Behind the direction of second-year SSU President Dr. Rick Kurtz, along with generous donors that have helped make the transition a reality, the athletics department at Shawnee State University will take the second and final step in Phase II of its Athletics Expansion Plan by adding men’s and women’s bowling as a sponsored sport at Shawnee State University, with former golfer and Class of 2008 Shawnee State University Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Bryan Sturgell heading the charge.
Additionally, the Shawnee State University Athletics Department, behind the direction of new tennis coach Steve Boone, will officially hold its opening ceremonies for the program on Wednesday when the Bears honor the school’s first-ever men’s tennis unit, along with William Daehler, a longtime donor to the athletic program and who helped make the men’s tennis team a possibility, in a 3 p.m. ceremony at the Daehler Tennis Center.
The men’s tennis program’s first match — which, along with the addition of the women’s golf and men’s and women’s indoor track and field programs — was a part of the university’s first phase in the Athletics Expansion Plan and marks the official competition of the phase. Women’s golf officially started play in August 2016 and the indoor track and field teams started competition on Jan. 13.
For Steve Boone, it’s a honor to be a part of a new and exciting beginning.
“I am honored to be a part of SSU’s tennis program as we begin a new era with the men’s tennis team,” Boone said in a press release. “Thanks to Dr. Daehler’s generosity, President Kurtz’s leadership and Mr. Hamilton’s directions, the men’s and women’s tennis programs have an incredibly solid foundation. Of course, the current men and women who make up the teams are also uniquely instrumental in building upon this foundation, and the amount of dedication and passion they possess make them great ambassadors both on and off the court in setting the standards for future players.”
Shawnee State University Athletic Director Jeff Hamilton agrees.
“This is a great moment for SSU Athletics as we embark on the next chapter in the tennis program thanks to the generosity of Dr. Daehler and President Kurtz’s vision of the Athletics Department,” Hamilton said in the same release. “I see a lot of potential for our tennis programs under Coach Boone’s direction to prosper with local and regional talent that we’ll be able to bring in. I’m very excited to see the young men and women we currently have represent SSU on the courts, and I believe that they will continue to improve in the years to come.”
Shawnee State will hold its initial home tennis affairs against Ohio Christian University. The men and women will be in action immediately following the ceremonies at the Daehler Tennis Center, with the matches scheduled for a 4 p.m. start. Both units defeated Mount Vernon Nazarene to move to 1-0 for their respective campaigns.
MEN’S AND WOMEN’S BOWLING
The men’s and women’s bowling program, which will officially begin play in the 2017-18 campaign, will be headed by Sturgill, a 1995 graduate of Northwest High School and a 1999 graduate of SSU. He was a standout producer on the greens for the Bears over his four years, as the former Mohawk comprised an overall average of 76.9 during his days at Shawnee State — good enough for fourth on the all-time list. The Bears won 19 tournament titles during his time at Shawnee State, including a school record six in the 1996-97 and 1998-99 seasons, on the strength of nine tournament medalist showings by Sturgill — to date the most in school history.
In 1997, Sturgill helped lead Shawnee State to its only conference title and NAIA berth in the sport, with the Bears finishing 13th nationally amongst all competitors during the year. He, along with fellow teammates Tony Brown and Lanny Rice, are the only golf participants to be inducted into the Shawnee State Athletics Hall of Fame.
The announcement of the men’s and women’s bowling programs, along with the subsequent hiring of Sturgill as the coach, puts Phase II completely in motion. The first part of Phase II — Jeff Hamilton’s resignation to focus more on administrative duties within the athletic department, and the subsequent hiring of assistant coach DeLano Thomas as the head coach — was discussed at length in the Monday edition of the Daily Times.
RHODES CENTER IMPROVEMENTS EXPECTED TO BE PART OF PHASE III
While the official plan for Phase III isn’t entirely compete yet, all signs indicate that the James A. Rhodes Athletic Center will be undergoing massive changes as part of the third phase. It is expected that the stage that sits opposite of the seating area in the main gym will be removed as part of a creation for a weight room that will consist of athletes only. The athletes currently share the weight room facility with students at SSU near the back entrance of the Rhodes Center.
In addition to an athlete-only weight room, the lobby that separates the front entrance of the Rhodes Center could possibly be widened, as well, to prevent overcrowding when games or events are held inside the gym. An overhaul to the Warsaw Natatorium, as part of future athletic expansion, is also a possibility.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7