Five Things Alumni Need to Know this Week – Nov. 19, 2018

  1. As if you could have possibly missed it with all the (well-deserved) hype, it was a very, VERY big weekend for UCF.

The ESPN College GameDay crew made their first-ever appearance on campus Saturday morning and Knights came out in full force to show the nation what UCF is all about. Memory Mall hosted more than 20,000 UCF fans — including Lee Corso who, decked out in complete Knightro garb, picked our Knights to win against Cincinnati.

Speaking of winning against Cincinnati… Image result for check mark emoji.

And in front of the second-largest crowd Spectrum Stadium has ever seen! If you were one of the 47,795 fans in attendance Saturday night, you already know how electric the stadium felt and how amped our fans were to cheer our team to a 38-13 win over the Bearcats, earning us the AAC East Division Championship trophy, a 23-game winning streak and a rise to No. 8 in the polls.

All in all, Saturday was a really great day to be a Knight. But, then again, so is every day.

  1. Somewhere in between the stare-down kid and Maria Taylor having a staring contest on GameDay and that incredible blocked field-goal-attempt by Joey Connors, we hosted our Indoor Tailgate at the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center. We had all the necessary ingredients for a great Indoor Tailgate: the UCF spirit team, Knightro, the sweet smell of Bubbalou’s BBQ wafting throughout the room and a whole lot of alumni ready to cheer the Knights on to victory.

Were you there and are looking for your pictures? Or were you not there and are looking for pictures of what you missed out on? We’ve got you covered.

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for our next Indoor Tailgate on Dec. 1 as we gear up to take on the to-be-determined AAC West division winner.

  1. Just in case the feel on campus last week wasn’t joyful enough, Light Up UCF opened to the public on Friday. The Winter Wonderland will run through Jan. 1 and offers ice skating, a world-class choreographed light show sponsored by Duke Energy, free holiday movies, live entertainment, a Ferris Wheel, and an excuse for alumni to throw on their favorite black-and-gold hoodie and come visit campus! Find all the details you’re looking for right here.
  2.  We’re trusting you already know Thanksgiving is this week, but did you know Giving Tuesday is coming up too? After all the turkey on Thanksgiving Thursday and shopping on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is the worldwide national day of giving. Our alumni showed up big last year and we (along with current students and other friends of the university) were able to raise over $71,000 toward scholarships, athletics and academic programs at UCF. We’re looking forward to another year of generosity and giving from our most loyal of Knights. If you’re looking for more information and ideas for how you can help the next generation of Knight Nation, head to our Giving Tuesday Facebook event.

UCF College of Nursing Bears Campaign

  1. Our Give Thanks, Give a Bear campaign is wrapping up next week and we’d love for you to be a part of it. A gift of $50 sends a bear to a child in one of our six pediatric partner hospitals. These limited-edition bears are even wearing a replica of the scrubs worn by UCF nursing students, which means they’re very cute and are pretty much guaranteed to bring a smile to a child’s face. All funds raised in the campaign go toward funding priority areas within the College of Nursing.

Olympic Knights: Dalhausser Dreams of Recapturing Gold

6-11-16 Phil Dalhausser celebrates vs Gibb Patterson quarterfinals
Photo courtesy of FIVB

 

By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. — UCF alumnus Phil Dalhausser is back at it again for Team USA. The 2002 business graduate and beach volleyballer is set to compete in his third Summer Olympics this month as the Rio Games kick off Friday.

Dalhausser is one of three UCF alumni who will participate in the Olympics this year. He is striving for another gold medal (he was crowned champion at the 2008 Beijing Games) and is joined by Aline Reis ’11 (Brazil, soccer) and Ricardo Gouveia ’14 (Portugal, golf), who are making their first Olympic Games appearances.

Dalhausser was introduced to beach volleyball at Daytona Beach’s Mainland High School where his coach liked to have his team practice on the sand to give the squad an advantage in the indoor game. His fondness for the game grew at UCF where he played club indoor volleyball and found ways to get extra practice on sand.

“They had sand courts on campus and Orlando had a nice little volleyball community and almost every night those courts were packed. So I would be at the courts probably more often than when I was in class,” he told the Orlando Sentinel. “Any time I could get a game in, I’d be down there playing. I guess you could say I was obsessed with it.”

In his first Olympics appearance in 2008, he not only won gold but was also named Most Outstanding Player for beach competition. He was honored as USA Volleyball’s Beach Team of the Year in 2015 with his partner Nick Lucena. The teammates promoted the Road to Rio on NBC’s The Today Show in April.

In addition to his many career highlights, he is a Michelle Akers Award winner (2009), which is the university’s highest honor given to alumni who have brought international, positive attention to UCF through their accomplishments.

Dalhausser, 36, and a father of two, has publicly said he expects these Games to be his last, so he has his heart set on making them unforgettable.

“There’s never been a male player who’s won two gold medals on the beach side, so I’d like to be the first to do that. That’d be pretty sweet,” he told the Daytona Beach News Journal.

Beach volleyball is set to compete at Copacabana Beach from Aug. 6 until Aug. 18. Dalhausser’s first match is scheduled for Aug. 7 against Tunisia at 3:30 p.m. and will stream live on www.nbcolympics.com.

Olympic Knights: UCF Soccer Alumna Gooooooes to Rio

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By Jenna Marina

ORLANDO, Fla. — UCF women’s soccer alumna Aline Reis ’11 dared to believe she could participate in this August’s Summer Olympics, even though she hadn’t played in years. When she proudly parades through Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã Stadium during the opening ceremony Friday, she’ll do so in front of her home country.

Reis is one of three UCF alumni who will participate in the Olympics this year. She along with Ricardo Gouveia ’14 (Portugal, golf) are making their first Olympic Games appearances while three-time Olympian Phil Dalhausser ’02 will look to recreate some magic from the 2008 Beijing Games when he won gold for Team USA in beach volleyball.

Reis was an All-American goalkeeper for the UCF women’s soccer team from 2007-11 before graduating with a degree in interdisciplinary studies (minors in coaching and health sciences).

After a brief stint playing overseas, Reis got into coaching and spent the past two years on UCLA’s women’s soccer staff as a volunteer goalkeeper coach, but she said she felt a desire to play again after watching the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015.

She was called up to Brazil’s National Team Camp in February with no guarantees of a spot on the Olympic roster. She had never competed in a match for Brazil’s National Team before, so she was overjoyed when she claimed one of the two coveted goalkeeper slots on the 18-member roster.

Reis posted this on her personal Facebook account on July 12, the day she learned she made the cut:

Aline rings
Aline Reis (black ring) will compete for her home country of Brazil in the Rio 2016 Games

“Last Fall I decided to put my gloves back on again, fight for a shot at the National Team and earn a spot on the Olympic roster.

So I trained my butt off, packed my bags and left a fine life behind to go back home to pursue the dream.
Today I’m so thrilled to announce that I made the Brazilian Olympic Roster for Rio 2016. While I’m thankful for my faith and courage to go after my passion, I’m far more grateful for the tremendous amount of support and encouragement I received along the way from all those who surround me. I’m blessed!

But the dream is far from over… and I won’t rest until my teammates and I have a gold medal on our chest!”

Olympic soccer matches will be played throughout Brazil from Aug. 3-19. Brazil’s first match is scheduled for today against China at 3 p.m. and will stream live on www.nbcolympics.com.

Reis knows she has the support of her home country and her fellow Knights.

“So many people have reached out to me and made sure I knew they are sending me good vibes and cheering for me. It is absolutely awesome to have my fellow Knights supporting me!” she told UCFKnights.com. “My years at UCF were crucial at shaping the person and the player I am today.”

Olympic Knights: Ricardo’s Road to Rio

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By Jenna Marina

Orlando, Fla. — If anyone knows the true meaning of “timing is everything,” it is UCF alumnus Ricardo Gouveia ’14. By qualifying for the Summer Olympics in Rio, the former men’s golf standout will be part of history as the sport returns to the Games after a 112-year hiatus.

Golf was first played at the Olympic Games in Paris in 1900, only to be removed after 1904. It was voted back in seven years ago by the International Olympic Committee, setting in motion Gouveia’s road to Rio where he will represent his home country of Portugal.

“It feels great,” Gouveia told UCFKnights.com. “It’s one of those sporting events that you dream to be a part of at least once in your life. It’s going to be special being in Rio where the native language is Portuguese.”

Gouveia is one of threRicardo-tweete UCF alumni who will participate in the Olympics this year. He along with Aline Reis ’11 (Brazil, soccer) are making their first Olympic Games appearances while 2008 gold medalist Phil Dalhausser ’02 (USA, beach volleyball) is set for his third and potentially final appearance.

Gouveia was a two-time all-region and All-America honorable-mention honoree as a Knight from 2011-14. He turned pro after graduating with a degree in interdisciplinary studies with a business administration minor.

“The whole experience that I had at UCF was crucial to reach the level of play and the stability that I have right now,” he told UCFKnights.com. “I learned so much from a lot of people while attending school. I can’t thank them enough.”

Gouveia competed in his first PGA event in 2016 when he was invited to join the field at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Fla.

He is ranked 34th of the 60-man field. Gouveia will tee off Aug. 11-14 on the Olympic Golf Course. The opening ceremony is slated for Friday, Aug. 5, and the Games last until Aug. 21.

Knights on the Mall Already a Huge Success

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Earlier this year, the UCF Student Government Association announced its plan for a new, reservation-based tailgating system that will allow alumni and students to reserve their (free) gameday spots on Memory Mall.

The Knights on the Mall website launched its reservation system at 10 a.m. yesterday (Aug. 17) for the Sept. 3 home game against FIU. Within the first hour, more than 50 alumni and more than 115 students logged on to reserve their spaces, which were all sold out by 4 p.m.

For the rest of the season, online reservations will begin at 10 a.m. the Monday before each home game. That means your next chance to reserve a spot will be Monday, Sept. 7, at 10 a.m., for the UCF vs. Furman game on Sept. 19.

Don’t miss out! Check out the Knights on the Mall website, and follow it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

And, even if you do tailgate the traditional way, don’t forget about the alumni association’s Indoor Tailgates, where you can cool off inside the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center, use real restrooms, buy barbecue from Bubbalou’s, and grab free Coca-Cola products (while supplies last) and free beer (with purchase of commemorative cup)! Come join us!

Oviedo Native Makes UCF Baseball Team after Helping Alumna Mom Battle through Breast Cancer

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By UCF Athletics

She calls it the “scream heard around the world.”

UCF led 17-2 against Presbyterian on March 22, when the Knights’ No. 12 came up to the plate as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning. Big picture, this one at-bat would go down as a 10-word blip toward the end of the game story.

But for the Bates family, this moment was six months in the making.

After Oviedo native Sam Bates gave up his guaranteed spot offering from a Division II baseball team to stay at home and help care for his mother through chemotherapy and radiation treatments for breast cancer, he successfully walked on to UCF’s nationally ranked squad.

Now, here he was with a chance to register his first career hit with the Knights.

First pitch: Ball. Next two: Fouled off. Organ music pumped over the loud speaker. Then came an off-speed pitch and the ping of ball meeting bat. After that, the sound of his mother’s high-pitched “Aaahhh!” was followed by a giddy laugh as Sam dashed down the line safely to first base.

“It’s just so nice to finally see when you work so hard for something that sometimes it happens,” Mary Lou Bates said, while trying to hold back tears. “And, it happened for him.”

Mary Lou Bates and her husband, Chris, met at a local church as high schoolers. They both attended UCF — she was an education major, he, computer science — and married six weeks after graduation. The couple settled into a housing development called Stillwater, just two miles from the heart of UCF’s campus.

Their son Danny arrived first, and five years later came Sam. Like any little brother, Sam wanted to do what his big brother did. That meant baseball.

Sam started as a 4 year old with his father as the head coach of his Little League team. The family members were regulars in the stands at UCF cheering for the black and gold during the next decade of Sam’s life.

“He was the kid that was running the bases afterwards. He was the kid holding up his baseball trying to get it signed. He was that kid,” his mother said. “Baseball has always been his passion.”

While Sam always dreamed of attending UCF, he thought he had a better chance to continue playing baseball at a smaller program after he graduated from Hagerty High School. So he headed to Daytona State College, where he was a starter for two years and was named the 2014 Baseball Student-Athlete of the Year.

Around the time Sam was looking into schools following his junior college stint, doctors informed Mary Lou that she had a small, malignant tumor in her breast.

“It seemed like every test I had,” she said, “more bad news would come.”

An MRI showed another tumor on the other side of the same breast. It also revealed that cancer had spread to her lymph nodes.

Her original course of action — a lumpectomy and six weeks of radiation — now turned into a double mastectomy, radiation and five months of chemotherapy along with a five-year maintenance drug.

Sam turned down a guaranteed spot with Florida Tech’s program and decided to stay home to help with his mother’s treatment.

“I was hoping he wasn’t doing it just for me. He was,” she said. “Of course, I felt badly about that, but it was his decision. We kept asking him, `Are you sure you want to do this?’ He said, `You know I’ve always wanted to go to UCF.'”

So, he stayed by her side, supplying the fix of her new addiction, Coca-Cola Slurpees, and preparing meals for her. When she decided to go to Eden Spa at Florida Hospital to have her head shaved, Sam and his friends shaved their heads in support.

Between her husband and two sons’ shifts, Mary Lou was never alone.

“Seeing her go through chemo was tough, but she was a warrior about it. She kept me going,” Sam said of the walk-on process. “You don’t know. Am I going to get cut today? Should I just quit? And seeing her not quit chemo really helped me out.”

Sam started classes in fall 2014 and, after earning a spot with the club baseball team, attended walk-on tryouts for UCF Baseball on Sept. 15. Five ground balls, 10 swings and a 60-yard dash.

“There was a lot of pressure on those five ground balls and those 10 swings,” he said.

Head Coach Terry Rooney said Sam’s qualities as an infielder, a left-handed hitter and an experienced player thanks to his junior college years are what initially caught the staff’s attention. A day later, they called Sam while he was at home to tell him they wanted him to stick around for further evaluation.

Sam’s spot on the team wasn’t official — it would be another 135 days until that happened — but for now, he had made the cut.

Sam went into his parents’ room where he found his mother in her walk-in closet. She started to cry when he told her his news and enveloped him into a hug. He said it was the happiest he had seen her in the previous three months.

Rooney said as the weeks went on, the coaching staff was taken by Sam’s love of the game, his work ethic and infectious positive attitude.

“You could just tell that not only was he a good player, but he loved being around the guys and being a part of UCF baseball,” Rooney said. “That was something that was really important [to us].”

The coaching staff and team didn’t learn until Jan. 29, along with the rest of the world via Twitter, of the Bates’ saga:

“In the last 8 months my mom has found out she had cancer, has had 3 surgeries and 16 chemo sessions and now I get to go home and tell her I’m a UCF baseball player! Nothing beats that feeling!”

By Sam’s standards, the tweet went viral, with 58 retweets and another 179 favorites.

His parents attend games rain or shine. Sam leaves tickets for his older brother — also a UCF alumnus — at will call every night. His father, who works on Research Parkway, drives through campus every day right by the baseball stadium where his son now plays for the hometown team.

The ball Sam hit is stashed in his room. (Although the ball stayed in play immediately after Sam’s base hit, senior JoMarcos Woods was able to keep an eye on it until he could snatch it up and hand it to his teammate.)

Sam describes the past several months as a dream come true. Sam’s family and friends are overjoyed that he suits up for not only their favorite team, but a team that reached its highest national ranking in school history this season.

The experience reaffirms to him that his faith helped him to never lose sight of his path.

“This is where I’m supposed to be right now in this moment. I know it. I can feel it,” Sam said. “And, maybe my mom getting cancer in some weird way down the road led me to my dream. And, her dream was for me to follow my dreams. It’s just cool how all that stuff works out.”

Keep on Truckin’

UCF alumni donate (literal) tons to UCF Football

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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.