Introducing Pitt athletics’ biggest faces

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TPN File Photo

Heather Like, Athletic Director

By Richie Smiechowski, For The Pitt News

The start of the 2021-22 academic year is just around the corner and both incoming and returning students have much to look forward to. Facets of a more normal school year, like in-person classes, are returning and so are full capacity stands at Pitt athletics games.

Heinz Field will once again hold thousands of screaming members of the Panther Pitt and the Oakland Zoo will seek to reclaim its throne as one of the nation’s most intimidating student sections.

For the first day of classes, what better way to acclimate new fans with their athletes than a quick introduction of Pitt Athletics’ biggest names and faces prior to the first day of classes?

Kenny Pickett

Kenny Pickett, Panthers football quarterback. (TPN File Photo)

Hailing from Oakhurst, New Jersey is none other than the Panthers’ star quarterback — Kenny Pickett. The 23-year-old is going into his fifth year at Pitt, and Pickett is not only the clear leader of the football team, but also one of the nation’s best quarterbacks, finding himself on numerous awards’ watchlists.

His best Pitt highlight may just be from his maiden voyage with the Panthers — where he totaled 253 combined yards and accounted for three touchdowns in a monumental 2017 upset over No. 2 Miami in his first career start.

Heather Lyke

Currently in her fifth year as Pitt’s director of athletics, Heather Lyke has implemented multiple initiatives over her tenure — including the “Victory Heights” initiative, which will overhaul competition and facilities for the entire athletic department. At the national level, she was one of five finalists for the Division I Athletic Director of the year.

Dan Fisher

Dan Fisher, the head coach of Pitt Volleyball, has turned the Panthers into an ACC and nationally ranked powerhouse. (TPN File Photo)

Head coach Dan Fisher will look to add to his already impressive resumé in his ninth season at the helm of the women’s volleyball program. Coming all the way to Pittsburgh from Santa Barbara, California, Fisher has turned the Panthers into an ACC and nationally ranked powerhouse. Under his direction, the Panthers achieved the highest winning percentage of any Division I volleyball program over the last three seasons.

Ithiel Horton

Men’s basketball guard Ithiel Horton.

Pitt Basketball’s leader for the 2021-22 season will almost certainly be redshirt junior guard Ithiel Horton. Originally from Vauxhall, New Jersey, Horton begins his third season at Pitt after transferring from Delaware following a stellar first season there. The 21-year-old Horton’s 3-point shooting — he shot 37% last year — will be a massive x-factor for this year’s Panthers team. Look for him out on the court sporting his new No. 12 jersey instead of the No. 0 he wore last season.

Jayla Everett

Women’s basketball guard Jayla Everett. (Image courtesy of )

Coming off a stellar junior campaign in which she became Pitt’s second All-ACC player in women’s basketball history, senior transfer guard Jayla Everett will be a key piece in sending the Panthers into the upper echelon of the ACC standings. Although she is from St. Louis, Missouri, Everett has been all over the country — with her college career starting at New Mexico before transferring to Pitt prior to last season. In her lone season at Pitt, the 21-year-old has already put herself into the program’s history books by setting single season records for ppg (15.4) and three-pointers made per game (2.7).

Randy Waldrum

Randy Waldrum. head coach of women’s soccer. (TPN File Photo)

Perhaps the most impressive resumé among any current coach within Pitt’s athletic department resides with women’s soccer head coach Randy Waldrum. Entering his fourth season at Pitt, Waldrum has taken the program to new heights — leading the Panthers to a program high 11 wins and its first-ever United Soccer Coaches’ Poll ranking at No. 12.

Prior to his time at Pitt, the Irving, Texas native had a stellar career at Notre Dame, leading them to a duo of national championships in 2004 and 2010. Along with coaching at Pitt, Waldrum has been head coach of the U-23 US Women’s National Team, and currently serves as head coach of Nigeria’s Women’s Senior National Team.

Amy Read

Pitt diver Amy Read. (Image courtesy of Pitt Athletics)

Pitt’s women’s diving team has an international star in Amy Read, who has been the program’s top diver since she stepped on campus as a first-year. Now in her fourth year, the senior from Leeds, England will look to continue her historic career as a Panther.

Last year saw Read etch her name into the record books, being the first female Panther to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the 1-meter, 3-meter and platform events. This year she will look to complete her perfect NCAA Championship qualification record and qualify for the fourth year in a row.

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