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Devney provides stability through coaching transition

The transition to a new head coach this fall wasn’t an easy one for the Indiana Wesleyan University women’s soccer team.

John Bratcher, the Wildcats’ head coach of 12 years, retired last spring and turned the squad over to Tim Strader. Strader implemented a new 4-4-2 formation and other strategic changes on the field this season, and the Wildcats finished the fall campaign with an overall record of 4-13-1, including a 3-5-1 mark in Crossroads League play.

Photo courtesy of IWU Athletic Department

Devney’s adaptability helped her team learn to embrace some big changes this fall. (Photo courtesy of IWU Athletic Department)

“The transition [to a new coach] has been harder than we ever imagined it would be,” Midfielder Jordan Harris (jr) said.

Through it all, however, Defender Kerry Devney (jr) has been a rock for the team.

Strader said Devney has taken leadership in making sure the Wildcats are receptive to his new system, although it is intense and demanding.

“I’ve seen Kerry step up in that role and own it, pushing her teammates and holding people accountable,” Strader said.

Defender Susan Anthony (jr) said Devney’s attitude toward playing for a new coach was never negative.

“She was very open-minded and was, like, ‘let’s embrace this’ and not be frustrated with it or be negative about it,” Anthony said. “That helped others have a good attitude about the change.”

Harris describes Devney as the squad’s “staple” for the steadfast commitment she showed during a tough season.

“She’s remained consistent, she’s stayed positive. She’s been there for people to laugh with, to cry with,” Harris said. “Her remaining consistent in all this change has been great for the team.”

Devney said she enjoys meeting with her teammates one-on-one to talk about soccer, academics or any other aspect of life.

“I see myself as someone who girls are comfortable coming to talk to off the field,” Devney said. “Listening to people off the field helps you get to know them better and improves our communication on the field.”

Devney's soccer IQ is key to the Wildcats' back line. She's pictured here playing against Campbellsville (Ky.) in the fall of 2013. (Photo courtesy of IWU Athletic Department)

Devney’s soccer IQ is key to the Wildcats’ back line. She’s pictured here playing against Campbellsville (Ky.) in the fall of 2013. (Photo courtesy of IWU Athletic Department)

On the field, Devney is just as important as she is behind the scenes. She and Anthony start in the two center defender positions on the Wildcats’ four-woman back line.

Strader utilizes Devney as a communicator on the field, calling her “our traffic director.” He also praises her athletic abilities and remarkable work rate.

“She’s got an ability to use her body well on the field, to shut down some of the best attackers we’ve played this year,” Strader said. “Not only that, she can drive a ball 40 yards with no issues. She typically gets assigned [to defend] the opposing team’s best forward.”

Strader’s praise wouldn’t mean much if Devney’s teammates didn’t feel the same way about her, but they do. Harris said she appreciates Devney’s soccer knowledge and her ability to teach in the middle of games.

“I’ll have a question in the middle of the game, and I’ll say, ‘Kerry, what do I do if that happens again?’” Harris said. “And she’ll tell me exactly what to do.”

Devney and the rest of her teammates believe they can improve next year with more experience in Strader’s system and with some rigorous training. Strader had the Wildcats meeting at 6 a.m. three times per week for offseason training sessions just one week after their season ended.

Harris also sees her team starting to embrace Strader’s desire to get better.

“His leadership has trickled down to Kerry and [the other juniors] and hopefully will continue to trickle down so we have more success next year,” Harris said.

If the Wildcats do bounce back next fall, expect Devney’s all-around leadership to be a key piece in the team’s resurgence.

“She’s the type of person who will do whatever it takes to help her team win, and that’s what makes her special,” Strader said.

 

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.

Posted in Men's Athletics, SportsComments (1)

Tedeschi’s Take: Holiday Sports

The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, but they are also a wonderful time for great sports action. Food, family, and your favorite sports just go together.

The Thanksgiving weekend is one of the biggest football weekends of the year, both in the NFL and college. Even though I had no rooting interest in the Thanksgiving NFL games this year, I always enjoy sitting down to watch football after a big Thanksgiving meal. And I thoroughly enjoyed rivalry week in college football, especially when Ohio State defeated that team up north this past weekend.

But Thanksgiving is just the beginning of the holiday sports season. Basketball is in full swing during the holiday season, highlighted nationally by the Christmas Day NBA slate of games and here on campus by the Wildcats’ men’s and women’s basketball teams in action. While it’s still early in the basketball season, there are plenty of key matchups that take place around the holidays.

And you can’t talk about holiday sporting events without The Granddaddy of Them All, the Rose Bowl. Along with the Tournament of Roses Parade, the Rose Bowl becomes a nearly all-day spectacle on New Year’s Day. There are plenty of other college football bowl games played around the holidays as well.

So deck the halls, gather around with family, friends and good food and enjoy all the different sports events occurring during this holiday season.

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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.”

Posted in Men's Athletics, Sports, Women's AthleticsComments (0)

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