The Bears lost their one and only home game of the season this year to Abilene Christian University by a score of 20-17 Saturday. With the game tied at 17 points each, Abilene Christian kicked a field goal with just seconds remaining to secure the road win against Mercer. The dagger field goal finished off the Bears’ fall 2020 season with another loss, giving Mercer an 0-3 record. Mercer’s next game will be in 2021 in the form of a Feb. 20 showdown with fellow Southern Conference team Wofford. While the Bears’ fall campaign finished without a win, it should be noted that there were some major plays and players in this game as well as the other two this season that seem promising for the spring 2021 season. Mercer safety Lance Wise had 20 tackles and was one away from beating the program record Saturday against the Wildcats. Wise was then named FCS Co-Player of the Week due to his career-high 20 tackles. Issac Dowling finished with nine tackles and gained his fourth sack of the year, helping the Bears’ defense hold strong overall. The Bears played well throughout the game, only falling short in the game’s final seconds. Despite a rough start to their football campaign, the Bears still had some solid performances and memorable moments in their three games this year. Another high point for the Bears came in their first game of the season against Jacksonville State University. During the game, Tyray Devezin lead in rushing yards and became the fourth player in program history to get 2000 rushing yards in his career. Isaac Dowling recorded a game-high of 15 tackles. The most impressive play of the season came in the same game courtesy of the versatile Deondre Johnson. Johnson took the opening kick-off in for a touchdown, giving Mercer an early lead against the Gamecocks. The Bears then traveled to Army and suffered a 49-3 loss. Mercer scored first again this game and held Army to just a single third-down conversion during the first half but could not stop Army’s offense. Tryay Devezin gained a new team-high of 71 rushing yards, but his performance on the ground couldn't match Army’s production. The Bears then finished off the season at home with the tragic loss against the Wildcats of Abilene Christian. They recorded nine sacks within the three games this season, almost meeting the 10 recorded last season. With some of these bright performances in mind, Mercer’s football team will attempt to bounce back and earn wins against Southern Conference opponents during Spring 2021. 2021 play for Mercer begins with a matchup against Wofford Feb. 20. [gallery ids="27866,27865,27863,27862,27867"]
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As the 2020 U.S Open concluded Sept. 13, there were some major implications for tennis during the tournament. Ranging from COVID-19 adjustments to major tennis history, here are three important takeaways from the U.S. Open. Tennis can happen during the pandemic The U.S. Open has followed in the footsteps of many other sports recently, as several major protective measures were taken to keep the staff, players and coaches safe during play. The tournament’s security team, led by director Mike Rodriguez, upped the amount of security at the tournaments to enforce masks and social distancing when practical. One of the most impressive safety measures was zone-based trackers on the court. These trackers would keep track of how many people were on the court and who they were, according to the United States Tennis Association. Paired with frequent temperature checks and social distancing, the tournament was able to put effective safety measures in place. Tennis is an inherently distanced sport, so it is able to operate with these extra measures and precautions in place. Naomi Osaka shows that tennis doesn’t have to be whitewashed Naomi Osaka made history and won the women’s singles title at the 2020 U.S. Open. She has now joined the group of just 11 women to win the singles title more than once since 1968, winning the title while ranked third in the world. Her first win in the U.S. Open occurred in 2018, when she was just 20 years old. Osaka is also the first Asian player to win three Grand Slam Titles. “I wanted to set myself up to possibly win this tournament,” Osaka said at a press conference. “I felt like I just worked so hard, I wanted to give myself an opportunity.” Osaka used the U.S. Open to speak against the injustices happening in America. During each match, Osaka wore a different name-adorned mask that said the name of a Black victim of violence, including Ahmaud Arbery, Elijah McClain, Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. “I hate when random people say athletes shouldn’t get involved with politics and just entertain,” Osaka said on Twitter prior to the tournament. “Firstly, this is a human rights issue. Secondly, what gives you more right to speak than me?” Osaka’s actions open the door for more tennis players and athletes to act as social leaders. A player was rejected for striking a line judge, and it wasn’t a rookie Novak Djokovic, who holds 17 major titles, was disqualified after hitting a line judge in the throat after he angrily hit a tennis ball back towards the wall. The line judge, Laura Clark, was treated and has reportedly recovered smoothly. Djokovic’s outburst cost him the opportunity to move past the fourth round and potentially win the tournament, which he was projected to do. This is not the first brash act during a tournament by Djokovic. In 2016, he accidentally threw his racket near a line judge at the French Open. He was not disqualified and ended up winning the tournament in that instance. “I’m working mentally and emotionally as hard as I am physical, trying to be the best version of myself on the court, off the court,” Djokovic said at a news conference in Rome. “But you’re alone out there, it’s a lot of intensity, a lot of pressure, and you have to deal with all of that.” Djokovic won his first match since the incident in Rome on September 16th. It will be interesting how situations like these will be handled in the future. With these events in mind, it seems that tennis will approach its tournaments with a safer, more progressive and stricter behavioral mindset going forward. The 2020 U.S. Open could go down as a massive instigator of change for the sport of tennis.
It’s six o’clock at Luther Williams Field. The sound of ACDC’s “Thunderstruck” blares through the speakers as the baseball players take the field. The smell of bacon floats through the summer air. It’s official: the gates are open for the Macon Bacon’s 2020 baseball season. Unlike last season, the Bacon fans come in at a slow and cautious pace. Most are wearing face masks in addition to their Bacon gear. While it may look different, the pandemic cannot stop that amazing feeling you get entering a park on game day. The pandemic shut down all sports back in March and seems to be postponing most in the coming months. Some sports were able to return this summer, however, and Macon Bacon baseball is among them. From the NHL to the MLB, players returned for practices and games, giving fans hope and entertainment during a difficult time. The Coastal Plain League (CPL) was one of these leagues that returned. The league was able to host seven teams to play this season throughout Georgia and the Carolinas. The teams have been tested for COVID-19 and wore face masks so they could play safely. While there was a lot of uncertainty on how the season would look, I was more than excited to be part of it as a league intern. Being a CPL intern is work, but at the end of the day one of the best experiences a journalism student can have in the sports world. Before the game started, I would always make sure that my camera was charged and the SD card was empty. Most importantly, I made sure I had my mask. Even though most of the park was not a closed space, I was required to wear one for my safety and others'. During game action, I would only have a couple of innings to get good pictures due to light. This meant that I would have to move around the seating bowl quite often. Unlike last season when I worked, I was very aware of how close I was to fans and other workers. I never felt unsafe at the ballpark and I always tried to keep more than six feet away from others. The players themselves would be socially distant in the dugout, and some would even wear masks during gameplay. While I was not allowed in the dugout, I was close enough to take pictures and give Instagram a full game experience. This internship not only taught me how to post on social media and get good pictures, but it also taught me how to be flexible with the situation that I was in. The pandemic was and still remains a scary reality that we live in. Regardless of that, this experience taught me that sports can be a great outlet of joy for myself, the players and those watching.
COVID-19 (coronavirus) has become a growing concern in the United States. As of March 13, there have been around 1,600 cases in America, according to the New York Times. The virus not only affects everyday life but has also moved into the sports world, creating one of the most hectic seasons in sports history. Mercer Sports The SoCon has officially suspended any game competition until March 30. An official statement was released by Mercer’s Athletic Director, Jim Cole. “During this unpredictable time, Mercer Athletics fully supports all necessary measures to protect the health and well-being of the Mercer family and the entire Middle Georgia community,” Cole said. “Our highest priority here at Mercer will always be the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, faculty, staff, and fans.” Mercer has not made any announcements regarding make up games. Many athletes are petitioning to have another year of eligibility due to the cancelation of their seasons. National Basketball Association, National Soccer League and National Hockey League Nationally, three leagues, the NBA, NSL and NHL, have already suspended gameplay for the rest of their seasons. In the NBA, Utah Jazz’s center, Ruby Gobert tested positive for the virus on Wednesday. Other players on the team were tested and Donovan Mitchell was announced to also be positive. NCAA The NCAA also canceled their March Madness as well as all men’s and Women’s Division One basketball tournaments. They have also canceled all NCAA championship tournaments for winter and spring sports. Along with the NCAA the Power Five Leagues—the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, Pac 12—have canceled basketball championships. The ACC went as far as to suspend all athletic activity for further notice. PGA Multiple tournaments for the PGA’s have been canceled or postponed events through the Valero Texas Open. The first (and biggest) championship of the year, the Master’s Tournament, has also been postponed. Augusta Nationals have yet to set another date and this will be the first time in history that the tournament will not be held in March or April since its inception in 1934. MLB The MLB has canceled spring training but has only postponed the season by two weeks. The league released in a statement that the situation “is being taken in the interests of the safety and well-being of our players, Clubs and our millions of loyal fans.” The Olympics There has not been an official statement yet on whether or not the Olympics will be canceled. If the event is canceled, it will be the first time the Olympics have been canceled since World War II. XFL The league announced that they are suspending play in their sixth week of the first year of the season. The Houston Roughnecks were leading the season with a 5-0 record. For more coronavirus coverage, check our news section.
Mercer’s baseball team led their opening weekend with an undefeated season so far. The team played Maryland-Eastern Shore, beating them in their first game 13-4. The win was the first time the Bears have had that many runs in an opener since 2018 when they beat Bethune-Cookman 13-7. This also marks the tenth straight win for the season opener. There were three home runs with Colby Thomas hitting one at his second ever career at-bat. Brandon Michie and Bill Knight hit the other two home runs back to back in the bottom of the sixth. Thomas was named into the top D1 100 Freshman by the NCCA. He holds the 133rd rank and held a .353 batting average after the first weekend. Defensively, the Bears set records as Tanner Hall pitched five innings and beat his career record of nine strikeouts. On Saturday, the Bears won the double header with the final score of 3-2 for the first and 5-2 for the second. The team then traveled to Tallahassee, Florida, to face off against Florida A&M. During the first game, the Rattlers took an early lead with the winning runs not coming till the eighth inning. The Bears set a season-high of 17 hits in a game and have only allowed 10 hits for a game. Garrett Mathis pitched six innings with 11 strikeouts. The second game was won by the Bears with a final score of 7-2. Angelo DiSpigna hit the 15th home run of his career. Pitcher Josh Famer picked up the first win of his career and Hunter Philips had seven strikeouts. "I'm pleased with the way we played on Tuesday and Wednesday. I thought our pitching was outstanding from our starters to our bullpen,” Coach Craig Gibson told Mercer Athletics. “Offensively, our plan and approach at the plate was much better than the previous weekend.” The Bears then returned home to face off against Radford University. Starting pitcher Tanner Hall picked up his second win of the season on Friday and struck out eight. “The first thing that goes through my mind is to throw a strike for the first pitch of the game to set the tone,” Hall said. Hall’s 16 starts last season led the SoCon and he is already up to 17 strikeouts this season. “We have a lot of positive energy cheering each other on, having a good time and I think that is feeding into what we are doing right now and hopefully we can keep doing it,” Hall said. On Saturday, the Bears beat Radford 6-1. This was the third time that Mercer gave no extra-base hits. Philips got his second save of the season and Garrett Mathes achieved his first win of the season and allowed zero runs. Mercer completed the sweep on Sunday with a three run comeback in the 8th to win 7-6. Michie obtained his second home run of the season and pitcher Fred Wilson obtained his first win. Mercer will face off in the battle of I-16 against Georgia Southern who hold a 3-4 record so far on Feb. 26. [gallery ids="26854,26855,26853"]
Mercer’s male basketball team had one of their best games of the season against the Samford Bulldogs on Feb. 19 with a 40 point lead in the final score. This was the Bears’ 14th win over the Bulldogs. The team also had 30 assists in the game, beating Mercer’s previous record of 28 set in 2013. The 40-point difference is the largest this season for the Bears over another Division 1 school, and the 106 points put up was the highest this season. "Our guys did a great job of sharing the basketball and finding the open man,” Coach Greg Gary told Mercer Athletics postgame. “We did a tremendous job of moving and shooting shots in rhythm. We have to continue to do that." Jeff Gary shot 32 points, beating his previous best of 18 earlier in the season against Florida Gulf coast. He also shot eight three-pointers to tie the record of three-pointers in Hawkins Arena. Djordje Dimitrijevic also tied his career high of 10 assists and maintained a second career double-double. The bigger surprise of the game came from freshman James Glisson lll who beat his career-high of 21 points. He also had a steal that resulted in a fast break and dunk that made the play of the game in the second half. The Bears kept the winning streak going and traveled to Chattanooga for an important SoCon game. The team won 85-80 with Gary and Maciej Bender scoring 17 to account for the top scorers. “To win on the road is a very good win for us. I'm proud of this team,” Coach Greg Gary told Mercer Athletics postgame. “They're doing a good job of buying in and playing together.” The team has two more games this season before the start of the SoCon tournament. They will face the Citadel in South Carolina on Feb. 26th and come home for the last game of the season against Wofford on Feb. 29th.
The men’s Basketball team had their first SoCon division win on Wednesday against the Virginia Military Institute at Hawkins Arena. Both teams had yet to win a division game in the Southern Conference with VMI scoring 0-5 and the Bears 0-4. The first half of the game did not look good for the Bears as the Keydets took a four-point lead and eventually a double-digit lead going into half time. The Bears had 18 turnovers with the majority of them being in the first half. While VMI led 38-27 coming into the second half, Mercer came back from halftime with new strength. The Bears started slowly gaining more points and ended up shooting 46 points in the second half. Djordje Dimitrijevic (#5) shot his own record this game by shooting six three-pointers with five of those coming in the second half. His total points came to 26 and he was also nominated SoCon student-athlete of the week. The transfer, Jeff Gary (#3), also shot in the double digits with 11 total points during this game. He obtained four assists and three three-point field goals, which were both his season-high. “What’s going through my head first is where my other teammates are so I can give them a bucket,” Gary said. “I like assisting more than I do scoring.” The Bears finished strong with an 11-point lead over the Keydets, 73-62. Mercer then traveled to Samford and grabbed their second SoCon win with the final score being 90-75. Ethan Stair (#22) scored 22 points in the game and became the fourth player in Mercer program history to reach 1,000 points. Stair reached this after throwing a three in the second half and now has 1,017 career-points. Dimitrijevic also went his third game scoring over 25 points and tied his record of six three-pointers. The Bears then played Western Carolina Jan. 22 and won 85-79. The team shot a 48.3 percentage on the floor with Dimitrijevic and Gary passing their previous game scoring highs. Stair also recorded his eighth double double this season and scored 17 points that game. The bears played VMI again in Lexington and won 69-66. While it was a close game, the win put Mercer at 4-4 in the SoCon. Dimitrijevic led the team in points, and Kamar Robertson was second in top-scoring points for the team. Robertson tied his career-high of 16 points in a single game. The next game will be at ETSU on Jan. 29 and the next home game is against the Citadel on Feb. 1. Whether the Bears can hold this winning streak is unknown, but it has become evident that the team holds something special. “Just putting the pieces together, we are so close,” Gary said. “If we just do the little things I think it will make a huge difference.”
The women’s soccer season may be over, but this season was one for the record books. The team made it to the SoCon semifinals for the first time since 2016 and won 16 games this season — a program record. When the Bears faced Western Carolina on Nov. 3 in the first part of the SoCon tournament, junior Ally Fordman scored the winning goal in double overtime. “Throughout this season, there have been numerous players that have a step up to get the job done during a crucial game,” Fordman said. “I was just happy that I was able to do that for my team.” Fordman had a total of 383 minutes this season with four total goals. “It’s one of those things that you don’t want to take for granted,” Fordman said. “You know that you can’t let your teammates down. They work so hard for you and you know you need to go in and keep up the energy.” For the success the Bears have had this year, practice in between games was crucial. “Some days you are at the top of your game, and other days your touch isn’t as good,” Fordman said. “It’s all about coming back the next day stronger.” With only 10 home and conference games in a season, making each game count has been a focus this year. “When it’s game day, it’s a special occasion for us,” Fordman said. Coach Tony Economopoulos was named SoCon coach of the year after the 16-4 season. Economopoulos is one of two coaches to win such an award from Mercer’s program, according to Mercer Athletics. Nicole Icen was also named SoCon player of the year. She is the first player to win honors since 1998, according to Mercer Athletics.
Mercer Football lost its Homecoming game to Wofford with a final score of 41-7. As the last home game of the season, Nov. 9 was also senior day, where the team honored 17 seniors in a presentation on the field before kickoff. Some of the notable seniors this year were Dorian Kithcart and Destin Guillen. Kithcart was one of the three Mercer players to be named CoSIDA Academic All-district and had a total of 13 solo tackles this season. Guillen started on the defensive line and recorded 7 solo tackles so far this season. With a stadium full of people and a temperature of 45 degrees, the team came out with energy, ready to play in front of the 10,729 people who were in attendance. The one touchdown of the game was a 3-yard pass from Kaelan Riley, caught by tight end Chase Westfall late in the second quarter. Westfall has recorded 20 receiving yards this season. However, the offense could not hold up to Wofford’s defense and Mercer had its lowest offensive output in the Southern Conference since 2014 according to Mercer Athletics. The defense tried to hold strong against the Bulldog offense with Eric Jackson gaining 12 tackles in this game. He holds 262 tackles in his career and is ranked in the top 15 nationally among all active FCS players according to Mercer Athletics. Mercer has yet to win against the No. 23 team since its revival in 2014. The Bears still have a few games left in their season. Their schedule can be found on the Mercer Athletics website. [gallery size="large" ids="26558,26557,26556,26555,26554,26553,26552,26551,26550" orderby="rand"]
Being a student athlete at any college can be a big commitment, and for many students, it is not the path they want to take in college. However, this does not mean that students have to give up their love of being on a sports team. For co-president and swimmer Emma Rose, Mercer’s club swim team is a way of keeping active without pressure. “It is an open environment for people who want to learn,” Rose said. “I believe it is a safe space.” The swim team practices every week, but maintains a close and chill atmosphere. “We have a lot of jokesters on our team,” Co-President Sydney Hanna said. “It lightens the mood which makes it a lot easier because swimming is typically an isolated sport.” The team competes in roughly three tournaments per semester. In the spring, the team will compete in Nationals with some swimmers who have already qualified. “You get out what you put in,” Rose said.”You encourage everybody, and when someone does well, you celebrate in that.” Anyone can join at any time during the school year, and the team has swimmers of all skill levels. “We like it if they know how to swim,” Rose said. “However, there are opportunities for them to learn.” The team recently competed in a meet at Georgia Tech with teams coming all the way from Cincinnati. Their next meet will be next semester. For more information on how to join, visit their Instagram, @mercerswimclub, or their website.
The Mercer Bears continued their winning streak at Five Star Stadium against the Samford Bulldogs. They won by a field goal in triple-overtime with a final score of 36 to 33. The Bulldogs led the first quarter with the Bears only managing to score a field goal. Mercer came back to tie 10-10 by halftime. After half time, the Bears came back with a new surge of energy and determination to push them through the game. The two teams stayed neck and neck up into the fourth quarter. Redshirt freshman Caleb Dowen missed a 35-yard field goal during the fourth, which sent the game into overtime. In overtime, both teams scored a touchdown with small yardage and a field goal. In a nail-biting turn of events, Dowen again had to get a field goal to win the game. He made the 38-yard field goal, pushing the Bears to victory. This is the second year in a row that Mercer has beaten Samford and the second home win of the season. This win couldn’t have come at a better time, as the Bears lost to the Citadel the week prior. Redshirt junior and linebacker Sidney Otiwu set a school record for the most tackles in a single game and continues to lead the Bears this season defensively. Wide receiver David Durdan played his second game back after sustaining an injury early in the season. He had 63 receiving yards on three catches, according to Mercer Athletics. The Bears are set to face the Wofford on Nov. 9 for the last home game of the season.
Mercer cross country runner Ashley McMahon set her personal best at the Queen City Invitational. McMahon placed 15th out of 365 individually, according to Mercer Athletics. This record is something that she has strived for since starting at Mercer. “It has been a goal for me for a long time,” McMahon said. “It was hard because you have to be there mentally the whole time.” The team practices throughout the week, with McMahon usually running over five miles a day. From meals to the right headspace, preparation is essential. “It’s part of our everyday life,” McMahon said. “I will mentally imagine the race in my head so I know how it will feel, and if something goes wrong I know what to do.” Food is something that can make or break a race, and for McMahon, she found a snack that she stands by. “As a whole, you try and eat healthy you know, get your carbs and your proteins,” McMahon said. “Oatmeal is one of my main go-tos.” McMahon ran in all five of Mercer's meets and was one of the top two finishers in all five events last season. She also held Mercer’s second-fastest 5K time for one of her races last season, according to Mercer Athletics. “The training that we have done has prepared us so well,” McMahon said. Both the men’s and women’s teams are showing promising results as the Men’s team had their best finish of the year at the Blazer Classic Meet. Both teams will compete in the SoCon tournament on Nov. 2 and have a chance to also compete in regionals on Nov. 15.
Mercer Women’s Basketball team hosted a “Tipoff Picnic” on Oct. 17 to let fans get introduced to the players before this upcoming season. The event took place at Morgan View Farm, which is located thirty minutes from campus. The venue was outdoors and the tickets cost $35 for each person. This ticket covered food and the overall experience of meeting the team. This event is the first of its kind in which the main goal isn’t fundraising. “This is just an event for people to meet our team and socialize,” said assistant coach and event contact Sydni Means. “We have been blessed and fortunate to have the same group for the past three years.” The team made it to the NCAA playoffs last season but lost key players such as Amanda Thompson and Keke Calloway. “We really do have a whole new team this year,” Means said. “We just want to make sure people know our program and we are really excited about the upcoming year.” This year’s team has no seniors and only one junior. The event highlighted each individual player and the coaching staff. Shannon Titus will return this season and shows promising results on the court. She started in 32 of the 33 games last year and averaged 12 points per game. “We do have a young team and so that means we are getting better every day,” Means said. “Obviously we are not where we want to be yet, but I am happy about where we are going.” Susie Gardner was named the Southern Conference Women's Basketball Coach of the Year and the Georgia Women's Coach of the Year after last season. She will also be returning to coach this season. Even with promising players and coaching, how they will perform this season is still up to debate. The first home game is set for Nov. 5 against LaGrange College.
The men’s and women’s cross country teams are welcoming a new coach, John Hayman, for the 2019-2020 school year. “Our team now runs with a sense of passion and grit like I've never seen before during my time at Mercer,” junior runner Anna Grzeszczak said. “Just one big dorky family working together to better one another every day and prepare for the accomplishment of big-time championship season goals.” Coach Hayman grew up a swimmer, and his dad is the head swim coach at the University of Delaware. However, he found a passion for running in high school. “I didn’t do cross country till my senior year of high school, and from then on out that was going to be the life,” Hayman said. “I kind of always had a passion for caching …when I fell for the sport that’s what made me pursue this passion.” Hayman was named the NJCAA Atlantic and Region X Coach of the Year in 2017 and 2018 and previously worked at Louisburg College, according to Mercer Athletics. Following the start of preseason practices, Hayman is optimistic for this season. “I have been extremely impressed by the student’s athletes we have here,” Hayman said. “Everyone here was so open-armed.” A normal week for the cross-country team varies in mileage for each athlete. Sophomore runner Rob Zell runs around 70 miles a week and ran under the previous coach from last season. “There is a little bit of forgiveness, like if you have a bad workout, he is not on top of you … but he also has a high standard,” Zell said. “We respect him so much more and we want to perform for him because we like him so much." The men’s cross-country team placed sixth out of 15 against schools such as Emory and Auburn during their first meet of the season. At the Struts Cross Country Season Opener, the women’s placed fifth out of 15. “It was an absolutely incredible feeling to stand on the starting line, be in full uniform, and surrounded by my amazing teammates,” Grzeszczak said. With four meets left in the season for men and women, Hayman is optimistic about the results. “It’s a lot about the satisfaction and the desire to compete,” Hayman said. “It's just about being positive … everyday atmosphere has to be that we are ready to work.”
Every sports team needs athletes to make plays and win games. While these players are important, every program also needs good coaching to make it successful. Mercer Athletics has given students an opportunity to coach a team under Mercer’s very own coaching staff. John-Allen Stone is entering his third year working under Mercer's football staff and is the Football Operations Intern and Director of Gameday Recruiting Employment this year. The program has taught him everything from equipment management to sideline operations. A normal football game for Stone means showing the new recruits around the football field. Then when game time comes Stone is on the sideline helping the coaching staff and hyping up the team during game play. “I found this opportunity at Mercer with a division one program, and it’s been nothing but great,” Stone said. There are 11 coaches on staff with five supporting coaches for the football team. With over 75 players, there is always something to do. “So with operations, it’s the glue that makes the team stick together,” Stone said. “It's from the smallest possible job to some of the big important ones.” Stone said that even the little things he does become important because someone has to do it. He sees these experiences as something that not only betters himself but his future career, too. “I am learning a lot of little things that I wouldn't have learned doing equipment at a bigger school,” Stone said. “I am really soaking up more football knowledge from the coaches because I have the ability to be right on top of them.” The team practices over 10 hours during the year every week, and they will play 11 games over the course of the season. “Not many people get to say that they stood on the sidelines and 'coached' in quotation marks against Alabama and Auburn,” Stone said. “If that's your passion, the Mercer program gives you the tools to further develop that and find a career in it.”
Over 5,000 miles traveled, 52 games, 16 teams and four states — the Macon Bacon baseball team had their work cut out for them this season in the Coastal Plain League (CPL). This year, the team recruited Mercer junior Josh Farmer to pitch. Farmer posted a 6.28 earned run average last season and pitched over a dozen innings for the Mercer Bears. He also played in the Great Lakes league last summer. While playing for the Bacon this summer, he appeared in 10 games with 22 strikeouts, according to the CPL records. Farmer is the only Mercer baseball player to be recruited for the CPL this year. “Coach (Danny) Higginbotham tells us this all the time, playing in the CPL is the closest thing you can get to playing professional baseball,” Farmer said. “It gets ready for all aspects of the game at the next level.” The team is based out of Macon, Georgia, and traveled to North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Their home games hit a record this year with 12 out of the 25 games selling out, according to the Macon Bacon’s front office. “I think the culture and the history here has made it such a fun experience for me,” Farmer said. “When you play for a team with a fan base like this, it makes it easier to come out here and play.” This was the Macon Bacon’s second year playing in the league, and they claimed the title of Southwest Region Champions. The team faced the Morehead City Marlins for the Petitt Cup Champion Title. “The coaches and the players here have really stuck with me and they believed in me,” Farmer said. “It’s really easy to get left behind in baseball, but to fail and come back and everyone believe in you, it really changes the game.”
With any sport, injuries are bound to happen during game time or at practice. While there are paramedics on standby when the immediate injury takes place, the athletic trainer must react quickly and effectively when an athlete sustains an injury. Mercer University has developed a master’s program that recruits trainers and takes on graduate assistants to keep athletes safe. The result is not only beneficial to the trainer, but it also keeps the athletes healthy on and off the field. During the summer, a normal day for a trainer starts at 5 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. This includes everything from therapy to weight lifting. A trainer must be present to reduce the risk of injury during workouts. Isabella Haswell was a graduate assistant in Mercer’s program and will be attending nursing school in the fall. She was also one of the trainers who worked at Mercer during summer training. “Anytime the guys are there, we have to be there a little bit earlier and a little after,” Haswell said. “It's not the worst, it is just definitely early.” Kate Adcock worked with Haswell as a graduate assistant through the same program. She worked in the season and during the summer as a trainer for Mercer. Adcock also worked for the Coastal Plain League team, the Macon Bacon. “It was a separation from Mercer, so I got to meet new guys and work baseball,” Adcock said. “Every experience for me is beneficial because it is a new place and a new environment and a new sport to learn from.” Haswell and Adcock said that the atmosphere during the season tends to be more intense due to game action and more contact with others. The program, however, works with trainers to prepare for this tonal shift. “We call it 'baptism by fire,'” Haswell said. “We are thrown into situations, but you learn by knowing and seeing.” The program further educates the trainers and keeps the athletes within Mercer’s program safe, so they can get back on the field and play the sports they love.
Although Stanton Schorr’s last season as a star Mercer Golf player is almost complete, his name will not be forgotten once he graduates in May. During his time as a member of the Mercer golf team, Schorr has competed in 26 events over the span of four years. He was named Southern Conference Men's Golfer of the Week and has led his team with some of their highest scores this season. Schorr placed third at the PGA Mackenzie Tour qualifying event and earned full-exempt status for the first half of the Mackenzie Tour. The Mackenzie Tour, also known as the PGA Canada Tour, is a tournament held every year at the professional level. He tied for third place out of 84 total golfers at the University of South Florida Invitational. Schorr followed that up by leading his Mercer team to a fourth-place finish at the Tampa Palms Golf and Country Club tournament. Although he played growing up, Schorr didn’t become serious about golf until high school. Schorr lettered in golf all four years at Columbus High School in Columbus, GA, and helped lead his team to fifth-place finish at the 2015 GHSA AAAAA State Championship. “I committed myself to golf, and that’s what I wanted to pursue in high school and after high school,” Schorr said. “It was a lot of fun, but did not always come easy.” During his first year on the Mercer golf team, Schorr played in just five events and turned in 15 total rounds. He continued to work hard throughout his years at Mercer, practicing on an average minimum of four hours a day. He was part of the All-SoCon Team last year and shot an average score of 72.61 per round. “Looking back from where I am now, to where I started as a freshman, and now being here as a senior and trying to set a good example and be a leader, it’s cool to see that transition,” Schorr said. “It was tough getting here.” While Schorr consistently finishes in the top five in his team’s tournaments, he’s yet to achieve the goal of a first-place finish. As his senior season comes to a close, there are still plenty of chances to make it happen.