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Yellow Jacket Roundup: At Long Last

Today we still don’t have college sports, but we do have a return of one of their most riveting aspects: anticipation.

Bobby Dodd Stadium Refresh
Georgia Tech Athletics/Danny Karnik

For those for whom it has been so long since this feature has last published that you’ve forgotten what it is or have never seen it before, welcome, there’s room for everyone at the eclectic sports table. Each week, we take a look at the sports and athletes that deserve more than just a “team, score, record” look at their endeavors, and keep you up to date on the latest trends and whatnot in the world of non-revenue sports. And sometimes, I just ramble on. Today is the latter. Welcome! We’re glad you’re here.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - You know, I’m really not all that sure why I feel the need to specify the city I’m writing this from. Maybe for my own sake, when I look back at these? It does, after all, serve as a handy record of where I am in a given week. But that feels more than a little self-serving, especially juxtaposed on the backdrop of a column dedicated to all the athletes that, week in and week out, pour their time, emotion, and effort into sports that exist more on the fringe of the consciousness of your average college sports fan, aiming to give them the recognition they deserve. Honestly, I think it started more as an homage to newspaper convention, and news is something this blog endeavors to provide, but said blog is by no means stocked with Big-J Journalists, nor does that career path align with most of our aims and ambitions. Much like the athletes this humble site covers, we toil because we love. And in the quietest hours of the quarantine, that love is ever-harder to tap, far from the sights and sounds of sport.

I don’t claim to speak for the entirety of From the Rumble Seat, but I can at least offer my unsolicited experience as a fan in waiting, in waiting of the dawn that still, even if just barely, remains just about to break.

Of course, there’s always a level of glamour to any sport. It comes with the accomplishment of marrying skill with burning passion. More still, there’s the emotional highs and lows that bind the highest level of professional to the humblest hobbyist athlete. When that flame, the one of competition and participation - be it active as an athlete or a fan, is out of reach, sport fades. Especially when things bubble up that mean more than an earned run average, a kickoff time, or the time-honored Georgia Tech tradition of bricking the front end of a one-and-one, there’s no priority for athletics - and that’s the way it should be.

It’s a strange, strange time to be an athlete, right now. I feel at least somewhat knowledgable on the topic, as I fade into the sunset of the waning days of a collegiate club swimming career. Who knows the next time we’ll race at a meet, or the next time any club team can even practice. I wish I could say anything about that, but I can’t. Just this week, we finally learned when we’ll see volleyball in action. Anticipating that return, cross country will get in four competitions, three of which are dual meets, this season, with the first coming in Athens less than two weeks from today. The aforementioned volleyball slate is just eight games, with a pair of home doubleheaders against Florida State and Clemson joining a similar pair of road fixtures with Wake Forest and Miami.

But, in the meantime, we still did get glimmers of sports. Brightest among them was the excellent set of performances golf brought to the US Amateur, of course the most notable of these being Tyler Strafaci becoming the fourth Georgia Tech man to win the event, joining Bobby Jones, the greatest amateur golfer of all time, Matt Kuchar, and his teammate and friend Andy Ogletree, who won the event last year. While it’s medium consolation for a program that was sitting on its most talented roster in several years, one with a not-small hope of winning the national championship, it still is one of the highest prizes in the game, and an achievement worthy of being etched into the voluminous history of the illustrious Georgia Tech golf program. Strafaci’s name will now stand among its great forever.

The other important note from the summer has to be the replacement of Bobby Dodd Stadium’s grass with brand-new turf. Unlike the monstrosity that blanketed Grant Field for nearly a quarter century, this setup looks sharp. Though a little greener than natural grass, it doesn’t look too different from the real thing. And since the field is now turf, rather than grass, it means that more things can happen without sacrificing the surface like the grass used to have to do. What does this mean for non-revenue sports? Well, the lines aren’t stitched in. Chris May and his crew paint the field just like they did when it was grass. If we weren’t in the middle of a crippling financial crisis on top of the debt Tech already faces, I would clamor for lacrosse and soccer. In the meantime, I imagine Tech’s uptick in concerts will only increase as it becomes more feasible host heavy-impact events, which is good for revenues. And, perhaps, in the meantime, rather than slum it in Kennesaw, the original home of Atlanta United might see a fixture or two every once in a while for old times’ sake. I sure would appreciate any of the above.

Tech sports, in earnest and true form, are also lingering around the corner. So it’s a start.

And since that start is here, I’d like to share what we’ve had in the works this summer covering non-revenue sports here at From the Rumble Seat. In the last edition of Yellow Jacket Roundup, which bizarrely featured the last half-week of games before the pandemic, bridging to the empty nothingness on the other side, I alluded to some time-saving devices used to increase the amount of coverage time spent on scores, analysis, and results, instead of building a schedule out every week. Well, we scrapped all of that. Instead, I built out a unified scheduling tool in Excel that will allow an easy, readable schedule not only for the upcoming week, but the previous week’s results, as well. Since this can be updated in one fell swoop at the time of schedule release, and immediately upon game conclusion, we’ll have this as the new format to deliver the clunky schedule in each update:

Sample “Last Week” (all events made up):

Fake week of 7/6/20 schedule
Presentation via Jake Grant, data via

Sample “This Week” (all events made up):

Fake week of 7/13/20 schedule.
Presentation via Jake Grant, data via

Obviously, I don’t intend to exclude any clubs in particular here, I just have to struggle to get schedules for most teams, and these are the most consistent. If you have a connection that could change that, let me know and I’ll get it in here as well.

Most importantly, though, I need to know if this is presentable and legible for all of you out there - mobile or desktop. I don’t want to change the format to something you all can’t read, since it renders alright on my laptop, but let me know how it looks and how I can go about making it better for all of you.

So, what’s next for Tech? What’s next for the column? These two are intrinsically linked. First, we have to talk about the current pandemic and how it has been affecting campus. That said, I think Tech is doing much better than the average campus at handling the case numbers, thanks to heavy emphasis on asymptomatic testing. Updated Sunday night, here’s what the latest numbers look like plugged into my Excel sheet:

Tech COVID data.
Presentation via Jake Grant, stats via Georgia Tech

If these continue their current trends, I think the Institute will be alright. Look for the Thursday and Friday numbers to improve, even, as those tests finish processing. The Institute staying on campus bodes well for sports, varsity and non-varsity alike.

As for the column, well, it’ll continue to be whatever non-revenue content that it can get its hands on. While I’m not convinced we’ll see much in the club sports arena this semester, nor have I heard much about fall baseball tennis, or softball, we’ll at least have eight volleyball games and four cross country meets to whet the appetite until women’s basketball, swimming and diving, and golf begin later in the year. And, if worst comes to worst and schedules are pretty light in the non-revenue world come springtime, that gives us more time to talk baseball.

That said, the aim is to continue working on the non-revenue history features this fall, since those are a lot of fun to write, albeit a very slow and tedious research process. In weeks with no non-revenue action, expect that to fill this space, and, hopefully now that routines are settling down to a rhythm, Rearview Mirror can continue its slog onwards through history to the present day. It’s been a slow process, both in awaiting the return of sports and trying to spend time reading and writing about history, but, with any luck, this new new normal should look more like the one we used to know than the one we’ve gotten to know. And that is a relief.

Please let me know how the Excel schedule stuff looks - if it’s too grainy, I’ll work on improving that for next week, when we’ll get a little preview of cross country in preparation for the start of their abbreviated season.