Dec 212009
Authors: Matt Stephens

When I turned on the Florida vs. South Carolina game on Saturday afternoon I wasn’t sure if my eyes were deceiving me due to playing too much Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 since its Tuesday release.

Sure enough, what I saw was correct.

The Gamecocks were wearing jerseys with stripes of “digital camo” across their shoulders in honor of Veterans Day. Across the backs of their jerseys in place of the players’ names were the words “Duty,” “Honor,” “Courage,” “Commitment,” “Integrity,” “Country” and “Service.”

These jerseys, also worn by the University of Maryland in their Saturday loss to Virginia Tech and designed by Under Armour, were part of the “Wounded Warrior Project,” designed to raise the public’s awareness and aid for the men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces that have been injured in the line of duty.

I found this as a perfect salute to those who serve but then the question is raised, “Why don’t other schools do the same?”

I know the easy answer is that Under Armour is a direct sponsor of the

Wounded Warrior Project so only schools who are also sponsored by them could do this, but that doesn’t mean other universities couldn’t pay at least some tribute to the military during their games that take place close to Veterans Day.

It doesn’t have to be anything huge like a new jersey for the game; it could be something small like a patch or a sticker on the helmet.

This isn’t just something a few schools should do, with the exception of the service academies (who are exempt for obvious reasons), It should be an NCAA requirement for all universities — FBS through Division III — to properly pay respect to those who keep us safe.

We are the champions

Never again will I reference the “Big Three” of CSU volleyball in a column.

Not because they weren’t great players, but because that’s all in the past. On Saturday night in a very hostile Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah, the Rams captured their 12th conference championship of all-time (seventh of the 11 year old Mountain West Conference).

Coming into this season, the expectations outside of the CSU community were relatively low (if being picked to finish second in the MWC is low). There wasn’t all this pressure and marketing hype put on by the CSU Athletic Department about the “Big Year,” it was just back to hard-nosed Ram volleyball, and this team has thrived on that.

There’s no question in my mind that Danielle Minch should be the unanimous pick for MWC Player of the Year. She is a player who had flown under the radar last season, and ever since the Rams’ trip to the Carolina Classic in September, she has been more valuable to this team than NBC’s “30 Rock” to Alec Baldwin’s career, and that’s saying something.

The next step for this team: make an NCAA Tournament run. As long as senior libero Katelin Batten wears that protective mask for her broken nose, I think the Rams will do just fine due to the intimidation factor a player looking like Jason Voorhees brings to a team — just don’t light them on fire.

A pleasant surprise

I’d be ashamed if I finished this week’s Blitz without mentioning the CSU women’s basketball early success. While I stated in an earlier column that I expected this team to be much improved from a season ago — thanks in large part to the coaching job of Kristen Holt — I didn’t expect them to look this good this early.

They’ve played two regular season games against teams who run completely different style of offenses and won both. In the season opener against Montana, a team that is more methodical when bringing the ball up the court, CSU was able to make a nice second half run and come away with an eight-point victory.

Against Wichita State on Sunday, a Shocker squad who likes to press on defense and quickly move the ball up the floor, the Rams overcame an early nine-point deficit to win by 25.

All of that being done against what was, quite frankly, a dirty and rough WSU team who had fun sending the CSU women hard to the wood when they knew the game was out of hand. The Rams stood strong, didn’t back down and came out victorious. That shows heart.

It’s the first time since 2003 the women’s hoops has started the season 2-0. I’m telling ya, things are looking up.

Sports Editor Matt L. Stephens can be contacted at

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