On Athletics: A Proud and Growing Tradition

In our second year as a university, one of the exciting developments at Middle Georgia State is the expansion of our Athletic Programs. This semester, we added two new teams to our roster of student athletes—Women’s Volleyball and Women’s Cross Country, which will start its season this Saturday, September 10, at GCSU’s Bobcat Invitational in Milledgeville.

Volleyball season kicked off on August 23rd with our first home game—and first win—in the newly renovated gymnasium at the Community Education Center on the Macon Campus. The team went on to capture its first tournament win on August 27th and, as the program develops and the season continues, the Lady Knights are holding on to an overall winning record (5-4). Want to catch them in action? The next Volleyball home game is at 7pm on September 16th in Macon.

Our two newest teams join a proud and growing tradition at Middle Georgia State, as we enter our third season in the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) of the four-year National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Meanwhile, our defending national champions in Club Football are seeded first in the rankings released by the National Club Football Association (NCFA) last week.

Our teams are not just growing—they are made up of true scholar athletes.  Nearly one in five of our athletes received NAIA academic awards last year. Some of the most compelling examples of success on and off the field are among our Soccer teams.

Our Women’s Soccer team came back strong in a victory over Point University last night, bringing their record to 2-2, after a tough loss to Georgia Gwinnett on Labor Day. Helping to lead that charge was Sam Silva, who has amassed more points than games played during her college career. Not only was Sam the 2015 CoSIDA Academic All-American and 2015 2nd Team All-Conference, she made the President’s List (3.8-4.0 GPA) all of last year.

Our Men’s Soccer team, which upped its record to 4-1 with a win over Truett-McConnell College last night, features players like Carlos Sandoval-Blanco. A senior in the Honors Program majoring in business, Carlos has made the Dean’s List every semester for the past two years and represents the Cochran Campus on the President’s Torch Society. His two penalty kicks on August 17th helped the Knights upset 21st ranked SCAD Savannah.

Basketball season starts next month, in two home games, with our Women facing Albany Technical College on October 19th and our Men up against GCSU on October 25th. From there we head into Homecoming Week, when our Club Football team will take on Kennesaw State on November 3rd. Transportation to a pep rally the night before the big game in Cochran, and to the game itself—where our Homecoming King and Queen will be crowned and fireworks will cap off the celebration—will be available for students from all MGA campuses.

Building on a successful history in Baseball that includes not only a 2016 NAIA National Tournament Appearance, but four Junior College National Championships and 14 Junior College World Series Appearances before ascending to our four-year division, on Saturday, November 12th, we will host the 19th Annual Middle Georgia Baseball Showcase. Advanced baseball players ages 15-18 will once again have the opportunity to showcase their skills for our coaches and for pro scouts from across the Southeast during live games and pro-style workouts, practice and instruction.

Spring will bring a return of not only Baseball and Softball—where five of our players earned year-end SSAC awards this year—but Tennis. The Women’s Tennis team finished last season ranked #10 and made it to the Second Round at the 2016 NAIA National Championship, while the Men’s Team finished the season ranked #21 and missed NAIA National Tournament by just one spot.

As you can see, Knights Athletics are a year-round point of pride for Georgia’s newest university. Moreover, the NAIA approach is grounded in its Champions of Character program, where we are held accountable for putting the values of integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership in play.

As Nelson Mandela once put it, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand.” As a Brit, I believe that taking part is as important as winning.

Whatever sport you enjoy watching, I encourage you to come out to a game this year—not just to support our athletes, but to share in a common source of pride with our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and surrounding communities. Come cheer on your Knights and be inspired!