Ryan Chartrand

You won’t see a Cal Poly athlete on the front cover of Sports Illustrated, or any other major sports magazine or newspaper, for that matter.

But don’t let that fool you – every day when you go to class, you are surrounded by some of the best collegiate athletes that this country has to offer.

Cal Poly athletics has had a fall to remember, and I don’t feel like the majority of this school really appreciates what’s going on.

I was always told that Cal Poly has everything to offer – except when it comes to collegiate sports. If you want that you will have to watch schools like UCLA, USC and Cal on TV. It’s taken me three years and a quarter to realize that is far from the truth.

Let’s start with football. Over the last two years, Cal Poly has produced back-to-back Buck Buchanan Award winners in Jordan Beck and Chris Gocong. The majority of people at this school have no clue what this award is or means. Let me tell you a group of people who do: NFL scouts. Both individuals were selected in the third round of the NFL Draft.

The 2006 roster also featured some big-time talent. Great West Football Conference Defensive Player of the Year middle linebacker Kyle Shotwell is up for the Buchanan this season. Whether he wins the award or not, he has already made his mark in college football and has scouts excited. A sure draft pick, Shotwell just continues the tradition that is being created under head coach Rich Ellerson. Additionally, cornerback Courtney Brown and free safety Kenny Chicoine are NFL prospects as seniors. They are two members of that defensive secondary that held Division I-A bowl-bound San Jose State to 152 yards passing.

Cal Poly men’s cross country finished 13th in the nation, while being led by All-American junior Phillip Reed.

Noticing a trend?

The Cal Poly volleyball team had a pretty productive fall. Didn’t it host the NCAA Tournament in Mott Gym last weekend? Cal, LSU, Michigan, Cal Poly.we’re not in the BCS, are we?

Well, not quite. After winning the Big West Conference and being ranked 14th nationally, the Mustangs were rewarded by hosting one of the 64-team field’s 16 sub-regionals. After beating a very good Michigan team Friday night they were given the daunting task of playing Cal.

While Cal Poly couldn’t advance past Cal on Saturday night, it was obvious who the best player on the court was, and she wasn’t anyone in a Golden Bears uniform. No. 5 for Cal Poly, outside hitter Kylie Atherstone, stood out above the rest. I don’t think I mentioned she was co-conference Player of the Year – as a sophomore.

Final Four, National Player of the Year? We’ll just have to wait and see, but greener pastures are definitely on the horizon for the Cal Poly volleyball team, which returns all but one starter and has perhaps the best incoming freshmen and redshirt help in program history on the way next season.

Volleyball was able to create something special this past weekend. The Mustangs were able to draw roughly 3,000 fans each night, giving Mott Gym an actual Division I tournament atmosphere, something that most students at Cal Poly never experience. Just imagine if that happened for every sport.

What if when Pacific rolled in for men’s basketball Mott Gym was rocking with 3,200 fans? What if teams feared coming to Cal Poly like they do Duke? What if they knew from the moment they stepped off the bus they were going to hear it until they got back on the bus to go home?

Cal Poly has two of the best wrestling schools in the nation coming to town over the next three weeks – Oklahoma and four-time defending national champion Oklahoma State.

Cal Poly’s baseball team has become a breeding ground for Major League Baseball. Coming off a top-15 recruiting class, the Mustangs host several top-25 teams. Cal Poly hosts defending College World Series champion Oregon State from March 24 to 26. That’s like having Texas here for football or Florida for men’s basketball.

It just doesn’t get any better than that.

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