It’s been nearly a week since
Bulldog fans in the stands in Omaha, watching from their homes in
Central California and following the game nationwide and overseas
cheered our Fresno State baseball team to victory in the College World
That win was one of those magic moments that all of us will remember the
rest of our lives. As the years go by, we’ll recall it as one of the
greatest days in the history of sports at Fresno State.
The victory is being hailed around the country as an underdog story, a
Cinderella story and a comeback story.
It is all of that – and more. I think I speak for all Red Wavers when I
say to the baseball team, “Gentlemen, through your hard work and
determination, each of you has shown us the true meaning of Bulldog
As any fan knows – and there are a lot more of them now – our team got
off to a rocky start this season, and there were more bumps along the
way. But Coach Mike Batesole’s players fought through adversity,
conquering what seemed like overwhelming odds to everyone except them.
It was inspiring to watch their unselfishness and teamwork.
And it was heartening to be at our welcome-home parade and celebration
on campus, with nearly 12,000 people loudly sharing their appreciation.
You couldn’t help but be awed by the pride these Bulldogs heroes
inspired in our community. The championship clearly lifted spirits
throughout our region, even in the hot, dry summer of tough economic
The experts were surprised – even shocked – by our team’s achievement.
The doubters said this would never happen. They said that the Bulldogs
were unranked. That they’d lost too many games. That nothing like this
had ever happened before.
We have a message for the doubters: Never, ever underestimate Fresno
At the university, we put things into historical perspective, and from
that viewpoint it really wasn’t surprising that the Bulldogs’
determination, teamwork and even the lack of appreciation worked to our
In athletics, Bulldogs have triumphed many times after forecasts of
failure. Many of you remember the Mercy Bowl football game, the Freedom
Bowl win over USC and how Coach Boyd Grant’s basketball Bulldogs won the
NIT. Who could forget our 1998 NCAA Softball Champions? And just this
past season, our women’s basketball team overcame difficulties from
years past to win a conference championship and play in the NCAA
Tournament for the first time.
We celebrate each with pride and confidence born of nearly 100 years as
a multidimensional university with far-ranging impact and a deep
connection with our region.
In addition to our athletic victories, we celebrate the achievements of
alumni who have become astronauts, cabinet secretaries, ambassadors,
university presidents, business leaders, acclaimed research scientists
and Pulitzer Prize, Oscar and Emmy winners.
We celebrate the 22,000 students on our campus today – many who have
overcome significant obstacles in their quest for a college education –
who take advantage of opportunities to participate in research,
community service, internships, academic competition, music programs,
study abroad, student government, club sports and more.
We celebrate Fresno State faculty, who are dedicated, inspiring teachers
and mentors as well as accomplished authors, artists, scientists,
researchers and innovators who partner with students and the community
to meet our region’s many challenges.
We celebrate our hardworking nonteaching staff, who provide the support
that keeps the campus humming.
Fresno State’s entire team is dedicated to providing the best
educational experience for our students. We back up our “Powering the
New California” slogan with a record of academic excellence and
committed service to the fast-growing, diverse and challenging region in
the heart of our state.
We proudly train everyday community heroes: teachers who educate our
children, farmers for our biggest industry, nurses who keep us healthy,
emergency workers who keep us safe and, yes, athletes who inspire us.
The rest of the nation may have been surprised by our team’s success in
the College World Series, but what we accomplished shouldn’t have been a
Fresno State knows what it’s like to overcome difficulties and to work
as a team to be the best we can be. We’re fortunate, too, to have a
supportive community that cheers our successes and remains loyal through
difficult times, too.
We’re a university of champions and we appreciate all who shout, “Go
– Dr. John D. Welty, president, California State University,
Published in The
Fresno Bee, July 1, 2008