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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."

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"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.

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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.

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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!

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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 ESPN3.com page on the left side of our official Facebook (Facebook.com/GeorgiaBulldogs), 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!

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

Goodnight!

Immortalized

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I have to give credit to my coworker Steve Colquitt for finding this nugget as it is definitely worth sharing! 

According to Georgia Southern's website, a sculptor has been hired to construct a 7.5-foot tall monument of former head coach Erk Russell at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro. Before resurrecting the Eagles' football program, Russell was Georgia's defensive coordinator from 1964 to 1980 and was the architect of some of the Bulldogs' top defensive units in school history. Russell passed away in 2006.

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Weekend wrap-up

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Happy Monday morning, Bulldog Nation!

Hope your week is off to a great start - ours is already off and running with the momentum of an unbelievable weekend in the Athletic Department! Overall, Bulldog teams went 13-2 on the weekend, not even counting some standout individual performances across the board. 

The highlight was probably the men's basketball team's dominating 76-62 win over 11th-ranked Florida in Stegeman Coliseum Saturday afternoon. After the game, head coach Mark Fox discussed his team's effort and their mindset following the loss to LSU in their last outing, while senior Gerald Robinson said he was a good feeling about the Florida game immediately after the loss in Baton Rouge. 

On the women's side, the Lady Bulldogs clinched the No. 3 seed in the upcoming SEC Tournament as they defeated LSU at home yesterday, 62-46. They used 14 points from sophomore Khaalidah Miller to pull away from the Tigers in the regular-season finale, while the game was special for a different reason - as former Georgia men's golf standout and current professional golfer Bubba Watson made good on a bet he had with Andy Landers (because of this shot) and got to serve as a guest coach for the contest.

We caught up with Bubba before the game. He was clearly in the zone. Check it out here

The Diamond Dogs swept Winthrop this weekend at home, while the softball team went a blistering on the weekend in California, a stretch that included three wins over ranked opponents as the team moves to 12-2 on the year.

The Gym Dogs suffered a loss at No. 1 Florida on Friday night, but turned in their second-highest road score of the season with a 196.825. That placed the gymnastics team at No. 4 in the first edition of the RQS rankings that came out today. The RQS rankings used a team's six best scores of the season, three of which are from away meets, and are calculated by eliminating the team's highest score and averaging the remaining five.

The men's and women's track & field teams placed third and fifth, respectively, at the SEC Indoor Championships in Lexington, Ky., with three athletes winning individual titles in Torrin Lawrence (400m), Aaron Evans (800m), and Colleen Felix (triple jump).

Women's tennis won two matches, including a 4-3 thrilled over Memphis on Friday coupled with yesterday's 7-0 rout of No. 17 Clemson. 

Swimming & diving used its Last Chance Meet to improve upon some postseason qualifying marks, while equestrian posted a pair of wins over fourth-ranked Baylor (13-6) and Fresno State (17-1) over the weekend in Athens.

We really appreciated all the love on Twitter (@UGAAthletics) and sent to our individual sport pages... keep it coming!

And speaking of Twitter, here's a chance for something pretty cool. This Thursday night when the men's basketball team travels to take on Kentucky, fans have the chance to interact with ESPN's Jay Bilas using the hashtag #askbilas. Jay will be fielding questions and engaging about college basketball throughout the game, so don't miss out!

Until next time, GO DAWGS and thanks for reading!

A surprise on the sideline...

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Well, as promised, it's Friday at 3:00 and we have some interesting news to dish out here on Between The Hedges.

So... while we were sad to see former Bulldog golfer Bubba Watson fall in the Match Play Championships, something good has definitely come from it! You may remember back in September when Watson and Lady Bulldogs head coach Andy Landers made a friendly wager - Watson would try to hit a golf ball from down on the football field out of Sanford Stadium in exchange for the chance to guest coach a game this season. 

If you haven't seen it yet, and need visual confirmation, you can watch the amazing feat of strength here

With Watson's weekend suddenly opened up, the time is now for the pair to make good on their bet. Bubba is set to come to Athens this weekend and join Landers on the sideline for the women's basketball game as the Lady Dogs take on LSU at home on Sunday at 5 p.m. 

A bit of back story is that, incidentally, Bubba is married to former Lady Bulldog Angie Ball (1997-2000), and they've stayed close with Landers and the program over the years. Of course, there has been some friendly Twitter banter today, with both parties obviously looking forward to Sunday, just as we hope you are. Come out and support the Lady Bulldogs in their home finale and check out a Bulldog legend in a bit of different role!

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Richt previews spring practice

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After a busy month that included National Signing Day and a heavy load of recruiting, among other obligations, head football coach Mark Richt met with a selection of the media Thursday in the team meeting room in Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall to discuss the offseason and to preview the upcoming series of spring practices that commence March 20.

Richt fielded questions on all topics, ranging from how to replace three starters on the OL, to the defense, to the new SEC schedule and more.

Read the full report from Richt's press conference here

A Face in the Crowd

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Exciting news from the world of the Gym Dogs today! Senior Kat Ding has been featured in the Feb. 27 Faces in the Crowd section of Sports Illustrated, which hit newsstands Wednesday.

Ding caught the attention of Sports Illustrated following her performance against No. 3 Arkansas on Feb. 10. In just her second career all-around, Ding placed first with a 39.550 in the Gym Dogs' win. She matched the highest all-around score by a Georgia gymnast since Courtney Kupets and Tiffany Tolnay in the 2009 NCAA Super Six.

A native of Sparks, Nev., Ding had her second straight 39.550 in the all-around last Saturday against Kentucky. The reigning NCAA uneven bars champion also tied for first on vault with a season-high 9.925, on bars with a 9.9 and on beam with a 9.825. She closed the meet with a 9.9 on floor to retain her No. 1 national ranking in the all-around, and is ranked No. 5 on vault, No. 8 on bars and No. 11 on floor.

Faces in the Crowd has been published every week in Sports Illustrated since 1956. The publication posts its Faces in the Crowd selections each Wednesday afternoon at http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/scorecard/faces.

Ding and the third-ranked Gym Dogs return to action Friday night against No. 1 Florida in Gainesville.

*Interesting note: other Bulldogs included in the publication in the past are:

Anne Marie Armstrong (WBB), Hunter Cole (baseball), Jennifer Dahlgren (T&F), Travis Helgeson (MTennis), Torrin Lawrence (T&F, twice), Michelle Morris (EQU), and Ashley Razey (softball).

Bauerle reflects on (another) SEC title

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VIDEO: SEC Trophy Celebration & Jack Bauerle Dive!

By Steve Colquitt, Associate Sports Communications Director

After leading his Georgia swimming and diving team to another Southeastern Conference title, Coach Jack Bauerle joked that the only thing that went wrong at the meet was his part of the celebration.

Victorious teams traditionally jump into the pool together, followed by a school cheer or song. The head coaches, including Bauerle, jump in last. On Saturday in Knoxville, Bauerle decided to do a flip into the water -- with one tiny issue.

"I think I made it about three-quarters of the way on my flip," Bauerle said, still dripping wet from his plunge. "And I got water in my ear. Let's just say I would not have gotten any diving points."

Truth be told, the Lady Bulldogs garnered plenty of points on their own. Georgia rolled up 781 points to outdistance host Tennessee's 629.5. (That is the equivalent of a 25-point win in basketball.)

The title was the third straight for the Lady Bulldogs and the ninth in school history -- all coming under Bauerle. Three straight championships is the second-longest streak in school history, trailing only the five earned from 1997 to 2001.

"It was a great meet, and I could not be prouder of our ladies," Bauerle said. "It's always nice to get to hold that trophy on the last day. Winning a title in this conference is no small feat. Teams just keep fighting and fighting. That's what I like about our team. We have fighters too, and they don't back down from a challenge. They are a tough bunch. As a coach, you always want to see effort and consistency. That's what we have with this group. They deserve this title. This is a feeling that never gets old.

"It's nice to come back to Athens with the trophy. This is something these kids will never forget."

The Lady Bulldogs won six events during the four-day meet. Wendy Trott took the 1,650 freestyle, becoming the first woman in league history to claim the mile all four years. Megan Romano won the 100 and 200 freestyle. (Romano also placed second in the 100 backstroke, breaking the school record in the process.) Michelle McKeehan was victorious in the 200 breaststroke and Amber McDermott came in first in the 500 freestyle. Georgia additionally won the 800 freestyle relay with Shannon Vreeland, Melanie Margalis, Jordan Mattern and Romano.

After the meet, McDermott was chosen as the SEC Female Freshman of the Year.

"It was a great team effort," Bauerle said. "I'm not sure we had a bad swim, and you can't say that often. Most of the time, we were really good, even great. Everybody had a hand in it, too. That's the main thing in winning a championship. You have to have a lot of depth -- and we are fortunate that we do."

In addition to lapping the field, the Lady Bulldogs assaulted their own record book. Seventeen times in 13 events were top-10 efforts in school history, led by Romano's Georgia mark in the 100 backstroke. And of the 13 set in individual races, 10 were established by underclassmen.

The Bulldogs came in third, fighting off the host Volunteers for the spot. Martin Grodzki won the 500 and the 1,650 freestyle races, while Nic Fink swept the 100 and 200 breaststroke events, and Doug Reynolds claimed the 100 butterfly. Grodzki won the 1,650 freestyle for the third straight year, giving Georgia its eighth consecutive crown in the event. Reynolds became Georgia's first 100 butterfly winner since 1965 when Bo Holland won the event. After the meet, Fink was selected as the SEC Male Freshman of the Year.

Michael Arnold set the school record in the 50 freestyle, eclipsing Georgia's longest-standing mark. Allan Murray set the previous school mark in 1993. (Murray lives in the Bahamas, and Bauerle joked that he and Arnold should break the news to Murray in person.) Arnold, Fink, Reynolds and John Simmons also set the school record in the 200 medley relay. All told, 15 top-10 times were established in 13 events.

"Our men sometimes get overshadowed by our ladies, but they had a heck of a meet too," Bauerle said. "They really battled and gave us great effort. Some of our young guys really grew up at the meet. We're enjoying what's going on right now, and we feel like we have a bright future with our men's team."

The Lady Bulldogs will compete in the NCAA Championships March 15-17 in Auburn as they seek the program's fifth national title, while the Bulldogs will head to the NCAAs in Federal Way, Wash., March 22-24.

ESPNU will televise highlights from the SECs on a tape-delay basis. The men's meet will air Monday, Feb. 27, at 5 p.m., and the women's meet will air Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 5 p.m.

Georgia's teams will be back in action Saturday and Sunday at Gabrielsen Natatorium hosting the Bulldog Last Chance Meet.

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