23 items found for your search. If no results were found please broaden your search.
As basketball season approaches, eyes are on the Mercer Men’s Basketball team after their historical NCAA Tournament victory upsetting Duke last season. After losing a large class of seniors, a few key contributors remain on the team, including junior Ike Nwamu.
After shocking Mercer fans in the team’s premiere event Mercer Madness, high-flying Nwamu gained a lot of local and not so local attention. Fans across the country tuned into to watch Nwamu’s impressive dunks.
Last season was Nwamu’s first season competing for the Bears. His freshman year, he attended and played for Cleveland State, and he decided to transfer to Mercer for the next three years. Unfortunately, due to transfer rules, he was unable to compete in the 2012-2013 season but was able to make an impact in the 2013-2014 season.
Nwamu saw action in 35 of the Bear’s contests last season, receiving an average of just over 18 minutes per contest. He averaged 8.3 points per game and 2.9 rebounds. He broke double digit scoring in 14 games and reached his career high of 24 points, helping Mercer to defeat the Ole Miss Rebels.
In the upcoming season, Nwamu is looking to be a key contributor in the Bears success.
Nwamu was raised in Los Angeles but moved to North Carolina and attended high school there. Although he was raised in L.A., both his mother and father are from Nigeria. He is extremely immersed in the Nigerian culture, and it was a large part of his upbringing.
As a young athlete, Nwamu always looked up to Kobe Bryant.
“Growing up as a young kid in Los Angeles, naturally I wanted to be like him (Bryant), and just watching him play made me really want to be like him.”
Nwamu wears the number 10 because Bryant wore number 10 in the Olympics.
In his free time outside of basketball, Nwamu likes to chill and hang out with friends. He enjoys playing video games and listening to music.
“I like listening to all music, except country, I just can’t really get into it,” said Nwamu, “but I am not too big of a fan.”
Nwamu also enjoys reading a good book in his free time.
Nwamu has enjoyed his time at here as a member of the basketball team. He believes that it is a good fit for him both athletically and academically.
“I like Mercer, and I am more comfortable with this school than my previous university,” said Nwamu. “It reminds me of my high school, and I feel right at home here at Mercer.”
Nwamu says that his best memory at Mercer so far is playing in the NCAA tournament last season.
“It was nerve-racking at first especially because we were playing in Raleigh, which is close to where I live,” said Nwamu. “We were playing on a national stage in a huge stadium playing against Duke, the team I grew up wanting to play for. Although it was nerve-racking at first, we realized we were just as good as them and even better.”
Looking onward to next season, Nwamu describes his excitement of just being ready to play. “We have all started to step into our new roles because we had a lot of older guy graduate,” said Nwamu. “All of the returners are just trying to show the freshmen and transfers how we do it here at Mercer.”
With last year in mind, the Bears are looking to compete at a high level and do just as well. “We want to take last year and surpass it; we don’t want to be satisfied with what we did,” said Nwamu.
At Mercer, he is a communication studies major and a criminal justice minor. Nwamu hopes to someday play in the NBA after he is done playing for Mercer.
Mercer Alumnus David Newberry has been a huge fan of Mercer’s athletic teams since his arrival in Macon as a freshmen in fall of 2008. Newberry, even after his graduation from Mercer, has continued to be a dedicated Mercer fan.
From an early age, Newberry has been involved in athletics and participated in sports. His love for sports began early in his life and has continued. From playing sports, to leading cheer sections of fans watching the games, sports have been a huge part of Newberry’s life.
During his time at Mercer, he supported various sports teams, participated in Mercer Maniac activities and even managed the Women’s Soccer team. During his time as a Mercer fan, many sports teams have had their most successful seasons, and Newberry has been a part of it all.
After his graduation in May of 2013, Newberry did not want to leave Macon due to his love for the city, Mercer and Mercer Athletics. Fortunately, he landed a job with a local church, so he has been able to stay involved as an alumnus.
Two years of Newberry’s time at Mercer were spent managing the Mercer Women’s Soccer Team. “My role as manager included practice and game laundry. I also got to help set up practice drills, help the girls do drills, and film the games,” Newberry said.
He loves all Mercer sports teams, but he admitted that he has a favorite team on campus.
“My favorite sports team at Mercer, honestly, is the women’s soccer team,” said Newberry. “I worked with them for two years while I was here, and I try to keep up with and continue to support to them.”
When asked what his favorite memory as a fan of the Mercer Bears is, Newberry had many to choose from. “That’s a toughie. I guess my favorite memory as a Mercer fan was coming back as an alumni for that first football game,” said Newberry. “Getting back in the student section, painting up, and yelling as hard as I could at the Reinhardt players and storming the field after we won on that last second field goal.”
Newberry was involved and invested in Mercer athletics at a time when things were changing for the better. “It has been really cool to see the evolution of Mercer’s sports and fans,” he said. “My freshmen year, there was hardly any participation among students at any sporting events. Now, there is a rowdy student section that was completely full at a brand new sport.”
When he first came to Mercer, there was no organized support team for athletics, and the student body was not as invested in sports.
“I was a freshmen in fall of 2008, and there was no on-campus recruitment for anything. There were signs posted, but there were no players actively going around encouraging other students to come to their games. The athletes just sort of stuck to their own corner of campus,” said Newberry. “Then, Coach Hoffman and the basketball team really stepped out to encourage students to come. As that happened, other sports programs started doing better and getting more recognition. This all lead to the creation of the student lead group the Mercer Maniacs.”
When the Mercer Maniacs came into existence, Newberry was every bit a part of it. “I actively participated in the Maniacs; I encouraged and recruited other students and I painted up with the best of them,” he said.
Newberry says he is most looking forward to basketball, volleyball and soccer. He hopes to see both men’s and women’s soccer teams end their seasons with the same success they have had so far this season.
Newberry claims that he will continue to support Mercer Athletics, and while he is in Macon, he will continue to support all the teams.
“Whenever I have a friend on a sporting team I really want to support them and by watching I become more and more interested in the game,” said Newberry. “I have gotten to the point where I can watch and get really into almost any sport.”
Fellowship of Christian Athletes, known as FCA, is gaining momentum on Mercer’s campus. It is an organization that began in 1954 in Kansas and has a faith-based mission targeting coaches and athletes.
The mission of FCA is “To present to athletes and coaches, and all whom they influence, the challenge and adventure of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, serving Him in their relationships and in the fellowship of the church.”
The ministry of FCA is categorized by the Four Cs, which are coaches, campus, camps and communities. The coaching aspect focuses on redeeming sports through the transformed coaches. The campus ministry is led by the coaches and athletes at the middle school, high school and college levels. The camp ministry involves many different camps that offer spiritual and leadership training. The community aspect revolves around partnering with local churches and business to create a community reach for Jesus Christ. The Four Cs characterize every FCA chapter nationwide.
Weekly meetings take place every Tuesday night where student-athletes and coaches congregate in fellowship, worship and testimony sharing. Justin Brown, former Mercer football coach, leads Mercer’s FCA.
Mercer’s FCA is led by students, Brown and Coach Lamb’s wife, Alyson Lamb, who have together worked to create an environment where students and coaches can worship, congregate and encourage one another in a faith based environment.
FCA allows for a community among students to bring them together in faith, and it creates a support system of people with similar beliefs.
Eli Grambling, a Mercer Football player, is a member of Mercer FCA’s leadership team and the worship leader for the weekly meetings. He has seen FCA on Mercer’s campus change and develop in the last three years and is proud to be a part of it. Just three years ago, Mercer barely had FCA at all, and Grambling is excited to be a part of it.
“FCA has changed tremendously,” said Grambling. “When I got here my freshmen year, we got it rolling and would have 50 at the most and 12 at the least; it wasn’t much of anything. After putting more into and changing our meetings to the field house, it started to grow rapidly.”
Grambling has really enjoyed being able to serve the Lord and lead weekly worship.
“My favorite part would be just the fellowship and how all the teams come together, and it’s a good way to meet people,” he said. “I love getting to do something I love in leading worship and seeing other people worship, too.”
A huge part of the of the growth of FCA on Mercer’s campus has been through the help of the adult leaders.
“Mrs. Lamb helping and Coach Brown becoming a full time FCA employee at Mercer has helped the growing process on campus,” Grambling said. “It is definitely exciting and I am looking forward to seeing what God is going to do with it.”
Hannah Noon, a member of the Mercer Volleyball Team, is also on the leadership team for Mercer’s FCA. Fellowship of Christian Athletes has become an important part of Noon’s Mercer experience, and she wants others to experience all that FCA has to offer.
Noon believes that this type of organization is necessary on Mercer’s campus.
“It allows athletes to relate to playing a sport and how that really impacts a person’s faith! To me, it is another opportunity to worship and give glory to God. It has allowed me to not only meet other athletes but develop relationships with other Christians that have and continue to strengthen my relationship with God and, in turn, encouraging others,“ Noon said. “As an athlete, we are all about teams and playing together, and FCA is my team; we are all on God's team. FCA draws things out of me that I never knew I had or was capable of having. There are opportunities to grow each week as someone new brings the word each week. It's a refreshing time to relax and grow!”
Noon is excited for the future and possibility of further growth.
“I would love to see FCA become more involved with outreach work and to see more and more new faces each week,” Noon said. “We have already had a couple people dedicate and rededicate their lives to Christ, and it has been a true blessing to witness. I can't wait to see where God takes FCA.”
Tony Economopoulos is in his third season as the head coach of the women’s soccer team at Mercer University. Upon his hire, he was classified as an “exceptional candidate” by Athletic Director Jim Cole. During his time at Mercer, Economopoulos has proved just that.
In his inaugural season as head coach in 2012, he lead the team to a 13-win season, the most that the team has ever had. The team was also Atlantic Sun runner up that fall; that first season is one of Economopoulos’ favorite memories at Mercer thus far.
Before taking the job at Mercer, Economopoulos was the head coach at Georgia Southwestern State University. “I felt like it was a hidden gem in Division 1 women’s soccer,” said Economopoulos. “The school was adding new facilities and sports, had a great academic reputation and is located in a great recruiting region.”
Economopoulos has been coaching at the college level for over ten years, on both the women’s and men’s side of the game. He thoroughly enjoys coaching at the college level. “I get to watch the players develop and grow and see them become responsible and mature adults by the time they graduate,” he said.
His players appreciate and recognize his passion for the game and his drive to push them. “Coming in as a freshman last year was absolutely terrifying, but coach made us feel like we fit right in when we got here,” said sophomore Haleigh Svede. “He always has what is best for us in mind and is always making sure we push ourselves to our full potential. He knows we can do it, and knowing that our coach has confidence in us is an amazing feeling.”
Economopoulos is known to push his players to the point of greatness. “Coach will always push you to and past your limits, physically, mentally and emotional. Whenever you think you can’t run any faster or play any longer, he makes sure to tell you that you can, and you will,” said senior Bri Stampler. “He is definitely the toughest coach I have ever played for, and I think it brings out the fight and toughness in all of us.”
Economopoulos makes his passion for the game evident and always inspires his athletes to have that same level of competitiveness.
“Overall, he is a great coach. He really cares about the team and strives to win every game,” said Senior Tess Patton. “He is very energetic on the sideline during games, which definitely helps motivate us to keep playing harder.”
Economopoulos is proud of the group of girls that he has coached at Mercer for their efforts both on and off the field. Between beating SEC powerhouse Alabama at their home field and having a consistently high GPA as a team, the team continues to follow him to success.
As conference play approaches this season, Economopoulos is confident that the team will continue to compete at high standard in the Southern Conference.
“If we can stay healthy, I think we can make a strong run at a top four finish,” he said. “It is tough to predict as we have only played one Southern Conference team in the past and this conference is much tougher than the Atlantic Sun.”
His goals for the season are to push to win the Southern Conference and to successfully graduate all the seniors on the team.
Mercer Softball has made a mission to be seen and involved in the Macon community. In aim to do so, team members have devoted themselves to helping youth in the Macon community engage in athletics, especially softball. This fall, they reached out to a local middle school to help students with the fundamentals of the game.
Eight of Mercer’s players visited Appling Middle School in Macon to help the team with skill development and team building. In preparation for Appling’s softball season, the Mercer team worked extensively to help Appling’s program further develop.
Natalie Shiver, junior catcher for Mercer, was able to be a part of this experience and really enjoyed the impact that she was able to make on the girls whom she helped.
“We went to Appling Middle School and worked with their softball team. Most of the girls have never played softball before, so we helped teach them the fundamentals of the game,” Shiver said. “We broke things down simply and showed them a throwing progression as well as correct footwork in the infield and outfield and the basics of hitting.”
With most of Appling’s team never having played before, Mercer Softball was able to have an important role in shaping their team. By volunteering and helping these 11-14 year old girls better understand the game, Mercer’s softball team was able to form a lasting relationship with the Appling Middle School team.
In just two afternoons of working with the team, the Mercer team was able to make a huge impact on the Appling Middle team. Mercer plans to continue to support Appling as itsseason progresses. Mercer’s softball team made plans to attend Appling’s first game of the season; unfortunately, it was cancelled due to rain.
The team was eager to help and was humbled by the opportunity to give back to the Macon community, especially in a way that involved the sport to which they have already dedicated much of their lives.
“It was so inspiring to be able to help these girls in just a little time we were able to teach, mold and encourage these middle school players. It was great to know that we made a positive difference,” Shiver said. “Seeing young girls fall in love with the game for the first time reminded all of us why we play and love the game so much ourselves.”
The Mercer team has decided to watch Appling in its upcoming season when they can, and in return, the Appling team will support Mercer in its upcoming fall games. The Appling Middle School team is most excited to watch Mercer in November when it plays the USSSA Pride, a profession fast-pitch team.
“As a team, it made us feel good to be able to give back to the community and help girls learn how to play softball,” Shiver said. “They were very open to our coaching and seemed to really enjoy our instruction. We hope to continue to work with these girls and watch them grow as both athletes and people.”
Tosin Aguebor, sophomore captain for the Bears, proved to be a successful and crucial member of Mercer's football team during the 2013 inaugural season, his freshman season.
In addition to starting in all 12 games, he received several accolades throughout his freshman season, continuing into his sophomore preseason. He was named to the First Team All-Pioneer Football League, as Mercer's Co-Defensive Most Valuable Player, to the All-America Third Team and to the SOCON 2014 Preseason All Conference.
Unfortunately, during the final scrimmage of this preseason, he fell to a serious injury.
“While in a live scrimmage, a teammate cut back a run, so I went in on the tackle. We were both going down, and another player dove in on the tackle,” Aguebor said. “I felt a snap in my leg, and it ended up being a fracture in my fibula.”
Acting quickly, Aguebor decided to receive surgery the next day. He had a metal plate and three screws put in his ankle. For the next four weeks, he will be unable to put weight on his leg. Until he can apply pressure to his right leg, he is committing to upper body lifts and extensive rehabilitation to gain strength and to prevent muscle loss.
The team and coaching staff have surrounded Aguebor with encouragement and support throughout his injury thus far. Teammates have been extremely helpful in getting Aguebor through the early stages of his injury while he is limited on crutches.
Bobby Lamb, head coach for the Bears, is upset about the injury but knows that Aguebor will continue to contribute throughout the remainder of his injury.
“He is the most productive defensive player, and what we will miss most are his leadership skills,” Lamb said. “I told him he was still going to have to lead just in a different way. He will have to be more like a cheerleader from the sidelines because he will not be able to lead by example anymore.”
Although Aguebor will be out for the majority of the season, he was still named one of the team’s four captains for the 2014 season along with John Russ, Kirby Southard and Corey Lockett.
“It is going to be extremely hard watching from the sidelines, considering this is the first time in my life I have ever had a serious injury and have to miss games,” Aguebor said, “but you best believe I am going to be hyped up on the sidelines cheering the team on while waving my crutches in the air.”
As the team prepares for their first contest on Thursday, Aug. 28, against the Reinhardt Eagles, Aguebor is helping by assisting the other players in his position to make sure that they are game ready. He has fully accepted and embraced this role change forced by injury.
Although Aguebor is out for at least eight weeks, he is hoping to come back for the last few games of the season. Coach Lamb confirms that there is a chance for his return this season: “There is a possibility he will get back for the last few games of the season.”
Aguebor concludes, “The doctor says I should be out for eight to 12 weeks, but I am looking to try to come back by game six or seven, God willing.”
As the Mercer Football team wraps up their 17-day long 2014 training camp and preseason, they decided to treat the Mercer community to a fun and interactive fan day. Along with that event, the team also competed in a final scrimmage before the competition season.
On Aug. 14, students, family and members of the community were able to meet the players, to receive autographs and to take pictures with the members of the 2014 team.
Following fan day, fans were invited to stick around for the final scrimmage of the preseason. This was the team’s second scrimmage to conclude their 2014 preseason training.
“We limited the scrimmage to 60 plays because we had some injuries, and we didn't want to get people hurt going into the season,” Lamb said. “The scrimmage went well, and we got everything covered. At this point in time, our players are just tired of practicing, and especially practicing against each other.”
Fan day gave the team an opportunity to meet their fans, and the scrimmage gave the fans a chance to see the teams’ preparation for the 2014 season.
Robert Brown, sophomore tight end for the Bears, was excited to show Mercer and the Macon community what the team has been working for since last season. “It was a huge success to bring our fans together, and it allowed us to meet the supporters of Bear Nation, who were out in full force,” he says. “It was different this year because we had a scrimmage afterwards, and fortunately our scrimmage proved we are more athletic and even bigger than last year.”
Brown is a driving force for the Bears, and he also scored the first touchdown in last year’s season opener against Reinhardt.
“It’s a great experience, and it is the best way to continue our chemistry established last season and show all the new guys our Mercer traditions,” says Brown.
Alex Avant, junior captain, was just excited to meet the community: “It was great. It's always good to see people excited about coming and supporting us at our games.”
This season, the Bears will be competing as members of the Southern Conference, and seven of their 12 contests will be against other members of the conference.
In one of their non-conference games, the team is preparing for the first contest of the season as they take on the Reinhardt Eagles on Thursday, Aug. 28. After defeating Reinhardt in the final seconds of the game in the 2013 season, this season opener will prove to be an exciting matchup.
“I think the team is just excited to be playing against someone other than ourselves, but we are all just ready to beat Reinhardt again,” says Avant.
The conference change will be a huge adjustment for the Bears, but the team believes that it is fully prepared for this change.
“The rest of my teammates and I expect great things this season,” says Avant. “We know the Southern Conference will be a lot tougher than last year, but we are up for the challenges that we may face this season.”
The Mercer men’s golf team has just completed their third event of the 2014 competitive season. The Bears defeated 13 teams on March 14 in the Seminole Intercollegiate, winning the tournament title and finishing with a team score of 856 shooting eight under.
Senior Hans Reimers placed second in the event, with senior James Beale trailing just behind in third place.
“It felt great. It was fun to go out and win as a team again,” said Reimers. “We know we can play with the best teams in the country so it was good to show that this last weekend.”
All five of Mercer’s competitors placed in the top 50 at the event contributing to the first place victory. The team currently has the first place rank in the Atlantic Sun Conference and is ranked 36th in the nation.
Reimers added, “Our ranking this season is way better than in years past. I do not remember Mercer ever cracking the top 70.”
Mercer’s junior Trey Rule was named A-Sun Conference Golfer of the Week Feb. 19 after medaling in the Suntrust Gator Invitational. This was Rule’s career best event scoring a 69, 70 and 67 in his three rounds of play.
Rule said, “It’s an honor and a blessing to be named the A-Sun Player of the Week. There are a lot of solid players in this conference and it’s exciting to be named as one of the best.”
This was Rule’s second top five finish of the season.
With only two events until the conference tournament the Bears are in competition everyday to get better. Rule contributed, “The team prepares for competition by putting ourselves in competitive situations. We play a lot of competitive matches together within the team and this helps simulate some of the pressures when we are playing in a tournament.”
Mercer will co-host the Linger Longer Invitational at Great Waters Golf Course in Eatonton, Ga. with Kennesaw State University on March 22.
The Mercer Bears have advanced to 18-10 this season with a two-game split decision against the Stetson Hatters. The final game of the series this past weekend was cancelled due to rain.
The Bears dropped their first game 6-1 to the Hatters, but were able to rally back for the second and win 5-4.
The excited match-up ended with a single-run, walk-off hit by sophomore Kaytlin Haney that allowed junior Kaylynn Sloat to score the final run, winning the ball game in extra innings.
Freshman Kirsten Stevens pitched the first game of the series. Junior Riley Carter pitched a majority of the second game but was relieved late in the game by senior Julia Rice.
In the midweek the Bears took on No. 1 ranked University of Florida. The Bears fought hard in the double header but dropped both games to the Gators.
The first game ended in a 8-0 defeat, but the Bears were able to rebound in the second match-up. Rice pitched the entire game and only allowed one run. Mackenzie Woody went 2-4 in the effort.
“Against Florida the first game we didn’t play to our ability and it showed, but in the second game we came back and were mentally focused,” said Rice, “Holding the number one team in the country to one run really showed our team we can play with anyone.”
After only the second weekend of conference play, the Bears are ranked sixth in the Atlantic Sun Conference. With a long season the team will face each conference opponent in a three-game series with the final goal of making the conference tournament.
“We have been hitting pretty well since conference started and our main thing is consistency,” said Rice.
Senior Krista Kennedy has much confidence in her squad.
“As every team on campus, we are ring chasing, but more than that we are looking to make a statement and I think we have a good opportunity to do just that with the team we have this year,” said Kennedy, “I think we have learned in our start to conference games that there are not going to be any freebies. We are going to have to show up and play our best no matter what.”
Haney currently leads the team in batting average. She is batting .379 and leads the team in RBIs as well with 32.
Caroline Taylor is leading the team in home runs with seven, Kennedy trails right behind with six.
Mercer hosts Georgia Southern in a non-conference double header March 20. The Bears will resume conference play March 22 for a three-game series at Jacksonville.
Mercer women’s tennis began conference play defeating both Lipscomb and Northern Kentucky in their opening weekend. The team advanced to a season record of 8-9 for the 2014 season.
The Bears are currently tied for first place in the Atlantic Sun Conference with a conference record of 2-0. East Tennessee State shares the tie with the Bears.
After securing two consecutive conference wins, the Bears have a current win streak of three matches, the best for the Bears all season.
Friday, March 14, the team hosted the Lipscomb Bisons in a 4-2 decision, opening the match with the one and three doubles pairs beating Lipscomb to secure the doubles point.
Danielle Jones and Lucie Payrat in the one seed and Haley Powell paired with Natalie Franklin helped win the doubles points.
In singles play -- Payrat in the two seed, Roxy Bartz in the three, Franklin in the five and Liza Klyachkin in the six -- all remained victorious to the 4-2 win, which resulted in the first Mercer defeat over Lipscomb since 2010.
The hot streak continued when the Bears defeated Northern Kentucky 5-2. The Bears were able to capture the doubles point by defeating the Norse’s one pair and three pair.
In singles action, Bartz played in the two, Powell in the three, Franklin in the four and Klyachkin in the five spot. They all recorded wins.
On the weekend Franklin commented, “The matches went great, our intensity was incredibly high and everyone was really in it.” She continued, “It was great that I could be apart of the wins and help the team achieve our goal.”
With conference play underway the preparation and importance of each match is crucial. Franklin added, “We are just taking every match at a time and we are focused and determined to win each match and put forth every bit of work to get to the conference tournament.”
The top six ranked teams receive a bid to the end of the season conference tournament. Bartz said, “We just have to believe we can get it done and just do it. I’ve got faith in us. We need to get our focus and train harder to prepare ourselves for what is to come next.”
The Bears are back on the road to DeLand, Fla., to play Stetson Friday, March 28.
The Mercer men’s golf team has entered their spring competition season. After a long fall of preparation and travel their season is finally underway.
The fall season consisted of the Bears having top-five finishes in four of their five tournaments. At the end of the fall season the team was ranked 32nd by Golfstat.com and 39th by Golfweek.com. With lots of preparation and hard work, the team is likely to have a great spring.
The Bears began their season as they traveled to Gainesville, Fla. for the Suntrust Gator Invitational this past weekend. In the three-round tournament, the team pulled out an overall tie for fifth place. In round one, they tied for eighth place, in round two they placed second, and in round three they tied for fifth place.
Led by senior Hans Reimers and junior Trey Rule, the Bears shot an 868 to secure their tie for fifth place. Rule medaled, finishing fifth overall with a three round score of 206. Reimers finished with a score of 213 and tied for eighth place.
“The Gator Invitational was our first spring tournament, and it was insane how it ended,” said Rule. “I really am blessed and so thankful for my coaches and teammates because they helped mold me into the player I am today.”
With their first contest completed, the Bears are excited to get the season underway. Senior James Beale commented, “This is going to be a big season for us because we finished the fall season ranked better than Mercer Golf has ever been ranked before.” Beale continued, “It is our goal to keep that up and make it to regionals and hopefully even to nationals.”
The Atlantic Sun Conference tournament is April 20-22 and the Bears are hoping to advance to regionals.
“I think we will do great. Our lineup is looking better than ever,” said Beale. “The teams that we are most competitive with are North Florida, Florida Gulf Coast and Kennesaw, because they are the other three best teams in the Atlantic Sun conference. It is a big goal of ours to win conference this year because for the first time, we feel like it is very achievable.”
“I am extremely excited for the rest of spring, we have 4 total guys who have won a tournament, I am confident in our ability to get to Regionals and hopefully Nationals as a team,” said Rule.
The team will compete in four other tournaments in preparation for the conference finals. Beale added, “We are excited to play in every event and we look at each tournament as a chance to get better and make our mark on college golf. Coach Bradley has done great in installing a strong attitude into the team.”
The Bears next contest is March 2 at the USF Invitational hosted by South Florida in Dade City, Fla.
The Mercer women’s tennis season is finally underway. With three contests already complete, the Bears are 2-1 in their 2014 spring season.
Mercer dropped their sets to both UNC Wilmington and Georgia State, but were victorious at home against Alabama State, defeating them 7-0.
The Bears dominated Alabama State in both doubles and singles play, earning their big win. The doubles teams all went 6-2 in their three matches to defeat the Alabama State Hornets. In addition to winning all three doubles matches, the Bears were successful in each of the six singles matches.
The team was led by sophomore Danielle Jones who played in the number one spot and secured her win in two 6-0 efforts. Sophomore Liza Klyachkin in the six spot also won her match 6-0. Sophomore Natalie Franklin in the four spot and Senior Lucie Payrat in the two spot both won their matches in exciting tie breakers.
Sophomore Roxy Bartz clinched the three spot victory defeating her opponent in both games 6-3, and freshmen Hayley Powell won in the fifth spot 6-1 and 6-2.
Bartz noted, “I was a bit nervous in our first match but I think now that it was just all the nerves that come with it being the first match.” She continued, “I felt way better in the second match and was able to just play how I wanted to.”
Bartz commented on the team’s effort, “The team has been working hard and starting to come into their own. Our first match didn’t turn out too hot, but we turned it right around in our second match and showed them who is boss.”
After a long offseason of preparation in the fall with extensive conditioning and training, the team has hopes to continue to get better as the season progresses. Conference play for the Bears begins Mar. 14.
“We have a lot more work to do, but we haven’t slowed down at practice and by the time conference matches come in to play we should be ready and should do fairly well,” said Bartz.
The team is very excited for the rest of this season. Under new head coach Eric Hayes, the team seems to be headed for success. Hours of dedication have attributed to the season thus far, and the Bears show no signs of slowing down.
The team heads to South Alabama Friday, Feb. 7, in an aim to defeat the Jaguars. After a long stretch on the road the Bears will return home to The LeRoy Petty Tennis Center Feb. 28 as they take on Florida A&M.
With less than two weeks from opening day, the Mercer baseball team is diligently preparing with sights set on another championship season. After losing six seniors from last years’ squad, the Bears were picked in the preseason polls as likely to take another Atlantic Sun Conference championship.
In addition to being picked to win the conference, Mercer also had five members of its team receive preseason accolades. Mercer dominated the preseason polls across the board with two pitchers receiving honors and three position players.
Junior Chesny Young was named A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year. Young has already received such honors as being named a Louisville Slugger Preseason Third Team All-American and a National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Preseason Third Team All-American this season.
Senior Michael Massi was named A-Sun Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Other recipients of preseason honors include seniors Brandon Barker and Nick Backlund along with junior Dimitri Kourtis.
With no true off season, the Bears have been working towards their season goal for months.
“We have been preparing for the first pitch on Feb. 14 against High Point since we stepped foot on campus in August” said Massi. “Countless hours in the gym, batting cages and on the field have been spent to fully prepare us.”
The Bears have been fully emerged in competition since the spring semester began. In preparation for the home season opener, the team has competed in intersquad scrimmages ever weekend getting ready for season.
“We have gotten better each day throughout our preseason scrimmages. Scrimmages are very competitive due to the depth we have on our team. This is definitely a positive that has allowed everyone to bring their best effort everyday,” Massi said.
With a long season ahead filled with extensive travel, the ultimate goal for the Bears this season is to leave the Atlantic Sun Conference on a high note. “We want to go out on top, to win another championship, and earn another ring and get a postseason bid,” said Backlund.
The whole team is excited and ready to begin the season. Kourtis added, “Our scrimmages have been going really well. Everyone is getting back into the swing of things. We are looking forward to being on the field again and playing a team in another jersey.”
After weeks of playing intersquad, the Bears are anxious for competition.
With endless hours dedicated to the upcoming season the team has worked relentlessly in aim to repeat success. With the season opener right around the corner the Bears are ready to defend their Atlantic Sun Championship Title, and accomplish greatness yet again.
After their post season run in the 2013 College World Series, repeat success is in store for the Mercer Bears. The team has worked hard this preseason to achieve their goals, and the whole team is ready to win another ring.
The Bears will take on the High Point Panthers in a three day series at Claude Smith Field on Friday, Feb. 14. Game time is scheduled for 4 p.m.
The 2014 women’s tennis season is almost underway as the team is diligently preparing with workouts and practices. After a losing 2013 season, the team has undergone numerous changes, including the hire of a new coach Eric Hayes.
With an overall record of 5-15 and an Atlantic Sun Conference record of 1-7, the team is looking for a season with much improvement.
Fortunately, the team did not lose any members from last year’s roster and is led by seniors Lucy Payrat and Amanda Bertani. The team should be positively influenced by the addition of transfer Danielle Jones who is likely to compete for a top spot in the lineup.
Isabel Dennis contributed, “He [Hayes] should help us have much better results this year. Our team should be a lot better this year, so hopefully our record won’t be like last year’s. We’re in a lot better shape and also are pushed harder than ever before.”
With a intense fall training season and overall harder preparation, the team is sure of the positive changes likely to come. As the start of the season quickly approaches, excitement within the team is growing.
Mercer women’s tennis begins their season Saturday, Jan. 25, at UNC Wilmington. The team has a total of 21 contests this season, with six home matches.
Conference play for the Bears begins Friday, Mar. 14, against Lipscomb at home. The following day The Bears will challenge Northern Kentucky University, who served as the Bears’ only conference victory last season.
Payrat contributed, “Our new coach is focusing on getting us as fit as possible, and improving our consistency and building a sense of unity between the team.”
The team is very excited for the upcoming season, “We are looking forward to the season with our 8 players and managed by the new coach and two new grad assistants, and we expect to do well this spring season,” Payrat added.
Last season University of North Florida won the tournament, receiving their second consecutive championship win. Other top competitors include Florida Gulf Coast and Stetson University.
The conference tournament takes place in late April, and with only six teams gaining entrance the ultimate goal of the team this season is to make the conference tournament. This is the last season of participation in the Atlantic Sun Conference for Mercer University and exiting on a high is the pursuit of the tennis team.
The Mercer men’s tennis team is looking forward to a challenging season ahead. They are preparing for conference play with an intense pre-season schedule, facing many top teams, under the direction of the new head coach Eric Hayes.
With a tough season ahead, the team will challenge opponents from both the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Southeastern Conference in addition to several other ranked teams. The Bear’s schedule is complete with 25 matches, but only six home contests. The team will have to fight for wins with long stretches on the road.
After a disappointing 2013 season, the Bears are hoping to come out stronger, and surprise fans and opponents alike, with an ultimate goal of nationals this year.
Junior transfer Oliver Snaider contributes, “This season will be a tough one. We are playing many top ranked schools and will be traveling a lot.”
The team began their season Saturday, Jan. 14, on the road at Florida State competing against FSU, Furman, and Florida A&M. They dropped losses to both FSU and Furman, but were able to pull out a 4-2 win against Florida A&M.
Snaider snagged Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Week honors for his performance in the Florida State Tournament. This is the first Player of the Week awarded this season. Mercer has not had a recipient of this award since 2006.
“It feels great. I didn’t expect it at all and it is an honor being named Player of the Week and representing Mercer. I felt okay, but the first matches are always uncomfortable,” said Snaider.
Snaider lost only one match the entire weekend, versus FSU’s Dominic Cotrone. Playing number one in singles, he defeated Furman’s challenger, and led the team to victory against Florida A&M.
The Bears traveled to the University of Arkansas on Jan. 17 to compete in a double header against the 58th ranked Razorbacks. The Bears suffered defeat losing 5-2 and 6-2 on the road.
With a tough preseason schedule, the team is preparing themselves for a different type of season than last, they hope to impress their supporters.
“I think as the season goes we will be getting more confident and give very pleasant surprises," said Snaider.
The Bears are eager to begin conference play. The first A-Sun game is scheduled for Mar. 14 against Lipscomb.
“I think this team has a lot of potential and being led by Coach Hayes, we will give very nice surprises,” said Snaider.
Along with Snaider who has already proven to be successful this season, other notable players to watch include sophomore Austin Emmit and freshman Manuel de Luis.
The Bears continue competition Saturday, Jan. 25, on the road facing Coastal Carolina. With a long stretch of away contests, the Bears will host Alabama State Jan. 31 for their first home game of the season.
The Mercer Women’s Golf team has just completed their fall season. The end to their season resulted in a season high third place effort at Campbell University’s Fighting Camel Classic. As a team, the Bears scored a 300 to secure placing in the event.
The Camel Classic was the final event of the fall season.
Senior Mary Alice Murphy had a standout performance, placing third. Murphy hit a 69, three under par, to finish tied for the individual championship.
Murphy was named the Atlantic Sun Conference Golfer of the Week for her efforts.
“I’m grateful to be named A-Sun golfer of the week. I think it is great the conference rewards great performances each week.”
Mercer had three other golfers also place in the top 20 of the tournament. Haley Austin tied for 18th, shooting a 78, while Lacey Fears and Katy Harris tied for 20th.
Fears commented, “The team had a great fall season. We finished with the best win-loss record of any Division I team in the country at 37-4. The high points of the season were winning two tournaments, The Eat a Peach and the LPGA invitational.”
With the fall behind the Bears, they are preparing for a full spring season. Coming off such a successful fall season, Mercer looks to continue to be victorious in the spring.
“I think we’ve had a great fall season. We won two events and placed third in the other two,” said Murphy. “I think the team is putting in a ton of hard work for the spring in both the weight room and on the course. With all of our efforts, we can expect great things for the spring.”
“I am very excited about our spring schedule because we are playing some of the top teams in the country, including Georgia, FSU, Miami, Purdue and Auburn. We have a chance to something big this year so I have high expectations,” Fears added.
Seniors Murphy and Fears will lead the Bears as they start their competition this spring on Feb. 14 at the Florida State Matchup.
The Mercer women's soccer team concluded regular season conference play ranked fourth in the Atlantic Sun Conference. In their final weekend of play, the team traveled south to Florida to take on University of North Florida and Jacksonville.
Mercer tied in a double overtime effort 0-0 to UNF. The Bears later dropped in an 0-1 loss against Jacksonville. This established the Bear's fourth place standing, securing a home match for the first round of conference.
On Saturday, Nov. 2, Mercer hosted Stetson in the first round of the tournament. Bear Field was packed out as the team defeated the Hatters in the quarterfinal match 1-0. Junior Lauren Gassie commented on the win.
"We love having the other athletes and students coming to support us. Playing in a loud and energetic environment is always exciting,"
The lone goal was scored by senior Sadie Curry in her final match on Bear Field.
The win puts Mercer playing in the semifinal match Friday, Nov. 9, versus Mercer’s greatest rival, Florida Gulf Coast. The Bears have a long standing rivalry with Gulf Coast and are excited for the opportunity to upset.
"Losing to FGCU in the finals both my freshman and sophomore year is frustrating and I can't wait for Saturday. I'm hoping we can get the upset and leave the A-sun with a trophy and a ring." Gassie said.
A win for the team this weekend is crucial, and will push the Bears into the finals of the Atlantic Sun Championships, which they have competed in the past two seasons.
As the season comes to a close, accolades are given to players the conference deems deserving. Three Bears were recognized. Lauren Gassie and Washida Blackman were named to Atlantic Sun All-Conference second team. Gassie has contributed 14 points for the season, and Blackman leads the team with 16 points.
"I feel really lucky to be named to All Conference along with Washida. More Mercer players deserved to be on the team, but we will have to prove that going into semis," said Gassie.
The third honorary receiving conference recognition was junior Brianna Stampler. Stampler was named as one of Atlantic Sun's All Conference Academic for her efforts in the classroom and on the field. Stampler has a 3.59 GPA as a holistic child major.
"I'm so happy that I made All Conference because I feel like all my hard work paid off a little bit," said Stampler.
The Bears are excited and thankful for the opportunity they have in the tournament. As they take on FGCU, they are diligently preparing for the challenge ahead.
"As a team we are just trying to have fun and stay positive. We all keep reminding ourselves and each other of our goal to win the tournament, get a ring and head to the A-Sun tournament," Stampler adds.
The Bears head to Fort Myers, Fla., this weekend to take on the Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast as they make their run in the conference tournament.
The Mercer Women's Soccer team is approaching the end of their regular season with only two contests left, fighting for entrance and a high seed in the conference tournament. Only two teams have clinched birth in the championships thus far. In first place is Florida Gulf Coast and in second place is Jacksonville.
Mercer is currently ranked third in the conference standings with a 4-2-1 conference record and a total of 13 points. The Bears have yet to face University of North Florida and Jacksonville University in conference play.
With the conference tournament right around the corner, the pressure to clinch and seed well is on. In previous seasons, women's soccer has excelled in the conference championships, making it to the finals each of the last three years, with a championship victory in 2010.
The Bears just concluded their final home games of the season facing Kennesaw St., Florida Gulf Coast, and then Stetson University, where they recognized the seniors as they played in their last home game. The Bears went 2-1 on their last three games.
On Friday, Oct. 11, the Bears defeated Kennesaw State in a huge double overtime victory, with a final score of 2-1.
This game was their annual "Dig Pink" game. The team sported pink jerseys as a tribute to the awareness of breast cancer, and sold t-shirts to donate to research.
Goals by sophomore Kim Murphy and freshman Haleigh Svede led to the win.
This triumph over an instate conference rival breaks a head-to-head tie in conference record between Mercer and Kennesaw putting the Bears above the Owls in rankings.
Friday, Oct. 18, was another grudge match for The Bears. The rivalry between Mercer and FGCU is as big for women's soccer as in any sport. In both of the 2012 and 2011 seasons, Mercer fell to Gulf Coast in the conference finals.
In preparation for the match junior Captain Washida Blackman contributes, "In recent years FGCU has been our main competitor. Each game between us is very close, but we have yet to get the result we want hopefully that changes tonight."
Although the result was not in favor of the Bears, they fought hard in the game. They dropped the game to FGCU 3-1. Blackman scored The Bear's only goal in the effort.
The Bears completed their home season Sunday, Oct. 20, in their "Senior Day" match versus the Stetson Hatters. The Bears received a 2-1 win over Stetson, celebrating the careers of five seniors.
Seniors Nikki Atkinson, Casey Barrett, Nadja Kolliesuah, Sadie Curry and Jordan Sink were all honored before the game. All of the seniors except for Kolliesuah were able to start in the game to end their at-home careers in a win (Kolliesuah was unable to play because of a season ending knee injury that she acquired three weeks prior).
Curry and Murphy scored to seal the 2-1 over Stetson.
Ecstatic about the win, Curry comments, "It felt amazing. All of our teammates worked so hard to make us feel loved, our families were all there and our coaches even had us all start together."
Curry continues, "Scoring and being able to help the team get an important win just completed the perfect senior day."
Barrett, a consistent starter throughout her four years on the team comments, "Since it was the seniors' last game at Bear Field, we were fully prepared for a lot of sentimentality, but our teammates and everyone made the whole day incredible. We were too busy smiling and laughing to be sad. Leaving Bear Field on that note, it was just really inspiring to know that that's who we've been through the years and hopefully will continue to be in the years to come."
Mercer Women's Soccer has a recent history of great postseason play, and have made it to the Conference Championship the last three years, winning the title in 2010.
"This is our last year in the Atlantic Sun there are several goals we'd like to accomplish" states Blackman as the road to the tournament continues.
Another trip to the championships is one of the goals the team always pushes for, and the potentiality to be ranked second going in is a realistic possibility.
Curry adds, "We need to win both games this weekend in order to go into the tournament ranked second and have a bye in the first round. I think we all know we need to go into next weekend ready and try our best to get results."
Barrett says that Jacksonville and North Florida are beatable teams, and that they need to take advantage of the opportunity that they have to win and go into the conference tournament with a high seed.
"We feel confident in our ability to take it to Jacksonville and North Florida, and hopefully take second in the regular season. However these games end up, we're looking forward to the conference tournament, this season is especially important to us because it's our last chance to win the A-Sun title, and we want to take it and run," said Barrett.
The Bears are headed to Jacksonville, Fla., on Friday, Oct. 25, looking for wins against UNF and JU.
The Mercer Women's Golf team competed in the Xavier's LPGA Invitational in Daytona, Fla, Oct. 4-6. The team placed first in the three day tournament, with a team score of 893. This exciting win was a second for the Bears this fall. They also won the Eat a Peach Collegiate tournament.
Many Mercer individuals placed well in the tournament, two even earning finishes in the top five. Senior Lacey Fears was Mercer's highest finisher, receiving third in the tournament with a three day score of 216.
"Overall, I am satisfied with how I played this week,” said Fears. "I put myself in a position to win and that's always my goal. I wish I could have hung on to the lead, but I am very excited we were able to come from down five to winning by eight strokes as a team."
Freshmen Katy Harris finished fourth in the tournament with a total score of 221. Her performance on the final day of the tournament was a 69, helping the team secure a huge victory over the other 18 participants. Harris commented on her performance, saying, "It always feels really good to help the team and help contribute to the win. It felt good to win fourth especially since I had a rocky start at the beginning. I didn't even know I was close to placing, so it was a surprise when my name was called."
Other notable performances for the team included senior Mary Alice Murphy placing 13th with a score of 227, junior Sarah Brown finishing 24th scoring 232, and freshmen Macy McRaney placing 50th scoring a 242.
Each member contributed to the win, resulting in a great overall team score.
"We were all really excited to get another win under our belts. It was good that we all really pulled it together the last day to take home the win,” said Harris.
"We have one tournament left in the fall season. I predict that we will continue to come together as a team and have another good finish. It's always nice to have a strong fall season because it gives us momentum going into our championship season in the spring." says Fears.
The season continues for the Mercer Women's Golf team as they travel to Hawaii at the end of October to compete in the Rainbow Wahine Invitational.
Mercer Women's Soccer has had an exciting few weeks, not just on the field but within the team as well, with the addition of a new member to the squad. Wednesday, Sept. 25, the Bears welcomed five-year-old Cameron Jones to their team and celebrated the signing of her "National Letter of Intent".
The Bears partnered with Team IMPACT to allow Jones to be an honorary member of the team. Jones has been diagnosed with Juvenile Dermatomyositis, a rare autoimmune disease resulting in muscle weakness.
Junior Bri Stampler comments, "Cameron is such an incredible addition to our team, and such a blessing to all of us. She's so awesome. We couldn't be happier that she's a Mercer Bear."
The team and Jones alike are excited for her journey as a Mercer Bear. Jones will be in attendance to as many practices and games as possible this fall.
Jones will be wearing the No. 11 jersey as an honorary Mercer Women's Soccer this season. Jones’ facebook page, “cure4cameron”, will follow her journey.
Conference play for the Bears is officially underway, with four conference contests behind them. The Bears are 2-1-1 in conference, with an overall 7-5-2 record.
The Bears defeated Northern Kentucky in their first conference match with a 3-1 at home victory on Friday, Sept. 27.
The Bears took an early lead, scoring the first two goals of the match. Stampler scored in the sixth minute, with freshman Maddie Clark knocking one in just minutes behind in the ninth.
Northern Kentucky was able to score later in the half, but the Bears remained in control with Clark scoring the team’s third goal to secure the win over Northern Kentucky.
"It was our first conference game of the season. We knew it was important to get points the first weekend. Us scoring three goals in the first half was what we needed to win and take of the game early,” said Clark on the victory.
The Bears came up short against Lipscomb with a 1-2 loss. Lipscomb maintained 1-0 lead for a majority of the first half until junior MacKenzie Stewart scored just before the end of the half to tie the match.
The second half remained tied until the final few minutes when Lipscomb managed to get a shot in the 84th minute to secure the win.
The following weekend, the Bears continued conference play on the road, taking on East Tennessee State and USC Upstate. The Bears went 1-0-1 on the weekend, beating ETSU and tying with Upstate.
Friday, Oct. 4, the Bears challenged The ETSU Bucs. After a scoreless 30 minutes, the Bucs scored to take the lead. The Bears battled back with Stampler scoring in the 37th minute to tie it up.
The Bucs took back the lead in the second half, but in minute 77, junior Lauren Gassie scored to even the match. Senior Casey Barrett scored the game-winning goal in minute 82, ending in a victory for the Bears.
Sunday, Oct. 6th, Mercer traveled to ETSU Upstate. This scoreless contest ended in a tie after 110 minutes of play and 2 overtimes.
The Bears are currently third in conference, with a 2-1-1 record. The Bears take on in-state and conference rival Kennesaw State at Bear Field Friday, Oct. 11.