Cal State East Bay Director of Athletics Debby De Angelis (Photo: Barry Zepel)
Last month your Pioneers began play in NCAA Division II for the first time since 1998, signaling the dawn of a new era for the Athletics Department and Cal State East Bay as a whole. Along with a higher level of competition, the transition to Division II brings along with it the opportunity to provide financial assistance for student-athletes and the addition of several new staff members set to make intercollegiate athletics a key part of the Cal State East Bay experience for students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members.
The move to Division II means many changes for all involved with the Cal State East Bay athletics program. For student-athletes, Division II athletics not only represent a new level of competition but also a new focus on giving back and getting involved in the local community. Through the Division II community engagement initiative, the NCAA seeks to develop both well-rounded student-athletes and the surrounding areas in which they live, work, practice and play during their collegiate careers. Through this program, Cal State East Bay will look to create a connection between Pioneer student-athletes and the community through positive game environments, and the interaction and development of lasting relationships with members of the campus and surrounding community.
For fans, Division II competition brings with it a whole new game day experience. Dawn Ellerbe, newly hired assistant athletic director for marketing and promotions, brings a wealth of experience in creating an exciting and entertaining fan experience. New additions to Pioneer events include in-game promotions, giveaways, poster-making tables and Pete's Pit, a student cheering section. Along with new opportunities for fans to get involved in the game, Division II athletics and the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) bring new expectations for fan behavior. The goal of the Division II game environment is to create a fun, family-friendly, positive and encouraging experience for student-athletes, fans and staff and Pioneer fans are expected to help to foster that environment.
Already, exciting things are happening for Cal State East Bay athletics in Division II. On Sept. 9, the Pioneer volleyball team kicked off CCAA play with an exciting match against No. 4-ranked UC San Diego that saw CSUEB take the Tritons to 33 points in the first set and lead for nearly half of the second set. Before the match, alumni, staff and fans gathered for a reception to help celebrate the new era in Cal State East Bay athletics.
Meanwhile, on the soccer pitch, the Pioneer women captured their first point on Sept. 13, playing cross-bay San Francisco State, ranked 11th in the West Region at the time, to a scoreless tie. On the men's side, the move to Division II is also an exciting time, as first-year head coach Andy Cumbo is looking to usher in a new tradition for Pioneer men's soccer. On the trails, the men and women's cross country teams got off to a good start at the Cal State Monterey Bay Invitational and will compete at the CCAA Championships in preparation for the 2010-11 season when all CSUEB teams will be eligible for conference titles.
The excitement happening on the field, the court and in the stands is matched by new developments within the department. Joining Cumbo and Ellerbe on the staff are several other new faces, including Marissa Parry, assistant athletic director for facilities and event management. and Kelly Hayes, sports information director. With the expansion of our staff, Cal State East Bay Athletics appears set for success both in and out of the office.
I look forward to continuing to work to integrate Pioneer Pride into the everyday life of our campus and community. I hope that you will join the Cal State East Bay Athletics Department in ushering in a new era in Division II and the CCAA. See you in the stands! Go Pioneers!