Aggie Insights
    VOLUME 6 | ISSUE 11 November 2008     

In This Issue


Event Listings



USU Alumni Spotlight - Steve Wallenda

Steven Wallenda

Not many Aggies are familiar with the fine art of Tang Soo Doo, but Steven Wallenda knows more than his fair share of this form of ancient Korean martial arts. This summer Wallenda earned his fourth-degree black belt, and with it, the title of master instructor.

Tang Soo Doo is a form of self defense that dates back over 2,000 years, but more importantly, it is a way of life. Wallenda was first exposed to martial arts in 1985 as high school freshman living in Kenai, Alaska. Although it may have started as merely an activity to occupy his time, karate became a way of life. In 1991, Steven earned his black belt, and a few years later, in 1994, he earned his second degree black belt. Steven earned his third degree black belt in 1998. Wallenda describes his move to teacher and instructor as a natural progression. Teaching was the next natural step in furthering himself and the art of Tang Soo Doo. During the mid-90’s, Wallenda spent time teaching martial arts in Vernal. In 2001, Wallenda earned his B.S. in history from Utah State. Three years later he received his M.A. in political science. From 2005 to the summer of 2008, Steven worked as an instructor in government and politics at the USU Extension Campus.

Wallenda currently owns and operates the Vernal Martial Arts Center. Since 2005, Wallenda and fellow instructors have been teaching students of a variety of age groups and fitness levels. Not only do students learn valuable self-defense skills, Wallenda and his colleagues work to help build each student as an individual. On the school’s website, Wallenda states: “I believe the ability to defend oneself is a personal right and the martial arts to be a priceless treasure in securing that right!”

Only one other person in the state of Utah holds the impressive title of master instructor. Making an active effort to keep the sport of motocross alive, Wallenda also serves as the coordinator for the local motocross club. Some of his other claims to fame include being a direct descendant of The Flying Wallendas, a group known internationally for their expertise in the flying trapeze and other dangerous stunts.

Steven Wallenda resides in Vernal, UT with his wife and three children.  

Spotlight by Clarissa Fidler

Nominate an Alumni Spotlight here.

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Sign-up for the New Official MasterCard of Utah State University - Get your Rewards!
Official Mastercard of Utah State

The new USU Rewards MasterCard comes complete with an outstanding rewards program. You earn 1 point for each dollar spent for which you can redeem your points for 1% cash back, travel on any airline with no blackout dates, and valuable merchandise or gift cards from major retailers. Best of all, you can also redeem for great USU memorabilia, Aggie gear, events and experiences! A rewards catalog will be announced in a future issue of the Aggie Insights e-newsletter.

Your new USU Rewards Mastercard is available exclusively through the Alumni Association. Thank you for supporting us with our former Chase Bank Visa Card. Now that the Chase relationship has ended, we hope we can count on your support for the new Official MasterCard. Your involvement funds Alumni Association activities such as Aggie Family Days, Homecoming, chapter events and more! This new MasterCard is available now! Click here for details.

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Utah State Alumnus Featured on 60 Minutes

Greg Carr

The Oct. 26 segment of 60 minutes featured Utah State University alumnus, Greg C. Carr. A highly successful entrepreneur and tech multimillionaire, in 1998, Greg left the business world to focus on philanthropy and human rights. His most recent endeavor, the topic of the 60 minutes feature, involves protecting and preserving Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, South Africa.

Greg graduated first in his class at Utah State in 1982 (B.S.,History). He then enrolled in a Master's program at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. In 1986, while finishing up his master's, Greg teamed up with MIT scientist, Scott Jones, and together they formed Boston Technology. The company revolutionized the telecommunications industry, providing superior voicemail capabilities to telephone companies nationwide. During the 1990's, Greg served as the chairman of Boston Technology, as well as Prodigy, Inc.

Having made his fortune, Greg decided to trade in for-profit for non-profit. In 1999, Greg established the The Gregory C. Carr Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to "the environment, human rights, and the arts". The Foundation's current focus is on protecting and preserving Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, South Africa. Carr has many other credits to his name, including helping to form the Museum of Idaho, the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise, and the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University.

For more information on Gorongosa National Park, visit

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Retired Extension Administrator Turns 100

Lloyd Hunsaker

USU alumnus and retired Extension administrator, Lloyd Hunsaker, celebrated his 100th birthday on September 30, 2008. Hunsaker graduated from USU in 1935. After graduation, he worked as an agricultural agent for several years in Piute and Cache County. During the 1940's, he began working for USU Extension as a dairy specialist. In 1956, Hunsaker became the supervisor of agricultural programs. Before retiring in 1970, Hunsaker went on to be county agent supervisor and associate director for USU Extension. Full Story

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Alumni Legacy Scholarship Applications Now Available

Alumni Association

The 2009 Alumni Legacy Scholarship applications are now available.

The deadline for applications is February 1, 2009. Scholarships will be awarded in mid-March.

To qualify:

  • Student must be an incoming freshman or transfer student
  • Be a descendant of an alumnus of USU (12 or more credits at USU)
  • Fill out an application and submit a transcript
  • For more details and to fill out an application, click here.

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    InCircle: Alumni online community - Security Features


    Privacy with online communities is a major concern. The USU inCircle privacy settings determine who in the inCircle community can view different portions of your profile.

    To access the privacy settings Click on the “Home” tab. Then Click on “My Profile” and Click “Edit” under either My Career, My Contact Information or About Me. Then Click the ”Privacy Settings” tab.

    This is where you can edit your privacy settings to allow no one, friends, friends & friends-of-friends or the whole community to see different portions of your profile. For instance you can allow only your friends to see your email, and no one to see your home phone and address. It’s a great tool to let you choose the level of privacy you want.

    USU inCircle is an online community for Utah State alumni. You can search through inCircle for fellow alumni by city, employer, industry, class year, and more. Other features include the ability to post and search employment listings, join and form alumni and interest groups, register for events, and discuss just about anything you want to with fellow Utah State friends.

    The new community is open to all who attended (including current students), graduated from, or work at USU. In all, over 140,000 people are currently pre-registered. Within the first week there was a range of registered users over 40 class years apart. To visit and set up your account go to, or from the Alumni homepage click the online community link.

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    Discounts on Athletics Events for Sustaining Alumni Members

    Sustaining Alumni Members have the opportunity to receive the following special discounts on select tickets for the 2008-2009 Men's and Women's Basketball season:

    * 20% discount per ticket (no limit) on Duel in the Desert games 12/29-31 and Idaho 1/5. Note that these individual game tickets are not available for purchase until single game tickets for all games go on sale 12/8.

    * 20% discount on Women’s sports passes

    Show your Lifetime or Annual Sustaining Membership Card at the USU Spectrum Ticket Office for your discount.

    Click here to see current athletics schedules.

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    Alumni sets goal: 4,000 "A" plates in 2008

    This article will appear monthly with updates on our plate numbers

    License Plate

    The Alumni Association has sponsored the "A" plate program since Spring 2000. The point of this program has one financial purpose, to provide scholarships to legacy students.

    The Alumni Association has set a goal in 2008 to end the year with 4,000 "A" plates on the roads in Utah. This will provide at least $100,000 to give back to the legacy scholarship program. As of October 2008, we have over 3,773 plates. If you don't have an "A" plate, but have always thought about it, now is the time.

    Learn more about the "A" plate program here.

    Do you have a custom "A" plate and want to show it off? Click here.

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    Back to the Buzzer


    Bathtub race between residents of Bullen Hall versus Richards Hall, 1960s. The bathtubs were pushed from the Capitol building in Salt Lake City to Logan.

    Buzzers are now available online! Click here to go to the Buzzer Yearbooks Collection at the USU Digital Library.

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    Homecoming 2008 Recap

    United by Tradition: Once an Aggie, Always an Aggie

    Homecoming 2008

    USU alumni and students enjoyed the many event and festivities of this year’s Homecoming week. The Alumni Association kicked off Homecoming on Monday evening, hosting the Homecoming Ribbon Cutting/Opening Ceremony and Sweet Traditions at the Cache County Courthouse. Local businesses showed their USU spirit by painting their windows and wearing Aggie blue the Friday of Homecoming week.

    During the week, students participated in street painting, a paint dance, and Moonlight & Music. Students also enjoyed free Aggie Ice Cream, two complimentary showings of Kung Fu Panda, and a pep rally. On Wednesday evening, students and alumni gathered in the Kent Concert Hall for the annual Mr. USU pageant. With the theme of “I just can’t wait to be king” from Disney’s The Lion King, all of the contestants exhibited roaring, exceptional performances. Tyler Tolson proved to be the king of the evening, winning the title of Mr.USU 2008. Judges for the event included USU Alumnus, Tim Hansen.

    Friday evening, the 2008 Homecoming dignitaries and royalty were honored at a reception, followed by the Homecoming Banquet. This year's Homecoming dance featured several different musical selections in different rooms of the TSC, including an 18-piece jazz band in the TSC Ballroom.

    The following reunions were held by during Homecoming: Multicultural Students Reunion, All Leadership Reunion, and Student Alumni Association Reunion. The class of 1958 held a special Golden Aggies reunion, marked by a variety of fun activities and events.

    USU wrapped up the week with the annual Homecoming parade which was broadcast locally on 610 KVNU.  The winning parade entries were the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and LDSSA.  Though the outcome of the afternoon football game versus Fresno State ended with a heart-wrenching 58-yard winning field goal by Fresno State’s kicker, the atmosphere surrounding Homecoming was memorable.  Especially for the Sigma Chi fraternity.

    Lighted A on the hill

    During the Homecoming Banquet, master of ceremonies, Alumni Association President Paul Parkinson made an exciting announcement.  An old tradition was brought back with the help of several student groups.   In the tradition of the verse in the alma mater hymn, “The lighted ‘A’ upon the hill”, the Student Alumni Association spearheaded an effort to place a lighted ‘A’ on the hill south of Dry Canyon.  With the invaluable help of several civil engineering students and the Sigma Chi Fraternity, a block ‘A’ was proudly lit both Friday and Saturday nights.

    The civil engineering students used GPS to plot the points of the block ‘A’ and the Sigma Chi brothers helped put in the poles and string the lights up to a generator.  Sigma Chi Mark Laub helped with flipping the switch to light the ‘A’, following in the legacy of his father Jim and uncle Stan who were both involved in this tradition as students at Utah State University.  Sigma Chi Fraternity President Jordan Taylor remarked, “We are excited to be a part of bringing back a tradition started by the Sigma Chi fraternity in 1947.  We are proud to be able to carry the responsibility and cultivate this tradition for the campus and valley to enjoy.”  The ‘A’ will be lit twice a year, once at Homecoming and on A-Day in April.


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    Voice Male Christmas Concerts

    Voice Male, a six man a cappella group, who recently received the Utah State Young Alumni of the Year award, has several upcoming Christmas concerts in the Utah and Arizona area. Don't miss the opportunity to listen to their smooth harmonies and fabulous sound. This year, make their concert part of your holiday season!

    Date City Time
    Friday, Dec. 5th Vernal, UT 7:00 pm
    Saturday, Dec. 6th Roosevelt, UT 7:00 pm
    Friday, Dec. 12th Ogden, UT 7:00 pm
    Saturday, Dec. 13th Logan, UT 1:30 pm, 7:00 pm
    Tuesday, Dec. 16th Lehi, UT 7:30 pm
    Wednesday, Dec. 17th Lehi, UT 7:30 pm
    Thursday, Dec. 18th Salt Lake City, UT 7:00 pm
    Saturday, Dec. 20th Gilbert, AZ 7:00 pm

    For more information or to buy tickets on-line, click here.

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    Recruitment Open Houses

    Utah State is holding a series of upcoming recruitment open houses to help our future students apply and learn more about life as an Aggie. At open houses, future Aggies get a chance to:

  • Learn about majors in all seven colleges.
  • Apply for admission and bring complete transcripts.

  • Receive a scholarship on the spot.

  • Talk with experts about housing, financial aid, honors, and student life.

  • Enjoy Famous Aggie Ice Cream.

  • All alumni are encouraged to come and meet prospective students and enjoy Famous Aggie Ice Cream. If you would like to volunteer at the open houses contact Corey Mikkelsen, Alumni Recruitment Coordinator, at 1-800-488-8108 or by email at

    See below to find an open house near you!

    City Date Location
    Layton November 11, 2008 Davis Convention Center (Davis/Weber)
    Salt Lake City November 12, 2008 South Towne Exposition Center
    St. George December 2, 2008 Dixie Center
    Las Vegas, NV December 3, 2008 Aliante Library, North Las Vegas & Henderson Convention Center

    For more details, click here.

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    Read the Classnotes

    Chapter News

    There are no upcoming chapter events at this time.

    For more information about alumni chapters, or to find the chapter in your area, visit

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    Merit Citation Awarded to Dutch Belnap

    Dutch Belnap

    On Friday October 24, 2008, Alumni Association President Paul Parkinson awarded an Alumni Merit Citation to Dutch Belnap. The award was presented at the Golden Aggie Reunion Luncheon as part of Homecoming 2008.

    Gordon ‘Dutch’ Belnap holds two degrees from Utah State University - a bachelor’s degree in Education, which he received in 1958, and a master’s in Special Education, which he earned in 1965. He began his career at Weber High School as a teacher and coach from 1958-1968. Dutch then spent four years as Assistant Basketball coach at USU. He was named Head Coach at USU in 1974 and held that position until 1979. He spent several years with First Security Bank as vice president, and then completed his career at Weber State University, where he served as Athletics Director from 1996-1999. During his tenure as coach at Utah State, he was presented with the Gerald R. Sherratt award and was a finalist for National Coach of the Year.

    Nominate someone for an Alumni Association Merit Citation.

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    Legacy Story- Nellie James

    Nellie James

    The Beginning of a New Aggie Legacy 

    When Nellie James (Hodgson) was a young girl she dreamed of becoming a True Aggie. Unfortunately, her dreams were interrupted by the Great Depression, when her family was forced to move to Salt Lake City to start a new life. Finally, 77 years later, her dreams were realized by her grandson, Brad Schultz. 

    Brad Schulz was finishing his undergrad degree in accounting and Spanish at Weber State University in the spring of 2007, when he met and started dating Camille.  She was working on her undergrad as well. Everything seemed to be working out perfectly. 

    Attending graduate school was a goal of Brad’s, and as he researched schools with his program, he met a lot of professionals who had received their degrees from Utah State.    

    “They all seemed so prepared and ready for the profession,” Brad said.  “I found Utah State had given them that confidence, with the help of their great faculty.”   

    The resources and preparation, along with a scholarship and graduate assistant position, helped Brad make up his mind to attend USU.  He said he also loved the campus and fun atmosphere in Logan. 

    Now he had to tell Camille.   

    Brad procrastinated telling her until one night he just knew he had to do it.  He worked up the courage and said, “Camille, I’ve decided to go to Utah State.” 

    “Really?  Me too!” she replied.     

    Unbeknownst to each other, Brad and Camille had both decided to attend USU.  As fate would have it, they ended up living a few apartments away from each other. Brad and Camille became True Aggies last Homecoming (2007) and were married a few months ago. 

    After Brad graduated with his Master’s of Accountancy from USU this past spring, his grandmother, Nellie, found a photograph of her and her younger brother, Paul Hodgson, climbing on the famous ‘A’. 

    The photo was taken the summer of 1930, during, as Nellie remembers it, a walk around campus when extended family came to visit her family in Logan.   

    Nellie's family only lived in Logan for a few years while her father worked for his brother, Fred Hodgson, an architect.  The Depression took its toll, and soon her uncle wasn’t able to employ Nellie’s father anymore.  The family packed up and moved to Salt Lake to live with her grandfather and two other families. 

    “That’s just how the Depression went,” Nellie said. 

    No one in Nellie’s immediate family ever moved back to Cache Valley. 

    Brad is the only relative of Nellie’s to have attended USU, and is one of the few family members to have a college degree. 

    The photo of Nellie and her brother is one of the Schultz’s favorites because they’ve been able to visit the same ‘A’, and become True Aggies, 77 years after it was taken.  They also made a name for themselves, going beyond the title of “True Aggies” to become the university’s first winners of the True Aggie Kissing Decathlon in 2007. 

    Perhaps the Aggie blood carried on through the generations, waiting for the right Aggie to come back home.


    Story by Whitney Watts

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    Travel Opportunities

    Watch for information about the 2009 Alumni Travel Opportunities in a future newsletter!

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    Current athletic schedules for all Aggie sports.


    Away Game Basketball Tip-off Parties

    Aggie basketball is back for another great season. Several away game tip-off parties are on the schedule and promise to be fun for the whole family. Check the alumni events page for more details coming soon!


    Saturday, Dec. 20th   USU @ Idaho State (Pocatello)
    5:00pm-6:30pm MST Tip-off Party
    7:05pm MST Tip-off
    Thursday, Jan. 22nd USU @ San Jose State (San Jose, CA)
    5:00pm-6:30pm PST Tip-off Party
    7:05pm PST Tip-off
    Saturday, Feb. 14th
    USU @ Boise State
    5:00pm-6:30pm MST Tip-off Party
    7:05pm MST Tip-off

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    2008 Aggie Football Coach's Luncheons

    There are only two Football Coach's Luncheons left to attend this season. All luncheons are sponsored by the Big Blue Scholarship Fund.

    Logan Luncheon


    The Copper Mill Restaurant
    55 N Main, Logan


    12:00 – 1:30 p.m.


    $12.00 per lunch for Big Blue Scholarship Fund Members (show membership card)
    $15.00 per lunch for Non-BBSF Members


    November 17

    Wasatch Front Luncheon


    Homewood Suites
    423 West 300 South, Salt Lake City
    Free parking in the terrace beneath the hotel


    12:00 – 1:30 p.m.


    $12.00 per lunch for Big Blue Scholarship Fund Members (show membership card)
    $15.00 per lunch for Non-BBSF Members


    November 20

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    Aggie Harriers Sweep WAC Cross Country Championships

    USU's Jason Holt- WAC's Male Athlete of the Year

    Junior Jason Holt led the Aggie men as he finished first overall, while senior Ashley Johnson led the USU women with a third-place finish.

    Utah State made it a clean sweep at the 2008 Western Athletic Conference Cross Country Championships held here Saturday morning as both its men and women won team titles. Overall, it is the fourth-straight WAC Championship for the Aggie men and the eighth team title in the last 17 years, while the USU women won their second WAC Championship in the last three years and third-ever team title.

    Junior Jason Holt (Fort Collins, Colo.) led Utah State on the men's side as he finished first overall with a time of 25:34.80 to earn WAC Male Athlete of the Year honors, while senior Ashley Johnson (Paradise, Utah) finished third overall on the women's side in her first race of the season with a time of 18:29.80. Head Coach Gregg Gensel was also honored by the WAC, as he was named the conference's coach of the year on both the men's and women's side.

    "We knew going into the meet we had a chance to accomplish our goal of winning a WAC Championship for both the men and women and I couldn't be more proud of our runners," said Gensel. "We have always stressed the fact that we want to have good distance runners in both track and cross country, and this is a testament to how hard all of our kids work."

    Utah State's men finished with 47 points, while Boise State finished second with 56 points. Fresno State placed third with 65 points, followed by Idaho (85), Louisiana Tech (122), New Mexico State (129) and San Jose State (214).

    Utah State's women's team finished with 69 points, while New Mexico State placed second with 87 points. Idaho placed third with 91 points, followed by Nevada (135), Boise State (149), San Jose State (154), Fresno State (168), Hawai'i (231) and Louisiana Tech (283).

    Along with Holt, Utah State had two other runners earn first-team all-conference honors as senior Ben Kessen (La Crescenta, Calif.) finished third overall with a time of 25:44.80 and junior Steven Strickland placed seventh in 26:13.80. Other finishers on the men's side include freshmen Daniel Howell and Brian McKenna who placed 16th (26:53.80) and 20th (27:09.30), respectively, while sophomore Hunter Nelson was 23rd (27:13.90), senior Heath Wing was 26th (27:24.40), sophomore Chio Lopez finished 33rd (27:53.50), and sophomore Nick Bolinder placed 37th (27:58.50).

    "Our men were not as healthy as they would have liked today and it was a gutsy performance on their part to pull through and win the championship with all the pressure they were feeling," added Gensel.

    On the women's side, Utah State had five of the top 15 finishers as Kim Quinn, Caroline Berry, Ruth Hilton and Alicia Holt all earned second-team all-WAC honors, joining Johnson who earned first-team all-conference accolades. Quinn, a sophomore from South Jordan, Utah finished ninth overall with a time of 18:55.30. Berry, a senior from Sandy, Utah placed 10th in 18:57.80. Hilton, a freshman from St. George, Utah was 11th with a time of 18:58.30, and Holt, a sophomore from Fort Collins, Colo., placed 15th with a time of 19:04.80.

    Other Aggie women to compete included freshman Jessie Chugg who placed 22nd (19:18.00), senior Vanessa Gledhill who finished 27th (19:29.80), and junior Erin Stratton who placed 43rd (20:19.10).

    "Our women have been running together as a team all year and that is how they run the race today," commented Gensel.

    Both the Aggie men and women's teams will be in action in two weeks at the NCAA Mountain Regional Championships on Saturday, Nov. 15 at Fort Collins, Colorado.

    Click here for the full article and complete WAC Championship Results.

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    USU Soccer Places a Historic Seven Players on All-WAC Team

    Womens Soccer Team

    After winning the Western Athletic Conference regular season with a perfect 7-0-0 record, the Utah State soccer team was honored by placing seven players on the all-WAC team as voted on by the league's eight coaches, as well as earning the WAC Coach of the Year honor.

    USU head coach Heather Cairns became the first Aggie soccer coach to earn WAC Coach of the Year honors. In her sixth season, Cairns has led the Aggies to school records in overall regular-season wins (12) and conference wins (7). USU also has won a school-record seven-straight matches. Cairns is the third Utah State coach to earn a WAC Coach of the Year honors since along with cross country and track and field coach Gregg Gensel along with volleyball coach Grayson DuBose. USU joined the WAC in 2005.

    Shantel Flanary became the second Utah State soccer player to win WAC Freshman of the Year after defender Lindsey Smart in 2006. Overall, she is the third Utah State athlete to earn the honor after volleyball player Chelsea Fowles was named WAC Freshman of the Year in 2007. Flanary scored three goals and one assist for seven points in conference action.

    "We have been fortunate to have our scoring distributed over several players," Cairns said. "Everyone brings something different and with Shantel (Flanary) it's her speed and her crossing ability. It's her courage to take on players 1-v-1. She's definitely capable of scoring."

    The seven players on the all-WAC team were the most to make a conference postseason team since five Aggies earned all-Big West honors in 2003. Utah State had three players on the all-WAC first-team. The most the Aggies had placed on the first-team was two in 2005 and 2007. Junior defender Lindsey Smart was named on the all-WAC first-team for the second-straight season. With the honor, Smart becomes the first USU soccer player to earn all-conference honors three-straight seasons since Charity Weston (2004-2006), and the first to do it all in the WAC. Along with being part of the solid Aggie defense, Smart had five assists in WAC matches.

    "(Lindsey) Smart means so much to our team," Cairns said, "She can play in the midfield, and she can play in the back. She might be the most respected player on our team and we have a lot of players that are respected. She's definitely a great defender, and she's been recognized as a great defender. But this year, we have challenged her to be a bit more of a playmaker for us."

    Senior forward Candice Clark earned her second all-WAC award and first on the first-team after earning second-team honors last season. Clark had four goals and one assist for nine points in league matches. Freshman midfielder Chandra Salmon capped off a solid rookie campaign with first-team honors.

    Four players were named to the all-WAC second-team, including sophomore striker Lauren Hansen who earned her second-straight second-team honor. Hansen ended WAC play with three goals and two assists for eight points. Flanary joined Hansen on the second-team, to become the third Aggie forward to earn all-WAC honors.

    The strong USU defense that posted four shutouts in WAC matches had two players earn second-team all-conference accolades. Both defender Alyssa Lowry and goalkeeper Ali Griffin were named to the second-team. It was the first honor for both seniors.

    The top-seeded Aggies will begin play at the WAC Tournament in the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 7 at 4 p.m. (MT). USU will take on the winner of Thursday's quarterfinal match between No. 4 Boise State and No. 5 San Jose State.

    2008 All-WAC Teams

    First-Team All-WAC

    Candice Clark, Sr., F
    Chandra Salmon, Fr., M
    Lindsey Smart, Jr., D
    Second-Team All-WAC
    Shantel Flanary, Fr., F
    Lauren Hansen, So., F
    Alyssa Lowry, Sr., D
    Ali Griffin, Sr., GK
    Freshman of the Year: Shantel Flanary
    Coach of the Year: Heather Cairns

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    USU's Athletics Department Graduation Success Rate Stands At 82 Percent USU Aggies

    Utah State's Graduation Success Rate (GSR), the now four-year old metric to identify how student-athletes graduate, stands at 82 percent as announced by the NCAA national office on Tuesday.

    The rate, which is five percentage points higher than last year's rate of 77 percent, is a four-year average encompassing the 1998-2001 classes. USU's GSR is the not only the highest in the Western Athletic Conference, but ranks first among every institution in the state of Utah.

    "We're very proud of our student-athletes in persisting to graduation," said USU associate athletics director for student services Dr. Brian Evans. "Earning their degree is the ultimate goal and doing so at a rate (82%) that is the highest in the WAC, as well as among our Utah peer institutions, is quite an accomplishment."

    The GSR was devised to be a more precise indicator of how institutions graduate students. It takes into account student-athletes who transferred to an institution and graduated, and discounts student-athletes who transfer away from an institution.

    The federal graduation rates, the metric commonly used prior to the GSR, does not count transfer students to an institution who graduate, and any student who transfers from an institution counts against that institution. Utah State's federal graduation rates four-year average is 58 percent.

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    Utah State Football Recognized By AFCA For Graduation Rate USU Football

    Utah State was recognized by the American Football Coaches Association for graduating 70 percent or more of their football student-athletes.

    “It means a lot to our program when you see it in writing the importance of the term student-athlete and how imperative it is to emphasize being a student first and then an athlete. That’s something that we really try to focus on a daily basis with our academic staff and our coaching staff,” USU head coach Brent Guy said.

    The University of Colorado received the AFCA’s 2008 Academic Achievement Award, which is presented by the Touchdown Club of Memphis. Colorado recorded a 100 percent graduation rate for members of its freshman football student-athlete class of 2001. This is the first honor for Colorado since the award’s inception.

    This year’s award marks the first time the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate (GSR) formula has been used to select the winner. From 1981 to 2007 the award was presented based on a formula used by the College Football Association and AFCA.

    “We check classes ourselves amongst the coaching staff and we meet with the players individually about their academic progress,” Guy said. “I personally talk to them about the importance of life after football and the difference in having a degree and not having a degree, specifically what impact that has on their life and their family for the future,” Guy said.

    USU was one of three Western Athletic Conference schools recognized, as the Aggies were joined by Louisiana Tech and Nevada. Utah State was the only school from the state of Utah to be recognized.

    Utah State is among 46 other institutions who will be recognized for graduating 70 percent or more of their football student-athletes. Six of those institutions — Cincinnati, Duke, Navy, Notre Dame, Rutgers and Vanderbilt — achieved a rate of 90 percent or better. The remaining 40 institutions are: Air Force, Akron, Alabama, Arkansas State, Army, Baylor, Boston College, Bowling Green, Central Florida, Central Michigan, Colorado State, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Miami (Ohio), Middle Tennessee State, Nevada, North Carolina, Northwestern, Ohio, Oregon State, Penn State, Rice, Southern Mississippi, Stanford, Syracuse, TCU, Texas Tech, Toledo, UCLA, Utah State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Washington, Washington State and Wisconsin.

    The Academic Achievement Award was established by the College Football Association in 1981. The award recognized the CFA-member Football Bowl Subdivision institution with the highest graduation rate among members of its football team. When the CFA disbanded in 1997 the AFCA stepped in to present the award and conduct a graduation rate survey that encompassed all members of the FBS.

    The GSR is based on a six-year graduation window for student-athletes which is a change from the five-year window used by the CFA and AFCA. The GSR was developed by the NCAA as part of its academic reform initiative to more accurately assess the academic success of student-athletes. The GSR holds institutions accountable for transfer students, unlike the federal graduation rate. The GSR also accounts for midyear enrollees.

    Under GSR calculation, institutions are not penalized for outgoing transfer students who leave in good academic standing. These outgoing transfers are passed to the receiving institution’s GSR cohort. By counting incoming transfer students and midyear enrollees, the GSR increases the total number of student-athletes tracked for graduation by more than 37 percent. The NCAA also calculates the federal graduation rate for student-athletes because it is the only rate by which to compare student-athletes to the general student body.

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