Pioneers to play in Flag City Tournament

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Photo courtesy of Immanuel DeJesus

 

By Nick Kieser

It is time to hit the road for the Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball team this weekend. The team will play in the annual Flag City Tournament in Memphis, Tennessee.

The team is looking to get a win early in their season.

Ryan Hunt, head coach, knows that his guys still have some things to work on and is trying to “get all the kinks worked out” with the team.

Because of rain, one of the three games in Memphis has been moved to Vol State’s Garrett Field Feb. 12 at 2 p.m.

The Pioneers feel there are some improvements to be made in pitching.

“We need to throw our strikes better. We walked quite a few guys in our scrimmage versus Trevecca,” said Hunt.

This tournament will help the Pioneers in a few ways. First, the new freshman players will get a sense for how college baseball feels. Each player will have to transition to the fast-paced game played in the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association). The trip to Memphis will also help preview how the team can play at its full potential this season.

“We could do good or even better than last year,” said Hunt about this tournament.

The team has a consistent work ethic and attends practices every weekday. The pitchers arrive at 1:30 p.m., and position players arrive at 2:30 p.m. If there is an intersquad scrimmage, everyone will be at the field at 1:30 p.m.

Freshman relief pitcher, Chase Haley, knows from his time scrimmaging that his coach is watching everyone closely.

Hunt has been running a lot of intersquads lately to see who will fit well into the system before the regular season starts, said Haley.

Still a redshirt, Haley wants to be back to where his pitching performance was in high school. He knows that throwing at 84 mph is not enough to crack the team as a freshman, but the feat is not impossible.

“I want to get back up to 87 mph so I can show the scouts that I am not the same I was in high school,” said Haley.

Despite having a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection for soreness, Haley feels he is progressing at a steady pace. Haley mentioned if he ever gets a chance to play over the weekend that he will “more than likely” throw a fastball as his first pitch.

To make the weekend and season easier, Haley reminds himself to keep an uplifting attitude. “I’ve been sore and that’s the body saying it’s working. If I dwell on my failure, it will continue to happen,” said Haley.

As the regular season nears, the team is realizing what this means for them.

“It’s starting to get close and more real to me,” said Haley.

After the Flag City Tournament, the Pioneers have a hefty workload in front of them.

“It can be a pretty daunting schedule,” said Hunt, talking about the long season his team will have.

Each game will need to have an element of urgency and to be taken seriously. No game on the schedule needs to be taken for granted, but rather, no matter the opponent, each game needs to be played at full speed.

“We’ll have our hands full. There is some good competition this year,” said Hunt.

Aggressiveness will be a major key for the Pioneers as a whole. Making themselves unpredictable will throw opponents off, and hopefully, by listening to Hunt, they can be happy with how they will perform.

The Pioneers home opener is Friday, Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. at Garrett Field versus the Moraine Valley Community College Cyclones.

 

Pioneers Prepare for 2018 Baseball Season

 

By Nick Kieser

The Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball team has started practicing and preparing for their full 45-game schedule.

The team has scrimmaged to give the coaches a chance to look at their players.

“I know that these guys will give me all they got,” said Ryan Hunt, head coach.

The Pioneers record last year was 29-20, and the team is focused on carrying over the positive aspects from last season.

“Having a winning season was good,” said Hunt. He hopes the winning tradition will continue into this 2018 season.

The Pioneers fell to the Parkland College Cobras late in the last few innings of the postseason last year.

“We played well in conference tournament and had the number one seed beat until the last inning,” said Hunt.

Now, the team wants to go is to put that loss behind them and move on. An early goal for the Pioneers is to beat Walter State and Dyersburg State. Both teams are considered ‘powerhouses’ by Hunt.  

The first regular season game is Feb. 9.  

Chase Haley, freshman relief pitcher, believes that his team has a lot to offer as the games are coming up.

Haley is currently a redshirt due to his health. Haley is trying to gain some muscle weight and strength as he is building back up to full participation. If he gets “back to 100 percent” and plays well, Hunt would take away the redshirt, Haley said.

Jordan Williams, freshman right outfielder, is also a redshirt.

“As a redshirt my goal is to develop and get better with skills,” said Williams. He wants to play his game and focus on his job on the field the best he can.

Williams, who has been playing baseball since he was five, sees the team heading in the right direction.

“We’ve come together a lot with having skilled players, and I think we’re going to be pretty good this year,” said Williams, a future sports athletic trainer.

“There were teams who beat us consistently, and we want to change that,” said Williams,.

One thing that has seemed important to all the team is keeping each other accountable and having good leaders.

Collin Hopkins, a catcher in his last year as a Pioneer, is looked up to by Williams.

“I know I can look up to him and that he has my back, but he also helps everyone gain confidence,” said Williams.

Jake Lyle, pitcher, is a role model for Haley.

“Jake has signed with ETSU, and we hope that more players will get looks as well,” said Hunt.

The goal for the team is to make it to the postseason and go to the College World Series.

“The key to our season is going to be our starting pitching, goal is to keep teams off balance,” said Hunt.

In order to have a successful season Hunt also has three elevated expectations of his players.

“Work hard, go to class, and represent yourself in the right way on and off the field,” he said.

The Vol State Pioneers will begin their regular season schedule in Millington, Tennessee, Feb. 9th against the Johnson County Community College Cavaliers in the Flag City Classic tournament this weekend. Their first home game at Garrett Baseball Field is Friday, Feb. 16, at 2 p.m.

Interest Piece: The wrestler among us

By: Barbara Harmon, Assistant Editor

 

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Brian Ferrell, a student at Volunteer State Community College, is also referred to by another name.

While Brian Ferrell is what his fellow classmates hear in class, “Brian Valor” is his name in the ring.

Ferrell is 26-years-old and pursuing his dream as a professional wrestler.

“I’ve been a wrestling fan since I was 5-years-old,” said Ferrell.

“The earliest match that I can remember watching was Macho Man Randy Savage vs The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania 7.

“Ever since then, I’ve been hooked,” he said.

Ferrell said he grew up with three brothers and they spent a lot of time wrestling around the house.

As a child, he said he collected wrestling video tapes, wrestling action figures, and wrestling magazines.

“From an early age, I always knew I wanted to be a wrestler and had an aspiration to become one,” said Ferrell.

“There were times I tried to shy away from it, because I knew about the risk and injuries.

“Seeing all the old timers who are old and broken down and can barely walk, plus the traveling and never being at home,” he said.

Ferrell said he used those reasons as excuses to pursue other things, but remained a loyal wrestling fan.

“But after a pep talk with my dad, about growing up with no regrets, it got me to thinking again about pursuing this career,” said Ferrell.

“That’s when I started looking for schools to go train at, and the rest is history,” he said.

Ferrell started training early last year in Lewisburg, Tennessee with Mikey Dunn.

After about five months with him, he went on the road with Shaun Hoodrich.

Ferrell continued to train with Hoodrich and became his tag team partner.

“I wrestle for USA Championship Wrestling, and they run shows in Gladeville, Tennessee; Lebanon, Tennessee; Dickson, Tennessee; Covington, Tennessee; and Jackson, Tennessee,” said Ferrell.

He wrestles for the Southern Wrestling Federation (SWF) in Tullahoma, Tennessee and Next Generation Wrestling (NGW) in Newport, Tennessee, as well.

“I am also one half of the NGW Tag Team Champion for Next Generation Wrestling down in Newport, Tennessee,” said Ferrell.

Ferrell has met or been in the ring with famous wrestlers like Ricky Morton, Bill Dundee and Jerry “The King” Lawler.

Ferrell explained that depending on which promotion he is with, determined if he was a heel (bad guy) or a baby-face (good guy).

He said wrestling is a typical superhero story—the heel gets heat from the crowd, and the baby-face gets cheered.

“I prefer being a bad guy—I like being a heel,” said Ferrell.

“I’m better at smack talking and feel like I’m a natural heel at heart, too,” he said.

Ferrell said it does not really bother him when people call wrestling fake, because they do not fully understand what wrestlers have to put their bodies through.

Ferrell explained that you do get hurt when you hit the mat, which is metal bars covered by wood and a mat.

“So it hurts when you get slammed on the ring,” said Ferrell. “You feel it every time.”

“Literally you are getting hurt out there, and at times I’m hurting myself more than my opponent,” said Ferrell.

“You have to brace yourself when you are doing moves off the top rope, because you are receiving the brunt of the impact,” he said.

“It’s the best decision I have ever made, and I feel that when pro wrestling is done right, it’s the greatest thing on earth,” said Ferrell.

“My only regret is that I wish I had started earlier, when I was 18 or 19,” he said.

“But now my goal is to make it to the WWE,” said Ferrell.

He will have a tryout with WWE in Nashville, Tennessee at the Bridgestone Arena, Feb. 29.

“I will be an extra talent and will possibly be on TV,” said Ferrell.

“Then, Tuesday, March 1, I will be traveling to Atlanta to have a tryout in front of talent agents and some of the superstars for evaluation.

“And I will also be on the TV taping of SmackDown, as an extra talent,” he said.

Ferrell encourages everyone to check out Monday Night Raw on the USA Network and SmackDown on Thursday nights at 7 p.m.

According to usanetwork.com, “SmackDown delivers a shot of adrenaline to viewers and bring fans over-the-top action, feats of athleticism beyond the reach of mortal men, and WWE’s special brand of drama.”

Tickets can be purchased at bridgestonearena.com, if any fellow students would like to cheer for Ferrell on Feb. 29.

“See all your favorite WWE Superstars LIVE including Roman Reigns, “The Lunatic Fringe” Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Triple H and the Authority, the WWE Divas and many more,” according to bridgestonearena.com.

 

Vol State removes sports scholarships

By: Barbara Harmon, Assistant Editor

 

Volunteer State Community College will no longer be awarding athletic scholarships, beginning in the fall of 2016. With the increasing cost and academic needs throughout campus, Vol State has decided to cut this expense.

“We have been spending approximately $900,000 a year on the athletics program,” said Eric Melcher, Coordinator of Communications and Public Relations at Vol State.

“Of that money, approximately $200,000 has been spent each year on athletic scholarships.

“With the advent of Tennessee Promise Last Dollar Scholarship Program, student athletes who qualify for TN Promise have full tuition paid anyway—just like any other qualifying student,” said Melcher.

Because of this and the availability of academic scholarships and federal grants, athletic scholarships were decided to be cut.

No staff or faculty will be affected by this decision.

“The athletic program will continue as a Division One Program,” said Melcher.

“We will still have men’s and women’s basketball, softball and baseball teams and they will continue to play games statewide,” included Melcher.

Vol State is not the only community college in Tennessee that will be making similar adjustments.

“It’s been a discussion of the college presidents for some time,” said Melcher.

This change in the budget will be effective starting this fall, 2016.

“Any student athlete who has already signed to Vol State will have the full length of their scholarship fulfilled,” added Melcher.

“We have 15 athletic scholarships this year in men’s basketball, 12 in women’s basketball, 16 in softball, and 22 in baseball.

“This will only impact new players,” he said.

The existing athletes, along with any future athletes will continue to have their meals covered for them through Vol State.

“We certainly think it will have an impact on the out-of-state students that might come here for athletics, because they won’t get in-state tuition labors any longer,” said Melcher.

“Previously we had offered them the same tuition rate as in-state students, and that won’t be possible anymore.

“I think it will have an impact on recruiting students from out-of-state, and we will just have to see how the rest goes,” added Melcher.

No other departmental scholarships are being considered to be cut from the budget.

“A big part of what we do here is making sure the students succeed in college,” said Melcher.

“And we want to make sure we have the funds to do that.

“Academics are our first priority here, and sometimes you have to make some hard decisions when it comes to supporting academics,” said Melcher.

Not everyone feels this is a fair decision.

“I think it’s wrong,” said Savannah Pollard, a student at Vol State.

“If a student works hard for their athletic abilities, they should be rewarded for it—just like at every other school.

“It’s going to make out-of-state athletes not want to be a part of this school, if they won’t be compensated for all the hours they spend playing sports for our school. Bad move,” said Pollard.

Five out of sic students agree that this is not favorable for any future athletes.

“As a student who graduated high school prior to TN Promise, and who has depended on scholarships from the school, I do not feel this is acceptable,” said Kat Lambert, a student at Vol State.

“Many Vol State students do not qualify for TN Promise and depend on other scholarships to help them afford school,” said Lambert.

 

Lady Pioneers to Host Fall Scrimmage

Abby Brogden// Staff Writer

 

On Saturday Oct. 10, the Volunteer State Community College Lady Pioneers, or women’s basketball team, will be hosting a scrimmage against Cumberland University at 10 A.M. in the Moore Gymnasium at the Pickel Field House.

Head Coach of the team, Otis Key, is excited about the scrimmage. This will be the second time the Lady Pioneers have played Cumberland. “We played the them last year and it went pretty well. I’m expecting big things to come from this,” said Key.

The Lady Pioneers have been conditioning for the last three weeks and are eager to get a ball back into their hands for actual practice during the next week.

The team consists of seven first-time freshmen and five sophomores. “Youth and inexperience are going to be one of our main problems. Most of the girls on the court with the exception of one are freshmen.

“And that is difficult in itself because the expectation of how hard to play and learning each and every night what works and doesn’t work, just experience over all. Once we get that balance down, we should be fine,” said Key

Key is a former basketball player from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. Just after graduating from APSU, Key was a member of the Harlem Globetrotters, which is a basketball team that puts on shows to entertain with forms of stunts and tricks.

“I was very fortunate to not only be able to play the game but have to charisma to go with,” said Key

This season the Lady Pioneers will travel far and wide including to Texas, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Alabama.

“[The girls} want to play. They all come from very successful high school back grounds, very successful programs, and tough coaches. The will and the want are there so I’m just eager to see them get out there and play,” said Key.

Last Wednesday’s basketball games against Southwest Tenn. Saluqis

by Jason Crownover// Contributing Writer

On Wednesday, Feb. 11, the Volunteer State Community College Pioneers men and women basketball teams hosted the Southwest Tennessee Saluqis on their home court in Gallatin.

The women’s game ended with a score of 70-61, with Vol State picking up the victory, while the men’s game was won by Southwest Tennessee, with a final of 100-75.

Tip off for the women’s game was at 5:30 p. m.

The Lady Pioneers scored 42 points going into half time and a 14 point lead over Southwest Tennessee.

Down by 14 points at halftime; Andrea Matre, the Lady Salaqis head coach, said her team played “lead footed” in the first half and needed to “try to get stops” in the second half.

Sophomore Guard Ta’Keyha Flowers, sophomore guard, led the Lady Pioneers with 18 points at the break.

Otis Key, Vol State head women’s basketball coach, said he wanted to “maintain defensive pressure and move the ball around” when going into the second half.

Throughout the second half, the Lady Saluqis began to make a run at the Lady Pioneers. Southwest Tennessee outscored the Lady Pioneers by five points in the second half, and started running the fast break more efficiently late in the game.

The Lady Saluqis also tallied 10 points from the free throw line in the second half, and were led by LaKyesha Stennis, a freshman guard, who acquired 18 points in the second half.

In the end, the Lady Pioneers prevailed with a final score of 70-61.
The men’s game began at 7:30 p. m.

In the first half, Rasheed Brooks, Southwest Tennessee sophomore guard, and Jalen McGaughy, forward, scored 24 points from the three point line combined.

Vol State’s pair of sophomore wingmen, Jason Stone and Steven Nicks, combined for 18 points in the first half.

Throughout the game, the Saluqis played full court defense on the Pioneers.

Southwest Tennessee maintained constant pressure, forced turnovers and forced bad shots to be taken.

The Saluqis defense was getting stops and producing consistent offense from good defense.

Jerry Nichols, Southwest head coach, said his team wanted to “speed (Vol State) up, keep pressure up.”

The contest was won by high field goal percentage and good shooting from the free throw line. The Saluqis shot a total of 23 for 29 from the charity stripe as well as 50 percent from the three-point line, converting on 11 of their 22 tries.

The game ended with a score of 100 to 75, with the Saluqis getting the win.

Pioneers basketball season ends for the year

by Lauren Cieler// Staff Writer

On Saturday, Feb. 14, the Volunteer State Community College Pioneers men and women basketball teams hosted the Dyersburg State Eagles.

Tip off for the women’s game was at 5:30 p. m.

The recognized sophomores for Vol State were Ta’Keyha Flowers, Victoria Dye, Shenequa Foster, Rontavia Hayes, and Janise Davis.
The Lady Pioneers scored 35 points going into half time and 11 points over the Lady Eagles. Both teams handled the ball and kept the teamwork going.

In the second half, the Lady Pioneers brought on the heat against Dyersburg State.

Baskets and 3-pointers were made left and right by the Pioneers.
Every Lady Pioneer contributed to the game bringing out the win against Dyersburg State Lady Eagles, 70-56.

“I am very proud of my team. We played with great heart. I couldn’t be happier with where my team is,” said Coach Otis Key, Vol State women basketball coach.

“We have made progress since last semester. The first time we played Dyersburg State, they beat us by 20, so we wanted to come back and play our best,” said Nakia Daniel, Lady Pioneer.

Tip off for the men’s game started at 7:30 p.m. The recognized sophomores for Vol State were Jason Stone, Thomas Wright and Steven Nicks.

Dyersburg State and Vol State made all their points from lay-ups, 3-pointers and jump shots. End of the first half, 40-39, Dyersburg.
There were a lot of fouls from both teams.

Both a Dyersburg player and Wright, from Vol State, fouled out.

The second half was all about hard work and determination for the win.

Dyersburg showed more talent and skill by controlling the ball and making majority of the shots.

The game ended with the score of 100-91 with the Dyersburg State Eagles getting the win.

“It was an up and down season and with different coaching it took a long adjustments,” said Juanya Smith.

“I lost five players throughout the season. These boys fought hard and played their best. We played with what we got,” said Rusty Melvin, Vol state basketball coach.