61.8 F

Davis, California

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Be true to your school

I’m standing in a Hickey Gym hallway, waiting for the class before mine to end so I can sit down and pretend to pay attention for the next 50 minutes.

Some girl wearing a UCLA sweatshirt appears to be doing the same thing.

UCLA? Okay, so you’ve figured out that you do, in fact, attend a school in the University of California system. Congratulations.

Why you’re wearing the letters of a school about 400 miles away from this class I’m about to take a siesta through? No idea.

This girl’s friend shows up a couple minutes later. He makes a good first impression, as “UCLA” is by no means visible on his body.

He makes a better second impression.

“UCLA?” he asks. “Why are you wearing that?”

“I like their sports,” she answers. “Don’t you?”

He starts scrunching up his face in disapproval.

Here it comes. The moment I’ve been waiting years for. A UC Davis student is going to sound off on some defenseless soul for sporting another school’s letters.

“No, I don’t,” he replies sternly.

Yes. Here it comes. Man, this is going to be awesome.

“I root for Cal.”

Look, I plain don’t get it. I don’t understand how you can go to one school – a school that has made such gargantuan strides to become a power at the NCAA Division I level in such a short period of time – and wear another’s heart on your sleeve (or chest).

I’m not the only one who thinks you’re crazy.

Greg Warzecka has been UC Davis’ athletics director for 13 years. He’s seen the university through its transition from the non-scholarship, Division-II institution UC Davis was when he took the position to its current place as a member of the Division I circuit.

He went to Cal, and has a message for all you fake Bruins and Golden Bears:

“Wear blue. Wear your UC Davis T-shirt,” he said. “That’s why we hand out so many T-shirts to the Aggie Pack. If you come to a game, you’re going to get a free shirt. What a great thing.”

A great thing, indeed. Almost as great as your Aggie teams themselves.

In case you missed it, here’s an abridged version of (some of) UC Davis’ accomplishments from a season ago:

Men’s soccer: Becomes UC Davis’ first team to qualify for the NCAA Division I Postseason Tournament. They’re the No. 21 team in the nation, ahead of Big West Conference foe UC Santa Barbara – which happens to be two years removed from a national title.

Men’s water polo: Came within one goal of qualifying for the NCAA Championships, finishing No. 8 in the country.

Women’s basketball: Finished one win away from claiming the Big West title and qualified for the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.

Women’s gymnastics: Won their first-ever Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title.

Women’s golf: All they did was finish 21st in the nation.

Women’s water polo: All they did was finish fourth in the nation.

Baseball: Cinderellaed their way through one of the toughest collegiate baseball conferences in the country en route to the NCAA Tournament. They went 3-1 against Stanford, and had seven players taken in the Major League Baseball first-year player draft – including third-rounder Jake Jefferies.

Yes, all that in UC Davis’ first year of Division I athletics.

All these UC Davis teams that had all these accomplishments last season – well, they’re back.

And they’re not alone.

Enter a football team with as dynamic an offense as there is at the Football Championship Subdivision level. A women’s volleyball team that after winning four matches a season ago went 6-1 to open the season – its best start in nearly a decade.

In the winter, a men’s basketball team that’ll be sending in the reinforcements in a big way (See: Harden, Joe … a Notre Dame transfer). The spring, a youthful softball team turned experienced contender.

All you have to do is come watch. I dare you.

You’ll keep coming back. I’m sure of it.

Just be sure you’re wearing your true colors. You wouldn’t want to make your athletics director angry, would you?

“One of the things that does bother me,” Warzecka said, “is seeing a Stanford sweatshirt on this campus on an undergraduate.… Just outlaw it. No red.”

No Stanford. No UCLA. No Cal.

Why pretend to be something you’re not? Especially when UC Davis is becoming a national power on so many levels.


ADAM LOBERSTEIN is policing UC Davis’ new ban on Stanford sweatshirts. Report violators of Aggie law to him at sports@californiaaggie.com.


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