<P><B>Feb. 18, 2008</B><P>
">FLYER FRENZY TAKES OVER FOR DAYTON ATHLETICS</a>
<br><a href="http://daytonflyers.cstv.com/genrel/021808aaa.html">THE FOUR PILLARS OF A WINNER</a>
<p>by <A HREF="http://daytonflyers.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/blue_tyler00.html" >Tyler Blue</a> `08
<P>Flyer Pride. It's a somewhat ambiguous phrase that might not carry a whole lot of meaning to the majority of students, faculty and staff of the university. But to the athletes of UD, that phrase is part of what drives them to put in the necessary time, effort and sacrifice to represent their school in the realm of athletic competition.
<P>And indeed they have represented it well.
<P>Over the course of the past fall and into this winter, Flyer athletics programs have won at incredible rates. This success hasn't been limited to one or two teams; rather, every sport has performed at an elite level.
<P>The six sports of volleyball, football, men's and women's soccer and men's and women's basketball have a record (as of Monday, February 18) of 105-23-9. That amounts to a staggering winning percentage of 80%.
<P>Many factors play into a successful season, but maybe one of the most important one is relationships with teammates. No matter the talent level, it is difficult to win if there's no team chemistry.
<P>"A successful season is based upon the cohesiveness of the team, and each individual game," <A HREF="http://daytonflyers.cstv.com/sports/w-soccer/mtt/foust_alli00.html" >Alli Foust</a>, a senior on the women's soccer team said. "If a team never functions as a whole, or never learns how to work together, then I don't consider them successful."
<P>And UD athletics teams have no shortage of chemistry.
<P>"There is a family atmosphere that surrounds the UD football team and UD athletics in general," <A HREF="http://daytonflyers.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/mcdonald_steve00.html" >Steve McDonald</a>, a redshirt junior said.
<P>McDonald, who plays the nickel position for the Flyers, helped the team claim their first Pioneer Football League championship since 2002. They finished the year 11-1, winning the Gridiron Classic, a game that pits the PFL champion with the champion of the Northeast Conference, and claiming the College Football FCS Mid-Major National Championship.
<P>"There has never been a time during my career that I felt like any less of a member of the team," McDonald continued. "With that being said, I feel I have a special relationship with each teammate and each coach. These relationships are based out of a common respect for each other, and I believe that we are a sort of fraternity, with teammates and coaches that would do anything for each other."
<P><A HREF="http://daytonflyers.cstv.com/sports/m-soccer/mtt/gibbens_zac00.html" >Zac Gibbens</a>, a goalie on the soccer team who just graduated in December, didn't start off his career at Dayton. He began at Creighton, coming to UD after a couple of seasons.
<P>"When I arrived, it was a huge roll of the dice in terms of whether or not I had made a good decision," he said. "It turned out to be the greatest risk I've ever taken."
<P>At Dayton, Gibbens found something missing from his experience at Creighton.
<P>"My team this year was exactly what a team should be. We all meshed really well despite how many different types of people were on the team, and we all lived and died for each other both on-and-off the field. That was what I was looking for when I decided to transfer."
<P>Along with chemistry comes commitment--a will to do whatever it takes to compete at a high level.
<P>"We had the right ingredients for a successful season," <A HREF="http://daytonflyers.cstv.com/sports/w-volley/mtt/green_adrienne00.html" >Adrienne Green</a>, a senior member of the best volleyball team in school history, said. "We had all the tangible things in players, but we also had those intangible things. Competitiveness is something that is vital, in my opinion, and everyone that stepped on the court knew that we weren't leaving until we had left everything on the floor, and that usually resulted in a win."
<P>(By usually, she means 33 times in 35 matches.)
<P>Gibbens talks about what commitment truly involves.
<P>"If you don't have a group of guys that are all equally committed to the same thing and willing to give anything to get it--working extra, giving up certain things that other college kids get to do like socializing and going out all the time--then you won't succeed. We had that level of commitment this year."
<P>However, being an athlete is much more than just going to practice and playing in games--it's a way of life that extends beyond the field.
<P>"Besides winning, the coaches stress being upstanding role models in the community and presenting yourself, the university and the team with class," McDonald said.
<P>"They stress that being where you are is important. What I mean by that is when you are at football put your heart and soul into football. When you are in class, focus on class. When you are doing homework think only about your homework. This translates into doing your very best at everything and putting all of your energy into whatever it is you're doing."
<P>However, even for athletes, the university is more than just sports, and athletes are not immune to the qualities that attract all students to enroll here.
<P>"I took my visit here, and I loved the school," Foust said. "It was a great size, and it had the "Ghetto." It was a unique atmosphere that I had not seen anywhere else."
<P>Once here, the bonds made between teammates might not be quite as thick as blood, but it's close.
<P>"I don't want to leave my girls at all," Green, who will graduate in August 2008, said. "They're definitely my best friends, and we're all each others' family away from home."
<P>The chemistry, commitment and bonds formed between athletes at UD all play a role in the success of each program, and it all feeds that ambiguous phrase all athletes feel: Flyer Pride.
<P>"I carried a sense of pride that I knew only other athletes at my school had," Foust said. "We were doing something that regular students couldn't understand, and probably never will. It has prepared me for life."