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2016-’17: A lot of great memories and a National Championship

Monday’s loss to Vanderbilt in the Clemson Regional Baseball Championship Game meant Clemson’s athletic year for 2016-’17 came to an end.

It was an year that saw Clemson finally get back on top of the mountain in college football, advance to the Elite 8 in Men’s Soccer, win an ACC Regular Season Championship in women’s soccer plus advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAAs, the men’s and women’s golf teams advanced to the National Championships and the baseball team hosted a regional for a second straight year.

All in all, it was a very good year for the athletic department, and on June 30, when the athletic calendar will flip, Clemson will officially hit the reset button and begin a new year.

Of course for those of us who cover the programs, the new athletic year unofficially starts when Dabo Swinney hosts his football camps every June, which began this past weekend with his first youth camp and rolled into his high school camp, which started on Tuesday.

Swinney will host one more youth camp this weekend and then close the camp season out with his second high school camp next week. From there, the coaches take their vacations and then reconvene in mid-July to begin preparations for the 2017 football season in earnest.

But for I get too far ahead of myself, let’s reflect on the year that was at Clemson.

The Tigers’ run to the national championship was a great experience to be a part of. Through all the ups and downs of the regular season, the beatdown of rival South Carolina in the finale, a second straight ACC Championship, a Fiesta Bowl win over Ohio State that one veteran reporter told me was the most impressive performance by one team he has ever witnessed, and then of course the win over Alabama to give the Tigers their first national championship in 35 years.

The celebration in Tigertown that followed will always be remembered as will the countless stories we all have from that magical run, including where we were at and what we were doing when Hunter Renfrow caught the game-winning touchdown pass from Deshaun Watson with one second left in the game.

The men’s basketball team had its moments this past year, especially after its 11-2 non-conference start and its 3-0 record against SEC teams, before it fizzled out.

The baseball team gave us a little bit of a ride. The Tigers began the season with the best start in ACC play since 2002 and won 33 of their first 40 games. But injuries to catcher Chris Williams and a few pitchers in the bullpen finally did them in.

Though they made a valiant effort to right the ship in the Clemson Regional with a tremendous performance in winning two games on Sunday after a four and a half hour rain delay, they ran out of gas in the regional final to end the season Monday night.

So the 2016-’17 season comes to a close with a lot of great memories from the entire year, and a national championship in football that none of us will ever forget.

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