Summer 2021 Updates
Alumni Update: Herrmann Ready for Second Collegiate Volleyball Season
Taylor Herrmann hopes for a little more normal of a volleyball season this time around.
The 2020 Fellowship Christian School graduate is getting ready for her second collegiate volleyball season at Piedmont University. This time it should be in the fall.
“It was easier than I planned on, and it was good,” Herrmann said about her first collegiate volleyball season. “Because of Covid we did have a shortened season. The school moved all fall sports to the spring too. We usually play in the fall, and had about half the games we normally have. We are glad to get back to the fall.”
Herrmann’s club volleyball experience with A5 helped her better prepare for her first collegiate season.
“I played club, so that helped,” she said. “The college game is tougher than high school, but club play helped me get ready for that kind of competition at Piedmont.”
Herrmann, a 5-foot-8 Libero and defensive specialist, played in all 15 matches for Piedmont. The Lady Lions finished 4-11 overall, including a 2-6 mark in USA South Athletic Conference matches.
Last season, Herrmann collected 25 sets played, 33 digs, 60 total attempts and a digs percentage per set of 1.32.
“I played in three out five sets overall,” Herrmann said. “With a lot of new players coming in this year, so I really want to keep my playing time.”
This summer Herrmann has been busy with her job and also managed to improve her conditioning via weight training. She heads back to college Aug. 9.
“Practices should start the first day of classes,” she said. “I am excited about the season, and meeting the new people.”
Herrmann helped build a strong program at FCS.
She’s the school’s all-time single-season (2019) and career leader for digs. Herrmann also was named to the All-Area team in 2019, and helped the Lady Paladins win the Area Championship in 2018 and 2019.
“I do miss it a lot,” Herrmann said about FCS volleyball. “Playing with my best friend [Meredith Rush] was a lot of fun. We had some good teams there.”
Herrmann has now found a home at Piedmont, which located in Demorest, Ga. She’s a forensic science major, and Piedmont is one of very few Georgia colleges and universities with that major.
“I really, really like it there,” she said.
Herrmann has some advice for those 2021 FCS graduates headed for collegiate sports this fall, which actually fits for all incoming freshman athletes at Piedmont.
“Make sure you enjoy it,” Herrmann said. “Don’t stress yourself out, like I did a couple of times last year. Make sure you build relationships with your teammates, and work hard to quickly adjust to classes, practices, weight training and games. It’s a pretty busy schedule. And also make sure your grades are good. The coaches really, really watch that in college. If your grades slip than you do not play.”
(Photos courtesy of Piedmont University)
Alumni Update: Moore Completes Successful First Season at Young Harris
As Suzanne Moore prepares for her second collegiate women’s lacrosse season at Young Harris College, she waits patiently to find out her team’s new coach will be.
Head coach Samantha Hurley left the Lady Mountain Lion program earlier this month to take the head coach position at NCAA Division I Radford College in Virginia. In four seasons at Young Harris, Hurley finished with a 33-25 record and guided the Lady Mountain Lions to a pair of regular-season conference titles and one tournament championship.
“She was a great coach, and it was an incredible opportunity for her,” Moore said. “But it’s been a strange summer as we currently don’t have a coach.”
Due to the pandemic, Moore’s freshman season at the NCAA Division II school in north Georgia was impacted.
“Well it was a lot different than I expected,” the defender said. “We did not have fall ball. The first time we played a game [or scrimmage] was in February.”
Moore, who played in 11 games and had two starts, recorded five ground balls and finished with six turnovers for Young Harris, 5-8 overall in 2021. The team went 1-3 in conference games.
Young Harris also faced a pair of top 20 schools in non-conference games last season (Queens University and the University of Mt. Olive).
“We only played four conference games,” Moore said. “We lost two games by one goal. We made the league championship game as the fourth seed, but lost. Overall, the year was OK. I was very happy with the year personally.”
Moore has set some goals for the 2022 season.
“I want to contribute more this year than last year,” she said. “I played in a quarter to about a half of the games I played in. I want to play more.”
The college game was a little different than high school for Moore, a biology major at Young Harris.
“It was a lot faster,” she said. “We had a sixth-year player, who was 24. So we had a wide range of ages on the team too. That was different than high school.”
The 2020 graduate of FCS helped build the Lady Paladin lacrosse program.
“It was super fun to be part of the first of everything,” Moore said. “I was on the first middle school and the first varsity team. I don’t think I realized the significance of it back then, but it’s super cool to think about now.
Moore, whose sister Meredith will enter her senior season at NCAA Division I Presbyterian College this fall, has learned a lot from her older sister.
“She helped me prepare [for college lacrosse], the pace of the game and the people,” Moore said.
In turn, Moore would like to help others get adjusted to college athletics like her sister did for her. She has some helpful advice.
“It’s a completely different game,” she said. “I would tell them to stay true to who you are and work hard. And also lean into your faith. Young Harris isn’t a Christian school, so I got plugged into my church and my small group. Have fun and enjoy college, but give it your all as an athlete.”
A little quieter than the north Atlanta suburbs, Moore has found a home in the north Georgia mountains and the city of Young Harris.
“I love it there,” Moore said. “It’s not just the school, but the people in town. Everyone is great. It’s a great place to be. The school has kids from north Georgia and south Georgia, other states and we also have a lot of International students.”
(Photo courtesy of Young Harris College)
Alumni Update: Joye Transfers to Valdosta State Following Freshman Baseball Season at Georgia State
Fellowship Christian School graduate Preston Joye has decided to transfer to NCAA Division II Valdosta State and continue his collegiate baseball career in south Georgia.
Joye, who graduated from FCS in 2020, completed his first college baseball season for Georgia State University in Atlanta in the spring of 2021. While he enjoyed his time there, he decided to make a change.
“There were a few reasons, but that’s where I am from,” said Joye, who attended Fellowship from eighth to 12th grades. “I have friends on the team, and the coaches have been great and have made me feel welcome. I am excited to be there.”
Valdosta State competes in the Gulf South, and Joye has set his sights on helping grow the program there like he did at FCS.
“I would like to help the team there reach Regionals and hopefully advance to the [Division II] World Series,” Joye said. “I want to be a big impact player and contribute to the team’s success.”
To help him prepare for his sophomore season, Joye is spending this summer in Wyoming as an infielder for the Casper Horeseheads of the Expedition League. The summer league team for college players has a 55-game schedule in June and July.
“For me, I wanted to get some more at-bats,” Joye said. “My defense has always been good, but I want to work on my swing here. My coaches knew someone [with the Horeseheads], and they needed an infielder, so I decided to come here for the summer.”
Joye helped Georgia State post an 18-37 record in 2021. He played in 30 games, started 15 contests and hit .161 in 56 at-bats with nine hits, nine runs and five RBIs. In Sun Belt Conference games, Joye played in 17 games with 11 starts and batted .176 with six hits, six runs and four RBIs for the Panthers. He set season highs with two hits on May 22 against Little Rock, and two runs versus ULM on May 25.
“It was really good,” Joye said about his freshman year. “I sat around a little bit in the early part of the season, but got my chances to play and started to have an impact. I started to contribute.”
Among his highlights were an opportunity to play in televised games and compete in Panthers’ conference games.
What was Joye’s toughest adjustment to college baseball?
“The schedule,” he said. “It was pretty busy. Playing sports in college takes a lot of work and time. The pressure is there too. I found out I had to slow the game down to calm my nerves. When I slowed down my heart rate I found I could compete better.”
As a freshman in the classroom, Joye had some strong success. He was named to the Dean’s List, Fall 2020, and to the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll, Spring 2021.
Joye remains close friends with former FCS teammates Cameron Gill and Isaac Bouton, both current college baseball players.
The friendships he built at Fellowship as a student athlete and helping to build a strong baseball program at FCS are among his favorite memories from high school.
“Some of my friends [from FCS] will be life-long friends,” Joye said. “I also will never forget that second playoff game against Wesleyan that we won on a walk-off homerun. That’s also a favorite memory.”
His advice for incoming freshman athletes is pretty simple.
“The college locker room can be a tough place,” Joye said. “The game can become all that you do, but you need to stand strong in your faith. You also need to listen to your coaches, overcome challenges and adapt, and work on the mental aspect of the game. It will pay off.”
(Photos courtesy of Georgia State University/Dale Zanine)
Alumni Update: Thompson Enjoys First Beach Volleyball Season at USC
While it isn’t always easy for a freshman athlete to wait their turn for playing time, Lizzie Thompson has taken it in stride.
Thompson did not see any game-day action as a freshman member of the University of South Carolina’s beach volleyball team last season, but the 2020 graduate of Fellowship Christian School really enjoyed her first collegiate season.
“My first season was really good,” Thompson said. “We all practice together in the fall and also the spring, so I spent a lot of time with my teammates. I love my teammates and the coaches. That is by far my favorite part [of competing in college beach volleyball]. The actual games and matches are so much fun, especially the home ones. Our home court is on campus, so everyone gets excited for the home matches.”
For beach volleyball, there are five matches and an additional exhibition match that feature pairs in best-of-three matches. South Carolina, a Southeast Conference school, competes in the CCAA for Beach Volleyball. The beach volleyball season is played in the spring, but teams also practice in the fall.
The Lady Gamecocks posted a 23-9 overall record last season, including a 12-5 mark in CCSA matches. Thompson earned a red shirt in 2020-21 and will have four seasons left of athletic eligibility.
A sports and entertainment management major at USC, Thompson adjusted well to college life in 2020-21 despite the pandemic. She did well in the classroom, and was selected for the 2020-21 First-Year SEC Academic Honor Roll.
“Academics are a lot different in college,” she said. “You have to hold yourself accountable. As an athlete at USC, you have a standard. Our coaches expect that we will do well academically.”
Thompson came to Columbia, S.C., with plenty of experience in both indoor and beach volleyball. During her FCS career, Thompson also played beach and club volleyball. She played for the A5 club program in 2020, and competed for Southern Sand Select (2017-19) beach volleyball clubs from 2017-19. During her career, the 6-foot tall Thompson has helped her teams post four first-place finishes in 2018 and three in 2019, and led her club to the BVCA Club vs. Club championship last April.
At Fellowship, she earned the 2018 GHSA Area Player of the Year Award and was honorable mention All-State.
In addition to training this summer, Thompson has helped coach a beach volleyball team for 575 that includes player age ranges of 10-16.
“I personally love coaching,” Thompson said. “It’s actually something I can see myself doing for a career. It’s helpful for my own game [to coach others]. These girls are more like beginners, so you get to really teach. You learn how to coach and what girls need from their coach.”
The experience has helped prepare Thompson for her redshirt freshman season in the spring of 2021-22.
“My goal is to work my butt off and earn playing time,” she said. “Either in exhibition games or regular games. I want to get into games.”
Thompson has some advice for all the former FCS athletes headed for their first season of college sports in 2021-22.
“Honestly, be patient with yourself, and give yourself a break,” she said. “Athletes at Fellowship are big fish in a small pool. At college you become a small fish in a very big pool with plenty of talent. You have to allow yourself time to work on and improve your skills and your game. Take the time to find other hobbies, make friends outside of sports and really make your circle of friends bigger.”
(Photo courtesy of the University of South Carolina)
Alumni Update: Gill Spends Summer Playing Baseball in Coastal Plain League; Completes Sophomore Season at Wofford
Cameron Gill’s summer has been pretty busy.
The junior to be at Wofford College is among three catchers on the roster for the Spartanburgers of the Coastal Plain League, a wood bat league for college baseball players. The team plays a 56-game schedule over June and July.
Gill joined the CPL team for an opportunity to work on his hitting.
“That’s what it’s mainly for,” he said. “Last year I split time at Wofford, so I wanted to get about 100 at-bats [with the Spartanburgers] this summer. It’s a bunch of games. We have three catchers, so basically I catch every other day.”
This spring for the Terriers, Gill played in 28 games and started 23 contests. He batted .282 with 20 hits, two doubles, 10 RBIs, 13 runs and 14 walks with 71 at-bats for Wofford. The team finished 36-21 overall and was 21-9 in the Southern Conference.
“It went really well,” Gill said about his second collegiate season. “We won the regular-season championship, but got eliminated in the tournament. But first place in the regular season was nice. I had a good season. I split the games [behind the plate] with a senior. I felt like I did well. I think I handled my role well. I did what the coaches asked.”
Gill’s goal is to improve on his hitting in 2022.
“My defense was solid,” he said. “I feel like my defense is respected in the league. But I need to get there hitting wise.”
Due to Covid-19, Gill heads into the 2021-22 school year with two academic years left and three for athletics. As a freshman, Gill played in six games and made two starts before the season was cancelled. The team went 14-3 and Gill collected two hits and two runs in 11 at-bats.
“This year was a lot of fun,” Gill said. “I loved it. Freshman year was tough. We had to follow the protocols and be careful. We did not want anyone to get it and take 3-4 guys out of action [due to contact tracing]. This fall started out different too with Covid, but the spring was a blast. Everyone was so happy to be out there. We enjoyed the long bus rides and hanging out with each other. I loved it. This team is super close, and we have a great coaching staff. They are really, really good and push us in personal development.”
Due to the pandemic, Wofford did not schedule any scrimmages in the fall of 2020 like it typically does. Instead the team held a series of intrasquad games.
“We played about 30 innings a week and worked on our individual games,” Gill said.
After two seasons at Wofford, Gill has become more confident in his game and has overcome the challenges of the adjustment to the college game.
“I think it’s just the metal aspect of the game that’s the hardest adjustment,” Gill said. “You care and want to succeed, but it’s not who you are. You can’t just identify yourself with baseball since there are so many highs and lows. You have to remember it’s a game. You have to compete hard, play the game for each other and wear the jersey well.”
Fellowship helped Gill be prepared for the world of collegiate baseball.
“Coach O [Shawn Oliver] does an incredible job,” Gill said. “He was a blast to play for. He does his job well and lets the guys be themselves. He does not have a cookie cutter approach to coaching as he sees the strengths and weaknesses for each player and coaches each guy differently. He helps guys showcase their strengths. He pushes each player shrink the gaps in their game and improve with hard work.”
Gill’s good friends and former FCS teammates Isaac Bouton and Preston Joye are also playing college baseball.
“Isaac, Preston and I all knew we had the tools to successful,” Gill said. “We got it rolling there at Fellowship, and Coach O helped us all.”
At Fellowship, Gill started for four years in baseball and several years in football on offense and defense.
During his senior year he batted .321 at the plate for the Paladins and was named to the All-Region team. He hit .371 with 39 hits and 26 RBIs during his junior year, and batted .434 as a sophomore. He was also an All-Region football player for the Paladins.
(Photos courtesy of Wofford College)
Alumni Update: Kierpa Posts Solid Junior Season for Covenant College Softball Team
Lauren Kierpa is coming off the best season of her collegiate softball career.
The Fellowship Christian School graduate went 16-11, led the USA South with 155.2 innings pitched, struck out 108 batters and posted a 3.73 earned-run average as the Covenant College softball team’s No. 1 starter. Kierpa helped the team post an 18-18 overall record, and a 7-7 conference mark.
“My sophomore year got cut short due to Covid,” she said. “So I had a lot of time to work out and get ready for my junior season. I really worked on my endurance and strength.”
Kierpa made 24 starts, pitched in 32 games overall and registered 20 complete games and four shutouts. Nationally, she was fourth among NCAA Division III pitchers in complete games and also 20th in wins.
Kierpa, who led the league in complete games, was named to the USA South All-West Division second team and was USA South Pitcher of the Week (March 29, 2021). In addition, she was named to the USA South All-Academic team for 2020-21.
The Covenant senior to be set the school record for starts, tied the mark for shutouts, and was second all-time in single-season wins, fourth in complete games and fifth in innings pitched.
Kierpa’s confidence has grown coming off her junior campaign.
“This was a breakout year for us,” Kierpa said. “It was a very good year for us. It was quite an improvement over my first two years. We had a new coach, which helped out outlook. The team’s defense is so much better behind me. I pitched with so much more confidence.”
As a sophomore, she was limited to just seven games due to the pandemic. She shared the team lead with 21 appearances as a freshman closer for the Lady Scots.
Kierpa, who has started the last two seasons, is excited about her senior season that will begin in the spring of 2022.
“We want to make the [league] tournament, but also go far,” she said. “We want to build on that [in 2022] and maybe even make the NCAA Division III tournament. We have 16 new girls coming in, so we are already working on team bonding. We have some great talent coming back too. We are a completely different team than two years ago.”
Despite some coaching changes in her three years at Covenant, Kierpa is so glad she’s at Lookout Mountain, Ga., school.
“It has been great,” the English major said. “I am so glad I have stayed there. I enjoy the school, my spiritual growth I have made there and the academics.”
In addition to beating Emory, a sweep of Agnes Scott was among the highlights of 2021 for Kierpa
“Last year we beat Maryville and Emory, which were huge wins,” Kierpa said. “We had not beaten Emory in years. It was really the turning point of the season. Beating Emory and those two games against Agnes Scott [were highlights]. We won both [against Agnes Scott] and I pitched both games. The team really got behind me and played great defense that day.”
Prior to joining the Lady Scots, Kierpa had a strong career with plenty of positive memories at FCS.
“I remember coach [Brad] Pager really motivated me,” she said. “He really got me thinking about college softball. He helped my work ethic and pushed me to get to that level. Fellowship prepared me for college.”
Her advice for the Class of 2021 FCS graduates headed to college sports?
“You have to figure out how to manage your time,” Kierpa said. “It’s a big difference between high school and college academics. You have to balance classes, home work and study time with practices, workouts and games.”
(Photos courtesy of Covenant College)
Alumni Update: Murphy Posts 3 Top-20 Finishes During Oglethorpe’s 2021 Golf Season
Tripp Murphy not only has found another way to help him improve his golf game, but it is helping him land some practical advice about life too.
The Oglethorpe University golfer is working as a caddy at Peachtree Golf Course near the Oglethorpe campus.
“Honestly it’s a very good experience,” he said. “It’s an exclusive course and I am able to caddy for some successful business men and meet some famous people. The other day I caddied for Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and Larry Fitzgerald [a NFL wide receiver]. You get to talk to them all about how they achieved their success in the business world and on the football field.”
Murphy enters the 2021-22 school year as a second semester junior for the NCAA Division III Stormy Petrels golf team.
“I have two more full years to play golf at Oglethorpe,” he said. “I didn’t finish the way I wanted last year. But overall it was a good year. I played in every tournament except one. I have worked hard to keep my grades up, which has built my coaches’ confidence in me.”
In 2021, Murphy finished in the top 20 in three of the five tournaments he played in.
At the Tiger Invitational held in Pinehurst, N.C., March 13-14, Murphy fired rounds of 77 and 69 to finish tied for 16th overall.
“It was the biggest tournament I have played in,” he said. “Almost every top 25 team and all top 10 teams competed there. I was ranked 21st in the country [among Division III golfers] following that tournament.”
He wrapped up the tournament schedule with a 17th place finish at the SAA Golf Championships hosted by Chateau Elan Winery and Resort in Braselton, Ga., April 23-25. His rounds were 76, 77 and 79.
From April 12-13, Murphy played in the Wynlakes Intercollegiate in Montgomery, Ala. He finished tied for 19th with rounds of 74 and 72.
“I actually hit 30 pars at that tournament to lead all golfers,” he said. “I hit 30 or 31 greens in regulation. It was a good tournament for me.”
Murphy shot rounds of 74 and 72 to place 22nd overall at the Savannah Invitational to open the season March 8-10.
From March 19-21, Murphy shots rounds on 77, 80 and 82 to finish 102nd overall at the three-day Jekyll Island (Ga.) Collegiate Invitational.
“It humbles you,” Murphy said about the game of golf. “I did not play well there.”
Murphy has set some lofty goals for his next season at Oglethorpe.
“After last year I think I showed myself that I can shoot scores and finish tournaments well,” the Fellowship Christian School graduate said. “I want to develop better consistency, finish in the top 10 at least twice and the top 25 in each tournament play in.”
This summer Murphy plans to play in at least two tournaments, including the 2021 Georgia Open.
(Photo courtesy of Oglethorpe University)
Alumni Update: Bouton Named Peachbelt Conference Freshman of Year, Competes in Sun Belt Summer League
Isaac Bouton continues to be a student of the game he loves. In fact, he’s a pretty good one.
Bouton, a 2019 graduate of Fellowship Christian School, was named Freshman of the Year for NCAA Division II’s Peachbelt Conference at Columbus State University this spring but isn’t resting on his success.
The 5-foot-10 shortstop is spending his summer honing his game as a member of the Gwinnett Astros in the Sun Belt Summer League for college players. The team is playing a 28-game schedule at Peachtree Ridge High School in Gwinnett County.
“It’s a good league to keep developing my skills,” he said. “I am coming off a good college season, but still have a lot to learn. Their coach was in a need of a shortstop, and I needed a place to play so it was a great fit. They use wooden bats so you need to be more precise with your bat placement. I am also working on my defense. I want to increase my range and get to more baseballs.”
This spring, Bouton helped Columbus State finish 31-16 overall and 19-13 in the conference. He started all 47 games for the Cougars and ranked third on the club with a .347 batting average, led the squad with 20 doubles and 60 runs, shared first with two triples, was second with 70 hits and ranked fourth with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs. Those numbers were all career highs.
“It was really fun to be around the team this year,” he said. “We started kind of slow but we kept getting better and better. It was a very fun group.”
He set career single-game highs with six hits, three doubles, five RBIs and four runs at North Georgia on May 15, 2021. He belted a career-best three homers versus Georgia Southwestern State University on April 11, 2021.
Due to Covid-19, Columbus State was limited to 21 games (team finished 18-3) in 2019-20. Bouton played in 20 of those contests, but still qualified as a freshman for the Peach Belt Conference award he won this spring.
“Those 20 games really helped me get adjusted to college baseball,” he said. “I felt like I started slow, but started to round the corner late in the year and get better.”
Last season, Bouton hit .235 with 20 hits, five doubles, 18 runs, a home run and 18 RBIs. He led all Cougars freshmen in batting average, hits, doubles, home runs and RBIs. He also led freshmen on the club with 85 at-bats, 10 walks, 20 games played and 20 starts.
College baseball was an adjustment for the FCS star.
“The velocity of the pitching is so much better in college,” Bouton said. “The pitchers have so much better command. They will throw a breaking ball on an 2-0 count, whereas in high school you knew it would be a fastball in that situation.”
A business management major at Columbus State, Bouton has grown to truly enjoy being a collegiate baseball player.
“My first year was different, but I am really starting to love it,” he said. “Moving from a Christian school to a large public university was an adjustment too. But it’s a good school and baseball program to be part of.”
Bouton had a successful career on the diamond at Fellowship filled with many memories. As a senior he hit .535 and was named Region Player of the Year, and in the classroom was a member of the National Honor Society.
"I will never forget that walk-off home run Cody Tapley hit to beat Wesleyan in the playoffs,” Bouton said. "Coach O’s support was terrific. [Head coach Shawn Oliver] was so fun to play for. All the guys were great teammates too. "
Bouton, who led FCS to consecutive trips to the state playoffs in 2018 and 2019, has some advice for other freshmen athletes from Fellowship headed to college sports.
"Stay close to God," he said. "He will always be there for you. It’s so much easier to go through tough situations with Him. And be yourself too."
(Photo courtesy of Columbus State University)
Alumni Update: Hardin Finishes Football Career, Begins New Journey in Finance
Jack Hardin has traded one interest for another.
Hardin, who recently wrapped up his four-year collegiate football career, graduated from Furman University in May with a degree in business administration. He recently moved to Little Rock, Ark., to take a job he accepted in October 2020.
“It was an awesome experience [playing football at Furman],” Hardin said. “I built so many friendships that I hope will last a lifetime, and had the opportunity to play for some great coaches. Reed [Kroeber] and I were lucky to be involved in such a great program. But I was ready to work. I have always wanted to work in finance. I applied for jobs in the fall, they offered it to me and I decided to take it.”
When Hardin accepted his position as an equity research associate with Stephens, a privately held financial services firm focused on building long-term relationships and long-term results, his senior season was in the balance. He knew he would give up a fifth year of eligibility to play the game he loves to transition to the finance world after he graduated.
“It’s going really well [at Stephens],” said Hardin. “I have a lot to learn, but I am getting into the swing of things. It’s been an adjustment to a new city where I did not know anyone. But I am getting adjusted.”
Hardin did get the chance to play another college football season after all. Furman moved its fall season to the spring of 2021 due to Covid-19. A spring football season in Greenville, S.C., was different for Hardin, who served as a back-up quarterback and holder for field goals and extra points for his second straight season for the Paladins.
“The spring season was different and a little weird,” Hardin said. “But [the seniors] had the opportunity to finish what we started. Even through it did not go as well as planned, it was a good finish. It’s bittersweet that it’s over. Covid made senior year a little longer. It is weird because I have been playing football since I was 5 years old. I played from the time I was 5 and now I am 22. So it’s a bit sad to see that chapter end.”
Hardin and Kroeber, also a former FCS teammate, helped the Furman finish 3-4 overall this spring and attain back-to-back 8-5 seasons in both 2018 and 2019. The Paladins posted a 6-2 mark in the SoCon in 2019. The team wound up second in the conference, but lost in the first round of the playoffs in the fall of 2019.
In the spring of 2021, Hardin was the holder for all extra points and field goals, and “got into the first game and the last game” as a quarterback. He completed one pass.
During his career with the Paladins, Hardin was named to the Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll four times.
In 2019, Hardin served as the holder for all placements. He helped Furman placekicker Grayson Atkins earn All-America honors. Atkins made 13-of-15 field-goal attempts that season as he extended his SoCon record of 18 straight field goals. That season Hardin also completed his first collegiate pass (20 yards versus VMI) and first college touchdown (a 30-yard run on an option play against Point to end the regular season).
Hardin did not see any action in 2018 or 2017 at Furman.
The 2017 FCS graduate played four years of football for the Fellowship Paladins. He led FCS to the state title game in December 2016 as a senior quarterback.
What was your greatest memory at FCS?
"Overall, it was great experience at FCS," Hardin said about his days on the field at Fellowship. "It would have to be senior football season. After not making the state playoffs as a sophomore and junior, and then go 13-1 and reach the championship was great. Beating Prince Avenue [Christian School] to reach the state championship game and get a chance to play in the [Georgia] Dome was really unbelievable. Going on that journey with a bunch of great teammates and coaches was special. I will always remember a lot about that year and the people involved."
(Photo courtesy of Furman University)
Alumni Update: Swartz Among Scoring Leaders at Boston College This Season
It was not a typical season for Cameron Swartz this past winter.
“It was pretty rough,” the Fellowship Christian School graduate said about her 2020-21 season with the Boston College women’s basketball team. “We had a few quarantines, cancelled games and trips to hotels to wait out our time before we could practice and play again. We’d finally be cleared to play, and then it seemed like we’d always play a tough team without any practices. It was hard to stay in shape and practice.”
The Lady Eagles basketball team finished 7-12 overall and 2-11 in ACC games in 2020-21, which was Swartz’ redshirt sophomore season.
Swartz started all 19 games at guard, and ranked second on the team with 254 points and averaged a career-high 13.4 points per game. She was fourth on the squad with 577 minutes played, ranked second with 92 rebounds and was fifth with 27 assists. She went 30-for-106 from behind the three-point line.
“I think I played well,” Swartz said. “The start and stop [of the season] was hard on everyone. It hurt our chemistry on the court. Towards the end of the season we played better and really finished stronger. Overall, we played well as a team.”
Swartz put in long hours in the gym to work on her defense and hone her offense last offseason and as much as she could during the Covid-19 impacted 2020-21 campaign.
“When you don’t practice as much, it’s hard on muscle memory,” she said. “It’s harder on shooters like me. I tried to drive more this year and create opportunities to score. But it was tough to stay consistent.”
Swartz, who is currently in Boston, Mass., through Aug. 6 for BC’s seven-week off-season workout and practice program, expects the Lady Eagles to improve in 2021-22.
“I think we are looking good this summer,” Swartz said, noting that BC will have five seniors, one junior and two sophomores and six newcomers on the roster this season. “We are older, but we also have young players coming in. The newcomers are great and are a special group. They fit in well.”
Teamwork is a theme for the Lady Eagles.
“Overall, we have a very good group,” Swartz said. “We have each other’s backs. As a team we look stronger, and we are all vaccinated!”
Swartz enters the season with two years of eligibility left. She is an applied phycology major with a minor in communications.
In her first year at BC, Swartz played in 30 games for the Lady Eagles in 2019-20. She made 19 starts and averaged of 23.6 minutes, nine points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists per contest. Swartz ranked fifth on the team in scoring, ranked third with 35 three-point field goals and was third with 56 assists.
She transferred to Boston College from the University of Colorado during the middle of her freshman season. Before moving to BC, Swartz played seven games for the Lady Buffalos in 2018-19.
FCS’ all-time leading scorer with more than 1,000 points, Swartz has plenty of fond memories at Fellowship. She graduated from FCS in 2018.
“I will always remember being on the court [at Paladin Gym],” she said. “The game that I scored my 1,000th point was very big. I always wanted to reach 1,000 points in high school. It was a big goal. I will also always remember the season we made it past the first round in the state tournament. That was a pretty big deal.”
(Photos courtesy of Boston College)
Alumni Update: Gibbs Named to All-Sun Belt First Team in Final College Soccer Season
Mackenzie Gibbs wrapped up her collegiate soccer career in style.
Gibbs, a 2017 graduate of Fellowship Christian School, was named a First Team member of the All-Sun Belt Women’s Soccer Team following the 2020-21 season. She helped her team finish 7-8 overall over the fall and spring schedules, ranked second on the team with four goals, shared second with eight points and was tied for first on the squad with two game-winning goals.
“Last year was pretty good,” she said. “It was different with Covid. Our preseason was shorter and we did not play as many games as normal. But I was grateful for the season. We did well, but I feel like Covid played a role in our consistency as we finished under .500.
“For me personally it was a good season too. I had a couple of game-winning goals and scored a couple of other big goals. That was exciting. Looking back I focused on having fun my last year.”
As a senior, Gibbs led the team with 12 shots on goal to match her career best set as a freshman, tied for first with 20 overall shots and also set career highs in goals, game-winning tallies and points. As a junior, she set a career high with three assists and recorded seven points. Gibbs registered one goal as a sophomore in 2018, and notched three goals and six points as a freshman.
Gibbs has plenty of highlights during her time with the Lady Chanticleers. Making the ESPN Top 10 as a freshman “was crazy, and so much fun” and “I’ll always remember that time during the hurricane in 2018 when we were gone from campus for like 18 days during the middle of the season.”
A May 2021 graduate from Coastal Carolina (biology), Gibbs has plans to attend medical school next year following a yearlong scribe role at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
“It will help me prepare for medical school,” she said. “In high school I started thinking about a career in the medical field, and maybe becoming a doctor.”
While Gibbs is excited about her career plans, the end to her collegiate soccer career was bittersweet.
“It definitely is,” she said. “It’s weird. I was not ready to be done.”
Since joining the Lady Chanticleers four years ago, the 5-foot-8 midfielder has helped the team post a 33-33-4 record, including a 22-16-5 mark in the Sun Belt Conference games.
The team, 6-4 in conference matches last season, posted a 7-9-2 overall record and a 5-4-1 mark in conference play in 2019.
Gibbs excelled in the classroom at Coastal Carolina. She was named to the Conway, S.C. school’s Dean’s List (3.5 GPA or higher) for the spring 2021, fall 2020 and fall 2019 semesters, and earned a spot on the President’s List (4.0 GPA) for the spring 2020 semester. Gibbs was also a member of Coast Carolina’s Dean’s List (3.5 GPA or higher) for the 2018 fall semester, and was a member of the Sun Belt Conference Commissioner’s List for 2018-19. As a freshman, Gibbs earned placement on the school’s Dean’s List (3.25 GPA and higher) for the fall 2017 and spring 2018 semesters.
At Fellowship, Gibbs was a three-time MVP (sophomore, junior, and senior seasons), and was selected as Max Prep Player of the Year her senior year. She led the Lady Paladins to the 2016 GHSA Class A State Championship, the 2015 state title game, the 2014 state semifinals and the Elite 8 in 2017.
“I would say that state [title game] was my career highlight at Fellowship,” Gibbs said about her FCS career. “I still remember being with the team that day. I remember vividly the game. It was an amazing day.”
The team captain her senior year, Gibbs tallied 172 points (62 goals, 48 assists) during her FCS career.
“Playing a sport in college is hard,” she said. “It has its ups and downs, but you are playing a sport because you love it. Fellowship prepared me well.”
She has some advice for the FCS Class of 2021 members headed to college athletics.
“You need to stick with it no matter what happens,” Gibbs said. “Try to enjoy it. Everyone says that, but you need to have fun.”
(Photo courtesy of Coastal Carolina University)
Alumni Update: Mansell Finishes Track & Field Career, Graduates from The Citadel
While his final track & field season at the Citadel might have been disappointing, Fellowship Christian School graduate Harrison Mansell truly enjoyed his four-year experience at The Citadel.
“It was tough,” he said about his senior track & field season. “I struggled with injuries. I only got into one meet. But I can’t speak highly enough about my experience at The Citadel. That place did so many great things for me. I have made life long friends there, got to spend four years in a great city [Charleston, S.C.], and learned the skills that will make me successful. The professors were great, and always willing to help.”
Mansell, who recently graduated with his bachelor’s degree in business administration, has joined Oracle in the sales department. He has worked virtually for the company since June 14 but will ultimately be based in Durham, N.C.
A military school adds an extra component for the typical student athlete.
“Out of a scale of 10, I’d rate my experience at The Citadel an eight,” Mansell said. “At times it was a lot to handle, athletics, academics and military instruction. It taught me a lot of lessons, and definitely prepared me for life after college. I would say a military degree makes you stand out. They’ll see you went to a military institution and take notice. The Citadel taught me to balance multiple things at one time. I became more organized and determined there. The degree [from The Citadel] matters.”
Due to injuries and Covid-19, Mansell did not see a lot of meets his last two indoor and outdoor seasons with the Bulldogs.
As a junior, Mansell competed in two indoor meets. He posted a season-best high jump mark of 1.88m (6 feet, two inches) at the Gamecock Opener Jan. 17-18, 2020, and reached a height of 1.85m (6-0.75) at the VMI Team Challenge on Jan. 25, 2020.
His best season came during his sophomore year, including a personal-record jump of 1.93m (6-4) at the 2018 SoCon Outdoor Championships held May 10-11, 2018 in the high jump “that was probably my career highlight.”
He competed in six indoor meets as a sophomore, including a third-place jump of 1.88m (6-2) at the Gamecock Inaugural held Jan. 18-19, 2018. He placed sixth with a leap of 1.83m (6-0) at the USC Open on Feb. 16, 2019. Later that school year, Mansell competed in four outdoor meets. That included a ninth-place finish at East Carolina University’s Bill Carson Invitational held April 5-6, 2019 at 1.80m (5-10.75).
As a freshman, Mansell participated in four indoor meets, including his collegiate debut at the Wake Forest Invitational Jan. 20-21, 2018. At the Virginia Military Institute Team Challenge held on Jan. 27, 2018, he placed ninth at 1.80m (5-10.75). He matched that 1.80m mark to place fifth at the JDL College Team Challenge on Feb. 8, 2018, and was fifth at the USC Invitational held on Feb. 16-17, 2018 at 1.82m (5-11.5).
Mansell followed up the indoor season with five outdoor meets that included a third-place finish at the Terrier Relays from March 30-31, 2018 with a height of 1.85m (6-0.75).
Academically, Mansell reached The Citadel’s Dean’s List (Fall 2018), and the Southern Conference Honor Roll (2018-19).
Mansell credits the part FCS has played in his success in the classroom and track & field.
“Fellowship was a small knit community,” he said. “It really provided me with an opportunity to play sports. It allowed me the opportunity to perform well. I had a chance to unlock my skills there. On the academics side, it gave me great study habits. All the coaches and teachers there help prepare me for academics and sports in college.”
Alumni Update: Versatile Lineman Kroeber Ends Collegiate Football Career
Versatility was a recurring theme during Reed Kroeber’s collegiate football career.
Kroeber, who graduated from Furman University this spring, recently wrapped up his football career for the Paladins.
“I got to start at all five positions [on the offensive line] during my career at Furman,” he said. “That was actually pretty cool. The coaches switched me to left tackle after the first game this year. I was always ready to play no matter [the position]. I was able to pick up the offensive plan across the board despite where I played. Knowing what to do is more than half the battle.”
Due to Covid-19, Furman moved its 2020 season to this past spring. Kroeber started one game at left guard and five games at right tackle during the school’s spring football season.
“It felt like a normal season,” Kroeber said. “It was an OK year on the field. We finished 3-4 and played just conference games. It was not exactly the season we wanted [record wise], but I still got to finish out my fifth season at Furman.”
Kroeber has already had time to reflect on his collegiate career.
“While I was playing it felt like I was there a long time,” he said. “But now it doesn’t seem like I was there that long. I had a great time at Furman. It’s a great school.”
Overall, the school finished 28-26 in Kroeber's five years with the program. He did not play as a true freshman but went on to become a four-year starter on the offensive line. The previous two seasons Kroeber was the team’s starter at left guard.
Furman finished 8-5, including a 6-2 conference mark, in both 2018 and 2019 seasons.
Kroeber, who graduated in May with degrees in both business administration and health sciences, has been accepted in the master's program in accounting at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. He’ll begin a year-long program in August that includes nearly 10 months of classes and more than two months taking a series of four exams to become a CPA. His goal is to work in audits for a Big Four firm.
While he may have hung up the shoulder pads, Kroeber is not planning to leave the game completely.
“I would like to stay involved in football, and maybe help a high school team near where I am,” he said. “I spent 10 years playing the game, so I’d like to be involved in other ways. That was my mindset this year too. I really tried to pass on things to the younger guys and help them. That was a great positive for me this year.”
Fellow FCS graduate Jack Hardin also wrapped up his collegiate career at Furman this spring.
“That was huge for me to have a teammate from Fellowship at Furman,” Kroeber said. “Having a guy to work out with in the off season was huge. We could push each other and hold each other accountable.”
Speaking of FCS, Kroeber fondly recalls his career at Bob Lord Field.
“I am so thankful for my time at Fellowship,” he said. “I appreciate the opportunities at FCS to grow as a player and a student. It helped me develop as a player there so I could play college football.”
Kroeber earned several academic and football awards at Furman and Fellowship.
During his five years at Furman, Kroeber was named to the Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll in 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2017. Kroeber was also selected for the 2017 Hero Sports Freshman All-America and 2017 Phil Steele Freshman All-America teams.
While at FCS, Kroeber was included on the Atlanta-Journal Constitution’s all-state team in 2014, and also earned recognition as Region Lineman of the Year and also included on the AJC All-Metro North Fulton (all classifications) team.
As a Paladin senior in 2015, Kroeber was named honorable mention all-state. Also a basketball player and track & field competitor at Fellowship, Kroeber placed third in the state in the shot put and was fourth in the discus in May of 2015.
(Photo courtesy of Furman University)
National Championship: Dannemiller Helps Kentucky Win 2021 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships.
Fellowship Christian School graduate Caroline Dannemiller recently helped the University of Kentucky Wildcats team capture the 2021 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championships.
The event was held over Memorial Day Weekend (May 27-30) at the Virginia Horse Park in Lexington, Va. The Wildcats won their first USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championship. Kentucky brought 30 riders to the event.
Dannemiller, who will be a senior this fall at Kentucky, was pleased with the 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Fernhill Dreaming’s weekend performance in the Modified B division after the pair placed third overall.
“He had a really great run-up to the event, so I was hoping to put in a solid three phases together,” Dannemiller said. “He came out and tried his best, and it was super fun. I was really happy with him. It was an awesome experience [winning the championship]. It was my first time going to the USEA championships. Everyone was cheering each other on. It was the most teams we brought to the competition, and our first time winning it.”
Dannemiller and her teammates Cosby Green, Ivie Cullen Dean and Abbey O’Day won the event. They were among eight Wildcat teams at the event that included 105 entries, 29 teams and 15 schools.
A 2019 graduate of FCS, Dannemiller has a long history with horses.
“I have been riding since I was 5,” she said. “I bought my first horse when I was 14. I think I always knew I wanted to ride competitively.
Dannemiller, a marketing major, plans to graduate early in May 2022.
“I am excited that next year we’ll get normal classes [after a year online],” she said. “I love UK.”
(Photos courtesy of USEA/Kim Beaudoin)
Alumni Update: Cochran Helps Reinhardt Capture 4th Straight National Lacrosse Title
(This is the first in a series of summer updates on Fellowship Christian School graduates who have continued their athletic career at the collegiate level.)
It was a pretty memorable season for Cam Cochran to say the least.
The sophomore helped Reinhardt University capture its fourth consecutive NAIA National Championship and complete at 17-0 season. The Eagles defeated Indiana Tech in the NAIA Men's Lacrosse National Invitational Final played in Savannah on May 8.
Cochran became the first FCS graduate to earn a national collegiate lacrosse title. FCS graduates Elizabeth Johnson, Emma Sonnett and Emily Sonnett all helped their NASA club soccer team capture a national championship several years ago.
How did it feel to hoist the trophy?
“It was great,” Cochran said. “I’ve played in big games before at Fellowship, but nothing compares to a national championship. This title was really two years of hard work for our team. This win [in the title game] was very, very satisfying. This was the first time in the four years we were undefeated. Not losing a game all season was outstanding.”
Cochran excelled in his sophomore campaign at Reinhardt after COVID-19 limited his team to four games in 2020. In 2021, he ranked sixth on the team with 17 goals, 30 points, 47 shots and 28 shots on goal, while he finished fifth with 13 assists.
“It was pretty successful,” Cochran said about his season on the field. “I was kind of like the sixth man in basketball. I came in off the bench first, and was ready to step in when guys needed a break. Personally I felt like I made the most of my playing time. My goal is to help us keep winning.”
Cochran, who starred at both football and lacrosse at FCS, has already learned valuable life lessons at Reinhardt.
“I have learned patience and perseverance,” he said. “It’s a long season, so have to help you team win. Our team persevered through games this season when we struggled to come back and win. Sometimes you need to slow down and patient, and the wins will come. Everyone on this team is a great competitor.”
Cochran attributes the Eagles success to the philosophies of head coach John Snow.
“The way he pushed us,” he said. “He loves us, but he’ll push you the hardest he can. He’ll drain you, but our guys will give it all.”
Next semester, Cochran hopes to be able to attend classes in person instead of online as he continues his third year at the Waleska school. He’s a sports studies major with a business minor.
This summer Cochran will to give lacrosse lessons and teach kids about the sport he loves, and work on his own game.
“I’ll put in the hard work to be ready for next season, so we can be ready to repeat again,” he said.
(Photos courtesy of Reinhardt University)