There was a special display in the reception area of our administrative offices this past week. It immediately greeted everyone who walked in—university visitors, athletic department staff, student-athletes and even delivery people.

And that was the idea. We didn’t want anyone to miss this.

On a tall pedestal draped with a blue cloth was the Atlantic Coast Conference 2017 Volleyball Champion trophy.

Our volleyball team, under the leadership of Head Coach Dan Fisher, captured the first ACC championship in program history. The team clinched the title in emphatic fashion, winning its final nine matches, including a sweep of Virginia on the road Thanksgiving weekend, to bring that trophy back to Pittsburgh for the first time.

It was a historic accomplishment, not only for Pitt volleyball but our athletic department as a whole.

Upon my arrival, we talked about Pitt Athletics winning only one team title (wrestling) in our four years of ACC competition. Now we can make it two and counting. We don’t intend to stop there.

We celebrated our volleyball team’s achievement with a new tradition called Breakfast of Champions in the main lobby of the Petersen Events Center where our entire department congratulated our student-athletes and coaching staff. Coach Fisher was also honored as the ACC Coach of the Year and three of his student-athletes—Nika Markovic, Kamalani Akeo and Stephanie Williams—were named first team All-ACC.

Breakfast of Champions

Successes must be celebrated. These student-athletes and coaches worked hard to make their championship dreams a reality. They deserve to be enthusiastically congratulated, and in a very public way!

But there is another reason why we will always prominently display our trophies and hold celebratory events. Success is contagious—and motivational.

Walking past our ACC Volleyball Champion trophy reminds everyone of the championship culture we are working hard to build each and every day. We are committed to providing each of our 475 student-athletes the necessary resources to help them achieve their own championship goals.

Trophy celebrations should not be a once-in-a-while occurrence for a prestigious institution like the University of Pittsburgh.

Speaking of Pitt Pride, we recently began another new tradition to honor those student-athletes who earned their Pitt Varsity Letter jackets.

For nearly a century, Pitt student-athletes have been awarded a Varsity “P” for their achievements and contributions on the field of play. Unfortunately during that time, we’ve never had any type of ceremony to fittingly present our young men and women with their Pitt jacket.

Being the recipient of that golden “P” as a Pitt letter winner is a special moment in an athlete’s career. Great pride should be taken in the achievement and we want to ensure that the presentation of these varsity awards has the distinction it deserves.

To that end, we held our inaugural Varsity Letter Jacket ceremony on January 13. Each of our fall sport awardees were presented with their Pitt jackets, had a photo opportunity with teammates and were introduced at our men’s basketball game against Georgia Tech.

It means something special to be a Panther. We will never miss an opportunity to celebrate the team and individual achievements of our student-athletes.

And these achievements wouldn’t be possible without your loyal support. You played a critical role in our volleyball team’s historic ACC championship. And when you see one of our student-athletes proudly wearing their Pitt Varsity Letter jacket, you, too, should feel great pride.

On behalf of each of our 475 student-athletes and 19 athletic programs, thank you. Your commitment to Pitt Athletics is a driving force in everything that we do.

Best wishes for a prosperous 2018 and here’s to many more future trophy celebrations!

Hail to Pitt!

- Heather

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