Thursday, August 21, 2014

Norse Players & Coaches Thrilled For Postseason Possiblities


MACON, Ga. With the 2014 Atlantic Sun Fall Seasons starting over the next few days, Northern Kentucky University has been looking forward to this moment all summer long. The Norse are now eligible to compete in all A-Sun Championships beginning this fall.

The entire athletic department has felt extra energy since the news was delivered on July 22nd as the fall sports of men's soccer, women's soccer and volleyball will get the first chance to compete in the postseason. 

The Norse men's soccer team has won nine conference games over the past two seasons combined, and finished in the top half of the standings in each year including a second-place finish in 2014.

Head Coach John Basalyga, entering his 12th season at NKU, expressed what it means for his squad, "Anytime you can tell a player or recruit that you are eligible to play in the postseason it's a plus. The face that the A-Sun is doing this by letting us compete for the championship this year shows their commitment to NKU."

Katelyn Newton, a sophomore women's soccer player, had committed her playing future to NKU not knowing that her team would be eligible for postseason play this soon. The change in eligibility had a profound impact on her perspective as well as her team.

"We could not be more excited to be eligible to participate in the A-Sun Tournament this season. Keeping this in mind will definitely raise the intensity as we go into every practice and game this year. Now, we as a team, have control over how far our season goes as we continue to compete for the A-Sun Championship title."

Head Coach Bob Sheehan echoed the sentiments of Newton, "This will provide our players with additional motivation in training and matches throughout the entire season."

The Norse team has won 12 games over the past two seasons, and will now have a chance to push forward and become postseason eligible for the first time.

NKU's volleyball squad has seen high levels of success in two years as A-Sun members including a 25-win season in 2012. Head Coach Liz Hart is thrilled for the opportunity it provides for her student-athletes.

"I am happy our student-athletes will have the opportunity to compete in postseason play. The previous two seasons, our past and current student-athletes have represented our program and university with pride. They made the sacrifice of no postseason play."

Junior outside hitter Jayden Julian added, "The entire team was thrilled to hear we could participate! We all are so competitive in everything we do, so the opportunity of competing in the A-Sun Tournament added some fuel to our fire."

The fall sports are not the only ones to have seen the excitement level and energy raised around their teams. Men's Basketball Head Coach Dave Bezold, entering his 11th year with NKU, could feel that the announcement meant for his team.

"Every player dreams of playing in the postseason, and the opportunity to play in the conference tourney this year has added a little spring in the step of our players."

In recent seasons, the Norse women's basketball team has tasted some postseason play, as they have competed in the WBI tournament the last two year. 

However, the thrill of playing for your conference's championship is something Coach Dawn Plitzuweit relishes, "When we heard the great news, we were thrilled for our young ladies and for our fans! Playing for a conference championship is an incredible opportunity and we are very grateful to Commissioner Ted Gumbart and the entire A-Sun for bringing this to fruition."

Senior Kaitlyn Gerrety, who has been with the Norse through their transition from Division II to Division I, found out the news from her coaching staff.

"My teammates and I were so intrigued by "the big news" that our coaches said would be breaking soon. We couldn't wait until the "next day" to find out, so we texted Coach Dawn at midnight to see if she could tell us. Although she made us wait, it was worth it. Melody Doss and I are the only players who really know what it feels like to compete for NKU in a conference tournament and I couldn't be more excited to share that experience with my teammates."

On Friday, August 22nd, the Norse women's soccer team will kick-off the regular season with a match against Eastern Illinois. Men's soccer and volleyball begin their journey the following week with a renewed perspective and the hope of earning an Atlantic Sun Championship title.

Friday, August 8, 2014

2014 Volleyball Preseason Preparation

Atlantic Sun Conference volleyball teams began to prepare for the 2014 season this week. To stay up-to-date on everything A-Sun volleyball, be sure to follow @ASunVolleyball on Twitter.

See how some teams get ready for the new season...






Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Women's Soccer Preseason

Today, practices started for women's soccer, see how teams in the A-Sun teams are getting prepared for the start of the 2014 season...



















The first exhibition of the 2014 season is on Friday, August 8, where Northern Kentucky travels to take on Wright State at 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Get to Know the A-Sun's New SAAC Officers for 2014-15


Led by Northern Kentucky’s Malika Glover, a quartet of very capable student-athletes is ready to lead the A-Sun Student Athlete Advisory Committee as the 2014-15 academic year is just days away from beginning.

Glover, a senior guard for the Norse, joins Vice-Chair April Terry (Lipscomb women’s track & field), Secretary Shannon Christian (Kennesaw State women’s track & field) and A-Sun National SAAC Representative Brittney Reed (Kennesaw State women’s soccer) in leadership this year. Read below for more about each of the A-Sun SAAC leaders via their Q&A.

Chair – Malika Glover, NKU Women’s Basketball

Favorite Athlete: Serena Williams
Favorite Team: Detroit Lions
CD in your car player right now: India Arie - Voyage to India
Favorite Band/Artist: Hillsong Worship
Favorite Social Media Outlet: Twitter
Favorite Movie: Princess Diaries 2
Favorite Actor/Actress: Tina Fey
Favorite Food: Nachos (not the concessions kind)


Vice-Chair – April Terry, Lipscomb Women’s Track and Field

Hobbies Outside of Your Sport: Exploring Nashville, going to concerts, art, and annoying my little brother
Favorite Athlete: Serena Williams. She makes being strong fabulous!
Favorite Team: Team USA. I love watching the Olympics. 
CD in your car player right now:  Booker T, Sound the Alarm
Favorite Band/Artist: Justin Timberlake
Favorite Social Media Outlet: Facebook. I refuse to get a Twitter or Instagram. I also like Vine, as my suitemate Ashley Southern from Lady Bison Basketball and I will watch and laugh for hours.  
Favorite Actor: Matthew McConaughey
Favorite Food: Cold Watermelon

Secretary – Shannon Christian, Kennesaw State Women’s Track and Field

Hobbies Outside of Your Sport: Writing, listening to music, dancing
Favorite Athlete: Gabby Douglas
Favorite Team: Any team at KSU
CD in your car player right now: R&B channel on Sirius Radio
Favorite Band/Artist: Drake
Favorite Social Media Outlet: Instagram
Favorite Movie: Law Abiding Citizen
Favorite Actor: Denzell Washington
Favorite Food: Chips and Queso

A-Sun Representative to the NCAA SAAC – Brittney Reed, Kennesaw State Women’s Soccer


Hobbies Outside of Your Sport: Going to the lake
Favorite Athlete: Abby Wambach
Favorite Team: US Women’s National Team
CD in your car player right now: Summer Jam Mix tape 2012
Favorite Band/Artist: Carrie Underwood
Favorite Social Media Outlet: Instagram 
Favorite Movie: Bridesmaids
Favorite Actor/Actress: Sandra Bullock
Favorite Food: Mexican


If you could play any other sports besides your own, what would it be and why?
MG: The one other sport I wish I could play besides basketball would have to be Tennis. I always grew up watching tennis on TV and I even went to a couple camps when I was younger to learn. Sadly I was awful and never got the hang of it. Now I resort to simply living through Serena Williams.
AT: Volleyball. I played in middle and high school and actually dreamed of playing in college. I love watching our team play, and probably get a little too excited when they score points.
SC: Volleyball. I love watching it.
BR: I would play football. I’ve always wanted to play football since I was a little girl since I was a tomboy and loved competing against boys. My parents figured it was too rough and chose to sign me up for soccer.

Why is involvement in SAAC so important?
MG: Being involved in SAAC for has been such a great experience. I love the fact that the student athletes have a say. SAAC is a way for our voices to be heard but also a way for us to reach back to our communities and stand united.
AT: While the SAAC’s main goal is to hear the voices of student athletes, it is important to me because it gives student-athletes leadership positions and opportunities to contribute to the campus outside of the playing field.  It helps student athletes become, as the A-Sun motto says, not only just champions of sport, but also winners for life.
SC: It is important that the student-athlete has a voice, and we represent not only ourselves but also all of our student-athletes through our activity. Being a collegiate student-athlete teaches your things about dedication, commitment and time management and I believe that SAAC can assists our SAs with those things as well.
BR: As a representative for SAAC at the institutional, Conference, or National level, I feel it is important to be involved with SAAC to develop leadership skills and express our opinions as Student athletes.

What is/are your goal(s) via your leadership in SAAC this year?
MG: My goals for SAAC would be to communicate clearly and to complete current SAAC initiatives with both the A-Sun SAAC and NKU. I am so thankful, for the leaders before who have led by example with their leadership. I hope to continue in their footsteps.
AT: I would love for SAAC members to get to know each other better this year. I look forward to the A-SUN SAAC meetings and want the representatives to spend more time with each other. No one knows about being a student athlete better than our fellow student athletes, so having that fellowship time will be rewarding.
SC: We already have a good presence in the community through current activities but I would like to see even more community involvement from our student-athletes. It seems as though we see the same people and I would like to get more teams represented in the group.
BR: I would like to become a more educated leader who efficiently represents the voices of student athletes from Kennesaw State University and the Atlantic Sun Conference.

If you could improve one thing about your game, what would it be?
MG: Definitely my outside shot.
AT: I think way too much. I would like to just go out there and throw without dwelling on achieving perfect technique every time.
SC: Improve my high jump and shot put to join the stronger scorers since you get one combined score from those
BR: I would like to be braver heading the ball. After I got a concussion in high school, I am sometimes hesitant to head the ball.

What is your best memory as a player?
MG: My best memory in basketball at NKU comes from winning our first post-season tournament game last year. Every year we continue to improve so I am really excited for this upcoming year.
AT: Participating in the Costal Carolina University Invitational flight of the hammer throw with Olympian Amber Campbell, and competing with women’s hammer world recorder holder, Betty Heidler, at the University of Tennessee, all this season. I have watched countless videos of those two throwing the hammer to help me with my own technique, and I never would have guessed I would meet and compete with my throwing heroes. Collegiate track and field is amazing because the meets are open, meaning anyone can participate, and that gives us the chance to sometimes see or compete with professional athletes.
SC: Practicing in snow was one of the coolest things that I can remember.
BR: Winning a Youth Soccer National Championship

What is your game-day routine?
MG: I honestly do not have much of a routine on game days. I go to shoot around/ pre game meal, I never take naps because I always feel like I will oversleep and miss the game.  Before the game I like to just relax listen to gospel music and do some mental reps.
AT: I always lay out my uniform the night before, listen to upbeat music, and say a prayer on the way to the meet. I’m also superstitious-I won’t pick up a shot put until it is time to compete and I always call or text my mom after a meet.
SC: Go through the neuromuscular wakeup early in the day to get the muscles warm, eat a good breakfast about an hour and half before warm up.
BR: I listen to music as I am preparing for a game. Also, I wear white athletic tape on my left wrist with a motivational quote.

What is the best advice that you were ever given?
MG: To live in the present.
AT: My mom asked me “how bad do you want it?” once when discussing some athletic goals. Though it’s not “advice”, I always ask myself that question when I’m trying to accomplish something as a reminder that I will have to work harder to achieve what I want, as well as assess what I am willing to do to get there.
SC: One thing that stands out – If you are going to be your biggest critic, don’t forget to be your biggest fan. You can always see a need to improve, and is easy to beat yourself up if you don’t also remember to celebrate the victories.
BR: Be confident and brave.

Do you have a favorite quote/saying/mantra?
MG: Bible Verse – Ephesians 1:11
 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.
AT: Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can do what others can’t!
 I’m too blessed to be depressed.
SC: The pain of discipline is sweeter than the pain of regret.
BR: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” –Tim Notke

How do you define a good teammate?
MG: I think there can be many forms of a good teammate but I think some of the main attributes are passion, selflessness, and visionary commitment. These are just a few qualities, but there is nothing better than having a teammate that you can trust, count on, and know the whatever happens they are all about the team.
AT: Proverbs says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity”. A good teammate is like the brother- there to love you when you win, but more importantly, ready to support and encourage when you lose.
SC: A good teammate is someone who is a hard worker, encouraging and honest. They set realistic goals and keep the team in mind, with a servant leadership mindset. They are someone who shows someone by helping them.
BR: A teammate who is: passionate, committed, a friend, and self-disciplined.

The best thing about my school is……
MG: MY TEAM...... But I really do have some of the best professors. 
AT: The best thing about my school is the people. The supportive atmosphere is why I chose to go there.  
SC: Campus life as a whole as KSU. There really is something for everyone so that you can get plugged in and find community.
BR: The Soccer Stadium

What does a “winner” look like?
MG: I think that a winner is someone who never gives up, in any circumstance. They are able to see the best in others and themselves. Winners are people who have a motivated mindset and expect greatness. To me the most important characteristic of a winner is someone who makes the best of every situation enjoying the little things in life.
AT: A winner is someone who strives to be his or her best. They win, even if it’s not the best, because they gave all of their effort.
SC: A person who through defeat ignores negativity and keeps trying. You are a winner in life when you don’t let defeat, defeat you.
BR: A true winner is a person who can persevere and overcome adversity under pressure.



Friday, June 20, 2014

Jacksonville's "Coach Yo" Talks Bahamas, Recruiting, JU and more


RELEVANT LINKS
 JU Women's Basketball
Tribune242 
Coach Yo Twitter 
#ASUNWBB 

First-year head women's basketball coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin told the JU community in April of 2013 that there are "No Ceilings" to the program's potential. 

Seven months later she and the Dolphins put their hard work into action, winning 10 conference games and recording their best A-Sun finish since 2008-09, along with the right to host a first-round quarterfinal game in the A-Sun Championship.

Now is time for her to work the same kind of magic at home in her beloved Bahamas, as she takes the reigns as head coach of the Bahamian Women's National Team.

Basketball runs in Coach McCuin’s blood. The daughter of legendary Bahamian coach Gladstone “Moon” McPhee and educator Daisy McPhee, she has continued her storied basketball career by inspiring young women – especially those from her home country of the Bahamas – to chase their dreams.

She was the first female Bahamian to sign a Letter of Intent for women’s basketball at a Division I school, and is the first to coach at a Division I program. As a player, she led the 18U Junior National Team to a silver medal at the FIBA National Games and now as a coach has her eyes set on the 2016 Olympics.

Preparation for Brazil is underway as Coach McCuin prepares to go back to the Bahamas to find the 12 best players to represent the country at the games.

The senior women’s championship begins on July 8th, with the Bahamas suiting up against the Virgin Islands, Dominica and Barbados in the preliminary rounds. Currently leading the Caribbean as the winningest nation with nine medals, the Bahamas boasts six gold, one silver and two bronze medals.

If Coach McCuin’s expectations are anything like those she places on the Dolphins, the Bahamas should get ready for some up-tempo, defense-oriented, blue-collar basketball. 


Following are a few of her thoughts on a number of topics ranging from the Bahamian national team to her family.

Q: Trailblazing runs in your family. You were the first Bahamian female to sign a Letter of Intent to a Division I school, and were also the first female from the Bahamas to coach at a Division I program. Now you are the Bahamian women's national team coach in March of 2013. What does all of that mean to you? 

Through hard work I have been blessed with opportunities to succeed not only individually, but also to help others to do the same. I am honored and humbled to be able to give back and represent my country internationally. I was a part of our country's junior programs and played on the Junior National Team and that experience is one I will never forget. This is a dream come true for me.

Coaching and playing on the national team is an opportunity to do something that is bigger than yourself. Nothing is bigger than your country. I was born and raised in the Bahamas and so this means the world to me. Bahamians are big sports lovers, and so getting this program and the sport back on track with some success is a tremendous opportunity for me.

Q: You have made a large impact in each of the communities in which you have been a part, including developing the foundation in the Bahamas called Back2Basics, which helps the development of children through education and athletics. Talk about your commitment to community service. 

I take great pride in being involved in the community, and I learned that importance from both of my parents. My Mom was also an educator and of course my Dad was extremely involved in our community, so I have known all of my life how important it is to give back. Even in the Bahamas I had the opportunity to participate in a couple of initiatives while we were down for the national team tryouts.
 
The most recent community service activity that has been rewarding to me was having the opportunity to visit Children's Hospital in April with our team. We had the chance to meet with several patients and spend time with me, which I believe was as good for our team as the kids.

Q: While you were at Clemson you were tagged as one of the top assistants in the nation by the National Women's Basketball Insider. In fact, in 2012 you helped assemble the 16th-ranked recruiting class in the country, landing five McDonald's All-American nominees for the Tigers. Talk about your approach to recruiting.

I see recruiting as an opportunity to build relationships. My approach in my career has panned out to be true, and that is to be honest and transparent. It is extremely important to me that people are able to believe in what I say. Having that balance between convincing someone to buy in to what you are presenting while at the same time being completely transparent has helped make me a successful recruiter. Plus, I can still relate – I haven't been out of college too long to separate me from understanding what student-athletes are going through. 

Q: Your father has been influential in Bahamian sports, particularly basketball, for years as one of the country's most passionate advocates, coaches, administrators, etc. How much has that affected your success?

It is true that my Dad has been an integral part of the development of sports and youths at home, but it unfair to just single him out in talking about the impact that my family has had at home in our community and in sports. My Mom was also a pioneer in education and sports and they both instilled in me the importance of discipline, pride and focus. I was given opportunity to earn what I had the success that I accomplished, it was not given to me. So those disciplines became second nature to me. I would see something I wanted and I would work hard to get it. That is where our theme at JU of "No Ceiling" came from - there is no limit to what we want to accomplish. Sometimes I think our youths grow up and have put glass ceilings put in front of them, where they see what they want to accomplish but then they aren't provided the means to get there. I am living proof that hard work does pay off.

Q: When you were hired at JU you talked immediately about changing the culture. You have said the same thing about the national team. What does that mean and how did that play out at JU in your first season?

Any coach has aspirations to win championships. I am encouraged by the steps we took as a program this year, and we are changing the culture at JU, putting down milestones that we can build upon. 

We won 10 games in the Atlantic Sun and clinched the No. 4 seed in the championship, which was JU's highest finish since 2008-09. We were picked to finish eighth and we finished fourth, and earned the right to host a home quarterfinal game in the conference championships. Obviously the last outing didn’t end the way we would have liked, but our last game can in no way define our season. There is a lot to be celebrated and a lot that we can build on as far as the future is concerned. Our end goal is still to win an A-Sun Championship. Once we achieve that, we’ll set another goal for this program.

Q: You have been back home once for initial tryouts and now head back for more practice beginning June 23rd. What are your thoughts on the team at this point?

I expected to see athleticism and some terrific competition, and we got that. We will be young, but talented and I look forward to working with the best talent that we have to offer. One of the things that I expected was that we will need to be in better condition. Something that has hurt the Bahamas over the years has been that we are out of shape when we came overseas to compete. Everyone has been in a conditioning program since tryouts last month and I look forward to seeing the difference as we get back to work next week.

We tested them not only in conditioning but also in basketball and implemented some things to see how they would respond. They did a good job and I like the way that things are shaping up. 

To be honest this is also a wonderful opportunity for me individually, because coaches don't get chances for reps during the offseason. It is challenging, however, because there really has been no time to relax since I joined JU last April. 

My husband if a great support, and my daughter, while still very young, gets to experience another culture. They travel with me and so we get to experience all of this as a family.

Plus, this experience will allow me to work among good coaches around the world, sharpen my craft, and build a program that my fellow Bahamians will be proud of. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

#ASunBSB Championship Social; Owls vs. Bisons

The 2014 Atlantic Sun Baseball Championship Final between Kennesaw State and Lipscomb took place on Sunday from FGCU's Swanson Stadium. To highlight the last day of the conference tournament, we have put together some of the best moments from social media.

Here is your chance to relive the excitement in the tweets, pictures and videos of fans, coaches and staff members in our Social Media Timeline. Join the conversation by using the #ASunBSB hashtag on Twitter for a chance to be included in the recap.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Pitching in the Shadows of MLB All-Star


When Michael Murray, a sophomore exercise science major, walks into his home stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. a wall poster greets him reminding him of the shoes he is filling at Swanson Stadium. Over the past couple of years Florida Gulf Coast has become synonymous with #DunkCity, after the basketball team’s run to the Sweet 16 in 2013. In baseball, Chris Sale opened those eyes in 2010.

Sale, the 13th pick in the 2010 draft by the Chicago White Sox, was the National Player of the Year in 2010. He went 11-0 that year with a 2.01 ERA. In 103 innings pitched Sale struck out 146 while only surrendering 14 walks. Those numbers set a new standard at FGCU for starting pitchers to follow.

Sale has also found success in the Major Leagues with the Chicago White Sox. He won 17 games in 2012 and has made two All-Star appearances. Those are some big shoes to fill, but fast forward to 2014 and once again Head Coach Dave Tollett has a pitcher whose numbers look very similar to those of Sale.

Murray sits at 13-1 with a 1.85 ERA entering this week’s Atlantic Sun Baseball Championship. His command has been outstanding all season long only allowing 14 walks. Opponents are only hitting .229 against him and he has struck out 79 batters. Murray’s 13 wins, a FGCU school-record, lead the nation and have helped the Eagles to the regular season title. Every Friday night Murray takes the mound and fans come to the park to witness some #MurrayMagic.

The improvement this year for Murray has garnered him much more attention than his freshman season. When asked what the biggest difference is this year and Murray said “I’m more confident and last years’ experience has really helped. I really enjoy the intensity and energy that Friday night brings.” He is on the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watch List and on the College Baseball Hall of Fame Pitcher of the Year Watch List. After four Atlantic Sun Pitcher of the Week honors this season, which tied another one of Sale’s records set in 2010, Murray was voted the 2014 A-Sun Pitcher of the Year, the fourth Eagle to win the award.

FGCU's Head Coach Dave Tollett said “Mike’s weight room work and commitment to improving his craft have made him the pitcher he is today. This conference produces some great pitching talent and to be awarded Pitcher of the Year is a great achievement.” Brady Anderson, FGCU’s number two pitcher, added “Mike works hard and competes every day. He learned a lot last year from Ricky Knapp, constantly picking his brain and it’s made him a better pitcher.”

So is there any extra pressure in pitching with Chris Sale’s wall poster hanging on Swanson Stadium you might ask. Murray doesn’t think so “I’ve been pitching since I was eight years old. I don’t put extra pressure on myself, just go out execute pitches and have fun. The guys who came before me taught me a lot and have made me stay humble and continue to work hard.”  

At 13-1 it’s fair to say that Murray has been having a lot of fun.