Belton (August 16, 2012) -- The 2012 season officially kicked off for the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor men’s soccer team when the Cru hit the practice field for the first time Thursday morning.
Head coach Brad Bankhead opened with fundamentals, stressing the importance of being ready both mentally and physically. Athletes participated in conditioning drills to open practice, followed by exercises to increase agility and mental sharpness.
The Cru returns 21 athletes, including seniors Chris Torres, Francisco Garza and Derek Geels. Torres led the team last season in goals (seven), assists (five) and points (19). Joining the team are 13 newcomers, including three transfers.
“The transition from high school and club takes some kids longer than others,” Bankhead said. “I want to see what guys are mentally and physically ready to contribute as a freshman.”
New head coach Barry Elkins and the UMHB women’s soccer team also hit the practice field for the first time today. Elkins, an alumnus of UMHB and four-year letterman on the men’s soccer team, was named head coach in April after a 13-year run as the head women’s soccer coach at Belton High School. He returns to coach three athletes at UMHB who played for him at Belton.
“I’m happy to have them because they are kids that I know and kids that know me,” Elkins said. “They know what to expect so they can kind of translate that to the rest of the team.”
The women’s team returns 17 athletes to the 2012 squad, including a strong senior class. Darla Gregory, Camryn Powell, Jordan Powers, Tori Seiler and Jenna Womack all return for their senior season.
“There’s no doubt that the senior class is the backbone of this team,” said Elkins. “It’s nice to come in as a new coach and already have the leadership in place.”
The men will open the 2012 season with an exhibition game at home against Huston-Tillotson on Saturday, Aug. 24th. Regular season play will kickoff on Aug. 31st with the men facing Wayland Baptist and the women matching up against Trinity. Conference play will begin for both teams against Texas Lutheran on Sept. 14th.
The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor volleyball team opened its 2012 fall camp with the first practices of the season on Wednesday. Head Coach Rob Frost welcomed 12 players to the floor for the first of three daily practice sessions early Wednesday morning.
The Cru returns just four letter winners from a team that set a school, single-season, Division III era record with 21 victories last year. UMHB finished 21-11 overall, took second place in the American Southwest Conference East Division and advanced to the ASC Championship Tournament. Frost and the Cru may have surprised a few people with that level of success in his first season last year, but with eight newcomers on the current roster, maintaining that success will be the biggest challenge early in the preseason.
“We always try to be sound fundamentally and we are focusing on that,” Frost said. “It is also a matter of getting the new faces worked into our system and we want discipline and everyone on the same page. Our returners have really stepped up and done a great job of helping them settle in.”
UMHB will continue this daily practice schedule until classes start on Monday. The Cru will officially open the 2012 season with a trip to the U.T.-Dallas Tournament on August 31st and September 1st. UMHB will open its home schedule and ASC East Division play against LeTourneau University with a 7:00 PM match on Tuesday, September 11th.