The voice of USF Athletics, Jim Louk, will routinely put down his radio headset and pick up the pen to share his perspective on the history of USF Athletics.

Louk has been broadcasting games for 27 years and is the resident historian in the Athletics Department hallways ... This week he remembers one of the pioneers of USF Athletics.

Letters From Louk: Class of 2011: Bob Grindey                                       

By: JIM LOUK
GoUSFBulls.com

Of all the 2011 USF Athletics Hall of Fame inductees, Bob Grindey's career may be the most fascinating.

He came to campus in the spring of 1964 as an assistant professor.  By the time he left, he had served as a member of the first USF Athletics Council, Chairman of the Florida AAU Swimming committee, an associate professor on the physical education faculty, an assistant athletic director, and perhaps most notably, as head swimming coach.

Grindey was one of the architects of USF Athletics, long before conference affiliations, fancy facilities or television contracts.  In many ways, he was among the corps of founding fathers for the department.  The success of his swimming program is impressive, but it's only part of his story.

Being a USF coach in the 1960's in any sport was a challenge in itself.

"The pool was being built when I got here," recalls Grindey. "Unfortunately it wasn't being built for competitive swimming.  A lot of things needed to be modified.  Luckily the indoor pool was about to be started and I was able to help with that project."

Budgets were tight in those early days; travel was...well, maybe memorable is the right word.

"We started with rented station wagons. You couldn't drive unless you were 23 years old," says Grindey. "So coaches of other sports had to pitch in and drive."

It created a special bond between those early USF coaches.

"We were all fighting the same battles," laughs Grindey. "Not too much money, limited number of participants.  All of the coaches realized that without helping each other, we were sunk."

Despite the limitations, success came early and often.

In 1969, the first year USF swimming was eligible, the Brahmans finished 12th in the NCAA Championships.  They took second in 1971 and fifth in 1972, stunning success for a program so young and so often outmanned.  Many times the Bulls simply had fewer swimmers than the opposition.

"We had a lot of open lanes," says former student athlete Pete Kenning. "But we had a lot of pretty good swimmers."

"Our results were fabulous for the amount of swimmers we had," says USF Hall of Famer Joe Lewkowicz. "The talent that Bob was able to develop in people was crucial."

"We started with six guys but they were good athletes.  What saved us was having guys who were willing to do some events that weren't their specialty.  We had to find guys willing to do that," says Grindey.

Find them he did. From 1969 to 1972, Grindey's swimmers won six individual national championships and one relay national championship.  Remarkably, 17 of his swimmers brought home a combined 80 All-American Awards in five different events.

"He was exceptionally strong on self discipline," recalls former USF swimmer John Connelly. "He was very high on ethics.  He expected you to tell the truth. He was the hardest working coach I ever swam for, and he expected that and more from you."

While Grindey is being inducted for his prowess as a swimming coach, he had many other accomplishments during his long USF career.  It was Grindey who developed the first physical education course in skin and scuba diving in the state university system.  He served on the first USF Athletic Council, helping to formulate policies and procedures for USF's early athletic competitions.  He was the meet manager for the 1966 Men's National AAU swimming championship. And, of course, in 1969 men's swimming graduated to the NCAA level and Grindey's coaching success blossomed.

The mark he made on his student-athletes has lasted well beyond his coaching days.

"He kept us all together," says Kenning. "He touched everyone in the athletic program.  Bob's had a positive influence on a lot of people for a long time."

"He is one of the most influential people that ever walked in to my life," says Connelly. "It was a blessing that he did."

As Bob Grindey joins the class of 2011, USF Athletics has the opportunity to look back to the early days of the program, and to see how those times translate to where the department is today.  The efforts of pioneers like Grindey go a long way toward explaining the remarkable growth of present day USF Athletics. 

As for the coach, he has little trouble deciding what his most special memory is.

"It was seeing those young people who had a dream.  No one had ever heard of this school," he said. "But they worked very hard and got some recognition.  Seeing them mature and seeing other people acknowledge what they did at USF was very satisfying for me."

GO BULLS!


 

Jim Louk   Jim Louk
  Voice of the USF Athletics since 1983
When the 2011-12 academic year rolled around, Jim Louk began his 28th year in the athletics department at the University of South Florida and his fifth as Assistant Director of Athletics for Sales and Broadcasting.

Louk came to USF in 1983 as the radio play-by-play announcer for the Bulls’ men’s basketball team and served as the lead voice until the conclusion of the 1997 season. He then made the transition to football in USF’s inaugural 1997 season, and still serves as the team’s play-by-play announcer today. Louk will come into the 2010 football season having broadcast every Bulls’ game in their history – a span of 165 games.

Not only a contributor over the airwaves, Louk has also made his presence felt in getting other USF sports teams exposure on radio and television as well. Prior to the 2003-04 season only men’s basketball and football were consistently seen or heard in the Tampa Bay area. However, since then, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, women’s basketball, softball and baseball all make regular appearances on either radio, television or on the internet – via audio or video – with live streaming.

Truly the “Voice of USF Athletics,” in addition to men’s basketball and football, Louk has also frequently announced USF women’s basketball, baseball and softball games for both radio and television.

On the sales side, Louk heads up all season and group ticket sales for USF athletics while also overseeing a staff of three associates. The ticket sales team was part of a departmental sales effort that resulted in over 7 million dollars of USF game ticket sales in the 2009-10 academic year.

A native of Rochester, N.Y., Louk is a 1979 graduate of the University of Bridgeport where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

Louk, his wife Barbara and their son Ross reside in Lutz.

Archives
05/14/10 - Fond & Funny Memories at Red McEwen Field
05/27/10 - Memories of Leagues Past
06/19/10 - Early Travel with the Bulls
06/23/10 - Home(s) of the Bulls
07/12/10 - 21 in a Row
08/25/10 - Bring Me the Head of Rocky the Bull
09/06/10 - Another Signature Win
09/15/10 - Happy 15th Birthday, USF Football
09/17/10 - Visit with Joe Lewkowicz
09/17/10 - Visit with Sherry Bedingfield
10/18/10 - The First Bowl Game
11/03/10 - Top 10 Wins in USF Football History
11/16/10 - 1990 Sun Belt Championship
11/23/10 - Visit with Dan Holcomb
11/30/10 - Visit with Kerine Black
12/02/10 - Visit with Ross Gload
12/10/10 - Let’s Just Get This Game Over With
01/19/11 - Way Out West for the NCAA Tournament
01/31/11 - The Best Road Trip Ever
02/10/11 - History of the NCAA Tournament in Tampa Bay
03/22/11 - Go For Broke - 1986 Baseball
06/09/11 - Goodbye from an Old Friend
07/12/11 - The 2009 WNIT Championship
08/03/11 - Radenko Dobras
09/01/11 - Class of 2011 -Anthony Henry
09/01/11 - The Wait Is Finally Over
09/05/11 - Genuine Selmon Unforgettable
09/10/11 - This Group Is Special
09/16/11 - Ray Jay Will Be Rocking
09/23/11 - Memories of USF's El Paso Trip
10/02/11 - Time to See What USF Is Made of
10/04/11 - 1997 Homecoming Memories
10/12/11 - Class of 2011 - Monica Triner
10/14/11 - The Bulls Are Due for a Win
10/21/11 - Home Sweet Home
10/27/11 - The 2008 Men’s Soccer Run
11/02/11 - Class of 2011: Michelle Collier 
11/16/11 - Class of 2011: Bob Grindey
 
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