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.