Archive | Men’s Athletics

Freshman Luecke’s composure positively influencing men’s golf

Ethan Luecke (fr) of the Indiana Wesleyan University men’s golf team is providing something for his team that most freshman student-athletes don’t: leadership on and off the course.

Luecke is already an ace golfer at the collegiate level. He spent most of the fall season as one of the Wildcats’ top three golfers.

“You don’t get a lot of freshmen whose skills are so well-developed that young,” teammate Dalton Miller (sr) said. “Usually the difficulty of the course kind of overwhelms you when you first start, but he’s made that transition already.”

Then, there’s Luecke’s confidence and calmness of character that belies his age.

“He’s very mature for his age, and I think that was something that was shown from the beginning to the end [of the season],” teammate Blake Russell (jr) said. “He has wisdom and he’s humble, and you don’t expect that from most freshmen.”

Miller adds that Luecke “never gets rattled,” and said the freshman already has the mental aspect of golf down.

With an excellent golf game combined with a good head on his shoulders, Luecke is off to a promising start for the Wildcats.

Men’s Golf Head Coach Austin Conroy said he loves what Luecke brings to his team. Conroy said one of Luecke’s biggest strengths is his ability to keep the team’s mood from getting too tense, especially when the Wildcats are traveling to and from tournaments.

“He just keeps everybody light,” Conroy said. “We travel in fives, so it gets pretty intimate, and you spend a lot of time with each other, and sometimes get on each others’ nerves. Ethan was always there to joke around and make everybody laugh.”

While Luecke is mostly easy-going, he knows there is a time and place to be serious. Conroy said Luecke can get quite competitive in practice.

“He’s not afraid to challenge someone on the team to nine holes or even a putting challenge,” Conroy said. “He enjoys competition and pushes the other guys to take it up another level in practice, rather than just going through the motions.”

Luecke’s freshman season wasn’t perfect by any means, and he admits it. He said he didn’t take enough initiative in his schoolwork to start the semester, which hindered his performance on the golf course.

“At the beginning of the season, school was just starting and I didn’t have a whole lot on my mind, so I was playing better. As it got closer to the end I had more [work] and it started to pile up,” Luecke said. “But if I spend my time right [in the future], it shouldn’t matter.”

Conroy believes Luecke will improve more in the area of balancing his tasks next semester, and he said he already has seen a more proactive mindset in Luecke this semester.

“We’ll see a lot of growth [from Ethan] next semester,” Conroy said. “I’ve seen him really mature and I’ve seen him take ownership of his responsibilities outside of golf.”

Moving forward, Conroy said he is looking forward to giving Luecke more responsibility in hopes that Luecke can positively impact his teammates even more than he already is.

“I can see him being a leader where he’s not afraid to call out other guys in a loving sort of way,” Conroy said. “But he’s also going to be a big leader by example.”

 

This story is a part of Co-Editor-in-Chief Jared Johnson’s “Stars in the Background” series on overlooked stars in IWU athletics. For more information, click here.

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Montgomery shining as freshman leader for men’s tennis

The transition to college life is rarely easy. There are challenges socially, academically, spiritually and, for some, athletically.

But the transition can be made easier by an older student with a desire to help.

MONTGOMERY

Joel’s coach and teammates say he has a maturity that belies his age. (Photo taken by Jared Johnson)

When he was a freshman, Kyle Johnson (sr) of the Indiana Wesleyan University men’s tennis team benefitted from the initiative of senior teammate Luke Montgomery (alumnus ’12).

“College is such an adjustment, but Luke was there for me,” Johnson says. “We met on a weekly basis, just to talk about life, talk about sports, talk about spiritual things.”

Now, Luke’s younger brother, Joel Montgomery (fr), is blossoming into a leader for the men’s tennis team with guidance from Johnson. Joel says he was strongly influenced by Luke growing up, and this year, he’s getting some of his brother’s wisdom secondhand.

“It’s kind of like a flip-flop where Kyle’s been really impacting me spiritually [and] on the tennis court,” Joel says.

The Montgomery brothers share some similarities, according to Johnson and Men’s Tennis Head Coach Keith Ruberg. Johnson says, “their voices sound exactly the same” and many of their mannerisms are very similar. Ruberg added that Joel likes to joke around a little more than Luke did, but overall, they’re “not too far off” from each other.

Joel keeps his fitness up through conditioning sessions with his team during the offseason. (Photo taken by Jared Johnson)

Joel keeps his fitness up through conditioning sessions with his team during the offseason. (Photo taken by Jared Johnson)

Despite being just a freshman, Joel is already starting to show the same leadership skills his older brother displayed when he was a Wildcat.

“As a freshman, he’s a well-rounded young man,” Ruberg says. “Spiritually, he’s really strong, especially for an 18-year-old young man.”

Ruberg says Joel’s upperclassmen teammates are watching his hard work and using it as motivation. He adds seeing a freshman show leadership makes them want to work harder to do the same themselves.

Johnson agrees that Joel’s positive attitude and encouraging words have inspired the team.

“His attitude isn’t a selfish one,” Johnson says. “In tennis, it’s rare to find a very good player and [a selfless attitude] all in one person, because it’s such an individual sport.”

During the 2014 fall season, Johnson says Joel had a huge all-around impact for the Wildcats, who won the Crossroads League Championship. Joel contributed on the court for IWU from the No. 4 singles and No. 3 doubles positions with a steady all-around game.

Johnson says he is especially impressed with Joel’s consistency and control of the ball at such a young age.

“He’s one of those players that isn’t going to make unforced errors, just a very smart player with how he handles things,” Johnson says. “He’s definitely got a touch game that a lot of guys don’t.”

How will Joel continue to impact the Wildcats? Whatever happens on the court for Joel, he hopes he will remain a positive influence on the men’s tennis team.

“I try to be a positive person, wherever I go,” Joel says. “I try to lighten the mood, I try to be a great encourager to my teammates and to anyone I come in contact with.”

 

This story is a part of Co-Editor-in-Chief Jared Johnson’s “Stars in the Background” series on overlooked stars in IWU athletics. For more information, click here.

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Daniel McMasters: IWU’s biggest sports fan

Think you’re a big Indiana Wesleyan University sports fan? Think again.

Daniel McMasters (sr) aims to attend every IWU home sports game – for every sport. He’s collected every program from every game he’s attended so far. As of print, he has 127, and he hopes to graduate with 175.

Daniel McMasters (sr) is IWU's biggest sports fan.

Daniel McMasters (sr) is IWU’s biggest sports fan.

“Sports has always been part of my life, since birth. My dad was a big sports fan, so I got into watching sports,” McMasters said. “It’s what I want to do for a living, so I might as well make good habits now and make it a priority.”

A media communication major, McMasters aims to become a television or radio sports announcer. He currently works as a sports announcer for WIWU-TV, IWU’s television station.

But his love of sports is more than just a job.

“Sports are my outlet to take a break,” McMasters said. “Other people watch movies, play video games, and that takes up their free time. This takes up my free time.”

Some of his best IWU sports memories include his first women’s volleyball home game against Taylor University, the men’s basketball team winning the national championship last year and the women’s basketball team winning the national championship the year before.

At one men’s basketball game at Taylor, a parent of an IWU player made a cape and flag for the students to pass around. McMasters ended up with it, and ran along the sideline in the midst of the game, dodging Taylor students trying to trip him.

“It was really close at the end of the game. We got a steal and got fouled right after that, and it secured the victory for us,” McMasters said. “I had so much pent-up emotion that I took the flag and stabbed the center court with the flag, basically cementing that we claim this court [as] ours.”

Throughout his time at IWU, McMasters has been able to get to know many of the players. At bigger schools, he says, you have less of an opportunity to connect with the athletes. His friendships with them add another dimension to the games he attends.

“Not only are you rooting for your school to do well, you’re rooting for the specific people to do well or score or stop goals,” McMasters said. “It makes things more entertaining when they win and you’re more sympathetic to a loss if you know the people playing.”

McMasters aims to show no prejudice in his fan attendance. In addition to the more popular sports, he tries to attend tennis matches, cross country meets and golf tournaments, although he confesses that he hasn’t been able to attend those as frequently as he’d like this year.

“I feel like if every student every season were to go to just one athletic event, that would make attendance just so much better than what it is,” McMasters said.

He has noticed that the men’s teams tend to get a higher turnout than the women’s teams. In his mind, that’s not right.

“The women’s teams are just as qualified, if not sometimes more qualified, than the male teams,” McMasters noted.

McMasters’ commitment to the IWU community runs farther than just sports. He also has a collection of theater programs and concert ticket stubs from various performances he has attended.

“I make time for people that I’ve gotten to know and to see them do what they love to do,” McMasters said. “That means more to me than getting that extra amount of studying done.”

McMasters tries to attend as many IWU sporting events as he can.

McMasters tries to attend as many IWU sporting events as he can.

He recognizes most students are very busy with schoolwork, but he sees things differently.

“I think [being busy with homework is] a cop-out answer, not because schoolwork isn’t important, but because these players are in your majors as well,” McMasters said. “They’ve got to keep up on their work, as well as perform to the best of their abilities, and that’s a lot of pressure. It should be us that supports them.”

McMasters said the University of St. Francis, Bethel College, Grace College and Taylor games are particularly exciting because “those are the big four that we always have problems with”, but he encourages students to go to any sporting event and invest in our athletics.

“We have good teams here, good athletes, good students, really good people,” McMasters said. “Just take the time to get to know them and go out and see them play.”

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Fredericks makes impact on men’s soccer team despite reserve role

Defender Johnny Fredericks (jr) wasn’t a starter for the Crossroads League champion Indiana Wesleyan University men’s soccer team this fall.

Make no mistake about it — Fredericks wanted a starting spot.

Fredericks (in white) battles with a Goshen player in the Crossroads League Championship game.

Fredericks (in white) battles a Goshen player in the Crossroads League Championship game.

“Johnny is a fierce competitor, a really good athlete who was actually super competitive in baseball growing up,” Men’s Soccer Interim Head Coach Joe Schulman said. “But what we find out about athletes like that is they want to play.”

Fredericks said it’s been been tough going from being a three-year starter on his high school team to only playing in some games for IWU. But to say Fredericks has made the best of his reserve role would be a huge understatement.

“He’s found the role of, basically, the captain of the practice squad,” Midfielder Keaton Albert (jr) said. “He leads them against the team that plays.”

In practice scrimmages, Schulman has the practice squad, which he calls the “neon team,” imitate the playing style of the Wildcats’ upcoming opponent.

“We get a scouting report on the other team, and we mimic what the other team does with our neon team,” Schulman said. “So [the neon team] is thrown into many different roles with the way they have to play, the system they play, the formation. They’ve got to adapt quickly and play in that system to help prepare our starting team.”

Schulman sees Fredericks as the director of the neon team, with his competitiveness and ability to teach on the field.

Fredericks doesn’t take it easy on the starters — not even close.

“When he gets in one-v-one battles with guys like Keaton [Albert] and Tyrone [Martin], he goes hard on them, on purpose,” Schulman said. “I wouldn’t say he is dirty, but he gets pretty physical, pretty aggressive with them in an effort to get those guys to the next level.”

Albert said he appreciates Fredericks’ desire to make the starters better.

“Every day, Johnny shows up and he wants to beat us, just annihilate us,” Albert said. ”That gets us fired up and makes us better.”

Competitiveness may be Frederick’s trademark characteristic, but it’s certainly not his only positive characteristic. The Wildcats are also grateful for Frederick’s sincere personality and servant’s heart.

Forward Taylor Lehman (jr) joined the team as a sophomore after playing on IWU’s men’s basketball team for one year. Lehman said Fredericks was one of the main reasons he felt accepted on the soccer team so quickly.

“He talked me through what was going on with soccer, and transitioning,” Lehman said. “We talked about our spiritual lives and we were able to get deep with each other, and he just provided a best friend that I could talk about anything with.”

In terms of service, Schulman said Fredericks has cleaned his teammates’ cleats several times without them asking him to do so. During the season, Fredericks also put a different encouraging Bible verse on each of his teammates’ lockers every day.

It wasn’t the same verse for each player, either. Fredericks picked out unique verses for each of his 27 teammates.

Fredericks said his acts of service provide an outlet for him to contribute positively to the team since he doesn’t get to use his soccer skills in competition as much as he would like.

“That’s kind of how I cope. Being a junior and not always getting the nod to start all the time, there are several ways to get down on yourself,” Fredericks said. “Trying to be a servant amongst the team and love on them as much as possible, regardless of the situation, can make a big impact.”

But Fredericks doesn’t want the focus of his service to be on him. He serves for much deeper reasons.

“I don’t do it for people to look at me at all, I don’t do it because I want the attention,” Fredericks said. “I do it because not only is it something the Lord would do, but because I love these guys.”

And ultimately, Fredericks said he realizes what he does to help the team is much more important than anything he could do on the field.

“People are only going to remember the goal you score or the hat trick you score for maybe a couple months or for that season,” Fredericks said. “But the impact you make on somebody’s heart, the friendship you build and the brotherhood you build with each player, that’s going to last a lifetime.”

 

This story is a part of Co-Editor-in-Chief Jared Johnson’s “Stars in the Background” series on overlooked stars in IWU athletics. For more information, click here.

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