Athletic department welcomes new coaches


Since last May, there have been several new coaching positions filled, bringing lots of new faces to the athletic department.

Many of the coaches on staff have brought in new assistants, or have moved from assistants to head coaches. Ultimately, there is a new wave of people in the coaching offices that many students have not yet had the chance to meet.

For example, Ryan Clark, previous women’s basketball head coach, has taken over the men’s team. With this, Samantha Stormont has stepped in as the head coach of the women’s team. Adam Nycz has stepped up from assistant coach to head coach of the men’s lacrosse team, and Brandon Trefil has become the new head coach of both men’s and women’s golf teams.

Along with these new roles being filled by both new staff members and previously existing ones, many assistant coaching spots have been filled.

Some of these assistant coaches include: Ryan Duncan, who will assist with the women’s basketball team, Tara Lierman has stepped on as new assistant for the women’s soccer team and Tyris Hill has been named a new assistant coach for the football team.

Along with these, several other new assistant coaches have come to join the Alma family, with more to be announced soon.

A few alumni have also decided to come back and help coach for their old teams, including Brehanna Ramos (‘19) and Kennedy Hilley (‘19).

“It’s cool how adaptive everyone has been, and supportive. They all stop in and make sure to say hello,” said Hilley. It can be difficult for an alum to earn the full respect of their team while stepping into the coaching role.

“As an alum, respect is a big thing with the student athletes and I think that they respect me enough that things are going really well,” said Hilley. All of the new faces in the athletic department have said that they love the energy in the offices.

“It’s been amazing! Everyone gets along really well, and they are all really welcoming and always there to help if I need,” said Tara Lierman.

Student athlete perspectives on all of the new faces in the athletic department are equally as important, and senior athletes have seen plenty of change in their years at Alma.

“Throughout my years at Alma, I have seen a lot of turnover from the coaching staff,” said Steve Harvey (‘20).

“It’s sad to see these faces familiar to Alma leave us, but at the same time it’s always good for a fresh start to rejuvenate a program. These changes can be integral in setting the foundation to shift the direction of a program,” said Harvey.

“I have seen a lot of coaches come and go, but one thing always stays the same: they love their athletes and the people here,” said Georgia Miller (‘20).

“I can’t speak for all sports, but this summer specifically, I have seen the volleyball program change in terms of motivation to win and support,” said Miller.

“I think Sarah Dehring has done a great job at supporting all the sports teams and really promoting a positive, inclusive environment for everyone in the athletic department! She sees our potential in Alma athletics and is really putting her visions into action,” said Miller.

From coaches to athletic directors to student athletes, everyone is excited for the direction the athletic department is headed with these new staff members.

“I think Alma is definitely headed in the right direction. Athletes are creating a buzz around campus about the excitement they have for these fresh starts,” said Harvey.

Healthy eating for athletes


For athletes, a healthy and balanced diet is critical for performance in competition. Eating healthy on campus, although it may not seem easy at first, is absolutely accomplishable. “Athletes at any level should want to treat their diet seriously and want to eat healthy,” said Zeke Nave (‘20).

The dining options on campus and a part of every student’s meal plan include Hamilton Commons (also known as SAGA), Joes, the Dow cart, Starbucks, Highland Java, Highland Blush, El Vaquero, Jimmy Johns and Pizza One.

While these options may not all seem the most healthy, many athletes find ways to eat balanced diets.

“Students don’t realize there are plenty of options at Saga, even if your goal is to eat healthy,” said Nave. Eating healthy at Hamilton Commons can be done simply by using all of your resources and customizing your meals.

“You can make most the the options healthy by yourself! Make salads, take the bun off of burgers and eat the veggies,” said Ally Wentworth (‘21).

“For breakfast, I am a huge smoothie guy. I use everything that they put out at the smoothie bar as well as my own protein and then peanut butter to top it off,” said Nave.

“The Mongolian station is one of my personal favorites, it provides all of the veggies you would want, a good source of protein from the meat and a healthy carb from the rice,” said Wentworth.

“At the My Zone station, you can order chicken breast, burgers or turkey burgers. I enjoy this because you can mix it up and eat it with a lot of other things offered around Saga,” said Wentworth.

Self-control can also be a huge part of keeping a healthy diet while on campus, and athletes know that struggle better than anyone.

“I think the two things I try to avoid are the main lines and the pizza bar. As much as I love Taco Tuesday and popcorn chicken, I love the reward of eating healthy and feeling great just a little bit more,” said Nave. “Limit the desserts, but don’t be afraid to indulge every once in awhile,” said Wentworth.

Successful athletes are often a product of their diet, and many athletes at Alma are happy to help younger students figure out their best options.

“I would advise the younger athletes to try to change their eating habits early on and build a routine of making good eating decisions before they begin making the typical college kid decisions of late night binge eating,” said Nave.

“Start trying new things on the salad bar, check out MyZone and all that it offers and don’t be afraid to be the friend who refuses to eat a slice of pizza,” said Nave.

“Take advantage of the to go fruit station; the apples, oranges and bananas are great snacks for when you’re on the go and great for you right before practice,” said Wentworth.

Eating on campus does not have to result in the ‘Freshman Fifteen’, in fact, it can be the opposite.

With all of the options for customizing meals in Hamilton, choosing healthy snacks from Joes, and the occasional Pizza One cheat meal, student athletes have all of the tools they need to make their diet the best it can be.

Greer named head coach of men’s soccer


After the resignation of coach Oakley, the Scots men’s soccer team brought home a familiar face. John Greer, previous assistant coach for the program, has been named as head coach.

“We’re thrilled to have Coach Greer returning to Alma and take over the reins as our new head men’s soccer coach,” said Steven Rackley, athletic director.

“He was here for two seasons under Coach Oakley as an assistant. He knows Alma, who we are, and what we can be,” said Rackley.

Greer spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons as an assistant for Alma and then spent the last five years coaching for Transylvania University.

Not only is the athletic department excited for coach Greer’s return to Alma, the student athletes are thrilled.

“It’s a great opportunity to start a fresh chapter under the reigns of a new boss coming to campus,” said Brian Ganton (‘20).

“The entire team is buzzing to have such a highly regarded coach as Greer joining our program,” said Ganton.

“I really think we found the right guy. He is extremely intelligent and really knows the game of soccer,” said Jarod Arendsen (‘22).

As for the hiring process, Greer was the clear choice for the job.

“We had a very strong pool of candidates for the position. Coach Greer rose to the top and the entire committee felt good about bringing him in,” said Rackley.

“Then, once we got him on campus, I knew. We all knew that he was the guy we wanted to be our next head coach,” said Rackley.

One unique aspect of the pooling process was that the members of the team got to have a say in who they wanted to be their head coach.

“As a team, we had a chance to meet with Coach Greer and ask him questions relevant to the culture of the program and also tactics,” said Andersen.

“However, the team was very proactive and involved in meeting Greer when he arrived to campus for his interview,” said Ganton.

“The lads had nothing but the best to say about him, and we believe that kind got the ball rolling on the ultimate selection of our newly elected coach,” said Ganton.

As for what is to come, the entire community around men’s soccer is excited for the future with coach Greer.

“I believe Greer will be coming in with a brand-new outlook of what he sees in the program, which some of the current team and recently past players have not particularly seen yet,” said Ganton.

“Greer is bringing an energy and culture change to the men’s program that is nothing short of contagious for the rest of the squad,” said Ganton.

“I think things will change a lot. I think he will bring a new aspect to the culture of the program,” said Andersen.

Ladd and Cooper win All-American


To cap off their team’s stunning season, two wrestlers represented the scots at the national level. Brendan Ladd (’20) and Zach Cooper (’20) both achieved status as All-Americans while at the competition in Roanoke, Virginia.

While this was a fantastic way for the two athletes to end their season, it was a long road in order to get there.

“After another great season of lifting, wrestling and grinding with my teammates; I knew my coaches, the best in DIII, had me prepared,” said Ladd.

“I finished 38-3 tying the Alma college record for most wins in a season after finishing 5th at the division three nationals,” said Cooper.

“I think besides hard work and dedication, having fun was the most important ingredient to my success,” said Cooper.

While Ladd and Cooper were two individuals who excelled at the end of their season, the whole team had a lot of work to put in all year as well.

“There isn’t a secret formula for one team or one individual. I assess the student-athletes on a priority needs basis,” said Fletcher Roberts, Assistant wrestling coach and head athletic trainer, who helped the wrestling team get into peak performance shape in order to best succeed on the mat.

As for Ladd and Cooper, being All-Americans is nothing new.

“It felt great to finish as an All-American for a second time. I didn’t finish with the result I wanted, but there were returning All-Americans who did not place this year so I’m happy to still be one of the few,” said Ladd.

“This was actually the fourth time I have earned AllAmerican honors in college,” said Cooper, who previously competed for Muskegon Community College and Grand Valley State University.

“I am happy but not satisfied with my finish, my dream, my goal and my expectation was to be a national champion for Alma College,” said Cooper.

Now that their season is over, Ladd and Cooper have the whole off-season to get ready for next year.

“With less than 365 days left in my career, I look to make very little changes in my preparation for next year’s championships,” said Ladd.

“All I can do is stay the course, continue working hard day in and day out to achieve my goals,” said Ladd.

“Next season starts today, I will be weight lifting, running, wrestling and dreaming, not necessarily in that order,” said Cooper.

“I of course could not have been as successful without the meaningful efforts taken by my teachers, coaches, teammates, and TKE brothers who helped me accomplish my goals along the way,” said Cooper.

“We must continue to work hard on and off the mat as team. As a staff, we must continue to challenge our student-athletes so that they do not become satisfied,” said Roberts.

Alma says goodbye to Howd


After 17 years of service to the Scots, Tracy Howd has left the Alma community. During her time on campus, she was known as a clerk, HR specialist, and athletic department secretary; but most of all, she was known as a friend to many students on campus.

Howd’s time at Alma began in 2002 when she was hired as an Accounts Payable Clerk, and then moved to being a HR clerk until 2009 when she took the job of athletic secretary.

She helped out with scheduling, organization, and overall keeping things working smoothly in the athletic department.

“Throughout my time at Alma, it was always the people that made the job fun and rewarding,” said Howd.

“When I say people, that includes coaches, students, student-athletes, and the staff across campus.”

As someone who was not previously involved in athletics, Howd quickly fell in love with her new role on campus.

“When I moved to Athletics in 2009, I never imagined that I would love working in that department as much as I did,” said Howd.

While Howd not only held down the fort in the athletic department offices, she was able to participate in a lot of fun interactions with different teams.

“One of my favorite things that I got to do while I was at Alma was traveling with the Cheer team to their annual camp at University of Louisville,” said Howd.

“It was a time when I got to see just what these student-athletes do and how quickly they learn very complicated routines.”

“Another favorite was traveling to the men’s soccer MIAA championship game at Kalamazoo College with Lori Hick. She is always a riot to be with and she loves the students at Alma,” said Howd.

Howd also said the one thing she will not miss will be working the freezing cold football games, even though—according to athletic director Stephen Rackley— she was the best at it.

“I have not gone far away, so I hope to be at athletic events throughout the year,” said Howd.

The impact of her departure has affected several coaches and faculty members throughout campus, and she will certainly be missed.

“She was just so good with people,” said Rackley. “She had such great knowledge about the campus and department.”

The memories and friendships that Howd made with everyone around her will be her legacy at Alma.

“My best memory of Tracy is my first memory really,” said Michael Kinney, head men’s lacrosse coach.

“She took me into Art Smith and showed me how nice and how big it was. She turned to me, looked me dead in the eyes and said, ‘If I ever catch you guys with lacrosse sticks and balls in here, I’ll kick your ….’” said Kinney. “

She knew how the department worked, how to work with people, how to get things done, who to ask for a favor, and how to ask the right way,” said Kinney.

“She is a great person and her departure is a huge blow to the department, and to Alma College. But I’m so happy for her,” said Kinney.

From everyone involved in athletics at Alma, Tracy Howd’s absence will be noticeable and her smiling face behind the desk in the athletic offices will be missed.

Cheer and stunt sweeps tournament


On Sunday the 10th, the cheer and STUNT team took a trip to Michigan State University to compete against three big competitors: University of Michigan, Michigan State Universtity and Grand Valley State University.

The team had dominating victories over all three teams.

“It was a great event. Michigan State and Alma were the first teams in Michigan to participate in STUNT, so there is a ton of tradition in our rivalry,” said Michelle Sabourin, head coach of the cheer and STUNT team.

“Our team played very well and did exactly what we asked of them, which is to improve every time we take the mat,” said Sabourin.

The team beat the University of Michigan 21-0, Grand Valley State University 20-10 and the host MSU 15-12.

“It is nice to win games, especially against really talented competitors, and that’s ultimately what factors into advancing the team to nationals,” said Bre Ramos (‘19).

“We go into STUNT games trying to beat our best routines from practice,” said Ramos.

“We try to compete against ourselves, and when we do that is when we’ve found the most success.”

“Every season, each team gets stronger and the competition gets harder,” said Gabby Saum (‘20).

The team’s mentality this season has been to compete not only against other teams but to beat themselves in order to improve as a team.

But simply getting better is not the only goal of the team.

“This year we are focused on doing our job to qualify for STUNT nationals for the 6th straight year,” said Sabourin.

“We want to take the season as a marathon, and work to peak at the national tournament,” said Sabourin.

“Hopefully we can continue to keep growing stronger, bonding and becoming a well rounded team,” said Saum.

The team also wants to keep enjoying their competitive spirit and atmosphere with themselves and other teams.

“We’ve been practicing to prepare for pressure and perform our best routines,” said Ramos.

“Our goal is to continue progressing and be where we want to be when May comes around,” said Ramos.

The team has events coming up both at home and away, with goals of continuing its hot win streak.

Snow days interfere with athletics


Last week Alma College shut down classes for two days, an occurrence that happens so rarely that the campus community barely knew how to react.

Each athletic team on campus was affected differently by the winter storm, and some had to make drastic changes to their schedules.

Men’s basketball had to reschedule a home game from Wednesday, the 30th, to Monday the 4th, which affected more than just the team itself.

“We plan our practices and choreograph dances to fit their basketball schedule, along with our own needs for our upcoming competition dates in March and April,” said Tracy Burton, coach of the dance team that performs at halftime of every home men’s or women’s basketball game.

“The game change means we won’t have a full team available on Monday, due to dancer’s class schedules,” said Burton.

Along with this change of scheduling, the halftime trophy presentation of the NCAA Helper-Helper award for the Scots has been moved to Wednesday the 6th.

As for many other teams, the extreme weather caused issues with practices.

“We have to practice off campus I didn’t want the team driving to Ithaca to the bowling alley,” said Kyle Woodcock, head coach of the women’s bowling team.

There were many other teams that had to move practices indoors during the winter storm, such as men’s and women’s lacrosse.

Both lacrosse teams prefer to be practicing outside during this time of year, but had to move things inside for the week in order to keep everyone safe.

However, there has been some positives to come out of the poor weather.

“We are primarily a indoor team until the weather improves outside for baseball,” said Jason Crain, head coach of the baseball team.

“The cold temps and class cancellations has allowed us to practice mid day instead of late at night,” said Crain.

“We have been able to practice earlier, allowing the team to be done by 6 pm,” said Denny Griffin, head coach of the softball team.

“It has allowed us to do some individual work which we might have not been able to accomplish,” said Griffin. While for some teams the weather caused issues with scheduling, for others it was an opportunity to get work done during the day and spend more time on important team building

Smith named head coach of volleyball


On Friday, Jan. 18, director of athletics Steven Rackley announced that Alma College alumni Madison Smith would take over the volleyball program as head coach.

Smith, who graduated in 2017, was a four-year member of the volleyball team, and spent the past two years as an assistant coach at Tufts University.

“She was part of a great program at Tufts, learned a lot and I feel she can help us continue our ascension to become one of the best programs in the MIAA,” said Rackley.

“She coached at a very successful program and I believe that her knowledge of the game will keep pushing us forward,” said Ashtyn Snyder (‘20).

Although she spent time away, Smith is now back home. “I’m very excited to get Coach Smith back on campus,” said Rackley.

“She understands Alma, our culture and what we’re trying to do.” Rackley is not the only one who is excited to have Smith back on campus. “Being that she is a recent alumni, she knows the team and she knows our dynamic,” said Snyder. “It is nice that she already understands what Alma’s mission is coming into this position,” said Haley Novak (‘21).

“I had the privilege to play with her for a year and I know her passion for the game will continue to be inspirational to us all,” said Snyder.

As far as the hiring process for this position, it was all about getting Smith back to Alma. “We phone interviewed five candidates, then brought in three. Coach Smith came out on top,” said Rackley.

“We run all of our searches in basically the same way,” said Rackley, “We advertise nationally both on the NCAA website, then we usually advertise on the website of the particular coaches association that we’re trying to hire.”

From this point on, Smith will be taking over the program she was once a competitor for, and the team could not be more excited for the future. “We are looking forward for spring season and getting to know her,” said Novak. “The main goal is to prepare for an even more successful outcome than last fall, and I know Coach Smith will help get us there.”

“We had a very successful season this past fall and we want to continue to build off that momentum,” said Snyder. “We have high expectations of ourselves and for the team and having Coach Smith lead the way will allow us to keep pushing towards our greatest potential as a program.”

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