Sept. 1, 2010
We are BACK ... Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations, will offer his monthly insights on the accomplishments on the teams, coaches and student-athletes who compete for Cal State Northridge ... The monthly report includes upcoming key games, and a report on what other activities are happening in the Matador Athletic Department ... This month, an African safari that turns a bit scary ... A Cal State Northridge coach is honored for being the greatest track & field athlete in NCAA history ... It's time to hit the links!!!
Elephant Episode ...
Don't mess with 4 ½ ton elephants when you're in Africa ... Just ask Matador assistant soccer coaches Juan Plascenia and Derek Hanks. Both coaches, seven former and current members of the CSUN women's soccer team and CSUN professor Ed Jackiewicz were in South Africa during the summer to watch the World Cup matches. The group found time during their journey to go on a safari for three days into the wilds of Africa where they saw first-hand lions, tigers, giraffes, leopards, hippos and other wild animals roaming the country side.
During one expedition near Kreuger National Park, the situation got a bit tense and scary. The group came across a herd of elephants. Seemed harmless enough. A baby elephant started to approach the jeep in which Plascenia, Hanks and former players Katie Fox and Kelly Drenner and CSUN professor Jackiewicz were riding.
Elephants really have no predators so the baby elephant had no fear in approaching Plascenia, Hanks and the other CSUN passengers. However, adult elephants are very protective of their young and then all of a sudden, things got a bit dicey. Bear in mind that an adult elephant in the wild can weigh as much as 4 ½ tons and be as tall as 12 feet at the shoulder. The mother elephant started stomping her feet and started to run towards the jeep in which Plascenia, Lowe, Fox, Drenner, and Jackiewicz were passengers. The jeep started to move away at a fast pace, and then from out of the bushes a fully-grown adult male elephant (with large ears pointing backwards meaning anger) charged at the jeep in ambush mode. The angry four-ton elephant came within only a few feet of the jeep, and needless to say, the Northridge group was admittedly a bit unnerved about the encounter.
"Scared, intimidated were just a few of my thoughts," remembers Plascenia. "These elephants were not very happy. My reaction was ... we should get out of here, NOW. When a four ton elephant swings its trunk within a few feet of you, it's time to move on."
The jeep quickly drove away and the Northridge group looked back to see the elephants looking at us and stomping their feet."
Go to www.youtube.com and search for "Elephant Chase" to see a 26-second video of the nail biting fling with two angry four ton elephants.
Editors Note: In case you didn't know it, here are some interesting facts about elephants. In addition to their adult weight (around 4 ½ tons) and height (as tall as 12 feet at the shoulder), elephants really have no predators. There only real predators are humans and poachers. Elephants generally live from 50 to 70 years. The gestation period is 22 months, the longest of any land animal. At birth, an elephant calf can weigh as much as 260 pounds. Elephants can drink up to 15 quarts of water at a time. Elephants can reach speeds up to 25 mph.
Saluting Seilala Sua ...
She is one of the more popular assistant coaches in the Matador coaching family. She is also very humble in discussing her distinguished athletic accomplishments that include being the most successful athlete in NCAA track & field history, and her participation on the international scene as a U.S Olympian. Seilala Sua is currently an assistant track & field coach at Cal State Northridge, and has played a major role in helping the Matadors win five straight Big West women's team titles, and two straight CSUN men's titles. As a collegian at UCLA, Sua was a seven-time NCAA champion and 14-time All-American in the shot put, discus, hammer and javelin. Sua was also a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team.
For her distinguished efforts, UCLA will honor Sua and seven other former Bruin athletes and coaches with induction into the prestigious UCLA Hall of Fame on Oct. 1. The other new inductees include former Bruin All-American and current Philadelphia Phillies infielder Chase Utley and silver medal winner (2004 Olympics) marathon runner Mebrahtom Keflezighi.
So how does someone become the most successful track & field athlete in NCAA history? Seilala Sua started participating in track & field at age ten. Sua actually started as a softball player in Florida but her middle school also offered track & field.
At first, Sua disliked track & field and loved playing softball. But as time went along, Sua became very good at track & field, and started to enjoy the sport and its many different throwing events. Track & field also offered her a better chance at getting a scholarship to college.
"My father coached me in high school and my parents got me involved in a Junior Olympics camp in high school," remembers Sua. "From there it was full steam ahead in terms of an athletic career in track & field."
Her induction into the UCLA Hall of Fame should come as no surprise. She has all the credentials to join other former great UCLA athletes such as Jackie Robinson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Arthur Ashe, and coaching immortal John Wooden.
"I am honored to be a part of such a great group of Bruin Athletes in the UCLA Hall of Fame," said Sua.
Sua is also a devoted mom. She and her husband (Juan Carlos) are proud parents of an eighth-month boy, Solomon.
Congrats Seilala ... CSUN is proud of you!!!
Golf Gossip ...
OK, so you've taken golf lessons all summer long, and now you're ready to play golf with the skills of a Phil Mickelson and Jack Nicklaus (I won't mention Tiger Woods because he has so many issues on-and-off the course) ... Your improved golf skills qualify you to compete in the 2010 Matador Classic on Sept. 20 at the Woodland Hills Country Club ... Not only will you have a chance to show off your exceptional golf skills, but this annual event brings together more than 100 players to support the nearly 400 student-athletes who are competing for Cal State Northridge Athletics ... A Matador golfer, coach or a celebrity will join your foursome ... The entry fee includes green fees, cart, range balls, breakfast, on-course lunch, dinner, refreshments, individual prizes and team prizes ... The bottom line is EVERYBODY has fun and all the proceeds go to help CSUN student-athletes compete against the likes of UCLA, USC and STANFORD at the NCAA Division I level ... For more information visit www.gomatadors.com
If you can't get enough golf at the Matador Golf Classic, how about helping the CSUN women's golf program with their annual fund raiser on Oct. 22 at the El Cariso Golf Course in Symlar. Tee times start at Noon. There will be five person teams (4 plus one CSUN golfer, or 4 plus an alumnus). The $500 entry fee per team will include golf, cart, range balls, beverages during play, tee prizes, on-course games, dinner and a no-host bar after the day is over. For more information, contact CSUN women's golf head coach Bonnie Murphy at 805-218-6804 or her e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fast Facts ...
Kenny Daniels and Willie Galick, the top two stars on last year's Matador men's basketball team, are playing professional basketball in Sweden ... When you work in Athletics, there are a lot of changes and CSUN was no exception ... With that in mind, Cal State Northridge welcomes new head coaches in women's basketball (Jason Flowers), baseball (Matt Curtis) and softball (Tairia Flowers) and their new formed coaching staffs ... Good luck this year, and to the other coaches that work for Cal State Northridge ... Go Matadors!!!
See you in October !!!