Through the Cheers and Tears, Baylor Fans Stand Faithful

| February 1, 2011

This has been a truly memorable year for Baylor,’’ writes Baylor President Ken Starr. “One area in which our green and gold has shown brightest has been in the many successes of Baylor athletics. We will recall this as the year that Baylor Nation alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends — rose up to support their beloved University in numerous tangible ways. Before immersing ourselves fully in the promise and potential of the coming year, it is appropriate that we take a moment to reflect upon, and give thanks for, the year of the bear.

2010 proved the best year in Baylor basketball history, with the men reaching the Elite Eight and the women the Final Four. Coach Scott Drew’s Bears were led by Ekpe Udoh, later the No. 6 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, while National Freshman of the Year Brittney Griner led coach Kim Mulkey’s Lady Bears to their second Final Four in six years.

Thanks to that success, for the first time in school history, both basketball programs began the season among the top 25; the men reached as high as No. 9, best in program history, while the women have spent the past two months ranked second nationally before assuming the number one spot, which our Lady Bears did just recently. Other than a one-point loss on the road against then No. 1 UConn, the Lady Bears are a perfect 14-0, including four wins over top-25 teams which BU has won by an average of 20 points. One of those victories came in December over No. 6 Tennessee in front of a Ferrell Center-record 10,569 fans.

Bears celebrate with head coach Art Briles in the locker room after beating the Texas Longhorns. • Pep rally in Houston prior to Texas Bowl. • Baylor Bears take to the field for the Texas Bowl against Illinois in Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

Baylor football finished its season with a winning 7-6 record after an appearance in its first bowl game in 16 years, taking on a strong Illinois team in front of an estimated Baylor crowd of more than 40,000 at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Throughout its six home games this year, the Baylor Nation stood proudly with its team averaging 40,043 fans in six home games (240,259 total attendance) this season. It marks just the sixth time in the 61-year history of Floyd Casey Stadium that Baylor averaged 40,000+ fans for an entire season and the first time since 1995.

Ten Bears earned recognition in December from Big 12 Conference coaches when this year’s All-Big 12 football teams were announced. Quarterback Robert Griffin III was one of three selections for honorable mention Offensive Player of the Year and one of four Bears named to the All-Big 12 second team, alongside wide receiver Kendall Wright, offensive tackle Danny Watkins and defensive tackle Phil Taylor. Coach Briles, too, was one of four choices for honorable mention Coach of the Year.

On Dec. 26, the Waco Tribune-Herald named our Director of Athletics, Ian McCaw, their Sportsman of the Year saying, “Baylor’s phenomenal sports year, combined with McCaw’s leadership during the near-death of the Big 12, earned him the Tribune-Herald’s inaugural Sportsman of the Year.” This past summer, as together we faced the uncertain future of the Big 12 Conference, no one could have predicted the success the fall would bring. The Baylor Nation rose to action to insure the conference remained intact and Ian McCaw, our coaches, and student-athletes continue to make us proud by their remarkable determination and commitment to excellence.”

“The year of our Lord 2011 is already brimming with great promise. Thank you, Baylor Nation, for responding boldly to the challenges of 2010 — for joining in our efforts to keep the Big 12 strong; for filling Floyd Casey Stadium and the Ferrell Center; for the remarkable turnout at the Elite Eight, the Final Four and the Texas Bowl; and throughout the year, for wearing your green and gold with great pride.

We invite your continued support for all we do, and give thanks for your loving and loyal commitment to Baylor University.” Ken Starr

Baylor Line charges the field before a home game. • Coach Art Briles at Texas Bowl Team Luncheon and Press Conference. • Baylor football players and cheerleaders visit DePelchin Children's Center.

Baylor Spirit Squads Boost Bear Spirit

Baylor Songleaders... Sic’em Bears

Apart from the players themselves, and the band, the task to keep the crowd involved in the game and fired up with team spirit has always gone to the cheerleaders.

Given the practice time investment, the energy expense, the sweat equity or the study time sacrificed, most likely any spirit leader on any of Baylor’s three squads could justly claim that their efforts played a part in getting the Bears to the 2010 Texas Bowl and basketball playoffs.

Beyond cheering for home and away football games, including the playoffs and bowl games, the Baylor cheerleaders support the athletic teams at Baylor University by generating crowd enthusiasm, promoting school spirit and supporting the athletes year-round. The Spirit Squad raises the roof at all home pep rallies, volleyball games, as well as all men’s and women’s home basketball games. Squad members serve as ambassadors of not only the University, but the community of Waco, too. They participate in a variety of special appearances and alumni events throughout the community generating energy and excitement for their city.

Rachel Levetzow serves as the Spirit coordinator, as well as the coach of the three squads: the yell leaders, the all-girl yell leaders, the songleaders and mascot (Bruiser The Bear). Ms. Levetzow is a former Missouri State University Sugar Bear, a former top head instructor in the Midwest for Universal Dance Association, and is additionally a judge for local, regional, state and national competitions across the country.

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