Jan. 9, 2009
Rome, Ga. - There were a lot of smiles seen around the Winthrop-King Center, home to Shorter College's athletic department, during the final days of 2008 - and with good reason.
A national champion, national rankings, All-Americans, conference championships and dozens of post-season honors - Shorter's teams, student-athletes and coaches can look back and see that the 2008 calendar year has put the college on a high plateau of the NAIA ranks.
"We think it was a landmark year for Shorter College athletics," Shorter Athletic Director Bill Peterson said about the long list of accomplishments. "It was a big step for the program."
The first big step in 2008 wound up being the final huge leap in December when the NAIA Football National Championship game was played Barron Stadium, an event that saw Shorter join Rome and Floyd County win the bid to host the event and in less than 12 months turn the game into a sellout.
"Winning the national championship game and being a part of a community effort - you can't put a number on that. It was great being a part of a good thing."
In between the national championship game, however, Shorter's athletic prowess gained even more of the national spotlight with a freshman serving as an example of the type of student-athlete who has worn the school's colors proudly - Montagious Brown.
As a member of Shorter's track and field team, which is in just its third year of existence, Brown became the NAIA National Indoor High Jump champion in March - he was also playing basketball for a Hawks' basketball team that was compiling the second most wins in school history - and two months later earned All-American honors in the same event at the national outdoor meet.
That accomplishment was just the tip of Shorter's athletic iceberg, especially toward the end of the 2007-08 academic year in which the athletic program emerged as the most-improved NAIA member by being ranked No. 21 in the final NAIA Director's Cup list.
Most notable was the achievements recorded by head coach Melanie Carter's Lady Hawks softball team, which in addition to having three All-Americans, winning a conference championship and ending the season ranked No. 7 in the nation, was also the recipient of the NAIA National Character of Champions Award.
Nationally-ranked teams were plentiful in 2008 as seven programs wound up being included in their respective final Top 25 polls. In addition to the softball team, women's golf (No. 9), football (No. 12), men's tennis (No. 14), men's golf (No. 18), women's tennis (No. 18) and men's cross-country (No. 18) posted lofty finishes.
The football team capped the year putting together the best season ever in the history of the four-year-old program when the Hawks collected for the first time a Mid-South Conference Western Division championship and their first appearance in the NAIA Football Championship Series playoffs. Hawks A.J. Cooley and Logan Lollis were named the MSC West Division Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, while head coach Phil Jones was the MSC West Division and the National Football Coaches Association's Div. I Coach of the Year.
Peterson points out that the success is easily traced, starting with the mixture of experience coaches who have positive proven records, with an influx of young and talented coaches.
"There's been a combination of good things that have happened," Peterson said, "but it all starts at the top thanks to our president, Dr. Harold Newman, and the support of our Board of Trustees and Dr. Nelson Price.
"Our student-athletes have bought into the mission, a Christian mission, of what Shorter is doing," he said. "We want to be the very best."
2008 SHORTER COLLEGE ATHLETIC ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Baseball (16-33, 5-22) - One SSAC Player of the Week (Gandia); two NAIA Scholar-Athletes (Lewis, Murphy); nine conference All-Academic (Bowers, Broome, Erichsen, Hornback, Lewis, Miller, Morris, Murphy, Raiden); two wins over National Championship runner-up and No. 2 Lee University
Men's Basketball (19-12, 9-9) - Received votes in final NAIA poll; advanced to SSAC Tournament at Lee and advanced to semi-finals with win over Berry; one NAIA All-American Third Team (Pranciliauskas); two All-Conference selections (Pranciliauskas, Wilson) and one All-Freshmen selection (Brown); one SSAC Player of the Week (Pranciliauskas); one NAIA Scholar-Athlete (Savage); three conference All-Academic (Johnson, Savage, Walker)
Women's Basketball (20-11, 13-7) - Advanced to SSAC Tournament at Lee; one NAIA All-American Honorable Mention (Martinovic); SSAC Newcomer of the Year (Martinovic); two All-Conference selections (Kostandinovic, Martinovic) and one All-Freshmen selection (Queen); one SSAC Player of the Week (Martinovic); three conference All-Academic (Abrams, Kilgore, Tucker)
Men's Cross Country - #18 in final NAIA poll; 13th at NAIA Nationals; Placed 1st in Region XIII and SSAC Tournament; Region XIII and SSAC Coach of the Year (Stephenson); Region XIII and SSAC Runner of the Year (Hernandez); one All-American selection (Jared Carson); five All-Region selections (Jared Carson, Josh Carson, Hernandez, Rich, Wakaba); five All-Conference selections (Jared Carson, Josh Carson, Hernandez, Rich, Wakaba); one conference All-Academic (O'Neal)
Women's Cross Country - Placed 2nd in Region XIII and SSAC Tournament; athlete Mudy finished 3rd (All-American) at Nationals and 1st in Region XIII and SSAC; two All-Region selection (Mudy, Massey); two All-Conference selection (Mudy, Massey); four conference All-Academic (Holmes, Murphy, Pike, Shaw)
Football (9-3, 4-1) - #12 in final NAIA poll; Champions of Mid-South Conference Western Division; Advanced to playoffs for first time ever with first round game against Cumberlands (Ky.); Mid-South West Offensive Player of the Year (Cooley); Mid-South West Defensive Player of the Year (Lollis); NFCA Division 1 and Mid-South West Coach of the Year (Jones); 16 All-Conference selections; One NAIA National Player of the Week (Cooley); Two Mid-South Players of the Week (Cooley, Lollis); 22 conference All-Academic; Seven NAIA Scholar-Athletes
Men's Golf - #T17 in final NAIA poll; 22nd at NAIA Nationals; 3rd in Region XIII and SSAC tournament; two NAIA All-Americans Third Team (Lantz, Van Eck); one All-Conference selection (Van Eck)
Women's Golf - #9 in final NAIA poll; 14th at NAIA Nationals; 2nd in Region XIII and SSAC tournament; one NAIA All-American First Team (Vargas); Region low-medalist (Vargas)
Men's Soccer (9-8-2, 7-1-1) - SSAC Regular Season Conference Champions; advanced to semifinals of SSAC tournament; took first ever program wins over Berry, Lee, AUM and Southern Polytechnic; one NAIA All-American Honorable Mention (Whitnell); five All-Conference selections (Whitnell, Timberlake, Stihler, O'Garro Dickerson); SSAC Coach of the Year (Severns); seven conference All-Academic; one NAIA Scholar-Athlete (Timberlake)
Women's Soccer (9-9-1, 6-3-1) - 4th in SSAC; advanced to semifinals of conference tournament; one All-Conference first team selections (Van Der Henst); seven conference All-Academic; four NAIA Scholar Athletes (Barnes, Glenfield, Hoskinson, Locklear)
Softball (50-14, 23-5) - #7 in final NAIA poll; Tied for 17th at NAIA Nationals; Winner of National Champions of Character Award; 2nd in Region XIII and 1st in SSAC; SSAC Freshman of the Year (Munson); three NAIA All-Americans (1st team - Munson, 2nd team - Hammond, honorable mention - Sanders); eight All-Conference selections (1st team - Munson, Bruno, Hammond, Newton, Sanders, Thomas, 2nd team - McDaniel, Milford), four All-Freshmen selections (Albertson, Munson, Najafi, West; one NAIA National Player of the Week (Newton); seven SSAC Players of the Week (Hammond, Munson - 3, Newton, Sanders, Thomas); four conference All-Academic (Clark, Hammond, McDaniel, Thomas); one NAIA Scholar-Athletes (Hammond)
Men's Tennis (14-7, 3-1) - #14 in final NAIA poll; advanced to NAIA Nationals and won first round match; 2nd in Region XIII and 4th in SSAC
Women's Tennis (12-8, 4-3) - #18 in final NAIA poll; 4th in Region XIII and in SSAC; upset 10th-ranked Brenau in region tournament
Men's Track & Field - National Indoor High Jump Champion (Brown); tied for 20th at NAIA Indoor National Championship; 10th at NAIA Outdoor National Championship; 1st in Mid-South Conference Outdoor Championship; five NAIA Outdoor All-Americans (Brown, Charpentier, Dodson, Kennedy, Scott); four conference All-Academic (Charpentier, John, O'Neal, Burgess)
Women's Track & Field - Tied for 22nd at NAIA Indoor National Championship; 15th at NAIA Outdoor National Championship; 2nd in Mid-South Conference Outdoor Championship; two NAIA Indoor All-Americans (Cousin, Dupree); two NAIA Outdoor All-Americans (Cousin, Dupree); two conference All-Academic (Brush, Murphy)
Volleyball (20-18, 9-7) - 3rd in SSAC; advanced to finals of conference tournament (runner-up); SSAC Setter of the Year (Walker); Three All-Conference selections (1st team - Runion, Walker, 2nd team - Rollins); two SSAC All-Tournament team (Runion, Stewartson); one SSAC Players of the Week (Runion); six conference All-Academic (Cahill, Colvard, Parker, Stewartson, Van Hofwegen, Walker)