Tuesday, July 21, 2009

From WebSITE to WebSET

SHOUT has previously alluded to the evolution of the Big South's online profile, from the main site (still clearly the pillar supporting everything else in Conference cyberspace) to the full family of affiliated sites and services now available and interconnected, but it's time for a quick review and shameless plug--a fairly fast guide to what's out there in the Big South world...

SHOUT was the first new member of this "web set", with new info and perspectives, but also linking back to the main site (and indeed all the member sites). Now scanning SHOUT shows you not only the blog posts, but also the recent updates to Big South info on Facebook and Twitter--along with the links that will allow you to become a fan or follow us! You'll also see the Big South Vortex, offering a pocket version of the main site with links to recent articles and areas of the site (a feature you can copy to your own blogs or pages).

The addition of a YouTube channel (YouTube.com/BigSouthSports) followed, and allowed a new venue for the array of 25th Anniversary videos and promotional clips for the Conference. With another season about to roll in, look for fun and exciting new videos showing up there soon.

Not long after that channel signed on, the social networking dynamic duo of Facebook and Twitter (Twitter.com/BigSouthSports) welcomed the Big South. To make those sites work at their best for everyone, we want to see more activity--for example, let's get the number of Facebook Fans up to a thousand so we can have a personalized page address rather than an awkward number! We are a LONG way away from that figure now, but if the word gets out, we can get there quickly. The same goes for Twitter--no one's expecting a million followers, but let's pop that over a thousand and see how far we can go (in other words, we're not catching Ashton Kutcher, but it's time to leapfrog some of these other conferences and their numbers)!

Of course, I'm talking about legitimate fans and followers...not spammers and their ilk. Our Twitter count would be far higher if we hadn't been blocking several along the way, but we intend to keep an eye on the gate...

So--use the links, cross from site to site in the Big South Family: rely on BigSouthSports.com as the center, but enjoy the other elements as they fit into your world. We want to make the Big South a growing part of your experience online.

Now it's your turn--let us know how to do just that: make comments, suggestions, etc. (through any of our available media). Are we where we need to be--and if not, where should we be in the growing number of online outlets? What should we be doing and what could we be doing better? Help us out so we can be there for you.

That's all for now...keep your countdowns rolling--ten days until Football Media Day, and then it's rapid-fire right into all the fall sports seasons!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Saluting the Most Superlative

I'll admit, there are a lot of honors, awards, and lists out there...it's fair to say that many superlatives get handed out in sports, both before and after seasons--best this, most that, top-of-the-other...but with that said, here are two titles that should get your attention: Athlete of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

The winners of THESE awards have been recognized as the top performers across all the Big South teams in all of the Conference sports. They have proven themselves as the best in competition and in academics, and deserve their moment of applause, so let's do it.........

Let's start with the men (the reason will be evident in a moment):

Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Aaron Linn, Gardner-Webb men's basketball. An ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA First-Team Academic All-American in 2009, Linn graduated from Gardner-Webb with a 4.00 grade-point average (!) in finance. Linn earned All-Conference Second-Team honors in 2008-09 and ranked among Conference leaders in free throw percentage (5th, .780), steals (4th, 1.97), field goal percentage (10th, .425), and assists (11th, 3.00). He scored in double figures 16 times in his last 18 starts of the season. There's no doubt Aaron Linn was a stellar contributor on the court and in class, and we congratulate him on this honor.

Howard Bagwell Male Athlete of the Year: Sam Chelanga, Liberty men's track/cross country. In a year with several outstanding candidates (other finalists included Rashad Jennings, Martin Sayer, Artsiom Parakhouski, and Cody Wheeler), Chelanga outran the field. His accomplishments in distance running, both in track & field competition and in cross country, are almost too numerous to list (for all the details, read the article here), but let's give the summary version: a multiple All-American, national runner-up at the 2008 NCAA Cross Country Championship and also in the 5K final at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championship, NCAA 10K record-holder (27:28.48 on 4/24/09), and record-holder many times over at the school and Conference levels. He was voted the Big South Men’s Track & Field Athlete of the Year and was the Conference’s Cross Country Runner of the Year. Chelanga captured individual Big South titles in cross country, the indoor mile and the outdoor 1,500 and 5K. And yes, that really is the short version--such an outstanding year for this brightly-burning Liberty Flame! With Chelanga following Josh McDougal, that's four years running (pun intended) for LU winning the Bagwell Award.

Okay, NOW to the women's honors...and an extra-special salute, because the top Athlete and the top Scholar-Athlete are one and the same: Megan Frazee, Liberty women's basketball. What can you say about an athlete who has proven herself the best among her peers in athletic competition and a remarkable leader in academic endeavors? On the way to earning back-to-back Athlete of the Year awards, Frazee was voted both the Big South Women’s Basketball Player of the Year and the Tournament MVP for a second consecutive year. In addition, she was a First-Team All-Big South selection for the third-straight year, and capped her senior season by being named an Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American. Frazee was one of just three players in the nation to rank in the Top 25 in both scoring and rebounding, and she scored in double figures in a school-record and nation-leading (at the time the streak was broken) 68 consecutive games. She is currently playing in the WNBA for the San Antonio Silver Stars after being selected with the No. 14 pick in the 2009 WNBA Draft. All that, along with graduating from Liberty University with a 3.92 average in kinesiology to demonstrate her classroom acumen, makes Megan Frazee one of the Big South's great student-athlete performers--not just from this year, but from Conference history.

We offer hearty congratulations and a major SHOUT-out to Aaron Linn, Sam Chelanga, and Megan Frazee! Bravo!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Quick Hits -- DYK Edition

In the mood for a Random Facts post for the Big South today, so it's a bunch of quick hits-- "Did You Know?" style!

--Of the ten current Big South members, three trace their schools' origins to the 1800's: Presbyterian College, VMI, and Winthrop. Of those, only VMI (pictured) harks back to before the Civil War...founding dates: PC-1880, VMI-1839, WU-1886.

--Before departing the subject of age, let it be known that Gardner-Webb (1905) is not far behind that eldest group of schools, and that Radford (1910) is on the verge of its centennial!

--The Sasser Cup, awarded to the institution with the greatest overall athletic success in a given year, has been earned by five different institutions--but only three are active in the Conference right now: Coastal Carolina (9 wins), Liberty (7), and Winthrop (2). Founding member Campbell has won the award three times, and will return to vie for the Cup starting in 2011, when the Fighting Camels rejoin the Big South. Outside of those schools, only former member UNCG has taken the trophy (3 times).

--The Big South awards championships in 18 different sports, but some members have additional competition outside the Conference umbrella: GWU--swimming, wrestling; LU--wrestling; PC--lacrosse; RU--field hockey, swimming; & VMI--lacrosse, swimming, wrestling, rifle. You'll also likely be seeing more lacrosse and swimming among member schools in the coming years.

Moving on to a brief football discussion...

BIG SOUTH FOOTBALL MEDIA DAY 2009 is only three weeks away as I write this--the event will be Friday, July 31st, in Charlotte, NC. Of course, you can watch the online coach/player interview sessions streamed live for FREE via BigSouthSports.com, so put that in your schedule. We're sitting eight weeks out from the opening weekend of the 2009 season. The very first game will feature the Chanticleers on the road for a Thursday game (9/3), but the other six Big South football teams share opening day on that Saturday (9/5). Liberty and CSU will be the ones with the highest-profile opponents, as the Flames face West Virginia and the Bucs go to Florida.

If you want to get a jump on following Big South football before Media Day, you can follow a couple of the programs on Twitter right now: @LibertyFootball for Flames-specific updates, or @gwucoach for Steve Patton's comments and observations.

Finally, a SHOUT-out for all our hard-working folks at High Point and UNC Asheville, the two member schools that somehow didn't get mentioned anywhere else in this post, because I don't want to leave anybody out today! While we're on the Twitter-tip, you can follow them too: @HighPointSports and @ashevilledogs.
Here's hoping everybody within SHOUT-ing distance has a good weekend--enjoy...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Web-O-Rama Lives!

You may find yourself--searching across sites online.
And you may find yourself--looking through Big South school pages.
You may ask yourself, "Why goof on a Talking Heads song?"
And you may say to yourself, "Good grief, move SHOUT along!"

Yes, Big South SHOUT took a little breather around Independence Day, but it's all business now--the 2009-10 calendar opened July 1st, so we're not looking back (well, not much, anyway--check out the important item for VMI): it's full speed ahead in preseason mode!

First item on our July agenda is getting everyone caught up around the horn with another installment of that SHOUT favorite: Web-O-Rama...so let's get those browsers going...

Charleston Southern...CSUSports.com tells us that we're within 60 days of the Bucs' football opener at The Swamp in Gainesville, but it also offers interesting baseball notes--particularly for those seeking instruction: a delay in camp dates (pushed back a month) and details for those who want more individual training assistance.

Coastal Carolina... the first thing you'll notice right now at GoCCUSports.com is the splash page that teases the release of the site redesign on July 22nd, but there's more activity in Conway than just on the website. Check out the Adkins Fieldhouse Construction slideshow, showing you the expansion in progress at the Chants' football home.

Gardner-Webb... GWUSports.com has baseball success stories for fans of Runnin' Bulldogs past and present: a Southern League All-Star starter, plus three All-Stars playing in college summer leagues...a good job by the "Diamond Dogs."

High Point... soccer superlatives are among the highlights at HighPointPanthers.com, where HPU salutes its impressive group of nine players on developmental league rosters right now in preparations for the season ahead.

Liberty... LibertyFlames.com turns to recent basketball stars for a couple good stories--Anthony Smith making the summer league roster for the Indiana Pacers and Megan Frazee adjusting to life in the WNBA (pictured here, Getty Images photo)--fun and fascinating stuff as they transition from college to the pros!

Presbyterian... GoBlueHose.com has a nod to the future of its softball program with a report on accolades given to the three members of its incoming freshman class.

Radford... RUHighlanders.com has a nice baseball item that RU fans will enjoy taking advantage of--a links page to connect you to college summer league teams that feature Highlanders on their rosters.

UNC Asheville... the big news this week at UNCABulldogs.com is the announcement of Asheville's new baseball coach, Tom Smith--complete with free video of Monday morning's press conference.

VMI... a huge salute, both from VMIKeydets.com and (of course) from BigSouthSports.com, on VMI winning the Big South Conference 2008-09 Institutional Sportsmanship Award. This year's honor actually marks the fourth straight time VMI has won--accounting for all four years the award has been in existence. Bravo, Keydets!

Winthrop... those already counting down to the next hoops season will like a recent item at WinthropEagles.com, where it has been announced that the Lady Eagles will participate in this year's Preseason WNIT. WU will open Preseason WNIT play with Georgia Tech in Atlanta on November 13th.

Okay, that's all for today--don't forget to follow us on Twitter and become a Facebook Fan, too!

If those reminders seem too familiar by now, you may be thinking it's the...

...same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it EVER WAS!

(that's back to the Talking Heads--look it up, kids--better yet, give it a listen...SHOUT--out)