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Ready! Set! Zot! UCI Athletics Exhibition Commemorates 50 Years of Excellence

In tandem with commemorating the 50th anniversary of UCI, the UCI Libraries celebrated the opening of its new Fall exhibit, Ready, Set, ZOT!: UCI Athletics Since 1965 last Monday on the 28th at the Crystal Cove Auditorium in Student Center.

A celebration of the university’s athletic achievements, the exhibit serves to showcase all of the athletic achievements garnered by the campus throughout its young history. Since its inception in 1965, UCI has garnered 28 national championship titles, 76 conference titles, and 14 conference tournament championships.

While the idea for the exhibit was initially proposed years ago, a decision was made to table the proposal until this year so that it would coincide with UCI’s 50th anniversary.

“The 50th anniversary was just the right time to have an exhibit that was fun and engaging, and really [show] something that is so important to the history of the campus and the students,” said Laura Jackson, Archivist for University Archives.

UCI Libraries kicked off its festivities with a panel featuring a quarter of UCI head coaches moderated by UCI sportscaster Mike O’Sullivan. Featured among the panel was men’s basketball coach Russell Turner, women’s golf coach Julie Brooks, men’s baseball coach Mike Gillespie, and women’s water polo coach Dan Klatt.

Klatt, a five-time Big West Coach of the Year award and former Olympian discussed how instrumental his time as a student-athlete at UCI to his personal and professional growth.

“I felt like I was part of a building process for UC Irvine as the athletes and faculty and staff are now,” said Klatt. “We’re not at our peak, we don’t want to be at our peak, we’re continually trying to get better, and in order to become an Olympian, I had to always have the mentality of wanting to get better […]. That just all started here.”

Following the panel, guests were then ushered towards the Langson Library Muriel Ansley Reynolds Gallery for a light reception and a viewing of the exhibit.

On display in the exhibit was a modest array of photos and documents chronicling the history of the athletic program’s various struggles and successes. Items that date across the entire lifespan of the university were featured from a brochure featuring the men’s basketball program’s first game against UC Riverside in 1965 to a newspaper clipping announcing the arrival of women’s volleyball’s new head coach Ashlie Hain last Spring.

“We definitely wanted to include what has happened in 65 and throughout history until now, so you’ll see there are items in there that are from 2014, and even 2015,” said Jackson. “That was to echo the 50th anniversary theme of bright past and brilliant future, so we really wanted to highlight the bright past of athletics and show the more recent [achievements] to reflect on the brilliant future theme as well.”

Several alumni that have helped shape the growth of UCI’s athletics were in attendance Monday for the opening of the exhibit, including professional women’s soccer player Coco Goodson (2011) and three-time Olympian Chris Duplanty who led the men’s water polo team to a national championship in 1989.

“It’s really cool to be part of something so special, and UCI is so young, it’s 50, I don’t think people really grasp the concept that it’s only 50 years old and has done so much,” said Goodson. “Just the fact that there has been Olympians, national champions, 512 All-Americans in 50 years is just incredible.”

The exhibit is available for viewing during regular library hours, and will be displayed until April 2016.

Update: A previous version of this article incorrectly noted that the athletics display will be up April 2016. Instead, the exhibit will be changed sometime during the month of April 2016.