Sports spotlight: Wykeyhe Walker
Nov15

Sports spotlight: Wykeyhe Walker

Senior mass communications major Wykeyhe Walker was recently baptized in the university’s pool at the Mayborn Campus Center. “It was something I wanted to do for a while now, and I was going through so much, but God gave me hope and that caused me to focus on the good instead of the bad.” Walker’s friends and family gathered at the pool to see him baptized. President Dr. Randy O’Rear and his wife, Julie, were in attendance at the baptism. Walker attends First Baptist Belton with the O’Rears. “It was joyful to see him make the best decision he will ever make in his life,” O’Rear said. “He desired to tell the world and stand up on top of the mountain and scream, ‘I am a believer, and I want to be obedient, and I want to be baptized.’” O’Rear said that Walker reached out to him after one of his teammates and now UMHB alumnus, Matt Cody, was baptized at Temple Lake Park. “We started talking about our faith, becoming a Christian, baptism, what that meant, and what that meant to him.” O’Rear said that he’s enjoyed watching the journey Walker has taken since he began attending church with the O’Rears. “To see the joy and the peace he has now as a believer has been a sweet thing to watch,” he said. Walker plans to graduate this December with a bachelor of arts in mass communications. He will then relocate to Madrid, Spain to play professional football with the Osos Rivas. “Honestly it hasn’t hit me yet, but I can’t wait for the experience,” he said. “Of course, my family is sad but this is a step I have to take to get to the NFL.” Walker played receiver for the university for four seasons. During his final season, he was a part of the National Championship winning team. “I have been a starter here for the last 3.5 years, and I have never played in a game so cold,” he said. “I was with my brothers. You can’t really ask for a better ending.” Walker said that playing football for the Cru and being at the university has changed him tremendously. “When I got here, I was a kid that only cared about himself,” he said. “Now, I am a man who is about to start a new journey.” He said that he didn’t really see change in himself until his sophomore year. “I didn’t know Jesus, and even football was going bad. But I got my head right in the summer of my sophomore year, realizing I wanted the college experience. So I had to...

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Senior soccer player shines on and off the field
Nov15

Senior soccer player shines on and off the field

The UMHB men’s soccer team has made history this year, earning the program’s first ASC championship as they head to the NCAA Division III National Championship tournament. Senior midfielder Caleb Almanza, who was recently selected to compete on the First Team All-ASC and is a starter for the Cru, has played a big part in the team’s success this season. “This season has been great, we are playing well and put ourselves in a great position to do something amazing and make history,” Almanza said. “I feel I put in a lot of work to my team and do whatever it takes to win.” While Almanza has had many people in his life who have inspired and helped him in his soccer career, there is a certain person who has left a special impact on his heart. “My older brother, who is in the Navy is my biggest inspiration in life,” Almanza said. “I look up to him every day. He has helped me through everything throughout my life and is the reason I am who I am today.” Soccer has always been more than just a game for Almanza; it is a part of him that no matter where he goes, he will always take with him. “I have played soccer since I was 3 years old, so it’s been about 18 years,” Almanza said. “My parents got me started in it and it has been a part of my life ever since. I love that I forget about everything while I’m playing. It’s my time to get away from everything and do what I love, and I thank God for letting me do that every day. “It has been what I have done my entire life, soccer has taken me all over the world, brought me to a great university and just been a massive part of my life.” Although soccer holds so many special memories in the past for Almanza, his next step in life is to pursue his other dream: to become a physical therapist. “I plan on pursuing my career after I graduate and not play soccer anymore. I need to focus on my long-term future even though I would love to continue playing,” Almanza said. Choosing to further his athletic career as a Crusader was not a tough decision for Almanza and throughout his four years here, he has realized that this is exactly where he belongs. “I loved my visit when I came to visit UMHB,” he said. “They have great academics and Coach Bankhead ran a very good program so I wanted to be a part of it. To this day,...

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Volleyball player overcomes ACL tear with team’s support
Oct13

Volleyball player overcomes ACL tear with team’s support

Determination triumphs adversity as Sydney Stolz returns to the court for the 2017 season, stronger than when she left. The junior public relations major and middle defensive player of the UMHB volleyball team tore her ACL last season. Although not yet a starting middle, Stolz sees some playing time as Coach Frost allows. Nonetheless, being back with her team has made all the difference, and has fostered a sense of thankfulness. “After every game or practice, I’m thankful that I made it through. I like getting to meet people who have gone through the same injury and encourage them. I made so many connections throughout this process.” Stolz was on the court during a conference home game against McMurry University last season. “We were losing, so I was mad, and I play harder when I’m mad. I went to the right side to block a hit and felt my ACL pop.” The experience was not only painful because of the injury, but also because it happened in front of loved ones. “My whole family was there, all my friends… it was horrible,” Stolz said. But despite her injury, Stoltz’s priorities stayed intact. The volleyball player went through a full year of intense recovery and physical therapy to heal from her tear, and is still recovering now. “I had to go to physical therapy two days after my surgery just to get it moving again,” Stolz said. “I went to [physical therapy at] Scott and White twice a week, and went every day to my trainers here at UMHB.” Stolz praised her trainers for their patience with her. “My trainer Emily Patrick was fantastic,” she said. She is now playing again at full strength, albeit inhibited by the brace. “I came in stronger this season—with more muscle mass, so that was a big win.” Coach Rob Frost, who has been the head volleyball coach for seven seasons at UMHB, praises her recovery and athletic talent. “She’s able to practice and play 100 percent. She’s working hard to recover her transition speed. Her jump touch and hitting strength are in a great spot right now.” Having gone through several ACL recoveries himself, Frost was empathetic to Stolz during her recovery time. “He was very supportive through all this. He’s been very motivating. He checked in with me throughout the whole process but not pushing me to a point where it’s not healthy for me. He knows how easy it is to re-injure it,” Stolz said. The volleyball player’s teammates were also a major support system. “They checked on me a lot throughout my recovery. I got to talk to them on...

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QB Josey: season-ready
Sep08

QB Josey: season-ready

A good quarterback is the glue that holds a football team together. He sets the tone of the entire game, orchestrating drives for the offense and giving the defense key minutes of rest between possessions. He is the face of his team, and despite his crucial role in gameplay, he is first and foremost a leader. To nobody is this more apparent than junior TJ Josey, who is starting his first year at quarterback for the Cru. “The most important thing to me is being the very best leader I can be,” Josey said. “It’s my job to put the team into a position where we can win. The goal is to be 1-0 every week.” For a player relatively new at the position – Josey was a quarterback in high school, but has predominately played wide receiver for UMHB – he is quickly developing the traits required to bring him and the team success. Head coach Pete Fredenburg feels confident in Josey, and expects excellence from him all season. “[Josey] really went to work on his leadership,” Fredenburg said. “He has really embraced his new role, and he gets a little better every day. I look forward to seeing him develop as the leader of our offense.” Josey’s ability to lead by example impresses his teammates daily, as does his energy and willingness to communicate. “He keeps everybody hyped and full of energy,” freshman offensive lineman Azaviar Carter said. “He values communication, and holds himself and his teammates to very high standards.” Freshman defensive end/tight end Jaeron Minnieweather echoes Carter’s sentiment. “When he gets going, it really motivates the whole team,” Minnieweather said. Not only is Josey a capable helmsman for the UMHB squad, but he is also a fantastic athlete. His natural athleticism, high football I.Q., and knack for seeing opportunities to scramble up-field all combine to make him a deadly dual-threat quarterback. “He’s very good at running the ball,” Coach Fredenburg said. “When he runs the option, he’s absolutely lethal.” Sophomore offensive lineman Noah Stebens admires Josey’s playmaking ability. “He’s very smart and can think on his feet,” Stebens said. “He communicates well in in-game situations, and when the time comes to make a choice, TJ is decisive and committed. He does an especially good job with calling audibles and keeping the offense moving.” So often, such talent comes packaged with arrogance, but despite his abundance of skill, Josey is humble and down-to-Earth. He is polite and soft-spoken, and according to Coach Fredenburg, a pleasure to coach. “He’s extremely coachable,” Fredenburg said. “He’s a great team player and is always ready to work.” Although Josey does...

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Leah Brown: the best player in UMHB softball history
Apr26

Leah Brown: the best player in UMHB softball history

With two outs in the bottom of the third inning of game two on Saturday, Leah Brown stepped up to the batter’s box. She spun her bat in her hands and then tapped it to both sides of the plate as she always does. She then proceeded to rip the 2-0 pitch through the hole into left field for her fourth hit of the day; seemingly just another day at the ballpark for Brown. But this one was special. She entered the day with 210 hits, three shy of tying the school record for hits in a career. She was now alone at the top of the list. Of course, this is nothing new for Brown. In the past few weeks, she has broken school records for runs (140), home runs (34), runs batted in (157) and total bases (380). She also has now ended the regular season with a .735 slugging percentage, which will be good for another school record if it holds up through the post-season. And it most likely will, as she has a 35 point lead in that category. “Rounding the bases was really emotional and it was just a cool feeling,” Brown said about her record-breaking home run. She also said the home run record is a memory that will stick with her beyond her time at UMHB. A lot of players have the ability to have a great season or two throughout their career. But the consistency that Brown has shown in her four years at UMHB has been the defining characteristic of her career. Her coaches and teammates alike count on her throughout the season and time and time again she is able to deliver. It has clearly been a remarkable four-year career for Brown and her coaches are going to miss having their All-American in the lineup every game. “The thing that’s impressive about her is that she’s been so consistent,” said Head Coach Larry Hennig. “She’s never slowed down in trying to get better; never slowed down working in practice. I don’t want to think about next year.” Assistant Coach Melissa Maler has only been coaching Brown for the past two seasons. But she was aware of Brown’s greatness before she even got to college. Maler was a coach at West High School before coming to UMHB. Her team played against Crawford High School, where Brown attended, every year. “We played her the whole time I was at West, her four years of high school ball. So I knew she was a great player,” Maler said. “She’s by far one of the best hitters that I’ve ever been able to...

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Sport Spotlight: Heien begins final season
Mar08

Sport Spotlight: Heien begins final season

Published in the March 8, 2017 issue of The Bells Senior men’s golfer Mats Heien has played golf for as long as he can remember, and his passion and dedication to the sport has not only contributed to the success of the team, but has also inspired his teammates to strive for excellence both in golf and in life. “I think I have been playing golf for about 10 years now,” Heien said. “My father played golf and that’s how I got into it. I loved it ever since I hit my first golf ball.” Heien said his inspiration comes not only from his father, but also from professional golfer Rory McIlroy. “I like how hard he works at his game, and this makes me want to work even harder so that one day I will beat him,” he said. Heien traveled 5000 miles from Royken, Norway to Belton to continue his golf career at the collegiate level. “I chose to come play at UMHB because of the weather,” Heien said. “I also got a good feeling about Coach Rodeffer, so I took a chance that this place would help me be the best golfer I could be.” While Heien is thousands of miles from where he grew up, UMHB has become his home away from home over the last four years, with a little help from his teammates. “My favorite part about playing here at UMHB is the golf team. They are definitely the best part,” Heien said. “It is a lot of fun going to tournaments with this team, and we help each other get better every day.” While there are many aspects of golf that helped Heien fall in love with the game, there are a few in particular that have stood out to him over the years. “I love the competition side of golf the most,” Heien said. “I prepare for hours and hours so when I go out to play tournaments, I know that I can beat everybody out there. Golf is basically turned into my entire life. And this is the only thing I want to do in life.” Heien’s dedication to perfecting his skills has paid off. In the last two years, Heien has had the best individual seasons in UMHB men’s golf history and was named a Jack Nicklaus Player of the Year Semifinalist. This season is Heien’s last season here at UMHB and he hopes that he can lead the team to achieve their goals one last time. “I feel that I work hard on my game and my scores reflect this so that I can help my team each...

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