Five Things Alumni Need to Know — April 20, 2015

(PHOTO: UCF Today)
Blue Man Group presented 12-year-old Wyatt Falardeau with his very own Blue Man bionic arm. (Photo: UCF Today)

Here are five things you should know this week:

  1. UCF’s Limbitless Solutions, the team that made an Ironman bionic arm for 7-year-old Alex Pring (presented to him by Robert Downey Jr. in a what became a viral video), also surprised 12-year-old Wyatt Falardeau with a Blue Man Group arm. Watch the video, shown at a special press conference held this morning at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center.
  2. The UCF Alumni Association and UCF College of Medicine partnered together to present MedTalk, an informal lecture series that allows everyone interested in medicine to join in and learn more about current and innovative issues in the field. The inaugural talk, about why your brain gets sick, takes place this Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. at the Downtown PourHouse.
  3. The UCF Young Alumni Chapter hosts its annual Professional Conference (ProCon) today and tomorrow at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, where students and young alumni have access to information sessions including resume writing, social media and finances, while getting to network with fellow Knights and interview with companies looking to hire.
  4. The UCF College of Business Administration held its annual Joust competition last week, with Talon Simulations, which creates virtual reality simulations for flight training and gaming, claiming the first place prize of $10,000.
  5. UCF Football played its spring game on Saturday, providing a preview of this year’s team.

Share the Knight — Southwest Florida

President Hitt spends an evening with alumni in Southwest Florida

Share_the_Knight_2015-SWFL

On Jan. 26, UCF Knights in Southwest Florida joined President John Hitt for a unique Share the Knight event. The university’s president answered questions about the much-anticipated UCF Downtown Campus, including which academic programs and services may be offered on the new campus, as well as the possibility of an upscale hotel on the UCF Main Campus, progress on a possible judicial center, and many more.

More than 60 alumni and friends were in attendance for this unique evening, which also included a chance for Knights to network and catch up.

The next Share the Knight event is tentatively scheduled for Chicago (date TBD).

Share_the_Knight_2015-SWFL-football_players
Former UCF football players, Wesley Tunuufi Sauvao, ’10, a corrections officer for Collier County; Cory Hogue, ’09, a professional chef; and Steven Baker, ’07, an orthopedic/surgical equipment sales rep, were among the attendees at Southwest Florida’s Share the Knight event.

 

Pegasus and the UCF Knight

The history of UCF’s live mascot program

Pegasus_UCF-Knight

By Angie Lewis, ’03

Tradition is in full force on game days at Bright House Networks Stadium. The UCF Marching Knights enter the stadium, followed by the cheerleaders, who lead fans through the War Chant. But, before the team arrives and the crowd starts jumping to “Zombie Nation,” there’s one more tradition to cheer, as Pegasus and the UCF Knight charge onto the field, rearing as Knightro draws the sword from the ground. While you may have seen this choreographed entrance many times, you may not know how this particular tradition got started, or where our “Pegasus” comes from.

The university has had a variety of Pegasus mascots over the years, including horses donated by Burt Reynolds in the ’80s, and Rick Walsh, ’70, retired Darden executive and UCF Trustee, in the ’90s.

In 2001, the UCF Alma Mater Society, comprised of the university’s Distinguished Alumnus Award winners, established the official mascot program, after presenting a proposal to the alumni association, which partnered with Medieval Times and received a donated horse named Centauro. That same year, the Equestrian Club at UCF and the Pegasus Mascot Team were established.

The “World Famous” Lipizzaner Stallions also donated horses to the program, until last year, when the UCF Alumni Association formed a relationship with Arabian Nights and Al-Marah Arabian Horses in Clermont, Fla.

The university’s current “Pegasus” is a 24-year-old Gray Arabian gelding, also known as Clemmy in the stables, who joined the mascot team in August 2013. His job in the former Arabian Nights dinner show was to rear off the bad guy.

“The light work load he does for UCF and our lesson program keeps him in shape and his mind active,” says Zach Becker, breeding manager for Al-Marah Arabians.

Arabian horses, named after the peninsula, are the oldest breed in the world, known for their small, refined, dished faces, Becker explains.

“Originally, they came from the desert, [which is how they got] their compact bodies and great stamina,” he continues. “They have a great temperament and willingness to please, as they slept in the tents with their riders when sandstorms arose in the desert.”

In addition to Clemmy, UCF also uses a 14-year-old Gray Arabian gelding named Kizmet for parades and other event photo ops.

“Thanks to Arabian Nights, our horses are used to large numbers of people, as well as lights and music,” Becker says. “Also, any new up-and-coming horses ride with us to the game and just hang out at the trailer for the day to get used to the sights and sounds of UCF. The more things we can acclimate them to, the better.”

The horses aren’t the only ones who are trained, however.

Carla Cordoba, ’94, associate director of constituent programs at the UCF Alumni Association, has been the advisor for the Pegasus Mascot Team since its inception. During that time, she’s overseen five horses and about 15 Knights.

Knights have to go through an audition process, which includes an in-person interview, as well as a riding evaluation, with current mascot team members, Cordoba and Becker, to see what their riding capabilities are, and to make sure they get along with the horses. Becker then works with those chosen on how to cue and ride each movement, teaching them how to speak the language Al-Marah’s horses will understand.

More Info

Follow Pegasus and the UCF Knight on Facebook.
Find out more about the Equestrian Club at UCF.

DID YOU KNOW…?

  • Knightro is the athletics mascot and takes on a character persona, while Pegasus and the UCF Knight are a university mascot, although they both appear at athletic events.
  • In addition to the other criteria required to be a Knight, each rider must also be able to fit into the small costume.
  • All Knight rider candidates must squire for at least one year before applying. A squire’s main duties including grooming Pegasus, getting him and the Knight into their costumes, interacting with fans, and escorting Pegasus and the UCF Knight onto the field.

SUPPORT THE PEGASUS MASCOT PROGRAM
Want to be a part of UCF’s history and traditions by helping to keep the Pegasus Mascot Program alive? Contact Carla Cordoba at [email protected] or 407.823.3453 for more information.

Knights to Remember 2014

A few of our favorite stories from the past year

Rob Brunjes, '11, proposed to Michele McGlamory, '10, on a brick at the Knights Terrace.
Rob Brunjes, ’11, kneeled beside the brick he purchased on the Knights Terrace to propose to his longtime girlfriend Michele McGlamory, ’10, on Nov. 21.

By Angie Lewis, ’03

As we prepare to bid farewell to 2014, we can’t help but reflect on all of the great UCF stories that have been shared over the last 12 months. Celebrating a new year with a BCS bowl win, welcoming more than 16,000 new alumni over three semesters of graduation ceremonies, getting to know an inspirational teacher, helping a little boy get a “robo-arm” and witnessing a Knights marriage proposal are enough to run the emotional gamete on their own. But, we’ve got more!

Here are our top 10 favorite stories of 2014:

10. Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
On Jan. 1, 2014, our Knights won their first-ever BCS bowl after defeating Baylor 52-42 in Glendale, Ariz. (Seems like a fitting story for our list of favorites, as our Knights play in their third-consecutive bowl, facing N.C. State in the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl on Dec. 26, after celebrating back-to-back AAC championships. Go Knights! Charge On!)

9. Graduation
The UCF Alumni Association welcomed more than 5,000 new alumni during fall 2014 commencement ceremonies held Dec. 12-13. With these graduations, UCF has awarded more than 271,000 degrees since classes began in 1968. In total, the alumni association welcomed more than 16,000 new alumni in 2014, including spring and summer graduations.

8. The Origins of Pegasus Magazine
In 2014, Pegasus Magazine celebrated its 20th year in production. The inaugural issue in July 1994 was printed and mailed to 59,861 alumni. Today, the award-winning publication is sent to more than 205,000 (addressable) alumni. Pegasus was created by Tom Messina, ’84, along with fellow Knights Mike Hinn, ’92, and Jim Hobart, ’91.

7. Little Legacy
Marlie Kai Dodson dreamed of being a UCF Cheerleader and attending the College of Nursing. However, pediatric brain cancer claimed her life on Dec. 31, 2011, leaving behind a little legacy that would make a big impact. Thankful for the nurses who cared so much for her daughter, Marlie’s mom, Sarah Dodson, ’01, along with her family of other UCF Knights, established the Marlie Kai Dodson Endowed UCF Oncology Nursing Scholarship, which was awarded this year for the first time.

6. 180 Degrees
Although Jill Schenk, ’90, was an “American Gladiators” contestant, her spirit wasn’t as strong as her body. After struggling with addiction and attempting suicide, she was finally able to learn how to love herself, and now inspires her students as a teacher at San Diego High School.

5. Homecoming Highlights
Homecoming 2014 proved to be another exciting week of alumni and student events, including the Black & Gold Gala, Spirit Splash, Black & Gold Takeover, Golf Tournament, Indoor Tailgate, CECS BBQ/Reunion, and a repeat victory against Temple!

4. Magazine Names UCF Leaders, Alumni to Orlando’s Most-Powerful List
Five UCF leaders and several alumni were named to Orlando magazine’s 2014 list of the region’s 50 most powerful people.

3. Orlando’s University
UCF’s new downtown Orlando campus is in the works, and will be a “game changer” for the university, according to its top supporter, UCF President John Hitt.

2. Kid-Approved
Six-year-old Alex Pring received a new prosthetic arm, thanks to e-NABLE, an international organization that connects families with inventors and 3-D printer enthusiasts creating solutions for children with special needs. That’s where his mom, Alyson, met Albert Manero, ’12, an e-NABLE volunteer who would change their lives forever.

1. Proposal Knight
Having a brick engraved with “Marry Me?” was how Rob Brunjes, ’11, decided to propose to his longtime girlfriend, Michele McGlamory, ’10. Now, the Knights Terrace outside the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center will always hold a special place in their hearts.

We hope you enjoyed our favorites as much as we did. Here’s to bigger and better stories in 2015!

With Knight Pride,
Your UCF Alumni Association Staff

Scholarships Make Champions Shine Brighter

Thanks to his hard work — and first generation scholarship — No. 19 wide receiver, Josh Reese, '14, graduated with his bachelor's degree in summer 2014. Over the span of his UCF athletic career, he's helped the Knights win multiple conference championships and bowl games.
Thanks to his hard work — and First Generation Scholarship — No. 19 Wide Receiver Josh Reese, ’14, graduated with his bachelor’s degree in summer 2014. Over the span of his UCF athletic career, Reese has helped the Knights win multiple conference championships and bowl games.

By Angie Lewis, ’03

As UCF Football prepares for its final game of the season, facing the N.C. State Wolfpack in the 2014 Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl on Dec. 26, it also prepares to say goodbye to 21 seniors, who helped the team win back-to-back AAC championships and earn three consecutive bowl invitations.

While fans may know each player’s number and position, and be familiar with his performance on the field, what they may not know is how each got there.

One of those seniors is the Knights’ No. 19 wide receiver, Josh Reese, ’14, from Miami Central High School, whose energizing 30-yard reception, followed by Quarterback Justin Holman’s keeper, helped to briefly put UCF ahead of Penn State in the last two minutes of Ireland’s Croke Park Classic on Aug. 30.

“He’s really the one guy who sticks out as being the leader of the receiving group,” says UCF Wide Receivers Coach Sean Beckton, ’93. “He’s the one guy you can count on to go out and do everything right.”

In addition to his physical abilities, part of Reese’s success is also thanks to his First Generation Scholarship. He’s one of about 75 UCF student-athletes who receive financial assistance to help them succeed as the first person in their families to attend college.

“Having a First Generation Scholarship helped me get to college in general,” Reese says. “It also made it possible for me to go to a bigger and better college like UCF, and not only play football, but achieve a degree.”

Reese completed his bachelor’s degree in sport and exercise science this past summer.

“Everything that he’s gotten thus far, as far as the recognition here, he’s deserving of it, because he’s worked extremely hard,” Beckton says.

And, Reese isn’t the only UCF student-athlete who works hard on the field and off. The graduation rate of UCF’s student-athletes is 95 percent — the highest rate in the country among public institutions and fifth overall.

The graduate rate for UCF Football, specifically, is 90 percent, which is 10th overall among football programs and second among public institutions. The program has also won the Academic Excellence Award for having the highest GPA in the conference for the past three years.

“It’s always good to give back to people who may not have opportunities to go to college and beyond,” Reese says. “Never count out anyone.”

More Info

  • Get the numbers! JOSH REESE’S STATS
  • The Knights rank among the nation’s top bowl teams in the classroom. READ MORE
  • UCF recently celebrated the groundbreaking of The Wayne Densch Center for Student-Athlete Leadership. READ MORE
  • Want to make a difference in the life of a first generation college student? DONATE TODAY

Knights Play Santa for the Troops

(PHOTO: foxsports.com)
PHOTO: foxsports.com

Just as they did for the Fiesta Bowl last year, UCF fans once again reached a little deeper into their pockets and shared their holiday spirit with the troops, buying extra tickets for the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl, which will be donated to military personnel in the Bay area.

In fact, Knights were so generous, they helped reach the maximum of 100 tickets, which will be given to service men and women stationed at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

Fans also helped UCF sell out its two allotments of game tickets in less than a week.

The Knights take on the N.C. State Wolfpack at 8 p.m. on Dec. 26 at Tropicana Field, which is only 18 miles from the MacDill base.

Happy Holidays! Go Knights! Go USA!

More Info

Official UCF Tailgate Party and other bowl festivities:
ucfalumni.com/bowlbound

Tickets:
StPetersburgBowl.com

Keep on Truckin’

UCF alumni donate (literal) tons to UCF Football

UCFtruck-web

Giving | Mike Maudlin, ’03, and Darren Cunningham, ’95, Maudlin International Trucks

By Jason Cannon

Alumni support their schools in many different ways, but showing up on game day and making an occasional donation wasn’t good enough for Mike Maudlin, ’03, and Darren Cunningham, ’95, two UCF grads who pegged their football fandom at a 10 out of 10.

Maudlin, a business major, and Cunningham, an accounting major, wanted to be sure their football team was able to travel to away games in style by providing the team use of a brand new truck and trailer.

“We want to support them,” says Maudlin, vice president and general manager of Maudlin International Trucks. “They had a great season last year.”

This season, the Knights have already hauled their equipment from Orlando to Missouri, Houston and Connecticut on Maudlin’s truck and trailer, with [final] stops in South Florida and East Carolina before the season ends Dec. 4, capping an 8,500-mile journey.

The truck is an 2015 International LoneStar, fully customized and upgraded, sparing no expense to get the Knights on the road.

“We wanted to go to the top of the top for the tractor set up,” Maudlin says.

“For us, we wanted to offer to our alma mater something that would suit them the best in terms of being able haul its football equipment and to showcase the program,” Cunningham adds.

The truck and trailer (a 43-footer they bought specifically for the school) are owned by Maudlin International, which also provided the driver.

“We paid for the wrap — For everything,” Cunningham says. “The only thing they stroke us a check for is the gas. The insurance and everything falls on us.”

The trailer will remain with the school for storage after the season, but the truck will come back to Maudlin and go into the company’s rental fleet.

As a token of appreciation, UCF provided the dealership with a handful of tickets, which the company uses to invite customers to tailgates and build networking opportunities, and also helps Maudlin International establish a business relationship with the school and other program supporters.

“It helps us showcase just how good our product is and how we can back it up,” Maudlin says.

Watch time-lapse video of the truck being wrapped in black and gold:

This article originally appeared in an Oct. 15, 2014, news story on successfuldealer.com.

Houston, We Have a Victory!

The Chicago UCF Alumni Chapter cheered on our Knights at the Pony Inn.
The Chicago UCF Alumni Chapter cheered on our Knights at the Pony Inn.
Watch Parties | UCF at Houston

Alumni gathered from coast to coast Thursday evening to watch our Knights play their first conference game of the season, as they took on the Houston Cougars. Many of the alumni association’s regional chapters and clubs hosted watch parties for the matchup — from Florida to San Francisco, and everywhere in between.

In addition, the alumni association hosted an AlumKnight Out at BlackFinn American Grille on Wednesday night to get everyone excited for what ended in another win for the Knights!

Check out more photos from watch parties across the nation.