Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Gollon's Game Lifted By Parent's First Appearance

Following Mercer’s opening-round victory on Wednesday night in the General Shale Atlantic Sun Men’s Basketball Championship, Jakob Gollon made his way through a two-foot wide tunnel of Bear fans, students and cheerleaders – high-fiving and hugging his way through the throng.

It was the closest he came to being slowed down all night.

Gollon equaled his career high, scoring 19 points -- including a pivotal 3-pointer with a little more than a minute remaining – as the Bears dispatched Lipscomb 61-53 on their home floor at the University Center.

And he did it all with his parents, Jerry and Debra, in the stands for the first time in his college career.

“I knew that at the end of that tunnel were my parents,” the 6-foot-6 sophomore said. “They’ve never had a chance to see me play collegiately and I was fortunate enough to have a game that I could smile upon when it was done. It was very emotional.”

Gollon’s parents drove three hours from their home in Stevens Point, Wis., to the Milwaukee Airport. After a two-hour flight to Atlanta, another 90-minute car trip brought them to the Mercer campus.

“It was well worth every second,” Jerry Gollon said.

Debra Gollon said the distance and transportation costs had previously stood in the family’s way of being able to watch their son play in person. They normally catch Mercer games on the internet.

“Nothing can replace being here in person,” Debra Gollon said. “Jake has always talked about how special it is to play here and how neat it is that they get to host the (A-Sun) tournament.
“He’s always said, ‘If you’re ever going to come, that would be the time to come.’”

So the Gollons “pinched their pennies” and were able to attend their son’s coming-out party.

In addition to tying his career scoring high, Gollon made a career-best eight field goals and drained a career-high three 3-pointers, including the last one, which gave the Bears (22-10) a seven-point lead and much-needed separation with 1:07 remaining.

“I was in tears,” Debra Gollon said.

In a tightly-contested game that saw six ties and six lead changes, Gollon’s offense allowed the Bears to keep pace with Lipscomb (13-18) on an off-night for Langston Hall, the team’s leading scorer.

Eight of Hall’s 11 points came in the second half. For 25 minutes, however, Gollon couldn’t miss.

He made his first five shots, including two 3-pointers, before missing his next three attempts. A spinning layup with 8:21 remaining gave the Bears a 41-37 lead. Less than two minutes later, Gollon laid another basket in before hitting the momentous 3 late.

Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman called Gollon a warrior.

“I wish (Gollon) could play for me another 50 years,” Hoffman said. “He’s a special dude.”

Brandon Webb is a freelance sports writer who resides in Macon, Ga. He can be reached at

Hatters Rebound Way to Victory

Riding a three-game losing streak into the General Shale Atlantic Sun Basketball Women’s Championship, second-seeded Stetson was hungry for a victory – especially considering its first-round draw.

Turns out, the key for the Hatters’ 72-59 win over USC Upstate at the University Center
was gobbling up rebounds.

Stetson (22-9) was beaten on the boards four days ago in a loss to USC Upstate. In fact, although records are incomplete, the Spartans’ Paulina Zaveckaite tallied 22 rebounds – the highest single-game total by a Stetson opponent in school history.

That left Stetson head coach Lynn Bria and her squad mad as, well, a Hatter.

“I think for us, we have the type of team that when you show them those things on film –
and I clipped every offensive rebound that they got and I made them watch it --you can talk to them until you’re blue in the face, but until they see it for themselves,” Bria said. “This team responds when they see things like that.”

Ironically, one of the hungriest Hatters was the smallest. The 2012 A-Sun Player of the Year, Victoria McGowan, a 5-foot-5 guard, swallowed nine rebounds, to go along with 15 points.

“I tried to be aggressive…attack the basket,” McGowan said.

Bria said her team’s focus was singular after the disheartening defeat at USC Upstate to
close the regular season.

“The gameplan was to take the paint and we did it,” Bria said. “The last time we played them, they hurt us inside – whether it was layups, penetration or offensive rebounds.”

The Hatters, who led by as many as 16 points, outrebounded the Spartans 52-40 in the contest. Stetson also scored 46 points in the paint to USC Upstate’s 18.

“Forty-six in the paint is almost as many as we scored total, so that kind of did us in,” USC Upstate head coach Tammy George said. “We made them work for everything last time. It seemed like they got easy shots all night long in the paint.”

The Hatters’ dominance on the boards led to an imbalance in second-chance points as well. Stetson won that battle 21-3, and the Spartans were held scoreless in that category until there was less than five minutes remaining in the game.

Sasha Sims led Stetson with 18 points. Cherisse Burris chipped in 12, along with a team-leading 12 rebounds.

“I came out with a scorer’s mentality so anytime I was open I took the shot,” Sims said.

USC Upstate struggled to a paltry 33 percent shooting from the field, including 18.5 percent from 3-point range.

“Not what I expected tonight,” George said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well from the outside. “We made shots at home last week and I think that’s what got us going. It should be the opposite. Our defense should get us going. We just couldn’t make shots and we were giving up easy ones to

Guard Hannah Ohl scored a season-high 18 points for USC Upstate. She started fast, recording 11 points – including 3-for-5 from 3-point range – in the game’s first nine minutes.

However, she cooled the rest of the way. “They started getting out on me more, but I missed open shots I shouldn’t have,” Ohl said.

Zaveckaite was corralled for most of the game as well. Seven of the 6-foot-2 center’s 14 points, and seven of her 12 rebounds came in the game’s final nine minutes – well after the Hatters’ had put their stamp on the outcome.

Bria said playing Zaveckaite more physical was an emphasis this week.

“We weren’t very physical with them,” Bria said. “We let them do whatever they wanted to do. Today, was our day.”

The win also put Stetson back in the win column after a tough stretch to close out the regular season.

“We had three tough road games to end the season, so we kept that in perspective,” Bria
said. “It wasn’t how we wanted to finish, but we were all three of those opponents’ ‘Senior Game,’ and there’s a lot of emotion with that.

“We just had to go back and look at the body of work and not let it take our confidence. I knew we’d play better than we had been playing.”

Brandon Webb is a freelance sports writer who resides in Macon, Ga. He can be reached at

Hanlen, Johnson Extensions of Byrd on Court

By Daniel Shirley

Most head coaches can only wish to have one “coach on the floor."

Belmont’s Rick Byrd has two in Drew Hanlen and Kerron Johnson. The two Bruins guards, Hanlen a senior and Johnson a junior, have been key to Belmont’s success in recent seasons, and this year is no different.

Both were named to the Atlantic Sun All-Conference First Team along with teammate Ian Clark, as the Bruins rolled to a 24-7 regular-season record. Belmont added another win Wednesday, beating Jacksonville 76-62 on Wednesday in the 2012 General Shale Brick A-Sun Basketball Championship.

“We both have grown our games to complement each other,” Hanlen said. “We have developed a great friendship and a relationship on the court to the point where we know where each other is going to be on the court at all times.”

That familiarity and knowledge of each other’s game come from many games playing together and hours spent going head-to-head in practice.

“Drew and I have such a unique relationship,” Johnson said. “From two years of battling for that position, we have grown into great friends. We can read each other and play off each other. We’re competitive, but we enjoy playing together, and we listen to each other and talk about what’s going on out there on the court. We understand what each other is going through and what we’re facing running the team.”

Johnson had 19 points Wednesday to lead the Bruins, while Hanlen, who is second in the nation in 3-point shooting, had seven. He hit 2-of-3 from three-point range and added seven rebounds. Johnson added five rebounds and five assists.

Hanlen is on pace to finish as Belmont's NCAA-era leader in assists and games played. Johnson ranks among the conference’s leaders in six statistical categories. They both attributed their strong play to Byrd and his system.

“I’m one of the coaches on the floor out there, Kerron and I both are,” Hanlen said. “We relay messages from the bench to the other players, the offenses and how we can expose the defenses. (Coach Byrd) definitely has a lot of trust in us both. That has grown over the years. If teams are playing us a certain way, he’s totally fine with us calling our own number and calling someone else’s number that we can take advantage what the other team is doing.

“It’s great because we all know our roles, and we all have the green light to do our roles. Obviously, he doesn’t want a 20-percent shooter jacking up threes, but if we can prove to him that we’re capable, then he’ll give us the green light. As a player, that’s the ultimate freedom. You play better because of it, and you’re not worried about little mistakes here and there, and you’re not looking over at the bench.”

Daniel Shirley is the sports editor of The Telegraph in Macon. Follow complete coverage of the Atlantic Sun tournament at and follow Daniel at DM_Shirley for live updates throughout the tournament.

FGCU Star Student-Athlete, Hansen, Shines in Quarterfinals

Her introduction during the pregame of Wednesday’s contest with East Tennessee State at the A-Sun tournament lasted a little longer than most.

But Florida Gulf Coast standout Sarah Hansen isn’t focused on all the individual accolades that were listed as she was introduced. She is more interested in helping her team reach its goals.

Throughout her career with the Eagles, Hansen has fared well in both aspects.

That continued Wednesday as Hansen finished with 22 points to help
top-seeded Florida Gulf Coast to a 79-63 win over ETSU. The Eagles advance to the semifinals on Friday, when they will play either North Florida or Kennesaw State.

“It really is exciting, and it’s such a great opportunity for our team,” Hansen said about the program’s first A-Sun tournament victory. “It was great to get our seed and sit where we’re sitting, and we’ll celebrate this win. But then we have to get ready for (Friday’s semifinal game).”

That’s Hansen’s focus … the team and the next game, even with all her individual accomplishments, and there are many.

Hansen redshirted her first season at Florida Gulf Coast and then was on the all-freshman and all-academic teams last season while also being named second-team all-conference last season. This season, she has continued to be noticed, being named to the preseason all-conference team and being picked for the all-conference team after the regular season.

The McKean, Pa. native averages a team-high 13.8 points and 6.3 rebounds, and she entered the tournament second on the Eagles’ roster with 1.9 steals per game and 17 blocked shots.

But her accomplishments don’t stop on the court. She was also named the A-Sun Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the year after earning a 3.95 GPA in chemistry.

“She’s just a special kid,” Florida Gulf Coast head coach Karl Smesko said. “She’s incredibly bright, and she’s a motivated player and student. She’s a great teammate and great kid
to be around.”
Hansen showed all of those attributes Wednesday. She hit 9-of-16 shots from the floor, and she hit 3-of-4 from the foul line. But it wasn’t just offense. Hansen had a strong all-around game with six rebounds, one assist, four blocked shots and three steals.

The Eagles have won 19 straight games and are 27-2, after an undefeated conference season at 18-0 after completing the transition to full Division I status. “I was a little bit nervous,” Hansen admitted with a laugh about the program’s first A-Sun tournament game.

But the Eagles had little reason to be nervous … not with Hansen on their side.

Daniel Shirley is the sports editor of The Telegraph in Macon. Follow complete coverage of the Atlantic Sun tournament at and follow Daniel at @DM_Shirley for live updates throughout the tournament.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mercer's Kacie Niemann Goes the Extra Mile With SAAC

One of the top Mercer University cross country runners in school history, junior Kacie Niemann was an A-Sun second team all-conference selection in 2011, as well as in 2009. Additionally, she was an A-Sun All-Freshman Team selection in 2009. Niemann owns the MU school records in both 5K and 6K races, and has seven of the top-10 Mercer 5K times in school history.

In her career, Niemann has been the MU team’s top finisher in 16 of 17 races. A cross country co-captain, she ran the second-fastest six kilometer time in school history to pace the women’s cross country team at the NCAA South Regionals in 2011. Niemann’s time of 22:42.70 was good for 84th overall out of the 191 entered runners and was second only to her own school-record time of 22:13.95 for the 6K (set at last year’s NCAA South Regional).

In the classroom, Niemann has been named to the A-Sun All-Scholastic Team twice (2010, 2009), was a member of Mercer’s USTFCCCA 2010 NCAA Division I All-Academic Team and a three-time Mercer President & Dean’s List honoree. She has twice earned the President’s Scholastic Award (2009, 2010). Her academic honors include Organic Chemistry Student Award (2011), an invitation to Alpha Epsilon Delta, pre-medical Honor Society (2010), an invitation to Phi Eta Sigma academic Honor Society (2010) and recipient of the Citi Group Academic Scholarship (2009).

She has also served as the secretary for the A-Sun Student-Athletes Advisory Council, and discusses her involvement with SAAC as well the role of SAAC on campus and in the community.

A-Sun: Why do you work with SAAC?
KN: I originally got involved because I was one of the only qualified people on my team to represent it in SAAC, but I have become more involved to improve policies that would benefit student-athletes and enhance Mercer’s athletic department.

A-Sun: What is SAAC’s role on campus?
KN: We had a big push this year to increase attendance at games, to raise money for the American Cancer Society and to volunteer with the Salvation Army. Our biggest role on campus, though, is to give the student-athletes a voice in the athletic department so that administrative decisions are not being made without our input.

A-Sun: Why did you choose to attend Mercer and to play for an A-Sun team?
KN: I chose Mercer primarily because they have an excellent Physician Assistant program here, and I was given the opportunity to continue competing athletically since I recruited to run cross-country for the university. Although the Women’s Cross-Country program was being rebuilt when I first came in as a freshman, I have had the opportunity to see it grow and have been able to serve as Captain, help with recruiting, and personally contribute to developing the team.

A-Sun: What is a typical day for you as a Bear entail?
KN: I spend early mornings going to practice, then rushing to work at a doctor’s office so that I can get the necessary experience for PA school. I have classes and homework until practice in the afternoons (which usually last about three hours), then I spend the evenings either catching up on homework, tutoring, working at the University Center, or helping with a children’s ministry at my church (on Wednesdays).

A-Sun: How do you envision SAAC’s role in the Macon community in the future?
KN: I would hope that we can become more visible to non-student athletes and would work closer with our Student Government to possibly implement service projects that use athletics, but that athletes and non-athletes can participate in. Additionally, I would hope that SAAC would take initiatives to improve the experience for students that attend athletic events to give them an incentive to come to more games and events.

A-Sun: Can you talk about your top-20 finishes at three A-Sun Cross Country Championships?
KN: It gets harder every year to place well because the A-Sun continues to recruit talented runners and improve returning runners. If I were running for myself, I never would have achieved such high placement in the conference races. But I have a very knowledgeable coach that does everything he can to ensure that all of his athletes are competing to the best of their ability, and his training has prepared me physically to race while the increasing unity of our team has prepared me mentally to gut out a tough race. The unity of our team also provides me with the mental toughness I need to finish a race.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Belmont's Chase Brookshire Pitches the Importance of SAAC

As a freshman pitcher in 2010, Chase Brookshire got off to a good start and hasn't looked back. He recorded a career-high seven strikeouts in his first career start, and at season's end was tied for the team high with 13 starts. He received Atlantic Sun All-Freshman Team accolades after recording a team best six wins with a 6-2 record with an ERA of 6.26. His 83.1 innings pitched and 52 strike outs were also the most on the squad.

Last season Chase earned the victory in Belmont's first ever NCAA Regional win, striking out six while allowing one earned run on two hits in eight innings pitched against Oklahoma State. He earned NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team accolades for his performance. He was named to the Atlantic Sun Conference All-Tournament Team after pitching a one-run complete game against Kennesaw State, and garnered several other accolades throughout the season including All-Atlantic Sun Second Team honors, and A-Sun Pitcher of the Week (3/7). Brookshire set a career record with nine strikeouts in a 4-3 win vs. Kennesaw State (3/11) and pitched a total of three complete games including two conference match ups. Once again he led the team with 102.2 innings pitched and 72 strikeouts and finished the year with a record of 6-4, an ERA of 3.33 and an opponents' average of .265. His 15 starts tied the most in a single season at Belmont.

Today Chase Brookshire discusses why he feels the voice of student-athletes via the Student-Athlete Advisory Council is crucial in order to positively impact campuses and communities.

Why do you work with SAAC?
I was selected to be the SAAC representative midway through my sophomore year. I had the opportunity to attend a leadership conference in Orlando, Fla. hosted by the NCAA during the fall of my sophomore year. I attended with a softball player and SAAC rep, and we came back with a lot of ideas we wanted to implement at Belmont. After this was when I was given the opportunity to join SAAC and I have loved it ever since. It is refreshing to know that the student-athletes really do have a voice in what happens, and I have enjoyed being a part of that process.

What is SAAC’s role on campus?
Our SAAC has become more involved this year than ever before on campus. Obviously, we each represent our teams if anything is to be brought up. We also have worked hard to change certain events like our annual welcome-back dinner at the beginning of the year and put on new events like a Talent-Show to raise money for Special Olympics Nashville.

What is the most rewarding community service project you have done with SAAC?
This past fall, Michael Graffin helped to put on a Fall Festival out at our new Rose Park Complex for Halloween. This was a great community event that kicked off our facility at Rose Park, and it gave our athletes a chance to really get to know the people of the Edgehill community, where we spend so much time.

Why did you choose to attend Belmont and to play for an A-Sun team?
Belmont was a great fit for me personally. It gave me the opportunity to attend a great school and get a great education. I love being in Nashville and all of the opportunities that come with that. Also, playing Division I baseball in a competitive conference like the Atlantic Sun was a big reason why I was drawn to Belmont.

What is a typical day for you as a Belmont Bruin entail?
A typical day as an athlete at Belmont can be extremely busy. Classes are predominately scheduled in the morning, anytime from 8:00-1:00 so that we can grab some lunch and be out at the field in the afternoon for practice. We schedule our weight workouts after practice, so we rush from the field back to the weight room. By that point on a typical weekday, we grab some dinner and take the rest of the night pretty easy, working on any homework needing to take care of or watching a movie with some of the guys.

What was it like leading the Bruins to their first NCAA Regional win/ School’s first ever NCAA win?
CB: It really didn't sink in until the summer and over into the fall when we got back onto campus. I knew what we had accomplished as a team, and I was extremely proud to be able to help us achieve that goal. The regional went by so fast and after it was over, everyone went their own way back home or straight off to play summer ball. Getting back on campus this past fall was great because we received some recognition for our achievements, and that's when it really hit me what we had accomplished. That is a memory that I can truly say I will never forget.

How do you envision SAAC’s role in the Nashville community in the future?
The short time I have been a part of SAAC, I have already seen our outreach grow tremendously. With the other student-athletes, faculty advisors, and grad assistants, we have all worked extremely hard to promote what SAAC is and to increase our role on campus and in the community. I can only see this growing in the future. We have already worked this year in the Edgehill community trying to boost our relationship with them, and we are currently in the process of putting on a Belmont Student-Athlete Talent Show raising money for Special Olympics Nashville.

What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?
I love to play golf, especially in the spring and summer. There is nothing that can compare to getting away from everything for three hours, enjoying the weather, and spending time with some buddies.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Notables for a Busy Day in the A-Sun

Along with four women's tennis matches, three men's tennis matches and 10 softball games, the following other notable items are on tap for the A-Sun and its schools today. Be sure to follow all of the action on Twitter, Facebook and the A-Sun website (

Nine of the 10 A-Sun teams open the 2012 season at home today, with Jacksonville being the lone team on the road to start off the season. The Dolphins face No. 40 Southern Cal in a three-game set. ETSU opens its year at the brand-new Thomas Stadium with Eastern Kentucky in town.

Weekly Conference Baseball Notes
Full Game Schedule

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Follow the A-Sun on Twitter: #ASunBase


Women's Championship Page
Men's Championship Page
Follow the championship on Twitter: #ASunITF

After capturing six-straight Atlantic Sun Indoor Track & Field Championships, the Jacksonville Dolphins are looking to snag a seventh in Johnson City, Tenn., today and tomorrow at the A-Sun Indoor Track and Field Championship. The Dolphins are the only team in the six year history of the event to have won.

Last year, JU finished ahead of runner-up North Florida by 65 points. JU’s Charlene Charles will be vying for her third-straight championship Most Valuable Performer title, which would be the most in A-Sun history. She is currently tied with two others.

Kennesaw State and ETSU are looking to get a piece of the action this time around, the two finished third and fourth last year. The Owls finished as the runner-up in 2010, while the Lady Bucs best performance came in 2007 when they tied for second place.

The events will get underway at 8:30 a.m. from the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center today with the women’s pentathlon and concludes Saturday afternoon with the men’s 4x400 meter relays, followed by the awards presentation at 4:30 p.m.


  • Thirteen of the 17 women’s individual events feature former champions of the event.
  • Going into the women’s championship, eight student-athletes recorded performances that rank better than the A-Sun Championship meet record. This means that there stands a strong chance for several all-time marks to fall during the two-day event. Two of those top performances of the 2012 season came from the 800-meter run, while one more come in the pentathlon.
  • In total, three student-athletes will vie for their third individual event title of their careers; Jacksonville’s Stacey Young, 60m Hurdles; Jacksonville’s Joane Pierre, Mile Run and 800m Run; North Florida’s Christina King, Pole Vault. Only two women’s athletes have accomplished the feat (Natasha Harvey, Jacksonville; 60m Hurdles and Hillary Crook, Jacksonville; Shot Put)


ETSU and Kennesaw State have gone one-two for the last four Atlantic Sun Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships. In the history of the championships, ETSU holds a conference-leading four titles and Kennesaw holds the remaining two.

ETSU and Kennesaw State may have some competition this year from North Florida, who came in fifth last year, as the Ospreys return all four of their event winners from last year.


  • Unlike the women, keep an eye out forward to a bunch of first-time champions on the men’s side as only six of 17 individual events feature past winners at the indoor championship.
  • USC Upstate’s Gilbert Kemboi will try for his third-individual event title in the 5,000-meter run. If he is successful, Kemboi would become only the third student-athlete to become a three-time event winner.
  • In total, five student-athletes will vie for their second-individual event title of their careers. (ETSU’s Desmond Pierce, 800m Run; North Florida’s Will Pearce, 3,000m Run; North Florida’s Cameron Dickerson, Mile Run; North Florida’s David Shepherd, Pole Vault; Kennesaw State’s Anjoun Armaly)

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With its first conference postseason berth in hand, FGCU completes its 2011-12 home slate against in-state rival Stetson in the Atlantic Sun/CSS Friday Night Game of the Week at Alico Arena. The game will be televised live on Comcast Sports South and on with Matt Stewart and Sonny Smith on the call.

LAST MEETING: FGCU 92, Stetson 85 – Feb. 11, 2012, in DeLand, Fla.

Follow A-Sun Men's Basketball on Twitter: #ASunMBB

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bears In, Bruins "Last Four Out" in Latest ESPN Bracketology

ESPN guru Joe Lunardi has released his latest Bracketology, in which he places the Mercer Bears as A-Sun tournament champion in the No. 15 seed in the West Regional, while defending A-Sun champion Belmont is included on his list of the First Four Out.

The Bruins join Xavier, Washington and Northwestern in the First Four Out. The Bears are a new addition to the bracket, while Belmont’s status seems to indicate some post-season at-large consideration if the Bruins fail to win the conference championship. In the Feb. 10 edition of Bracketology, Lunardi had Belmont as the No. 14 seed in the Midwest Region. The latest RPI has Belmont up 11 spots to 79 and Mercer down three spots at 102.

More on Bracketology with Joe Lunardi

Mercer and Belmont share identical records (20-7, 12-2 A-Sun) with four conference games remaining. The final regular season game in Macon, Ga., on Feb. 25 between Mercer and Belmont could potentially determine the regular season champion and top seed in the upcoming 2012 General Shale A-Sun Basketball Championships. Belmont has won four of the last six A-Sun tournament championships, while Mercer last played in the championship game in 2010, losing to ETSU. The championships will be hosted by Mercer University at the University Center, Feb. 29 – March 3, 2012.


With its 20 wins, Mercer has clinched its fourth 20-win season in the past 33 years. The Bears last reached the win plateau in 2002-03 with 23 victories en route to the program’s only A-Sun regular-season title. In the 1984-85 season, Mercer won 22 games and captured the conference tournament title.

During Mercer’s current nine-game win streak, the Bears are holding opponents to .240 percent (39-of-162) from three-point range. During conference play, Mercer’s opponents are shooting only .267 from behind the arc, which leads the A-Sun and is the lowest since the 2006-07 season. More on Mercer basketball


With 50 wins over the past two seasons, Belmont is tied for the ninth-best two-year win total in A-Sun history. The Bruins need four more wins this season to tie College of Charleston (1995-97) for the best two-year stretch in conference history. The Bruins already own three of the Top-10 marks in A-Sun history. More on Belmont Basketball

Belmont’s Mick Hedgepeth is one of 10 NCAA® men’s basketball student-athletes who are finalists today for the 2011-12 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition. More on Hedgepeth

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Kennesaw State's Lindsay Adams On Par With the Value of SAAC

Lindsay Adams was no stranger to success when she teed it up as a freshman with Kennesaw State in 2010-11. As a prep she was the Georgia AA state championship back-to-back in 2009-10, and was named the Atlanta Journal Constitution player of the year in 2010.

Last season Adams competed in three events for the Owls as a freshman. Her best finish came at the Atlantic Sun Championship, where she finished t-21st (74-78-83=235). Adams' best single round of 74 also came during the A-Sun Championship. In her first season she finished with a stroke average of 80.9.

Adams' leadership in representing other student-athletes on campus and being involved in her Kennesaw community are two reasons she chose to be involved with the KSU Student-Athlete Advisory Council. Following are her thoughts on the impact of SAAC on her personally, her campus and her community.

A-Sun: Why do you work with SAAC?
LA: I work with SAAC in order to make the voice of every student-athlete on the Kennesaw State Campus heard as well as to promote Kennesaw State's athletic program throughout the student body. I feel as though it's important to take everyone's opinions into account when we are making decisions that impact not only ourselves as athletes, but that impact the overall happiness of everyone on campus. I enjoy working with SAAC because it allows me to help other people (such as when we raise money for various community service projects).

A-Sun: What is SAAC’s role on campus?
LA: The SAAC's role on campus is to "enhance the total student-athlete experience by promoting opportunity, protecting student-athlete welfare and fostering a positive student-athlete image." To me this statement means that we are helping create a positive image of the Kennesaw State University student-athletes. The SAAC ensures that people not only see us as athletes, but also as students, and over all well rounded people.

A-Sun: What is the most rewarding community service project you have done with SAAC?
LA: The most rewarding community service project that I have done with SAAC would be when we sold lollipops for the Alzheimer’s Association. This association hits me close because I have friends whose grandparents suffer from the disease and anything that I can do to help out means a lot to me.

A-Sun: Why did you choose to attend Kennesaw and to play for an A-Sun team?
LA: I chose to attend Kennesaw because of the fantastic facilities of not only the teams, but for the university itself. As a golfer, it's hard to top our indoor facility and the new weight room. Not only can we still practice when it's cold, but we actually benefit from the practice even though practice has been moved indoors. Kennesaw was my top choice because of the university as well because the dorms are new and the teachers really care about their students' successes.

A-Sun: What is a typical day for you as an Owl entail?
LA: A typical day would begin with waking up early for our 6:00 AM workouts, followed by class from 8 AM until 12:15 PM, eating lunch in between class while getting ready for practice at 2:00 PM. After practice I head to study hall where I log about 6-8 hours a week (depending on the stress load of that week).

A-Sun: How do you envision SAAC’s role in the Kennesaw community in the future?
LA: I envision SAAC's role in the Kennesaw community as a group that people recognize for helping out during hard times. I see us doing more community service work and raising more money for organizations that not only mean a lot to each of us in the SAAC, but that means something to the community of Kennesaw.

A-Sun: Can you talk a little about your best performance coming at the A-Sun championship last season?
LA: The A-Sun Championship was a great learning experience for me. I was really nervous in the beginning, but as soon as I loosened up it became easier to perform the way I wanted. I had been working really hard up until that point (by heading to practice early and staying late) and I really believe that helped me grow. Mentally, the A-Sun Championship put me in a great place because I finally forgot about everything and just played golf. I really enjoyed playing because not only did I learn how to handle when something went bad, I learned how to come back and improve to bring myself to the place I wanted to be. I played well at championship, but I gained a new knowledge of how to address the course which is something that I cherish a lot.

A-Sun: What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?
LA: I love baking cookies and writing letters in order to send them to deployed soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. It means a lot to me because I have a couple of deployed friends and they frequently tell me how amazing it feels to get something in their mailboxes. I think that everyone should get something in their mailbox especially when they are doing such an amazing thing. I usually find a couple of soldiers per month and send them care packages just to let them know that people really do appreciate what they're doing for us.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mick Hedgepeth Latest A-Sun Nominee for Lowe's Senior CLASS Award

It is gratifying when you find student-athletes that embody all that is good in collegiate athletics: academic and athletic excellence, leadership, loyalty, and commitment. That is why the Atlantic Sun Conference is proud to congratulate Mick Hedgepeth as a Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award finalist for 2012.

The Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award celebrates the loyalty of seniors that honor a four-year commitment to their university. The Senior CLASS Award recognizes these student-athletes for great achievement during competition and in their community while staying in school.

The Atlantic Sun Conference and its student-athletes embody those same ideals, celebrating the combination of academic and athletic achievement, leadership, and community involvement in their pursuit of Building Winners for Life.

Belmont’s Mick Hedgepeth is the ninth such A-Sun student-athlete to earn a Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award nomination and the fourth to qualify as a finalist. He follows FGCU’s Adam Glick, ETSU’s Paul Hoilman, USC Upstate’s Morgan Childers, Lipscomb’s Alex Kelly and four other Bruins (Justin Hale, Andy Wicke, Nate Woods and Cyrus Eaton) in his nomination for the award.

Hedgepeth has continued the Belmont tradition of excellence in the classroom. For the second consecutive year, he has been named to the Capital One Academic All-District First Team. Along with those honors, he was recognized as the 2010-11 National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Men’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Hedgepeth is a three-time Atlantic Sun Conference All-Academic honoree. He holds a 3.71 GPA in Accounting.

Hedgepeth has embodied the ideals of character and integrity from the moment he stepped on Belmont’s campus. He has been the men’s basketball’s representative on Belmont University’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) since his freshman year. He has also established a number of program records in strength and conditioning. Perhaps the best example of Hedgepeth’s heart, toughness and love of team came in the 2010 Atlantic Sun Conference Championship. Early in the second half of a game, Hedgepeth suffered a significant knee injury and received treatment from athletic trainers. After several minutes, with a fellow post player in foul trouble and knowing that the game could be the last for several Belmont seniors, Hedgepeth received clearance and went back into the game with a cumbersome brace.

Hedgepeth has participated in Belmont Sports Evangelism Mission Trips to South Africa, Malta and Italy. He has also served as a tutor and activities leader at nearby Carter Lawrence Elementary in Nashville. When the historic floods struck Nashville in the spring of 2010, Hedgepeth worked with a team from Green Hills Church to strip houses and rebuild homes. Hedgepeth has also spearheaded Belmont’s annual Volunteer Youth Encouragement Services, including a program that collects and donates Christmas gifts to area children. Hedgepeth volunteered at Big Brothers Nashville and the 2010 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and has also served as a motivational speaker at area churches and schools.

Hedgepeth has been an integral part of Belmont’s steady rise among the nation’s top mid-major college basketball programs. A consensus preseason All-Atlantic Sun selection in 2011-12, Hedgepeth is the reigning Atlantic Sun Championship MVP after leading the Bruins to a 30-5 record and a fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in six years. He has 53 double figure scoring games to his credit and is one of 11 Bruins of the NCAA era to score over 1,000 career points. Hedgepeth has helped the Bruins to sole possession of second place in the current A-Sun Men’s Basketball standings.

The Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award is presented each year to the outstanding senior NCAA Division I Student-Athlete of the Year across ten different sports. The acronym “CLASS” stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®.

Award winners are determined by a selection process that includes NCAA Division I college coaches in each respective sport, national media, and fans. The voting process determines the winner in addition to a Senior CLASS All-America Team.

Public fan voting on the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award website takes place each year during the month leading up to the NCAA Championship.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Stetson's Senior Pulls Hat Trick with SAAC

As A-Sun softball season opens today, Carolyn Boyd's Stetson Hatters open the 2012 season this weekend at Patricia Wilson Field with the Stetson Lead-Off Classic, a four-team event that will see the Hatters go up against South Dakota twice as well as single games against two-time defending MAAC champion Iona and Samford.

A versatile player, Boyd (Germantown, Tenn.) provides
veteran savvy that should be an asset to the 2012 Hatters. Boyd currently serves as the A-Sun NCAA National SAAC Representative, is the the chair of Stetson University's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and former A-Sun SAAC chairwoman. She has started 54 games at first base over the last two seasons, developing into an excellent fielder that made just two errors in 239 chances in 2011. Boyd has recently shown signs of blossoming on offense as well, raking four base hits against Rollins and homering against St. Petersburg College in the fall exhibition season.

A-Sun: Why do you work with SAAC?
CB: When I first joined SAAC I wasn't sure what it was, but I quickly learned. I truly believe in the purpose of SAAC. We are here to represent all student-athletes, and make sure the student-athlete voice is heard and protected throughout the NCAA. It has been—and continues to be— such a rewarding experience to know that I can play a role in that process.

A-Sun: What is SAAC's role on campus?
CB: SAAC's role is the same on every campus across the NCAA. We are here to enhance the total student-athlete experience by promoting opportunity, protecting student-athlete welfare and fostering a positive student-athlete image. This is most often done through community service projects, leadership seminars and discussions about student-athletes' feelings towards "hot topics" in the NCAA.

A-Sun: What is the most rewarding community service project you have done with SAAC?
CB: I've gotten the opportunity to work with the local Boys and Girls Club on a couple of occasions. SAAC works with a program called Kilometer Kids that promotes an active lifestyle for these children. My favorite experience was playing kickball at the Boys and Girls Club with the Stetson softball team. We got the opportunity to teach them how to compete with good sportsmanship. I really felt like we made a difference.

A-Sun: Why did you choose to attend Stetson?
CB: I like to think I made one of the best decisions of my life for all the wrong reasons. I transferred into Stetson—strictly for the softball program. Once I got involved at Stetson, I fell in love with the campus, the people, and the academics. I've had such a great experience as a student-athlete, and the reasons for that go far beyond softball.

A-Sun: What is a typical day for you as a Stetson Hatter?
CB: Like most student-athletes, my days require lots of time management. A typical weekday starts with a morning team lift and ends falling asleep while trying to get in some extra reading. I go from weights to class to meetings to class to practice—while stopping for lunch when I get a chance. After practice, I shower, eat dinner, and hit the books. I prefer to study at the library because I can never get anything done in my room. There are just too many things around that are more entertaining than homework!

A-Sun: How difficult was it for you to come back from your injury and what was it that got you through it?
CB: My injury occurred my freshman year at a different school, and my personal mindset is to live in the present and be thankful for all the opportunities I've had at Stetson.

A-Sun: How do you envision SAAC's role in the DeLand community in the future?
CB: The ideal goal would be for SAAC to be a group commonly known for giving back to the community. We've tried to work specifically with local organizations so we can see where all our hard work is going. I hope this will instill a passion with Stetson's SAAC to continue growing this relationship.Bold

A-Sun: What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?
CB: I spend most of my time playing softball, doing homework, and working with SAAC. But my recent "escape" has been rock climbing. There's an indoor facility not too far away that my friends and I will go to when we get the chance. It's a fun, different type of workout where you leave with a huge sense of accomplishment.