Junior Seau’s death jolts Bruins

Junior Seau was a proud USC hero, frequently sporting the familiar cardinal and gold #55, but players and coaches from the Trojans’ bitter rival shared in their sorrow this week after Seau’s passing.

Seau’s contribution to the game went far beyond simple college rivalry – though Seau treasured his match-ups with UCLA – and that was not lost on the Bruins’ coaching staff, including linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich, who addressed the team in the wake of the reported suicide.

“Coach Ulbrich talked about him with us yesterday, about being able to know him, and I knew all the great things about him – I watched him play – so it even hurt me,” UCLA senior running back Johnathan Franklin said. “It hurt me, and I didn’t even know the guy. He was a great player and a great man, and this is a sad day for the football world.”

Seau’s death is hitting Ulbrich especially hard.

He hesitates to comment on the issue simply because so much remains unknown about Seau’s final days, minutes, seconds, but as a former longtime NFL veteran, and a linebacker, he was very much affected. He knows what he went through after his retirement, his own darkest days.

“Being a former player who retired from the game – if it happens to be a suicide – all former players know kind of what that felt like,” Ulbrich said. “It’s hard. You think of yourself as more than a football player, and you think when you walk away from the game it’s going to be an easy transition into whatever business … and it’s not. It was such a big part of your life. It’s how you defined yourself. It’s where you got your self-esteem. Your identity. Even if you have other things going on and you have a business or a great wife or great kids, when football gets taken from you…you have to almost mourn it, I think, to get over it. Especially if it’s that important to you. Most players, they don’t take that opportunity. They don’t let themselves feel anything, really.
“And then all of a sudden you just…you’re down and you don’t know why.”

As so much of the discussion following Seau’s death has been the role that football – and head injuries, in particular – played, the topic of concussions was sensitive on Thursday.

Ulbrich retired at 32 after sustaining a particularly devastating concussion and he knows all too well the affect they have on the mind and body. UCLA head coach Jim Mora has handled the issue with care throughout spring ball, including the case of offensive lineman Wade Yandall. The redshirt sophomore offensive guard suffered a concussion in late-2010 and participated in spring ball for two days before symptoms returned, including headaches. Yandall was immediately shelved.

“You just don’t play with that stuff,”said Jim Mora, who served as defensive backs coach with the San Diego Chargers in 1990-91, Seau’s first two professional seasons.

“I’m not playing with that. I see what’s going on around the NFL with the head injuries – Junior Seau was a good friend of mine. Junior Seau was a good friend of mine and I believe that what transpired (on Wednesday) most likely can be traced back to head injuries.”

Ultimately, it seems Seau’s death reminded UCLA players and coaches be thankful that they’re still around the game, still touching it, tasting it, feeling it. Still living it.

“You have two choices,” Ulbrich said, “You either change, which is really, really hard. You become someone that you weren’t, someone you haven’t been your entire life. That’s extremely difficult to me. Or you refocus that into something else. I did it with coaching. I have the same sort of passion and same sort of intensity, focus and drive that I had as a player. That helps me. Some guys do it with business.
“It’s the guys who don’t have that outlet and are unable to change and adapt to the real world – and it really is an adaptation to the real world because playing is a fantasy world almost – and that’s where guys get in trouble. Guys make so much money that they’re given the opportunity not to have to do anything the rest of their lives, and that can be dangerous.”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

UCLA announces 2012 HOF Class

From UCLA:

Los Angeles – A total of nine inductees – eight former student-athletes/coaches and one team doctor – will make up the UCLA Athletics 2012 Hall of Fame Class, UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero announced today.

The inductees are: Ron Ballatore (men’s swimming coach), Dr. Julie Bremner Romias (women’s volleyball), Jack Hirsch (men’s basketball), Fred McNeill (football), Stacey Nuveman (softball), Charlie Pasarell (men’s tennis), Coralie Simmons (women’s water polo) and Stella Umeh (gymnastics). In addition, Dr. Gerald Finerman will be inducted for his extraordinary service to the department.
Invitation-only ceremonies will be held on Friday, October 12 at Ackerman Grand Ballroom, and UCLA Athletics will also recognize the entire induction class at half-time of the football game vs. Utah on Saturday, October 13.

Following are biographies on the 2012 UCLA Hall of Fame inductees:

RON BALLATORE (Men’s Swimming Coach)


A five-time Olympic coach, Ballatore was the men’s head swimming coach at UCLA for 16 years. He led UCLA to the 1982 NCAA Championship title, and his swimmers captured 26 NCAA and 62 Pacific-10 Conference event titles. In addition, under Ballatore, UCLA posted a top-five finish at the NCAA Championships 10 out of his 16 years. He was named Pac-10 Conference Coach of the Year four times, and his student-athletes also boasted a 98 percent graduation rate at UCLA. Ballatore was also selected for numerous international and national coaching assignments, including: 1995 U.S. National Team Camp; 1994 World Championships (U.S.A.); 1988 Olympics (U.S.A.); 1984 Olympics (U.S.A.); 1982 World Championships (U.S.A.); 1976 Olympics (Israel); 1975 World Championships (U.S.A.); 1975 Pan-American Games (U.S.A.); 1972 Olympics (Ecuador); and 1968 Olympics (Peru). Ballatore coached 28 Olympians who have won 12 medals, including 10 gold. One of his swimmers, four-time Olympic gold medalist Tom Jager, still holds the world record in the 50-meter freestyle. Ballatore passed away on April 27, 2012.

DR. JULIE BREMNER ROMIAS, (Women’s Volleyball)


Bremner Romias was a setter on the UCLA women’s volleyball team for three seasons (1991-93) and still ranks fourth in UCLA career assists with 4,089. Named one of the 25 greatest players in UCLA Women’s Volleyball history, Bremner Romias started and ran the UCLA offense for three seasons, and those teams captured the 1991 NCAA Championship, finished as the national runner-up in 1992, and advanced to the regional final in 1993. In 1991, she was selected 2nd Team Academic All-Pac-10. In 1992, she was named 1st Team All Pac-10, 1st Team Academic All Pac-10 and 2nd Team Volleyball Magazine All-America. As a senior in 1993, Bremner Romias was named Pac-10 Player of the Year and earned Academic All Pac-10 honors, Academic All-American honors, AVCA All-American honors, and received a NCAA post-graduate scholarship. Bremner Romias earned her M.D. from the UCLA School of Medicine and is currently a family physician.

JACK HIRSCH (Men’s Basketball)


Hirsch co-captained UCLA’s first NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship team in 1964. That season, the UCLA senior led the 34-0 Bruins in field goal percentage (.528) and was third on the team in scoring (14.0), rebounding (7.6), and free throw percentage (.664). Hirsch averaged 13 points per game in the Bruins’ four NCAA playoff games and scored 13 points against Duke in the title match-up. He was named honorable mention All-American, first-team All-Pac-10, and the J.D. Morgan Memorial Award winner as the team’s outstanding “team” player. In 1963, he was awarded the team’s Irv Pohlmeyer Memorial Trophy as the team’s most outstanding first-year player, as well as the Bob (Ace) Calkins Memorial Perpetual Trophy as the free throw champion. He averaged 12.5 points and 7.6 rebounds in his career. Hirsch turned to coaching after his competitive days at UCLA.

FRED MCNEILL (Football)


McNeill played linebacker for UCLA from 1970-73 and was also a member of the Men’s Track & Field team. A two-time all-conference selection and 1973 first-team All-American in football, McNeill earned the team’s Rookie of the Year award as a sophomore in 1971, and in 1972, he earned AP All-West Coast first-team and honorable mention All-America honors. McNeill was drafted 17th overall by Minnesota in the 1974 NFL Draft and played for the Vikings for 12 seasons. He helped take his team to two Super Bowls, including Super Bowl XI, when, scoreless and 10 minutes into the game, he broke in clean on Oakland’s Ray Guy and blocked a punt, recovering it at the Oakland three. At one point, McNeill started 102 consecutive games for Minnesota, and his 157 regular-season games played rank 21st in team history. McNeill studied economics at UCLA and went to law school after leaving the NFL.

STACEY NUVEMAN (Softball)


A two-time Olympic gold medalist, Nuveman was a four-time NFCA first-team All-American, a three-time Pac-10 Player of the Year (1999, 2001, 2002) and the inaugural USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year in 2002. She ended her UCLA career as the NCAA all-time career leader in home runs (90) and slugging percentage (.945) as well as the school career record-holder for batting average, RBIs, hits, doubles, walks, games played and on-base percentage. She also set UCLA single-season records for batting average (a nation-leading .529 in 2002) home runs (a then-NCAA record 31 in 1999), RBIs (a nation-leading 91 in 1999), total bases (187), slugging percentage (a NCAA record 1.045% in 2002), walks (77 in 2001) and on base percentage (.665 in 2002). Nuveman led UCLA to Women’s College World Series appearances in each of her four years, including 1999 when the Bruins captured the NCAA Championship. At the national level, Nuveman helped Team USA win gold at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games and silver at the 2008 Olympics.

CHARLES PASARELL (Men’s Tennis)


Pasarell was a three-year All-American in tennis in 1963, 1964 and 1966 and served as team captain for his senior season, when he won the NCAA Championship in both singles and in doubles and was voted the top college player by the NCAA. Playing as a professional, Pasarell was ranked as the #1 player in the U.S. and played on U.S. Davis Cup teams in 1966, 1967, 1968, and 1974. In 1969, Pasarell played Pancho Gonzales in a historic battle in Wimbledon, then the longest match in Wimbledon history, that the 41-year old Gonzales won over the 25-year-old Pasarell, 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9. Pasarell is currently the tournament director of the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, Calif., and a commentator for The Tennis Channel. He is a member of the Intercollegiate Men’s Tennis Hall of Fame and the Southern California Tennis Association Hall of Fame.

CORALIE SIMMONS (Water Polo)


The 1997 and 1998 National Player of the Year, Simmons won national championships in each of her four years at UCLA, leading the Bruins to national collegiate titles in 1996, 1997 and 1998 and to the inaugural NCAA championship in 2001. At the 2001 NCAA Championships, Simmons earned Tournament MVP honors after scoring the game-winning goal with just 1:28 remaining in the final period to give UCLA a 5-4 win over Stanford. Simmons left UCLA as the school record-holder in career goals (235) and single-season goals (74 in 1998). A member of the U.S. Women’s National Team, Simmons helped lead the U.S. to silver medals at both the Pan-American Games in 1999 and the Olympic Games in 2000, where Simmons tied for the team lead in scoring with nine goals. In 2001, she led the team in scoring at the FINA World Water Polo Cup as the U.S. took home silver. From 2001-2005, Simmons played for two different professional water polo teams in Athens, Greece, and her squads won three Greek Championships and one European Cup. In 2005, Simmons began her coaching career as an assistant at the University of Hawai’i water polo staff before later joining the UCLA staff in a similar role. She is currently in her fifth season as head coach of the Sonoma State women’s team.

STELLA UMEH (Gymnastics)


Umeh was a key member of UCLA’s first NCAA Championship team in 1997. A 10-time All-American, Umeh captured the 1995 and 1998 NCAA floor exercise titles and was dominant at the 1995 Pac-10 Championships, winning the all-around, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise titles. In 1998, she captured her second Pac-10 individual all-around title, along with individual titles in floor and beam. During her career, Umeh was a member of Pac-10 Championship teams in 1995 and 1997, was named the 1998 Pac-10 Gymnast of the Year and earned a total of seven All-Pac-10 honors. Prior to arriving at UCLA, she competed for Canada at the 1992 Olympic Games and was a two-time national vault champion. After graduation, Umeh performed for five years with Cirque du Soleil.

DR. GERALD FINERMAN (Extraordinary Service)


A pioneer in Sports Medicine, Dr. Finerman has served as head team physician for UCLA Athletics for over 40 years. He is currently the Director of the UCLA Sports Medicine Program and Professor, Chairman-Emeritus of UCLA Orthopedic Surgery and also served as chair of the UCLA Department of Orthopedic Surgery from 1997-2009. During his tenure at UCLA, he has helped hundreds of UCLA student-athletes continue their athletic careers with his surgical skills. Dr. Finerman earned his medical degree at Johns Hopkins University, where he also did his internship and residency. His clinical interest is in the areas of: Arthritis, Arthroscopic Knee, Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair, Arthroscopic Shoulder, Arthroscopic Shoulder Stabilization & Labral Repair, Arthroscopy, Cartilage Knee, Ligamentous Disorders of the Knee, Shoulder Joint Replacement, Sports Medicine, Total Joint Replacement, and Total Knee Replacement.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Bruins hope to make good first last impression

For 14 practices this spring, UCLA football players have tried to make a good first impression on their new coaching staff.

Saturday, they hope to leave one good last one.

While UCLA’s spring game at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Rose Bowl will be scaled back because of injuries, the players are approaching the game as if they have just one more shot to stake their claim to a starting spot.

“They only remember the last one,” said senior running back Johnathan Franklin, who has one of a handful of spots that are locked up without question. “It’s going to be a lasting impression. I’m not going to say they’ll base they’re entire judgment off the spring game, but that will be what they’ll remember us for.”

How much of a chance they’ll actually get to make some memories, that’s still in question.
Not only will the physicality be scaled back simply because of the sheer numbered of injured players, but offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone made it clear that he’s not about to give anything away.

“We’re going to be pretty vanilla,” Mazzone said. “Nothing earth-shattering. We want to give them the chance to play with good tempo, make good decisions. We have to tighten a nut over here, put a little oil over there.”

Who’ll drive the machine remains the biggest going in – and likely coming out – of the spring game.
The UCLA quarterback battle wages on and the coaching staff is being relatively mum, as Mora said he knew the distribution of the reps but wouldn’t reveal them going into the game. Mazzone makes it clear that he’s not basing any decision on just one day.

“I’ve been looking hard at the last week, week-and-a-half,” Mazzone said. “Can a guy consistently do this? Not can he flash for one drive and everyone thinks he’s the best thing ever. Can he do it snap after snap?”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply

Post-practice update

* Not much to really update today, as the Bruins practiced in shells today.

* Jim Mora said he knew what the quarterback rotation and distribution of reps would be, but he didn’t want the players to know, so he didn’t reveal the reps.

* There was a lot of scout team work today as it appeared the staff wanted to get the team as healthy as possible going into Saturday.

* Devin Lucien returned quickly from the ankle injury that looked so bad on Tuesday.

* Jeff Baca also returned from the flu, and Darius Bell got some more run today and might be able to contribute on Saturday.

* Dalton Hilliard spent the day at safety again, and had dropped an interception, followed by a nifty breakdance. Then he dropped down for some pushups unprompted.

* Perhaps the highlight of the day was Joe Roberts, who prolonged practice by making kick after kick, including 5-of-5 to start.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply

Details on Spring Game

From UCLA:

UCLA will conduct its Spring Practice Football Game, presented by The Automobile Club of Southern California, on Saturday, May 5 at 5 p.m. at the home of the Bruins, the Rose Bowl. Following the scrimmage, fans will be invited to come on the field to get autographs of the players.

Admission is free and there will be a $10 charge (cash only) for parking in the Rose Bowl lots F, B and K, which open at Noon for tailgating. The UCLA Pre-Game Fan Zone, located along Lot H and Arroyo Blvd., just in front of Gate A (the main gate entrance to the Rose Bowl) will be in operation from 1-5 p.m. and feature the Bruin Kids Zone, Red Bull, UCLA store, temporary tattoo station, live music (2:30-4:30 p.m.) and the Bruin Legends Tent (3-5 p.m.), where fans can get autographs and win prizes competing against famous athletic alumni. Several food trucks will offer dining options for fans. Seating in the stadium will be available starting at 4 p.m. Due to the ongoing renovation of the Rose Bowl facility, fan seating will be on the East side only.

In addition to the action on the field, fans will be treated to numerous give-aways around the event. The first 5,000 people through the gates will be given a free Rose Bowl Hard Hat provided by Rose Bowl Premium Seating. The first 2,000 fans in the Rose Bowl will receive a UCLA football poster inside the concourse at the UCLA Bruins tent. Automobile Club of Southern California members that present a valid membership card at the Auto Club booth prior to the game will receive a free UCLA/AAA t-shirt, while supplies last. The booth is located on the concourse between Gates A and B.

UCLA football opens up the regular season on August 30, at Rice University in Houston, TX. The Bruins will host the Big Ten Conference’s newest member, Nebraska, on September 8 in the home opener in Pasadena. Season tickets are available at Saturday’s event, online at uclabruins.com or by calling (310) UCLA-WIN.

For more detailed info.: http://www.uclabruins.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/2012-spring-game.html

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email