UCI student-athletes recently got a chance to hang out with one of their heroes: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard, Olympic gold medalist and five-time NBA champion.
Bryant dropped by the Bren Events Center for a Q&A session Sept. 23 at the invitation of UCI men's volleyball head coach John Speraw, the evening's moderator, who had met the basketball star at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. After a few opening questions by Speraw, the floor was opened to the student-athletes, who were impressed with Bryant's candid responses.
"He was really funny and open," women's basketball player Raquel Theus said. "The thing I remember most is his favorite quote, 'Rest at the end and not in the middle.' I like that it came from his high school English teacher."
All-American track athlete Charles Jock thought the opportunity to get inside the star's mind was valuable: "It was nice to see his personality and find out what motivates him."
After two hours of answering questions about subjects that ranged from his training regimen and nutrition to his friends, Bryant posed for photos with each team.
"The tournament was wonderful," UCI men's volleyball head coach John Speraw said. "We brought in some good competition, which was great experience for our guys, but more importantly we brought many cultural communities together on our campus. We had a great atmosphere in the Bren, and fans saw a high level of volleyball. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to UCI assistant coach David Kniffin for making this tournament roll with ease."
UCI defeated China 3-1 during the tournament to pick up the Anteaters' first international victory. They were led by freshman Jeremy Dejno, who hit .750 from the outside, recording 26 kills on 32 attempts with just two errors.
UCI senior soccer forward Spencer "Freight Train" Thompson has been named to the Missouri Athletic Club's Hermann Trophy Watch List for the 2010 season.
Thompson is among 39 players — the only one from the Big West Conference — to make the list. He was All-Far West Region first team last season after recording 18 points with seven goals and four assists. He notched his first career hat trick with three goals in a win over Air Force in September.
The MAC Hermann Trophy is the highest individual award in intercollegiate soccer. Recipients are selected by NCAA Division I coaches who belong to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Voting is conducted in late November, when a field of 15 semifinalists is reduced to three finalists.
A news conference announcing the winner, followed by a banquet in the finalists' honor, will be held at the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis on Friday, Jan. 7.
UCI alumnus and baseball standout Ben Orloff '09 helped the Tri-City ValleyCats, a minor league team in Troy, N.Y., capture the New York-Penn League championship with a 5-1 win over the Brooklyn Cyclones in September. He went 2-for-5, driving in the game-winning run.
Orloff, playing in his second professional season, was named Tri-City's Defensive Player of the Month in July, a New York-Penn League All-Star and the team's Most Valuable Player. The shortstop batted .307 for the ValleyCats, leading the team with 73 hits and 23 stolen bases while driving in 16 runs.
In 2009, he won the College Baseball Foundation's Brooks Wallace Award as the nation's best shortstop and was named an All-American after his senior season with the Anteaters.
In support of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, UC Irvine Athletics has designated four Think Pink events at which fans wearing pink will be admitted free. Tickets are general admission and subject to availability. Those attending the games listed below also will receive discounts from local merchants. For more information, contact Edie Gobel at 949-824-7587 or email@example.com.
Women's volleyball vs. UC Davis
7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29
Bren Events Center
Men's soccer vs. UC Santa Barbara
8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30
Men's water polo vs. Pacific
12 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31
Women's soccer vs. Cal State Fullerton
1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31