|Fans enjoyed a wide array of activities surrounding the event, including face painting.
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas Athletics, along with First National Bank, began the 2014-15 athletic year with a pep rally at the ninth-annual KU Kickoff at Corinth Square Friday evening.
The event was highlighted by appearances from Athletics Director Dr. Sheahon Zenger, head football coach Charlie Weis and head women’s basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson. The band Coversmith followed the coaches with a live performance to entertain the crowd.
In front of a large group of KU supporters, Zenger praised the loyalty of Kansas fans, recognizing them for assisting in the numerous successes of Jayhawk athletes.
“I know you haven’t been to any other colleges or universities,” Zenger said. “They all want what we have. It’s so special to be a Jayhawk. Thank you for supporting us and doing all that you do.”
Zenger followed by complimenting coaches in the department as well as the accomplishments of the athletic programs that were able to extend their seasons this past year.
“Our goal is to compete and represent you (fans) on the field of play,” Zenger said. “We believe we got the coaches to do that in every sport. They work their tails off. Four years ago, you had one team in postseason play. This year, you had 11 teams in postseason play representing you – the fans.”
Entering her 11th year coaching the Jayhawks, Henrickson agreed with the excitement surrounding the athletic department and is geared up for the upcoming season. She also wooed the crowd with a 30-second impersonation of head men’s basketball coach Bill Self.
“It’s exciting to be back at Corinth Square for this fun-filled event,” Henrickson said. “This event means that another school year and season are upon us. We’re thrilled for football to be starting and to cheer them on at Memorial Stadium, but we’re also excited to have all of our fall sports gearing up to begin a successful trend for all Jayhawks in 2014-15.”
With two weeks until the first football game, Weis made his third appearance at the event count. He addressed that the mind set of this year’s team is focused on joining the 11 teams that made a postseason run a year ago.
“Every one of our players’ expectations are aligned with mine,” Weis said. “Each one of them expects to win each time they step on the field. All of them believe we will be playing in December.”
With that in mind, Weis made the fans no promises about the upcoming season, however he pleaded his case for ongoing support to those in attendance.
“We play three home games in September,” Weis said. “You give us the month of September and we will give you a reason to come support us in October and November.”
With all of the excitement surrounding the department, Zenger reminded everyone of a couple of major changes made to multiple sport facilities, including a brand-new state-of-the-art facility in West Lawrence that held its inaugural soccer match on Friday.
“This year, we opened for you a new track stadium – a new soccer stadium tonight – and a new softball stadium,” Zenger said. “The track is gone out of the football stadium. Your football team is no longer the last school in the nation with a track in its stadium. The track coaches wanted it and the football coaches wanted it. You now have a football stadium with a full-time, big-time football field. Come back to Memorial Stadium and help us open it the right way, Rock Chalk.”
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