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Kelly Hodge

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Sander hopes Game Time' can spur support

March 26th, 2014 8:08 pm by Kelly Hodge

Sander hopes Game Time' can spur support

East Tennessee State will be taking several of its coaches and administrators on the road this spring.

The “Game Time Tour” will make 10 promotional stops in various cities in the region beginning April 10. Athletic director Richard Sander says it’s a chance to personalize the connection with university supporters.

“ETSU has never done a tour like this, and this seemed like a good time,” Sander said Wednesday. “We want to create a broader fan base. With all the major initiatives we have going on — football and other things — this is a great way to tie things together. Instead of making our various constituents come to see us, we’ll go to see them.”

Tour stops will feature question-and-answer sessions with coaches, a tailgate-style meal and autograph session. It begins in Chattanooga on April 10 and will visit Sevierville, Greeneville, Morristown, Kingsport, Knoxville and Johnson City before ending in Bristol on May 22. There are also events planned for Atlanta and Abingdon, Va.

Sander said there might be more than one get-together at a given stop.

“Hopefully we’ll see some prospective donors who can help us with capital gifts,” he said. “We plan to have a general session with everybody — alumni, parents and fans — and prior to that a very targeted meeting.”

Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door on the night of each stop. There’s a registration link at etsubucs.com.

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Believe it or not, potential donors and others interested in the building of a new football stadium on campus may soon know where that will be situated. University officials narrowed the possibilities to two sites months ago but haven’t been able to make an announcement.

“There are still a couple of things we’re working through,” said Sander, “but hopefully in the next two or three weeks we’ll have a final decision.”

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ETSU extended its basketball season by hosting a couple of Collegeinsider.com Tournament (CIT) games. The Bucs defeated Chattanooga before losing to Towson in the second round and falling one win short of 20 for the season.

Sander said he thought the tournament was a sound investment, amounting to about $20,000.

“We kind of re-energized our relationship and rivalry with Chattanooga,” he said. “We won the game and it got people excited. I think we had some people who hadn’t been to games this season decide to come and watch that one.

“Towson was good, too. It was a little bit tough with the quick turnaround and not knowing who we were going to play. But that kind of showed us where we need to get to compete at a little higher level.”

The cost of the two games was about $70,000 up front.

“We probably generated about 50,000, so it was 10,000 a game,” said Sander. “Recruiting-wise, it helps coach (Murry Bartow), and exposure-wise it helps to be in the news a few more days. It cost a few bucks, but I thought it was a good investment.”

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Most ETSU basketball fans know that Rashawn Rembert led the Atlantic Sun Conference in scoring (16.8) and 3-pointers made (108). They may not know the junior guard was also on the floor more than anyone else in the league.

At 36.1 minutes, Rembert  averaged almost two minutes a game more than Ty Greene of Upstate (34.2), who was limited to 25 games by injury. Torrey Craig, also of Upstate, was third at 32.8.

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Sander said the naming of a new men’s soccer coach is in the works and just needs final approval from the president’s office.

“We’re real close,” he said. “We have an offer out there and might even get it all together today.”

ETSU has been without a head coach since Scott Calabrese announced his resignation on Jan. 22 to take a job at Florida International.

Calabrese built the program from scratch over six years and took two teams to the NCAA tournament. His overall record was 57-44-16.

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Jackie Baird’s bat has cooled off, and so has her team.

Baird began the softball season with 11 home runs in 47 at-bats, making her the national leader. The senior catcher has since gone without a homer in her last 21 at-bats. (She’s still tied for eighth nationally and batting .353.)

Worse for the Bucs, they’ve lost eight of their last nine games to fall to 11-15. A sweep at home last weekend by Stetson, by a combined 34-6 score, left them at 1-8 in the Atlantic Sun Conference. They’ve won just six of their last 72 conference games.

The Bucs were scheduled to play a non-conference doubleheader Wednesday at Liberty, but it was postponed by cold weather. They return to A-Sun action at home this weekend against Northern Kentucky.

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ETSU opened its outdoor track and field season last weekend with a handful of top-five individual finishes at a meet in Charlotte.

Verena Tobis won the javelin throw at the Charlotte 49er Classic, while Katerina Vodova was second in the long jump and fourth in the high jump. Lexie Burley, the senior from Johnson City, was runner-up in the triple jump, and Dede Edgecombe was fourth in the 100 hurdles.

“Our women’s team is way ahead of where they were at this time last year,” said coach George Watts.

On the men’s side, freshman Brett Squibbs continued to impress with a second-place finish in the pole vault. 

The Bucs will have more athletes compete in their next meet, the Raleigh Relays, this weekend.

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Women’s golf coach Stefanie Shelton is on maternity leave, but her team plays on.

The Lady Bucs finished eighth in a 17-team field Tuesday in the Briar’s Creek Invitational at John Island, S.C. They were 19 strokes behind champion Texas Tech.

Gabriella Wahl and Lourdes Lopez tied for 33rd individually to lead ETSU. Wahl, a junior from Germany, opened with an 82 but followed with 74 and then even-par 72. 

The Lady Bucs return to action April 4 at the Rebel Intercollegiate hosted by Mississippi.

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