Category Archives: sports

Women’s basketball GA Grisillo earns promotion to assistant coach

By Harrison Taylor, Staff Writer

What do you do when the thing you love the most is suddenly out of your reach? Do you give up? Or do you find another way to channel that love in a different way?

Most athletes who tear their ACL probably wouldn’t go the route that Katelyn Grisillo, Wingate’s new women’s assistant basketball coach, decided to go.

katelyn-grisillo

Grisillo, a graduate assistant coach here for the past two years, recently earned a promotion to the full-time staff after assistant coach Celeste Stewart left to take a new job at East Carolina University.

As she comes in to tell me about the career she had before coming to Wingate, Grisillo beams with level-headed energy with a positive, headstrong attitude pressing on the front of her words. She apologizes for being late, as she’s been out all day preparing for the camp her team is about to endure, and apparently, I’m lucky I caught her before it started.

Grisillo quickly goes through a decade and a half worth of athletic history with me; starting to play when she was a young in Charleston, S.C., her transfer to USC-Aiken, and her eventual ACL tear during her junior year that changed things for her.

“You know, two years on the bench…it kind of gave me a different perspective. I wanted to know the ins and outs of what we were doing. And honestly what brings me back is the relationships…those coaches and the relationships, they formed with me, they still valued me as a person,” Grisillo says, speaking passionately of her experiences that led her to pursue coaching as a potential career path.

In addition to loving the game of basketball, Grisillo loves to play racquetball, has a dog named Jessie (a retriever/husky mix), and clearly has a strong connection with her players, as one walks in to get a room key from her while she continues to explain her love for the game.

Grisillo was a graduate assistant coach and a student in Wingate’s Master’s in Sports Management program before getting hired. She’s worked with the team and Coach Ann Hancock as they won two South Atlantic Conference championships.

“We’ve done pretty well…we would all like to see us get a step further. We made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament two years in a row…we need to get across that hump and get that Elite Eight appearance. That would be a nice place to get to,” she says. 

The topic of winning and getting further as a team brings a new side out of her as she speaks, looking annoyed by having to even mention that a school like Carson-Newman made it further than they did in the NCAA tournament.

“They made it this year and they’re out of our conference. It would be nice if we could be the one to make it out of the SAC.”

But, she reiterates that winning isn’t just about games.

“I think that enhancing our winning culture that we want to create is important. Not just winning games, not just having a fantastic record, but, doing things that winners do…going the extra mile on the court, in the classroom, as people. Coach Hancock teaches a lot of life lessons. [She says]‘Be a giver, not a taker.’”

From turning an injury into a new perspective, and then into a new career, Grisillo has come a long way from playing as a kid in Charleston, and she plans to continue driving those messages of perseverance into her team.

“Whatever we can do to instill those principles in the girls, that matters more than making it past the second round,” Grisillo finishes, before speaking more on the chemistry she and Coach Hancock have and the enjoyment she gets working with her.

Grisillo leaves quickly, seemingly preparing for the camp she’s about to go through with her girls. It’s clear her energy is welcome on the court, and her love for the game is still thriving through the “winning culture” she and Hancock are making sure the team is prescribed to.

Bench-Warmers Without a Bench: N.C. Should Fund All K-12 Sports

By Harrison Taylor, Staff Writer

Every day between the hours of seven and nine, my 16-year-old brother practices his extra craft: playing varsity football for his school. He plays because he loves the sport. The activity provides him structure, balance, and, most importantly, something to do.

I can remember when he first started playing when he was in fifth grade. A nosy family member asked one day after his practice, “Why do you spend all this time on this? What’s the point?”

Another relative replied, “Well, you must start somewhere.”

While his school, Cuthbertson High School, has dozens of sports and activities, another school in the same county, Monroe High School (A school located in a poorer part of the county), doesn’t even have a baseball field. Students who play must share a field with another school nearby.

While sports at Monroe are bound and plentiful, some may be cancelled due to no adult volunteer to coach the team. Compared with other schools in the area, Monroe has an average of 25 percent less athletic opportunities than the top three schools in Union County.

The lack of funding schools like Monroe receive for athletics and extracurriculars is no secret. According to Union County Public School’s 2017 Individual School Financial Statements, Cuthbertson had a receipt of $212,944 for their athletic programs, while Monroe had a significantly less receipt of $159,286 for their programs.

When a school has less funding for sports, what happens to kids in places like Monroe? Students are left without equipment, volunteers, and without an activity. Activities can be essential in an adolescent or child’s development and can even predict whether that child is going to graduate high school or go to college.

This point is discussed heavily in Robert Putnam’s book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis. Putnam’s research points to the impact sports and activities have for developing social skills, a child’s community involvement, and even their future economic success.

Putnam argues that important adult mentors from outside a child’s family come directly from sports, as these ‘have nots’–which Putnam defines as kids who come from lower income areas that struggle with providing extracurriculars–can be excluded from experiences that kids at more wealthy schools are given on an almost daily basis.

My brother gets to play football just by participating in a local fundraiser and paying for his jersey. This may not be the same for the students at Monroe High School. What are the consequences of such experiences for these students? When a kid wants to play lacrosse and is simply told, “We don’t have a coach or the money.”

A few weeks ago, teachers from around the state of North Carolina gathered in Raleigh to demand more funding for education. Last week, Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the state budget due to small proposed increases education saw in this budget. Just two days ago, the NC General Assembly voted to override his veto as the new budget passed.

But, there is still time to talk about what goes into a future state budget. Just as teachers have become fed up with being underpaid and underappreciated, perhaps this is an opportunity to look at those who have been underfunded and overlooked.

Our state budget shouldn’t just increase teacher pay and funding for their curriculum. The budget should go beyond the classroom and allow the kids who want to play to do so.

This would increase graduation rates, get kids in poor areas off the streets, and allow talented student athletes to shine regardless of their location. Putnam’s ‘have nots’ can have a lot if we choose to help them.

The kids in Monroe deserve a fighting chance. North Carolina should fund all K-12 sports for the same reason they should buy more textbooks: You must start somewhere.

Edited by: Rachael Robinson

Wingate athlete compares Division I, Division II experiences

By Emarius Logan, Staff Writer 

Every high school basketball player dreams of playing basketball at the highest collegiate level when they graduate. The goal for many is to get that big-time Division I offer to play at the next level.

I’ve had the opportunity to play at both the Division I and the Division II level. I played at Division I Appalachian State University in Boone for two years before deciding to transfer and finish up at Wingate.

There are some major differences, two being in the financial benefits and the off-season program.

Basketball programs at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level of Division I benefit tremendously from their school’s participation at that level. Schools at the Division I level offer 13 full basketball scholarships while at the Division II level they offer only 10 full scholarships.

At App State you were allowed to get refund checks back from your financial aid as well as to receive a cost-of-attendance stipend from the athletic department. App State is in a lower-level FBS conference (Sun Belt), so the stipend was not as large as at some bigger programs. You could receive anywhere from $3,500 to $9,500 for the year depending on your financial aid refund.

Any financial aid received at Wingate is applied to tuition, room and board so the only way to get a cash refund is to take out a student loan.

The other major difference is in the rules as they relate to offseason workouts and practice. Division I schools are allowed six full-time assistant coaches as compared to two at the Division II level. So off-season as well as in-season workouts are more intense and in-depth due to the more limited individual contact with a coach.

At App State, players could work out six hours a week with a coach — two hours of individual workouts, two hours of team practice and two hours of weight training. At Wingate, you’re not allowed to work out with coaches at all during the off-season, including summer.

All your development as a player during that time has to come on your own, because the rules don’t allow this to happen.

Emarius Logan will be a senior on the Wingate University men’s basketball team during the 2018-19 season. He is from Columbia, S.C. 

 

 

 

McDonald wins SAC Player of the Year Award, cherishes season

Shane Rich, Staff Writer

For the first time in her time at Wingate as a golfer, Diana McDonald has been awarded the SAC Player of the Year Award for Women’s Golf. McDonald, along with the rest of the women’s golf team, has had much success throughout the course of the year, as they just finished winning the SAC Tournament with a 26 stroke victory over Queens University.

“I have definitely learned a lot this whole year about my golf game and became a more mature player from my freshman year last year. I kicked it off very well last season with our first tournament which I came 2nd and shot 73-68. I think with that starting I was able to take that with my other tournaments” McDonald said.

The SAC Player of the Year also had some comments concerning advice for younger golfers as well as who she has to thank for her success.

McDonald said,“We have two freshman this year and they are very great players. With their ability on the golf course I feel that they can do great things in the future. My best advice for them is to do themselves and just do what they do best!”

“My family has always been there for me from the beginning and always have supported me and sacrificed so much for me. I thank them so much. I would also like to thank my wonderful team for having a great year and for working hard out on the golf course and for always being supportive. Finally, I would like to thank my coach from back home in Canada who has helped me a lot in my golf game.” McDonald said.

McDonald had much to say about what made the SAC Player of the Year award so special, and she also capped everything off by telling what her favorite moment was this year.

“My favorite moment of the year is going to tournaments with the team. But we held our home tournament in South Carolina and everybody on the team went and I had fun with them. Also, some of our supporters came to watch us during the tournament and we got to have dinner at our coach’s parents’ condo one night, and we walked on the beach and played with the younger kids. It was just a great time.” McDonald said.

As they look forward after McDonald’s year for the record books, the women’s golf team hopes to continue their success throughout next season.

Edited by Brendan Shriver

Photo Credits to Wingate University Sports Information

Football to host seven home games this fall

Crystal Fuller, Staff Writer

Wingate University Athletics Director Steve Poston and Head Football Coach Joe Reich announced the 2018 Wingate Football schedule in March. For the first time since 2002, Wingate University’s football team will have the upperhand of playing seven home games.

Coach Reich explained how the Bulldogs got lucky, “When we look for games sometimes we take what we can get. Last year we had a bye week but we also played the first two games on the road so we only had four home games in the regular season. When the scheduled flipped we immediately had six home games,” said Reich.

Coach Reich also said that,“Florida Tech really needed a game and was willing to come up here and play us at home so that’s how we got to seven. Florida Tech is a top quality out-of-conference opponent who will be a great new challenge. We know UNC Pembroke will be tough as well.”

The Bulldogs have played six home games on eight occasions, the most recent being in 2016. The Bulldogs will play a senior college school-record seven home games, beginning with a Thursday, August 30 contest versus local rival Johnson C. Smith at Irwin Belk Stadium and John R. Martin Field (7 p.m. start time).

“We are looking forward to opening on a Thursday night,” said Reich. “This will be a nice change up…having seven home games will be a good thing for us as well.”

Wingate will see many benefits from the seven home games and has many plans in store. The Bulldogs will host their annual special events throughout the 2018 home schedule including Church Youth Day, Patriots’ Day and Tailgating for the Troops. These events will influence larger crowds just as last year when the Bulldogs sold-out the first night game to ever be hosted by Wingate.

“The best thing about having seven home games would be that we wouldn’t have to travel as much plus it will be more fun for the school,” said Domineke McNeill, a sophomore running back. “Hearing the crowd pushes us more to be more physical and make more plays but for the other team they tend to get scared and fold.”

General admission season tickets range from $40 for adults and $20 for non-Wingate students. Single game tickets are $12 for adult and $8 for non-Wingate students. For more ticket or schedule information go to www.wingatebulldogs.com. We hope you join us this year as we continue to make history!

Edited by Brendan Shriver

Wingate Men’s Golf finish season 3rd in SAC Tournament; Women win conference, moving on to NCAA’s

Kyle Brodt, Staff Writer

Both Wingate Golf teams had strong showings this year at the SAC Tournament with the women taking the title and the men finishing third in the competition. The women’s championships, hosted by Newberry at Member’s Club at Woodcreek, was a runaway with the Bulldogs winning by a whopping 26 strokes. They were led by sophomore Mind Puangcharoen, who won the individual title with her 54-hole total of 232, edging out Queens junior Cameryn Smith by just one stroke.

Coach Erin Thorne said the team, “Couldn’t be happier,” for Puangcharoen, who also grabbed her first career collegiate win at the championships. Laura Nunez Rodriguez and Diana McDonald also had strong performances, finishing tied for fourth with each other and giving Wingate three golfers on the All-Tournament first team. The women will travel to Germantown, TN for the NCAA Division II Championships hosted by Christian Brothers University at Germantown Country Club.

The men improved on a disappointing tenth place finish last season, finishing in third and putting three golfers in the Top 15 of the individual rankings. The Bulldogs finished with a total of 891 at Cobb’s Glen Country Club in Anderson, SC, 13 strokes short of champion Carson-Newman, and were unable to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Coach John Hackney, in his first year at the helm, expressed the disappointment that the team felt after the finish, “We were disappointed not to win, obviously, because we knew that’s what we needed to get to the tournament.”

The team was led by fifth place finisher Charles Joubert, who tallied an even-par 216 for the three days and made the All-Tournament First Team. The Bulldogs had a one-shot lead heading into the back nine on Tuesday, but played holes 11-14 at eight over par and could not recover. Coach Hackney believes the team will use this experience and improve coming next season. “We will be even better next year and be ready to make a postseason appearance.”

Edited by Brendan Shriver

Surging Bulldogs host men’s lacrosse SAC semifinal vs. LMU this afternoon

Ryan Mackintosh, Staff Writer 

The Wingate Bulldogs men’s lacrosse team is hoping to take advantage of some home field advantage throughout the South Atlantic Conference tournament here at Graham Gill Field this weekend.

The Bulldogs, 9-5 overall and 7-1 in the SAC,  are hosting the Final Four of the  Tournament this weekend. Wingate had a bye round in the quarterfinals by earning the No. 2 seed in the conference.

The team has caught fire at the right moment, winning five straight heading into the tournament, the most recent win coming in a close battle on Saturday, a 10-9 home victory over Queens, which is the tournament’s top seed.

Wingate plays No. 3 seed Lincoln Memorial University (14-3)  today at 1:30 p.m., a rematch which had the Bulldogs winning 11-10 on March 31.

“Everybody is ready and excited to play LMU again and I think we have a pretty good chance of going to the championship,” said senior Marc James.

Junior Christian Hall added, “We just don’t want the year to end.”

The Wingate-LMU winner will play the winner of the semifinal game between Queens and  No. 4 Lenoir-Rhyne for the championship on Sunday.