CWUNewsNews’s and Women's Rugby to Join Wildcat Athletics, 27 Feb 2014 09:00:02<p><img alt="" src="/athletics/sites/" style="width: 212px; height: 237px;"></p><p>Men’s and women’s rugby has now been added to the roster of varsity sports within the Central Washington University Department of Athletics, according to Athletic Director Dennis Francois. CWU is one of the few varsity programs at any public college or university in the nation to offer both men’s and women’s rugby.<br><br>“We are excited to welcome both the women’s and men’s rugby programs to the Department of Athletics,” said Francois. “We’re fortunate to have one of the nation’s best coaches, Tony Pacheco, as our Director of Rugby. I’m confident that our men’s program will continue to compete for national championships and our women’s program will soon become one of the nation’s premier varsity programs under his leadership.”<br><br>Pacheco, who also currently serves as head coach of the USA Rugby All-American Sevens team, will continue to serve as head coach for the men’s team and be responsible for overseeing the continued development of both the men’s and women’s programs. A national search for the head women’s coach will begin immediately.&nbsp;<br><br>“Becoming part of intercollegiate athletics puts us ahead of other programs and will allow us to recruit even more high-caliber student-athletes,” said Pacheco.<br><br>Until now, rugby has been offered through the university’s sport club program, where the men’s team has established itself as a national powerhouse, qualifying for the USA Rugby Sevens National Championship every year since its inception in 2011. The Wildcats placed fourth in last fall’s championship.</p><p>In addition, CWU won the 2011 Las Vegas Invitational, which qualified the program for the Collegiate Rugby Championships. Last spring, the Wildcats’ 15-a-side program joined the Varsity Cup post-season championship, and finished third among the nation’s elite college programs.<br><br>The women’s program, which began in 1990, also has been a contender in national championship competitions. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) now recognizes women’s rugby as an emerging women’s sport.<br><br>“We’ll implement many of the things that we’ve done with the men to further build our successful women’s program,” said Pacheco. “They’ve produced a number of All-Americans and dedicated student athletes and I’m excited for the opportunity to assist in building this program.”</p><p>The Wildcat men have already resumed competition in the Northwest Collegiate Rugby Conference this past weekend beating Oregon State University 27-0 and will continue its preparation for the Varsity Cup post season. CWU will take to the competition a six-year unbeaten string against Northwest opponents.<br><br>CWU sophomore Korbin Lindell, from Wales, Wisconsin, is a member of the United States under-20 national team. Junior Tanner Barnes, Fresno, California, is on the roster of the Men’s Sevens National team, as is 2013 graduate Patrick Blair, La Mirada, California.<br>&nbsp;&nbsp;<br>Francois went on to say, “The support of our university administration, student government, the athletic department staff, the NCAA, and the rugby community throughout the process has been instrumental in our decision to make this transition. We are committed to creating a positive student-athlete experience for our rugby players that is consistent with that of our current varsity sport athletes.”<br><br>CWU President James L. Gaudino, who played both football and rugby at the United States Air Force Academy, said rugby programs have attracted and will continue to attract top-quality student-athletes from all around the world.<br><br>“While they come here for rugby, they receive the benefits of our student-athlete experience,” said Gaudino. “They also help expand the diversity of campus, which is good for all of our students.”</p><p>Media contact: Dennis Francois, CWU Director of Athletics, 509-963-1914,</p></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br></br>Administrator's Boston Marathon Effort to Benefit CWU Student-Athletes, 07 Feb 2014 14:53:58<p><img alt="" src="/athletics/sites/" style="width: 466px; height: 228px;"></p><p>An estimated 35,000 runners will participate in the 2014 Boston Marathon on April 21.&nbsp; Among them will be Gail Farmer, Central Washington University’s equal opportunity and professional development administrator. This will be Farmer’s second Boston Marathon, but her first running for a cause.</p><p>She is seeking $5,000 in donations to provide two CWU student-athletes with leadership training through the Step-Up! program.</p><p>While she says donations of any amount are welcome, she is hoping for those in $26-dollar increments, as a way to acknowledge the marathon’s mileage length.&nbsp; Farmer, who turned 60 last December, is aiming to establish a personal best time of less than four hours. She says she would like those who donate to also consider doubling their amounts if she sets the mark. To make a contribution, visit</p><p>“This is about providing student-athletes with some leadership skills so that they can talk about [high-risk] issues with their peers,” Farmer says. “It’s important to provide our student-athletes with leadership-development opportunities. I believe the impact this could have on the overall student population could be quite remarkable.”</p><p>Step UP! is a social behavior and bystander intervention program that educates students to be proactive in helping others and to make them aware of reasons why bystanders may not help in high-risk situation. The goal is to develop confidence and motivate student-athletes to become more likely to ensure their safety and well-being and that of others.</p><p>To qualify for the Boston Marathon, Farmer had to run a sanctioned marathon in 4 hours and 25 minutes or less, which she did last year at the BMO Vancouver (British Columbia) Marathon. Her personal best time is 4 hours and 2 minutes.</p><p>“My hope is that this will resonate with athletes of my generation and other generations too,” says Farmer, who was a starting guard on the Carleton University, of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, women’s basketball team (1972-1976). “I was a student-athlete. Being an athlete and captain of the basketball team provided me with incredibly meaningful learning opportunities. Having that focus helped me stay on a good path and has contributed to my personal and professional success.”&nbsp;</p><p>Since Farmer first started running seriously 20 years ago, this will be her 14th marathon—and 12th since 2008.</p><p>“I’d like to keep running for as long as I can,” she acknowledges. “I think doing another marathon when I’m 65 would be great.”</p><p>Media contact: Robert Lowery, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<br>&nbsp;</p></br>Nelson earns All-American honors from Division II coaches, 18 Dec 2013 15:29:29<p><img alt="" src="/athletics/sites/" style="width: 300px; height: 300px;"></p><p>Central Washington University senior Mike Nelson has been selected as an NCAA Division II All-American by the American Football Coaches Association for the 2013 season.<br>Nelson was one of five offensive linemen selected to the AFCA Division II All-American team. A four-year starter at offensive tackle for the Wildcats — Nelson started every game in crimson and black from 2010 through 2013 — he was also a four-time first-team all-Great Northwest Athletic Conference selection during his career.</p><p>Read more about Nelson in the <a href="">Daily Record.</a></p></br>Seattle Times Interviews CWU Coach Greg Sparling, 06 Nov 2013 13:58:58<p><img alt="" src="/athletics/sites/" style="width: 150px; height: 226px;"></p><p>Percy Allen talked to Central Washington coach Greg Sparling before the Division II Wildcats face Washington 7 p.m. Wednesday in an exhibition at Alaska Airlines Arena.</p><p>(After your exhibition with last week Washington State coach Ken Bone noted the disparity in practice times between CWU and WSU before the game. He expects the Wildcats will play much better in the future.) “That’s dead on. With the new NCAA rules of 45 days to practice and we were on practice 14 and that really showed. We’re probably not going to win that game, but if we had equal amount of practices I think the score would have been a little bit closer. I’m not saying we’d go in and win it, but if you look at the SPU-Stanford game, if you look at the Anchorage-BYU game, there’s a big difference in the amount of practices. We’re just feeling our way along. We’re going to get better.”</p><p>Read more of the story in the <a href="">Seattle Times</a><br>&nbsp;</p></br>Secondary leads strong defense for new CWU football coach Picha, 14 Aug 2013 12:51:43<p><img alt="" src="/athletics/sites/" style="width: 538px; height: 400px;"></p><p>Now, of course, it’s more than just a new season for Central Washington football.</p><p>It’s a new era, with longtime assistant coach John Picha assuming the program’s reins after Friday’s firing of Blaine Bennett.</p><p>The Wildcats report today and begin workouts Thursday in preparation for their Sept. 7 season-opener at home against Texas A&amp;M-Kingsville.</p><p>Picha, who played for the Wildcats before starting a coaching career that saw him serve 18 seasons as a full-time assistant, will today welcome 100-plus players plus several junior college transfers. The day will be spent with Picha and his staff dispensing equipment and holding meetings.</p><p>Central, which finished 7-4 last season and won its fourth GNAC championship in five years, looks to be especially strong defensively under second-year coordinator Malik Roberson.</p><p>Source Yakima Herald see full article <a href="">here</a>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Media contact: Robert Lowery, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1487, <a href=""></a></p><p>&nbsp;</p></a href="">Central Washington University Appoints Picha to Lead Football Program, 09 Aug 2013 13:58:35<p><img alt="" src="/athletics/sites/" style="width: 466px; height: 228px;"></p><p>Central Washington University today announced the release of head football coach Blaine Bennett from his contract.</p><p>“We appreciate Blaine’s many years of service and we wish him well in his future endeavors,” said CWU Athletic Director Dennis Francois, adding that the university had chosen to move the football program in a new direction.</p><p>Long-time CWU assistant coach John Picha, a 1993 Central graduate, will replace Bennett and serve as interim head coach. CWU competes in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, NCAA Division II.</p><p>“John’s been a full-time assistant coach on both sides of the ball for the past 18 years, for five different Central head coaches. He’s also been the recruiting coordinator and overseen team travel,” Francois said. “John is experienced, student-centered, and embodies the high standards we expect of both our coaches and players. He was my first choice to lead our program and I’m pleased that he accepted.”</p><p>Picha, 47, joined the CWU football staff as a graduate assistant in 1988. A two-year performer at center for the Wildcats, in 1986 and 1987, he earned honorable mention all-league honors as a senior and was named CWU’s Best Blocker as a junior. Picha played for two years at Wenatchee Valley College, earning Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges honors as a sophomore. At CWU, Picha has also served as men’s and women’s track and field coach.</p><p>“I’m honored to be asked to lead the program and I’m excited about the challenge. We’ve got a good group of returning players and we’ve been able to add some transfer students and freshman who will help,” said Picha, who grew up in Puyallup. “The GNAC is a tough conference, but we’re going to compete very well.”&nbsp;</p><p>CWU has won the GNAC football title seven times in the 10-year football-playing history of the conference. Picha will lead a team that features senior linebacker Stan Langlow, from University Place, and senior offensive tackle Mike Nelson, Carnation, both of whom were named to the <em>Beyond Sports Network</em> Division II Pre-Season All-American Team. Langlow was last season’s GNAC Defensive Player of the Year, while Nelson was a first team all-GNAC selection for the third straight year.</p><p>CWU will open the season on Saturday, September 7, with a home game at Tomlinson Stadium against Texas A&amp;M Kingsville. It will be the first of three straight home games to begin the season for the Wildcats.</p><p>A national search for the permanent CWU head football coach will begin this fall.</p><p><strong>Media contact:</strong> Linda Schactler, executive director, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1384,</p><p>Photo of John Picha</p><p>August 9, 2013</p>Dennis Francois on KRKO Radio, 26 Jul 2013 09:36:21<p><img alt="" src="/athletics/sites/" style="width: 466px; height: 228px;"></p><p>Dennis Francois, Central Washington University’s new athletic director, was interviewed Thursday, July 25, by “The Fish,” Jeff Aaron on Fox Sports Radio 1380 KRKO in Everett. You can listen to the interview in its entirety <a href="/athletics/sites/">here</a>. <object data="/sites/all/players/audio-player.swf" data-source="/athletics/sites/" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" height="24" width="290"><param name="movie" value="/sites/all/players/audio-player.swf"><param name="FlashVars" value="soundFile=/athletics/sites/"><param name="quality" value="high"><param name="menu" value="false"><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></object></p></param name="quality" value="high"></param name="menu" value="false"></param name="wmode" value="transparent">Former Wildcat Standout Drew Harris Named CWU Men’s Basketball Assistant Coach, 18 Jul 2013 10:45:29<p><img alt="" src="/athletics/sites/" style="width: 466px; height: 228px;"></p><p>Former <a href=";tab=0">Wildcat basketball </a>standout Drew Harris has been named the new top assistant to Central Washington University head coach Greg Sparling.</p><p>“Drew has always wanted to be a college coach and this is a great opportunity for him,” Sparling said. “His experience as a successful point guard and coach in the GNAC [Great Northwest Athletic Conference] should pay immediate dividends for our program.”</p><p>Harris, 24, played for Central during its illustrious 2010-11 campaign, in which the Wildcats posted a 26-4 overall record, won the GNAC regular-season and tournament titles, and earned the number one seed for the NCAA Division II West Region Tournament. Individually, Harris, who started all 30 games, averaged 9.0 points and 4.2 assists per game. He received second-team all-GNAC recognition and was also an academic all-conference honoree.</p><p>This will be the second season on the Central bench for Harris. Last season, he worked with the guards, conducted individual work with team members and scouted opponents. Sparling indicated Harris will now also assume more recruiting responsibilities.</p><p>“It’s also nice to have a former [CWU] student-athlete with ties to the Yakima Valley [on staff],” Sparling added. Harris played his prep basketball at Eisenhower High School in Yakima, where he starred for the Cadets.</p><p>Harris said, “It’s an honor to be able to coach at Central with its rich history in basketball and athletics. Ellensburg is a great and supportive community, and to be able to coach somewhere where you’ve played is an added bonus.</p><p>“I hope to be able to lend my experience as a successful student-athlete to our players here in the future. I feel that I will have opportunities to be able to help the guys both on and off the court as they balance their athletics and academics.”</p><p>CWU has qualified for the GNAC Tournament each of the past three years, winning the inaugural conference tournament title during Harris’ senior season in the Crimson and Black.</p><p>Harris replaces former CWU associate head coach GE Coleman, who was hired last month as head coach at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo.</p><p><strong>Media contact: </strong>Jonathan Gordon, CWU Department of Athletics, 509-963-1485,</p><p>July 18, 2013</p>CWU’s Kitna Classic not really about golfing, 12 Jul 2013 08:51:10<p><img alt="" src="/athletics/sites/" style="width: 466px; height: 228px;"></p><p>CLE ELUM, Wash. — “Any requests?” the parking lot DJ asked Thursday as people filed into the Suncadia Resort Lodge. “Anything? Just step up and ask.”</p><p>Seconds later, participants in the 11th annual Jon Kitna Wildcat Golf Classic were serenaded with AC/DC’s rock classic “You Shook Me All Night Long.” A ballad befitting the occasion? Why not?</p><p>But just as this increasingly popular Central Washington University event is not about music, neither is it about golf. Not really.</p><p>Read the entire Yakima Herald-Republic article by Roger Underwood <a href="">here</a>. &nbsp;</p>Lead Alumni Gift Initiates Renovation to CWU Tennis Facility, 27 Jun 2013 10:26:30<p><span style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.4;"><img alt="" src="/athletics/sites/" style="width: 466px; height: 228px;"></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.4;">University Advancement today announced a significant gift to the </span>CWU<span style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.4;"> Foundation that will help fund a total renovation of the Central Washington University tennis courts. It is one of the first gifts in recent history that will initiate a capital project at Central. The gift, from the children of a former Central mathematics professor, will create the “Fred and Valerie Lister Tennis Facility.”</span></p><p>Fred Lister taught at Central from 1968 until his retirement in 1988. He was an acknowledged tennis fan both as a player and spectator. He died in 2012. His wife, Valerie, was known for her artistic talent and her involvement in local civic-oriented organizations. She took up tennis when she was in her 50s, and enjoyed commercial art classes at Central. She passed away in 2009.</p><p>Two of their three children, Russ Lister, from Everett, and Anne Perry, from Bow, are CWU alumni who played tennis for Ellensburg High School and Central during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Another son, Jim Lister, also played tennis at Ellensburg High School in the 1980s.&nbsp; He now lives in Richmond, Virginia.</p><p>“My dad was fanatical about tennis, and he got us playing as kids in Ellensburg in the 1970s. I have good memories of that time,” recalls Russ, who earned his bachelor of science in mathematics in 1983. “This seemed like a way to give back to the community that was good for me but especially for my mom and dad. If they were around, I think they would think it’s a great idea.”</p><p>Anne adds, “After Dad passed away last year we were thinking of using some of the proceeds from the estate to benefit the Ellensburg community and leave a legacy in honor of our mom and dad.&nbsp; Russ and I had noticed that many of the local tennis courts were in terrible shape. To us, there seemed to be a huge community need, so this seemed like a good fit.” Anne received her bachelor of science in biology from Central in 1981.</p><p>Design work is now underway on the new facility, which is adjacent to Nicholson Pavilion. The current outdoor courts were first opened in 1961, the same year Central Washington College of Education became Central Washington State College. Over the past half-century, they’ve been subject to surface cracking because the underlying foundation is giving way, requiring frequent repair and patching with cement.</p><p>The new courts will have an acrylic finish layer, to provide a vibrant color, which is approved by the United States Tennis Association (USTA). And, the courts will be lighted, allowing for nighttime use. The facility will also feature new fencing and gates, improved drainage, movable bleachers, practice boards, and competitor benches. The outside of the courts will also be revamped and will include accessible walkways and improved viewing areas.&nbsp;</p><p>The total cost is estimated at about $950,000 dollars. Other project funding will come from CWU capital preservation money, University Recreation, and additional support from the university’s Services and Activities fees. A USTA grant is also being sought. Construction will begin in August and should be completed in September. &nbsp;</p><p>“There are already several users of this facility,” says Andy Fields, CWU recreation director. “The Physical Education, School and Public Health academic department, our tennis sport club, intramurals, Central students and Ellensburg community members, and the high school even brings over some students as well. This is a great collaborative effort that will be a win-win for everybody.”</p><p>Following the phased-remodeling and renovation of Nicholson Pavilion, this will be the second project in a proposed revitalization of CWU’s athletic facilities.</p><p>“There are several projects being suggested that would further improve our student-athlete experience, be better for fans, and offer more and enhanced recreational opportunities for all Central students,” says Dennis Francois, CWU athletic director. “We’re very appreciative of this donation that’s allowing this renovation to move ahead.” &nbsp;</p><p><strong>Media contact:</strong> Robert Lowery, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,</p><p>June 27, 2013</p><p><strong>Photo: </strong>Members of the school's tennis team on the Central tennis courts when they were first opened in 1961.</p></span style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.4;"></span style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.4;"></span style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 1.4;">