Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


The Year of the Owl

It all began on a rainy Saturday night in Daytona.

Jared Allen had just thrown a 70-yard touchdown pass to put the Owls ahead 31-28 against Bethune Cookman College (BCC). It was Sept. 8 and FAU went on to win its first ever football game. The victory, by a group of freshman and sophomores over an experienced BCC squad, began a year full of surprises for FAU athletics.

In February, FAU made national headlines when our men’s basketball team went to the NCAA tournament for their first time.

“This shows we’re not just a football power,” quipped an outgoing President Anthony Catanese.

While football’s four wins didn’t exactly make them a “power,” he had a point. People were starting to notice FAU sports, and not just because of a guy named Schnellenberger.

Now in April, the softball team is ranked 11th in the country, baseball at 19, men’s tennis at 53, and women’s swimming and diving finished at 37th at NCAAs.

The women’s soccer and basketball teams were a goal and a point, respectively from an NCAA tournament berth.

Statistically and recognition-wise, 2001-2002 was the best year in the history of FAU athletics.

Katrina McCormack, the sports information director agreed. “As long as the wheels don’t fall of the baseball and softball teams, this has been the best year.”

This year also marks the first year the UP will name a Student Athlete of the Year, to be known by the acronym UPSAY.


STATISTICS: PITCHING: 25-4, 0.68 ERA, 297 Ks (all team bests) HITTING: 13 doubles, 9 home runs, 26 walks (all team bests) TEAM: 44-7, ranked No. 11.

After three and a half years of excellence on the softball field, is Nicole Myers taken for granted?

Not by Kevin Cooney.

“Give it [the UPSAY] to Nicole Myers,” said the Head Baseball Coach at his team’s March 29 photo shoot. “She’s the most dominant athlete in her sport that this school has ever produced.”

Case closed.

Myers is the softball team’s best hitter and pitcher. Among talent like Heather Wright, Candice Freel, and Ninya Ybarra that’s saying something.

But Nikki Myers is the UP Student Athlete of the Year because she turned us into softball fans. Watching her compete, her attitude – the atmosphere at the games was in large part due to her. The stadium has an aura because it’s home for one of the NCAA‘s best athletes.

The team is thriving around Myers this season.

They are No. 11 in the nation – the team’s highest ranking ever. If Myers is not a First Team All American this year, which she says is a possibility – “If you’re not on UCLA or you’re not on Arizona they don’t really look at you” – she can at least say she was the first ever UPSAY recipient.

The senior, a science major from St. Petersburg, Fla. had a 3.0 GPA last semester.


STATISTICS: 16.4 points 8.5 rebounds 1.9 blocks (all averages team bests) TEAM: 19-12, Conference Champions

The UPSAY almost went to the 22 year-old Brown – a senior, Sociology/Marketing major with a 3.17 GPA last semester.

The Owls were a deep team, but Brown was undoubtedly the team’s core – he was also the team’s center. Opponents keyed on Brown defensively, and that left teammates like Earnest Crumbley open for shots. One sign of basketball greatness is the ability to raise the level of your teammates.

“When he steps up his game everybody else follows,” shooting guard Jeff Cowans said early in the season.

Follow they did – all the way to Greenville, SC, and a near upset of No. 2 seed Alabama.

Brown, from Orlando, is marketing his basketball skills now, trying to get a pro team to take a look at him.


STATISTICS: 420 points – 10m school record TEAM: 37th NCAA Championships, qualified three divers for the NCAA Zone meet.

Reiff, a 2000 Olympic athlete from Austria, made quite a splash her first year at FAU as a diver.

How does a diver make UPSAY second runner-up? By being the first FAU female athlete to qualify for the NCAA diving championships is a start.

When she got there she didn’t disappoint either. Reiff just missed the finals (top 8), finishing 10th on the 10 meter platform. Her points, as the school’s lone representative, gave FAU women’s swimming and diving team a 37th place at NCAAs.

The 22-year-old freshman born in Vienna hasn’t declared a major yet, but she has a 3.8 GPA from fall.


STATISTICS: .417 batting average, 10 stolen bases, 42 runs batted in (all team bests) TEAM: 28-6, 21 game winning streak, ranked No. 19

Biernbaum’s a senior right fielder who is hitting balls all over FAU stadium, and sometimes out of it. Biernbaum’s stats stand out even on the offensive juggernaut the Blue Wave has become.

He possesses the abilities that any coach would want on their team.

Graduating in December with a Communication degree, Biernbaum had a 2.75 fall GPA. The Pennsylvania native has the skills to play baseball for a living.

“I’d be devastated if I didn’t [get drafted],” he said earlier this season.


STATISTICS: 1.14 goals allowed average, 5 shutouts (all team bests) TEAM: 14-5-1, Conference runner-up

We had to include a member of the girl’s soccer team that broke our hearts by getting within a goal of the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row.

It boiled down to mid-fielder Rhonda Jones, who Head Coach Brian Dooley called “the engine of the team,” and goalkeeper Molly Keating “the backbone of the defense.”

We gave it to Keating because her 80 saves single-handedly kept the team in games.

“Molly is more of a leader and if she didn’t play we would hurt more than if Rhonda didn’t play,” said team captain Danielle Castro.

Keating is a sophomore, communication major from Inverness, Fla. She had just under a 3.0 last semester.

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