The banquet room at the Western Sizzlin was filled to capacity on Monday afternoon as the Arkansas Tech University Green and Gold Club held its first luncheon of the 2012-13 academic year.
Speakers during the event included five members of the Arkansas Tech coaching staff --- head cross country coach Tom Aspel, head men's golf coach Luke Calcatera, head women's golf coach Amy White, head volleyball coach Kristy Bayer and director of athletics and head football coach Steve Mullins.
Bryan Fisher, director of athletic relations at Arkansas Tech, served as master of ceremonies.
The Green and Gold Club is the official booster organization for Arkansas Tech Athletics. Membership in the club is open to any fan of the Wonder Boys and Golden Suns.
Mullins, who is beginning his 16th year as head football coach at Arkansas Tech, spoke to the Green and Gold Club about the attitude of the 2012 Wonder Boys as they prepare to begin their season.
"This is a great group of guys to be around," said Mullins. "The want to, the desire and where their heads and hearts are is much better than a year ago. I cannot wait for Saturday to get here."
Arkansas Tech will host Bacone College for a 6 p.m. non-conference football game at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field on Saturday, Sept. 1. It will mark the first game on the new synthetic turf at Tech.
The Wonder Boys return 35 lettermen from a team that finished 2-8 overall in 2011.
The Golden Suns volleyball team has nine returnees from the squad that finished 35-4 overall, won the Great American Conference regular season and postseason titles and advanced to the NCAA Division II Volleyball Tournament in 2011.
Even with that amount of experience returning, Bayer expects her newcomers to make a big impact on the program in 2012.
"We have a lot of freshmen that will see playing time, but they don't play like freshmen," said Bayer. "They look like they've been here for a while."
Arkansas Tech will open its volleyball season by participating in the Christian Brothers University Invitational on Friday, Aug. 31, and Saturday, Sept. 1. Tech will play its first home volleyball matches of 2012 on Sept. 7-8 in the Hampton Inn Golden Suns Spikefest at Tucker Coliseum.
Arkansas Tech's cross country program returns a pair of All-GAC performers in Olivia Campbell and Cheryl Nolan, but Aspel knows that he too will have to rely on freshmen in 2012.
"I've got my work cut out for me with our newcomers," said Aspel. "They haven't seen what we are going to be up against. There will be 400 runners at the start line when we go to our first meet (Brooks Memphis Twilight on Sept. 1). Those freshmen won't know what hit them."
Calcatera and White both mentioned the fact that they have four of their top players returning for the men's and women's golf teams at Arkansas Tech. Top returnees include Jack Garrett for the Wonder Boys and Rebecka Surtevall for the Golden Suns, both of whom qualified for NCAA Division II regionals in 2012.
Golf practice for the 2012-13 season commenced on Monday.
Click here to view more photos from the Green and Gold Club luncheon.
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