Following a 10-year career, including many years on the United States national team, former Fellowship Christian School student Raychel Germaine has retired from luge.
Recently, she completed her last race at Lake Placid, N.Y., the site where her father Bob Germaine competed for Team USA in the 1980 Olympics.
Raychel Germaine was among 20 competitors at Lake Placid that recent day. Raychel was last off the handles, hit the wall at the start, but her dad called “the rest of her run great.”
She ended up in 10th place overall, which would have been good enough to qualify for the World Cup race but that was her last Team USA race.
“It’s hard to explain the different feelings running through my head as a drove out to the Lake Placid track [for Raychel’s last race],” Bob Germaine said. “It was a drive a made more than a hundred times over the last 35 years, but this trip was different than all the rest. This would be the last drive to watch Raychel race in a sport she devoted her life to for the past 10 years. Both good and bad memories flooded my head as I wrestled with competing emotions such as sadness, pride, appreciation, and relief.
“As I stood in the parent section of the finish area waiting for Raychel’s Nations Cup race, a member of the USA Luge staff asked me to cross the track and watch from the coach and athlete section. I knew Raychel’s teammates were going to engage in a celebration after she came down the track, but apparently the Luge Association was going to acknowledge her as well.
The elder Germaine, a former wrestling coach at FCS, described the scene following Raychel’s final run.
“As she picked up her sled and walked out of the track, I saw tears in her eyes,” he said. “I met her with a hug and added my own tears. The tears were not out of sadness, but out of appreciation for all the friends who participated in this special moment.”
“Her only negative issue was that she felt she could have had a better education if she had not participated in luge,” Bob said. “She wanted to be in the medical field, and she felt the opportunity to follow that dream is probably now out of reach. Then she began to pour out the positives: all the friends she made in the sport, meeting her boyfriend Tucker [who won two Silver World Cup medals that weekend], the self-confidence and an inner strength she developed through all the challenges she faced, learning that she is a good athlete, traveling to and experiencing many countries and cultures, and strengthening her relationship with Christ. I was so proud listening to her rattle these off. It was wonderful seeing how my little girl developed into a strong woman by taking on these challenges head on and turning them into positive characteristics of her life.”
The younger Germaine expects to have her nutrition degree in another year, and hopes to follow up with culinary school.
(Photo submitted by Bob Germaine)
Summer 2019 Updates
Alumni Update: Berryman Finishes First NFL Training Camp
Aug. 31, 2019: Fellowship Christian School graduate Ian Berryman recently wrapped up his first NFL training camp as a punter.
While Berryman did not make the final 53-man roster, the rookie from Western Carolina University put up some very impressive numbers.
Berryman wrote on @iancberryman: "Thank you to the @steelers for the great opportunity. Looking forward to seeing where the next opportunity is and where this road will lead! Best of luck this season."
Berryman helped the Steelers post a 3-1 pre-season record and punted nine times for an average of 45.8 yards per punt. He led the team's two punters (Jordan Berry returns for his sixth season in Pittsburgh) with five punts downed inside the 20-yard-line. Berry had three.
During the preseason, Berryman had a 66-yard punt, which was the longest of the preseason for Steelers punters.
On Thursday night (Aug. 29), Berryman punted four times for 184 yards, including a long boot of 55 yards in Pittsburgh's 25-19 loss to the Carolina Panthers at Bank of American Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. Two of his four punts wound up inside the 20-yard-line.
Here are the official 2019 Steelers preseason stats.
Berryman would have been the first FCS graduate to reach the NFL in the regular season. He's the first to attend a NFL training camp.
(Photo courtesy of @iancberryman)
Alumni Profile: Baumann Moves From Volleyball to Business World
AJ Baumann has taken a lot of what she learned as a high school and college volleyball player into the work world.
"It's been really cool to see how a student-athlete like me turns into an employee in the real world," said Baumann, who recently took a job as a recruiter at Insight Global, a leading IT staff firm with an Atlanta office.
Baumann, who earned a bachelor of science degree in retail with an emphasis on fashion design from the University of South Carolina this spring, is excited to work for the No. 3 IT staffing firm in the United States and the No. 1 firm in Atlanta.
"This is my fourth week on the job," she said. "It's exciting. It's rewarding to see that volleyball has shaped a lot of my life. It taught me to work hard, show determination and be a good teammate."
Before joining Insight Global, Baumann spent two weeks on a mission trip to Zimbabwe with Johnson City Baptist Church, where she had the opportunity to spread the Gospel. Sharing Jesus was always a big part of her volleyball career.
"That community is small," she said. "It's great to reflect back [on FCS] and remember that it was about sharing your faith and playing volleyball. That's why I'd like to come back and help the Fellowship program, where the ultimate goal is to share Jesus. I want to stay involved."
Baumann headed to Columbia, S.C. as a walk-on beach volleyball player, played four years and earned a partial scholarship as a senior.
"It was rewarding [to earn the partial scholarship]," she said. "I pursued going to USC since I was a sophomore in high school. The coach turned me down twice for a scholarship, but I always wanted to go there for school. I'd like to consider myself determined, so I walked on and played for four years."
Baumann felt like she had a good senior season.
"It went really well," she said. "I finished up strong. I didn't get to play as much playing time as I would have liked, but I was one of three captains. I enjoyed stepping into that role. I also enjoyed being versatile during my career there. I was the first person the coaches turned to when they needed someone to play a role as a blocker, defender or set up person."
Throughout her career, Baumann helped the Lady Gamecocks finish in the NCAA rankings all four years, including 11th or 12th as a senior, eighth as a junior, sixth as a sophomore and eighth as a freshman.
Baumann also excelled in the classroom at South Carolina. She was named to the SEC Spring Academic Honor Roll for three straight years from 2017-19, and was placed on the CCSA 2015-16 Beach Academic Honor Roll and the 2015-16 SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll.
In 2019, Baumann played in the exhibition pairing six times and went 2-2 in those matches.
She played four years at FCS, helping the Lady Paladins reach the GHSA Class A Championships Elite Eight in consecutive seasons from 2015 to 2016, and win the Area Championship in 2015. In 2014, Fellowship claimed the Region Championship and earn a trip to the GHSA Class A Championships Final Four.
(Photo courtesy of the University of South Carolina)
Davenport Makes Collegiate Lacrosse Debut at Lee University
Camille Davenport had the opportunity to play both goaltender and defense during her freshman lacrosse season at Lee University in Tennessee.
“It was a good first season,” the 2018 graduate of Fellowship Christian School said. “I was a goalie, but I also played a little bit at defense. Coach put me on the field because of my speed. I enjoyed that.”
She helped the Lady Flames post a 4-12 record. Lee plays in NCAA Division II’s Gulf South Conference.
Davenport played in seven games as a freshman, notching her first collegiate win as a goalie on Feb. 16, 2019 against Erskine College. She finished with 141 minutes and 13 saves. She backed up a senior goalkeeper.
This year, she’s in the running for the starting nod.
“I’ll probably play more in goal this season,” she said. “I’ll be the oldest goalie on the team. We have me, a sophomore, and a freshman.”
Davenport saw quite a difference in the talent level at Division II from high school.
“The talent of the shooters was different,” she said. “They really all know where to place the shots. You are rushed to clear the ball and make saves. You have to clear it fast. You see a lot of shots. [Off the field] you have to adjust to the schedule. It gets hard sometimes with practices, games and classes. But you get used to it quickly.”
Facing shots in practice helped Davenport prepare for the fast-placed college game.
The team’s goal is to “play on Sunday” this year as the Gulf South Conference title game is played that day.
Davenport helped build the Fellowship program that came close to winning a state championship this spring.
“Getting to know all the girls and our new coaches was a highlight [at FCS],” she said. “It was a thrill to win a first round state playoff game my senior year. I remember that year we lost the first five games that season and then won 12 of 13 games. It was great to see how our grade helped build it. We went from middle school to JV to varsity. All the girls in our class helped grow it.”
Davenport has some advice for any FCS athlete thinking of a collegiate career.
“Be ready to start playing with new teammates, and know you are playing for a greater good,” she said. “You have to learn how to work as a team right away.”
(Photo courtesy of Lee University)
Alumni Profile: Swartz Hopes to Make a Point at Boston College
Fellowship Christian School’s all-time scoring leader Cameron Swartz is hopeful she’ll have the opportunity to play for Boston College in the first semester.
“I transferred mid-year from Colorado,” she said. “I petitioned the NCAA to see if I can play in the first semester since I transferred before Christmas. Right now I am eligible to play during the second semester.”
Under NCAA rules transfers typically sit out two semesters before they are eligible to play for their new team. She expects to play both point guard and wing for the Lady Eagles.
Swartz, a 5-foot-11 point guard, left the University of Colorado after the first semester to join BC. She originally signed with the Lady Buffs, and played in seven games last season. Swartz’ first career point in college came off a three-point shot against Navy. She finished with 22 points, an average of 6.3 per contest, five steals and five assists.
“I learned a lot there,” she said. “I had heart surgery before going to Colorado, which put me behind. I wanted to be happy there, but I wasn’t. Boston College was right for me. I look forward to a great education and playing basketball [in the ACC].”
Head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee and her staff has made Swartz feel right at home in Beantown.
“I love the coaching staff,” she said. “I love this team. Everyone gets along well, and I have spent a lot of time with my teammates this summer.”
Swartz spent six weeks in Boston this summer taking summer classes and spending time with her teammates.
“I want to help this team win,” Swartz said. “I am playing point guard primarily now. I want to get better and rebuild my game. I have not played in a game in a long time, so I am working to get better and improve. It’s a different style here, but I am very excited about it.”
Swartz has built a rapport with assistant coaches AJ Cohen, Yolanda Griffith and George Porcha for different reasons. She said the younger Cohan is easy for the younger players to relate too, that coach “Yo” was a great WNBA player who shares her knowledge well and that coach Porcha was a great skills coach.
During her time at FCS, Swartz averaged 32 points, 8.5 rebounds 4.1 steals and shot 47 percent from the floor during career. She was named First Team Class 1A North All-State, second-team All-Georgia and led the state of Georgia in scoring as a senior. Swartz finished her career with 1,867 points and 612 rebounds at Fellowship.
While she was excited to top 1,000 points at Fellowship, winning a first-round state playoff game as a senior was one of biggest FCS highlights.
She will major in applied psychology and minor in communications at BC.
“Boston is very cool,” she said. “I would not have thought I’d like such a big city, but I have really enjoyed my summer here. The campus is gorgeous.”
During her time in Colorado, Swartz played wing. She’s excited for an opportunity to play both point guard and wing for the Lady Eagles.
“Point guard at the college level is different,” she said. “I didn’t understand how different [until she started practicing with her BC teammates]. Everything flows to each position from point guard.”
(Photos courtesy of Boston College)
Alumni Profile: Kierpa Shows Success at Covenant as a Relief Pitcher
Lauren Kierpa found herself in a little bit of unfamiliar territory her freshman season at Covenant College.
After being a starter for most of her pitching career at Fellowship Christian School and as a travel team hurler, Kierpa moved into a relief role as a freshman at Covenant (located in Lookout Mountain, Ga.).
"I definitely played more than I thought I would," Kierpa said. "We had two starters, and they were a junior and a senior. That meant a relief role for me. It was different. Especially because in high school I was the only pitcher for a few years until Baylor Aycock joined varsity. So I was used to starting and pitching six or seven innings."
Kierpa, who graduated from FCS in 2018, shared the lead among Lady Scot pitchers with 21 appearances. She started four games, went 2-2, picked up one save and led the team with a 4.58 ERA.
She pitched 1 1/3 innings in her college debut against Berry College on Feb. 9, 2019, made her first start at Berea (Ky.) College on March 20, 2019 and struck out a season-high five batters.
Her first collegiate win came on March 9, 2019 at Judson (Ala.) College, and she notched her first save was at The University of the South on Feb. 27, 2019. On March 26, 2019 she threw a season-high 6 2/3 innings against Birmingham Southern.
"I really enjoyed being a closer," she said. "For me, I wanted to do anything I could to get those three outs. But it was definitely an adjustment."
She learned first hand what it was like to become a college athlete.
"It was hard to manage my time sometimes," Kierpa said. "We played for practiced six days a week. Because we are a Christian school we took Sundays off. It was harder than high school with harder classes and more practices, games and study halls in college. But Fellowship prepared me well."
Kierpa hopes to land one of the team's two starting roles on the mound this spring.
"I hope to secure a starting spot as a pitcher," she said. "I have to step up and help my team win. We did well last year. We had a rough start after a late head coach change, but once we adopted her system we hit our stride as a team."
What are the biggest changes between high school and college softball?
"I think the game format," Kierpa said. "For high school we'd have 2-4 games a week and 5-6 in travel ball but mostly in single games, but in college we had double headers. The conditioning was tougher as we had 3-4 double headers in a week."
Kierpa's brother Grant is also a FCS graduate and former athlete at Covenant. He played two seasons of baseball for the Scots from 2016-17.
Covenant plays in the USA South Athletic Conference.
(Photos courtesy of Covenant College)
Alumni Profile: Murphy Seeks Balance Between Academics and Golf
Tripp Murphy played well today [July 29, 2019], but narrowly missed an opportunity to qualify for the Georgia Open being held later this summer.
On July 29, the 2018 graduate of Fellowship Christian School carded a 74 in the Georgia Open Last Chance Qualifier at Achasta Golf Club in Dahlonega, Ga., but did not qualify.
Murphy was three over through three holes, lowered his score to one-under par through 15 holes before going three over on the last three holes.
"I learned a lot today, and made like six birdies," said Murphy, who is about to enter his sophomore golf season at Division III Oglethorpe University. "So it's ok. That was a good takeaway."
His freshman season at Oglethorpe had some ups and downs, but Murphy is overall pleased.
"It went well overall," he said. "I played a decent amount in the first semester. I played in seven tournaments. I am excited to play again this fall. I have worked hard on my swing this summer, and am practicing a lot."
Murphy worked on his consistency on the course in the fall.
"I was a starter in about 3-4 of the seven tourneys, and I shot 73 or 74 at a home tournament," he said. "I averaged around 75 [per round]."
His plan is to play a little less this fall to focus more on academics.
"I am planning to ease into it this fall," he said. "My coach and I talked about it. It will be better to play 3-4 tournaments that will give me more time to study. He knows I am good player, but we both know I need to focus on my grades."
While Murphy's main focus will be on academics, he still eyes improvement in his game.
"I want to be more consistent and balance my grades and golf," he said. "I'd like finish in the top 10 of at least two tournaments, and average 73 or below [for the season]."
Managing time was challenge as a first-year collegiate golfer, Murphy admitted.
"Probably my time management was [my biggest struggle]," he said. "It was hard balancing studying, practices and tournaments. I have to learn to say no sometimes."
Among Murphy's biggest collegiate highlights last season was a trip to Pennsylvania for a tournament and his team's overall success.
"We went to Laurel Valley last year to play," he said. "It's probably one of the top 100 courses in the country, and we played well there."
Oglethorpe won the Southern Athletic Association Tournament by 23 strokes, and place sixth in nationals.
Murphy had a great career at FCS playing on Mike Kinsey's varsity teams.
"I had a lot of highlights there," he said. "Probably my biggest one was the 31 [he shot]. And qualifying for states was pretty big."
(Photo courtesy of Oglethorpe University)
From the Diamond to the Dugout for FCS Graduate Nolan Lavergne
Fellowship Christian School graduate Nolan Lavergne will transition from baseball player to coach this spring and switch schools.
Lavergne, a 2018 graduate of FCS, pitched one season for the Emmanuel College baseball team.
"It went really well," he said. "I had a lot of fun and pitched in about six games. I felt like I did well."
Following this spring's season, Lavergne decided to transfer from the Franklin Springs, Ga., school to the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, Ga., and change his major to civil engineering.
In addition, he also decided to coach baseball and was hired as a pitching coach for Johnson High School, a GHSA Class AAAAA school in Gainesville, Ga.
"I am extremely excited to begin my coaching career," said Lavergne, whose younger brother Peyton is a former FCS athlete and now attends Johnson. "I thought it was the right time to change colleges. I hurt my elbow and dislocated my knee [at Emmanuel], and wanted to get into coaching."
What are the biggest differences between high school and college baseball?
"The gap between high school and college was bigger than I thought," he said. "In high school, the top 1-5 hitters in the lineup were always very tough, but easier after that. But in college there are 15 guys on each team that can really hit."
Lavergne learned to enjoy the game more in college.
"Definitely one of my biggest [takeaways] is to enjoy the game more," he said. "I remember being more stressed in high school about results. But now looking back I see it was just a game. You have to have fun."
Lavergne enjoyed his time on the Fellowship baseball squad and playing for head coach Shawn Oliver.
"He was very energetic and helped us prepare well," Lavergne said. "One of my favorite memories at Fellowship was during my junior year. We were up by a run against King's Ridge and I came in with the bases loaded and no outs. I got a strikeout and two pop ups and held them to no runs and we won."
(Photo courtesy of Nolan's Twitter page)
Alumni Profile: Sanson Enters Finals Basketball Season at Asbury; Exploring Post-Grad Degree Options in PT
Fellowship Christian School graduate Kari Sanson enters her senior year in the classroom this fall at Asbury University, and her third playing basketball at the Wilmore, Ky., school.
After being injured her freshman season, Sanson has played the past two seasons of NAIA basketball for the Lady Eagles. She says this will be her last season on the court for the Lady Eagles.
"It was different than I expected," Sanson said about her transition to college basketball. "I couldn't play my freshman year. I watched from the sidelines as I got to know the system and my teammates. It was actually good as it helped me mesh with the team. We did well as our whole starting lineup was seniors."
In three seasons at Asbury, Sanson has played for two head coaches and faced a pair of rebuilding seasons.
Current head coach Chad Mayes was an assistant with Lady Eagles during Sanson's second season with the program (and her first on the court).
"I was able to play my sophomore season," she said. "That was tough with a new coach that season, and not playing much in the beginning [after recovering from her injury]. But I got to play more toward the end of the season. The team did as well as it could have since it was a rebuilding season."
Following that season, coach Mayes took over the program as a head coach.
"He had totally different coaching philosophy," Sanson said. "He encouraged everyone though, and we rode it out with another rebuilding year. It was easier this time though as he was there [the season before as an assistant coach]. I played more last year, and the team was better."
Sanson enters her "junior year" on the court with a goal of improvement and hopefully more time on the court.
"I just want to get better and play more," she said.
Asbury plays in the River States Conference. The team wants to win more games this season and compete well, according to Sanson.
The 2016 graduate of FCS is on track to graduate this spring with an exercise science degree from Asbury.
"My plan is to go to physical therapy school after graduation," she said. "It will be a doctorate degree. I am looking at different schools now. But I am not planning to play another year [of basketball]."
Sanson, whose father Rick is a high school teacher at Fellowship, has looked at the University of Kentucky and schools in North Georgia for her post-graduate degree work.
(Photo courtesy of Asbury University)
Russell Moves Back to OL After Season on Defense at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Mason Russell has already shown some versatility in his short time with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team.
The 6-foot-1, 270-pound redshirt freshman lineman has moved back to the offensive side of the ball as the Mocs prepare for training camp that begins July 31.
"It was a learning experience last year," Russell said. "I started out on defense and practiced all season with the defensive line. But in the spring, they asked me to move back to offense."
Russell begins camp as a second-string center. At FCS, Russell played both offensive tackle and nose tackle on defense.
"It was kind of different in the beginning," he said about the change to offense. "I started focusing on defense when I got to college, but it was a little nostalgic to move back to offense [for spring practices]. It's really a matter of execution on offense."
Russell has quickly learned to enjoy the UTC offense.
"It's really quite similar [to FCS' offense]," Russell said. "There are a lot of laterals, and the unit moves together. Everyone moves as a unit. It helps when you study the playbook to have similar looks."
Not only does the UTC offense seem similar to the offense Russell played Fellowship, he'll also see some familiar faces during the season. Russell will face former FCS teammates Reed Kroeber and Jack Hardin as UTC hosts Furman University in a SoCon contest on Nov. 2 at Finley Stadium at 2 p.m.
The Mocs finished 6-5 in 2018 under head coach Rusty Wright, a UTC alumnus. Russell did not play as a true freshman, earning redshirt.
"We did pretty well last year," he said. "We started strong at 4-0, but lost a couple of crucial games. Coach Wright is an alumnus, and he's a great coach and is great for our program. Chattanooga is a great place to be. The city is awesome."
Russell's transition to college was pretty smooth.
"It went well," he said. "The conditioning at FCS helped me get quickly adjusted to college football. It prepared me for football, which is now a year-round thing. At Fellowship I did not think about football until the spring. Now football is always going on. It's a complete circle and a year-round commitment. It makes school a full-time job."
Russell is a mechanical engineering major at UTC.
"I went into college knowing I want to be an engineer," he said.
(Finley Stadium image, logos courtesy of University of Tennessee at Chattanooga)
Mackenzie Gibbs Focused On Team Goals Heading into 2019 Soccer Season
Mackenzie Gibbs has not given personal goals too much thought as she prepares for her junior collegiate soccer season. She's focused on team goals.
"I am still thinking about [personal goals]," said Gibbs, a junior midfielder on the Coastal Carolina University soccer team. "Nothing specific personally, except for scoring more goals and adding to my playing time. Our team goals are most important to me. We want to win the conference and the tournament. Obviously I want to say that I gave it my all for the team."
The 2017 Fellowship Christian School graduate started two games and played in 15 contests for the 8-8-1 Lady Chanticleers in 2018. The team went 7-3 in Sun Belt Conference contests. She scored the tying goal in a 1-1 tie against Winthrop.
Overall, Gibbs finished with 24 shots and 10 shots on goal as a sophomore. That season was shortened due to Hurricane Florence.
"It's crazy to think about I am junior," Gibbs said. "After this year I only have one year of college soccer left. I am excited about this year. I think we are looking pretty good heading into camp. We lost three seniors, but we should do well."
As a freshman, Gibbs set career highs with three goals, six points, 29 shots and 12 shots on goal. She played in 20 games and stated 12 contests. She netted the tying goal to force overtime in a 2-1 win over Troy State, and scored the game-winning goal over Texas State.
The Lady Chanticleers finished 11-8-1 in 2017, including a 4-5-1 mark in conference play.
"There's pressure throughout the season [to win games] at Coastal Carolina," Gibbs said. "You want to win every game. It's exciting to be part of this program. Every year we want to win. We have great coaches who help us prepare for every game."
Gibbs has done well on the field and in the classroom at Costal Carolina. She was named to the Coastal Carolina Dean's List in 2017 and 2018. She also made the Sun Belt Conference Commissioner's List for 2017-18.
"Obviously it's hard to be a college athlete sometimes," she said. "There are ups and downs on the field with playing time, and with college classes but it's rewarding overall. I want to have an impact on our team whether I am playing a lot or not. Attitude is very important. My freshman year went well, but last year was harder as I was hurt and did not play as much."
But Gibbs heads to the Lady Chanticleers' training camp on Aug. 5 healthy, and is ready to battle hard for more playing time.
"Obviously I hope for more time this year," she said. I am ready for the season!"
(Photos courtesy of Coastal Carolina University)
Berryman Heads to Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp With Eye on Opening Day Roster Spot
Ian Berryman is trying to become the first ever Fellowship Christian School graduate to make a National Football League team.
The former punter at Western Carolina University and FCS is headed for the Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 Training Camp, presented by FedEx, at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., which begins July 26. Players report to Saint Vincent, which hosts the Pittsburgh camp for the 54th consecutive year, on July 24. Berryman signed with the Steelers as a free agent following the 2019 NFL Draft.
Jordan Berry from Eastern Kentucky University has been Pittsburgh's No. 1 punter for the past five seasons. Berry and Berryman are the only punters on the roster as the team heads to camp.
"He and I are the only punters on the roster," Berryman said. "They will probably keep one of us. You can only control what you can control. I feel really good [after rookie and extended camps in Charlotte]. I was there for 2-3 weeks, and feel like I am in the best shape of my life."
Berryman was excited when the Steelers called his agent following the draft.
"I am very pleased to be here, and join their 90-man roster and have the opportunity [to win a job in camp]," the 2014 graduate of FCS said. "As many football fans do, I followed the Steelers. They have so many prime-time games and have fans all around the country. They were the only team to offer me a contract, so I am extremely excited about camp."
During his five seasons at Western Carolina from 2104-18, Berryman helped the Catamounts finish a combined 26-30, including three, 7-win seasons. The club went 17-21 in SoCon games during those seasons. Berryman was a redshirt in 2014 and did not play.
As a senior, Berryman was able to show consistency, enjoy his final season with the Catamounts and reach his main goal. He punted 38 times for 1,574 yards and attained an average of 41.4 yards per punt in 2018. He finished his Catamount career as the school's all-time leader in punt average at 43.8 yards per punt (206 for 9,021 yards).
"Setting the highest career punting [distance] average was my goal," Berryman said. "That was my main goal. I wanted to help our team any way I could."
As a junior, Berryman equaled his career high with 58 punts and set his career best with 2,578 yards. In 2016, Berryman punted 52 times for 2,335 yards as a sophomore. As a redshirt freshman in 2015, Berryman set a career high with 58 punts that covered 2,534 yards.
Berryman came a long way in his career. In fact, he's the only player from the 2018 Western Carolina team at an NFL Training Camp. Former WCU teammates Keion Crossen (New England Patriots) and Detrez Newsome (Los Angeles Chargers) played in the NFL last season.
"Going to Western Carolina as a walk-on and doing what I have done to earn a scholarship and have the chance to play in the NFL is a highlight," he said. "It's rewarding, and I couldn't be happier."
At WCU, NFL scouts were able to see Berryman's hard work in directional punting and "placing the ball in the right spots," which could give him an opportunity to play on Sundays this season.
"I always treated practices like a game because there were always scouts there to see teammates like Keion and Detrez," he said. "I tried to be consistent at practices and games, and perform at a high level."
Berryman would not trade his experience as a Catamount for anything.
"We played at a lot of cool places," he said. "We played at Aloha Stadium where they hold the Pro Bowl, and got to play in front of 100,000 fans at Texas A&M and Tennessee. To travel around the country to kick the ball was an awesome experience."
Berryman will hopefully have three pre-season games to show his skills to Steelers coaches. The team has three pre-season games – Aug. 17 vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, Aug. 25 at the Tennessee Titans and Aug. 29 at the Carolina Panthers. Pittsburgh will set its final roster soon after the Panthers game.
(Photo courtesy of Ian's Twitter Account)
Hurley Heads Back to Furman Healthy, Prepared for Senior Year
Emma Grace Hurley learned something about perseverance this spring.
The Fellowship Christian School graduate had a tough spring track & field season at Furman University. In all of her seasons running cross country and track & field at Furman and FCS, Hurley had not suffered through a lingering injury like the calf ailment she suffered during the outdoor track & field season.
"It was the first time in my career that I could not just take a day off to get past an injury," said Hurley, who enters her season year this fall. "It was hard for me. I ran for the team in races, but I did not finish with good times. My goal was just to make it to the finish line."
The injury sidelined her for two weeks, and also limited her practice time with her teammates. "My motivation is always to be my best for my teammates," she said. "I could not run with them to encourage them in practice."
She did recover enough to place second at 10,000 meters and 5,000 meters at the outdoor SoCon meet in the spring. Her disappointing spring season came following successful cross country and indoor track seasons in the fall and winter of 2018-19.
As a junior, Hurley placed 51st in the cross country nationals just 11 places and seven seconds away from being an All American. She also posted her best 5K time of 15.57 in the fall, won the 1,500 meters at the University of South Carolina meet and took second and third, respectively, in the 5,000 and 3,000 meter races at the indoor league meet.
A healthy Hurley has set some lofty goals for her senior year at Furman.
"This fall I'd love to be an All American in cross country with a top 40 finish," she said. "I also want to reach the NCAAs for outdoor track. I really feel like I should have done that already."
Her most memorable season at Furman was her sophomore campaign.
In her second year at Furman, Hurley won the 3,000-meter Steeplechase with a time of 10:06.35, a Furman record at the time, at the Raleigh Relays to qualify for the NCAA East Preliminaries and she finished 23rd at 10:18.97. She was also named to the All-Southeast Region team for cross country after turning in a 19th-place finish at 20:58.9. Hurley came in 126th at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in 20:56.44. She qualified for a slot on the All-SoCon second team with an eighth-place finish (17:18.3) at the league cross country championships.
She went on to have successful indoor and outdoor track seasons as a sophomore. Click here to read more about Hurley's highlights at both Furman and FCS.
"We had six underclassmen that season," Hurley said. "We had ability beyond what we did. That team was amazing to be a part of."
Hurley, who plans to seek a MBA following graduation from Furman this spring, offered advice for high school runners thinking about a collegiate career.
"I'd tell them two things," she said. "It's going to be a commitment. It will often feel like it's your whole life. It's also a huge step up in competition. Get ready for a little blow to the ego. Even if you are a state champion, you may run against five other state champions in one race. Your competition is so good at what they do."
(Photo courtesy of Furman University)
Aycock Trying to Impress New Coaching Staff at Georgia Tech
Fellowship Christian School graduate Tad Aycock will get a front-row seat to the changes at the Georgia Tech University football team.
Head coach Geoff Collins has taken over the Yellow Jacket program this fall from the retired Paul Johnson. Brent Key will serve as Tech's assistant head coach, run game coordinator and offensive line coach, while Dave Patenaude is the new offensive coordinator.
This year's Yellow Jackets' squad is very motivated for their new coach as it heads to fall camp on July 30.
"Our team goals are to work hard," said Aycock, a redshirt freshman center. "Coach Collins has brought a huge culture change. We want to win games and ultimately the ACC title. None of us have ever worked this hard."
Aycock, who played tackle in practices last season, enjoyed his first season at Tech as a redshirt.
"It was really good to get acclimated to college football and Georgia Tech [in 2018]," Aycock said. "It will be different with a new head coach and staff. We are excited about it."
Aycock heads into fall camp with an opportunity to show the new coaches what he can do at his new position.
"You are in a prove-yourself situation with new coaches," he said. "No one's job is safe. You have to show the coaches your effort every day. I am always hopeful [for playing time], but you have to work hard. I am behind seniors on the depth chart."
The 6-foot-3, 285-pound Aycock enjoyed his freshman campaign.
"It's such a great fan base here," he said. "It was incredible to be on the sidelines for home games. I got to travel to Georgia [for the game against the Bulldogs in Athens], and dress out for the Virginia game. That was a very close game. The talent here is incredible."
What was the biggest challenge of moving from Fellowship to Tech?
"Definitely the schedule of a Division I athlete was a challenge," he said. "Your day is planned out, which makes it easy to stay on schedule. But it's still a lot of work."
One of Aycock's biggest adjustments during spring practice and this offseason was moving to center, a new position for him.
"I had not played center before," said Aycock. "It has been an adjustment."
Aycock, who helped FCS reach the 2016 Class A Private School Football Championships, was recruited by Johnson and retired GA Tech offensive line coach Mike Sewak, who happened to coach Aycock's uncles Hunter and Sand Chadwick at Georgia Southern University. Hunter is the former AD and head football coach at Fellowship.
"It was pretty cool to be recruited by coach Johnson," Aycock said. "Coach Johnson kept the same line coach for all those years. I experienced the same things my uncles did 20 years later. He was the godfather of the Triple Option."
(Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech)
Marshall Kent has Solid Senior Golf Season at Covenant College
Marshall Kent wrapped up his collegiate golf career with some pretty good recognition.
The 2015 graduate of Fellowship Christian School earned the USA South All-Sportsmanship Award following his senior year at Covenant College of Lookout Mountain, Ga.
"All of my life my mom encouraged me to be an encourager and be a blessing in everyone's lives," Kent said. "I am proud of this award because it shows how much I care about people."
It capped a very successful season for Kent, who had a career-best 77.55 scoring average in 2018-19. He played in all nine events and tied a personal best with a 70 in the second round on the second day of the Piedmont Fall Invitational on Oct. 2, 2018. He finished second in that tourney with a 36-hole total of 144 (74 in the first round).
Last season, he also shared first in the Reeder Cup with a two-day 148 (75 and 73) Oct. 15-16, and carded a first-round 71 in the Chick-fil-A Invitational Oct. 22.
"It was a really cool season," Kent said. "Josh Wall and I were basically the team's captains. We worked really hard to help build a culture that can last at Covenant. Our team played very well last season."
Kent has helped the Covenant program rise in the national Division III golf rankings from 232 after his freshman year to 60th in the nation following this past season.
"Watching that growth was such a cool thing," he said. "I had teammates like Josh in my corner for four years, and coach [Tom] Schreiner always believed in me. Having those people in my life was a great thing."
Kent credits coach Schreiner and his teammates for building a winning attitude at Covenant.
"Our success was partly recruiting, as we brought in a lot of talent my sophomore and senior years," he said. "But coach Schreiner instilled confidence, and a lot of it was hard work and determination to improve our games."
As a senior, Kent represented Covenant on the USA South All-Sportsmanship team and was named to the USA South All-Academic team. During his career, Kent had seven top-10 tourney finishes that ranks fourth in school history.
In 2017-18 as a junior, Kent played in all seven events. His top finish that season was seventh place at the Eagle Invitational with a 36-hole total of 161 (74-87). He became the first Covenant golfer to notch a hole-in-one during a tournament with an ace on the 11th hole of the Wynlakes Intercollegiate event his junior season.
As a sophomore, Kent played in 10 events. He shared second and was named to the all-tournament team at the Piedmont Fall Invitational with a two-day 147 (70-77).
He played in six events as a freshman, including a season-low 152 (79 and 73) at Piedmont College Fall Invitational to earn a spot on the all-tourney team.
In total, Kent competed eight years in golf at FCS and Covenant. He is a big fan of the team environment that has helped him prepare for post-college life.
"I have no idea where the time went," he said. "It was a great experience. I am so thankful for coaches like coach [Mike] Kinsey at FCS and coach Schreiner."
Kent, who lives in Chattanooga, Tenn., was recently promoted to a large move specialist for Bellhops Moving, the company he joined following graduation from Covenant.
His long-term goal is marriage, seminary and a career in ministry.
"I have friends going to seminary," he said. "It's pretty rigorous, so I'd like to get married and have a wife to share that experience and career with."
(Photos courtesy of Covenant College)
Kroeber Heads to Camp as Starting Right Offensive Guard on Furman University's Football Squad
After splitting his time at center and guard last season, Reed Kroeber is ready to settle in at offensive guard on the right side this season at Furman University.
Kroeber played in 10 games for the Paladins, including nine starts, in 2018 to help Furman finish 6-4 overall (6-2 in SoCon games). The junior lineman started the games against Clemson University and Elon University at center before moving to guard early in the season. He and the Paladin OL opened the holes for Devin Wynn to rank among the SoCon's top ground gainers with 722 yards and six TDs.
"I am sitting right at the top of depth chart at left guard heading into camp," he said. "I have been all over the place [on the line] during my career. Nothing is guaranteed though. I have to earn my spot."
Off the field, Kroeber earned a spot on the SoCon Academic Honor Roll in 2018.
Overall, the school has finished 17-17 in Kroeber's three years with the program. The club went 8-5, including a 6-2 mark in 2017 following a 3-8 season in 2016.
"It's been amazing here," Kroeber said. "I'll be in my third year already. I am so excited for this year. Even though I have been working out all summer, the season seems so far away. But pretty soon the fun part begins with training camp."
The 2016 graduate of Fellowship Christian School has high hopes for this season.
"I have become a starter here, so I'd like to stay healthy and start again," he said. "My goal is to be an all-conference performer who helps his team do well. We want to have a good season. Last year we had a share of the conference title with Wofford and East Tennessee, but the hurricane limited us to 10 games and we missed the playoffs."
Through his high school and collegiate career, Kroeber has shown his versatility playing both defensive and offensive tackle at FCS and tackle, guard and center in college.
"I have grown as a player," he said. "I have played pretty much everywhere, and have developed an understanding of what we are trying to do offensively on every play. I have played all five positions."
After settling in at guard last season, Kroeber realized how much he enjoys the Paladins' run-focused offense and blocking in general.
"I get to block on a lot of pulls and traps, and we sweep a lot," the 6-foot-4, 286-pound lineman said. "We run every kind of running play. Running is the key to our offense."
In 2017, Kroeber was named to the SoCon All-Freshman Team and earned Freshman All-America honors by HERO Sports and Phil Steele. He started a career-high 13 games, including three at left tackle to start the season and the final 10 contests at right guard. The line helped a pair of Paladin running backs reach the All-SoCon Team that season.
A member of the scout team in 2016 as a freshman, Kroeber was selected for the SoCon Academic Honor Roll.
(Photos courtesy of Furman University)
FCS Graduate Enters Final Soccer Season at University of Alabama-Birmingham
Fellowship Christian School graduate Megan Hudgens is ready to finish her collegiate soccer career at the University of Alabama-Birmingham off on a bright note personally, and also help her team win soccer games.
"It's my last year, so I want to do well," Hudgens said. "I want my team to do well. I take nothing for granted as it's the end of my career."
The Lady Blazers hope to win Conference USA and capture the conference tournament.
"Those are two big goals, but we have a lot of talent here, both old and new," she said. "The upperclassmen have talked a lot. We all have similar idea for the season."
Hudgens is coming off a little bit of a disappointing junior year, so she has some extra motivation to do well on the field for UAB.
"Last season wasn't as good for me," she said. "But in the spring, I felt my confidence coming back. I am confident and ready for this season."
As a junior, Hudgens started six games and played in 18. She was second on the team (6-4 in conference play and 9-8-1 overall) with three assists. Hudgens shared fifth on the squad with three points, and ranked fourth with six shots on goal and was fifth with 13 shots.
Hudgens' second season at UAB was her best statistically and probably the most memorable. She played in and started all 20 matches, and ranked second the club and seventh in Conference USA with 19 points. She led the Lady Blazers with five assists and shared second with a seven goals. She set career highs in goals, assists and points.
"My sophomore year was a highlight," she said. "Our team atmosphere was great. We made it to the conference tournament for the first time in a while. We also beat Alabama in the spring of 2017. That was a great win."
As a freshman, Hudgens started and played in all of the team's 17 games. She shared the team lead with four goals and ranked second with three assists. Her 11 points, 36 shots and 22 shots on goal topped the Lady Blazers.
The 2016 graduate of Fellowship Christian School has advice for any current Lady Paladins thinking about a collegiate soccer career.
"Remember why you love the sport," she said. "It's really like a job. But if you remember why you love it, then you'll give it all you have. I learned so much about time management in high school that I needed in college. You have to be able to balance your sport, school and social life."
Hudgens, a finance major with a minor in marketing, is already thinking about her post-soccer career.
"I am focusing in on commercial real estate or sports marketing work at a larger company," she said.
Jack Hardin Heads to Furman University Camp with Eye at Playing Time
Fellowship Christian School graduate Jack Hardin enters his third year with the Furman University football program with hopes of moving up the depth chart at quarterback.
Hardin, who's been working hard this summer to prepare for his redshirt sophomore season, is part of a stiff competition with two other quarterbacks for the starting role and also the potential for significant playing time as the team prepares for pre-season practices that begin in August.
"I felt I played very well in the spring game," Hardin said. "My biggest individual goal is to become a starter. Right now the way I look at is that I am third string, and that I need to work hard to move up [the depth chart] and get into games."
The good news is for Hardin is the fact that the shoulder injury that hampered him in 2018 is gone.
"My shoulder is fully healed," he said. "I feel really good heading into the season. I had a full offseason to train [and not rehab an injury]."
The 2017 graduate of Fellowship Christian School has grown a lot during his two seasons with the Furman squad.
"To see our growth has been great," Hardin said. "We are becoming a very tough team to play. I have learned to be very patient here and wait for my turn. It takes time to prove yourself [at the collegiate level]. You have to stay ready to play. You want to be among the guys who work hard when it's not easy too. You can't ever get down about not playing."
The team goals for the Paladins are very high.
"Our goal is to win the SoCon championship outright," Hardin said. "We had a three-way split last year. It's reachable this year. We have a ton of depth. Our coaching staff has done a great job of bringing in a lot of talent here. Our talent and depth is really all over the field."
Looking ahead to 2019, the Furman run game should once again be strong.
"We are very well rounded there," Hardin said. "Our line is very good. They know a lot [about blocking]."
Following a stellar athletic career at Fellowship, a well-prepared Hardin joined a different Paladin program.
"Playing three sports at Fellowship helped me grow my time management skills," he said. "I was prepared for the lifestyle of sports [in college]. It's a full-time commitment. Furman is tough academically. But I am really thankful for FCS and how my teachers prepared me for college academically. I learned how to study and communicate with teachers. That's important in college. FCS taught me how to balance sports and school."
Hardin's teammate at Furman is 2016 FCS graduate is junior offensive guard Reed Kroeber.
Fellowship Grad Looks to Close Out Career Strong
After three years on the field for the Berry College soccer team, it's hard to imagine that Jake Williamson really debated about whether or not to play collegiate soccer after graduating from Fellowship Christian School in 2016.
"I really wasn't sure if I wanted to play soccer in college," he said. "After my senior year at Fellowship I thought should I pursue going to the University Georgia like my friends, or should I go to a Division III school to play soccer?"
Well a lunch with his brother Drew and the former "Voice of the Soccer Paladins" Jeff McClendon changed that idea.
"He's really wise," Williamson said about McClendon. "He gave me the best advice. He told me that after watching me play during my senior year [and the team's run to the state title game] that he could tell I was not ready to give up soccer yet. He said 'I want to encourage you to try and least give it one year.' Well going into my fourth and final year at Berry, I know it was a great choice. Mr. McClendon gave me the best advice. It has been challenging at this level, but rewarding too. The talent is great here in Division III soccer. And the coaches are great here too."
Now Williamson is one of two senior leaders on the Viking squad.
"It's crazy to look back on my career at Berry as I get ready to go back to school for my senior year," Williamson said. "I am one of two seniors on the team. I'll have even more of a leadership role than I had the last couple of years. I feel really good as I head into this season. I know what to expect on the field and against our conference opponents."
Williamson appreciates the advice he received, and as a result takes the opportunity to encourage others. In fact, he's often shared the same advice with Berry recruits who are not convinced about a potential Division III career.
"It's all about the people you meet, and how they impact you," he said. "I have met with a lot of recruits, and some are in the same spot I was. So I always say 'give it a try for a year.' "
Last year's Berry squad had 13 seniors, while the program is adding 9-10 freshman for the fall 2019 season. The team's roster is expected to include eight sophomores and five juniors. Williamson led the Vikings with a career-best 31 points, four game-winning goals and seven assists, 66 shots and 38 shots on goal, and shared the lead with a career-best 12 goals. His assist, shots and shots on goal totals were also career bests.
Williamson played in all 17 games, including 16 starts, and was All-SAA as a junior.
"It'll be a big change this year," Williamson said. "We will be a much younger team. I came into the program with four other freshmen, but now there are only two of us left [for our senior year]. So we'll need a lot of young guys to step up."
The Berry squad went 10-5-2 in 2018, including a 3-2-2-conference mark. The club went 8-8-1 overall and 3-3-1 in Southern Athletic Association contests in 2017, and was 10-9 overall and 3-4 in SAA games in 2016.
"It was such a great season in 2018," Williamson said. "Our record really doesn't reflect on how good we were. We had two overtime games that were ties, and all of our losses were one-goal games that could have easily gone the other way. We had a super run that ended in the semifinals with a loss to Oglethorpe. Their center back scores on a long 30-yard shot [to tie the game] and we lose in overtime. We were definitely the best two teams in the league."
Oglethorpe went on to win the SAA Tournament in 2018. Williamson hopes it is Berry's turn this time.
"We want to keep the momentum going [in 2019]," Williamson said. "We will have to work pretty hard to get back to the playoffs, but we know we can do it. We'll have to work on team chemistry with a lot of new freshmen coming in, but the upperclassmen know what we need to do. We have reached the conference semifinals for three straight years. We want to win the conference tourney this time."
During Williamson's three years as a Viking he's put up some very solid numbers. The team has a combined 28-22-3 record during that stretch, while Williamson has collected 60 points (23 goals, 14 assists).
During his sophomore year, Williamson was All-SAA First Team and led the team with six assists, 18 points and 64 shots (30 on goal), and shared first with six assists. In 2016, he was third on the club with 11 points (five goals, one assist).
The 2016 graduate of FCS is looking to close out his career strongly.
"I want to score as many goals as I can," he said. "But I also want to be more of a balanced player. I want to help out more in the middle and the back third of the field. Being a leader is a symbol on the field of doing what's right to help your team win."
FCS Graduate Meredith Moore Wraps Up First Collegiate Lacrosse Season at Presbyterian College in SC
Fellowship Christian School graduate Meredith Moore had a little bit easier adjustment academically than athletically during her first year in college. But overall it was a big success.
Moore, a 2018 graduate of FCS, completed her first year at Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C. this spring for the Blue Hose Division I women's lacrosse team.
The 5-foot-5 defenseman played in 16 games, including nine starts, for the Blue Hose. She collected a pair of assists (her first as a collegiate player came on March 8 in a home win over Delaware State) and had 10 ground balls. She also caused four turnovers, and earned her second assist at Wagner College on March 24.
"Lacrosse was very hard this year," Moore said. "The college game was a lot different. It was tough to play against girls a lot older. Some of my opponents were 22 or 23. It was really big jump in the game. I loved college [academically]. I am an undecided major, but I took a lot of general education classes. It was really the easiest part of my freshman season. It's a great school, and I am so happy to be at Presbyterian."
On the field, Moore quickly saw the differences between her years on the field for FCS and at Presbyterian, which competes in the Big South Conference.
"The biggest differences in the game are the speed, quickness and agility of the players," she said. "In college lacrosse you don't stop on the whistle. You run the whole time."
The Blue Hose finished 1-16 overall last season, and are in the middle of coaching transition.
"It was a tough year on the scoreboard," Moore said. "But it was an awesome experience overall. It was a joy to travel to games, prepare with my teammates and spend time with them. We are a recovering program, but we hope to make improvements this season. Our goal is to make the conference tournament."
The Blue Hose transitioned into a Division I program about five seasons ago.
Moore began her lacrosse career as a fourth grader and spent seven seasons with FCS middle school, JV and varsity teams.
"We grew the program with my class," said Moore, who played for head coaches Maddie Leathers Cason, Ali Senft and Tracy Morgan and assistant Jeff Buchweitz. "They were all awesome. They prepared me for college. The training with Tracy was unreal. They taught me a lot about being ready for college lacrosse."
During her career at FCS, she played middle school lacrosse for several dad coaches, including her own (Kent Moore). Kent happens to be the current middle school lacrosse coach at FCS.
Meredith was a four-year starter for the Lady Paladin program (JV and varsity), including its first two varsity seasons in 2017 and 2018. She helped the 2018 team finish 12-7 overall and advance to the GHSA Class A-AAAAA Girls Lacrosse Championships for the first time in school history.
Moore is spending her summer working at Camp Glisson in North Georgia.