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Archive for the 'Athletics' Category

Men’s soccer claims 10th national title

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

With a 2-1 defeat over Rutgers-Camden in double overtime, the Messiah College men’s soccer team earned their 10th NCAA Division III championship in just 13 years.

Read all about the game at

Student travels to Argentina with faith the size of a mustard seed

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Brittany Horst in ArgentinaI couldn’t believe it. After months of anticipation and expectation, my field hockey team and I were leaving in the morning to travel to Argentina on a mission trip. Anxiousness and worry crept inside me, and I was beginning to doubt that the trip was a good idea. All of the teams coordinated through Messiah’s sports ministry effort—AROMA, a Revolution of Missional Athletes—teams that night to go on a prayer walk to prepare our hearts and minds for what we were about to encounter. The whole time I was praying but still felt uneasy about the trip. When we arrived at our destination by the creek, we sang as a group and a girl from the volleyball team shared Luke 17:6; “He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” This verse caught a hold of me and I prayed, “God, I feel as though my faith about this trip is the size of the mustard seed, but here it is if you would like to use it.”

God works in amazing ways. Upon our arrival, our team was treated as celebrities and served Argentina’s specialty meal that includes lots of meat. We had several opportunities to not only teach young girls field hockey skills but also have fun with them. Even with the language barrier, we were able to connect with the children while playing the sport we love. (more…)

Bringing relationships, sports, clean water and hope to Uganda

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Messiah College student Victoria HeppAs we descended into Uganda after 24+ travel hours, a cloud of excitement hovered over our AROMA team, much like the clouds of unearthed red dirt that would soon linger over our missional feet. Our team of athletes, coaches, trainers, alum and Sawyer Representatives had been preparing for months leading up to this trip and we were finally here, a little nervous but filled with expectant hope of God’s working on our trip. We walked out into the parking lot and were immediately greeted by staff from the Sports Outreach Institute (SOI) group that we would be partnering with for the next 10 days. Hearing their laughter and welcoming words reassured us that this would be a great journey of relationship-building, sports-playing, water-filtering and hope-rising. (more…)

Alums jumpstart local running club

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Cross country and track and field alum Brian Hager ’06 did not quit running when he graduated from Messiah. As he transitioned from being a student to a coach at Messiah, Hager grew to miss the team atmosphere and the friendships he enjoyed as an athlete. In an attempt to reestablish community in his life, Hager helped launch s.w.i.f.t. racing, a running club for alums in the Messiah area.

In the summer of 2008, Brian Hager, his brother Patrick Hager ’08, along with former teammates Eric Bofinger ’07 and Matthew Hahn ’07 brainstormed ways to cultivate community as post-graduate competitive runners. Deciding to start a running club, the core group ran their first race together in October 2008 at the Gettysburg Cross Country Invitational. After many discussions, Brian Hager landed on the name of the club, leading to a conversation about colors and styles of uniforms. (more…)

Messiah community mourns Dr. Layton Shoemaker

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Dr. Layton Shoemaker, former director of athletics and men’s soccer coach, passed away Jan. 1. Considered the father of modern-day soccer at Messiah College, Shoemaker’s teams set the foundation for the present-day powerhouse men’s and women’s soccer programs.

Read more about Shoemaker’s legacy.

Success defined by purpose and pursuit for Messiah College soccer teams

Monday, August 13th, 2012

For followers of Messiah College soccer, success is as mysterious as it is impressive. “It is a unique, yet fulfilling moment to look down at your chest and see the word ‘Messiah,’ knowing that there is a greater meaning serving as your motivation,” explains senior defender Jordan Sands ’12. This drive — hidden behind 12 combined national championships and 24 straight NCAA Tournament appearances — communicates the difference between Messiah College and much of the rest of the Division III soccer world. On this team, success begins with motivation.

For the men and women who compete each fall, the game of soccer follows this principal value: God represents the purpose and the pursuit; winning only serves as a tool to fulfill this mission. “Playing for God gives us the bond of a common purpose rather than simply a common sport,” responds senior Erin Hench ’12, who received NSCAA National Player of the Year honors in 2009. “It’s more than just a soccer team. We strive to worship God through soccer by returning the gifts he’s given to us.”

But for loyal supporters of this celebrated program, a common purpose is not enough to explain the Falcons’ profound success. To truly solve the mystery — and discover what makes these two teams excel — each coach moves beyond soccer. “Winning doesn’t define us,” states women’s head coach Scott Frey ’84, with a noticeable hint of passion in his voice. Instead, Frey identifies his team’s leadership culture as a principal drive toward excellence. “It blows the underclassmen away,” he continues. “They step into an environment where they are immediately loved, wanted and accepted.”

For head coach Brad McCarty ’93, a 12-year veteran of the men’s program, leadership represents an uncompromising quality. “It all starts with the recruits,” he says. “Our players have maturity and a desire to be disciplined.” Upon arriving, these underclassmen experience an unorthodox approach to collegiate athletics. They are not treated as strangers; they are not expected to perform lowly tasks for approval, and they do not ride the bench until their teammates have exhausted their eligibility. “Here I am as a freshman … and it’s the senior All-American who is the first to the water bottles, filling them up and handing them out to the underclassmen,” describes senior forward Danny Thompson ’12, who scored six game-winning goals during his storied Messiah career. For Thompson and his fellow recruits, playing time was earned out of the gate, allowing the future national champions to mature during their first season in Grantham.

Time on the field without integration, though, would impress few observers. These Falcons play for more than individual glory. “We want to make it to the national championship every season, not because we want another trophy, but [because] we want to maximize the length of time we get to spend playing and training together,” says Thompson. Recognition and accolades will continue to pour in, though this group prefers to spread the love around. Sands — a three-time national champion — believes his teammates mean more than any of his three rings. “I enjoy that moment of being able to see the joy on each of my teammates’ faces, knowing that in our hearts, we have been fighting for one another the entire time,” he says.

Here lies the secret of Messiah College soccer. For this program, success does not rely on five-star recruits or innovative training regimes. Instead, these men and women impress with character, an often forgotten trait in the world of collegiate athletics. “You can take away soccer, the field, the fans, the goals, the uniforms,” begins senior midfielder Sam Woodworth ’12. “You can take that all away, and I still have what truly matters: my teammates.”

By Nick Hemming `13. This article was originally printed in the March 5, 2012 issue of Mennonite Weekly Review.

Faith beyond the locker room

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

As Tony Dungy took the stage at Messiah College on April 24, he admitted to his initial curiosity upon receiving an invitation to speak from Messiah. “I read the letter and thought, why did we get invited to a school without a football team?” he joked, and then joined the audience in their laughter.    

However, despite his many years as a player and coach in the NFL, Dungy’s message wasn’t exclusive to a locker room full of football players. He spoke to all young student athletes, and his advice actually discouraged a mindset confined to the locker room. (more…)

Winning off the field

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

The Messiah College soccer teams are passionate about finding ways to use their talent to impact the lives around them, reaching beyond the fan section at Shoemaker Field. What started with tutoring at local churches elevated into summer camps with local refugees and eventually led to a new vision for sports ministry at Messiah College.

The call to engage in local outreach began when Aaron Faro, the assistant coach for the men’s soccer team, joined the Messiah community in 2009. Before accepting a coaching position at Messiah, Faro played for the Charlotte Eagles, a professional soccer team that engages in sport ministry. His experiences were testimony to the power of using sport as a form of ministry, and he passed a shared enthusiasm onto his players at Messiah. (more…)

Former soccer star chases Olympic dreams

Monday, February 7th, 2011

For 2010 graduate Jared Clugston, being an athlete has always come naturally. 

In high school he tested the waters of many sports including soccer, football, lacrosse and track. Heading into his college years though, Clugston decided to pursue soccer full-time. This endeavor led Clugston to earn a spot on the championship men’s team at Messiah and go on to capture three national titles as a goalkeeper. 

“Playing soccer at Messiah helped me develop a great mental competitiveness and taught me to always try my best and work hard,” says Clugston. 

Those core values are now helping Clugston take his athletic career even further. 

This fall, he was selected to be one of eight members of United States World Cup Bobsledding Team and is now competing to earn a spot in the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.  (more…)

Former Messiah runner tackles the Alps: finishes third in ultra marathon

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Brandon Newbould

Brandon Newbould, 2004 Messiah College alum, recently completed the Gore-Tex Transalpine Run. The race takes off in Germany and winds its way through the Alps to Italy, totaling 189.5 miles in just eight days. This 189.5-mile ultra marathon is a two-man team race; Newbould partnered with Brenton Knight.

How he got there
Newbould developed his passion for running in seventh grade in his Alaska hometown, when he joined his mother on a short fitness run as a trial to see if he might enjoy competing in cross country. He enjoyed the run so much that he asked to keep going, and while his mom went home to make dinner, he got lost on the trails and finally made it home well into the night. (more…)