Tag Archives: intercollegiate athletics

Equestrian Commencement

COMMENCEMENT ROUNDUP: Chief of Staff Debbie Heida, center, presides over a special graduation ceremony for equestrian seniors Allie Robertson, left, and Sarah Cooper. The equestrian team was in Syracuse, N.Y., the weekend of spring commencement competing in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association National Championships.

Allie Robertson

Allie Robertson is all smiles after winning her second national championship as a member of Berry’s equestrian team. Photo courtesy of EQ Media.

Most students process into commencement to the strains of Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance, but it’s not usually played on an iPhone. Then again, graduation was anything but typical for Allie Robertson and Sarah Cooper.

As members of Berry’s varsity equestrian team, Robertson and Cooper found themselves in Syracuse, N.Y., the first weekend in May competing in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) National Championships.

Robertson walked with her Berry classmates before flying to New York for two events the following day. She ultimately won an individual national championship in Novice Western Horsemanship, her second national title at Berry, to pace a sixth-place team finish.

“It was kind of a whirlwind weekend,” she said. “I didn’t really have time to process that I had just graduated college and was going to nationals.”

Cooper’s competition schedule prevented her from walking with Robertson and the rest of her class, so Chief of Staff Debbie Heida brought graduation to her, flying to Syracuse once Berry’s commencement concluded to preside over a miniature ceremony for both equestrian seniors.

“It’s a privilege to go and be part of their nationals experience,” Heida said, adding that it means a lot to her to be able to “celebrate with someone the end of a four-year academic career.”

At the ceremony, which was held in a conference room at the event center, the students processed into the room as they would at a typical graduation.

“We had caps and gowns on top and boots and spurs on the bottom half, which was so perfect for us,” Cooper said. “It really made up for the sadness of missing the real graduation. It was the perfect way to wrap up nationals and my Berry College career.”

By student writer Cassie LaJeunesse

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Haley Brown Celebrates in the PoolAngel Mason

MAKING A SPLASH: Angel Mason, at right, takes over a Berry athletic program that has had much to celebrate in recent years. Highlights in 2018-19 include a return trip to the NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving National Championships for senior Haley Brown (seen above in this photo by student Leigh Hadaway).

A former college athlete with 14 years of experience as a coach, administrator and NCAA Division III advocate has been chosen to lead Berry’s high-performing athletic department. Angel Mason will officially begin her service as director of athletics June 1, concluding a successful national search.

“Building on her experience as a player and coach, Angel has established a strong national reputation through administrative positions at top colleges across the country and in her leadership work with the NCAA,” President Steve Briggs said. “She is well-poised to help our program flourish.”

Mason currently serves as senior associate athletic director and senior woman administrator at Pomona-Pitzer in California. At Berry, she will provide leadership for a program that has enjoyed tremendous success in the Southern Athletic Association and NCAA Division III. In 2017-18, Viking athletes won eight SAA team titles and qualified for nationals in 10 different sports. This academic year has produced additional SAA team championships in volleyball and football, six individual SAA crowns in swimming, seven conference wins in track and field, and national qualifiers in five sports (with more possible).

“I am excited to join a team of professionals that are focused on serving students first,” Mason said. “There is a bright future ahead for Vikings athletics, and I am honored to have the opportunity to grow with the athletic and greater campus community.”

Click here to learn more about Berry’s new director of athletics.

By student writer Kendall Aronson

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Vikings Sports Alliance Group PhotoMAKING CONNECTIONS: Alumnae and students participating in the recent Viking Sports Alliance mentoring program pause for a group photo.

“Know how to lead, even if you don’t wear the captain’s band on your arm.”

So advised Hannah Parker (18C), a former Berry soccer player now pursuing a master’s degree at Wake Forest University, during the recent Viking Sports Alliance mentoring program. Parker was one of approximately 40 alumnae and students – all current or former athletes – in attendance at the one-day event organized by Ginger Swann (93C), assistant athletic director for sports medicine and senior woman administrator for Berry athletics. Student media coverage.

Communication major Bruno Rose networks with Pam Kinzer Rogers (89C) at a recent Viking Connections event.

Communication major Bruno Rosa networks with Pam Kinzer Rogers (89C) during a recent Viking Connections-Employers event.

For Berry students, hearing from those who have “been there and done that” is key to their success – and alumni are quick to lend their expertise and support. This culture of mentorship – a key component of the new Berry Compact – is evident all across campus, from the advice and support provided by Roy Miller (58C) as an entrepreneur-in-residence to the many alumni who volunteer to conduct mock interviews with graduating seniors (eight this semester alone!). You can also see it in the eagerness of the more than 30 recent graduates who signed up for this spring’s Young Alumni Partner Program, an annual event pairing our newest alumni with seniors preparing to make the jump to post-college life.

On one recent evening, 37 students interested in the humanities and nonprofits traveled to Atlanta for a Viking Connections-Employers event involving 35 different employer representatives, 22 of them alumni. The night kicked off with speed networking, where students had one minute to answer questions like, “What’s your elevator pitch?” or “What’s your greatest accomplishment?” The icebreaker was followed by 1.5 hours of one-on-one interaction between students and alumni/employers/guests.

Berry hosts several Viking Connections-Employers events per year, each focusing on different schools and majors. Students are encouraged to expand their network of contacts and gain industry knowledge. The connections they make have led to internships and job offers.

Interested in lending your voice and experience to such efforts? Email Mark Kozera (79C) in employer development for information on Viking Connections-Employers, and be sure to follow Berry Alumni on Facebook for news of other opportunities!

By Jennifer Wright

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This buzzer-beating 3-pointer by senior Myles Moore lifted the Berry men’s basketball team to its sixth win in seven games to start the 2018-19 season. Commentary on the shot is provided by student Noah Syverson.

Another remarkable fall for Berry athletics is now giving way to a promising winter thanks to a blistering start in men’s basketball under first-year coach Mitch Cole. In opening the season 6-1 – Berry’s best start in men’s basketball since joining NCAA Division III – Cole’s Vikings are building on the momentum created by Southern Athletic Association championships and national tournament appearances in volleyball and football, winning seasons in men’s and women’s soccer, and a pair of national qualifiers in women’s cross country.

Berry volleyball once again had the home fans roaring, finishing with a sparkling 26-4 record highlighted by a second straight sweep of the SAA regular-season and tournament crowns. Leading the way was junior Carson VanCampen, who made history as the first Berry volleyball player to be named a first-team All-American. Emily Hancock and Laura Beier joined her as honorable-mention All-Americans, while Caitlyn Moriarty (14G) was regional Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season.

Berry players celebrate the courage of teammate Justus Edwards.

Berry players celebrate the courage of injured teammate Justus Edwards. Photo by student Leigh Hadaway.

In football, Berry continued its dominance of the SAA by winning its third straight conference championship. The Vikings finished 10-2 overall, including a perfect 6-0 record at Valhalla. The team now sports a 21-1 record in four seasons on the Williams Field turf, including two national playoff wins. Players this year drew strength from the courage shown by sophomore Justus Edwards after suffering a severe injury in September. Read more.

Women’s cross country also enjoyed a banner fall, advancing two runners to nationals. Junior Abby Carroll qualified for the second consecutive year, while Meredith Herman made her first appearance. Their subsequent placements at nationals were the best by Berry in the NCAA era. They also extended their team’s streak of sending at least one runner to nationals in each of the last three seasons.

Visit berryvikings.com for complete coverage of all Berry athletics.

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Berry Lacrosse Brothers in IsraelFormer Vikings Andy (14C) and Jim Kurila (17C) had the opportunity to showcase their lacrosse skills on a global stage this summer as participants in the World Lacrosse Championships. The brothers spent two weeks in Israel as representatives of Slovakia, birthplace of their grandparents. Both credited their Berry experience with helping them to represent their family heritage in such a high-profile way.

“If it wasn’t for the path I took in my lacrosse career, both high school and Berry, I would never have had this chance to go over there and play,” said Andy (left in photo), an aspiring paramedic who currently serves as a firefighter/EMT in Port Orange, Fla.

Jim is also in the Sunshine State, working as an aquarist at Discovery Cove Orlando. He has plans to pursue a master’s degree in marine biology focusing on shark research.

Read more about their experience in Israel.

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Men's Basketball Team Celebrates Championship

Above: Members of the Berry men’s basketball team celebrate at midcourt after winning the Southern Athletic Association tournament championship. The Vikings became the first No. 8 seed in SAA history to accomplish the feat.

Genesis Leggett Qualifies for Indoor Nationals

Sophomore Genesis Leggett made history in March as Berry’s first NCAA qualifier in track and field. She competed in the weight throw at indoor nationals.

Basketball, equestrian, swimming and diving, track and field, softball, and golf – regardless of the sport, Berry student-athletes can’t get enough of national competition this semester, and more is yet to come!

In the last week alone, Berry has locked up NCAA Division III national tournament invitations – and conference championships – in softball and women’s golf.  The baseball team can join them by winning this weekend’s SAA championship series in the friendly confines of Bowdoin Field. The men’s 4×100 relay team may also get a crack at nationals after blazing to victory at the SAA track and field championships.

Earlier this semester, senior Haley Brown earned honorable mention All-America recognition as one of four national qualifiers from the women’s swimming and diving team. Sophomore Genesis Leggett, meanwhile, became the first Berry track athlete, male or female, to compete nationally in the NCAA era, qualifying for indoor nationals in the weight throw. Not to be outdone, six members of the equestrian team have punched their tickets to nationals in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association.

Fittingly, all of this success got started with a bit of madness – February Madness, in this case – courtesy of the men’s basketball team. After finishing eighth in the regular season, the Vikings made history with three wins in three days to claim Berry’s first conference championship in men’s basketball since 1992. Read more about their magical run in this oral history by student Noah Syverson.

Follow the action in all sports at www.berryvikings.com.

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Collin McHugh pitches in World SeriesCollin McHugh (09c) celebrates after striking out a Los Angeles Dodgers batter in Game 5 of the 2017 World Series. Photo courtesy of the Houston Astros.

Collin McHugh with David Beasley at Berry's Bowdoin Field.

Collin McHugh talks with Berry baseball coach David Beasley during a Jan. 23 workout at Bowdoin Field.

A decade has passed since Collin McHugh (09c) last took the mound for the Berry baseball team, but the Houston Astros pitcher remains a Viking at heart. Recently, the 2017 World Series champion returned to campus and spent the day sharing his experiences and insight with current students.

“I really do love this school,” McHugh said. “I had a great experience here.”

McHugh played three seasons with the Vikings before embarking on a professional career when he was drafted by the New York Mets in 2008. He spent the next six years climbing baseball’s minor-league ladder, making brief major-league stops in New York and Colorado, before finally landing a permanent roster spot with Houston. His journey was chronicled in this 2015 Berry magazine feature.

Since joining the Astros, McHugh has compiled a 48-28 record with 567 strikeouts in 102 regular-season starts. He’s also made four playoff appearances, including two innings of relief duty in Game 5 of the 2017 World Series.

That outing got off to a rocky start – McHugh walked two batters and gave up a three-run homer in his first inning of work – but he finished strong, retiring five of the last six batters he faced. The strikeout he recorded to end his final inning sparked a memorable burst of emotion (pictured above) out of the former Berry standout.

“That was kind of a microcosm of my career,” McHugh said. “So you put yourself into trouble, get knocked around a little bit and then have to figure out a way to get through it.

“When I was able to get that strikeout, I think the emotion of the crowd and the emotion of the moment – the emotion of the whole year – kind of washed over me. It was just a really powerful moment for me in baseball.”

During his Jan. 23 visit to Berry, McHugh spent time with this year’s baseball team and interacted with students taking classes in sports communication and sports administration. Later, during evening remarks in Krannert Center, he stressed the importance of goal setting, hard work and thankfulness. In every interaction, his appreciation for Berry shined through.

“This is where I really cut my teeth on how to play and how to pitch and taking my game to the next level,” he said. “I’ve always had a special place in my heart not just for Coach (David) Beasley but for the whole staff and for the organization and the team here.”

More coverage

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Volleyball CelebrationBerry players and fans celebrate the Vikings’ stunning come-from-behind victory over Covenant College in the second round of the NCAA Division III Atlanta Regional. Photo courtesy of Jack Lewis.

Football Celebration

Senior Antonio White Jr. hoists the SAA championship trophy as Berry celebrates a perfect 10-0 regular season. Photo by student photographer Matt McConnell.

Historic success in volleyball and football provided a spectacular climax to fall semester for Berry’s intercollegiate athletics program. Caitlyn Moriarty (14G) and Tony Kunczewski each earned conference and regional Coach-of-the-Year recognition after leading their respective teams to Southern Athletic Association championships and NCAA Division III national playoff appearances.

Powered by the All-American trio of Hannah Kate Thompson, Carson VanCampen and Emily Hancock, the volleyball Vikings finished a perfect 14-0 in conference play – a first in SAA history – dominated the SAA tournament and advanced to an NCAA Division III regional final, another program first. Their final win total (30) represents a new high for Berry volleyball in the NCAA era.

The football team also claimed perfection in conference play, led by two-time All-American and 2017 D3football.com National Defensive Player of the Year Mamadou Soumahoro and many other All-Conference and All-Region performers. The Vikings defeated Huntingdon College in the first round of the national playoffs before a hard-fought loss to Division III power St. Thomas of Minnesota capped an 11-1 finish, the best in Berry history.

The softball Vikings also swept the SAA last spring, winning regular-season and postseason titles, giving Berry three unbeaten conference champions in 2017.

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Mason Kinsey prepares to catch a touchdown pass late into the fourth quarter of Berry's home opener against LaGrange.Mason Kinsey prepares to catch a touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter of Berry’s home opener against LaGrange. The Vikings won the game 28-14, part of a 14-game winning streak dating back to last October.

Berry volleyball players celebrate their first-ever win over Emory University.

Hannah Billiard (15) and her Berry teammates celebrate during their first-ever win over Emory University.

To say it’s been a splendid fall for Berry’s volleyball and football teams would be something of an understatement. Both have earned national rankings and kindled championship dreams by dominating their peers in the Southern Athletic Association.

The volleyball team made history Oct. 22 as the first SAA program to finish the regular season with a perfect 14-0 record in conference play. Next up is the SAA tournament, to be held Nov. 3-5 in the friendly confines of the Cage Center. A victory in that event will guarantee the Vikings and coach Caitlyn Moriarty (14G) a trip to nationals. SAA tournament website.

The football team has enjoyed similar success, soaring to a best-ever 9-0 start that includes a 7-0 mark in conference play. The Vikings have clinched a share of their second consecutive SAA championship and can win the title outright with a home victory over Trinity (Texas) on Nov. 11. Regardless of the outcome of that game, coach Tony Kunczewski’s team has already assured itself of a first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division III national playoffs. Complete coverage.

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As a student juggling football practice, theatre rehearsals and work in HackBerry Lab, Alec Leeseberg (17C) appreciated the pick-me-up provided by a good cup of coffee. It should come as no surprise then that one of the budding entrepreneur’s early inventions was HoloBrew, a “smart” appliance meant to provide the perfect cup every time.

Leeseberg discovered his passion for designing new electronics through Berry’s innovative creative technologies major. Working and studying in HackBerry Lab, he gained valuable skills in computer programming and 3-D printing that helped unlock his first invention, HoloView, which projected holograms using a smartphone. That product became the centerpiece of an entrepreneurship project and ultimately the basis for his own company.

Those experiences taught him the basics of managing a business and paved the way for subsequent inventions like HoloBrew. They also helped him catch the eye of GoFire, a Colorado-based startup he now serves as technology project manager, and the University of Colorado in Boulder, where he will pursue a master’s degree in creative technology and design.

Leeseberg hopes his work at GoFire and in Colorado’s BTU lab will offer a jolt to his own career prospects more powerful than any double-shot of caffeine, allowing him to take full advantage of the foundation Berry provided.

“Berry and the creative technologies major prepared me for working in this field more than any other program could,” he praised. “It gave me a set of skills and a unique perspective that I find valuable every day.”

Hear more about Leeseberg’s Berry experience in the accompanying admissions video produced while he was a student.

By student writer Katherine Edmonds

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Mamadou Soumahoro returns a fumble for a touchdown against the University of Chicago.

Mamadou Soumahoro returns a fumble for a touchdown against the University of Chicago in this photo by Russell Maddrey (17C).

Berry’s 2017 football season is beginning just as last year’s ended, with individual recognition for outstanding achievement. Linebacker Mamadou Soumahoro has been tapped as a Preseason All-American by D3football.com, while another rising senior, Michael Wenclawiak, is among 146 national nominees for the American Football Coaches Association’s Good Works Team, which honors those who dedicate themselves to volunteerism and enriching the lives of others.

The Vikings, defending Southern Athletic Association champions, begin their fifth season of competition Sept. 2 at Maryville hoping to build on last year’s 9-1 finish. The home schedule is as follows:

Saturday, Sept. 9
LaGrange College
6 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 16
Rhodes College
6 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 23
Centre College
6 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 14
Hendrix College
2 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 11
Trinity University
2 p.m.

Ticket information: Alumni wishing to purchase $6 single-game tickets online may do so at www.berrygameday.com. Free tickets for students, faculty and staff will be available for pickup at the Krannert Center Information Desk the week preceding each home game. Students are eligible for one free ticket per game; faculty/staff receive two. Up to two additional tickets may be purchased at the time of pickup for $5 apiece.

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August 17 Berry Trivia ImageIn our last issue, we asked you to name the 1961 Berry high school alumnus who recently completed his 40th year as a college president. The answer, as our proud high school and academy grads quickly will tell you, is Dr. Jerry C. Davis, who has served as president of Alice Lloyd College (1977-88) and College of the Ozarks (1988-present). This summer, he was honored as the 2017 recipient of the E. Burr Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

The subject of this month’s question (pictured at right) is the Berry record-holder in the 1,500-meter run (3 minutes, 48.20 seconds). Recently, he won a national championship at that same distance in the 50-54 age division of the USA Track and Field Masters Outdoor Championships. For a shout-out in our next issue, tweet the name of this 1987 graduate who has gone on to great success as a teacher and coach at Cartersville (Ga.) High School. Be sure to include the hashtag #berrycollegetrivia.

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