June 23, 2008

Everyone's a fan

Some of the Georgia baseball team's biggest fans wear helmets and pads in the fall.

"I'm proud of them," Bulldogs' tight end Aron White said. "I'm glad for what they're doing for the University of Georgia."

He's not the only one.

Bulldog athletes from all throughout the school are rooting their hardball brethren on in their College World Series championship series against upstart Fresno State.

Football coach Mark Richt flew out to Omaha Monday afternoon, while basketball player Dave Bliss, along with gymnasts Katie Heenan (whose fiancÚ is pitcher Stephen Dodson) and Audrey Bowers have attended games throughout the CWS.

Countless others have shown up at Foley Field to cheer on head coach David Perno's squad during the Athens Regional and Super Regional, including basketball coach Dennis Felton, and a host of other football players, including Mohamed Massaquoi, Rennie Curran, Kris Durham and Ben Jones.

"I think that Georgia is doing something special right now. The gymnasts have their four national championships in a row, and now our baseball team is going to be either first or second in the nation," White said. "I think that speaks a lot for the school and gives us a lot of motivation to us to do some great things in the fall."

Freshman running back Richard Samuel said pretty much all the football team members are huge Diamond Dog fans.

"I know there's a bunch of us getting together to watch the game (Monday)," Samuel said. "We're all very excited for what they have a chance to do."

White said all athletes who compete for Georgia have a special bond, and that's why you see representatives from all sports at different competitions and venues throughout the year.

"A lot of the student-athletes come in the summer, we get here before the regular students and when we're freshmen we all live in East Campus Village. I think it's great, because you have your teammates and they introduce you to all these other athletes there," White said. "You wind up making good friends with them before you even start meeting the regular student population. You really understand each other. We all have hectic schedules and everything like that. It's just a support thing. I have a lot of friends on a lot of different teams and it's something that I value."

Take Samuel, for example, who is good friends with left fielder Lyle Allen.
Although Samuel attended Cass while Allen attended Cartersville High, two grew up together and have remained good friends.

"He's been doing really well," Samuel said. "I've kept up with him a good bit of the year. It's great to see him having the success he is."

White said he's kept close tabs on the Diamond Dogs throughout their CWS run, including the opener against Miami.

Ironically, White also had somewhat of a rooting interest in Canes' center fielder Blake Tekotte. The two hail from the same hometown of Columbia, Mo.

Baseball, however, was never part of the tight end's game.

"I quit playing in the fifth grade," White said. "That's when we went to fast-pitch and I went from being the big stick to striking out every time. That's when I said baseball's not for me."

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