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august 25, 2010
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champions Inside Fall sports preview: An in-depth look at A&M football, soccer and volleyball ◗ The importance of strength and conditioning coaches | 2a ◗ Coach Mike Sherman’s thoughts on the upcoming season | 4a ◗ Jerrod Johnson’s legacy at A&M | 4a ◗ The back line of Aggie soccer | 8a ◗ Kelsey Black, the leader in volleyball | 1b
Fall 2010 sports preview Osazuwa Okundaye — THE BATTALION
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t happens each year. The cycle of the seasons whirls without end, an indiscriminate revolving door that rushes the old out and slings in the new, new players, new schemes, new ideas. The fans, though, theyâ€™re always there. They watch this kaleidoscope of change with mixed feelings as, year after year, human behemoths and freaks of nature sweep through their sports consciousvillagefoods.com nesses. The names and faceswww. come and go, but the physical specimens remain in their minds, one We make it easy to... constant in an ever-changing blur. How much thought does the average fan put into how these physical freaks got to where they are? How much athletic talent and size does one attribute to God-given gifts and seamless genetics? How much hard work does it take to polish off that package? www.villagefoods.com â€œIt depends what time of year it is,â€? head football We make it easy to drink better... Strength and Conditioning Coach Dave Kennedy said. â€œIn the summer, we only run three groups a day; they lift in three groups on Mondays and Thursdays. Our first group is at 6 a.m. Tuesdays, and Fridays we condition as a team at 6:30 and lift throughout the day. Weâ€™ve got some hours, but itâ€™s really fun.â€? Though regulated stiffly by the NCAAâ€™s guidelines, www.villagefoods.com student-athletes are workmake easy to eat... ingWe harder thanitever, lifting amounts of weight â€” it seems â€” that the average man or woman could only push if it were in neutral and sitting on a decline. Strength and conditioning has, for many years, formed the backbone of success and preparation in college athletics. Athletic facilities sit high on most recruitsâ€™ wish list, and colleges are in an everescalating arms race to possess the best. With the passage of www.villagefoods.com time, the position of strength and conditioning We make itcoach easy to... continues to grow in profile, prestige and demand. Thereâ€™s a certain sense of irony there. Most are as low profile as people come. â€œI grew up saying â€˜Howdyâ€™ before I ever knew of Texas A&M,â€? recalled Director of Strength and Conditioning April Baltensperger â€” THE BATTALION for Olympic and Team Sports Allen Kinley. â€œI grew up Head football strength and conditioning coach Dave Kennedy watches practice Tuesday driving a pick-up truck and at the Coolidge practice fields. wearing blue jeans.â€? Kennedy began his career Strength and Conditioning, the 2007 season coincided mince words nor exaggerate. as an assistant at Nebraska became the strength coach of with the end of the DenHe is gruff and tough â€” and under the legendary Boyd his football team. When what nis Franchione era at Texas good at his job. Epley, the man largely A&M, leading to Mike Sher- is now Northwestern State When asked why he credited with developing the University in Natchitoches, manâ€™s hire. Kennedy, who proceeded into the strength college football strength and La., offered Kinley a football has three sons, enjoyed the coach profession, he offered conditioning program as it is scholarship, Miller joined thought moving to the Lone in response, â€œI was always now known. Itâ€™s an associatheir staff as a position and Star State. stronger than I was a good tion that Kennedy credits, â€œI thought Iâ€™d love to raise strength coach. player, and people tend to go but mostly downplays. â€œI credit Al Millerâ€™s influ[sons Ben, Nick and Eric] in to their strengths.â€? â€œThatâ€™s where I started,â€? ence as to why I am in this Texas,â€? he said. â€œI believe in Ohio State hired him as he said simply. â€œHe taught profession,â€? said Kinley. â€œI Coach Sherman and I think the head strength coach in me a lot, coming up through had the opportunity to learn you can win in the State of 1989, where he oversaw the the ranks, how to do things. from one of the best in the Texas.â€? careers of Eddie George, I observed and learn things field.â€? He believes, as most AgOrlando Pace, Joey Galloway to do and things not to do. While at NSU, Kinley and Mike Vrabel among oth- gies do, that thereâ€™s no place Coach Cooper, the head earned a Bachelorâ€™s in Health, ers. After 13 years at the NFL like A&M. coach at Ohio State when I Safety and Physical Educaâ€œI appreciate all the tradifirst-round draft pick factory got there, allowed me to take â€” 17 during his time there tion; after, he transitioned to tions,â€? he said. â€œThereâ€™s a it and run with it, so that was â€” in Columbus, he migrated different feel to A&M that I the state to the west, earnprobably the most important ing a masterâ€™s in kinesiology havenâ€™t felt at any of those to the staff at Pittsburgh, thing to my development.â€? at Texas A&M. He has since other places. I guess Iâ€™m not where he worked with BiTo talk to Dave Kencompleted work on two Ph.D. articulate enough to describe letnikoff Award winner and nedy is to understand that programs, one in kinesiology what that feel is, but it is diffuture perennial Pro-Bowler he downplays most things. and the other in higher educaferent.â€? Larry Fitzgerald. The native Nebraskan, who Kinley found his passion in tion dministration. In 2004, his alma mater graduated from the stateâ€™s Kinley is cerebral and his junior year of high school, came calling, and he became flagship university with a deliberate with his answers, when Al Miller, who has the head strength coach at Bachelorâ€™s degree in strength since received the designation Nebraska. See Strength on page 3a coaching in 1985, does not of â€œLegend in the Fieldâ€? of Bill Callahanâ€™s firing after
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The Netum Steed Laboratory is the main training facility for Texas A&M athletes.
Strength Continued from page 2a
dedicated to his profession and well respected. He holds the distinction of Master Strength and Conditioning Coach, a title that must be earned through passing a written as well as an oral exam and accumulating a minimum of 12 years experience as a strength coach at the collegiate level. He’s spent twice that amount at A&M. “Texas A&M represents the same values that I grew up believing in,” said the coach, whose daughter Kelsey is a freshman on the Aggie volleyball team. In his occupation, he works with every varsity sport aside from football, which leads to a tight schedule. “I commute to work on my bicycle,” he said. “Leave between 5:15 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. and it takes 25 to 30 minutes to ride to work depending on the direction of the wind. Meet the golf
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team at 6 a.m. Work out groups of athletes at the same time as class schedule at 8, 9:10, 10:20, 11:30, 12:40. lunch break after 12:40 group and then 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. work with Track and Field athletes.” The smaller teams work with him individually and the larger in groups. Both he and Kennedy serve as integral cogs in the Aggie sports machine. “I’m around [the football players] more than any position coach, so I get to know a kid and then I know what’s important to him and what buttons to push to get him to really go,” Kennedy said, adding that the team has a “tremendous work ethic.” Kinley emphasizes that he endeavors to treat his athletes the same way he would want his children treated. He retains firm convictions about the nature of the task he is entrusted with. “Athletic contests are often won or lost by the smallest of margins,” he said. “You won or lost by one point, you won or lost by a tenth
of a second. Often in a close contest, you can remember one play…that made the difference between winning and losing. I believe a sound strength and conditioning program can make the small difference between winning and losing.” He also looks back from time to time. “The years have passed so fast, seems as if I only started a few years ago,” Kinley said. “I do not consider coming to campus everyday a job, I consider this an honor to be here.” The strength and conditioning coach in college athletics will only continue to grow in stature, importance and intrigue. Kennedy, in his usual manner, is mum on the finer details of the metamorphosis of the once-bubble, now world of strength coaching. “I think there’s more attention [paid] to the profession now,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s any more or less important.” Just the same, the kaleidoscope keeps turning around it.
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page 4a wednesday 8.25.2010
Jerrod’s legacy on the line
e’ve all read the script. A struggling, irrelevant program. A coach firmly planted on the hot seat. Sixteen wins in three years. Then, a program resurrected from the dead by a hyper-talented, AfricanAmerican quarterback who plays the April Baltensperger — THE BATTALION role of architect in laying the plans for A&M Head Coach Mike Sherman watches his offensive linemen during blocking drills Tuesday at the Coolidge practice fields. The Aggies a dominant 10-year stretch. begin the 2010 campaign against Stephen F. Austin at 6 p.m. Sept. 4 at Kyle Field. The year was 1985, and Kevin Murray, the best quarterback in the history of A&M football, led an Aggie football team to its first conference championship in more than 10 years. David Harris, senior He mixed a rare combination of economics major size and speed with an uncanny ability to throw the football. versity a little bit better,” he said. “We A story through fall camp has been the two are best friends. It’s really a David Harris Starting to realize the similarities to have to think we’re good enough to the implementation of defensive cotremendous opportunity to have this The Battalion a certain situation? beat anybody, and I’m not sure the ordinator Tim DeRuyter’s attacksituation, and I take my hat off to It’s 2010, and the A&M program It was an up and down, topsylast two years our guys or fans felt like ing, 3-4 scheme. Sherman said he both guys.” has managed just 17 wins in the past turvy 2009 season for A&M Head that. We need to feel like we can go likes the way DeRuyter coaches and With football season less than three seasons. Head Coach Mike Coach Mike Sherman. The team into Austin, Lubbock, Norman and feels like the players have bought into two weeks away, Sherman is workSherman has put together a 5-11 strung together some wins to begin Stillwater and win. And believe it. the defense. ing overtime to bring A&M football conference record in his two seasons the season, suffered a couple blowAnd not to be arrogant about it, but “He’s very intelligent,” Sherman back to prominence. And as glamat the helm and, like it or not, is in a out losses to Kansas State, Oklathere’s a certain swagger you have said. “He’s had a system, and he stayed orous as a college coaching job may position where it’s high time to put homa and Arkansas, surprised Texas to have when you play this game. A with it. Every defense has its strength sound on paper, the hours and stress something together. Tech in Lubbock and nearly defeatquiet confidence. A calm-among-cri- and its weaknesses, but it’s up to the can add up. Sherman is at the office And the team is, again, led by a ed arch-rival Texas in the annual sis type of attitude that we can handle coach to know what they are and on a typical Monday from 5 a.m. to hyper-talented, African-American Thanksgiving showdown. anything.” then when someone is attacking your 11 p.m. quarterback, who despite the gaudy Now, Sherman returns, equipped The offensive player of the year, weaknesses, to be able to counteract But with a 10-15 overall record as statistics of the past two seasons, still with the conference’s preseason ofJerrod Johnson, returns for his senior that. To see he’s been in this same Aggie coach and a fanbase with growneeds a memorable, win-producing fensive and defensive players of the season; and despite the accolades, structure impresses me; and every ing expectations, he knows it’ll all be season to etch himself into Aggie lore year and a whole lot of expectations. Sherman sees areas where he can im- place he’s been, he’s developed deworth it to win. as the best quarterback this University There’s a lot different from this time prove. fenses from one stage of development “I just think that A&M is a sleephas seen. last year, and Sherman thinks his “One thing about Jerrod is when to another stage of development.” ing giant,” Sherman said. “We’ve got Sure, the statistical disparity beteam’s newfound swagger has someyou tell him to work on something, The Aggies also have quite the tremendous potential. I want to do tween Johnson and Murray is quite thing to do with it. he really works on it,” Sherman said. compliment of skill position players. something special and do something vast. Murray’s best season statistically “The energy and passion right now “He really spends time to improve in The running back situation — with here that needs to be done: to get us was 1986, when he threw for and the swagger they’re developing is areas that he needs to improve. BeChristine Michael and Cyrus Gray to be a national power. And I feel 2,463 yards. something I haven’t seen since I’ve cause he’s long-legged, he can be a expected to split time — is something we’re headed that way, and I think In contrast, Johnson threw for been here,” Sherman said. “I want little wide with his base, so he throws Sherman is excited about. we’re close.” 3,579 yards in 2009. us to mature as a football team. We with his arm and shoulder. He’s got to “Cyrus is a consistent, every day, “I believe in this school. I believe But the only numbers anybody lacked maturity in tough situations play with a more narrow base.” come to work, lunch bucket type of what it stands for. I raised my kids should be truly concerned with are 19 last year. We couldn’t finish things “I will say that he takes to coachguy who does whatever you ask him on the principles and coached on the and two. That’s 19 wins in Murray’s off. And when things went bad, we ing as well as anybody I’ve ever to do,” Sherman said. “He’s develprinciples learned at A&M. And I’ve final two seasons, along with two weren’t as good as I’d like us to be.” been around, and he really works oped into a instinctive player. And got a pretty good idea of what Aggies conference championships. Sherman said there are a lot of areas on things and he’s addressed the isMike is more explosive out of his want from their football team.” He put up startling numbers and on the mental side where this particu- sues he’s worked on. And when he stance. But they’re both very similed a team to unprecedented levels lar team needs to improve. has a weakness, he tries to turn it into lar. Both can catch the football, and of success that continued well into a strength.” both are competitive. To top it off, “Our guys need to handle the adthe 90s. He left an imprint on Texas A&M. A legacy as the head engineer in a run of success this school has since never seen. And now it’s Jerrod’s turn to build his legacy. He’s the most talented quarterback to step foot on this campus. He already Kyle Cunningham holds all the The Battalion passing records and is certain to With every fall, the key word is “expectations.” shatter them again Fans always expect, or can hope, that their team is in 2010. headed to the promised land of national championJerrod Johnson, Players and ship games and tournaments. Every star is a legitiquarterback coaches alike rave mate threat to become the player of the year in the about his leadership skills and desire conference and the country. to improve. Sherman said in July At Texas A&M, those expectations fall on Jerthat he’s one of the smartest, wellrod Johnson, the 6-foot-5-inch, 240 pound quarterrounded players he has ever coached. back from Humble, Texas. In 2009, the then-junior He said he’d put his leadership skills threw for 3,579 yards and 30 touchdowns while against those of any quarterback in commandeering the offense that ranked fifth in the the National Football League. nation for yards per game. But none of the numbers, none of His 2009 season was a step up from the 2008 seathe preseason Heisman hype, none son, in which he was thrown into the starter’s role of the widespread acclaim will matter as a nearly untested sophomore when starter Stephen Senior if he can’t lead this team, in a down McGee went down with multiple shoulder injuries quarterback year for the conference, to the brink through the course of the year. Jerrod Johnson of a Big 12 Championship. Johnson’s numbers were solid enough in the camthrows a pass His legacy currently reads: “Ten paign, with 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, during the team’s wins in two years. Zero conference but the Aggies struggled to 4-8, with the low point practice Tuesday championships.” being the 41-21 loss to Baylor in which Johnson But with a star-studded cast of skill at the Coolidge threw four interceptions. position players and new defensive practice fields. But this is the year the fans can hope for somescheme, Johnson has the chance to be Johnson threw thing more. Jerrod was named Most Valuable Player the front man in a program’s resurin the Big 12 by Lindy’s College Football preview, for 3,579 yards gence. He has the chance to be the as well as First Team All-Big 12 in Lindy’s, Athlon, in 2009, a school leader in restoring A&M football back and Phil Steele. But Johnson really doesn’t read his record. to a place of prominence press clippings, and is in fact fine with not knowing and relevance. too much about where he stands. April Baltensperger — THE BATTALION Murray and the 1985 season “I’ve really had absolutely no clue,” Johnson proved that it only takes one season working as a student teacher for elementary schools. said, “I guess they see potential [in me] and I thank throughout the spring football season and summer workouts. “The biggest thing for me was learning that people to change the direction of an them for that. I was always told don’t worry about entire program. “It’ll be pretty tough for teams [to prepare for Dehave different strengths and weaknesses,” Johnson things you can’t control, and I can’t really control Now, in 2010, Johnson has that whether I’m picked to be last in the Big 12, or first. Ruyter],” Johnson said. “That’s one thing he prides said. “Kids have different strengths and weaknesses whether it’s in the classroom or on the field. You try same opportunity. I thank them and it’s an honor, but it doesn’t really himself on — making the quarterbacks cloudy. And if he can accomplish it? That’s the mark of a good defensive coordinator. to apply those strengths and build those weaknesses. matter until December.” Then his legacy will read: “GreatThere’s a lot of conversation — he’ll ask what I’m All of this helps a little bit on the field.” Helping Johnson has been defensive coordinaest quarterback to ever play at thinking and I’ll ask what he’s thinking and I get to After his playing career winds down, whether tor Tim DeRuyter, who has challenged the quarTexas A&M.” terback with new defensive schemes, blitz packages pick his brain. He’s a great defensive coordinator.” that be in a professional environment or not, Jerrod In the spring semester, Johnson took an unand rotating personnel. Johnson has been faced with See Johnson on page 6a the challenges of overcoming the new-look defense conventional route into becoming a better leader,
Sherman looks ahead Aggie head coach has high hopes for season
Johnson deals with expectations
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Tuberville chooses Potts over Sheffield
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Head Coach Tommy Tuberville chooses senior Taylor Potts as the starting quarterback over fellow senior Steven Sheffield.
Texas Tech University As promised, Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville and offensive coordinator Neal Brown announced the quarterback decision Sunday. Senior quarterback Taylor Potts will get the start in Texas Tech’s season-opening game against SMU on Sept. 5 rather than senior Steven Sheffield. “Taylor Potts will be our guy,” Tuberville said after Monday’s practice. “That doesn’t mean Steven Sheffield will not play. [Sheffield] also had a very good two-a-days, it’s just we’re going to have one and we want Taylor to get a lot of reps with the ones. “Both of them have different strengths and weaknesses
and coach Brown and I just felt like Taylor would be the guy to give us the opportunity to get better on what we want to do.” Sunday’s decision reconciled eight months of speculations as to who would lead the Red Raider offense this season and the plan is to stick with Potts through the entire 2010 season. However, Sheffield still could see playing time. “I want the players to know that Taylor’s the guy we’re going to put out there,” Tuberville said. “He’s going to be the guy we’re going out with in the first game. This isn’t going to be a short-string, but there are certain situations in a game where we might put Steven in that he might be better at depending on what the defense is doing.” In Tech’s last game of the
2009 season, Sheffield helped the Red Raiders rally from a 31-27 deficit with about eight minutes left in the game after Potts was sidelined with an injury to a 41-31 victory. But the offensive MVP of that game was Potts. That basically sums up a quarterback controversy that had its roots in the Red Raiders fifth week matchup with New Mexico in October. Potts started the New Mexico game — and all the games leading up to it — but was knocked out of the game with a concussion toward the end of the first half. At that point, Sheffield entered the game and took Tech from a 7-7 stalemate
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www.villagefoods.com and Tuberville promised an We make it easy to... Potts
answer about two weeks before Tech kicked off against Continued from page 5a SMU. The promise was fulfilled to a 48-28 victory. Potts was sidelined for two Sunday. Potts is the guy. As of press time Monday, weeks and Sheffield started Brown, Potts and Sheffield games against Kansas State were all unavailable for comand at Nebraska, 66-14 and ment. 31-10 victories, respectively. Potts had been saying in But a major quarterback practices before Mondayâ€™s controversy was delayed when that he entered the August Sheffield broke his foot late in practices just hopwww.villagefoods .com the Nebraska game. Just days two-a-day later, Potts was cleared to play ing to have fun as a member We make it easy drink better... of the Red Raiders. and started the rest of theto Red Running back Baron Batch Raidersâ€™ games. said Pottsâ€™ new mentality has While Red Raider fans made him a better player than speculated who would get he was a year ago. the starting job after the seaâ€œI think he is just playing son ended, controversy was football,â€? Batch said. â€œI think largely avoided again when a big thing that kind of got Sheffield re-injured his foot him in trouble was that he early in spring practice and thought too much. Heâ€™s just Potts injured his hand badly going out and playing and enough to require surgery. So the controversy entered thatâ€™s really the biggest difference.â€? the August practice sessions www.villagefoods.com
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Sept. 4 vs. Stephen F. Austin Sept. 11 vs. Louisiana Tech Sept. 18 vs. Florida International Sept. 30 at Oklahoma St. Oct. 9 vs. Arkansas (in Arlington) Oct. 16 vs. Missouri Oct. 23 at Kansas Oct. 30 vs. Texas Tech Nov. 6 vs. Oklahoma Nov. 13 at Baylor Nov. 20 vs. Nebraska Nov. 25 at Texas
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2010 A&M football schedule
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plans to continue working with children in the same mold as his father, who was Tim DeRuyter, a principal defensive at Humble coordinator high School before he died in December 2007, and his mother is a track coach and teacher in Houston. â€œI think I respected and loved how I grew up as a coachâ€™s son,â€? Johnson said, â€œI loved my high school and the fact my parents were able to get off in the summer and watch my games as a kid. I saw so many positives as a kid with my parents being educators. Theyâ€™re not only helping kids but theyâ€™re raising a family as well. â€œMy dad was my biggest role model. Iâ€™ve always thought highly of athletes, but at the same time, the people who are actually around; I think the people Iâ€™ve been around like my mom, my dad, my brother and the city of Humble have shaped me to be the person I am, and Iâ€™m blessed.â€? As a senior, Johnson is a teacher to his young offensive counterparts, in which only two of his teammates, center Matt Allen and receiver Terrence McCoy, are seniors. â€œI think [facing the offense] is going to be tough. We have so many weapons, and if one guy doesnâ€™t have it, another guy can pick it up. Weâ€™re really deep at receiver â€” thatâ€™s one of the strengths of this team. [Sherman]â€™s holding us to a higher standard, but I think he should. That potential is great.â€? But, Johnson faces the challenge of pushing his teammates to the next level, which for the Aggies is no longer a bowl game. In 2009, Texas A&M reached the Independence Bowl before getting upended by the Georgia Bulldogs. From then to the beginning of the 2010 campaign, Johnson has been working on his throwing motion. â€œThatâ€™s the one thing about being a quarterback â€” you can never be too fundamentally sound. Iâ€™ve been working with on my footwork and my release point. Iâ€™m holding the ball a little higher and working on delivering it as quickly as I can. Itâ€™s still a work in progress, but at the end of the day Iâ€™m trying to get completions. However it comes out, it comes out.â€? But at the end of the day, as Johnson works toward a Masterâ€™s degree in parks and recreation, he also realizes that in December, it could all end for him. â€œIâ€™ve got to cherish this, because itâ€™s my [last year] and I have to embrace the moment,â€? he said.
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Big 12 football Optimism will run rampant in College Station with the talent returning to the roster. The Aggies bring back a senior Heisman, O’Brien and All-Big 12 candidate quarterback, two talented running backs, the deepest receiving corps in the conference and the nation’s sack leader from 2009. With those added to a top 20 recruiting class and the entrance of former Air Force defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter, some see an opportunity for Texas A&M to rise and take advantage of what is perceived to be down years for Oklahoma and Texas. Few headlines made bigger splashes in 2009 than the Mike Leach saga. Texas Tech ﬁred the innovative coach over a player mistreatment scandal and hired former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville. Tuberville insists he will maintain key aspects of the Red Raiders’ offense while implementing parts of his system. He began building the defense. It might be a while before the debate between quarterbacks Steven Shefﬁeld and Taylor Potts is resolved. The Longhorns entered the national title game in 2009 fresh off a couple of narrow escapes — barely squeaking by Nebraska in the conference championship and being ranked ahead of a few other undefeated teams — before running into a wall in Alabama. Four-year starter Colt McCoy is gone, and his successor is sophomore Garrett Gilbert, who received a baptism by ﬁre that January night. One of the team’s most proliﬁc receivers in recent memory, Jordan Shipley, is gone as well. The Bears’ hopes for 2010 rely on sophomore quarterback Robert Grifﬁn III, whose knee injury caused him to miss nine games and receive a medical redshirt for the season, and the improving talent level under third-year coach Art Briles. Experience is replaced with potential on defense. While Grifﬁn returns, Baylor will have to ﬁx the 0-3 record against its in-state rivals before beginning to dream of a quick resurgence. For the Sooners, with respect to the past decade of its performance, an 8-5 record wasn’t just disappointing — it was embarrassing. But the team that lost its Heisman-winning quarterback and star tight end for the year ﬁnished with a ﬂourish, defeating a resurgent Stanford team in the bowl and preparing a quarterback for 2010. Pundits believe 8-5 might be closer to this season’s record than 12-1, but the talent is there for Oklahoma.
Having been a program on the rise for the past few years, Oklahoma State will be experiencing a rebuilding project in 2010. Head Coach Mike Gundy attempted to stall the decline by hiring offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen and his “Air Raid” version of the spread offense away from Houston. Still, with turnover at the skill positions, the Cowboys will be ﬁghting not to end up in the third tier in the Big 12 South.
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n 2009, the Big 12 again made a convincing argument as the premiere football conference in the country. With eight bowl eligible teams, tons of parity and a squad vying for the national championship, the conference had much to be proud of on the gridiron. Now, with notable players such as Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford and Ndamukong Suh gone, the conference ushers in a new era with up and coming stars such as Jerrod Johnson, Jared Crick, Garrett Gilbert and Ryan Broyles. And with no clear-cut favorites in either division, the conference will be competitive and compelling
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Most important players
Garrett Gilbert, QB, Texas – Not only is Gilbert going to have to replace the winningest quarterback in NCAA history, but he has to do it without a No. 1 receiver or a sure running game. Oh, and let’s do all of this with a new offense. Is that not enough? OK, let’s add in the fact you’re playing for the biggest team in the state, which just came off of a trip to the BCS National Championship.
Luke Joeckel, LT, Texas A&M – I could go on and on about the offensive talent the Aggies have: Jerrod Johnson the Heisman candidate and the running back tandem of Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael. But if there aren’t any holes for the runners, or time for Jerrod, what good is all that talent? Joeckel has massive talent but the learning curve will be steep for the freshman. DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma – DeMarco Murray, when healthy, is one of the top two running backs in the Big 12. However, those two words are the biggest monkey on the back of the 214-pound workhorse. Quarterback Landry Jones showed he can handle the position after stepping in for Sam Bradford in 2009. With a healthy Murray, the sky could be the limit for the Sooners. Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor – In 2009, many pundits projected Baylor to go to its first bowl since 1994. When sophomore superstar quarterback Griffin went down, however, the team fell fast and hard into the Big 12 cellar. Griffin is the difference maker in Art Briles’ third year at the helm in Waco; if healthy, Baylor could be a spoiler to any of the top three teams in the Big 12 South. Taylor Potts/Steven Sheffield, QB, Texas Tech – With Mike Leach out of the picture, Texas Tech has more things to worry about than who will throw the ball in the Red Raiders’ wide-open spread offense. And with options like Potts and Sheffield, it’s a good problem to have. The two quarterbacks combined for over 4600 yards and 36 touchdowns in the air in 2009.
Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor – Taylor, a transfer from Penn State, is a mountain of a man at 6’4” and 355 pounds. However, the nose guard laid an egg in his first season of Big 12 play, only accumulating 25 tackles and a half of a sack. For Baylor’s defense, which returns six starters but loses standouts Jordan Lake and Joe Pawelek, to see improvement, Taylor must be a much bigger force. Zac Lee/Cody Green, QB, Nebraska – Even with Ndamukong Suh in the NFL, Nebraska’s defense will be stout. Where the improvement needs to be made is in its anemic offense, which ranked 99 in the NCAA, lowest for a team with double-digit wins. Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State – The 26 year old junior quarterback will have to replace one of the most prolific players in Cowboy history in Zac Robinson. Kendall Hunter will alleviate the pressure if he can stay healthy, but it’s necessary for Weeden to be solid early or it could be a long year in Stillwater. Eddie Brown, NT, Texas A&M – Brown, who has bounced from the defensive line to the offensive line and back again, is the favorite to fill the nose tackle position in Tim DeRuyter’s 3-4 defense. For linebackers Von Miller and Garrick Williams to do their jobs, the defensive line will have to keep opposing offensive lines at bay. And all of that starts with Brown. Kyle Cunningham, staff writer
Nebraska will get a second chance at a Big 12 Championship in as many years behind their two-headed running back monster of Roy Helu Jr. and Rex Burkhead. The Huskers return defensive lineman Jared Crick, the preseason Big 12 co-defensive player of the year, who should fill in nicely for the departed monster in the middle, Ndamukong Suh. Missouri, behind gunslinger Blaine Gabbert, is the conference’s dark-horse but doesn’t have enough defensively to take over Nebraska’s throne. The rest of the conference is muddled in mediocrity. Austen Arnaud at Iowa State is one of the conference’s best quarterbacks and should lead the Cyclones to their second consecutive bowl game. New Kansas Head Coach Turner Gill will find replacing quarterback Todd Reesing and wide receivers Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier to be quite the task. And Colorado Head Coach Dan Hawkins, firmly on the hot seat, won’t have near enough in Boulder to justify the Buffaloes keeping him into 2011.
Conference 1. Oklahoma 7-1 2. Texas 6-2 3. Texas A&M 5-3 4. Oklahoma State 5-3 5. Texas Tech 4-4 6. Baylor 2-6
Conference 1. Nebraska 7-1 2. Missouri 5-3 3. Iowa State 3-5 4. Kansas State 2-6 5. Kansas 1-7 6. Colorado 1-7
The coach who piloted the Jayhawks to the best season in school history and an Orange Bowl win in 2007 is gone. Turner Gill, formerly of Buffalo, and his pro-style offense will take the reins without the beneﬁt of one of the more successful classes Kansas football has had. Sophomore Kale Pick is likely to be the one selected to try to measure up to the legacy of school recordholding quarterback Todd Reesing. The 2010 season ﬁgures to be pivotal in helping the KU football program to more consistent results.
The return of the Blackshirts was swift and merciless. In his second season, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini took command of the North division, nearly upset Texas in the Big 12 title game, coached up a Nagurski, Bednarik and Lombardi winner and Heisman ﬁnalist and throttled his opponent in a relatively high-proﬁle bowl game. The Huskers begin 2010 ranked in the Top 15 and aiming to unseat the South in the ﬁnale before shifting to the Big Ten. The Huskers get Texas and Missouri at home and travel to College Station.
Tre Newton/Fozzy Whittaker, RB, Texas – Mack Brown plans on moving the Longhorn offense back to the under center affair it was a decade ago, a far cry from the spread and zone read that made Vince Young and Colt McCoy Longhorn legends. Now, with the focus on a more professional style offense, there will be added pressure on the running backs.
Behind quarterback Landry Jones, Oklahoma is primed to return to the Big 12 Championship. With weapons such as running back DeMarco Murray and wide receiver Ryan Broyles to go along with a fast and physical defense, the Sooners are the class of the conference. Texas will realize that replacing a player the caliber of Colt McCoy won’t be easy. Texas A&M, though loaded at the skill positions, don’t possess the depth or the talent on both lines to realistically challenge for the conference crown. Oklahoma State will rely heavily on running back Kendall Hunter but a shaky quarterback and secondary situation will be their undoing. Texas Tech’s lethal spread offense won’t fair nearly as well under new Head Coach Tommy Tuberville as former coach Mike Leach who was dismissed in December. And Baylor will again miss out on bowl eligibility despite a strong comeback season from quarterback Robert Griffin Jr.
Head Coach Dan Hawkins enters the season with his seat on ﬁre and an uncertain quarterback situation, faced with the unenviable choice between his son, Cody, or junior Tyler Hansen, whose redshirt Hawkins burned midway through the 2009 campaign. Hansen is listed as the starter and the team returns talent on offense, but the Buffaloes, who head to the Pac-10 in 2012, will focus on improving in 2010.
Overall 10-2 10-2 8-4 9-3 8-4 5-7 Overall 10-2 9-3 6-6 5-7 3-9 3-9
Head coach Bill Snyder, in his return to the Wildcats, missed winning the North by a single game in 2010, but missed a bowl by just as thin a margin due to the weakness of Kansas State’s schedule. The confusion at the quarterback position puts Colorado’s situation to shame, but K-State returns an All-Big 12 rusher and two experienced safeties. The yearly matchup with Illinois is the Tigers’ only nonconference game against an opponent from a BCS conference and get Oklahoma at home. However, all signs point to Oct. 30, when the team heads to Lincoln, Neb., as the date that will determine the course of Missouri’s season. Though lacking a top receiver the Tigers appear poised to challenge the Huskers, with one of the Big 12’s best quarterbacks leading head coach Gary Pinkel’s spread. Fresh off a 7-6 record and an Insight Bowl win, the Cyclones begin the 2010 season with more optimism than fans expected. Coach Paul Rhoads’ spread and emotion energized an underwhelming roster that toughed out a road upset over Nebraska. The defense surrendered two touchdowns less per game from 2009 to 2008, signifying a trend that typically portends good results. Behind senior quarterback Austen Arnaud, Iowa State goes to work in a North division that’s wide open. Beau Holder, staff writer
David Harris, sports editor
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Left: Freshman defender Rachel Lenz is being counted on in the Aggies’ back line. Above: Junior Bri Young gives the Aggie defense an experienced player who can defend and score.
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Young defense looks to replace Emily Peterson Kyle Cunningham
The Battalion In sports, the hardest thing to do is replace a long-term veteran. In 2010, Texas A&M soccer has to replace back-line starter Emily Peterson, who played with the team for four straight seasons. In 2010, the team relies on youth in the back with one freshman, a sophomore and two juniors starting for Head Coach G. Guerreri. “Petey was a great player and a great leader for us back there,” Guerreri said. “But Lenz coming in a semester really was beneficial for her and helped her to mold with the other girls back there. On top of that, we have Bri Young, who’s an all-conference defender.” Lenz, a freshman from Round Rock, steps in to replace Peterson with a semester of experience after enrolling in the spring semester of 2010. “She’s a natural leader and a winner,” Guerreri said. “When you meet her, just by seeing the way she carries herself and directs traffic as a freshman,is really something to behold. She’s coming off of a great spring and also led her club team to a national championship.” While being a leader may seem unnatural for most freshmen, it comes easier for Lenz, who was a captain for her club team in high school. “It’s one of those things, thank goodness, where talking loud comes natural [and helps me],” Lenz said. “It’s a lot easier when you have other defenders that follow what you do really well. Once we got to the games, it just sort of came naturally, but you definitely have to work on it.” Older players can be rubbed the wrong way by a younger vocal leader, but this Texas A&M group has taken it in stride and even sees it as an asset. “Rachel is very vocal,” sophomore defender Lyndsey Gnatzig said. “A natural leader coming in as the youngest player on the team has made a huge impact on the backline.” The “grizzled veteran” of the team, Rachael Balaguer, is only a junior but is the oldest player on the line. “[Balaguer] just works for everything,” Gnatzig said. “She never gives up; she’s an awesome teammate and awesome captain.”
Balaguer sees herself as the one who has to keep her teammates focused with her endless passion towards the game and keeping the opposing forwards at bay. “I bring some energy and fire,” Balaguer said. “[I] try to get everybody psyched up. Defending can be nerve-wracking. If you’re not switched on for one minute, somebody can get a shot off that can end the game. As a new leader on the field, I have to be more vocal with the team.” The final piece to the consistent three starters in the back is Gnatzig, younger sister of senior midfielder Amber. Gnatzig, who played in 20 games last season, is the scrappy one on the pitch in the eyes of her teammates, taking the occasional risk to prevent the opposition from advancing towards the goal. “Gnatzig is one of the toughest, hardworking girls on the team,” Balaguer said, “Scrappy, side tackles, crazy speed. Just hard as nails.” Those three, plus the rotating fourth of Bri Young and Mary Schmidt, are the driving force behind Texas A&M’s quest to win the Big 12 and, ultimately, the National Championship. “I would say winning the national championship [is the target],” Balaguer said. “Personal goals have turned into a team thing.” Last year, the Aggies went to the Sweet 16 before being upended by Florida State in double overtime. But with a No. 8 ranking to begin the season, optimism sits high for the Aggies. “I’m playing with some of the best defenders in the country,” Lenz said, “I want to go all the way and be playing in December. That’s the ultimate goal.” The defense began to gel together in the spring as Balaguer, the sophomore, worked with her line of the future with freshmen Gnatzig and Lenz during the spring season. That group accumulated 10 shutouts over the course of the extra season. “I’m optimistic that the experiences they’ve gained over the past spring and last fall will make us a much more formidable defense,” Guerreri said. “For a team to get 10 shutouts and be starting two fish and a sophomore in your back four is a pretty good indicator of the talent that’s back there. With time, they’ve become more united and coordinated as a unit.”
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Big 12 soccer After falling to Florida State in the 2009 Sweet 16, Texas A&M will return three Big 12 Championship All-Tournament Team players, Mary Grace Schmidt on defense and Rachel Shipley and Whitney Hooper at forward. A&M appears to still have the weapons but the challenge will be to replace defender Emily Peterson and get further than in 2009. The Baylor Bears ﬁnished the 2009 season with an 8-6-5 record good enough to place them seventh heading into the eight-team Big 12 Soccer Championship. Baylor lost their ﬁrst game of the tournament 2-0 to eventual Big 12 runner-up, Texas A&M. Baylor will return midﬁelder Lotto Smith who led the team in nearly every offensive category including points, goals and shots taken. Texas was led in 2009 by Kylie Doniak with a teamleading 12 points. The Longhorns weren’t as competitive as usual, falling in the semiﬁnals of the Big 12 tournament. If Doniak steps up and gets some much needed scoring help from Big 12 All-Newcomer team member Sophie Campise, Texas could return to the top of the Big 12 standings this season. Oklahoma returns two of its top three scorers from 2009, which was a year to forget. Oklahoma ﬁnished conference play with a 2-7-1 conference record and ﬁnished 7-10-2 overall, good enough for second to last in the Big 12. Oklahoma’s top performer is sure to be senior forward Whitney Palmer who ﬁnished eighth in the nation in goals scored with 15. Palmer will have to improve on her outstanding 2009 season to help Oklahoma crawl out of the cellar. Texas Tech ﬁnished conference play at 3-4-3 and at 8-8-4 overall, missing the Big 12 Championship after tying for seventh in the conference because of its conference record. Tech was led by freshman and Big 12 All-Newcomer team member Dawn Ward, who led the team with 27 points. Ward’s play was complemented by sophomore midﬁelder Taylor Lytle and freshman defender and fellow Big 12 AllNewcomer team member Morgan Johnson, who returns to help Texas Tech earn its spot in the Big 12 this season. Oklahoma State captured the Big 12 Championship in 2009, thanks to three All-Big 12 ﬁrst team players, one second team and two all-newcomer team players. Oklahoma State will look to leading scorer Annika Niemeir, from Germany, to lead the way to yet another Big 12 Championship trophy.
thebattalion 08.25.2010 page9a
t was a down year for Big 12 soccer in 2009. The conference sent two teams to the NCAA Championships, and Texas A&M was the only school to get past the second round of the tournament — the Aggies lost in the Sweet 16. The conference as a whole is full of youth and energy and the usual suspects — A&M, Texas, Oklahoma State and Missouri — should challenge for the conference crown. Players such as Rachel Shipley, Annika Neimeier, Whitney Palmer and Morgan Marlborough return and a solid conferencewide class of incoming freshmen should help restore the conference among the nation’s elite.
Top 10 players
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Nebraska made it to the Big-12 Championship tournament as the No. 4 seed by ﬁnishing 5-3-2 in the conference and 11-5-4 overall. Nebraska matched up against the No. 4 seed Oklahoma State and lost 3-0. Nebraska was led by Morgan Marlborough, the Big 12 player of the year and rookie of the year. Marlborough is now a sophomore and has plenty of experience to lead Nebraska even further in the Big 12.
Iowa State ﬁnished last in the Big 12 standings in 2009 and can only hope for improvement on a 7-9-4 season. The Morgan Marlborough – F – Nebraska – Sophomore Cyclones Cy ycl clon ones es ﬁﬁnnis nished ishe hedd 222-8-0 8 0 in ccon 8conference nference Led the conference in 2009 in scoring with 21 goals (in 87 shots) and added seven assists to total 49 points, play pl ay a and nd w wer were ere er e led le d offe of offensively fens fe nsi ns i v e ly y by numbers that each ranked fifth in the NCAA. Accolades include: 2010 U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Amanda Woelfel who led th the he team Team, 2009 Soccer America All-Freshman First Team and 2009 Big 12 Offensive Player of the year. in ggoals, oals, points oa ts aand nd aass assists. ssis ss ists is ts. Io ts Iowa owa Rachel Shipley – MF – Texas A&M – Senior State wass le led defensively by senior The star senior for the Aggies spent the summer competing for the Women’s U23 National Ann goalkeeper An nn Gleason who started Team. In the 2009 season, she led the team with 27 points, etching 9 goals and 9 assists in games. Replacing all 20 games s. R eplacing veterans such conference play. She was named to the All-Big 12 first team and NSCAA All-Central Region. will as Gleason wi ill be necessary for Iowa improve State to imp proove on its dismal season. Adrianna Franch – GK – Oklahoma State – Sophomore Led the Big 12 in shutouts (11), goals against average and save percentage. Played for the U.S. team in the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Germany in July. All-Big 12 First Team, Big 12 All-Newcomer Team, TopDrawerSoccer.com All-Rookie First Team and NSCAA All-Central Region first team. After ﬁnishing
Taylor Lytle – MF – Texas Tech –Junior Tallied 11 assists in the 2009 season to lead the Big 12 in the category and netted 4 goals. Named to the NSCAA All-Central Region second team and All-Big 12 First Team. Whitney Palmer – F – Oklahoma – Senior With 15 goals and 2 assists on the season, she was second in points in Big 12. NSCAA All-Central Region second team and All-Big 12 First Team. Whitney Hooper – F – Texas A&M – Senior Led the Aggies in 2009 with 10 conference goals, including 5 game winners. Ranked 8th in the league in points with 24. Scored the winning goal against Memphis in the first round of the NCAA tournament. 2009 All-Big 12 second team, 2009 NSCAA All-Central Region second team. Melinda Mercado – D – Oklahoma State –Junior Star of a defense who recorded 14 shutouts and allowed just 16 goals in the 2009 season. NSCAA All-Central Region second team, All-Big 12 First Team. Molly Thomas – F – Nebraska –Junior Registered 8 goals and 7 assists in the 2009 season. Trained with the U.S. Under-23 Women’s National Team. 2009 All-Big 12 second team. Annika Niemeier – MF – Oklahoma State – Senior Led OSU with 11 goals in 2009. 2009 All-Big 12 second team, 2009 NSCAA All-Central Region second team. Was a member of the U-19 German National Team. Alyssa Mautz – MF – Texas A&M – Senior Transferred from Saint Louis University to Texas A&M after her freshman year. Attended U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team camp this summer. Netted goals in the first round of NCAA play against Colorado and Memphis. 2009 All-Big 12 second team.
How they’ll finish
Alex Welch, staff writer
1. Texas A&M – In a sport where the ACC and Pac-10 conferences are queen, the Aggies ended the 2009 season as the only Big 12 team ranked in the Top 25 according to the NCAA RPI. Bringing back a whopping 11 starters including Rachel Shipley and the addition of two well-touted freshman and a junior transfer from defending national champions, North Carolina, the Aggies look poised to continue the tradition of a deep run into the NCAA tournament. 2. Nebraska – Returning eight starters from the 2009 squad, the Huskers look to have the most explosive offense in the Big 12. The striker duo of Morgan Marlborough and Molly Thomas combined for 29 goals and 14 assists in the 2009 campaign. 3. Oklahoma State – The Cowboys return off a Big 12 Tournament Championship and a run to the second round of the NCAA tournament. The phenomenal keeper, Adrianna Franch is coming into her sophomore season with a lot of experience after a record setting freshman year. Look to OSU for one of the most solid defenses in the Big 12. 4. Missouri – The defending regular season Big 12 champs may have lost a step or two for 2010. Only one person who collected 2009 conference awards is returning: Head Coach Bryan Blitz, who was named Coach of the Year after their 7-1-2 season. With 2009’s four star seniors gone, it looks to be a rebuilding year for Mizzou. 5. Colorado – The Buffs have lost their star forward and leader Nikki Marshall and will have an untested keeper in the net. The young squad might not be as experienced as other Big 12 teams, but CU has finished in the league’s top-five eight times in Bill Hempen’s nine years as the Buffaloes head coach.
File — THE BATTALION
2009 third in the Big 12, there is plenty to replace. Colorado’s alltime leading goal scorer and Big 12 ﬁrst team mid-ﬁelder Nikki Marshall must be replaced in order for Colorado to have another successful season. Forward Amy Barczuk, was the only other player to start in all 19 of Colorado’s games and she is likely to take on a heavier role this year with Marshall leaving. Kansas barely made the Big 12 Championship tournament as the No. 8 seed after ﬁnishing 4-6-0 in Big 12 play. They faced No. 1 Missouri in the ﬁrst round of the tournament, losing 3-2 in overtime. Kansas will return eight starters including goalkeeper Kat Liebetrau and forward’s Whitney Berry and Emily Cressy. Kansas has a variety of experienced players returning, all of which started in double digit games in 2009. These same experienced players will need to step up to another level of play to become one of the Big 12 soccer elites and take the Jayhawks to the next level.
Missouri ﬁnished at the top of the Big 12 standing in 2009 as they ﬁnished with a 7-1-2 record in the conference and a 13-6-3 overall record. The top seed going into the Big 12 tournament, Missouri beat Kansas to advance to play the No. 5 seed Oklahoma State who shocked the Tigers, 3-2. Missouri will lose top scorer, forward Kristin Andrighetto, who led the team with 27 points in 2009. She will likely be replaced by second leading scorer, senior Alysha Bonnick, who will be expected to lead the Tigers to the third straight Big 12 regular season championship. Sean Lester, staff writer
6. Texas – The returners for the 2010 season accounted for 70 percent of Longhorn goals in 2009, which at 10 isn’t saying much. They have the No. 1 recruit in the state for the 2014 class in Lexi Harris and bring back its postseason 2009 Big 12 AllNewcomer Team winners, Sophie Campise and Hannah Higgins. 7. Texas Tech – Junior Taylor Lytle looks to lead the Red Raiders this season. Her sophomore campaign led the Big 12 in assists. Tech went 3-4-3 in 2009 finishing eighth in the Big 12. 8. Oklahoma – Returning 10 starters from 2009 including Whitney Palmer, the Sooners have more experience going into the 2010 season after a disappointing 10th place conference finish in the 2009 campaign. 9. Baylor – The Bears are back fully loaded with 100 percent of the goal scorers from 2009, having registered eight in conference play in 2009 going 3-4-3 on the year for a seventh place finish.
10. Kansas –The Jayhawks went 4-6 on the 2009 season and return eight starters. At least the Jayhawks still have basketball season to look forward to. 11. Iowa State – The Cyclones endured eight conference losses in 2009, and you shouldn’t expect much less in 2010. Alex Welch, staff writer Pg. 9a-08.25.10.indd 1
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page 1b wednesday 8.25.2010
K C A L B ACK B IS By Mike Teague | The Battalion
ntering the 2010 volleyball season, Texas A&M is coming off a Cinderella run to the Sweet 16. With the departures of Mary Batis, Sarah Ammerman and Jennifer Banse, the Aggies’ roster this season won’t feature a single senior from the 2009 squad. Named a preseason All-Big 12 selection, junior outside hitter Kelsey Black is ready for the challenge. Black has stepped into the role as A&M’s leader on and off the court. Her development and success this season will play a role in the Aggies’ chances of returning to the NCAA Tournament. “Kelsey has already stepped into a huge leadership role this past spring and summer,” said A&M Head Coach Laurie Corbelli. “Very comfortably I might add. She’s called meetings, team meals and workouts. From what I’ve seen, she does it very naturally and confidently. I think the most important thing to Kelsey is doing whatever it takes to win.” Along with fellow junior outside hitter Chelsea Ringel, Black will have to fill the shoes of two of the programs all-time leaders, Batis and Ammerman. Black’s role on the team has quickly shifted from solid role player to go-to scorer, and she recognizes the responsibility that comes with it. “Our leadership role is going to be big
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because we have no seniors and we’ve been here the longest,” Black said. “We know how it works and how everything runs. It’s just going to be a matter of us stepping up and getting everybody on board.” The leadership transition has been eased for Black by the examples set by her predecessors. “I talked to Mary [Batis] about a few things but mostly we learned from them by watching,” Black said. “When we came in, they got us to where we needed to be and helped us figure out how the team ran. We learned so much from them during those first couple of years.” Although this will be the first year everyone will be looking to Black, her leadership skills have been on display since her arrival in 2008. Sophomore middle blocker Lindsey Miller already identifies Black as a person to look to on the court. “Obviously [Black] is going to have a lot bigger role as far as carrying the team and stuff like
File photo — THE BATTALION
Junior outside hitter Kelsey Black is stepping into a leadership role on the team, calling meetings, team meals and workouts. that, so we expect even more leadership out of her,” Miller said. “She’s always working really hard and keeping people accountable. I think we’re going to be really strong.” Black’s passion for the game is a natural leadership attribute. Her excitement on the court is contagious and will feed the Aggies’ energy level this season. “Each one of us brings a different type of emotion to the court,” Black said. “Mine is just
an overall crazy excitement from just being out there and I think my teammates feed off of that energy.” Always one of the most amped-up players on either side of the net, Black’s frustrated yells and exhilarated celebrations have made her a favorite of both fans and her coach. “That’s the type of player I like watching See Black on page 5b
8/24/10 5:41 PM
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The Battalion The year was 1978. A&M Head Coach Laurie Corbelli, formerly Laurie Flachmeier, was enjoying all the splendor Texas Lutheran University could provide to a 20-year-old volleyball player. Then the call came. A tryout for the United States’ Women’s Volleyball team in Huntington Beach, Calif. The opportunity was too good to pass up, and Corbelli joined the best volleyball players in the country to train and qualify for the upcoming 1980 Olympics in Moscow. It was a once in a lifetime chance. When the U.S. Olympic Committee offered the team the ability to train at its headquarters in Colorado Springs, the team picked up everything and hit the road and, in the process, became the first in-resident team in U.S. Olympic history. It meant the players would be giving up everything in their previous residences to eat, sleep and live volleyball. All in a rundown army barrack. “The place was just coming off of being an old army barrack,” Corbelli said. “There was no gym on the facility. Just a small cafeteria and barracks. The coaches said we will go every day, eight hours a day
David Harris — THE BATTALION
and we’ll qualify for Moscow. “We jumped in cars and packed up and moved to Colorado Springs. While there, we trained from March of 1978 to January of 1980. We all put school on hold and left college. We all made commitments to each other and our families that we’d get degrees when finished. Our thinking was that we’re not going to be 20 years old
forever and this opportunity is once in a lifetime.” So the team trained. Two four-hour sessions a day. They’d train in high school gyms before and after school. They’d work out in vacated elementary school gyms. They gave everything up because, Corbelli said, why not go for it all, much to the chagrin of See Corbelli on page 4b
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Big 12 volleyball
After a rollercoaster ride through conference play in 2009, the Aggies ﬁnished strong with a trip to the Sweet 16. The losses of All-Americans Sarah Ammerman and Jennifer Banse and team-leader Mary Batis will put a lot of pressure on the young roster to perform. Freshman middle blocker Lindsey Miller and junior “do-it-all” Kelsey Black will need to step up if A&M wants to reach the NCAA Tournament again.
thebattalion 08.25.2010 page3b
n 2009, the Big 12 sent six teams to the NCAA Championships and sent five of the six to the Sweet 16 of the tournament. Nebraska and Texas squared off in an all-Big 12 Elite Eight showdown, and the Longhorns were a set away from a shocking national championship victory over powerhouse Penn State. Now, with superstars such as Destinee Hooker and Heather Kisner having moved on, the conference is littered with uncertainty. The usual powerhouses — Nebraska and Texas — remain the favorites but many young, hungry squads are hoping the underdogs reign in the Big 12.
Following their ﬁrst ever trip to the Sweet 16, the Baylor Bears face a tough challenge in replacing leading-scorer Katie Sanders and All-Americans Anna Breyfogle and Taylor Barnes. Senior outside hitter Ashlie Christenson will have to pick up the slack if the Bears want to continue their recent success on the volleyball court. After a historic season, the Longhorns’ dominance in 2009 has been overcast with the failure that ended it. After taking a 2-0 lead over Penn State in the NCAA Championship, Texas lost three straight sets to lose the National Championship. Losing the nation’s co-player of the year and one of the most dominant players in Big 12 history, Destinee Hooker, Texas will rely on senior outside hitter Julianne Faucet and head coach Jerritt Elliot’s ﬁfth-ranked recruiting class. One of the most experienced teams in the Big 12, Oklahoma is in good position to make a run in 2010. The Sooners return two All-Big 12 selections in junior setter Brianne Barker and senior middle block Francie Ekwerekwu and All-Big 12 freshman Maria Fernanda. The loss of Bridget Laplante is softened by a strong recruiting class by Head Coach Santiago Restrepo, who is trying to bring the Sooners back to the success of 2006 and 2007. New Texas Tech head coach Trish Knight will look to turn around a program that has been dormant for quite some time. On the bright side, the Lady Raiders return leading-scorer junior Amanda Dowdy and junior setter Karlyn Meyers. Despite Knight’s tremendous success at Missouri State-West Plains, it may take a few years before Tech can reestablish themselves in the Big 12.
Preseason awards Offensive Player of the Year: Victoria Henson – Iowa State (Sr.) Defensive Player of the Year: Brooke Delano - Nebraska (Sr.) Libero of the Year: Ashley Mass – Iowa State (Sr.)
Victoria Henson (Iowa State, Sr.) Arguably the best offensive player in the conference, Henson returns as the Big 12’s leading returning scorer after tallying 4.14 kills per set in 2009. This season she will try to take the next step in leading the Cyclones to their first Big 12 Championship.
Juliann Faucette (Texas, Sr.) (above right) With the departure of phenom Destinee Hooker, Faucette will need to step up and become the Longhorns next star. The All-American returns after averaging 3.17 kills per set with one of the country’s best players in front of her.
Brooke Delano (Nebraska, Jr.) (above left) Delano enters 2010 after solidifying herself as a force inside last season. The All-American averaged 2.34 kills and 1.09 blocks per set as a sophomore and will try to earn the Cornhuskers a conference title in their final Big 12 season.
Lindsey Miller (Texas A&M, So.) After an impressive freshman season, Miller will play a much larger role in her second year. Named a Big 12 all-freshman selection, she led the Aggies in blocks and is the team’s leading returning scorer.
Sydney Anderson (Nebraska, Sr.) One of the country’s top setters in 2009, Anderson will utilize her experience in quarterbacking the Cornhuskers’ attack this season. The All-American averaged a conference-high 12.09 assists per set last season.
Ashley Mass (Iowa State, Sr.) Perhaps the Cyclones best advantage this season, the libero and defensive specialist led the conference in digs in 2009. Mass was named first team All-American after averaging 5.49 digs per set. Mike Teague, staff writer
How they’ll finish
Freshman of the Year: Hannah Allison – Texas
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In their ﬁnal season as a member of the Big 12, Nebraska boasts one of the best rosters in the conference and nation. The Cornhuskers return three All-Americans in junior middle blocker Brooke Delano, senior setter Sydney Anderson, and 2009 Big 12 freshman of the year Hannah Werth. Combining these experienced talents with the addition of three freshmen ranking in the Top 20 of the class of 2009, Head Coach John Cook will look to add one more Big 12 trophy to the case before splitting for the Big Ten. Iowa State will look to take the program to the next level this season as they come off their third-straight trip to the Sweet 16 and a program-record of 27 wins in 2009. Big 12 coach of the year Christy Johnson-Lynch returns her top ﬁve scorers from 2009, including Big 12 Libero of the year, Ashley Mass, and fellow All-American Victoria Henson. The key for the Cyclones will be to ﬁnd a replacement for Kaylee Manns who led the conference in assists in 2009.
Following Foll Fo llllow owin ow ingg a in disappointing season for Head Coach Suzie Fritz, the Wildcats will need leading-scorer JuliAnne Chisholm to take charge in 2010. Missing in the middle will be All-Big 12 selection Kelsey Chipman, who led the Big 12 in solo blocks in 2009. Inexperience will be Kansas State’s biggest challenge, as two seniors will try to manage the rest of the roster, which consists of ﬁve sophomores and two freshmen. An experienced group of ﬁve seniors will try to escalate the improvement that Missouri underwent last season. Big 12 newcomer of the year Paola Ampudia returns after leading the team in kills. Despite the powerful offense that the Tigers present, they will need to replace setter Lei WangFrancisco and ﬁnd a director of the offense. Despite the large strides taken by Kansas’ volleyball program in 2009, the road ahead is going to be difﬁcult for the Jayhawks. Senior outside-hitter Karina Garlington and junior setter Nicole Tate will need their experience to improve their team’s record in 2010. Losing four starters will only make their job more difﬁcult.
1. Iowa State 2. Nebraska 3. Texas 4. Texas A&M 5. Oklahoma 6. Missouri 7. Baylor 8. Kansas State 9. Kansas 10. Texas Tech 11. Colorado
Newcomer of the Year: Taylor Manning – Kansas (So.) Most Improved: Kelsey Black – Texas A&M (Jr.)
Coming off another rough season, Colorado will look to rebound in 2010 with returning outside hitters Kerra Shroeder and Rosie Steinhaus. Despite the departure of leadingscorer Becah Fogle and setter Kaitlyn Burkett, the Buffaloes added nine freshmen to the roster to build toward a brighter future in the Pac-10 beginning in 2012.
The Big 12 will once again be one of the most competitive conferences in the country in 2010. Iowa State, Nebraska, and Texas are destined to engage in a tight race all season that will come down to the wire. The conference championship could be decided when these three teams play each other. When it comes down to it, Iowa State’s experience along with star Victoria Henson may be too much for Nebraska’s talent and the Cyclones could keep the Cornhuskers from leaving the Big 12 with another title. Behind the three powerhouses, A&M, led by Kelsey Black, has a chance to edge out Oklahoma, Missouri and Baylor. Five teams should make it to the NCAA Tournament, so this group has little room for error. All four could make runs into the top three, but a few losses, and they will see their season ending early. Despite their limited chances at clinching a tournament bid, Kansas and Kansas State will still be competitive, quality opponents that could come up with a devastating upset over the teams in the middle of the pack. Texas Tech and Colorado should see some improvement this season, but not in conference play.
Mike Teague, staff writer
8/24/10 5:45 PM
File — THE BATTALION
A&M Head Coach Laurie Corbelli and the Aggie volleyball team begin the 2010 season against Sienna at 10 a.m. Friday at Reed Arena.
ing Cold War. They trained and trained, full well knowing that April 24, 1980, Carter would Continued from page 2b decide their team’s fate. “So we heard that April 24 the United States Volleyball was the day he was going to Association. make the decision,” Corbelli “We didn’t have a lot of said. “It was still winter, and we support from the U.S. Volleyhad time to try on the outfits ball Association,” Corbelli said. “They said it was too strange to for our country and we didn’t ask for us to give up everything even know we were going. So we trained for three and a half for this task. The men’s team months not knowing. That only trained at night, but we may have been the hardest time had a long way to go if we during training.” wanted to compete. And if The team boarded a plane to we’re going to go for it, let’s go travel to San Antonio for an exall out. This really is the group that trail blazed volleyball train- hibition match against East Germany. When they landed, they ing in the U.S.” The team endured the stren- realized the grim fate bestowed upon the team. uous coaching tactics of Arie “We knew the announceSelinger, an Israeli. A man who ment was made in-flight,” had endured all kinds of turmoil and who was intent on qualify- Corbelli said. “My family was waiting for us at the airport, and ing for Moscow. “He was on the way to a con- when I stepped off the plane and saw the faces, I knew we weren’t centration camp when Amerigoing. That was a scene. All the can jets flew over and saved tears. We went to play the match a huge group,” Corbelli said. and when they sung the anthem, “This man knows sacrifice and it’s a scene I’ll never forget.” was not easy to play for, but he Following the boycott, half was determined.” So the team bought in. Even of the team decided to quit and with the knowledge in the back move on with their lives. Corbelli, along with seven others, of their minds of a possible decided to train for four more Olympic boycott by President Jimmy Carter due to the ongo- years, in hopes of competing in
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Hurdles Although Blackâ€™s dynamic ability gave her an opportunity to get on the court in the past, Corbelli acknowledges that it added an extra hurdle for her to overcome. â€œMy perception has always been that Kelsey can play just about any position I need her at,â€? Corbelli said. â€œWe also recognize that it makes things challenging because you donâ€™t know where to put your focus many times. Sheâ€™s just the type that wants to be on the floor, somewhere, anywhere. I trust that sheâ€™s ready to compete and will do her best even if she doesnâ€™t feel like sheâ€™s had enough time at a certain position.â€? For the Aggies to compete for a conference title, Black will need to take a huge leap in production this season. In 2009, Kelseyâ€™s playing time was limited due to A&Mâ€™s depth and talent on the outside. She was forced to come off the bench and play a variety of positions throughout the year. â€œI think for Kelsey coming in as a younger player behind Batis, Ammerman and Banse was really challenging,â€? Corbelli said. â€œThey were really good and it was hard for her to surpass that experience ahead of her, but sheâ€™s so talented that we always wanted to find a place for her.â€?
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Continued from page 1b
play and I believe most people do,â€? Black said. â€œI understand that everybody doesnâ€™t have that in them to stay up for an entire game, but Kelsey has it in her and she knows how important it is. The excitement and energy is just contagious and I believe it gives other players the green light to express themselves on the court. You want your kids to be who they are and express who they are.â€? The attitude and talent that Black possesses reminds Corbelli of another A&M great that she coached. She said Blackâ€™s traits mirror those of two-time All-American and Olympic silver medalist Stacy Sykora. â€œI compare her so many times to Sykora,â€? Corbelli said. â€œIn the gym, sometimes Iâ€™ll call her â€˜Stacy.â€™ They both are kind of free spirits and love self-expression. Neither one of them took coaches or authority too seriously and arenâ€™t afraid to lighten up the tough moments. They just resemble each other in those ways and athletically.â€?
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File photo â€” THE BATTALION
Head Coach Laurie Corbelli compares Kelsey Blackâ€™s personality and athleticism to Olympic silver medalist Stacy Sykora. Despite a slow start in 2009, Blackâ€™s ability and emotion helped the Aggies rebound and get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years. In a first-round upset of No. 19 Arizona, Black made her first start as outside hitter and scored a career-high 17 kills. â€œAt the beginning of last season, it was just about getting everybody back in a groove and getting our game going,â€? Black said. â€œWe talked a lot about how we wanted to find who our team was and focusing on finding our team identity was
our top priority. This year, I definitely want to make it back to the NCAA Tournament. I also want to be a constant factor in the game. If someone needs me, I want to be able to come through or figure it out.â€? Experience will be one of the Aggiesâ€™ major obstacles in 2010. If things start to go wrong, the players will need to have someone to look at to pull them together. If Black becomes this leader, she has a strong chance of making her mark in the history of Texas A&M volleyball.
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Ellis eases onto the field David Harris
The Battalion It’s a daunting task. The first day of college at a school of more than 48,000 students. Even more daunting is suiting up at the Aggie Soccer Complex for the first time in front of thousands of fans. Thus is the life of freshman midfielder Sara Ellis. Ellis loves the movies “Avatar” and “Stepbrothers,” enjoys meditating to a little Dave Matthews Band and Corey Smith, is enthralled by vacations to the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas and has always been an Aggie. “I have been involved and interested in A&M since the time I was three years old,” Ellis said. “My dad and grandpa went to A&M. I mean, my first football game was against Texas when I was eight, and ever since then it has been my dream school.” It also helps that her uncle is legendary Aggie football coach R.C. Slocum. But regardless of family lineage, Ellis has plenty of attributes that made her a standout recruit coming out of high school and, hopefully, a standout player during her time at A&M. “Sara is another really good athlete and a really good team player,” Head Coach G. Guerrieri said. “She gives us a whole lot of options. She can play anywhere on the outside. On the back, midfield or as a forward and because she’s a quality athlete, she comes in and can step right up to speed.” Ellis, the soccer player, has goals she’s hoping to realize during her freshman season. “I just want to live up to expectations,” Ellis said. “Both mine and others. My motto is ‘set your goals high and achieve higher. And I definitely want to have playing time as a freshman. I want to work really hard to put myself out there to be on the field. And I want to contribute as much as I can on the field.” New to the life of a college student, Ellis wants to be able to find her way on campus and avoid being swamped by all of her duties. “Getting lost is my biggest fear,” Ellis said. “This campus is a big one. We were talking about it the other day and just looking at a map and, I’ll say, it’s intimidating…I’m also worried that once school and practices start, I may get a bit overwhelmed.” Ellis describes herself as a hard-working player who occasionally gets down on herself. She said that she’s most looking forward to Aggie Muster and Silver Taps. She doesn’t get embarrassed easily and is Aretha Franklin when she sings alone — at least, that’s what her mom tells her.
David Harris — THE BATTALION
2010-2011 schedule Aggieland Invitational Tournament Aug. 27 vs. Virginia Tech Aug. 29 vs. Washington State Season play Sept. 3 vs. Davidson Sept. 12 at Purdue Sept. 17 at Portland Sept. 19 vs. Cal State Northridge Sept. 24 vs. Colorado * Sept. 26 at Nebraska * Oct. 1 at Kansas * Oct. 8 vs. Baylor * Oct. 10 vs. Texas Tech * Oct. 25 at Iowa State * Oct. 17 at Missouri * Oct. 22 vs. Oklahoma * Oct. 24 vs. Oklahoma State * Oct. 29 at Texas * * Conference event Her favorite moment in soccer, up to this point, was winning a state championship at The Woodlands High School in 2010. And, when asked of the goal she has for this year’s A&M team, Ellis states a simple, confident answer. “I want to make it the NCAA Finals.” Sounds somewhat daunting.
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