The exceptional inaugural season performance of the UHV Jaguars softball team has brought the players praise from leaders across the state and the nation.
|The 2008 UHV Jaguars softball team members are, back row from left, Ashley Falco, Kasey Voyles, Cirby Ryan, Kristen Lindley, Erin Litvik, Lindsey Ferguson, Brittany Faas and Head Coach Keri Lambeth. In the front row are Cayla Dluhos, Jessica Salas, Lauren Garza, Chelsi Fitzgerald, Amber Scott, Stephanie Lavey, Whitney Damborsky and Samantha Campagna.
The accolades included a letter from a U.S. senator, a speech from the congressional floor by a U.S. representative and a formal proclamation from the Texas Senate.
"I join with your coaches, family, friends and fellow students in commending you on your hard work and success," U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas wrote in a June 2 letter. "I encourage you to continue pursuing excellence in the years to come."
Presidential candidate and U.S. Rep. Paul praised the women from the floor of the House of Representatives on May 21. His words were permanently preserved in the Congressional Record.
"Madame Speaker, I am pleased to congratulate the University of Houston-Victoria Jaguars softball team on an amazing inaugural season," Paul said. Such congratulatory speeches have been rare from the congressman since his current House tenure began in 1997.
Paul, who represents the Texas 14th Congressional District, went on to praise the women for their impressive 32-18 record against some of the toughest teams in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, as well as their strong postseason showing in the NAIA Region VI Tournament, which put them only one slot from the national tournament.
He further praised team members for mentoring elementary, middle and high school students in the Victoria Independent School District and acting as role models and life coaches.
Paul concluded his presentation by entering the team roster into the Congressional Record.
The team even was recognized in an official proclamation by the Texas Senate.
"The Senate of the State of Texas is pleased to recognize the University of Houston-Victoria Jaguars softball team on the many impressive successes of its inaugural season," reads Senate Proclamation No. 570 introduced by State Sen. Glenn Hegar, whose 18th District includes Victoria.
The proclamation praised the Jaguars' regular season record and strong showing in the postseason. It specifically mentioned the Jaguars' victory over NCAA teams Houston Baptist University and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
It went on to praise the women for their superior academic performance.
"The Jaguars have established themselves as true student-athletes," it read, noting about a third of the team is expected to have a 4.0 grade-point average and most of the team is expected to appear on the UHV Dean's List for the spring semester.
It took special notice of the team's coach and the character she fosters in her players.
"Under the superior leadership and expertise of head coach Keri Lambeth, the Jaguars have developed exceptional teamwork and discipline."
Each student will receive a copy of the proclamation.
Lambeth reacted to the news with pure joy.
"This is wonderful!" Lambeth said. "After all the hard work, hours of studying, endless bus rides and a grueling schedule, it's so nice to know what we did was noticed and appreciated."
Several senior UHV officials expressed congratulations on the high accolades.
"These ladies worked so hard this year; they have truly earned this honor," UHV Athletic Director Ashley Walyuchow said.
"I'd like to add my personal congratulations to the voices of these influential leaders," UHV President Tim Hudson said. "I'd also like to thank everyone at UHV and in the community who supported the dream of UHV athletics and helped make the Jaguars a reality."