Trinity athletics kick off fall competition


Katrina Lieberman, #9 Sara Flynn, #8 Emily Ellis, #11 Avery Tuggle Photo credit: Matthew Claybrook

Several of Trinity University’s athletic teams are now officially considered in-season, including cross country, volleyball, football, men’s soccer and women’s soccer. Each team will face a strenuous schedule that involves daily practices, multiple competitions each week and trips across the country.

Cross country
According to Emily Daum, who is in her sixth year serving as the head coach of the men’s and women’s cross country teams, jumping into fall competition includes both physical workouts and team activities.

“I feel like my athletes have done a great job of getting in the necessary training to set themselves up for a solid season. Based on how their workouts have been going since returning to campus, it’s obvious they’ve gotten in the base they needed to over the summer. The captains have also done a great job in putting together fun team bonding activities outside of practices to help make sure our team is a cohesive unit,” Daum said.

The team’s schedule features several notable competitions, including contests against NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division I teams.

“We’ve got some really competitive meets on the schedule, which include going up against schools like UT, A&M, Arkansas, Rice and other top DI programs. The Chile Pepper Festival is always a fun one because it’s our first overnight trip of the season, and the team has fun bonding with one another. There are also new meets on the schedule, including the UIW Opener, University of Texas Invite and the A&M Invite, which will be extremely competitive as well,” Daum said.

The Tiger volleyball team’s roster features 11 returning players and seven new first-years. Additionally, the team has hired a new assistant coach, Brindl Langley, who joins Trinity following her graduation from Florida Southern College, where she finished as the school’s all-time leader in digs, with a total of 1,923. Coach Langley believes that the team’s strong mentality will allow them to find success in the upcoming season.

“My experiences with the Tigers thus far have been outstanding. The caliber of these young women’s play, work ethic and drive is unlike anything I’ve seen in a while. These ladies want what is best for the team, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to take the team to the next level. I am really looking forward to the season and finally getting to see our opponents and what this level has to offer. It will be great watching the team compete at the top and continue to be a dominant force in the conference and national level,” Langley said.

Langley also explained that the team’s upcoming schedule features games against highly-ranked national opponents, as well as local SCAC (Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference) rivals.

“We are playing nationally-ranked opponents for the first four weekends of the season, which will push us early on and let us see what we are truly made of. I think every game to our team is important, and we never want to look past an opponent, but I do know there is a special rivalry within the conference. The two main games that I know our girls are extremely pumped for are Colorado College and Southwestern [University]. It would be great to have a lot of support not only at all our games but those two specifically,” Langley said.

Similarly, the Trinity football team is expected to face a challenging schedule this semester. The team will face three nationally-ranked schools during the first month of their official season, and they will open Southern Athletic Association conference play against Berry College on Sept. 21. Assistant head coach Paul Michalak explains that the team will be taking the schedule one day at a time.

“We talk to the team about focusing on winning the day, whether it’s on the field or off the field. We have a saying that today matters. We don’t focus on the future — we focus on what we can do now to get better. So we try not to have any specific games circled other than our next one,” Michalak said.

Men’s Soccer
The men’s soccer team is looking to defend their SCAC title after capturing their 21st overall conference title during the 2018 season. Assistant coach Edward Cartee, who is in his eighth season of coaching the Tigers, believes that a regulated game load will be a key factor in the team’s success.

“We’re allowed to play up to 20 regular-season games, which would equal a two-game weekend every weekend, but Coach McGinlay strategically scheduled three one-game weekends in our season to give the players more recovery time. In total, our regular-season will be 17 games, which will hopefully allow our team to be fresher in the later weeks of the season. The condensed nature of the college season is a very heavy load for the players, so we are doing things every day to help manage that,” Cartee said.

Cartee also explained that this year’s group of seniors have the special opportunity to compete for their fourth consecutive conference crown.

“Our senior class has won three SCAC regular-season championships and three conference tournament championships, so it really means a lot to them to try to go four for four. Winning the SCAC punches our ticket to the NCAA Tournament, so we place a huge emphasis on that every season. Our program’s goal is always to win every game we play, win conference and advance deep in the NCAA Tournament. We are aiming to reach our program’s fourth Final Four and win our program’s second national championship. In pursuit of those goals, the players have set lots of smaller goals to focus on along the way. Right now, our focus is to play well this weekend, outwork our next opponent and execute our game plan under pressure,” Cartee said.

Women’s Soccer
The women’s soccer team is also looking to defend their conference title after capturing their tenth consecutive SCAC championship last year. The team’s roster will feature 15 returners and 16 new players. Senior defender Kristen Canepa, who earned All-America first-team honors and the 2018 SCAC Defensive Player of the Year title, believes that the larger team size will allow the group to push themselves harder during the season.

“In preparation for the upcoming season, the team has been training hard at practices and in a few scrimmages. With such a large team, we are able to create a very competitive environment at practice, and we are able to just play a lot more, which allows us to find great chemistry between the returners and the incoming freshmen. Additionally, because there are so many incoming freshmen, creating a strong team chemistry has also been very important,” Canepa said.

Since Canepa is a senior, this will be her final year competing as a Trinity soccer player.

“Each year I have learned more about myself as a player and a student. The Trinity women’s soccer program has provided such a welcoming and supportive environment for me, and it has helped me continue to love the game. It is bittersweet knowing that this is my last year of eligibility, but I am still very excited for the upcoming season. My goals for the team are to win the SCAC conference tournament and make as far as we can in the NCAA postseason tournament. That being said, I really just want to enjoy my final season and have fun playing the game I love with some of my best friends and teammates,” Canepa said.