By: CASEY MCDONALD
Grab your face paint, your foam finger and your school spirit. Titan Athletics is back for another exciting year.
Another year, another four teams added to the family of IUSB varsity sports—women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis and competitive cheerleading. These four teams will start during the 2017-2018 school year, according to Executive Director of Athletics Steve Bruce.
But there are plenty of varsity teams to watch this year, too. Bruce said he expects each coach entering his or her schedule to make a “radical effort to do right and make a positive difference in the minds of [the] student athletes.”
Coach Brittney Lightfoot, formerly from Bethel College, will coach one of the newest additions to the athletic department—Softball. She has a passionate personality when it comes to her coaching. She strives to “establish a culture [within the team], not of winning, but of teamwork,” she said.
Lightfoot expressed gratitude toward her assistant coach, Natalie Newell, who also joined her from Bethel for this season. IUSB softball will compete in three double headers in the coming months for “fall ball,” against Glen Oaks Community College, Lake Michigan Community College and Muskegon Community College.
IU South Bend also welcomes back baseball, men’s and women’s cross country and men’s golf for their second seasons.
Rob and Tony Carrasco coach cross-country. Both of their teams got off to a rough start last season, and are currently looking for new runners for the 2016-17 school year. The men’s cross-country team had two returning runners: Sophomore Trevor McDonald and Senior Pedro Rubio.
Men’s golf, coached by Justin Akers, also continues to develop into their second season with five returning players, including seniors Nick Anglemeyer and Payton Grubbs.
New coaches will join the baseball team this year. Matt Schwitz is the pitching coach returning for a second year; and joining him is Head Coach Mike Huling, and Assistant Coaches Chris Woodruff and Jon Koepf. Seventeen men have returned this season, seven of them being seniors. The team went 21-30 last season, 13-17 in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference(CCAC).
The Titan volleyball team is entering its sixth season, and with high hopes. Under the direction of Head Coach Jamie Ashmore, Assistant Coaches Alison Derdzinski and Richard Bass and Graduate Assistant Bethany Brewer, the team hopes to bounce back from a tough season last year.
Nine women are returning from last season, three of them will be seniors who all helped lead to their first win of the season last Wednesday, Aug. 24, against Bethel College three sets to two.
Next on our lineup are our men’s and women’s basketball teams. The women took a tough loss, having no seniors on their roster this season.
However, Bruce said his three junior guard captains are ready to take on the responsibility. Assisting him on his journey for his eleventh season as head coach is Emily Strilich and Elyse Lefebvre, both in their third season as assistant coaches.
They ended last season with a 14-17 record on the season, 8-11 in the CCAC, five of the losses coming down to one-possession games. Coach Bruce discussed a lot about the emphasis on academics before basketball. He said he has two goals for the team: “Maintain a 3.5 GPA and get into the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletes (NAIA) tournament at the end of the season.”
Leading the team this year are three junior guards: Paige Avery, Brianna Blackwell and Courtney Smith.
Last but certainly not least: Our men’s basketball team is ready to step up as they enter the season with big expectations and high hopes. The men concluded their season with a 19-14 record overall, 10-11 in the CCAC. However, the men pushed through the season and ended with a tough 88-85 loss against Robert Morris University in the CCAC Championship game. The team took a huge hit, losing six strong seniors from their roster, but remaining are five men on the team, including senior guard Avery Harmon. Head Coach Scott Cooper returns for his fourth season, along with Fred Harris and Class of 2016 graduate Mark White as assistant coaches.
Keep updated on Titan sports by visiting iusbpreface.net and picking up a paper each Wednesday of the semester.