Radford University Athletics inducted five new members into the Radford Athletics Hall of Fame.
Radford Athletics has introduced a new branding system.
Sutton Smith, who is 7 years old, began battling leukemia in August 2013; he has been a Highlander since.
Radford University women's lacrosse completed its inaugural season at the Division 1 level in 2016.
International student athletes add to campus community on and off the court.
The Radford baseball and softball teams are reaping the benefits of their state-of-the-art indoor practice space.
Radford Athletics has introduced a new branding system that sets the visual direction of the department for the future. This innovative athletic identity pays tribute to Radford’s past, while keeping a consistent look through logos, colors and lettering.
“We’re thrilled with the look of the new mark and know our fans will be excited as well,” said Director of Athletics Robert Lineburg. “We are focused on building a brand that is representative of our university, our student-athletes and our alumni.”
The creation of the new logos has been over a yearlong process involving many segments of the Radford community. Pennsylvania-based Joe Bosack & Co., a national brand identity firm, created the new Highlanders’ visual identity.
The logo development process included focus groups consisting of the administration, coaches, current and former student-athletes and alumni, as well as community members of Radford. The logo reflects recommendations made by these groups for the direction of the new marks.
“It was vital for us that this process was a collaborative effort and involved the input of our coaches, student-athletes and alumni,” Lineburg noted. “I would personally like to thank our focus groups that worked directly with the athletics department and the design firm to create these marks.”
In addition to the release of the new logos, Radford Athletics has also launched a new online team shop. Fans are encouraged to visit www.RadfordTeamShop.com or stop by the Radford University bookstore for their new logo apparel.
One Tuesday afternoon last December, the Radford University baseball team and Head Coach Joe Raccuia announced that Sutton Smith had signed a National Letter of Intent.
Smith, who is 7 years old, began battling leukemia in August 2013; he has been a Highlander since.
“We consider the Smith family to be a part of the Radford baseball family,” Raccuia said. “We thought it was important to be around Sutton, while serving as role models and giving him the support that he needed.”
In addition to signing his National Letter of Intent, Smith received his own locker in the baseball locker room, complete with Radford baseball gear.
In January 2014, the RU baseball team and members of the community came together for “Shave for Sutton.” During the cancer awareness event, more than 100 people shaved their heads in Smith’s honor.
During the 2014 season, the baseball team created the nickname “Sutton’s Squad.” A banner representing Sutton can be found on the right field wall at Radford Baseball Stadium.
“I’m glad we have an opportunity to be there for him,” Raccuia said. “That is more important than anything.”
Over the past two years, Smith has become an integral part of the baseball team. During baseball season, Smith can be spotted in the dugout or the stands cheering on his beloved Highlanders.
“He really enjoys being around the team,” said Sutton’s mother, Mary Smith. “It is just so nice to have these guys, who make him feel special and accept him as one of their own.”
In attendance for the signing were his future teammates, Radford Athletics coaches and staff, and local members of the media. Smith was welcomed to a round of applause as he inked his letter of intent, becoming an official member of the Radford baseball team.
“This is just amazing that they continue to give back to him and support him,” Mary Smith added.
Editors Note: Since this story was written, Sutton has completed chemotherapy and is doing well.
College is an adjustment for everyone.
This statement rings especially true for a certain population of students at Radford University — namely, international student-athletes.
After all, in the words of Khushboo Thiagaraj, a member of Radford University’s women’s golf team who is from India, “the culture is very different here than back home. India is more conservative compared to American culture.”
And sophomore soccer player Jakob Strandsäter noted that it can be challenging to talk and study in English instead of Swedish — his first language.
Totaling 31–23 on men’s teams and eight on women’s teams (in addition to two international head coaches) — each international student-athlete at Radford University has a different story to tell about what landed her or him at Radford.
“The perfect size of the campus and the student population” is the main reason why women’s tennis player Claire Nguyen — from Melbourne, Australia — enrolled, while other student-athletes cite the university’s commitment to their respective sports, Radford’s beautiful campus or strong coaching as the reason for their commitment. Men’s tennis player Alexandros Caldwell, from Athens, Greece, said that the reputation of the team and the coach’s passion for the sport attracted him.
Junior Lidija Mamic, from Split, Croatia, said her family is very supportive, even far away. “They push me and are still there for me even miles away,” said Mamic.
But how — you might wonder — has the domestic Radford University community helped these student-athletes from across the globe adjust and address the unique challenges they face as international student-athletes?
For women’s basketball player Claudia Quevedo, from Spain’s Canary Islands, “… thankfully, I have my coaches, teammates and host family to help me transition.”
Furthermore, many international athletes have been surprised that domestic Radford University students are so friendly. “The biggest surprise was how interested Americans are in meeting new people,” said Strandsäter.
And, according to Nguyen, the most pleasant surprise was the welcome and help she received from all of her professors.
Radford University coaches are passionate about the benefits that international student-athletes bring to their sports and the campus community, and are always looking for new ways to recruit and bring them to campus.
According to men’s tennis coach Mike Anderson and men’s soccer coach Mike Reeves, many factors contribute to international student-athletes adjusting and thriving at Radford. Among the factors they cite are the tight-knit community, emphasis on dedication to excellence on and off the field, and campus-wide support and respect for international student-athletes as valuable members of the Radford family.
Snow? Rain? No problem. The Radford baseball and softball teams are reaping the benefits of their state-of-theart indoor practice space.
Both programs officially opened the facility, located just beyond the Radford Softball Stadium outfield fence, on Jan. 19, as they began practice for the 2016 season.
At 8,200 square feet, the indoor facility rivals those of several top schools and conferences throughout the southeast region and across college baseball and softball.
The dimensions of the facility will allow both programs to have up to six cages open for hitting with the necessary equipment and amenities for live pitching, machine pitching, pitchers’ bullpens and defensive drills.
The facility comes with four fully-furnished offices for each program, as well as their own coaches’ locker room, complete with a shower area.
With the spacious dimensions, the softball program can have a full infield practice, which previously was impossible to achieve during the winter months.
“It’s beautiful compared to what we had before. We can come in here and use the facility whenever we want,” said Radford University softball player Kayla Bishton. “It is really great to have something we can call our own. We can do so much now, such as ground-ball and fly-ball work. We are able to take as many reps in the cage as we want.”
This new facility allows both programs to be well prepared as they open the season against teams in warmer climates, something that was an issue in the past.
“Just seeing everyone work hard to get to this point has been amazing. We as players want to come in and work hard every day to put this building to use,” said Radford baseball player Danny Hrbek. “Every player can get their work in at the same time. Pitchers and hitters can practice at the same time. This will be a huge recruiting tool. There isn’t a reason not to say no to Radford University after stepping foot in this facility.”
Of course, this program-changing facility could not have been possible without financial support.
“It’s been neat to see the alumni, friends of baseball and parents wanting to give back and support the project to make sure our student-athletes get the best equipment and resources around to put us in position to get ready for the season and improve player development,” said baseball head coach and Radford alumnus Joe Raccuia ’95.
The softball program, which has qualified for NCAA regionals twice in its history, looks to use the state-of-the-art facility as a key recruiting tool.
“To finally see this building come to fruition is huge for our program,” softball head coach Aileen Morales said. “I know there are many alumni who put a lot of effort into making this project happen. Now, we are reaping the benefits. This facility is going to give us a huge competitive advantage within the Big South Conference, especially in recruiting.”