The Senior ‘Class’

Published 8:05 am Tuesday, April 21, 2009

MURFREESBORO – They’ve left the fields and courts exhausted.

They’ve put in countless hours in the weight rooms, gymnasiums and fields of play.

In short, they’ve given Chowan University everything and they’re leaving it a better place.

This year will mark the final year of collegiate competition for Adrian Cook (volleyball), Jacqueline Ferns (soccer), Bryan Hill (baseball), Chris Kenon (basketball), Katelyn Mahoney (soccer), Alicia McMorris (basketball), Acquanette Simmons (basketball) and Shellie Wimpey (softball).

Each of those student-athletes has distinguished themselves as standouts during their days in the blue-and-white of the Hawks.

They came from North Carolina, Kansas and Virginia to a small four-year Christian university in Murfreesboro – and they made their mark. Each of them had their own reasons for attending Chowan.

“I liked the student-professor ratio; it was close to home and I had the opportunity to play basketball,” Simmons said.

Both Hill and Wimpey were local student-athletes. Hill came from Pitt County’s J.H. Rose High School while Wimpey signed on from Pasquotank County’s Northeastern High School.

“I came to Chowan because I was recruited to play softball and I liked the small college atmosphere,” Wimpey said.

Hill’s reasoning was similar.

“I came on a baseball scholarship and because of the small-town atmosphere,” he said.

Kenon said he came only for basketball at first.

“I came to Chowan University to play basketball,” he said. “I really did not know too much about the school, but as I began to get comfortable I started to like the atmosphere and the community. Basketball was my first reasons for choosing this institution, but the great academic field was a great addition.”

The experience has varied from two years to four, but each of the student-athletes has a positive experience to look back on.

“My experience at Chowan has been a great one,” Ferns said. “I have made great friends, had a good experience competing at the college level and have learned some important life lessons both on and off the field.

“The balance between athletics and academics at Chowan is perfect and I feel that I couldn’t have picked a better school,” she added.

Cook agreed.

“My experience at Chowan has been great,” she said. “I was a transfer, so I’ve only been here two years, but those two years have been awesome. I’ve met a lot of great people and plan to keep in touch with not only my friends, but my professors as well.”

Kenon said everything during his experience was something he appreciated.

“My experience here at Chowan in my four years has been memorable,” he said. “I have had some great moments and also some bad moments, but every moment I have had has been remarkable and memorable.”

One of the reasons for their positive experiences, according to many of the eight, was their relationships with their coach or coaches during their stay in Murfreesboro.

Mahoney and Ferns played for both Georgina Donnelly and Jodi Clugston, but said while they had different styles, the best parts were the same.

“With George (Donnelly), the player-coach relationship was always open,” Mahoney said. “Any issues, whether on or off the field, could always be discussed without fear of judgment. She was caring and we always had a great time.

“Jodi came in 2008 and brought a different coaching style,” Mahoney continued, “but the player-coach relationship was still open. She is always available to discuss soccer issues or any other situation.”

Ferns also has positive memories of both coaches.

“My relationship with my first coach, Georgina, was a great one,” Ferns said. “She was a friend both on and off the field and a wonderful model of a true soccer player.

“I also had a good relationship with my second coach, Jodi,” she added. “She was a strong leader with qualities that really pulled our team together.”

Both basketball coaches – Pat Mashuda (women) and Jim Tribbett (men) also had a positive impact on their players.

“Coach Mashuda has been a very influential person since I’ve been here,” Simmons said. “He has helped in a lot of ways – be it on the court or off. He is someone that I can talk to about anything. I would say that our relationship is pretty good.”

McMorris agreed.

“Coach (Mashuda) and I have a great relationship,” McMorris said. “He puts my academics first and that is the most important. He has helped me grow on and off the court as a person and is always there anytime you need him.”

Kenon had similar comments about Tribbett’s contributions.

“My relationship with Coach Tribbett has impacted my life for the future,” Kenon said. “He has brought the best out of me and taught me on how to be a good person off the court. He also stressed the importance of academics.”

Hill said Chowan Baseball Coach Aaron Carroll has also impacted his life.

“My relationship with my head coach is great,” Hill said. “He puts me in my place when needed and is there any time I need help. He is one of the best coaches I have played for and his knowledge of the game is outstanding.

“He is a coach, a dad and a friend,” Hill added. “Coach Carroll made a man out of me.”

Each of the eight student-athletes has had moments they will always treasure while playing for the Hawks.

One of those moments came for Kenon on Senior Night.

“My best moment playing basketball here was my senior night when I scored a career high – 31 points – to lead a victory over the University of District of Columbia,” Kenon said. “Another memorable moment was when we won the Regional Championship of the NCCAA and I received MVP honors.”

Simmons’ best memory was simpler.

“I would say that my best moment athletically would be after having multiple surgeries, I was able to play a full season and grab 13 rebounds against UNC-Pembroke this season,” she said.

Ferns’ most memorable moment came in an unusual manner.

“Being a defender my entire career at Chowan, I never had the opportunity to score a goal until our game against Coker my senior year,” Ferns said. “During this game, I was able to dribble up the sideline from defense and cut across to shoot the ball and score the second goal in our 2-0 victory.”

Wimpey’s most memorable moment came at Sweetbrier College.

“My favorite moment was last season when we played at Sweetbrier,” she said. “We were down 6-0 and came back in extra innings to win 8-6. It was a team effort and everyone contributed to the win. We felt as if we had won a championship game.”

McMorris was able to hit a game-winning shot during her career while Hill was proud of winning the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) regional in 2008 and advancing to the national tournament. Mahoney said her best memory was standing with a teammate during an altercation in her senior season.

The group will leave with great memories of Chowan University – both academically and athletically. Each had their own version of what that special memory would be.

“I’m most proud of the fact that I could play a sport I love and keep my grades up,” Cook said. “I’ve kept my GPA above a 3.3 and also have been president of our Student Athlete Advisory Committee. That club has done some great things.

“This school has kept me busy, but being a student-athlete all four years of college and keeping up my grades is something most people can’t say they’ve done,” she closed.

McMorris had similar memories.

“The thing I am most proud of here is that I was able to maintain my grades as well as making the Dean’s List while managing to play basketball,” she said.

Mahoney said she was proud of her involvement with Chowan women’s soccer.

“I am most proud of my involvement with a team that was able to overcome a lot of adversity and stick together no matter what,” she said. “The women’s soccer team at Chowan is a strong group of girls and it was an honor to be a part of that team.”

Kenon’s memories were also academic and athletic-related.

“I am most proud of receiving All-Academic Student-Athlete for the NCCAA for two straight years – my junior and senior seasons,” Kenon said.

Hill said he was proud of his team’s success.

“I am most proud of being a starter for four years and being part of the team’s success each year,” he said.

Ferns said she was most proud of her senior season.

“I am most proud of my senior soccer season in which I played every minute of every game – never being subbed out,” she said. “I’m also proud of my academic accomplishments.”

Wimpey also was pleased with her academic record.

“I am most proud that I have a 3.0 GPA while being a student-athlete,” she said.

Simmons said her pride encompassed two things.

“I am most proud of the fact that Chowan just got into the CIAA and that I was able to maintain a 3.0 GPA,” she said.

The eight student-athletes achieved awards throughout their playing days. A sample of those awards included:

Cook – All-ICAA Third Team, All-Tournament at Janet Collins Tournament;

Ferns – NCCAA Scholar Athlete 2007, Who’s Who Among American Colleges and Universities 2008;

Hill – NCCAA All-Region, NCCAA Student-Athlete of the Week;

Kenon – Student-Athlete of the Week, All-Academic Student-Athlete of the week, second team All-NCCAA and MVP Regional Championship game;

Mahoney – NCCAA Scholar-Athlete Award;

McMorris – NCCAA Player of the Week; Dean’s List;

Simmons – Dean’s List, Sportsmanship Award and MVP; and

Wimpey – NCAA Student-Athlete of the Week, Dean’s List and broke strikeout record.

“This group of graduating student-athletes embody the very heart and soul that make up the spirit of Chowan University,” said Chowan University Senior Woman Administrator and Sports Information Director Meredith Long. “They are hard-working, dedicated students first, and athletes second.

“Each one of them has made a name for themselves in the classroom, community and on their respective playing fields,” she added. “I think that everyone here can proudly say that these young ladies and men will go out in the world as ambassadors for Chowan University.”