Pioneers in the Playoffs: Sasha Kandrach

It is an exciting time to be an NHL  hockey fan with a number of tight Stanley Cup playoff series and a red hot local squad – the Colorado Avalanche. Add a host of former DU hockey players to the playoff mix and first-year coach Jim Montgomery winning his first playoff series for the Dallas Stars and you have compelling story lines.

But many of us have our eyes on the New York Islanders. Yep, that’s right – the Isles.

Journalist Sasha Kandrach, a former LetsGoDU feature writer, is now on the Islanders beat as a reporter and social media coordinator living out her ‘dream job’. And, we couldn’t be more proud of the Islanders first-year  journalist. Continue reading Pioneers in the Playoffs: Sasha Kandrach

Twenty One Year Journey Ends at Mountain Top

DU did not win a national gymnastics title Saturday night. The University of Oklahoma (198.3375), DU’s Big 12 Conference mate,  brought home the title with Denver settling into 4th place in their first NCAA Gymnastics Finals.

Still, Denver’s journey ended with the elite company of #1 UCLA, #2 Oklahoma and #3 LSU. Far from an ‘overnight sensation’,  Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart and her upstart program fought headwinds to build a regional powerhouse- 18 straight NCAA appearances. But, Saturday’s NCAA Gymnastics Final Four vaulted (pardon the pun) DU onto the national stage and into the NCAA gymnastics psyche. And these Pioneers just might be planting a flag next time. Continue reading Twenty One Year Journey Ends at Mountain Top

Denver Thumps Providence Friars, 14-8 to Seal Big East Tourney Berth

DU goalie Cole French (at left) made six saves in his first start as a Pioneer. Photo: University of Denver

The 12th ranked Denver Pioneers (8-4, 3-1 Big East) men’s lacrosse team clinched a berth in the Big East Tournament on Senior Day, defeating Providence College (6-8, 2-2 Big East),14-8 before a sellout crowd of 2,187 at Barton Stadium on April 20.

“We had to keep shooting,” said DU coach Bill Tierney after the game today. “Everyone battled and we had a lot of guys score today…[Providence] is big, tough and extremely well-coached. We’re thrilled to get out of this one [with a win]…We [honored our seniors] one of the winningest senior classes in the country and they keep our winning culture and imparted that culture on the younger guys… We’re now playing for a [share of] a regular season championship, and we’ll have our hands full in Milwaukee [with Marquette] on Friday night.”  Continue reading Denver Thumps Providence Friars, 14-8 to Seal Big East Tourney Berth

DU Gymnastics Makes History, Advances to NCAA Final Four

Photo: Courtesy of Denver Gymnastics Twitter

The Denver Pioneer Gymnastics made program history as (#5)-seeded Pioneers rocked the NCAA Gymnastic Championships Friday in Fort Worth, Texas and when the smoke cleared, the Pioneers posted a 197.0375 score to beat nine-time NCAA Champion Georgia and Oregon State to join No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 UCLA and No. 3 LSU in Saturday night’s NCAA Gymnastics Finals (5 p.m. MT/ESPNU). DU had never made to the final 4 teams in program history.

“We are thrilled for this opportunity to advance,” head coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart said in a press release. “I’m incredibly proud of our team and our student-athletes. They have continued to show tremendous character, competitiveness and consistency, and we are incredibly proud.”

Look, while we are not gymnastic experts at LetsGoDU with the knowledge to thoroughly analyze today’s performances, we do know a great thing when we see it.

With top-ranked Oklahoma cruising to a win and the top seed in the Pioneers’ evening semi final, DU was fighting off the Georgia Bulldogs and Oregon State for the final qualification spot in the Final Four, as UCLA and LSU had already qualified in the afternoon session. In the end, it came down the final rotation in the semi-final.  Heading into the fourth and final rotation, Denver was tied with Oregon State for second with a 147.650. Senior and co-team DU captain Claire Kern lead off the bars rotation with a 9.8375 to set the tone for the Pioneers. Ruiz scored a 9.875 in the second spot while Mia Sundstrom and Emily Glynn followed with 9.850s. Lynzee Brown continued DU’s momentum with a 9.900, and Maddie Karr clinched the team finals berth with her 9.9125. The Pioneers were jubilant, and history was made.

This Denver team, the only private school in the finals,  is making history against the elite blue-blood programs of gymnastics. Tomorrow,  Denver will compete in their first gymnastics NCAA  finals ever and has a chance, yet again, to create even more history. Should they win Saturday night, they would be the first women’s team at DU to win a national team title at the D-I level. And, despite the odds, nothing seems out of reach for this group. And even if they don’t win it, DU has served notice that it is an elite-level program. Continue reading DU Gymnastics Makes History, Advances to NCAA Final Four

#Bringtheracquet: DU women’s tennis blasts South Dakota 7-0 on Senior Day

“I feel like the luckiest coach in college tennis.”

Those were the direct words of DU women’s tennis coach Christian Bass after the Pios trashed Summit rival South Dakota 7-0, talking about the honor of coaching seniors Bianca Mok, Arisha Ladhani, and Hannah Templeton.

The match under sunny skies at Denver Tennis Park was a footnote, with no Coyote player winning more than 3 games off a Pio opponent.  Coach Bass switched her doubles lineup to allow the senior co-captains (and roommates) Mok and Ladhani to play together in doubles in a 6-2 victory.

The #47 Pioneers (15-5, 5-0) are on a two match win streak, and have yet to lose at the new Denver Tennis Park. The win today was a rematch of last year’s Summit League tournament final, where the Pioneers also won with a sweep. Continue reading #Bringtheracquet: DU women’s tennis blasts South Dakota 7-0 on Senior Day

DU Chancellor Rebecca Chopp to Step Down Due to Health Issues

DU’s 18th Chancellor Rebecca Chopp. Photo: DU

University of Denver Chancellor Rebecca Chopp has announced that she will step down from her position on July 14, 2019, due to what she has termed “a complex neurological disorder”. DU Provost Jeremy Haefner has been named interim chancellor.

Chopp, the first female Chancellor at the University of Denver, was sworn into the position on September 18th, 2015. While recent speculation had centered around Chopp’s health, the announcement today was a surprise to many.

Prior to her arrival at the University of Denver, Chancellor Chopp was the 14th President of Swarthmore College. Chopp received her B.A.  from Kansas Wesleyan University, a Master of Divinity from St. Paul School of Theology and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Before Swarthmore, Chopp was the president of Colgate University. Before arriving at Colgate in 2002, Chopp was Dean and Titus Street Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School. She spent 15 years at Emory University before her tenure at Yale.

At the University of Denver, Chopp has been noted for her support of first generation students, like herself. She has a reputation as a solid fund-raiser, and under her leadership, DU recently broke ground on major capital improvements. Also, DU is in the early stages of delivering on her envisioned ‘DU District’ with a comprehensive multiple-year plan for campus and University Park improvements.

As it relates to athletics, under Chancellor Chopp’s watch, the University of Denver continued to win the  I-AAA Directors’ Cup as the best non-football school in DI athletics. Denver also won lacrosse (2015) and hockey (2017) NCAA championships, and Chopp hired DU’s new Athletic Director, Karlton Creech.

We wish Chancellor Chopp the very best in her health battle and thank her for her many contributions to the University of Denver.


The following letter was released today from Chancellor Chopp:

Dear Friends,

As some of you know, I have struggled with health issues this year. Unfortunately, the doctors I have been working with have diagnosed me with a complex neurological disorder that I need to attend to sooner rather than later. After many tests and consultations, I have decided I must step down as Chancellor on July 14. As Chancellor, the 70- to 80-hour work weeks and the stress that naturally is connected to higher education in these unsettled times just does not permit me enough time to focus on improving my health. I have just shared this news with the Board of Trustees who agreed that after I step down as Chancellor in July, I will continue to serve DU as an advisor on special projects. I am also deeply honored that they chose to designate me Chancellor Emerita when I step down.

This community has been so supportive of my husband, Fred, me and our family, and we deeply appreciate it. Now, I would request that you not ask for further details about my health at this time. We need privacy in order to move forward and make sense of this unexpected turn of events. I am sure you can understand and respect that. Thank you.

The most important thing for all of us is what happens next. DU could not possibly be in better hands. Jeremy Haefner, our Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, is a known leader in the future of higher ed and has quickly become “our” leader. The Board of Trustees has wisely decided that Jeremy is the natural and perfect choice to serve as Interim Chancellor beginning in mid-July. Nancy Nicely, our Senior Vice Chancellor and Chief of Staff, knows how to ensure our priorities are executed and our community is nurtured. And Leslie Brunelli, who will arrive at DU on June 3, brings an experienced and steady hand to her position as Senior Vice Chancellor for Finance and Treasurer. The Chancellor’s Cabinet is strong, we have amazing Deans and creative, dedicated and hardworking faculty, staff and students. 

What an amazing five years we have spent together! It all began in 2014 when literally thousands of DU community members stepped forward to share their insights and experiences and help craft the next strategic vision for our University, DU Impact 2025. Together we agreed our emphasis should be on student learning and leading, discovery and design in an age of collaboration, engagement and empowerment in Denver and the Rocky Mountain West, and OneDU, the University’s shared sense of community and values. Embracing our commitments to diversity and inclusivity and sustainability, our common vision was to build on our strengths in research, teaching and service by developing a DU designed by all of us for the 21st century. 

Recently we broke ground on the new residence, the Dimond Family Residential Village, one of three adjacent buildings in the heart of campus that also includes a Career Achievement Center and Community Commons. Together this new and vibrant community gathering space will reshape the way our community comes together and will provide countless opportunities to deepen our connections to one another, and to DU. I am confident we will continue to build towards OneDU as more and more community members step up to play their rightful roles in the implementation of this vision of all that DU can be. This is a magnificent University and as is our tradition, we continue to pursue excellence in our unique DU way. I know that the Board of Trustees is committed to building on the success of these five years and to continue to lean into our innovation, creativity, boundless energy and practical idealism. 

I mean this sincerely–the greatest privilege of my life has been to work with you, to affirm our great strengths and imagine forward. You are, in the words of this simple Kansas girl, “good folks.” God bless you and I look forward to working beside you during this transition and in new and fulfilling ways after July 14.

With love and gratitude,

Denver to host West Regionals in Loveland in 2020 & 2021

Photo credit: NCAA Ice Hockey Twitter

The NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament is returning to Colorado for the first time since 2008 when the Pepsi Center hosted the Frozen Four. This morning, the NCAA announced the 2020 & 2021 regional sites and hosts and the University of Denver’s bid to host the West Regional at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland in both of those years was selected. This announcement brings national postseason college hockey back to a state that has meant so much to the history of the sport.

As the only site that will serve as a host in the next two tournaments, Loveland will join Albany, NY (East), Worcester, MA (Northeast), and Allentown, PA (Midwest) as regional hosts in 2020 and Bridgeport, CT (East), Manchester, NH (Northeast), and Fargo, ND (Midwest) in 2021. Continue reading Denver to host West Regionals in Loveland in 2020 & 2021

#Bringtheracquet: women’s tennis prepares to honor seniors in Friday match vs. South Dakota

During a heated volley drill sophomore Camille Verden-Anderson slams the ball home with an intense fury.

But then she has to walk away and looks to be in pain. Is she injured?

“I got hair in my eye,” she calls out in her thick English accent.

“You should get hair in your eye more often,” associate head coach David Loewenthal responds with a chuckle.

Coming into their last regular season match the #47 Pioneers (14-5, 5-0) are definitely turning it up a notch, realizing this is not the time to get complacent. As head coach Christian Bass constantly reminds them, the key is to stay aggressive and not take anything for granted. Continue reading #Bringtheracquet: women’s tennis prepares to honor seniors in Friday match vs. South Dakota

Ian Mitchell Returning to DU for Junior Year

Denver defenseman Ian Mitchell plans to return to Denver for his junior year/ Photo: DU

Denver Pioneer hockey defenseman and alternate captain Ian Mitchell will return for his junior year in the Pioneers’ 70th anniversary season, Mitchell announced on Wednesday. Mitchell’s decision to return ended speculation that second-round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks would end his college career early to sign an NHL contract.

“In the past few days since our season ended, I have had the chance to reflect on the year and the season our team had,” Mitchell, a Calahoo, Alberta native, said in a DU  press release. “It became clear to me during that time that I did not feel ready mentally or physically to leave Denver. I believe this is the best place for me to become a better hockey player and as a team we have an opportunity to do something very special next year. I would like to thank the Chicago Blackhawks organization for being so supportive and respectful of my decision to remain in school and continue my development. I am looking forward to next season.”

Mitchell has eight goals, 49 assists and 32 penalty minutes through 80 career games with the Pioneers. The Chicago Blackhawks prospect registered six goals, 21 assists and 18 penalty minutes through 39 games during the 2018-19 season, leading Denver defensemen in points and leading all Pioneer skaters with 12 power-play points and 66 blocked shots to earn Second-Team All-NCHC honors. In January, Mitchell represented Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship where he posted one goal and two assists in five games.

Mitchell is a two-time member of the NCHC Academic All-Conference Team and a two-time NCHC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete. Prior to coming to Denver, Mitchell tallied 14 goals and 50 assists in 109 games with the Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) from 2015-17. He represented Canada at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, 2015 World U-17 Hockey Challenge and 2015 Winter Games.

Denver Announces NCHC Conference Schedule

Photo: Courtesy of Colorado College Athletics

The NCHC released the conference schedule today.

While the NCHC schedule is the usual meat grinder for Denver, it starts early on with a thud against Colorado College. DU students will be on break while their CC counterparts will still be studying blocks. This means, most students will not get to experience the Gold Pan rivalry until the final two conference games of the regular season – ouch.

The good news is the NCHC season starts quickly in mid-November when the Fighting Hawks roll into Denver (November 15th & 16th) for this fierce rivalry. Even better, Denver will not be traveling to Lawson Arena this upcoming campaign to face Western Michigan. The Bronco’s home has been a house of horrors for the Crimson and Gold. The Pioneers travel to play the defending national champions, Minnesota -Duluth, November 8th and 9th and the two foes hook up again at Magness Arena January 31st and February 1st. Continue reading Denver Announces NCHC Conference Schedule

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