Two-sport athlete takes on track and field competition On March 5, it looked as if senior Urysla Cotton’s career as a collegiate athlete was over when the Elon women’s basketball team was defeated by Samford University in the quarterfinals of the Southern Conference tournament. But eight days later, Cotton rocked the SoCon again. This time it wasn’t on the basketball court, but as a member of the track and field team. Cotton’s first track and field meet of her collegiate career took place March 13 and 14 at Coastal Carolina University. This was her first competitive meet in nearly four years since she was a senior at Apex High School in Apex, N.C. “For four years I always wanted to continue doing track (and field) in my college career,” Cotton said. “I thought it would interfere with basketball.” During the Coastal Carolina meet, Cotton not only competed, but also was successful with a throw of 44 feet and 9.75 inches in the shot put. This set a new school record by nearly three feet and currently ranks first in the SoCon. Athleticism prevails Cotton ranks third in career blocked shots and seventh in career rebounds with 687 in the Phoenix women’s basketball record books. For her to have her name inked in both the women’s basketball and the track and field record books, Cotton needed a high level of athleticism. “No doubt basketball was an incredible cross trainer for her,” assistant track and field coach Matt Roden said. “She had a successful collegiate career with basketball, and it improved her athleticism. It made a huge impact.” Roden said the track coaches were aware of the success Cotton had in track and field at the high school level, where she placed third at the 2006 Outdoor North Carolina State championship in the shot put with a throw of 42 feet and nine inches during her senior season. Mental edge The Elon women’s basketball coach, Karen Barefoot, said she isn’t surprised at the success Cotton has had while participating in track and field. Barefoot said not only is she athletic, but she also has the competitive mental toughness needed to be successful. “When she gets focused and mentally tough, that’s when she peaks,” Barefoot
said. “When she doesn’t put any pressure on herself … she can do anything.” Roden said he agrees with Barefoot, and he said during the past four seasons basketball has helped to develop her mental toughness. “At the first practice, you can tell that she was a great competitor and that’s easy to work with,” Roden said. “Her success on the basketball court carried forward mentally, and she has a great attitude when it comes to throwing.” Her teammates as well as her coaches recognize this mental edge. Justine Robertson, a junior thrower on the team, said everyone on the team feeds off her energy. “Just having someone there knowing that she is going to have a great mark helps push you that much more,” Robertson said. “If they are working that hard, then you have to push that much harder.” For Robertson, the best example of this was April 10 and 11 at the Lou Onesty Invitational in Charlottesville, Va. Robertson broke the school’s discus record with a throw of 145 feet and eight inches, which defeated the last record by more than six feet. “I think Justine was able to see that competitiveness in Urysla, and I think Justine really gobbled that up and ran with that, too,” Roden said. “In some situations athletes may get jealous. Not true with our team and not true with Justine. Urysla just really encouraged Justine to do her best.” Boost for the track team Since Cotton had only eight days between when the basketball season ended to her first track meet, she joined the team after it had already begun practicing. Robertson said everyone was excited when Cotton joined the team and said because of the success Cotton has had, she is even more excited for the SoCon meet April 23-25. “She’s going to give us a tremendous amount of points that we didn’t anticipate at the beginning of the season,” Robertson said. “She’s a big meet competitor. When the competition is really high, she’s a good competitor. It’ll be exciting to see the conference (meet) this year.” Last season, the Phoenix finished fourth in the SoCon Championship, which was the team’s highest finish at the meet. For Cotton, her goal for the remaining meets is simple. “I just want to continue to get better, by beating my own PR and improving,” she said.
Future after track After Cotton throws her last shot put, her career as an Elon athlete and student will be over. She is graduating in May with a degree in communications. This summer she is planning on playing in a semi-pro basketball league and trying to find a job playing overseas. “I’m taking baby steps,” Cotton said. “My coaches are helping me and I have a highlight tape of me playing.” Even though she has been at the top of the list for the shot put in the SoCon this season, Cotton said her true love has always been basketball. “My dream is to continue playing,” she said. “Even as a little girl, I wanted to continue to play professionally.”
Breaking down COTTON’s ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Pam Richter Editor-in-Chief
BY THE NUMBERS
1st Cotton’s ranking in the Southern Conference out of all shot putters this season.
3 feet by which Cotton beat the school record in shot put this season.
4 years since Cotton has thrown competitively in a track meet
43’9 ¾” Cotton’s
second best throw of the season and her second shot put title of the season on April 3 at the Liberty Invitational.
44’9 ¾” the best
throw of the shot put in the Southern Conference this season. Cotton threw this in the opening meet on March 12 and 13 at Coastal Carolina.
ESPN writer imparts wisdom to students Pam Richter Editor-in-Chief
When ESPN.com baseball writer Buster Olney was 10 years old he would walk in from his Little League Baseball game and start to tell his mom the breakdown of the game. After a few innings, his mom stopped and looked at him and said, “Buster, you have the potential to be really boring someday.” Olney said his mom explained to him that he needed to broaden his interests outside of baseball. Olney went on to graduate from Vanderbilt University in 1988 with a degree in history. Olney visited several classes Wednesday and then delivered a
Buster Olney, a writer for ESPN, visited Elon to share experiences and lessons her learned from his career. Photo by Pam Richter.
speech as part of Career Spotlight sponsored by the Leisure and Sports Management department. Olney originally began his career as a newspaper baseball writer. Though Olney said the future of newspapers may seem bleak, there is always going to be a demand for people who gather information. “Nothing will happen if you don’t dig up the information,” Olney said. Kevin Beach, a freshman, said he knew of Olney before he came and spoke at Elon. “It’s interesting how he moved from a sports fan to a reporter,” Beach said. Throughout his career, Olney has covered many significant baseball events, including Cal Ripken Jr. breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive game streak. He also covered three Yankees World Series wins and the team’s loss to the Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series. During the series, Olney said it was an emotional event because everyone in the stadium could smell the burning taking place down the road after the attacks on the World Trade Center. Despite all of these events, the story that Olney still considers his favorite is the rivalry between Belmont College and what used to be calledDavid Limpscomb College. At the time, Limpscomb was coached by Don Meyer. Meyer, now the coach at North State University, was involved in a life-threatening car crash in 2008. During surgery after the accident, the doctor discovered that Meyer had cancer as well. While sharing this story, it is evident that Olney himself has been moved by Meyer’s inspirational story. Currently, Olney is currently working on finishing the coach’s biography. “I love writing about people,” Olney said. “After Meyer’s accident I wrote a memo immediately to the people at ESPN, telling them that I wanted to do this story.” He began his career as a reporter in 1989 and covered baseball for the Nashville Banner. He then covered baseball for the San Diego Tribune and the Baltimore Sun before moving as the beat writer for the New York Mets and Yankees until 2001. Olney now works for ESPN and is a prime example of how reporting does not just occur in one outlet. He joined ESPN in 2003, has a daily baseball column on ESPN.com, makes appearances on ESPN radio and appears on ESPN TV shows such as Baseball Tonight and Sportscenter.
Kay Yow’s legacy includes passion, grace and power Pam Richter News & Record Intern
Even though she’s gone now, Kay Yow’s story and legacy will continue to inspire. Sandra “Kay” Yow, the head coach of N.C. State women’s basketball team, died Saturday morning at the age of 66 after her third battle with breast cancer. Yow began her collegiate coaching career at Elon, where she coached women’s basketball and volleyball and started the women’s tennis program. She coached at Elon for four years, compiling a record of 57-19 and winning the 1974 state title in women’s basketball. Even in her short time at Elon, the Gibsonville native made a lasting impact. For those efforts, Yow was enshrined in the Elon Sports Hall of Fame. At N.C. State, Yow recently had stepped down from her coaching duties to focus her energy on her recovery. Soon, she had to be admitted to the hospital. This was Yow’s third battle with the disease after fighting it for decades. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987. During the 2006-2007 season, Yow
stepped away from coaching for 16 games to focus on her recovery once again. Despite the continued obstacles, she never let up and continued to look cancer straight in the eye. She also continued to succeed on the court. Yow’s coaching numbers rank among the best in college basketball. She spent 34 seasons as N.C. State’s head coach. In her Hall of Fame career, she tallied 737 wins, the fourth-most in NCAA history. Yow’s teams made 20 NCAA tournament appearances and she coached them to five ACC regular-season titles. In 1988, she coached the U.S. women’s Olympic team to a gold medal. But she was more than a basketball coach. She was a fighter who inspired women across the globe to believe that breast cancer can and will be beaten. I was at the gym on Saturday morning when I heard the news of her death. There was added significance in her passing for me. In June of 2006, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember the days of chemotherapy, when my mother was weakened but never lost her spirit.
Then the day came when the doctors told my mom that she was a breast cancer survivor -- that she had beaten the disease that has taken so many lives. Shortly after my mother’s treatments, I remember watching the 2007 ESPY awards. We saw University of Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt give the inaugural Jimmy V Award for perseverance to Kay Yow. Yow walked onto that stage weakened but still displayed so much grace and power. It was her late N.C. State coaching colleague, Jim Valvano, who said, “Don’t ever give up.” There is no question that Yow never thought about giving up. Even in her darkest days, she continued to coach. Coaching is what she loved to do, and she did it for as long as she was able. Whatever your passion is, she taught us, keep doing it. Do what makes you happy because it is our passions that keep us alive even in our darkest days. Her story should be known by all because of what she did for basketball, but also for her contributions to the fight for cancer. Through it all, she embraced the human spirit.
Former Elon basketball coach’s legacy preserved, inspires book write something in that book and to continue to try to impact people through her was awesome,” Stockdale said. Yow passed away Jan. 24, 2009 at the age of 66, after her third When an employee from Duke Energy came to Elon women’s battle with breast cancer. She was first diagnosed in 1987. During the 2006-07 season, Yow stepped aside from coaching for 16 games basketball assistant coach Rachel Stockdale’s home, he noticed to focus on her recovery. In December 2008, Yow stepped down as she had North Carolina State University memorabilia in her house. the head coach of N.C. State. Immediately the man began talking to her about former N.C. State “She taught more about life than anything,” Stockdale said. women’s basketball coach, Kay Yow. Stockdale, who played for Yow at N.C. State for five seasons, “During games we’re sitting there battling for a win and we sit and look at her and she’s battling for her life.” said everyone in the Elon, Burlington, Gibsonville area knew Yow Yow, a Gibsonville native, began her collegiate coaching career and has a story to share about her. Whether it be a story about at Elon College, where she coached her and her sisters playing basketball or her for four years and was the first early coaching days at Elon College, everyone "She taught me more about women’s basketball coach in school knew her, she said. history. She compiled a record of 57“Everyone I run into had fond memories of life than anything. During 19 and won the 1974 state title. games we're sitting there Coach Yow,” Stockdale said. She then spent 34 seasons as Now, those who are not as familiar with battling for a win and we sit N.C. State’s head coach. In her hallYow and her story have the opportunity to of-fame career, she tallied 737 learn more about her in a book titled, “Leader and look at her and she's wins, made 20 NCAA tournament of the Pack: The Legacy of Legendary Coach battling for her life," appearances and coached her Kay Yow.” teams to five ACC regular season Stephanie Zonars first had the idea of - Rachel Stockdale titles. In 1988, she coached the U.S. writing a book about Yow in May of 2007. But Elon Women's basketball assitant Coach Olympic team to a gold medal. For when she approached Yow, the head coach her continued determination, Yow said she didn’t have the time or capacity to received the inaugural Jimmy V write a book because of coaching and the ESPY for Perseverance Award in 2007. return of her breast cancer for the third time in her life. Stockdale said she sat down with Yow during her senior year Zonars approached Yow again, and once again, the same answer about what would be the next step. Yow told her that if coaching — no. Then Zonars was looking at different coaching books online was something she wanted to pursue, she’d be great at it. when she saw an idea that would work perfectly for Yow. “Long and behold, I’m at Elon,” Stockdale said. “We’re trying to She came across a book about a lacrosse coach whose players get a program back to where she started it — at the top.” and people who knew him wrote stories about him that were Now, Stockdale has just finished her second season as an compiled in one book. “A light bulb went off for me,” Zonars said. “Coach Yow wouldn’t assistant coach for the Phoenix women’s basketball team, said she uses lessons Yow taught her, now that she is on the sidelines. really have to do anything. People could still learn from great “What it comes down to is that there’s more to life than wisdom she shared during her career as a coach. I had already been touched and inspired every time I was around Coach Yow. I basketball,” Stockdale said. “She used basketball to teach life lessons … I’m in a great position on the sidelines to try to continue was burdened that she would pass away and that wisdom wouldn’t to teach what Coach Yow taught me as person.” be passed along to others.” Yow agreed and the project began in February 2008. She compiled a list of people she wanted to write stories, and with the help of Zonars Want to know more information about the began to help former book? players, coaches and anyone else who had “Leader of the Pack: The Legacy of Legendary a story they wanted to share about her. Coach Kay Yow,” is sold on Amazon.com and partial Stockdale was proceeds of the book go to support the Kay Yow/ contacted about Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association Cancer writing something Fund. for the book, and said immediately she was The book was published in September 2009 and more than willing to can be purchased on the N.C. State Web site, in write something for addition to Amazon.com. the book. The book consists of more than 30 stories from Unlike the other stories in the book, Yow’s former players, assistant coaches and people Stockdale took a across the basketball community. different approach — Many of the stories were accompanied with a she wrote a poem to connection to a passage in the Bible. share her story about Yow. “To be asked to Pam Richter Editor-in-Chief
The right woman for the job
Lovette serves Elon with heart and confidence Pam Richter Sports Editor
For a police officer who has seen so much during her time in law enforcement, there’s still one case that gets LaVell Lovette emotional. Lovette, the Town of Elon police chief, was working as a detective with sex offense and child abuse cases in the Salisbury Police Department at the time. It was her first case and one that she will never forget. Three children, a boy age 11, a boy age 9 and a girl age 3, were sexually abused by their biological father, who would have the two boys have sex with their sister. Lovette admits the investigation was fairly easy, but the story did not stop with the sentencing. The father was sentenced to life in prison and the mother lost her children to social services. The mother did not know what was going on, but it still took her a long time to get her four children back. (There was another child, but the infant was not involved in the sexual abuse case.) Lovette was aggravated that it took the mother so long to get her children back. She fought hard and provided support for the family. Eventually, the mother received custody of her children. About 12 years later, Lovette received a phone call from the boy who was nine at the time of the incident. The young man brought his daughter into see Lovette. “It’s that case everybody in law enforcement wants to have because you know you’ve made a difference,” Lovette said. Never a doubt Lovette always knew she wanted to be in law enforcement — there was never a question in her mind. Her father was a military police officer and her grandfather was also in the military. “My dad and mom were very supportive (when I was) growing up,” Lovette said. “I would see him in uniform around the house.” Originally from Farmville, N.C., Lovette enrolled in Morris Hill College for two years. She remembers the day when the State Bureau of Investigation came with a mobile crime lab to the school to investigate a crime. While they were there, Lovette took advantage of the resources and spoke with the officers about a career in law enforcement. Shortly afterward, she transferred to Louisville University and earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. She began her career in the High Point Police Department before transferring to
Salisbury. Lt. Melonie Thompson of the Salisbury Police Department worked under Lovette for a number of years. Thompson said Lovette was a good role model for her, as a woman in a man’s world. “She doesn’t want you to be ‘girly-girly.’ If you’re going to be on the street, you need to be all the way in,” Thompson said, quoting the advice Lovette gave her. “Don’t act any different. You need to put the gun on and get out there in the street like everyone else.” Lovette applied for six chief jobs early in her career. After gaining some more management experience, she finally landed a position.
Elon — a new home There are very few police chiefs who are women. Lovette said they comprise about 2 percent of chiefs nationwide, so to get to her current position, Lovette had to move through the ranks and fight discrimination. “It doesn’t really matter that she’s a woman. She’s capable of doing the job, regardless of gender,” said Capt. Craig Andrews of the Town of Elon Police. Lovette said working in a university town brings up different challenges from other jurisdictions.
“The majority of what we deal with are students, which brings up unique responsibilities,” she said. “For most of them, it’s the first time they are responsible for themselves.” The Town of Elon works with the university in different incidents, and there is an overlap in jurisdiction. Lovette said for the most part, they let the university handle investigations. This month marks Lovette’s seventh year at Elon as the police chief, and it is obvious to community members that she’s made an impact. “Most of my observations are from afar,” Elon Mayor Jerry Tolley said. “She seems to be highly respected in the community. I’ve never had any negative remarks (about her) from members in the community.” A role model in and out of uniform In her role as chief, Lovette relies on and trusts her staff. She doesn’t need to patrol as much as the other officers and doesn’t work the unstructured hours that police work usually brings. This allows her time to dedicate to her other passions, like painting, knitting, crocheting and spending time with her 14-year-old daughter. On weekends, she and Thompson get their families together and spend time
Lovette has been Elon’s police chief for seven years. She is a minority, as only 2 percent of police chiefs are women. Photo by Pam Richter
Players aim to hop through the Greensboro Grasshoppers organization Pam Richter Summer Editor-in-Chief
All of those individuals involved in the Greensboro Grasshoppers—a Class A minor league baseball team affiliated with the Florida Marlins—come from different walks of life and possess different levels of baseball experience. Donald Moore, the president and general manager of the team, remembers attending his first Grasshoppers game as a child and playing baseball in high school. Before taking over as the owner of the organization, Moore was in the pharmaceutical and real estate industries. Darin Everson, the manager of the Grasshoppers, played minor league baseball for seven seasons. But now, he has a different goal in mind—to help develop major league baseball players. Kyle Kaminska and Kevin Mattison are players for the Grasshoppers who are simply trying to live their dreams of playing in the big leagues. Mattison, a Kernersville, N.C. native, was selected by the Florida Marlins in the 28th round of the 2008 MLB draft out of UNC Asheville as an outfielder. Kaminska is in his second season with the organization. He was drafted out of Naperville Central High School in Illinois in the 25th round of the 2007 draft as a starting pitcher. For all of these individuals associated with the Grasshoppers, one thing ties them all together—the passionate and dedicated fans. “We promote ourselves as fun and affordable family entertainment,” Moore said. “Most people come out here looking for some kind of entertainment that aren’t necessarily baseball fans.” At the end of April this year, the Grasshoppers broke their franchise record for April per-game average attendance as they drew 6,040 fans. During the month of April this year, the team averaged 6,594 fans per home game. Not bad for a Class A baseball team. “We get a nice crowd here,” Mattison said. “In Hagerstown (Md.) we got maybe 1,000 fans. Here we get six to eight thousand. It’s a lot more enjoyable with a bigger crowd.” And according to Everson, they aren’t just passive fans, but they are knowledgeable about the game as well.
“They understand the game,” Everson said. “They know when we need a little bit of rallying or if we need a little bit of motivational love... It’s been a good relationship.” Both Mattison and Kaminska agree the team receives great fan support in its home ballpark, NewBridge Bank Park, located in downtown Greensboro. For two players trying to make it to the big leagues, any type of extra support helps. Kaminska focuses on achieving his dream of moving up in the minor league system. “I wouldn’t have signed if I didn’t think I wanted to be in the big leagues. That’s what I wanted to do since I’ve been little,” Kaminska said. Minor league baseball certainly has its challenges. A main obstacle is that frequent player transactions occur throughout the season. This happens when players are moved down up or down a level depending on different situations throughout the season. “Sometimes it’ll upset the consistency,” Mattison said. “You get comfortable with guys in a certain part of the lineup and how they will produce in certain situations.” Everson said this season there haven’t been too many transactions made in part because players are staying fairly healthy. The Grasshoppers have a balance of players ranging from those who were drafted by the Marlins out of high school and those who were drafted after college. For Everson, coaching players with different skill levels of experience has to be taken by a player by player basis. “You have to understand that they may need a few more breaks than the college guys that have been through the wars a little bit,” Everson said. Everson, Mattison, Kaminska and Moore all have different roles within the Grasshopper organization. But, for all of these members, one central idea is consistent throughout the organization—move on up to the major leagues. “Some of the biggest things we’re trying to do here is to develop winning players with winning attitudes,” Everson said. “We try to develop kids and get them ready for the big leagues. We get them ready for the next level so they improve their skills and they can move on and get to the big leagues as quick as they can.”
The Greensboro Grasshoppers is a minor league team that is just a stop for many players on their way to the major leagues. Photo courtesy of Dano Keeney, Greensboro Grasshoppers.
Davidson’s Matheny hired as new men’s head basketball coach Pam Richter Sports Editor
As Matt Matheny took the podium to be introduced as the new men’s basketball coach, an eruption of applause filled the Atkins room in the Koury Athletic center Sunday afternoon. He shook Elon athletic director Dave Blank’s hand then stood and received a standing ovation from the packed room. Elon fans were excited and so was Matheny, who was wearing the maroon and gold in his tie and an Elon Phoenix pin. “It took two minutes for me to get excited about this,” Matheny said. “There’s something special going on here.” On Sunday, Elon University announced the hiring of Matheny as the new head men’s basketball coach. He became the 17th head coach in program history. The announcement came 20 days after former head coach Ernie Nestor was released. During his Elon career, Nestor compiled a 67-117 record at Elon over six seasons. “We were looking for someone who is committed to the importance of the co-existence of athletic and academic excellence, who has been in that environment and would understand what we need to do here at Elon University to maintain integrity in both areas,” Elon athletic director, Dave Blank, said. Matheny, 39, was named the associate head coach of the Davidson University Wildcats in 2003. This past season marked his 16th season on the Davidson coaching staff under Bob McKillop. “When I stepped foot on campus, it felt
like home,” Matheny said. During his time at Davidson, Matheny experienced much success. The Wildcats won nine out of the last 13 Southern Conference division championships. “I’m excited about this. Matt is the right person for the job,” Blank said. With spring break this past week at the university, the players were not able to meet the head coach before his hiring was officially announced. “I met with the players from last season and they were really confident that I know them and would make the right choice,” Blank said. This was Blank’s biggest hire in three years at the university. Blank previously hired a new women’s basketball coach, men and women’s cross country coach, women’s soccer coach and women’s track coach. Last year, Blank hired women’s basketball coach Karen Barefoot to replace former coach Brenda Paul. The team has its first meeting Sunday night. This will be the first chance for players to meet with Matheny. “I’m really excited,” sophomore guard Chris Long said. “I think he’ll be a great fit.” In addition to success on the court, Matheny said he is committed to helping the athletes succeed off the court and in the classroom. During his time at Davidson, Matheny’s players had a 100 percent graduation rate. “Our program is going to revolve around student-athletes,” Matheny said. “Our mission is to give our student-athletes a
wonderful college experience. That’s our mission. We are going to prepare these young men for life after Elon.” In the 2008-2009 season, Nestor coached the Phoenix to an overall record of 11-20 and a 7-13 record in the Southern Conference. The Phoenix lost a one point game to UT Chattanooga in the conference tournament semi-finals. Matheny said he has some big goals in mind for this team. An Elon team in the 2007-2008 lost to his former team, Davidson in the Southern Conference tournament finals game. “We want to go the NCAA Tournament. That’s a goal of ours. Our everyday goal is to get better. We’re going to have a lot of fun,” the new head coach said. During the press conference, Matheny called himself an attacking coach. “What I like to do is run and take good shots, not just run it and throw it,” Matheny said. Junior guard, Devan Carter, shares Matheny’s excitement with this style of play. “When I heard that I lit up like a Christmas tree,” Carter said. “It’s exciting to hear. I had a big smile on my face. We tried to do that a little bit more at the end of last season and it seemed to work well.” Matheny graduated from Davidson in 1992. During his time at the college, he played basketball and football for the university. He grew up in Statesville, N.C. and graduated from North Iredell High School.
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