Director of Athletics Debby De Angelis.
August has arrived and with it the excitement and commotion of a new season set to start. The fall campaigns are now just four weeks away and our teams - volleyball, soccer and cross country - are set to return to campus to begin preparations in the next few weeks. We have so many things to share and be excited about as the 2011-12 season kicks off: our active membership in NCAA Division II and the opportunity to participate in the postseason, our two new head coaches arriving on campus, and our 50th anniversary Celebration Weekend.
As anticipated, Cal State East Bay was officially accepted as an active member in NCAA Division II on July 8. After spending the last three years as a provisional member - undergoing annual reviews by the NCAA membership committee and kept from competing in the postseason - we are now full members of the division which brings with it many advantages for our student-athletes. In addition to becoming eligible for both conference and NCAA championships, active membership gives Pioneer student-athletes the opportunity to apply for postgraduate scholarships and to participate in enrichment and career development programs through the NCAA. The athletics department itself will also gain the ability to vote at the annual NCAA Convention, access to enhancement funds for improvements within the department and enroll in the National Letter of Intent program, which works to protect student-athletes and recruits.
Our staff and student-athletes could not be more excited about our active member status and are eager to prove themselves as worthy competitors in our conference and Division II. We are also grateful to all members of the university community who have helped make this move to Division II possible.
Adding to the excitement of being eligible for the postseason is the addition of two new head coaches to our staff. The cross country and track programs are gaining the leadership of Ralph Jones, formerly of Morgan State University, while the baseball team will look to make a name for itself in one of the toughest conferences in Division II under the watch of Bob Ralston, a Bay Area coaching legend. These two coaches bring with them a great amount of experiences from nearly every coaching level and both have a proven record of success, so we are eager to welcome them to the Pioneer family.
A former assistant at Morgan State, Coach Jones helped to coach 15 regional qualifiers in cross country and five school record holders in track and field over the past four years with the Bears. A former student-athlete at Morgan State, Coach Jones also helped develop 29 NCAA regional qualifiers in track in his first two seasons as an assistant there and helped coach the Central Arizona College cross country and track and field teams to seven National Junior College Athletic Association national titles as an assistant coach.
Coach Ralston brings over 20 years of coaching experience to the baseball team, having most recently spent 16 years as the head coach at Clayton Valley High School, where he captured seven league titles and a pair of section championships. A Cal State East Bay alumnus, Coach Ralston also has experience coaching at the community college and minor league levels. Coach Ralston is a local product and a Hall of Fame member at Moreau Catholic High School and was an All-American infielder at Arizona before playing seven years in the minor leagues with the Minnesota Twins and the Oakland Athletics.
The 2011-12 campaign also marks the 50th anniversary for intercollegiate athletics at Cal State East Bay. In honor of the many accomplishments of Pioneer student-athletes, coaches and staff since the implementation of the program, the Athletics Department is holding a celebration weekend Sept. 23-26, 2011 and inviting all Pioneer alumni and the university community to attend. The weekend is set to include a Pioneer alumni barbecue, alumni games and the 15th annual Cal State East Bay Golf Classic, being held at Monarch Bay Golf Club in San Leandro on Sept. 26. All proceeds from the tournament will benefit the Richard and Susan Sherratt Athletic Scholarship Endowment which provides financial support for student-athletes who otherwise may not have the opportunity to attend Cal State East Bay and participate in intercollegiate athletics.
In addition, fans and alumni alike can find out more about the many impressive victories, championship teams and star student-athletes in Pioneer history by visiting our website for "50 Stories for 50 Years" to read a new tale of Cal State East Bay Athletics lore every weekday until the event.
Further information on the 50th Anniversary Celebration events, the Cal State East Bay Golf Classic and Pioneer history is available on our website: eastbaypioneers.com. We hope to see you there!