Pushing Through The Noise
When you look back on the 2020-21 school year, one thing immediately comes to mind: disruption.
Between quarantines, missed practices, and games being moved, coaches and players were forced to battle through the strangest collegiate season in recent memory.
For the fall sports, like volleyball and soccer, the disruption came when their season, usually wrapped up well before December, was put on hold and scheduled to resume during the spring semester. Yet, each of those teams were able to band together during the unexpected interlude and come back strong. Volleyball made their way to the KCAC semi-finals, and women’s soccer rolled through regular season play. The men’s soccer program went further than any team before them: the Eagles’ first ever trip to the NAIA National Championship.
“This was the most successful season in program history,” said Jamie Peterson, men’s soccer coach. “I am proud of how our players represented Christ, our program, and their families.”
In basketball, the COVID pandemic came at the same time that the NAIA merged the two separate divisions into one larger division. Despite the increase in competition (and a shorter schedule due to COVID restrictions), the Eagles soared to the NAIA Sweet 16 once again.
On the diamond, both the Eagles baseball and softball squads put together seasons to remember. The Lady Eagles softball team, predicted to finish 9th place in the conference, won 31 games and earned a spot in the KCAC Tournament.
“I am very proud of my girls and the year they had,” said Shawn Woods, head softball coach. “They refused to listen to the noise and worked hard to surpass everyone’s expectations but their own.”
Finding a rhythm is hard enough during the long baseball season, but Coach Kirk Kelley and the Eagles also dealt with two separate 10-day breaks with no practices or team meetings after positive COVID tests. But the team rallied together and advanced to the NAIA World Series.
“With all the COVID restrictions, my team showed tremendous character in the midst of adversity,” said Tracie Gillette, head volleyball coach. “In a year like this, it was very tough to do.
A Banner Year
OKWU Men’s Soccer (21-3-1)
The Eagles started their season with 12 consecutive wins, rolling to KCAC regular season and tournament championships. Coach Jamie Peterson had five of his players honored as NAIA All-Americans. Julio Belo, Stefan Cvetanovic, and Stefan Lukic were named First Team All-Americans, while Matheus Ferreira was named to the Second Team and Alfeu Bertini received Honorable Mention.
OKWU Baseball (49-11)
The Eagles dominated KCAC play, romping to a 30-4 record in the conference. They won the KCAC regular season championship. Cody Muncy, a junior, was named KCAC Player of the Year, while Kelley was honored by the KCAC coaches as Coach of the Year. The Eagles had a total of eight players named to the All-KCAC Teams: Isaac Wersland (First Team), Cody Muncy (First Team), Crosby Bringhurst (First Team), Kellen Brothers (First Team), Danny Perez (Second Team), A’Darius Council (Second Team), Brendan Bell (Second Team), and Jesus Rojas (Honorable Mention).
OKWU Women’s Soccer (18-3-0)
The Lady Eagles, coached by Ivan Ristic, also dominated the pitch, finishing the year 18-3-0. They won the KCAC regular season and tournament championships. Three Lady Eagles received NAIA All-American honors.
OKWU Men’s Basketball (21-7)
An eight-game winning streak in the middle of conference play propelled the Eagles Men’s hoops squad, led by Coach Donnie Bostwick. The team finished as runner-up in the KCAC Tournament before advancing to the NAIA National Tournament. They made a run to the Round of 16 before seeing their season end.
OKWU Women’s Basketball (12-14)
The team found its stride in the KCAC Tournament, winning two post-season games and advancing to the semi-finals. Coach Grace Hadley wecomes a talented and experienced group for the upcoming season.
OKWU Softball (31-17)
On the diamond, the Lady Eagles Softball team finished fourth in the conference and earned a spot in the KCAC Conference Tournament.
OKWU Volleyball (20-17)
A strong postseason push, including a win over #2-seeded McPherson, saw the Lady Eagles advance to the semi-finals of the KCAC Tournament.
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