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From the Desk of WCU Athletics Director, Chip Smith

Nov. 14, 2005

Catamount Fans,

What a great weekend for Catamount Athletics! Though we weren't as successful as we had hoped on the fields and courts, there were landmark events across the board.

After winning the first conference title in the program's history, the Catamount soccer team played in their first-ever NCAA tournament. The team showed the same tough, disciplined attitude that won a WCU-record 18 games this season, before falling to perennial power North Carolina.

That evening the men's basketball team began the "Larry Hunter Era" with a win over Bowling Green State University in the NABC Classic in Blacksburg, Va. While the season is still very young, this game indicates a positive change of direction for the team.

On Saturday the football Cats went into Boone to play for the Jug and, more importantly, a share of the Southern Conference title. Though they fell short, the adversity faced by Coach Briggs and the modest pre-season expectations made even being in this position a victory.

Another win for the Catamounts was the tremendous fan support shown in Chapel Hill and at Appalachian State. One of the Tar Heel players was quoted as saying, "Their fans came out and it was a tough crowd ... (that) made for a really tough atmosphere." The support in Boone was just as tough. Purple and gold was everywhere and the Catamount faithful made their presence known during the game as well. Thank you to everyone who traveled this weekend to support the Cats.

All of these games were important, but they were only steps. Few expected the soccer team to win, many were doubtful of the football team's chances and there was a "wait and see" attitude toward the men's basketball team. Yet, there they were, in the spotlight and surpassing the expectations of almost everyone...except themselves.

Today, there are a few more believers. And that number will grow. Our programs are improving, and real growth takes time. We will take these games and these seasons, the experiences and the disappointments, and build on them. Our coaches, our staff and, more importantly, our student-athletes, were not happy to just "Be There." We want to "Win There!" And we will.

But to do so, we continue to need your help. Those of you who were in Boone experienced the atmosphere and excitement of an Appalachian State "Black Saturday." And despite the facts that it was in Boone and that we lost the game, the feeling was special. We can create that same kind of excitement in "our house" and around our teams.

This Friday, the men's basketball team will play the defending NIT champion USC Gamecocks in the Ramsey Center. It is the first time in many years that a team of this caliber has played on our campus. WE NEED YOU TO BE HERE!!! Come early for the games and be one of "Hunter's Hooligans." Cheer, shout, encourage and be a part of the team. Coach Harper and the defending champion Lady Cats open up their home season in a few weeks. They need your support as well.

As we have seen this weekend, Catamount Pride is alive and well. We have proven that we can compete with the best. Rally for our teams and show your support. You are an important part of the team.

BE THERE so we can WIN THERE!!!

Go Cats!!

Chip Smith
Director of Athletics