FCS Graduate Camille Davenport Transfers to Alderson Broaddus University
Camille Davenport is continuing her college lacrosse career in West Virginia.
Last summer, Davenport decided to transfer knowing she needed surgery and planned to take a semester off to recover.
"I actually moved back to Lee [University in Cleveland, Tenn.], but found out the next day that I needed surgery," she said. "So I decided to come back home, and recover there. Ultimately I entered the NCAA transfer portal. A bunch of colleges reached out, and I went on a couple of visits."
The 2018 graduate of FCS decided on Alderson Broaddus University, a NCAA Division II school located in Philippi, W.Va.
"It was pretty good," Davenport said about her adjustment to the Alderson Broaddus program. "I was the only goalie. I played in goal in every practice and [every minute of] all four games."
The Lady Battlers finished 2-2 overall before the season was called off due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
"We played some really good teams," she said. "Some of them were nationally ranked."
In 2019, Davenport had the opportunity to play both goaltender and defense during her freshman lacrosse season at Lee University.
"It was a good first season," she 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 adjusted quickly to her new school and team as she headed to West Virginia in January 2020.
"I got close to my new team really quickly," she said. "My roommate and I were both transfers. Since we were a small team, it was easy to get to know the girls. We really built each other up. We only had one sub, so we all played a lot, and grew together as a team."
At Alderson Broaddus, Davenport switched her major from nursing to a dual major. She's majoring in exercise science with concentration in OT and life sciences with a concentration in prosthetics.
She's headed back to Philippi in August to prepare for the season. "We have scrimmages in the fall," she said. "We call it fall ball."
She has some advice for the 2020 Fellowship graduates heading to college sports this fall, including former Lady Paladin teammate Suzanne Moore (who's heading to Young Harris College for lacrosse).
"Have an open mind right off the bat," she said. "Start trying to have fun with the team and get to know your teammates. They are your family, especially when you are a long way from home."
(Photo courtesy of Alderson Broaddus University)
Meredith Moore, FCS Alumnus, Looks to Help Presbyterian Program Grow
It's unfortunate that COVID-19 cut short the Presbyterian College women's lacrosse team's season, because the Blue Hose team was making improvements.
The Blue finished the year 2-5 overall, but won two out of its first three matches on the 2020 season. Head coach Eric Clakeley led Presbyterian to more wins in his first season with the program than the 2019 team that finished 1-16.
"We had a great season," said Moore, a 2018 graduate of FCS. "We had a new coach, and he was spectacular. He's laying a solid foundation, and adds stability."
Moore recalls the team's two wins in the first three matches.
"We rallied from 3-4 goals down against Akron to win in overtime," she said. "It was very disappointing to get the season cut short because we were approaching the good part of the schedule. Our team had a lot more confidence, and were better prepared."
The Blue Hose notched an early win against Howard at home (19-5 on Feb. 7) before the team beat Akron, 10-9, on Feb. 14, to go 2-1.
In 2020, Moore started all seven games for the Blue Hose and notched six ground balls, one draw control and caused one turnover. Half of her season's ground balls and both the draw control and turnover came in the victory over Howard.
Moore played in 16 games as a freshman and made nine starts. She registered an assist in a home win over Delaware State on March 8, and at Wagner University on March 24. That season she earned 10 ground balls and caused four turnovers.
Moore really saw quite a difference from her freshman year to her sophomore campaign.
"My sophomore year was awesome," the 5-foot-5 junior defenseman said. "It was so much fun. I have learned a lot. Really I have grown in lacrosse at Presbyterian. I keep on improving, and so does our team. We grew a lot as a team and in community with each other."
That sense of teamwork has helped Moore hone in some goals for the 2021 campaign.
"As a junior I want to be a leader," she said. "I want to lead in little ways. Our team's goal is to make the conference tourney. The top 4-5 teams advance."
Moore is scheduled to report back to Clinton, S.C., on Aug. 7, and begin practices with the Blue Hose a few days later.
Presbyterian, which became a Division I women's lacrosse program several years ago, competes in the Big South Conference.
Moore's younger sister, Suzanne, graduated from FCS this spring and is headed to play collegiate lacrosse at NCAA Division II Young Harris College in the mountains of north Georgia.
"It's amazing," Meredith said. "I am so proud of her. It's exciting to know she'll be playing college lacrosse and getting that experience too. The sad part is we probably won't face each other in college."
What advice does the older Moore have for her younger sister?
"You need to be ready to work hard and grind a lot," she said. "You aren't a big fish in a small pond anymore. You're going to be facing athletes who are very skilled, so you need to be ready and be willing to listen and learn from others."
Meredith Moore, a junior economics major, spent the summer as a nanny for a Columbia, S.C. family.
(Photo courtesy of Presbyterian College)
FCS Graduate Tad Aycock Hopes to Move Up Georgia Tech's Depth Chart at Guard, Center
Fellowship Christian School graduate Tad Aycock has worked hard the past two seasons to show he's a team player.
The 6-foot-3, 284-pound offensive lineman expects to head back to Georgia Tech on July 22 to begin his quest to earn more playing time on the Yellow Jackets' offensive line.
"I've move around a bit on the line trying to help the team," Aycock said. "I have moved back and forth a bit at guard and center, but I have always been focused on helping my young teammates learn the system and support the starters in practice [as they prepare for Georgia Tech opponents]."
Over the past two seasons, the Yellow Jackets went 3-9 under new head coach Geoff Collins in 2019 and 7-6 in 2018 under Paul Johnson, who retired after that season.
"I think it went pretty well," Aycock said about last season. "Our defense killed it, and our offense had to adjust to a new system under Coach Collins. But we've improved in a lot of positions, and should be much better all across the board. We got much better offensively."
Collins brought a new offense to a team accustomed to running Johnson's triple-option run-oriented game.
"It was a very big difference, mostly on offense and team culture," Aycock said. "Coach Collins is a great coach. We believe in him and his system."
Aycock served as backup lineman last season after being redshirted his first season in 2018 as a true freshman. He was named to the ACC Honor Roll as a freshman.
With three years of eligibility left, Aycock eyes playing time.
"I want to push myself to be the best I can be," he said. "I want to help the team anyway I can, and be ready to get on the field."
Will COVID-19 affect the Jackets' season?
"We've heard all the worries," Aycock said. "The general consensus on the team is we can't worry about it. We need to be ready to play. We did get in a few spring practices, which should help. Some teams didn't. But we were lucky enough to get in about half of our practices."
A business finance major, Aycock worked out over the summer to prepare for the upcoming football season and served a summer internship with Inspire Brands with a focus on the Sonic brand in the accounting department.
During his Fellowship football career, Aycock helped the Paladins reach the finals of the 2016 GHSA Class A Private School Football Championships as a junior. He was twice named to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's all-state team.
At FCS, Aycock was named to All Region Team three times and was a four-year letter winner as a two-way lineman, lettered in both lacrosse and track & field and placed eighth in the state in shot put his junior year.
Aycock, who graduated from Fellowship in 2018, was a member of National Honor Society, Spanish Honors Society, high honor roll and Beta Club at FCS.
Aycock was recruited by Johnson and retired 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.
(Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech)
Cameron Named Director of Boys Basketball at Fellowship
Christopher J. Cameron has been hired as the Director of Boys Basketball at Fellowship Christian School, Athletic Director David Lowery announced.
A member of the Albany Sports Hall of Fame (2013), Cameron enters his 20th year as a basketball coach this school year. He's coached at both the college and high school levels.
"I am thrilled to join the Fellowship family," Cameron said. "I love to teach the game of basketball and watch young men grow and develop. I really enjoy mentoring and helping – I'm here to serve. Doing this at a Christian School is a great opportunity, and I truly look forward to helping build something at FCS."
Cameron earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences from Tulane University and a Master of Science in Health and Physical Education from Albany State University.
A native of Albany, Ga., Cameron played basketball at Tulane University. He lettered all four years for the Green Wave. During his Tulane career, he earned recognition as the team's Defensive Player of the Year in 1997. He was also a two-time member of the Conference USA All-Defensive Team, and finished seventh all-time at Tulane in steals.
At Tulane, Cameron helped the Green Wave advance to the postseason four times. The team reached the NCAA National Championship Tournament in 1995, and made three NCAA NIT appearances (including the Final Four in 1996).
Cameron played high school basketball at Dougherty High School and was a member of the Trojans Final Four team in 1991.
Since graduating from Tulane, Cameron played four years of professional basketball career in the International Basketball League (IBL) before beginning his coaching career. He spent 14 years as a college coach before moving to high school. He was most recently a member of the 2019-20 Class AAAAAAA State Champion staff at Wheeler High School.
Coach Cameron and his wife Reeshemah have been married for 12 years, and they have three daughters: Saa' diyah and twins, Saa'nala and Saa'nyla. The couple attends Enlightened Christian Center Church in Marietta.
Mackenzie Gibbs, 2017 FCS Graduate, Looks to End Collegiate Soccer Career on Positive Note
Fellowship Christian School graduate Mackenzie Gibbs enters his final season of college soccer at Coastal Carolina University this fall.
Since joining the Lady Chanticleers three years ago, the 5-foot-8 midfielder has helped the team post a 26-25-4 record, including a 16-12-5 mark in the Sun Belt Conference games.
The team is coming off a 7-9-2 season overall, including a 5-4-1 conference record.
"It was nice," Gibbs said of the 2019 season. "I thought it was a good season. We had a big freshman group, but also a lot of seniors. A lot of the seniors were starters. We were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, so it was a disappointing ending. Although we were better off than a lot of sports as we were able to finish our season."
Gibbs has notched 15 points (six goals, three assists) and 32 shots on goal during her career at Coastal Carolina. Her career single-season highs include three goals, 12 shots on goal and 20 games as a freshman, and three assists, seven points and 37 total shots as a junior. She started a career-best 12 contests during both her freshman and junior seasons.
"This is my last season," Gibbs said. "It's really weird to think about, but I want to have a good season. Obviously I'd like to score more goals, but I really want to focus on it being my last season. I want to give it my all for every practice and every game, and be a good leader."
Last season, Gibbs scored the game-winning goal in the 2-1 conference win at Arkansas State, and tallied a goal on a penalty kick in the 2-1 home win over Troy. She was named to the Dean's List (3.5 GPA or higher) for the 2019 fall term, and earned President's List (4.0 GPA) honors for the 2020 spring semester.
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.
Other Coastal Carolina honors for Gibbs include being named to the 2018 Coastal Carolina Dean's List, the 2017-18 Sun Belt Conference Commissioner's List and the 2017 Coastal Carolina Dean's List.
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 eight in 2017.
The team captain her senior year, Gibbs tallied 172 points (62 goals, 48 assists) during her FCS career.
She has some advice for the 2020 FCS graduates heading to college sports.
"It's going to get hard, whether you are playing a lot of not," she said. "Stay all in, and don't take it for granted. Enjoy it because it will be sad when it's over."
A biology major, Gibbs plans to take a gap year and work in the medical field following graduation from Coastal Carolina this spring. She plans to take the MCAT and ultimately attend medical school.
"[Being a doctor] has been a long-time goal since high school," Gibbs said. "I always wanted to do something in the medical field."
Gibbs and her Costal Carolina teammates are slated to head to Conway, S.C. to begin preparing for classes and the soccer season on July 13. Pre-season practices begin Aug. 3.
(Photos courtesy of Coastal Carolina University)
Shoulder Injury Forces FCS Graduate Mason Russell to Retire from Football
This story has some good and bad news. But Mason Russell is focused on the positive side to the story.
Russell made his collegiate football debut on the field for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga team this past fall, but also suffered a career-ending shoulder injury during his sophomore campaign.
"I played on special teams this fall," Russell said. "My most memorable moment was in Knoxville. It was the first game I dressed out for and it was against the University of Tennessee. It was like little big brother versus little brother. I had a good career at UTC. I started on offensive line, moved to defensive line and back to the OL and also played special teams. I always worked hard and wanted to see where they could put me and be the best I could be."
Russell, who graduated from FCS in 2018, played through nagging shoulder injuries throughout his high school and collegiate career. Unfortunately, after 5-6 weeks of playing through pain and blocking 300-pound defensive linemen every game, the shoulder gave out one practice last fall.
"That was it for me for the season," he said. "My shoulder went out. The injury flared up. My labrum was torn. Basically my rotator cuff was non-existent and then arthritis had set in. That was a bad injury."
Russell faced two surgeries and 2½ years of rehabilitation for a chance to play for the Mocs again. He decided to call it quits for his football career after two years with the UTC program.
"It was very emotional when I went in to see Coach [Rusty] Wright," Russell said. "I was pacing outside the coaches offices before I went in to tell him I had to stop playing football. It was very tough to tell him. But he was very positive. He said 'you have a great major, and you will be ok.' He thanked me for what I did for the program. Coach Wright's words meant a lot."
Russell, whose shoulder will still randomly pop out, will still need shoulder surgery to repair damage and have a normal life, but now at least he can schedule it on his own timetable. He also won't face more than two years of rehabilitation for a shot at playing football again for the Mocs as a senior in the fall of 2022.
"The doctor said for a normal life you'll still need surgery," he said. "I want to be able to play catch when I have kids someday."
As Russell processes his tough decision about retirement from the game he loves, his attitude remains positive.
"The experience playing football at UTC has been more than I expected," Russell said. "God has a plan for me. I know that."
The mechanical engineering major leads a Bible study for college students at Chattanooga's Brainerd Baptist Church, volunteers for a special needs program at a local middle school, helped build the latter group an adaptive special needs basketball goal and contemplates which concentration he'll pick in mechanical engineering. Russell's choices are either aerospace or bio medical.
Russell, who spent the summer working at an Atlanta-area golf course, has two more academic years left at the Chattanooga, Tenn., school.
During his FCS career, Russell was a two-time All-Region player and was twice named to the North Georgia Touchdown Club Player of the Week. He was a member of the 2016 team that reached the GHSA Class A Private School Football Championships title contest.
(Logo Courtesy of UTC, FCS file photo)
FCS Graduate Lauren Kierpa Moves Back into Starting Pitcher Role for Covenant College's Softball Team
After a season as a closer, Fellowship Christian School graduate Lauren Kierpa moved back into a starting pitcher role for the Covenant College softball squad in 2020.
She made seven appearances on the mound for the Lady Scots, including four starts. Kierpa went 1-3 and threw 17.1 innings in 2020 for the 2-10 Covenant team.
Kierpa, who tied her career high with five strikeouts and threw 4 1/3 innings as a starter to earn the win on Feb. 29 against Mary Baldwin, started mostly during her FCS and travel ball career.
"I went back to where I started," Kierpa said. "As a team, we had a slow start to the season. We had a hard non-conference schedule. We were starting to play better as we headed into the conference schedule, but then we were playing in Rome [against Berry College] when we heard the season was being called off [due to COVID-19]. We were actually in the middle of a game."
Covenant plays in the USA South Athletic Conference.
The NCAA granted the seniors on the Covenant roster another season, but Kierpa said they decided not to come back for another year of Division III collegiate softball.
"We brought in a lot of freshman [for the 2021 season]," Kierpa said. "My rising junior class has about 7-8 players and we should have 3-4 seniors on the team too. We're getting a new coach, but we're very optimistic."
The 5-foot-six right-hander helped Covenant finish 11-24 in 2019, her freshman campaign.
"It was quite different," Kierpa explained about moving from starter to closer. "It was more about endurance as a starting pitcher. I pitched 2-3 days a week as a closer, but had a lot less innings. I had to build my endurance back up last season. It was an adjustment to go back to starting, but I want to improve my ERA and other stats next season."
Kierpa will have her second coach in three years with the Lady Scots program, but she's taking it in stride.
"The team's culture and talent level could be much different this year," Kierpa said. "Our coach resigned, and we have been on several Zoom chats with potential coaches. It'll be my second coach at Covenant. But we believe the change will help us come together better as a team. We are being positive."
The team is set to go back to Covenant in August, and begin preparing for the 2021 season that's expected to begin with games in February 2021.
The 2018 FCS graduate has truly found a home in Lookout Mountain, Ga., and Covenant.
"I really love Covenant," Kierpa said. "I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I fell in love with the school. I love the professors. They are easy to talk to about academics, Christianity and life."
Kierpa is an English major with minors in business and Spanish at Covenant.
As a freshman, Kierpa shared the team-lead with 21 appearances, including just four starts. She went 2-2 and topped the Lady Scots with a 4.58 ERA and logged 52 innings in 2019. During that season, Kierpa set a career high with 6 2/3 innings pitched against Birmingham Southern on March 26, 2019. She fanned a career-best five batters versus Berea on March 20, 2019.
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.
(Photos courtesy of Covenant College)
Murphy Set For Third Golf Season at Oglethorpe University Following Short Sophomore Campaign, Long Offseason
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak across the United States and around the world this year, Tripp Murphy was limited to just one college golf match during the 2019-20 school year.
The Oglethorpe University sophomore did get an extra semester of college golf after the outbreak forced the cancellation of the Stormy Petrel squad's spring season.
"I'll now have 4½ years at Oglethorpe [to play golf]," Murphy said. "I played in the first tournament in the fall. The fall is more of a practice schedule, and the spring season is much more important. I wanted to focus on my classes, so I only played in one tournament [in the fall]. I had just started my classes as a business major so academics were top my priority. Unfortunately, we did not play any regular matches in the second semester."
Murphy fired a 36-hole total of 143 (72-71) to claim fifth overall at the SAA Fall Preview held Sept. 8, 2019 in Dickson, Tenn. at Greystone Golf Club. All 36 holes were played on the same day.
The Petrels did play one exhibition match against Emory University in the spring that was shortened to 27 holes due to bad weather. Murphy carded a 74 in the first 18 holes, and added a 36 for the next nine.
"We could only play 27 holes," Murphy said. "But I had the second best score on our team."
The 2019 graduate of Fellowship Christian School played in seven tournaments for Oglethorpe during his freshman season.
It was a disappointing sophomore season for Murphy.
"I was really geared up to play," he said. "My grades were good, and then they cancelled the season. It was no fun."
There was a silver lining for Murphy, however. The NCAA granted Murphy and his Division III Oglethorpe teammates an extra semester of eligibility.
"It worked out in the end," he said. "My coaches and advisors at Oglethorpe have been so helpful. They have helped me map out a plan to graduate by the time my golf eligibility ends. It's been fun at Oglethorpe. I love the area. There's a lot to do in Brookhaven."
During the extended spring and summer break, Murphy has spent more time on the golf course honing his game.
"I have been hitting the ball very well," he said. "I have tried to work on my game on the course and not so much on the range this summer. It's a different style of practice on the course than the range, but I think it will really help me this fall. I am also playing in a few tournaments this summer and working with my swing coach."
Oglethorpe starts back Sept. 8, but is scheduled to finish the semester after the Thanksgiving break.
"Normally we play about six tournaments in the fall and six in the spring," he said. "We will probably play in 3-4 this fall."
(Photos courtesy of Oglethorpe University)
FCS Grad Jack Hardin Plays Pivotal Role on Furman Special Teams
Jack Hardin has earned an important role on the Furman University football team.
The redshirt junior enters the 2020 season as the Paladins' holder for extra-points and field goals for the second straight season.
"It was nice," Hardin said about the 2019 season. "I was able to get into every game as a holder. It was also nice to get a few reps in some other games. I was able to show the coaches what I can do."
The 2017 Fellowship Christian School played a key role for the Paladins kicking game and helped kicker Grayson Atkins earn All-American status. Atkins went 13-for-15 in field-goal attempts, including a SoCon record 18-consecutive made field goals.
Hardin, who enters the season at No. 3 on the QB depth chart for the Paladins of Greenville, S.C., completed his first career pass attempt for 20 yards versus Virginia Military Institute in a 60-21 win. He also scored on a 30-yard option keeper in a 64-7 victory over Point in the regular-season finale.
"I am ready for my role [at quarterback] when my number is called," Hardin said, noting that Furman was able to get in spring practice before the coronavirus pandemic closed the campus. "We were able to get spring ball in, all but two practices. That will help us be prepared for the season."
Following a four-year high school football career for Fellowship, Hardin joined the Furman program in the fall of 2017 after quarterbacking the FCS Paladins to the state title game in December 2016.
Furman has finished 8-5 in both 2018 and 2019 seasons. Last fall, the Paladins posted a 6-2 mark in the SoCon. The team wound up second in the conference, but lost in the first round of the playoffs this fall.
"It was good," Hardin said about the 2019 campaign. "There were some games we could have won, but we still made the playoffs. Ultimately our goal is always to win the SoCon. That's our goal again [this fall]."
Hardin has had plenty of success in the classroom at Furman.
Hardin, who has been named to the Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll the past three years, completes a summer internship at KIRO Financial on July 3. He's a business major who's a rising senior academically at Furman.
"I loved it," Hardin said about Furman. "I've loved the school, and being part of the football team."
He'll have another year of eligibility in football if he chooses to play through the 2021 season.
This summer, Hardin spent plenty of workout time with fellow FCS graduate and Furman teammate Reed Kroeber, who's a starting guard entering his senior year.
"It's a great luxury [to have a teammate in Roswell]," Hardin said. "He helped keep me on track. We encouraged each other."
Furman players are expected to report back to school Aug. 1. "It's been crazy," Hardin said of the COVD-19 shortened offseason.
(Photos courtesy of Furman University)
Lady Paladin Graduate Cameron Swartz Completes Shortened Basketball Season at Boston College
Former Fellowship Christian School girls basketball standout Cameron Swartz completed her sophomore season, which was cut short due to the coronavirus, at Boston College this winter.
"It was a good season," said Swartz, who transferred to BC in the middle of her freshman campaign at the University of Colorado. "We played well. We reached the semifinals of the ACC Tournament, but lost to North Carolina State."
The NCAA called off the 2019-20 season before the NCAA Tournament selection show.
Swartz played in 30 games for the Lady Eagles in 2019-20, and made 19 starts with averages of 23.6 minutes, nine points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists per contest.
In her first start for BC, Swartz scored 18 points, pulled down four rebounds and made two steals against St. Francis on Nov. 10. She finished 11-for-16 from the floor to notch a career-high 27 points and also recorded four steals in a victory over Tulane on Nov. 28. From Nov. 21-Dec. 4, Swartz had a five-game run of scoring in double-digits.
Swartz ranked fifth on the team in scoring, ranked third in three-point field goals (35) and was third with 56 assists.
"It was a lot different," Swartz said comparing the ACC to the PAC-12. "I never played any PAC-12 games, but the ACC is a very talented conference. There are a lot of good teams [in ACC]. Louisville and NC State are great. It's more of a guard game with lots of shooting out west, while the ACC is more inside out with more of a physical game. It was an adjustment for me."
Swartz is preparing for her junior season without knowing when she'll head back to Boston.
"It's hard because we haven't heard when we are going back," she said. "I have been working out and playing some pick up games with college players."
The 5-foot-11 guard belongs to the Shooter's Nest in Canton, lifts weights and works out regularly this summer.
Swartz, who has a dual major of applied psychology and communications, has found a home in Boston with the Lady Eagles program.
"Academic wise, BC was harder," she said. "They are very different schools and very different cities [the University of Colorado is in Boulder]. Our campus is secluded from the city of Boston, but it's really, really nice. I really like it here."
Making the NCAA Tournament this March is a goal for the Lady Eagles.
"From a team standpoint, we want to make the tournament," Swartz said. "I believe we can. That's always a goal. We want to prove were not just a small school from the northeast."
On a personal standpoint Swartz wants to improve her consistency, grow her confidence and show off her work ethic as an example to her teammates.Click here to view all Swartz' college and high school accolades.
(Photos courtesy of Boston College
Fellowship Graduate Luke Morcos Joins Bob Jones University Lineup
Luke Morcos made the most of his first collegiate soccer season.
The 2019 graduate Fellowship Christian School earned 15 starts and played in 17 out of 18 games for the Bob Jones University Bruins this past fall. He wears jersey No. 15 for the Bruins. Morcos took played in a career-high 90 minutes on Nov. 9 against Pensacola Christian.
"It was a really good year," said Morcos, a 5-foot-11 center back. "I was sick for one game, but I played in and started most games. I played a lot more games than I expected. The starting center back was injured heading into the season, so I got to start right away. When he came back he moved to midfield."
The Bruins finished 6-12 overall, including a 3-1 mark in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA), under head coach Matt Hotchkin. The Bruins' head coach returned to his alma mater this fall after 17 years coaching collegiate soccer at both the NAIA and NCCAA levels.
"We had a new coach this year," Morcos said. "We had a losing record, but a lot of our loses were 1-0 or 2-1. We had a decent defense, and I think we grew together as a team this year. We hope to win some more of those close games this year."
The Bob Jones University soccer team enters the 2020 season with three seniors, eight juniors and many sophomores and freshmen. The preseason begins for the Bruins the second week in August.
Morcos has spent the summer preparing for his second collegiate season.
"My workout and fitness regimen have drastically changed [from Fellowship to college]," Morcos said. "My workouts are so much more intense. My goal is to run two miles in under 12 minutes when I get there for camp."
Morcos, a pre-med major, is also focused on other fitness goals that including passing the strength goals in the bench and squat as well.
Morcos, who led the FCS varsity defense at center back for several seasons following a stellar middle school career, saw a major difference in level of play of the NCCAA.
"It is a lot more intense," he said. "In college, every player is fast and strong."
Fellowship prepared Morcos for college very well.
"Academically it was not too big of a change though as I had a lot of AP classes at Fellowship," he said.
On the field, Morcos will help a Bruins squad that's moving into NCAA Division III from the NCCAA.
"We're going through a transition," Morcos said. "It could take up to three years [to complete], but we play many Division III and Division II schools now."
(Photo courtesy of Bob Jones University)
Cameron Gill, FCS Graduate, Completes Freshman Baseball Season at Wofford College
Fellowship Christian School graduate Cameron Gill took the first step into his collegiate baseball career this past spring.
Despite his season being cut short due to COVID-19, Gill helped the Wofford College baseball team finish with a 14-3 record, which included a seven-game win streak, in 2020.
A back-up catcher, Gill played in six games, including two starts, for the Greenville, S.C. school. He collected two hits, two runs, one walk and one RBI in 11 at-bats for the Terriers.
"It was a good season," said Gill, a two-sport star at FCS in football and baseball. "Our last game before our season ended, we had just beaten Auburn. We felt like it was the best team Wofford had in awhile. We had a bunch of returners, and we were poised to compete for the SoCon championship."
Gill fit in well on an experienced team, earning his way into the lineup for a pair of starts and some more playing time on the field in a reserve role. On Feb. 23, Gill collected his first college hit in a game against Monmouth College. His first college RBI came in a contest against Presbyterian College on March 4.
"The No. 1 catcher was a senior, so I knew I would be a backup [behind the plate]," he said. "But I felt like the progress I made during the season was good."
College baseball is quite a bit different than the high school game Gill saw during his 4-year baseball career at Fellowship.
"I felt like I had improved a lot," Gill said. "It's an adjustment to the speed of the game. Way more intense. It kind of surprised me a little bit. I was finally getting more confident when the season ended."
Seeing tough pitchers every game helped Gill mature at the plate and raise his game.
"They are all quality pitchers," he said. "Overall, the stuff these guys have is much better and more consistent than high school pitchers. Normally the best pitchers in high school have one really good pitch. In college, the whole staff has good fast balls, breaking balls and change ups."
Gill, who has a double major in finance and accounting at Wofford, also faced an adjustment in the classroom. His goal is earning an MBA.
"It was an adjustment to the work load," he said. "Most days my classes started at 8 a.m., followed by practice from 1-4 p.m., workouts from 5-6 p.m. and also team meetings. Most nights by the time I was back to my room it was 9 p.m. and then I had to do homework."
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.
"I have a lot of good memories at Fellowship," Gill said. "In baseball, it was my walk-off homer against Wesleyan my senior year. That was my last series in high school [FCS lost to Wesleyan in the three-game set], and my last year playing with my best friends and teammates Isaac Bouton and Preston Joye. We played our butts off."
On the football field, Gill fondly recalls coming within a game of winning the state title in 2016, and a very long touchdown in a state playoff game against Riverside Military Academy in 2018. "I remember scoring that 80-yard touchdown, and getting to the end zone and seeing everyone screaming," he recalled.
Gill has advice for his old teammate Joye, who heads to Georgia State to play baseball next spring.
"Take pride in who you are, balance your academics and baseball, show your work ethic," he said. "With your scholarship, you are basically paid to play a game. But you have to keep it a game, so you don't want to lose sight of that."
(Photo courtesy of Wofford College)
Fellowship Graduate Jake Williamson Ends Storied Soccer Career at Berry College
It's hard to imagine Jake Williamson not pushing the ball towards his opponent's goal, running down the soccer field or drilling the ball into the back of the net.
After four years as a star player at Berry College, four more as a leader of the Fellowship Christian School varsity squad that came close to a state championship and being a member of countless other middle school and club soccer teams, Williamson has graduated from college and will step aside from competitive soccer.
Williamson closed out his Viking career on a very strong note this past fall with career highs in games (19), starts (19) goals (18), points (40), shots (86) and shots on goal (41). He was selected as Team Captain, named the Vikings' Most Valuable Player in 2019, and ends his playing career as Berry's all-time soccer leader in goals, assists and points.
He led a young Berry team to a 9-8-2 overall record, including a 2-4-1 Southern Athletic Association mark, and a trip to the SAA semifinals (a tough 2-1 loss to Oglethorpe on Nov. 8, 2019).
"Obviously it's sad," Williamson said when reflecting about the end of his college soccer career. "I guess that last loss was bittersweet. But I felt like the team and I went out on a good note. We reached the conference semifinals. I was one of only two seniors and six upperclassmen. So it was really rewarding being a captain and a vocal leader on and off the field. This year was very special."
Williamson received some key post-season awards this fall. He was named Southern Athletic Association (SAA) Conference Offensive Player of the Year and received Berry College's Male Athlete of the Year Award. Williamson was also named to the United Soccer Coaches All-South Atlanta Region second-team.
"It was a pretty great accomplishment," Williamson said about being named male athlete of the year. "It was a great way to end my career. It makes me even more appreciative of my time at Berry and my soccer career there. [The Offensive Player of the Year award] was also a pretty big honor. There are a lot of really talented players in our conference. Being on the All-South team was great too. The Lord has blessed me. It was a small school, which helped me build relationships."
During his Berry career, Williamson was named SAA First-Team All Conference (2017, 2018, 2019), and played for the SAA D3 USA National Team that competed in Brazil the summer 2018. During his career, Williamson was selected as SAA Offensive Player of the Week twice (September 2017, October 2019).
Overall, Berry finished with a 37-30-5 (11-13-4 in the SAA) during Williamson's career at the north Georgia school. He finished with 67 games played, 56 starts, 41 goals, 18 assists, 100 points, 240 shots and 118 shots on goal. He also netted 12 game-winning tallies, including a career-best five as a senior.
During Williamson's junior year, the Berry squad went 10-5-2, 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.
"Our best season was my junior year," he said. "We graduated 10 or 11 seniors. That's why this year was tough. We were challenged to replace a lot of talented players. We did very well though, finishing over .500 and playing a lot of close games."
The future is bright for the Vikings.
"I think they'll be really, really good in a couple of years," Williamson said. "I think those young guys really grew this season. As they improve the team will just get better and better."
What advice does Williamson have for 2020 Fellowship graduates heading to college sports?
"You need to put in the effort to get to know your teammates," Williamson said. "I have made so many friends. Those are the guys who will be in my wedding [Williamson is engaged to Emma James]. You'll see them the most. You'll also need to put in the hard work outside of the season to be successful. That work and training will pay off."
Williamson, who earned a visual communications degree at Berry, is networking and looking for a position in the video marketing world.
(Photos courtesy of Berry College and Jake Williamson)
Fellowship Grad Reed Kroeber Prepares for Last Year on College Gridiron for the Other Paladins
As Reed Kroeber prepares for his senior season as an offensive lineman for the Furman University football team, he fondly looks back on his career with the Paladins of Greenville, S.C.
"It's been great," the 6-foot-4, 202-pound offensive line said. "It's been a lot of fun, and I have been fortunate to play a lot and be a part of a program that's been successful. That was always my goal – to get on the field and play."
Kroeber, who is on schedule to will finish up degrees in business and health sciences this year, has been accepted in the master's program in accounting at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.
"It's a great opportunity," he said. "Right now I am very happy with my football career. My plans include grad school and becoming a CPA. Most likely this is my last year playing football. My goal this year is to help the team as well as I can. I want to step up and take on more of a leadership role. I am a fifth year senior, so it's time to me to make a big long-lasting impact on my teammates."
Following a four-year high school football career for the Paladins of Fellowship Christian School, Kroeber joined the Furman program in the fall of 2016.
Overall, the school has finished 25-22 in Kroeber's four years with the program. Furman finished 8-5, including a 6-2 conference mark, in both 2018 and 2019.
"Last year, we had a good season," Kroeber said. "We finished second in the conference, but lost in the first round of the playoffs. We want to finish first in the Southern Conference this year. Obviously we'd like to have more [post-season] success."
Kroeber has been the No. 1 left guard the past two seasons for Furman.
"I am the starter at left guard heading into camp," he said. "But camp is an open camp. We have a lot of talent, and there's always a competition for jobs."
Due to COVID-19, it's been a strange and long offseason for Kroeber.
"It's going very well," Kroeber said. "It's been longer than expected, and a different offseason. This is around the time we start summer practices, but we don't know for sure yet [when the team returns to Furman]. We're hoping for late July. We expect a little bit more extended camp with an extra week built in for conditioning."
Kroeber has been working out with Furman teammate Jack Hardin (also a FCS graduate) this spring to prepare for the season.
With gyms closed it was challenge to continue normal workouts without equipment. The Furman strength and conditioning coaches provided workouts for players, which Hardin and Kroeber have taken advantage off.
"It's been great to have Jack around," Kroeber said. "It helps to have workouts with a teammate. Now we have workout programs that we'd normally be doing. It's been grate to have a workout partner."
(Photos courtesy of Furman University)
Megan Hudgens Closes Out UAB Career on Positive Note
Megan Hudgens finished her collegiate soccer career in style.
The senior forward led the University of Alabama-Birmingham women's soccer team with four goals, nine points and 28 shots in the fall of 2019. She also shared second on the squad with one assist.
The 2016 graduate of Fellowship Christian School helped the Lady Blazers post a 2-5-3 Conference USA record and a 4-7-6 mark overall. The 2018 Lady Blazers went 9-8 overall and were 6-4 in conference play.
"This year I felt we more of a team [than the 2018 season]," Hudgens said. "We did not make the conference tournament, but we played well together. We had a lot of ties. It was a learning year as we had about 10 freshmen on the team. But those girls really helped out team chemistry, and will really help the program grow. They need time to continue to improve, but they really helped out our team right away. The team has great potential this season."
On an academic note, Hudgens participated in UAB's virtual graduation on May 4, and picked up her finance degree with a minor in marketing.
"It was sweet," said Hudgens, who recently completed a three-month position as a finance and marketing intern with Daniel Corp in Birmingham, Ala. "I am back in Atlanta, networking and talking to people [with an eye on a full-time job in commercial real estate or sports marketing]."
As Hudgens looks to begin her post-college career, she fondly recalls her collegiate soccer career.
"It was unbelievable," she said. "It helped me grow as a person. It taught me hard work, which I will take into the business world. We averaged two hours of practice, an hour of weight lifting and 2-3 more hours of meetings with coaches and watching film a day. With that schedule comes time management. You can't be flakey. You also learn teamwork, problem-solving skills and perseverance as a college athlete. College soccer was great for me."
During her career at UAB, Hudgens played in 72 games and finished with 42 points (15 goals, 12 assists). Hudgens, who set career bests with seven goals, five assists and 19 points her sophomore season, took a career-high 36 shots as a freshman in 2016.
In 2017, she started and played in 20 games to set career bests.
Some of her key memories with the Lady Blazers included the annual team-building trip to Chattanooga, Tenn., last summer and beating rival North Texas 1-0 last season.
"It was a great win," Hudgens said. "We are always in close games with them, but they seem to win. So this year we had quite a celebration."
Through the years Hudgens' confidence on the field grew.
"I always tried to focus on why I was there – for the love of the sport," she said. "The first year I was scared, but as I played more games I tried to always be positive and not overthink it. I always told myself 'you are good, so just believe in yourself.' As I relaxed my confidence grew."
(Photos courtesy of UAB)