Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Are You Ready for Some Football

No, the NFL lockout is not over yet.  More surprising is that I have stopped caring.  I thought I would really miss having NFL games to watch on Sundays this fall, but the incessant talk about the lockout has left me uninterested in any of it right now.  Now, I’m not foolish.  I know that if the NFL really did continue the lockout for an entire season, I would probably not be happy about it.  But, the constant attention is getting to be like steroids in baseball: do what you have to do to fix the problem, but can we please stop talking about it?
Luckily, this summer has provided us all with a football fix of the global variety.  I have been enjoying football since the end of last month, and I don’t mean replays or rebroadcasts from the NFL.  I’m talking about the sport that is recognized globally as football – not the sport we named football just because we can do what we want.  Fine, call it soccer if you want.
Many of you joined me in watching football this week, thanks to last-minute heroics by the U.S. Women’s Soccer team’s run to the World Cup Final.   Most of you completely missed the beginning of the group stage, waiting for the knockout round.  A lot of you weren’t even watching when the U.S. dispatched Brazil in the most dramatic fashion.  But, after that epic never-say-die performance, plenty of people were watching when the women faced off against France on Wednesday.  Abby Wambach led the national team to a 3-1 victory over the French, making the final for the first time since the U.S. women won in 1999.
For those of you in South Texas, you can continue the national soccer craze this fall with the Trinity men’s and women’s soccer teams.  The Tigers open up in September, and will battle all the way into December for a shot at the NCAA Division III Championship.  For the third straight year, both teams will be fighting for a shot to play in the finals here in San Antonio – which will host the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Soccer Championships for the third straight year. 
The Trinity women’s team even has its own “Abby”, as senior All-American Abby Loar is one of the team’s top returning players.  The Tiger women return a total of eight starters from last year’s team, which went 18-2-0 overall, and was eliminated from the NCAA Playoffs by eventual national champions, Hardin-Simmons University.
The men’s team can provide you with a little international flavor, with five players hailing from outside of the United States – including last season’s first-year Brazilian sensation, All-American Yuri Ribiero.  The Tiger men also return eight starters from last year’s team that finished 19-3-1 overall, losing to eventual national finalist Lynchburg College.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rain on my Parade

The first official day of summer 2011 was capped by a good old-fashioned thunderstorm, which gave at least temporary relief from the drought here in South Texas.  I honestly cannot remember the last time it rained.  Aside from the obvious fact that we needed the rain, there is a secondary effect that is just as relieving.  The temperature the last couple of weeks has been consistently pushing 100, eclipsing that mark quite a few times already.  This afternoon, we haven’t even reached 90 yet.  No, I’m not excited that it’s only about 90 degrees outside, but I can promise you this: it’s better than 105.  I have a feeling that when our teams return in August, they are going to wish for some 90-degree days.
Since I’m new at this, I decided to bounce some blog ideas off my wife yesterday, hoping to find some inspiration.  Despite the fact that I can’t even get her to read what I post, she still found a way to offer some advice.  She told me not to repeat the stories posted on the Web site, but to write about stuff in Trinity Athletics that people can’t get anywhere else.  She also advised against me trying to be funny, mainly because “you’re not as funny as you think you are.”  (Whatever.)
So, here’s the result.  I’ll stop recycling the news stories on the blog – most of them, anyway.  If you want to keep up with everything, go to the Web site (, follow Trinity Sports on Twitter, or even like Trinity Athletics on Facebook.  I’ll try and give you all something you don’t know about already – or at least give you a new twist.  I might still try to be funny now and then, because I can’t let my wife win everything – it just wouldn’t be right.
The one story I will make reference to is also the most recent.  Hayley Emerick was named the SCAC Woman of the Year.  Given all the expectations heaped on her for 2010-11, her performance this season is even more impressive.  She won the NCAA 3-Meter Diving Championship last spring – nearly winning the 1-Meter as well – and came back with everyone assuming she would do it again.  Hayley had won both diving events at the SCAC Championships for three straight years, but teammate Ruth Hahn nearly swept both titles away from Hayley in 2011.  Ruth won the 1-meter, then Hayley edged her sophomore teammate by less than a point to split the title between two Tigers.  At nationals this year, Hayley was second on both boards, losing only to a Division I transfer from The College of New Jersey.  She is the most accomplished diver ever at Trinity, earning All-America honors for four straight years, and she is arguably the best diver in SCAC history as well. 
Oh, and if anyone is actually reading this, I can also say that she is a top student as well.  She earned the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship this spring, and she was also named a Capital One Academic All-American.  I hate when people over-use the phrase that “this is the true student-athlete,” but Hayley really is the true student-athlete.  I know she just “took it one day at a time,” and told herself to “just try to help out the team, and the good Lord willing, things will work out.” (Thanks Crash.)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer News

So I had this big plan of previewing all the different Trinity teams each week, leading up to September 1 when teams open up for the fall season.  With some of the things that have happened in the last couple of days, though, that plan is put on hold.  Maybe next week...

First, some sad news about a departing member of the Trinity Athletics family.  Ryan Takao, who has been at Trinity as a student or coach for the past 19 years, has resigned as the Tiger women’s tennis coach.  He recently finished his third year as the head coach, following 12 seasons as the assistant to Butch Newman – long time coach and a member of Trinity’s Athletics Hall of Fame.  Ryan has meant a lot to Trinity tennis and Tiger athletics, and everyone here wishes him many successes and happiness in the future.  I knew him as one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, and I hope he stays in touch.
Some big news came out of Atlanta on Tuesday: Seven members of the SCAC have decided to leave the conference and combine to form their own league.  Remaining in the SCAC will be Austin College, Colorado College, University of Dallas, Southwestern University, and Trinity University.   Reasons given for the seven schools to depart include travel costs/financial concerns, and missed class time/student-athlete experience.  According to the study mentioned in the release above, though, it seems that student-athletes in the SCAC were “highly satisfied” with the environment in the conference – including the impact of travel and competition on academics.  So if the student-athletes are happy, does it all boil down to money?  Is that what we've come to?  I hope not, but then again, if it’s not money, then I hate to think what else it could be.  Only those schools know for sure all the reasons that went into the decision…maybe it was just time for a change.  People have long thought that the SCAC was an odd mixture being so spread out, but it has worked for a long time.  The Hendrix President (Dr. J. Timothy Cloyd) discussed the split in the Log Cabin Democrat, published Wednesday.  An interesting take, to say the least, but I'm sure the five schools remaining in the SCAC would disagree with his assessment of their academic standards.
The question is, what will the remaining five schools do now?  They are about to enter a period of uncertainty regarding the future of the SCAC, but rest assured that the league is in good hands.  The five schools are committed to making a better conference, and they are also committed to making the current Commissioner of the SCAC into the future Commissioner.  Dwayne Hanberry has agreed to remain with the SCAC, and will lead the conference’s efforts to increasing membership in the coming months.  The Gazette also published a story about the future of the SCAC, from the perspective of Colorado College.
The future of some sports is particularly cloudy, and being in Texas, football is one that comes to mind quickly.  The SCAC is left with just two schools playing football (Austin, Trinity), so immediate help is needed in that area.  You’re also left with a significant void in sports that only compete in conference at the end of the year (cross country, golf, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field).  I know that the leadership at each of the five schools, and the SCAC Office is exploring its options, and they will do what's best for everyone.
A lot of people probably think that the SCAC is doomed, and therefore, so are the schools that choose to remain on the "sinking ship."  I happen to to think that the SCAC will not only survive, but thrive.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Thoughts and a Review of 2010-11

Since I’m new to blogging, bear with me as I evolve…
In some ways, I’m picking a terrible time to start up a Trinity Athletics blog, but I’ll do my best to make it interesting.  I figured since the 2010-11 year is now over, I could look back on the past season and hit some highlights.  But before I get to that……
First on my mind is a rare find by a recent alumnus among some new baseball cards he bought.  Among the many cards he opened, he found two of Ryan Cavan.  Cavan is a former Tiger baseball player who transferred out of Trinity after one season, but was drafted by MLB’s San Francisco Giants in 2009.  For more on Cavan at Trinity, go to the 2006 baseball season statistics.  Cavan earned All-SCAC honors at Trinity in 2006, and was also listed as an “Organizational All-Star” for the Giants in 2010.
Should Cavan go on to the “Big Leagues” with the Giants, he’ll join Jerheme Urban as a former Tiger player in the pros.  Urban is now playing for the Kansas City Chiefs, though the NFL lockout has him in occupational limbo.  It might be interesting to look at players like Urban who aren’t signed to multi-million dollar contracts, and how the lockout affects them.  My hope is that with a short off-season, veteran role players like Urban will be irreplaceable.  My worry is that he won’t have time to out-perform young draftees, and he might become a casualty of the lockout.  Good luck to both.
On to current Trinity news…first thing that comes to mind is men’s tennis.  Second-year coach Russell McMindes has taken the team to the NCAA Quarterfinals each of the past two years, and Max Frey made it to the Singles Semifinals as well.  He and his brother Jacob, who was the ITA West Region Assistant Coach of the Year, have been outstanding after replacing Hall of Famer Butch Newman as the Tiger coach.  It has to be one of the hardest things in coaching to replace a legendary coach, but Russell is up to it so far.  Earlier this year, he had two players win the ITA Small College Division III National Championship.  Bobby Cocanougher and Cory Kowal brought home the trophy – the fifth time Trinity has won the award, but the first since 2003.Women’s tennis also had a player make the singles tournament – Thavindra Ekanayake…most likely the hardest name to say among the Tiger student-athletes.  She lost her opening round match in the tournament, but she’ll be back for her junior year in 2011-12. 
Baseball also won the SCAC Tournament and made it to the NCAA Regionals – and in an odd year, no less!  Trinity previously only made it in even-numbered years, but broke the trend by making a return to the postseason in 2011.  The Tigers finished 1-2, though, beating Concordia, but losing to Linfield and Redlands.  The conference title was the seventh overall for Trinity’s baseball team (as well as winning the CAC title in 1990).

A pair of divers highlighted the winter season at Trinity, nearly coming away with two more national championships.  Hayley Emerick – the 2010 NCAA 3-Meter Diving Champion – finished second on both the 1-Meter and 3-Meter boards in 2011, while Ruth Hahn was third in the 3-Meter event.
The biggest fall story was of course the national champions mentioned above (Cocanougher/Kowal), but both soccer teams also enjoyed strong seasons.  Both teams went to the NCAA Playoffs once again, but both also failed to take advantage of San Antonio hosting the Semifinals and Championship in both men’s and women’s soccer.  The teams have missed that opportunity twice now, but they have another shot at it this fall.  Cross country also had two runners make it to the NCAA Championships.  Not as big a deal until you realize that they were both first-years! 
Overall, Trinity had five teams win SCAC Championships in 2010-11, while seven teams were in the postseason.  A total of 11 players were named All-American in their sport, while 10 were named either Player of the Year* or Newcomer of the Year in the SCAC.  There were 14 student-athletes who really reinforced the student part of their designation, earning national or regional academic honors.  Among those 14, Tyler Czinege and Kelly Watts were named ESPN Academic All-Americans, while Danika Wright and Hayley Emerick earned NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. 
A number of coaches also reached milestones during the past year.  Tim Scannell passed Hall of Famer Houston Wheeler on Trinity’s all-time wins list, and also picked up win #400 in his career.  Amie Bradley won her 100th career game this season, as did Lance Key during the fall.  Coach Scannell and Coach Key were both SCAC Coaches of the Year this season, as were Russell McMindes, and Paul McGinlay.  McGinlay was also the NSCAA West Region Coach of the Year, and I already mentioned Jacob McMindes and his award as an assistant coach.
Coming soon will be the announcement of the 2011 Trinity Athletics Hall of Fame class.  I can’t reveal the new class quite yet, but I can say that it will be another superb group that will be honored.  It will also be the first HOF class for President Ahlburg.  If you want to nominate for future classes, send an e-mail to:

* Also Diver of the Year, Diver of the Meet, Pitcher of the Year, and Track Athlete of the Year