The Spring Hill College athletic program continues to evolve as it moves towards full NCAA Division II membership. The Badgers have now accepted an invitation to join the Gulf South Conference in men and women’s soccer along with women’s golf.
SHC is in its second year of transition after having previously participated in the NAIA. The school had already aligned with the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference for its other varsity programs.
“This is a great affiliation for our soccer and women’s golf programs,” said SHC Athletics Director Jim Hall. “We are thrilled to be joining such a well-recognized and highly competitive conference in the GSC. It was important for us to secure a conference home for these programs, and ensure that they will each have access to post-season automatic qualification once we are a full NCAA Division II member.”
The addition of Spring Hill gives the GSC 13 teams in women’s soccer, 10 in men’s soccer and eight in women’s golf. The conference has previously been home to two national champions in women’s tennis and three in women’s golf.
Among the members of the GSC are the University of West Florida in Pensacola, University of Alabama in Huntsville, University of North Alabama in Florence and University of West Alabama in Livingston. The conference is a charter member of NCAA Division II, having formed in 1970.
The SHC men’s soccer team will go into their new league with a new coach. Tim Brooks has resigned after four years to accept the head coaching position at his alma mater at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky.
Brooks led the Badgers to the first winning seasons in their 20-year history in 2011 and 2012. Assistant coach Matt Tanner, who played his college ball at West Florida, will serve as interim head coach this season.
Meanwhile, the University of Mobile’s men have been picked sixth in the Southern States Athletic Conference preseason poll. Defending NAIA national champ Martin Methodist of Pulaski, Tenn., was selected first.
The Rams are coming off a 9-9 season, but won the SSAC regular season titles in 2011 and 2012. They open play Friday, Aug. 22, at 7:30 p.m. against Columbia College of Missouri.
The UM women’s team is picked to finish fourth in the conference. William Carey, the defending regular season and tourney champs, gained the most votes.
The Lady Rams have finished as conference runner-up in three of the four seasons as a member. They also face Columbia on Friday at 6 p.m., before hosting Houston-Victoria on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Learn about rugby
The Battleship Rugby Club and the Mobile Area Rugby Foundation are coming together Saturday, Aug. 30, to promote their sport. The event will take place at Battleship Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Brandon Buchel of the BRC said rugby is being re-introduced at the 2016 Summer Games. For this reason, a 7-per-side Olympic-style rugby tournament will be played between local college and club teams. Rugby matches normally feature 15 players per side.
A free learning center will also be set up to discuss the benefits of flag rugby, which is suitable for any age or athletic ability. The only equipment needed is athletic shoes or soccer cleats. For more information, visit www.battleshiprugby.com.
The BRC also hosts a rugby clinic for all ages and genders on the third Saturday of each month at Battleship Park. The team will host its 36th annual tournament in November.
The Battleship Rugby Club can trace its history back to 1969, when some of its original members played at Spring Hill College. After graduation, a new group was formed that eventually became the BRC. The club won national titles in 1992 and 2001.
The Mobile Area Rugby Foundation was founded in 2010. It is a nonprofit focused on introducing non-contact rugby to children, both male and female, and to integrate youth rugby (contact and non-contact) into the local sports community.
Lady Jags having a ball
The women’s volleyball team at the University of South Alabama is coming off its best season in nearly 20 years. Hopes are high for head coach Amy Hendrichovsky, who has all six starters back.
“Honestly, if our team commits to it and sacrifices what it takes to compete for a championship, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be in the hunt,” she said.
Leading the veterans are sophomores Mechell Daniel and Jessica Lewis. Daniel was the Sun Belt Conference’s freshman of the year and a first-team all-conference member. Lewis was on the second-team.
Among the freshman class is Emma Anderson. Over the summer, her Wave 18 Brent club won the silver medal in the 18 Open bracket of the 35th annual USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior National Championship.
USA will have its annual Red/Blue Scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 23, in Jag Gym. The team opens the regular season Aug. 29-30 in the Asics Classic at Pepperdine University.
Coming back home
A familiar face will be on the field when the University of Mobile’s softball team plays. Korie Fontenot has been named the assistant coach.
The Grand Bay native played four seasons for the Lady Rams, before graduating in 2013 with a degree in elementary education. Twice selected a NAIA Scholar-Athlete, she is working toward her master’s degree in education while coaching.
She has gained some coaching experience the last two seasons, with the Mobile Thrillers Elite U16 and the South Alabama Elite U16.
Fifth Annual Children’s Cup Regatta
The races start at 12:30 p.m, at the Fairhope Yacht Club Aug. 23 and out-of-town and local sailors are welcome. Entry fee per boat is $50 and $25 in the youth class entries are just $25.
The Regatta is a fundraiser for Children’s of Alabama health system.