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From the Desk of Western Carolina Director of Athletics, Chip Smith

Aug. 18, 2008

Whew!!! Finally!!!

It seemed to take forever to get here. And in about a week, the conversations will have changed from "What do you think about the new helmets?" to "What did you think about the new Catamounts?" On August 28th, we will all find out ... and believe me, it won't be here soon enough for any of us.

There have been a few bumps in the road. Probably the most disappointing is that we will not be able to play the first game on a new field surface. After starting the process last January, it now looks like we will christen a new field at Homecoming on October 4th against Samford University.

There have been a several complications with this process, most of which relate to getting the best surface possible. The new turf will come from an overseas company called Desso Sports Systems. Desso is a leader in artificial surface fields for soccer in Europe and has football installations at schools such as Oklahoma State, Wyoming and Northern Colorado as well as Denver and Green Bay in the NFL. We have found, however, that international travel for artificial turf may be tougher than it is for people. In addition to the time it took to ship, there have been some delays at the ports and in clearing the shipment, which would have taken more time without the assistance of Congressman Heath Shuler's office.

All of this, in addition to a "first game home game," did not leave enough time for the installers to remove, replace and prepare the surface before the contest with Shorter College.

This will not detract from the excitement and changes that are planned, however. The pre-game walk is set and the music is in place. There will be 1000's of giveaways and the on-field entrance will be very fan-participatory (and very loud!) Fireworks over the field will accompany those that take place on the field. You want to be here.

The logo is out and has been very well received. Many of you were at the "Reveal" and took part in those festivities. These "marks" will be the official logos for Catamount Athletics and will be used consistently in all of our publications, website, uniforms, etc. That said, some uses such as stationery and business cards will transfer quickly over to the new, while uniforms, signs and some other applications, may take longer due to the expenses involved. While we are in the transition, we will be asking your help in finding places where we have missed the old logos, kind of like a Catamount version of the children's books "Where's Waldo?" - more to come on this.

And that isn't all - soccer has their home opener on September 5th against Butler, volleyball has theirs on September 16th, playing UNCA. Cross country begins August 29th. Coach Wagner and other members of the coaching staff will speak at luncheons on campus and in Waynesville and Cashiers throughout the fall. And on and on.....

So it's like I said earlier - you want to be here.

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