Esports Getting Ready for Tournaments
November 12, 2020 I Grant Stelzer
Many sporting events and activities here at Mount Vernon Nazarene University are just about to wrap up for the season, while others are just about to start theirs. As for Esports, one of the most important games so far this season is yet to be played.
After defeating their opponent, Manchester, by a wide margin of 3-0 in the Semi-Finals last week, team Captain Luke Wilfong and the rest of the Rocket League team set their eyes on the championship title. Their opponent, Mount Union College, have been the only team to defeat them so far this season. Redemption is on the minds of the players and coaches as they look to defeat Mount Union in the Finals on Saturday, November 7th. Wilfong stated just a few days before the game “Yeah, we are feeling very good for this Friday. It is very nerve racking to be in the Finals for the first time and we look to take home the trophy for MVNU. They [Mount Union] are the only team that has beat us in the regular season so far, but we are definitely looking for a different outcome in the Finals this Saturday. We are a healthy amount of nervous going into this match this weekend, but we are confident we can bring home the win.”
All of the practice and time commitment was all worth it on Saturday, November 7th. Teams began their match promptly at 11am and competed for the title in a best of 7 match to determine the victor.
Esports Getting Ready for Tournaments
October 26, 2020 I Grant Stelzer
At Mount Vernon Nazarene University, sports have a major impact on the lives of students and players all around. In years past, basketball and volleyball, as well as soccer, were the big contenders for most popular sports. Although it might not be the most popular sport that you’ve heard of, or not heard of, Esports is looking to change the game.
MVNU’s Esports program is in its second year here on campus. The first year was filled with challenges and logistics that was a learning curve for coach Justin Nowiki and then coach Tony Stemen. This year, current coaches Nowiki and his brother, Josh Nowiki, are looking to make esports a bigger part of the everyday lives of students here on campus.
With the season nearly over, the many different games involved in the program are looking to extend their season with wins in the end of the season tournament. The two games that are looking to go far into the tournament are the teams of Rocket League and Overwatch. Rocket League, a game where players control cars to play a version of competitive soccer, has only lost one game so far this season and is looking to perform very well in the upcoming Oct. 31 tournament day. Luke Wilfong, sophomore captain of the Rocket League team, shared high hopes for the team saying, “I’m pretty confident in our guys. They have been playing really well, and we expect to put up a good fight and beat out the competition in the next couple weeks.”
Overwatch, the first-person shooter ability game, however, has had a few bumps over the road. Showing optimism, Darren Moon, sophomore captain of the Overwatch team, said, “We have some work to get done; but overall, we are looking pretty good. I have confidence that we can do this and make it far in the tournament.”
Players are excited and emotional about their upcoming tournament performances. The Esports season will continue with a spring schedule as well as their fall schedule. The spring schedule is less strenuous in terms of time commitment and treated as an “off season” for the players and coaches involved.
All games are live streamed on the livestreaming platform Twitch at twitch.tv/mvnuesports. The games take place on Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 2p.m. The tournament is scheduled for Oct. 31 with winning teams continuing to play the week after.
COACH MOSHER RETURNS HOME
October 4, 2020 I Dana Hicks
There is a new sheriff in town heading up the
volleyball program at Mount Vernon Nazarene
University. Alumnus Kendra Mosher has been
hired as just the fifth head coach in the history
of the program. “I struggle to put into words
how I feel to be back at MVNU,” said Mosher.
“The biggest thing that comes to my mind is
peace. Peace knowing that I am where I am
meant to be. Peace knowing that I am where
I love. And peace knowing I am back home!”
Mosher was a four-year member of the
volleyball program during her tenure from
2010-2014. She is 10th all-time in program
history in kills with 1,527. Three-hundred and
fifty of those came during her NCCAA
All-American campaign in 2013. It is safe to say
that she knows what it takes to compete at the
collegiate level and, thanks to a stint at Kenyon, she
knows what it takes to coach at the collegiate level as well.
“I was pretty blessed to have been able to get into college coaching as quickly as I did. I was an assistant coach for a year and was an interim
head coach at Kenyon for several months before being given the head coaching position there,” explained Mosher. It wasn't exactly an easy
switch for her. “The transition from a player to coach was difficult at first, because I really missed playing and wanted to get back in the game.
Thankfully I have been a coach constantly after graduation, so I am still able to be part of the game . . . just in a different way!” she exclaimed.
Coach Mosher led the Kenyon College Ladies to a 25-32 record in two seasons as the head coach with appearances in the conference semifinals each year. But, that is not where her coaching career began. She began coaching after her graduation in 2014 when she became the head coach for the volleyball team at Cardington-Lincoln High School. In 2016, Mosher led them to their first winning season since 2016. When asked about the biggest difference between coaching high school and college, she really highlighted the commitment level. “In college, most of the players chose MVNU because they wanted to be a part of a high-level volleyball program. They are willing to put in the extra hours, effort and energy it takes to succeed at this level. The preparation for the season doesn’t stop for my players once they leave the gy;, it is a constant part of their life during their four years here,” she said.
With COVID-19 being as prominent as it has been since it was upgraded to a pandemic in early 2020, there were lots of wrenches being thrown into many people’s plans. The recruiting season was no different with all athletic events cancelled due to the shutdown. Mosher was in complete agreement, acknowledging the difficulties she faced over the offseason. “I am having to rely on film much more than I normally would,”she admitted. But Mosher admits it wasn’t all in vain. “One benefit has been learning how to connect with possible recruits without being able to meet them in person. I have had to come up with a lot of creative ways to communicate with them. That has allowed me to grow as a recruiter and will be something I continue to do post-Covid.”
Coach Mosher is taking over the program after Paul Swanson’s retirement. Swanson leaves behind quite a legacy at MVNU with over 1,000 career wins and a winning percentage of over .700, but there is no pressure felt by Mosher to fill his shoes. “I am a different coach, so I try not to compare myself and allow myself to get caught up in pressure. I am working to create something great here at MVNU which is easier for me since it has already been built up so much in the past!”
The season is already underway for the Cougars. And now that Coach Mosher has seen her team in action, she opened up about the most promising thing she sees in them. “This team is so hungry for success. They are goal-orientated and want to accomplish so many things,” said Mosher who has high hopes and added the ultimate goal for her inaugural season is to finish in the top three in the Crossroads League. “Our conference is so competitive in volleyball, so if we can earn one of those top spots, I know our team and coaching staff will feel very accomplished!”
Mosher has seen the court from multiple views, from high school player to high school coach, andfFrom collegiate athlete to collegiate coach. She credits her Christianity and her father for the coach she is today:“Being a Christian has strongly impacted the way I try to coach. I work to be a positive role model and example to my players. My dad and I have always shared our passion for volleyball with each other. He coached me throughout high school and has always been a part of my volleyball journey.”
While she gets to coach these athletes and make a positive impact on their lives, they get to do the very same thing for her. “Coaching has allowed me to combine my two biggest passions, the sport of volleyball and building relationships with people,” she said. “It brings me so much joy to work with my players, and I hope they are getting a meaningful experience playing under me.”
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Old Faces/New Faces: Men’s Basketball Team Approaches Season Tip-Off
October 4, 2020 I Matt Harden
“Mr. Knox County” and “Red Mamba” are two of his nicknames,
but leadership, toughness, high work ethic, humble, and young
man of God would be the best way to describe MVNU
Men’s Basketball Senior Jevon Knox. MVNU Men’s Basketball
Head Coach Jared Ronai had this to say, ““Knox is an
outstanding young man and it’s been a joy to coach him from
his red-shirt season to now as a fifth-year senior.
Ronai continued, ”His development as a player and as a leader
over these last four seasons has been incredible to watch.”
Those four years of experience is something that Knox
considers amazing.“Being part of the team for the last few
years has been an opportunity to meet many amazing people,
play high level college basketball, and challenge myself as
teammate, leader, and friend,” said Knox. However, the journey
to MVNU wasn’t a straight path for Knox.“I came to MVNU
after searching for a Christian school with a good basketball
program,”said Knox. Knox continued, “I had interest in other
schools, but felt that God was opening doors and had provided
me with great people who would invest in me here at MVNU.”
One of those people investing in him was Coach Ronai. “We followed his AAU team throughout the summer and were very intrigued by him,”Ronai said.Ronai continued, “There was a specific moment in Indianapolis during a game on the main court, that we knew we were going to pursue the process with him.” After that moment, Ronai worked on building a relationship with Knox.“My assistant at that time and I went to multiple open gyms that fall, building a relationship with Knox and he ended up committing right before the season.” That relationship became key in getting Knox to MVNU.
Of those few that coaches recruit and commit, they arrive with certain expectations. “When we recruited him four years ago, we knew he had a chance to be a really good guard but he has surpassed all expectations and that is attributed to his work ethic, discipline, and his commitment to being the best teammate he can become,” said Ronai. Ronai continued, “We’re glad he’s a Cougar.” With the loss of three starters from last year’s team (Jacob Paul, Isaac White, and Austin Jones) and a group of younger players coming in, leadership is still expected.
“We believe everyone has the ability to lead,”Ronai said. Ronai continued, “As a program we want leadership to grow authentically and we want to facilitate an environment where each young man can find his own style, and level of leadership.”Knox has some advice for the younger players. “My advice for underclassmen is to learn to embrace the idea of team over self as quickly as possible,”Knox said.
Knox continued, “In our program, we often talk about how our experience changes when we truly become all about the team. For everyone to put the team first, it takes servant leadership from the guys that are looked up to.” Even being a young team there’s a high level of excitement optimism for Coach Ronai. “We will be a very young team and play really hard like we always do,” Ronai said. Ronai continued, “I am looking forward to watching this group grow together this season.” For Ronai and many other coaches the pandemic made recruiting more difficult. “Recruiting during COVID was hard, but we were able to find creative new ways to evaluate and recruit, plus we are happy with the group of players we were able to bring in,” said Ronai.
Knox continued, “We were fortunate enough to make the national tournament in 2019, which was an experience I’ll never forget.” Not all his memories are from being on the basketball court.“Many of my favorite memories from the team involve our off-court experiences,” said Knox. Knox continued, “Whether it was our team retreats, travelling to Florida, or Arizona, or just going out to eat; I’ll cherish being around my teammates as much as any experiences on the court.”
The MVNU Men’s Basketball Team is hard at work, practicing for this upcoming season. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a start date is TBD.
Local Athlete Shines Forth
October 5, 2020 I Matt Harden
For MVNU women’s basketball Senior Taylor Gregory, the road to MVNU wasn’t a direct route and included a detour to Akron, Ohio. The former Mount Vernon High School basketball standout had multiple offers including from MVNU to play college basketball.
MVNU Women’s Basketball Head Coach Amanda Short was heavily recruiting Gregory. “Taylor came to numerous open gyms in our postseason and some in the summer months as well,” said Short. “We built a good relationship with her through that time.” Ultimately, Gregory would commit to the NCAA Division 1 University of Akron.
“When we found out that she went to Akron, we stopped recruiting her,” said Short. However, Gregory didn’t stay away from MVNU.“She continued to come and play in our open gyms in the off season,” said Short. The relationship between Gregory, the team, and Coach Short grew.
It hasn’t been easy for Gregory and it has taken a lot of hard work and practice to achieve the success she has reached. “In high school, I had a lot of great teammates to look up to and help me along while I was on varsity as a freshman,” said Gregory.
“Sierra Basista and Rachel Parks really helped me,” Gregory continued. Teammates haven’t been the only important people in her journey.“My dad was always coaching me and giving me tips, and my high school coach always drilled the fundamentals which helped us to a conference league title my freshman year,” Gregory said.“I also was in the gym a lot with my dad, and my AAU team over the summer helped me gain confidence, and that led to me scoring 1,000 career points in high school.”
Then came the detour to Akron, but something wasn’t right. “That wasn’t the right fit for me personally, and I felt that I needed a place where I could grow in my faith,” said Gregory.
Coach Short jumped at the chance to get Gregory to come to MVNU. “Taylor was very comfortable with the team and with our campus, so it made our decision very easy when the opportunity presented itself to offer her a roster spot,” said Short.
“The people here brought me back to MVNU, after I spent five weeks in Akron,” said Gregory. “I instantly felt at home here at MVNU, and the people made me feel so welcomed; I knew then it was the perfect fit.”
It wasn’t just a perfect fit for Gregory. It was for Coach Short and the team as well. “We knew that she was a great basketball player, but knowing that she would fit into our culture we were building was even more important,” said Short. Gregory has become a team leader and someone her teammates can turn to, both on and off the court. “Her teammates look to her on the court, but they also know they can go to her off the floor for advice,” said Short. “She is a great leader on and off the floor.” Trying to juggle classes and sports can be tough and challenging, and Gregory recognizes that.
“These last few years have been extremely challenging but rewarding,” Gregory said. “There’s many long days of long days between travel, classes, and practice, but basketball has allowed me to compete at a high level and make lifelong friendships.”
Then there’s the memories of beating tough teams. “During my career, we have upset Taylor University and Indiana Wesleyan, and those games have been some of the very fun ones to play, and the excitement that followed in the locker room will be something I’ll never forget,” said Gregory.
“It is a lot of fun coaching someone with this caliber of talent, a player that is so versatile and has a high IQ, said Short. “Her goal is to make others around her better, and she does that in so many ways; she verbally encourages the team regularly.”
As the final tip-off, made basket, team win, and locker room celebration fast approaches, Gregory reflected on what it’s meant to attend MVNU.
The MVNU women’s basketball team is awaiting word from the NAIA and the Crossroads League on when the 2020-21 COVID-19 shortened season will begin.
MVNU Cross Country Teams Approaching the Starting Line
It’s just about cross country time here at MVNU,as both the men’s
and the women’s teams are getting ready to start their seasons.
Head coach Simon Taylor is looking forward to seeing the
improvements that have been made by the athletes on the course.
“Both of our men’s and women’s teams got better from where we
were last year,” said Taylor. “Both teams should be good this year;
our men are young but have a lot of talent, and our women have a
nice mix of youth and senior leadership.” That leadership is something
that senior Kayla Shackleford embraces.
Even with the excitement and expectations, there have been some challenges trying to put together the teams. COVID has brought many challenges this year, which has led to finding a balance of safety and athletics. When speaking on the precautions the team will be making, Taylor said, “Masks will be required on the bus rides, but not while our athletes are competing.It would be a safety hazard to have runners wear masks while they race.”
COVID presented additional challenges Coach Taylor had to face. “COVID made recruiting difficult,” Taylor said. “We were unable to have recruits on campus, which is normally a big part of the process.” Explaining the recruiting process, Taylor stated, “We were unable to attend track meets in the spring of this year, and normally I go to meets and watch recruits race.”
Coach Taylor is often faced with the question of why we never have home cross country meets. The simple answer is we do not have a home course here at MVNU. We only have away meets every year due to that reason. One good thing about away meets is the chance at making memories with your teammates. When asked what her favorite memory was from a meet, Shackleford has a hard time picking her favorite. “There are too many memories to choose from, but I’d say that our meet in Michigan with Aquinas College was so much fun and a lot of shenanigans happened on that trip,” said Shackelford.
As the sun sets on her cross country career, Shackleford offered advice to the underclassmen, “I would tell the underclassmen to cherish these days. Everyone says that these years go by quickly, and it’s true. Tthe miles are not going to be what you remember. The time spent laughing with your teammates, making ice cream runs after practice, team dinners, and everything in between will be what you’ll remember, so make sure to make the most of it and be fully present with them.”
September 20, 2020 Matt Harden