Athletes prepare for upcoming seasons, strive towards success

As the school year begins, several athletic teams across campus are already in preparation for their competitive seasons.
Men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, and volleyball have all begun preseason training.
The men’s soccer team brings a wealth of experience onto the pitch this fall. Led by Atlantic Sun Conference first team member Josh Shutter and second team member Joey Heavner, the bears look to improve upon last year’s Atlantic Sun semi-final performance.
From his center-back position, Shutter was able to amass an impressive three goals and four assists, while Heavner was credited for one goal and seven assists. Shutter was also named to the preseason All-Conference team.
Last year’s leading goal scorers junior Ehjay Henry and senior captain Will Betts will look to have yet another impressive season on the field. Last year, Henry and Betts both tallied five goals apiece to pace the bears towards a successful season.
With eleven freshmen added to the squad the bears should be all set to have another successful season. The bears were predicted to finish fourth in the Atlantic Sun conference.
Head women’s coach, Tony Economopoulos, enters his first year as head coach for the bears. Economopoulos and the women’s soccer team looks to improve upon last year’s impressive run that saw them in the Atlantic Sun Tournament Finals.
Unfortunately, the bears came up short in that final, but the bitterness of last year’s defeat is sure to be fresh in their minds. Junior Nikki Atkinson, who had a stellar sophomore season in goal for the bears, is set to be the net minder for the bears again this year. Atkinson boasted a 0.74 goals against average while amassing an incredible .806 goals against average.
Also leading the bears is senior captain P.A Upson. Upson had an incredible season in the back line for the bears last year. Upson was one of the few people to play in all 20 matches for the bears last year, and was able to score two goals as well as tally two assists.
Also returning is sophomore Washida Blackman, who tallied four goals in her freshman year.
Women’s volleyball is also working to improve upon last year’s performance under former head coach Noelle Rooke. In the winter, Rooke was replaced by current head coach Damian Elder. Elder began making improvements to his squad last spring during the Sand Volleyball season, and is continuing to push his players to become better all around the court.
Leading attacker for the bears last year was senior Jennifer Katona. Katona was able to knock down 255 kills last year.
Also returning for the bears is senior setter, Monica Sanchez. Sanchez was able to dish out 504 assists last year, and looks to continue to be the playmaker for the bears this fall.
Men’s and women’s cross country is looking to have another impressive year. The men’s team is led by Junior Sony Prosper and Seniors Jacob Law and Chris Svidesskis.
The women’s team’s front runner is Kacie Niemann. Both squads look to steadily improve throughout the year to make a run at a conference title.
This fall should be an interesting one for the bears with several head coach changes within the athletic department. Despite the new personnel, each team is expected to have a positive and successful season.