USF Bulls on Parade comes to Sarasota

Back L to R: Orlando Antigua, head coach of the USF men’s basketball team, and alumnus Bill Mariotti; Front L to R: Alumna Dr. Anila Jain and USFSM Regional Chancellor Dr. Sandra Stone.

Back L to R: Orlando Antigua, head coach of the USF men’s basketball team, and alumnus Bill Mariotti; Front L to R: Alumna Dr. Anila Jain and USFSM Regional Chancellor Dr. Sandra Stone.

SARASOTA, Fla. (June 2, 2015) – USF head football coach Willie Taggart was among the athletic department officials fielding questions Monday as about 100 alumni, supporters and students packed Lee Roy Selmon’s for the Bulls on Parade tour.

Taggart – along with men’s basketball coach Orlando Antigua, women’s basketball coach Jose Fernandez, women’s soccer coach Denise Schilte-Brown, men’s tennis coach Matt Hill and others – visited Sarasota as part of the annual four-stop tour that also includes visits to Tampa, St. Petersburg and Fort Lauderdale.

The NCAA golf championship, featuring the USF men’s team, played on TV monitors as plates of nachos, shrimp and pork sliders were passed around. Fans marveled at the American Athletic Conference trophies on display, combed through USF jerseys and T-shirts and chatted with one another.

“USF is really one big family and that’s why I like to go these events,” said Angie Brewer, USF Sarasota-Manatee Class of 1982.

She and husband, Jim Brewer, a retired Marine, have season tickets to most USF sporting events. The Bulls on Parade visit was an opportunity to catch up with friends, he said.

USF Trustee Byron Shinn, USF Class of 1979, agreed.

“There is a real sense of camaraderie here,” Shinn said. “The people here genuinely care about the university and want to help students, which is why so many have been supportive of our athletics and scholarship programs. It’s important to support our students.”

Alumni and coaches entering the restaurant north of University Parkway were greeted by a half-dozen USF cheerleaders. After mingling for an hour, the coaches passed around a microphone to address fans’ questions.

Among those, Taggart, who’s in his third year as head football coach, told fans he expects a strong year for the team based on the team’s progress. Antigua echoed that, saying he’s seen “phenomenal growth” in his players. Other coaches said they expected strong seasons as well.

The tour, which included door prizes for team gear, was formerly known as the “Around the Horns” tour. Last year’s stop included a Kiwanis Club luncheon and dinner cruise. The year before saw a breakfast with business leaders. Past tours featured golf tournaments.

This year, USF officials sought to create a more upbeat, casual event to broaden its appeal.

“We decided to shake things up a bit,” Marcy Lanoue, USF director of development, said.

The event coincided with a shining moment for USF Athletics: Just as the two-hour meet-and-greet was occurring, the USF men’s team officially qualified for the NCAA golf championship quarterfinals at The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton.

USF is hosting the championship for the first time, and this year’s quarterfinals appearance by the men’s golf team also represented a first.

Visit our photo gallery on Facebook for more pictures: Bulls on Parade Gallery.