Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Getting to Know Derek Schwandt

After Derek Schwandt was named the new head coach of the Liberty men's tennis program, LFSN reporter Alan York spent some time getting to know Schwandt.

Schwandt was introduced as the sixth men's tennis head coach in school history on May 30. He comes to Liberty after serving as an assistant coach at Georgia Tech (2013-17), Fresno State (2011-12) and Virginia (2009-10). While at those three schools, Schwandt helped his teams claim four conference titles and advance to the NCAA Men's Tennis Championship seven times.
Liberty University Director of Athletics Ian McCaw had this to say about Schwandt's hire, "Derek is an ideal Liberty fit who is passionate about training champions for Christ, providing a world class student-athlete experience and achieving victory with integrity," said McCaw. "In addition to his experience as a Collegiate National Team coach with the United States Tennis Association, he has played an important role in building successful programs at Virginia, Fresno State and Georgia Tech."

Schwandt Named Flames New Men's Tennis Coach

Liberty University Director of Athletics Ian McCaw has announced the hiring of Derek Schwandt as Liberty's new Head Men's Tennis Coach.
Schwandt comes to Liberty after serving as an assistant coach at Georgia Tech (2013-17), Fresno State (2011-12) and Virginia (2009-10). Schwandt helped his teams claim four conference titles and advance to the NCAA Men's Team Championship seven times.   
"Derek is an ideal Liberty fit who is passionate about training champions for Christ, providing a world class student-athlete experience and achieving victory with integrity," said McCaw. "In addition to his experience as a Collegiate National Team coach with the United States Tennis Association, he has played an important role in building successful programs at Virginia, Fresno State and Georgia Tech."
During his five seasons with Georgia Tech, the team advanced to the NCAA Men's Team Championship the last three years, making second round appearances in 2016 and 2017.
The 2017 Yellow Jackets' squad reached a high of No. 12 in the nation and finished the year ranked No. 19. During the 2017 season, Georgia Tech posted a 17-7 dual match record, including wins over No. 16 Stanford, No. 21 South Carolina, No. 31 Florida State and two wins over No. 35 Duke.
"I would like to thank Liberty University, Ian McCaw and the hiring committee for the incredible opportunity to lead Flames men's tennis," said Schwandt. "I'm thankful for the love and support of my wife, Rachel, my parents and my coaching mentors. Thank you to all of the student-athletes who competed in several inspiring battles at Virginia, Fresno State and Georgia Tech. It's awesome to reflect on God's faithfulness in preparing me for this mission to train Champions for Christ at Liberty."
"My vision is to build a program that contends at the top national level. I will lead the Flames to an excellent standard each day in the way that we train and fight for the team in matches," continued Schwandt. "I'm looking forward to creating a culture of hard work, grit and enthusiasm at Liberty. It's an awesome experience to coach a team that fights for something bigger than each individual."
Schwandt helped garner some of the nation's brightest stars with Fresno State and Georgia Tech's recruiting classes ranked No. 12 in the country in 2012, No. 11 in 2013 and No. 14 in 2014.
Schwandt recruited and coached the 2016 and 2017 ACC Player of the Year Christopher Eubanks. The ITA All-American Eubanks is ranked No. 7 in the nation and made his third-straight appearance in the NCAA Singles Championship, reaching the quarterfinals in 2017.
Schwandt was named to the USTA Collegiate National Team staff during the summer of 2014 and 2015, coaching the top American college players on the ITF Futures pro circuit. He led Virginia standout Mitchell Frank to the 2014 Tulsa, Okla., Future title and a runner-up performance in Godfrey, Ill.
In his two years at Fresno State, the Bulldogs won two-straight Western Athletic Conference regular season and tournament championships and rose to No. 14 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings in 2012.
In 2012, Schwandt coached Fresno State to a win over No. 9 Stanford for the first time in program history. The Bulldogs went to their second-straight NCAA Tournament and fell to No. 27 San Diego in the first round.
In 2011, he led Fresno State to their first WAC Tournament title since 1999 and a No. 37 national team ranking. The Bulldogs defeated No. 19 Minnesota in the first round of the NCAA Championship before falling, 4-3, to No. 14 Cal in the second round.
Schwandt served as the Volunteer Assistant Coach at Virginia during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. During Schwandt's time at Virginia, the Cavaliers won the 2009 and 2010 ITA National Team Indoor championship, the 2009 and 2010 ACC Championship and the 2009 and 2010 NCAA doubles title.
The Cavaliers also reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Men's Team Championship in 2009, and the semifinals in 2010. He coached under Brian Boland, the 2008 and 2016 ITA National Coach of the Year and winner of four of the last five national championships (2013, 2015-17).
From 2005-08, Schwandt played ITF Futures and ATP Challengers around the world, including tournaments in South America, Mexico, Canada, Central America and India. He earned an ATP world ranking in singles and doubles. His top singles victory was over Marcus Fugate (587 ATP) 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 in the 2008 Binghamton Challenger.
Schwandt is a 2005 graduate of the University of Richmond where he received his bachelor's degree in business administration, concentrating in economics. The two-time All-Atlantic 10 selection (2004 and 2005) helped the Spiders win three Atlantic 10 conference championships (2002, 2004 and 2005) and make three team appearances in the NCAA Men's Team Championship.
Schwandt completed his master's degree in sport psychology from Fresno State in May 2012 with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Schwandt's book review on John Wooden was published in the June 2012 issue of The Sport Psychologist.
Schwandt is a native of Kennett Square, Pa., and is married to the former Rachel Eddy.
What They Are Saying about Derek Schwandt
 "Derek Schwandt is a great hire for Liberty University. I have known Derek from his early days as a successful player and coach. Derek is a man of deep faith and integrity. He is the type of person that every parent wants their child to play for as he represents all that is right about college athletics. I am excited for everyone who loves Liberty Athletics, but most importantly, the student-athletes who have Derek as their coach and mentor. Derek has the leadership skills and knowledge to build a nationally competitive program at Liberty. He will lead Liberty to new heights and build a championship program on and off the court. Today is a great day for Liberty Men's Tennis."
Brian Boland
Head of Men's Tennis for USTA Player Development
Former Head Coach, Virginia
"Derek is one of the most talented up and coming young coaches in the country in my opinion. Not only does he possess the tools to win at the highest level, his relationship with Christ is the most important thing to him in his life. For these reasons, I believe this is an incredible hire by Ian [McCaw] and a perfect fit for the future of the Liberty Men's Tennis program."
Matt Hill
Head Coach, Arizona State
 "Derek has done an incredible job at Georgia Tech, on and off the court. He brought an impeccable work ethic to recruiting and development. He has a passion for tennis, coaching and people and he is well deserving of this opportunity at Liberty. He represented Georgia Tech with the highest level of integrity and was a big part of our success over the past few years. We will definitely miss him here, but I know great things are ahead for Liberty. We all thank him for the time and effort he gave to Georgia Tech. We are better because of him."
Kenny Thorne
Head Coach, Georgia Tech
 "I'm excited to see Derek build an excellent tennis program for Liberty! He's an exceptional on-court coach that will create meaningful relationships with each of his student-athletes. Derek is a relentless worker whose character is second to none and he'll be a great role model for his teams."
Jay Udwadia
Head Coach, Oklahoma State

Johnson Resigns as Liberty's Men's Tennis Coach

Liberty University Director of Athletics Ian McCaw announced head men's tennis coach Chris Johnson has resigned from his coaching duties. Liberty will immediately begin a national search for the sixth head coach in the program's history.
"God has called me to Liberty twice and I am eternally grateful for each one," said Johnson. "I can think of no greater calling than to train Champions for Christ. Thank you to everyone who supported me and my family during this journey. We are forever grateful. Go Flames!"

Johnson has been a part of the Liberty tennis programs since he was hired as head men's and women's tennis coach on Aug. 7, 2006. He served as head coach of both programs for six seasons before shifting his entire focus to the men's tennis program for the 2012-13 season.
During his 11 seasons as head men's tennis coach (2006-17), Johnson posted a 117-124 overall match record and a 30-47 mark in Big South play.
During his six seasons in charge of the women's tennis program (2006-12), Johnson guided the Lady Flames to a 64-58 overall record and 23-18 mark in Big South action.
Johnson became the first head coach in men's tennis program history to reach the 100-career win mark, accomplishing the feat when Liberty defeated King College on Jan. 30, 2016.
During his time at Liberty, Johnson coached three Big South Players of the Year (Men's – 2016; Women's – 2007 and 2008), three Big South Freshmen of the Year (Men's – 2010; Women's – 2008 and 2011) and 38 All-Big South honorees.
Johnson was named the Big South Men's Tennis Coach of the Year in 2015 and garnered Big South Women's Coach of the Year honors in 2008.
In 2013, Johnson coached the doubles tandem of Shea Thomas and Jorge Azuero to the program's first-ever ITA Atlantic Region championship. With the regional title, the pair earned a trip to the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in Flushing, N.Y.
In 2016, Johnson helped Sam Matheson become the first nationally ranked singles player in program history. Matheson was ranked as high as No. 93 in the country and earned the program's first-ever at-large singles selection to the NCAA Men's Tennis National Championship.

Tickle Garners VaSID All-State First Team Selection

Liberty lacrosse senior defender Victoria Tickle was voted to the Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) University Division Women's Lacrosse All-State first team, as announced by the organization on Friday.
Tickle is the third Lady Flame in program history to receive first team distinction, joining Colleen Ekert (2015-16) and Jen Freymond (2013). She was one of 11 players from the Commonwealth selected to the first team.
The Fairfax, Va., native put together the best season of her career as a senior, setting a new program record for ground balls with 53 while also compiling a team-best 27 caused turnovers. Tickle, who finished No. 36 in the country in ground balls per game (2.79), was also a Big South All-Conference second team selection and was named to the Big South All-Tournament team.
Tickle was named to the VaSID All-State first team on Friday.
Tickle scooped up three or more ground balls in 13 of Liberty lacrosse's 19 games. The signature performance of her career came on Senior Night against Radford on April 19. She notched six caused turnovers and corralled six ground balls, both career bests, in a 13-10 victory over the Highlanders.
Tickle closes out her distinguished Liberty career seventh all-time in school history in both ground balls (102) and caused turnovers (57). She graduated in May with a Bachelor of Science in elementary education.
Virginia's Maggie Jackson was tabbed the VaSID Player of the Year, while the Cavaliers' Sammy Mueller earned VaSID Rookie of the Year distinction. James Madison 11th-year head coach Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe received VaSID Coach of the Year honors for the fourth time.
2017 VaSID All-State University Division Women's Lacrosse Team

VaSID Player of the Year – Maggie Jackson, Virginia
VaSID Coach of the Year – Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe, James Madison
VaSID Rookie of the Year – Sammy Mueller, Virginia
First Team
G – Megan Gianforte, Richmond
D – Abby Junior, William & Mary
D – Kaitlin Luzik, Virginia
D – Rebecca Tooker, James Madison
D – Victoria Tickle, Liberty
M – Kasey Behr, Virginia
M – Maggie Jackson, Virginia
M – Haley Warden, James Madison
A – Kim Egizi, Richmond
A – Kristen Gaudian, James Madison
A – Kelly Reese, Virginia
Second Team
G – Emily Poelma, James Madison
D – Kerri Caruso, Old Dominion
D – Leslie Espenschied, Richmond
D – Natalie Ledwitz, Old Dominion
M – Alexa McGovern, George Mason
M – Sammy Meuller, Virginia
M – Elena Romesburg, James Madison
A – Besser Dyson, Virginia
A – Sam Geiersbach, Richmond
A – Sky Hyatt, Virginia Commonwealth
A – Kristine Loscalzo, Virginia Tech

Barr Named CoSIDA Academic All-American

Liberty senior field hockey student-athlete Serena Barr was voted to the 2016-17 CoSIDA Academic All-America® At-Large second team, as announced by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) this afternoon.
Barr is the first Liberty student-athlete to garner selection to the CoSIDA Academic All-America® team this year and first player in Liberty field hockey program history to earn the award.
Barr is the first player in Liberty field hockey program history to garner selection to the CoSIDA Academic All-America® team
The at-large teams for the Academic All-America® program include the sports of fencing, golf, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, rifle, skiing, swimming & diving, tennis and water polo for both men and women. The team also includes the sports of beach volleyball, bowling, crew and field hockey for women, and volleyball and wrestling for men.
Barr, a native of Lurgan, Northern Ireland, graduated summa cum laude in May with a Bachelor of Science degree in public health and a perfect 4.00 GPA.
She earned CoSIDA Academic All-District™ honors in May, joining former Lady Flame Helen Doolittle (2011-14), who merited selection in both 2013 and 2015.
Barr was also one of four Liberty student-athletes to receive the Big South Conference's George A. Christenberry Award for Academic Excellence, given annually to the male and female-student athletes who attain the highest GPA during their college careers.
She was chosen as the 2016 Zag Field Hockey National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division I National Scholar Athlete in late March. The Northern Ireland native was the only NCAA Division I field hockey-student athlete to receive the honor.
Barr also was named to the Zag Sport/NFHCA Division I National Academic Squad and Scholars of Distinction lists in all four seasons she competed for the Liberty Lady Flames field hockey team.
In her final season in a Lady Flames uniform, she was named to the 2016 Longstreth/NFHCA Division I All-America second team, becoming the second All-American in program history. Barr guided the Lady Flames to a runner-up finish in their inaugural season in the BIG EAST Conference in the fall of 2016 and was voted BIG EAST Co-Defensive Player of the Year for her efforts. 

Crist and Dollar Close Year as No. 7 Doubles Duo in Atlantic Region

The Liberty women's tennis squad's doubles unit of junior Evangeline Crist and sophomore Anna Dollar ended the 2016-17 season as the No. 7 doubles tandem in the Oracle/ITA Division I Regional Rankings for the Atlantic Region.
Dollar (left) and Crist (right) after being recognized at the FLAMESPY Award show.
"Anna and Evangeline stayed consistent through both the fall and spring seasons and as a result, produced some great results," stated Liberty head coach Jeff Maren. "I believe that they will come back this year ready to play and will most likely improve upon that ranking."
The duo finished the season with a 17-11 overall mark, including a 9-3 record in the fall. The pairing went 5-2 in Big South play, this spring, in guiding the Lady Flames to a 7-1 Big South mark and a share of their second straight conference regular-season title. Both players were voted to the Big South Second Team All-Conference Singles list.
Crist and Dollar, who opened the spring with an identical No. 7 ranking, became the first pair in Liberty women's tennis history to qualify for the semifinals at the 2016 ITA Atlantic Regional, last October.
The duo upset Maryland's third-seeded team of Ekaterina Tour and Arnelle Sullivan, who finished the year ranked No. 3 in the region, 8-5, at the regional. Their upset earned the Best Upset Award at Liberty's sixth annual FLAMESPY Award show in April.
Through three seasons, Crist has 74 total doubles victories, third-most all time in program history. She also has the fourth-best winning percentage in school history for doubles play (74-32, .698), followed by Dollar (45-22, .672), who won 20 total doubles matches as a sophomore.    

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Women's Tennis Transfer Medina Receives Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars Award

Maria Medina, an incoming transfer for the Liberty women's tennis team, was recently recognized with the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award.
Medina, who competed at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF), was the only National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) tennis student-athlete to receive the honor this year, handed out by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine.
Medina was recently recognized with the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar Award. (Photo credit: SCF Athletics)
The native of Caracas, Venezuela was named to the tennis third team and was one of 60 college tennis players in the nation to receive the award. The Sports Scholars Award is given to undergraduate students of color who exemplify academic and athletic achievement. Students must be at least a sophomore and have a cumulative grade point average of 3.2, as well as demonstrate community activism. This year, over 1,200 student-athletes from around the nation were nominated.
"Maria exemplifies what it means to strive for excellence in all areas of life, so this award couldn't have been given to a more deserving person. Arthur Ashe is considered to be an ideal role model within the tennis community, so this is a great honor for Maria to have her name mentioned in the same breathe as his," stated Liberty Women's Tennis Head Coach Jeff Maren. "We are very excited to have Maria join us this fall! Her character and commitment will help us to reach new heights next season."
Medina won the 2016 Oracle Championship for the junior college division and placed runner-up in the overall Oracle Championship. She was also the NJCAA National Runner Up in No. 1 singles in 2016. In 2017, Medina and her doubles partner were the NJCAA Region 8 champions in the No. 1 doubles draw.
She holds a 10 Universal Tennis player rating (UTR) and was ranked No. 1 in the country in both singles and doubles for most of her two years at State College of Florida.
Medina was ranked as high as No. 862 in singles on the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) pro tour before attending State College.