me so much. She's been so patient, took a chance on hiring a younger guy for a women's team, and she's made it really easy for me to coach.
BtH: What's your favorite part of coaching, as opposed to playing?
Bernstein: Maybe that I get the chance to affect more than one court at once. Obviously when you play, you try to be supportive of the guys on the courts next to you, but now I can actually give insight and influence multiple courts at once. Hopefully you can help get more than just one point for the team.
BtH: You still miss playing, right?
Bernstein: Yeah, totally. All these big matches stuck at three-all, you really wish you were out there playing. I do miss it, but the time that I had here was special, and I got plenty of it in.
BtH: How do you think Manny [Diaz] has helped you prepare for this transition from player to coach?
Bernstein: Manny's one of the best, if not the best, coaches in college. He and [Associate Head Coach] Will Glenn showed me about what it takes to coach, how to handle a team. We never overlooked anybody, nor did we give anybody too much respect. You try to play all the matches the same. And Jenny's the same way--treat every match as if it's any other match when you play. Another thing about Manny is he gave me good perspective about how important it was at the end of the day. If you lose a tennis match, or win one, the world's not going to end. He's done that for me and I hope I can do the same for these girls.
BtH: You might have an opportunity to come back here next month for the NCAA Championships. What would that mean to you?
Bernstein: Yeah, we've got a good shot with a good team. It's been their goal since the beginning of the year to be here in May, and as we're ranked now we're in, but there's a lot of tennis we've got to play between now and then. Hopefully we can move up in the rankings instead of kind of hanging out where we're at and cement ourselves here.
BtH: Thanks a bunch. Good luck!
-By Eliot Beckham
In this edition of the Behind The Hedges Q&A, we sat down with Director of Event Management Christie Purks. With two degrees from UGA and with her vast experience including serving as the meet director of the 2001 and 2008 NCAA Gymnastics Championships in Athens, Purks has just about seen and done it all in her time in the UGAAA.
BtH: So you're the Director of Event Management - could you take us through your average day?
BtH: Is there no such thing as an average day?
Purks: That would be very true. There's a lot of variety--you can kind of put my job into two categories: one is the daily planning that involves being in the office, drafting memos and having meetings, and then the other portion is when I'm out at the events, at the tennis or basketball court. Those days are more troubleshooting and problem-solving, taking care of issues as they come up as opposed to the planning of the other category.
BtH: Do you have a favorite subpart of either part?
Purks: I like being out of the office. There's a lot of variety, you come in contact with lots of different people. It's not that it's easier, because you're dealing with problems, but I do enjoy being out. I would not do well sitting behind a desk every day, so that's one reason why I've kind of been drawn to this job.
BtH: How did you come to be at UGA?
Purks: I have two degrees from the University--I was a Public Relations major as an undergrad and later got my graduate degree in Sport Administration. I had the good fortune one summer as an undergrad to work for the athletic department as a student intern. That got my foot in the door and gave me the opportunity to meet Lewis Gainey, who at the time was the Assistant Athletic Director for Event Management. When I got done with classes for my graduate degree, I needed an internship to complete the program. Lewis offered one to me helping plan a swimming and diving national championship and, once I was done, offered me a full time job.
BtH: You've coordinated several other national championships across a variety of sports, right?
Purks: I have! I tell students who come talk with me that that's what I consider myself most fortunate for being able to work at Georgia, because we host a lot of postseason events. Many institutions just don't have the resources, either staff-wise or financially, to be able to host these kinds of events, but the University of Georgia has always taken pride in hosting postseason events so I feel like I've actually been given the opportunity to plan big events on a big stage at UGA. Maybe my favorite - well, I shouldn't say favorite - maybe the largest event I've gotten to handle was the 2008 Women's Gymnastics National Championship.
BtH: Which Georgia won.
Purks: We did win, which is always nice.
BtH: When you say it's not your favorite, is it because you have a different one, or because you're not going to pick favorites?
Purks: I won't pick favorites. I've done two gymnastics championships, two swimming and diving national championships, and a tennis one, too. They're all different and unique and come with their own stories. But that one was by far the largest I've had to coordinate and put on.
BtH: What's the hardest part--is it that kind of size and scale?
Purks: That's one part of it--with the gymnastics, we tried very hard to replicate the way it's done at the Olympics, with the gymnasts competing on podiums that had to be constructed from scratch. It brought about lots of different challenges for the facility, we had to build the platforms and rearrange seating in the arena. Way different than a regular season gymnastics meet.
BtH: A lot of tough logistics and planning must go into these events. What's something you like to do to relax, your favorite part of Athens?
Purks: Well, I grew up in Atlanta, so I do like the big city life, but it's replicated really well for scale here. And Athens has a lot of great restaurants, that's definitely my favorite part. But I also went to school here and loved it, and I just feel like I'm one of the fortunate ones who got to hang around.
---By Eliot Beckham