Category Archives: sports

Wingate swimmers dive into the Special Olympics

By Madison Mataxas, Staff Writer

The swimmers of the Wingate University swim team are well-versed when it comes to their successes and achievements in and out of the pool; and, this does not stop when it comes to any chances the team has to give back to the surrounding Union County community. One way the team works with members of the community includes the Special Olympics program started in 2010 and hosted in the university’s natatorium every April.

The Special Olympics program gives those with disabilities a chance to have fun with others, get more comfortable with being in the pool with an experienced swimmer, as well as showing their competitive sides in various swimming events. The program is put together and managed by two Wingate juniors on the team. This year, those people are Henry O’Brien (Ocala, F.L.)  and Corinne Mahoney (Bayville, N.J.). They not only set up the program but also pair swimmers with a “buddy” whom they will be spending an hour in the pool with every Wednesday for the entire month of April.

According to one of the program directors, Henry O’Brien, “The Special Olympics program here…affords those individuals who suffer from mental and/or physical handicaps the ability to practice and participate in a sport of their choosing in a safe, monitored environment. It promotes a sense of community and allows for them to practice social skills that they may not otherwise have the opportunity to use.”

This is O’Brien’s third year working with the program. His first year, as a freshman, he was a volunteer that worked in the water with the participants. His sophomore year he was given the opportunity to mentor under the previous instructors so that he would be able to learn how to run the program for his next, and current, year.

After being able to mentor under the previous directors, O’Brien says “This allowed me to see the program from a new light, and really helped me to appreciate it for the impact that it has and the amount of coordination it takes to make it all happen.” He explains that participants are recruited for the program from schools in the area, assisted living facilities for those with mental and physical disabilities, as well as getting the information around by word of mouth from caretakers or previous participants.

  

Senior Wingate swimmer, Lizzie McDevitt (Roswell, G.A.), has been a volunteer every year that she has been at the university and says it has impacted her life for the better. McDevitt says that her first year her buddy’s name was Scott and even though they would only walk back and forth in the shallow end, she loved their talks and the friendship that was created. She goes on to say that “…my sophomore year…I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to help out again. My new buddy, Ronnie, was very outgoing and showed me again why I should continue to be involved with this amazing program. Seeing everyone’s smiles throughout the years has made the experience so impactful.”

Both Lizzie McDevitt and Henry O’Brien enjoy the times they have while helping out and encourage other swimmers to volunteer as well. However, this year marks Lizzie’s last year of participation, and although she is sad, she says that she cannot wait to see new participants as well as some familiar faces. Through the Special Olympics program, swimmers can learn as much from their buddy as their buddy can from them, and it is a great way to become a part of the surrounding communities.

Edited by: Rachael Robinson

Ultimate Frisbee Club starting out strong

Ashley Garcia, Sports Writer

At Wingate University there are many different clubs around campus. One of those clubs is the Ultimate Frisbee Club.

The club has two different teams: men and coed. The men’s team competes in USA-Ultimate tournaments in the D-III division, while the co-ed team plays against different schools in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

The club allows students who are both experienced and inexperienced to play on the teams.

In ultimate frisbee, there are two teams of seven. Each team has their own endzone and the defense team pulls, or throws, the disc to the other end. The offense then starts throwing to their teammates to try to score in the defense’s endzone.

Ultimate Frisbee is a no-contact game, but blocking is allowed. The team with the most points wins the game.

On March 23 and 24, the club split into two teams, A and B, and participated in a tournament on campus against teams from Western Carolina University, Mars Hill University, Guilford College, North Greenville University, Campbell University, and a pick-up team.

Wingate’s A Team lost the championship game against North Greenville University 13-11. NGU won a gold spray-painted bottle as their trophy.

The club practiced a lot to prepare for this tournament by having practice twice a week.

“For practice, I had us run drills to work on our throwing and cutting,” said sophomore Kaleb Howarth. “We played a lot of pickup games… we stopped at points to teach certain aspects of the games.”

The players from Team B knew that the tournament would be a challenge since their strongest players were on Team A.  However, this did not stop the team because each player had their own set of skills to bring to the tournament.

Some of the other players really wanted to do well at the home tournament, so they practiced even more than just meeting twice a week.

Freshman Matilda Silvestri said, “The team I was on wanted to do well in the tournament, so we had an extra practice outside of the already two existing for the week.”

Her team met a fourth time the week of the tournament, and had a classroom day where they watched film and looked at different offensive and defensive strategies. While Wingate did not win the tournament, some of the players reflected positively on the game.

“I enjoyed the tournament a lot, mainly how competitive it was,” freshman Isaiah Morales said. “I enjoyed being able to play a competitive sport with friendly people that all came just for the love of the game. I also liked that it was well organized and not too time consuming.”

The teams lived up to the expectations in terms of improving their skills and cohesion. “We had a really fun weekend!” Silvestri said.

Edited by Brendan Shriver

Wingate Rugby Club looking ahead to second game

Ashley Garcia, Sports Writer

Wingate University’s Rugby Football Club was founded in 2008 and is a member of the Southern Rugby Conference. It is also a USA Rugby Division II Collegiate Conference in the North and South Carolina region.

With the team coming in second place at the last tournament against Wake Forest, Campbell and UNC-Pembroke, the players on the team have some positive thoughts about how the season should go.

“I think the season will go pretty well because we have a lot of new people and everyone is picking up the game well,” sophomore Tyrese Dolberry said.

Many may not be familiar with the game of Rugby, but it isn’t difficult to understand. In fact, it’s very similar to the game of football.

The goal of the game is to score more points than the opponent. The game lasts for 14 minutes for each match. The team with the most points is the winner but games can end in a draw.

Every time you make a try, also known as a touchdown, you get six points. And a field goal is worth one point, just like football. This also includes kicking an extra point after scoring a try.

“There are seven people on each team,” said junior Malcolm Nelson. “The goal of the game is to pass the ball laterally, and the only way you can pass the ball forward is by kicking it. When going into the end zone, you have to touch it down with two hands because that confirms the score of a try.”

Wherever the ball is placed in the end zone is where you have to kick it to earn the extra points.

The players all said that as long as they keep practicing and making an effort to do better they can come on top, and maybe even become conference champs.

Freshman Josh McMillon said, “I love playing the game, and showing up to the practice and getting better overall.”

The next tournament that Wingate will be playing is at Elon University on Saturday, March 16.

Edited by Brendan Shriver

Former football player reflects on time at Wingate, looks forward to future

Alex Virgilio, Sports Writer

Former Wingate University wide receiver Jaiquis Tyheem Stokes, more commonly known as JT Stokes, is willing to tell  about his past football career and hopeful future.

Stokes is planning on graduating at the end of this semester with a major in psychology and a double minor in communications and sports management. He is not only a student athlete, but a God-fearing man.

“It’s kind of a cliche, but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Stokes says, when talking about where he gets motivation to be the best that he can be.

Stokes started his football career at the young age of five years old. His father, Tim Stokes, served as his “role model” as he played professional football for a few years in Europe and in the U.S. in the Arena Football League. Stokes says he used to watch his father play in the Arena Football League and that pushed Stokes to one day play professional football.

However, Stokes was not always the star wide receiver that the Bulldog community knows and loves; he actually started his career as a running back. Stokes made the transition from running back to wide receiver his freshman year of high school, but never forgot the skills he learned from his young career as a running back as he rushed for 186 career yards and 2 touchdowns for the Bulldogs. Stokes, who added 1,310 career receiving yards and 10 touchdowns, credits his two wide receiver coaches, Ross Jenkins and Nathan Poole.

Jenkins, an ex-college quarterback at Louisiana Tech, was an offensive coordinator who coached wide receivers (at Wingate), according to Stokes. “Coach Jenkins is the one who brought me here (to Wingate). He taught me a lot about offensive schemes.”  

Poole, a former NFL wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals from 2002-2004 and the New Orleans Saints in 2005, only coached Stokes for one year but taught him the art and the technique of playing Wide Receiver. Stokes, who was on his way to a record breaking year, had his senior season cut short due to injury at Limestone early in the first half. He suffered an ACL tear in his left knee, and did not return for the remaining three games.

Although Stokes did not compete in the last three games of his senior season, he is determined to not let this injury will not keep him from continuing his football career.

“It taught me to keep my faith. God sometimes tests our faith to see if we can handle the blessings,”said Stokes.

Stokes is in active conversation with potential agents and football leagues such as the Alliance of American Football League who believe that despite this setback, Stokes can make it to the next level.

Edited by Brendan Shriver

Wingate Baseball begins season on a positive note

Ashley Garcia, Sports Writer

The Wingate Bulldogs began their baseball season at home with a 12-3 and 3-2 win in a doubleheader against the University of West Georgia Wolves. The next day, the Bulldogs beat the Wolves again with a score of 8-5.

In the fourth and fifth innings of the first game, seniors Andrew Llewellyn and Tanner Forry both hit a home run. In the third game, Forry hit another home run.

“I thought we pitched it very well today, and that was the big part we did today,” said Wingate Head Coach Jeff Gregory. “Obviously in the first game, we swung it really well and in the second game I thought our guys did a great job with the pitching.”

Pitcher Austin Turgeon played six innings with eight strikeouts in the first game and David Nash pitched for the first five innings in the third game.“Even though I made some mistakes, our team was still able to score some runs,” Turgeon said.

But it was the freshman that really stepped up in the three games.

Junior McCann Mellett said, “I thought personally that a lot of freshmen would help us out this year, and I knew they would in the first weekend. And I’m very pleased that they did.”

After practicing since the beginning of August and winning three games on opening weekend, the team was very happy and proud of how the games turned out.

“It felt good to get out here and play somebody else. It felt good to get out on to the plate,” shortstop Reece Daniel said.

With their record being 3-0, the team expects the season to be very successful, but also be able to fix mistakes along the way.

“With this group that we have together this year, I’m expecting this season to be really successful. Even though we won our first three games, we still have a lot to clean up and to get better,” said David Nash.

The Bulldogs will return home to play a three-game series against Erskine College on Feb. 14 and 15, with two games on the 15th.

Edited by Brendan Shriver

Wingate wins 6th straight by beating Tusculum on Senior Day; advances to playoffs

Brendan Shriver, Staff Writer

Wingate built a 16-0 halftime lead and held on for a 16-12 victory over visiting Tusculum on Nov. 10. With its sixth-straight victory, Wingate (8-3 overall, 5-2 SAC) clinches second place in the final SAC regular-season standings.

Wingate senior defensive back Cameron Mattison celebrated Senior Day in style with a 44-yard interception return for a TD while freshman running back Nijere Peoples carried the ball 25 times for 82 yards to finish his first season with 994 rushing yards.

“We are very proud of our seniors and the great leadership they provided all year. The defense came up big all game. The 10 points off turnovers were the difference,” Wingate Head Football Coach Joe Reich says.

It was a dominating effort for the Wingate defensive unit. They recorded seven sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss, forced six fumbles and recovered one of them.

The leader of the defense that night was Cardell Rawlings. He had 8 tackles, 2.5 sacks and forced a fumble.

Offensively, the Bulldogs did just enough to win. Wingate had no turnovers and scored a touchdown and a field goal in their two trips to the red zone.

To start the game, freshman Ra’Quan Simmons returned the kickoff 51 yards. His return set up Wingate’s only offensive touchdown, a 17-yard strike from Shaw Crocker to Mason Flynt.

Following Mattison’s pick-six, Tusculum fumbled on their next possession. Wingate took advantage of the miscue, as redshirt freshman placekicker McLean Robertson nailed a 38-yard field goal to conclude the first half scoring, giving the Bulldogs a 16-0 lead at halftime.

In a scoreless third quarter, Tusculum missed two field goals attempts, one of which was blocked by Robbie Wallace from 24 yards out with 1:36 left in the frame. Finally, Tusculum scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to avoid the shutout.

With the win, Wingate advances to the NCAA Division II football playoffs this Saturday. They will play on the road against West Georgia at 12 noon.

Edited by Brendan Shriver

Bulldogs win big over Mars Hill on Homecoming

Brendan Shriver, Staff Writer

The Wingate University Bulldogs scored the fourth-most points in program history on Oct. 20, racing out to a 44-14 halftime lead en route to a 58-21 victory over visiting Mars Hill University in front of a capacity crowd on Homecoming weekend at Irwin Belk Stadium in South Atlantic Conference football action. Wingate wins its third straight, improving to 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the SAC.

“It was a very physical, aggressive game for us. We did a really nice job of getting after them physically,” Wingate Head Football Coach Joe Reich says.

As a team, Wingate piled up a season-high 534 yards, including 284 on the ground, collected 5 turnovers and scored 7 touchdowns in as many trips to the red zone.

Quarterback Shaw Crocker and running back Nijere Peoples led the Bulldog offense. Crocker was 13-for-15 for 223 yards and 2 TDs and ran for a TD in the second half. Peoples had career highs of 33 carries, 166 yards and 2 TDs.

Cardell Rawlings and Joe Kelly led the Wingate defensive unit. Rawlings had 9 tackles while Kelly registered 8 tackles.

Despite the lopsidedness of the score, Wingate trailed only 7-0. But it only took 4 plays for the Bulldogs to tie it up and after a bad snap on a punt that resulted in a safety by Floyd Louallen to make it 9-7 Bulldogs, Wingate was off and running with quick drives from that point forward.

Wingate returns home for Senior Day against the Tusculum Pioneers on Saturday, Nov. 10 after two straight weeks on the road at Newberry and Limestone, respectively.

Edited by Brendan Shriver