Blog - Category: College Athletics

A Student Perspective: Sometimes Second is the Perfect Place

According to Olivet College rising senior Rose Kemmerling, the perfect college fit is defined by a homey feeling and awesome supporters. For her, Olivet College fits that description to a T.

Second Family, Second Home

“I would encourage a student to attend Olivet College because it is not just a place, but also embodies a great feeling,” Rose said. “When I come back to campus after summer or Christmas break, I feel like I am at my home-away-from-home. It is hard to explain, but once you are on campus you can feel the family atmosphere and know that it is the place that you should be. The College is more than just the academic buildings, dorm rooms and the KC — it’s the people who become your second family.”

As a biology pre-medical major, member of the volleyball team, President’s Leadership Institute fellow and vice president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), Rose’s second family is comprised of her teammates, science professors and classmates.

“My relationships with professors at Olivet have helped shape me into the person I am today. Being a biology major with a pre-med focus, Organic Chemistry was one of the classes I had to take,” Rose explained. “I established a bond with Professor Susanne Lewis, Ph.D., because I was with her four times a week in addition to a lab on Tuesday nights and the extra time I spent in her office hours. I know that her door will always be open and that I can go to her when needed.

“I also know that my coach, Megan Merchant, is someone that I can go to. I have the chance to work with her as both a coach and SAAC faculty adviser, and I know that she wants to see me succeed. My athletic trainer, Kaitlin Sznajder, is someone who I know will always be there to encourage and support me — she was my rock when I got a concussion this season.

“I am lucky to have teammates, friends and a support system all wrapped up into one.”

Rose added that a very special member of her OC family and volleyball team is nine-year-old Lianna Shearer. Liana was recruited to the Comets from Team IMPACT, a nonprofit that connects children facing serious or chronic illnesses with college athletic teams. Lianna attends practices, games, team dinners and other events with the team. More importantly, Rose and the rest of the OC volleyball team are members of Lianna’s support system as she overcomes challenges related to cystic hygroma.

Class of 2020

While Rose’s undergraduate journey at Olivet is nearing its end, she says she’s not done building relationships and using those connections for good. Next up, she’s preparing for further studies that will help her enter the medical field.

“I have always known that I want to do something in the medical field,” Rose said. “This past summer I read an article about genetic counseling, and I knew that this career was perfect for me. Genetic counseling does not only allow me to help others, but it still allows me to be involved in the medical field and solving problems. My goal is to attend a two-year genetic counseling program after graduating from Olivet. I am preparing myself for my future career by shadowing genetic counselors, taking prerequisite courses for my program, adding a psychology minor, participating in crisis volunteering and studying for the GRE.”

With the support of her OC family, Rose has no doubt she’ll be able to achieve her goals.

“My experience as a Comet has helped shape me into the person, student and athlete I am today. I have gained life experiences and learned lessons that I will carry with me throughout my life,” she concluded.

Learn more about Olivet College by contacting the Office of Admissions at 800-456-7189 or admissions@olivetcollege.edu.

Aquinas College adds esports program for 2019-20 season

Aquinas College is launching an esports program in fall 2019, providing students a new opportunity to participate in competitive video gaming. The College will become the fifth institution in Michigan to offer esports at the college level.

“We feel that this is a terrific opportunity for Aquinas College to be on the forefront of the rise of collegiate esports,” said Aquinas Director of Athletics Nick Davidson. “Through comprehensive research, the college felt this was the right time to provide those interested with not only a great academic experience, but the ability to compete in collegiate esports at the next level. We are very excited to begin this endeavor and look forward to what the future holds for esports at Aquinas.”

Aquinas will apply for membership in NACE, the National Association of Collegiate Esports, which is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri. Currently NACE has more than 125 member schools and more than 2,800 student-athletes.

Ninety-four percent of all varsity esports programs in the United States are members of NACE. Aquinas will join Alma College, Siena Heights University, Davenport University, and Northwood University as Michigan institutions officially recognized by the association.

Esports is one of the newest – and fastest-growing – athletic programs in the country. When NACE was formed in July 2016, only seven colleges and universities had varsity esports programs. Currently, there are more than 125 institutions that sponsor esports.

Esports games rely on real-time strategy, teamwork, mental agility and multiplayer online battles. Interest in the sport is on an upward trend. In 2017, the League of Legends World Finals drew 57.6 million online viewers compared to an average of 19.4 million viewers during the NBA finals. Overall, there are 286 million projected esport viewers by 2020.

Aquinas is in the process of hiring a head coach and will begin recruiting a team to compete this fall. Scholarship opportunities will be available.

A new gaming lab on campus will house a practice and competition area. It will be outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment from iBUYPOWER and furnishings from DXRacer, a Michigan-based company.

Intercollegiate competition will begin in fall 2019 for three games: League of Legends, Overwatch and Rocket League.

In addition to the new esports program, Aquinas is adding new faculty and programs that will continue to offer students expertise that will prepare them for the future job market. Aquinas is hiring in the Computer Information Systems academic department and has launched a Business Administration/Computer Information System dual major, Business Administration/Economics dual major, and a new Preparing Racially-diverse Educators program.

Aquinas launched its Four-Year Guarantee in the fall, promising that students will graduate in four years or the College will waive any additional tuition expense for up to one additional year for outstanding coursework required to graduate.

Irish Dance and Culture at Aquinas College

Aquinas College loves Irish culture!  Since the early ’70s, Aquinas has embraced Ireland. As the only college in Michigan to offer an Irish Studies minor, Aquinas’ interdisciplinary program offers a comprehensive understanding of Irish culture in both historical and contemporary contexts. For more than 40 years, students and faculty have studied in Tully Cross, Ireland, to gain a unique perspective of Irish history and culture.  And new in fall 2018, Aquinas students can now join the only Michigan collegiate Irish Dance Club to offer scholarships to dance athletes!

Trained Irish dancers enrolling with previous experience will have the opportunity to continue their love and study of Irish dance, music and culture. Eligible students can earn annual scholarships to join the club team. Dancers will collaborate and choreograph dances under the direction of Liz Heinzman, TCRG, and showcase these dances at performances and competitions against other teams.

The club will also offer workshops to non-experienced students who would like to learn the basics of Irish dance.

“ Aquinas has embraced Ireland, providing three signature programs that allow students to immerse themselves in the culture through study, experience and dance.”
– President Kevin G. Quinn

Learn more at aquinas.edu/irish-dance.
For information about Aquinas’ Irish Studies program, visit aquinas.edu/irish.

Alma College Cheer Team Wins National Championship

The Alma College Cheerleading team won its second consecutive National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) championship this April.  Being at the top is a way of life for the Alma Scots cheerleaders.  Alma’s cheer program is in its sixth year of existence and has finished second or better in each of its last five appearances at the NCA College Nationals.  Way to go Scots!

 

 

Traditional and Excellence “As One” for Hope Swim Team

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It’s called ‘As1.’ And it’s more than a motto at Hope College. It’s a way of life.

The credo of Hope College’s prestigious Men’s Swimming and Diving Team, it’s written on every cap and chanted during practices and meets. It stands for “As One Team.” And it’s a core commitment of unity in a sport that often involves being alone.

“We do everything together as a family,” Clay Hackley, a sophomore freestyler told the blog Swim Sam.

“It’s very important. We cheer ‘we get the job done.. As1!’”

Hackley produced a hype video of the Flying Dutchmen team that’s making its way around the internet. Just a hair over 1 minute, it encapsulates what’s so awesome about athletics at small colleges like Hope and Michigan’s 15 independent colleges and universities.

Tradition. Togetherness. Community. Excellence. Win or lose. As One.

Third place last year in the MIAA championships, the Hope program is hosting the championship in 2017. They’re led by Head Coach John Patnott, who for 38 years has overseen the college’s men’s and women’s team.

Through the years, the program has developed cherished traditions. A black flag with the letters “HMS” is carried to every meet. Freshmen get nicknames. They’re written on their white swimming and diving caps.

On the other side, of course, is As1.

“Any older swimmer on the team can, at any moment, take your cap and rub in dirt or anything to get it dirty. It’s sort of like a varsity jacket,” Hackley told the blog.

It’s an experience that simply isn’t replicated at big state schools. That’s because community is a way of life at Hope and Michigan’s 15 independent colleges and universities, which pride themselves on being purposefully different and helping students chart their own path.

Classes are taught by award-winning faculty, rather than TAs. An engaged network of professional alumni help students pursue their dreams. Class sizes are small. And students actually graduate in four years, rather than five or six at public schools.

And despite what you may have heard, the independents are often less expensive than big state schools.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Albion College Makes Equestrian Center Dream a Reality

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College is where dreams, no matter how fanciful, find a way.

So more than a decade ago, when an Albion College student wrote a thesis with a crazy suggestion — hey, wouldn’t it be great if there was a place to board horses near campus? — she wasn’t laughed off college.

Instead, her idea was embraced, massaged and worked until it became reality. The super-cool Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center opened in 2004. The $1.8 million facility accommodates 79 horse stalls.

Now, it’s expanded again, as crews put finishing touches on a new indoor area, the largest of any kind among colleges nationwide. About 200-1,000 people are expected each weekend for competitions.

“It started as a joke and then turned into something more serious,” Randi Heathman, a 2003 Albion graduate, told WWMT-TV 3.

“My thesis projected that we would get approximately 15 new students per year that we wouldn’t get without this here and I think in the first year we got 30. It’s been a substantial enrollment booster ever since the day it opened.”

What’s even more remarkable: Albion College doesn’t even offer an equestrian degree. But administrators green-lit the project because they saw students had passion. And, as often the case in life, if you have passion, almost anything is possible.

“Albion prepares students for whatever career they want to go into,” Heathman, who is now the college’s equestrian adviser, told MLive.

“We want students to come here to be academically challenged and to continue or start riding if they love to do so. Those who want a career in equine usually get there one way or another.”

The project probably wouldn’t have happened at big state schools. But there’s unique bond between students and faculty at Albion and Michigan’s 15 independent colleges and universities.

Faculty know students because they actually teach classes, rather than sloughing them off on graduate assistants. Professors not only help students chart their own path and pursue their passion, but encourage them to take a wild idea, tie it to a string and see if it can fly.

Proudly different, purposefully small, independent colleges teach students to say “why not?” rather than “why”?

Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Adrian College finds overnight success in bass fishing

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If you’re going to do something different, be the best. Do it big. And go all in. Especially when it comes to fishing.

That’s the lesson from Adrian College’s inaugural season in the surprisingly growing sport of varsity bass fishing.

Yes. You read that right. It’s OK to raise an eyebrow. Others did initially too. But no more. That’s because independent Adrian College is ranked #1 above huge schools such as Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin in Cabela’s College Bass Fishing rankings.

“When we let it be known we would be fielding a team, the reaction of some was, ‘Give me a break — bass fishing?’ But everyone has changed their tune now,” Adrian Bulldogs Athletic Director Mike Duffy told the Toledo Blade.

“It’s been a little overwhelming because things have taken a huge turn. I had hoped we could build the program and be real competitive in two or three years, but not right out of the gate.”

It may have all the makings of a movie pitch — Rocky Balboa meets David vs. Goliath on a Michigan lake — but success didn’t just happen by accident for Adrian.

It was cultivated and planned.

When Duffy decided last year to field a team, no expenses were spared. The school bought the best equipment and trailers, recruited top prospects and scoured the nation for a quality coach, Seth Borton, an Adrian native and Siena Heights graduate who fished in professional tournaments for more than a dozen years.

Varsity bass fishing is quietly becoming a big deal. Nationwide, there are 315 registered programs. Still, Adrian’s team drives up to 10 hours for tournament. That doesn’t stop team members from getting teased a bit.

“I come off the water a lot more tired and a lot more sore than I ever got playing football and playing basketball,” said Dalton Breckel, who won a junior fishing title in Michigan.

“I think everyone on the team has gotten a little bit of a fair share of razzing.”

That’s OK. Because following your passions and ignoring the naysayers is a specialty of Adrian College and Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities.

Along with bass fishing, Adrian offers other niche sports including synchronized skating and equestrian. Because college is about having the opportunity to try new things, discover your bliss and chart your own path.

The schools emphasize community over crowds and a spirit of togetherness and cohesion that just doesn’t exist at big state schools.

With low class sizes and award-winning faculty, the schools are proud that students forge lifelong bonds with professors.

Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Wrestling Under The Lights at Alma College

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What do you do if it’s 70° in November on the opening night of wrestling season? If you’re bold, independent thinkers, like the student athletes of the Alma College Scots, you head outside, flick on the lights, fill up the stands and roll out the mat at the 50-yard line of Bahlke Field.

The Alma College Wrestling team dominated the meet 33-9, scoring major decisions in three matches and winning by fall in two in front of a crowd of nearly 500 people.

You can see the box scores and more great photos over on the Alma Scots Athletics website: http://www.goalmascots.com/sports/wrest/2015-16/releases/20151105j0pfa1