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From the Desk of Western Carolina Athletics Director, Chip Smith

Nov. 17, 2008

Athletics, like life, is full of challenges. Teams measure themselves not by following the easiest path, but by taking on formidable opponents. Surely that is what WCU student-athletes have been doing recently and will continue to do this week.

First, the women's soccer team earned its second Southern Conference championship and an NCAA tournament berth last week. Their post-season opponent was the University of North Carolina, one of the five best women's soccer teams in the country. An added "bonus" was that the game was played on the Tar Heels home field.

That same night, the Lady Catamount women's basketball team played the UNC women in the first round of the Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT), again in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels' women's basketball team is currently ranked No. 4.

While the women were competing against these nationally-ranked teams, head coach Larry Hunter's men's basketball team was in Storrs, Connecticut. His Catamount team took on the preseason second-ranked UConn Huskies and a team that features two candidates for national player of the year honors.

And to round out a week of nationally-ranked opponents, the Appalachian State football team will come to the Western Carolina University campus for the 2008 edition of the "Battle for the Old Mountain Jug." The Mountaineers sit at No. 2 in both the Sports Network and Football Championship Subdivision Coaches' polls.

Four, Top Five teams in one week - not exactly how one would plan to spend the weeks before Thanksgiving; but the teams are excited about the opportunities that these contests can bring. While the final scores are important, more significant is what will be learned from these games and how the experience will make each team and each individual better.

And there is more.

On Thursday night, November 20th, the men's basketball team will play its home opener in the Ramsey Center. The following evening, WCU will host two games in the Pre-Season WNIT, with two more WNIT games to follow the football game on Saturday.

Both basketball teams are looking for outstanding campaigns this year and these games should be fun to watch. Catamount Football will recognize the team's seniors prior to the contest and your support will be important for this always-important game. I hope you will accept this "challenge" to attend one or all of these contests and cheer for the Catamounts.

Look forward to seeing you here, and