Sunday starts the new Ragin' Cajuns athletic calendar. Senior Associate Athletic Director Scott Farmer gives ultoday.com an update.

We have some new coaches this year.

We have new coaches in Heather Mazeitis who is leading our volleyball program, Charlie Mahfouz coaching our 6 track & field programs, Theo Sliman heading up our golf program, and Mark Jeffrey is taking over men's tennis. They bring a new level of energy and vision to their respective sports, and they all come here with the best interests of our student-athletes in mind.

We're very excited about all four of them. They see no limits here. Like me, they think the sky's the limit for Ragin' Cajun athletics.

What else is new?

It's a new year, and another season.

This Sunday our soccer team will kick off the 2008-2009 season against SLU here at 1:00. That just happens to be our first game of the year, and it's also the first home game.

Next week, football opens at USM, and volleyball opens at the Rice tournament-- we'll play Rice, Michigan, and UTSA. School's starting Monday, the athletes are reporting back, all the plans we've been putting in place are coming to fruition. So it's been a very hectic, crazy, busy time.

But good. Absolutely, but good. I think there's a lot of excitement in the community right now.

Talk about that.

The Moncla Indoor Practice Facility really started the pendulum in the right direction for us. If I had to point to one thing that changed it for us, it would be that Facility.

It is incumbent upon the athletic administration to provide what our coaches need to recruit quality student-athletes, and to provide what our athletes need to become successful in the classroom and on the field. The Moncla Facility does both, and does both nicely. It's the only indoor practice facility in our conference, and one of only two in the state. It gives our coaches an advantage in recruiting, and it gives our student-athletes a place to become better at their specific sports. When other teams can't practice softball, or baseball, or golf, or whatever because of weather, during the winter and all year our kids can keep working and growing.

After the Moncla facility, the next big project was the weight room. We installed a new state-of-the- facility: new flooring, new paint, new lights, new equipment, new ceiling, new everything. Again, it gives the coaches a recruiting tool, and it gives our athletes a place, and a motivation, to work out.

The third thing is the new football field. That has created a lot of excitement. I have really enjoyed the last 2 months, taking people up to see that field for the first time. I take them up there, and the shock on their faces, the excitement in their eyes, is really great. It helps recruiting, it gives athletes a better, safer, more consistent surface to practice and play on.

With all of that, the Cajundome is getting over $3M to update their scoreboard and sound system this Summer. The scoreboard will have a huge circular video screen below it, and then on the mezzanine level, behind each goal, there will be new, 120' LED screens. And the P.A. system will be new. All of that means an enhanced atmosphere for Ragin' Cajuns basketball.

We also have a new administration, and that plays a big role in that excitement. Dr. Authément did a great deal with limited resources, and now we're poised to take the next step... or next several steps, actually. And that is definitely part of the excitement.

I believe people are also getting excited by our new promotional materials. As I said in the last interview, we are handling more and more of our marketing and promotions in-house. We've put out some beautiful stuff, and more is coming. Our posters and our schedule cards are just great, and fans are going to love our new football game programs. We totally sold out on ads in the program, we actually had to turn someone away last week who wanted to buy advertising.

All of this helps us sell more tickets, bring more fans on board, recruit better athletes, and build momentum even further. We have almost doubled our football ticket sales from last year. We fully anticipate that this excitement will carry over to the other UL sports.

It's a new year. It's a new season.

It's a new era in UL Athletics.