Football poised for another conference title
Sep01

Football poised for another conference title

As the fall semester begins, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor football team begins their quest of winning their first NCAA Division III National Championship. The Cru are coming off an 11-1 overall record last year and have won the American Southwest Conference championship. There are multiple new and returning faces to the UMHB football program including Coach Luke Howard and Jack Johnson. Junior exercise and sport science education major Baylor Mullins, who plays safety for the team, is ready for football to begin. “I am very excited to get this season started. Although we won the conference last year, we didn’t win the national championship which is what we are looking for around here,” he said. “We still have tons of improvement, but I feel like this could be the year.” Junior exercise and sport science major Matthew McVey is a tight end for the Cru and is ready to hit the field. “I’m definitely excited about what this year has in store for us and continuing the tradition of winning the ASC championship along with making a run for the national championship. We have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball; we also have a lot of returners coming back mixed in with some new faces,” he said. According to D3Football.com, the Cru are ranked fourth in the nation in their preseason poll. Other familiar football powerhouses at the top of the rankings includes: the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, University of Mount Union, Linfield College and Wesley College. “Home games are so much better than away games. There’s nothing like coming out of the tunnel and seeing a sea of Cru purple and yellow,” said sophomore management major, Haston Adams. “Cru-Nation is definitely deep and they are always live. The team plays more relaxed and it seems like we are sharper when we play in Crusader Stadium.” The Cru are currently 14-2 since playing their home games in Crusader Stadium. This season will mark the third year the Cru will play truly at home. This season, the UMHB football program’s motto is “Earn It.” “After an upset last season, our coaches decided to rebuild the team from the ground up and if you wanted a spot on the team you had to ‘earn it,’ McVey said. “Everyone started from the bottom and had to work their way back to the top during a competitive offseason.” The team’s quarterback, senior marketing major Zach Anderson, trusts his teammates and believes everyone is committed. “Overall I feel that we have an extremely talented team this year that is very dedicated to getting better each and every day. I believe...

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Softball seeks to finish strong on home stretch
Apr15

Softball seeks to finish strong on home stretch

By Michael Crosson   In Texas, spring means sunny skies and warmer weather.   But to local sports fans, spring means baseball and softball season for spirited Crusaders.   The Lady Cru started the season slow by losing seven of their first 13 contests, but then went on a streak to win 10 consecutive games the last month.   Tiffany Birdwell is a pitcher for the softball team. She said the team’s recent success is the result of good team chemistry.   “I feel we need to continue to bond as a team,” she said.   Third baseman Leah Brown said the team is pleased so far with its play, but knows there’s plenty of games left to be played in the season.   “I always feel like we can improve, but I feel we’re doing really well as a team,” Brown said.   Head coach Larry Hennig believes this year’s squad is special because of the good team work ethic on and off the field.   He said, “I guess that the fact that the girls came here and we’re on a mission and they understand that every day is important, teamwork is important.”   Julie Norris, the assistant softball coach, said the thing she loves most about this team is how the players genuinely care for one another.   “We have a really resilient team they’re never out of ball games and the team chemistry is really good this year, the girls get along and play hard for each other all the time,” Norris said.   Catcher Cori Drake said the players have had to rely on each other to get through the mental hurdles of the season.   Drake said, “I think we possess a lot of confidence because we’re really good about motivating our own teammates and keeping a positive attitude during the games, and that really contributes to our success.”   Drake added that as the team continues to improve, they could very well be a tough club to beat.   “I believe the more we play the better we get and the more we come together as a team, so I believe we have a very good shot at going to regionals this year,” she said.   Right fielder Karley Free said the team’s unity and hard work is what makes her most proud to be a part of the squad.   “The team chemistry and how well we can all get along when we’re out on the field, and encouraging others during the game,” Free said.   The team is currently sitting fourth in the American Southwest Conference standings and will host...

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Heartbreaker ends Cru’s season
Mar04

Heartbreaker ends Cru’s season

Led by senior Jerard Graham, the UMHB men’s basketball team made a late-season push to lock up the No. 5 seed in the American Southwest Conference tournament. The Cru’s run came to an end, however, as the team suffered a 72-64 defeat at the hands of Howard Payne University in Thursday’s first-round matchup.   The Cru gained control early and built a 10-point lead early in the second half, but an 11-0 run by the Yellow Jackets put HPU up 44-43 five minutes into the second half.   The Yellow Jackets would build a 54-47 lead, but the Cru fought back to tie the game at 59.   With 4:23 left in the contest, sophomore guard Avery Polchinski drained a bucket that gave UMHB a 63-62 advantage.   It would be the final field goal the Cru would make on the evening as HPU was able to ice the game from the free throw line.   Sophomore Daniel Mills led the Cru with 24 points on the game. The Belton High product averaged 18.8 points over the Cru’s final five games. Mills said his success down the stretch can be accredited to the bonds he built with his teammates throughout the season.   “I think I just got used to having new teammates and my confidence went up a lot,” he said. “I think it has to do with my teammates and coach having trust in me and I’ve just been more consistent with my effort and it has helped me.”   Graham was the team’s leading scorer on the season, averaging 18.9 points per game as he started every game for the Cru. The senior not only led his team in scoring, but became a more vocal leader as well.   “I have felt myself get more vocal in practice and in games. At the beginning of the season I was a tad quiet but now I’m constantly communicating with my teammates,” Graham said.   The team loses Graham and fellow senior Kevin Waller, but will bring back a core next season that includes Mills and point guard Layton Zinsmeister among others.   Zinsmeister said the players became more comfortable with each other as the season wore on, which they hopefully will be able to carry into next season.   “Throughout the season I have noticed our team improving in almost every way. We are starting to make the big shots and play together better,” he said. “We had a few new guys this year and it took some time to get the chemistry going but as of late we really have been playing well together.”   The...

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Ballplayer gets second chance
Feb18

Ballplayer gets second chance

By Michael Crosson   To most collegiate baseball players, the big prize is a shot at the major leagues. For one Crusader, it is about playing the game he loves and making the team better.   Emery Atkisson is one of 30 members of the UMHB baseball team. He plays second base and shortstop. Atkisson is grateful for his position on a team. For a time, he wondered if he would ever be a college athlete again.   “The game finds a way to humble you. Although my shoulder injury was unfortunate, I have found a new love for the game and gained a greater understanding of life as well as the importance of a good work ethic,” says Atkisson.   Before the ballplayer’s injury, major league scouts from the Colorado Rockies and the Atlanta Braves franchises were following Atkisson.   “I had a set rehabilitation program at Stephen F. Austin, but I tried to push myself too hard, which ultimately prolonged my recuperation process. However, it has been two years since my surgery and my arm is feeling better than ever and I am ready for the 2015 season,” he said.   The idea of an athlete going from NCAA Division I to Division III means Atkisson has to work harder to prove he is still an elite player.   “The biggest difference between Division I and Division III is the lack of athletic perks in terms of scholarship opportunities. We are encouraged to play for the love of the game. The passion we have for this game will ultimately lead us to becoming a better team and better individuals in the long run. We play because we love it and we learn life lessons through the games of baseball,” Atkisson said.   Atkisson believes his work ethic and positive attitude toward the game of baseball is the most valuable attribute he brings to the team.   “My work ethic was compared to Robert Griffin III in high school, I feel like that is what I bring most to this team,” he said.   Atkisson is excited for the opportunity to be a more vocal leader for the team.   “When baseball is good, Emery is good and I plan on having a very good spring,” Atkisson said.   If this team can push itself not only in beating Concordia or LeTourneau Universities, but in getting to the Division III College Baseball World Series in Wisconsin, then this team can become one of the elite Division III programs in the nation.   Chase Burrow, is also a member of the baseball team and plays left field. He said...

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Men’s volleyball makes strides
Feb04

Men’s volleyball makes strides

The men’s club volleyball team began last spring and has continued to expand. The team has already began their season by travelling across Texas competing in tournaments and matches from Waco to San Marcos to College Station. The team competes in the National Collegiate Volleyball Federation which governs collegiate volleyball clubs all over the United States. The men are working hard to compete in the NCVF National Championships in Kansas City, Missouri, April 9-11.   This year’s Cru roster consists of 15 students of all ages, ranging from freshmen to seniors.   Aaron Jackson helped develop the club team. He is a junior double major in business management and marketing who currently serves as the team’s captain.   “My favorite part about being on the men’s volleyball team is being able to play college volleyball at the division-1 national collegiate volleyball federation level. It has always been a dream of mine to play volleyball in college, so now I get the opportunity to do so and building memories with these awesome guys,” he said.   Jackson grew up watching his sister play which sparked his interest in the sport.   “During my junior year in high school, I started playing and going to open gyms, trying to learn as much as possible. That brought me to love the sport and want to play at a collegiate level,” he said.   The team’s current coaches are Elleny Ohendalski and Ally Bermea. Ohendalski, a freshman nursing major, found out about the team last semester from last semester’s head coach.   “I joined the team this past fall, Katelyn Holm, who was the head coach at the time, asked me to practice one day. Then I just continued with it throughout the semester. Now she has graduated, and I am still staying at the position of assistant coach.”   Junior exercise sport science major Andrew Flores and junior finance and management double major Drew Davies enjoy being a part of the squad.   “It started up in the spring semester, 2014. I have been a part of it since it started. My favorite part of being on the team is just being able to play the game that I grew to love with friends,” Flores said.   “My favorite part of volleyball would have to be the sense of community. We take volleyball pretty seriously and practice four times a week, sometimes at five in the morning. It’s just a really good feeling when the whole team is helping you get to where you need to be and that I get the opportunity to help other members reach their full potential as...

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Cru sports foresee promising spring season
Jan22

Cru sports foresee promising spring season

As the new year begins, the men’s and women’s basketball teams have hit the middle of their schedules. Both teams are currently in position to qualify for the ASC Championship tournament, but need to finish their regular seasons with more wins to capture the post season spot.   The Lady Cru are in seventh place with a 8-7 overall record and 4-6 in conference play. The men are in second at 11-4 and are 8-2 in conference.   The men defeated conference top-ranked Hardin-Simmons University in overtime 90-81 last week.   Freshman pre-physical therapy major Meghan Turner plays point guard for the Lady Cru. Meghan talks about how they are preparing for the conference championships.   “We are taking every day one by one and making every practice count,” she said.   Junior exercise sport science major Tori Tucker mentions the team’s preparation.   “We work hard every day and we know what’s at stake. We want to not only do this for ourselves, but for our seniors. We don’t want to be sitting in Belton during the tournament knowing we should be there. We are ready and determined to turn this around this next go around,” she said.   Tucker also enjoys the atmosphere the Crusader fans bring to the game.   “Having students back on campus is nice for the games due to more fans and more energy in Mayborn Campus Center. Having student life back on campus also brings liveliness on games days and knowing that they will be there on game night is exciting. We love our fans,” she said.   The Lady Cru and Cru will host Sul Ross State and Howard Payne University this Thursday and Saturday in Belton. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Thursday and 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday at the Mayborn Campus Arena.   Both match ups are conference games that will impact seeding in the ASC post-season this March.   The other spring sports, baseball, softball, tennis and golf have begun the first steps in their spring seasons.   Senior exercise sport science major Angelie Juaneza is ready for the tennis season to begin.   “I’m excited for what the season has in store for us. We are going against a handful of tough teams that we haven’t played against before. It’ll be a season full of new experiences for sure,” she said. “Being a senior, I want it to be the best season ever, but tennis is a team sport, so everyone has to work together in order to achieve our goals.”   Junior sport management major Elizabeth Davis reflects on the...

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