Photos and graphic by Emily Gearhart
The Greensboro Pride men’s soccer team welcomes Manbi Nyepon home. Nyepon, a native of the Greensboro area, attended Page High School before beginning his athletic career at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, North Carolina.
After playing there for two years, he transferred to Greensboro College where he spent his final two collegiate years as the Pride’s starting goalkeeper. Nyepon still holds the current record for in-conference shutouts and clean sheets. He was elected to the all-conference teams both years he was a member of the Pride, leading his team to the conference finals his junior and senior year, winning in 2013.
After graduating, Nyepon stayed on with the Pride as assistant coach to former head coach Tony Falvino. He spent two consecutive years as an assistant coach before moving to Washington D.C., coaching a year at American University and eventually settling at George Washington University.
After his tenure in the nation’s capital, Nyepon returns to his alma mater, assuming the role of head coach following the exit of six-year head coach Tony Falvino. Falvino led the team to 3 regular-season titles (2015, 2018, 2021). In addition to those titles, he also won twice (2015, 2021) in his time here, and was elected USA South coach of the year in 2015. Following the conclusion of the 2021 spring season, Coach Falvino joined the Mercer University Bears, with Nyepon filling his place at GC, assisted by an alumni of the team, Camden Brooks.
“It feels good to be home.” said Nyepon. “This is my first season as a head coach, and we have got a good, responsible group of guys that I am excited to get to know. I think we have the chance to do something special, it just takes effort and trust in each other, and if we have those, I do not think there is anything that can stand in our way.”
According to the USA South coaches’ poll, the Pride is listed in third place to win the regular season, despite being the previous season’s champions. With players transferring, the change in coaching staff and a packed game schedule, the men’s Pride soccer team faces new obstacles. Now listed with 18 games, compared to the 12 played in the spring earlier this year, they look to defend their title and bring another championship home.
Returning senior Jordy Briceno who led the team in goals and assists this past year has given word he fully intends to end his college career on a high note. “We will be facing a much tougher scenario than last year, given that we have a new coach as well as a larger roster and more out of conference games,” said Briceno. “But nothing has ever stopped us from achieving what we want to when we put the work in.”
In addition to the new coaching staff and recruits, the Pride is also presented with the chance to play night games, with the new flood lights that were recently installed. Bringing back the possibility for Friday night light games, many members are excited to take on opponents at home after a long year of empty stands due to Covid-19. As the men’s soccer team prepares for their first conference game, they will brave this new atmosphere.
By Keita Ikenna-Gresham
This issue’s spotlight is on Lauren Rodriguez. In addition to being a Greensboro College Resident Advisor, she has also been a member of the Greensboro College women’s soccer team for four years.
Rodriguez says she chose Greensboro College because it feels like “home,” and as a Resident Advisor she is certainly doing a great job making students feel welcomed and at home.
She said that when she first came to visit Greensboro College, “everyone welcomed me warmly and made me feel right at home.”
She has had quite a career with the women’s soccer team. Reflecting on her final year on the team, Rodriguez said:
“Soccer season was a difficult journey worth doing! With Covid affecting a lot of things, it didn’t stop us from working hard. We have worked so hard from the fall season and we were able to put all of our hard work to use when we played this spring. All of this led us to win a championship and I couldn’t be happier than to finish off my four year career with another championship in the books!”
The men held their own against larger schools like Roanoke College and the University of Lynchburg. Spencer George, a freshman, led the men to two top-eight finishes, including a 50-yard free-style race with a time of 21.92 which earned him a sixth-place finish, and a 100-yard freestyle swim with a time of 48.23. Both of these times broke previous school records and made George competitive with top swimmers from bigger schools.
Ethan Wilson, a junior, also held his own, posting a time of 2:09.19 in the 200-yard back-stroke event and a smooth finish in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 59.38, which are among his best times of the season.
Alan Comoran beat his best times as well in the 50-and-100-yard freestyle events, with a disappointing disqualification in the 100-yard breast-stroke event.
Head coach Jim Sheridan stated that each of the swimmers did his or her best despite challenging differences in the meet due to COVID-19 restrictions. The swim team has now reached the end of the season and earned a two-week break from practice, after which off-season training will commence.
By Tess Perdue
With the recent loss of our beloved women’s basketball coach, Randy Tuggle, this season was a rebuilding year for the Lady Pride basketball team. Tuggle was the winningest coach in program history, with 198 victories. He led the Pride to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2011 and was named USA South and D3Hoops.com Coach of the Year. During his tenure, Tuggle helped shape Greensboro College’s women’s basketball team into a USA South Athletic Conference powerhouse. He helped the Pride to seven USA South Regular Season and five USA South Tournament Championships. Additionally, Tuggle is also credited with coaching and recruiting 17 All-Conference selections, two USA South Rookies and Players of the Year and two All-Americans.
In September 2020, Greensboro College alumni Heather Macy was named head coach. “Coach Macy has had a remarkable coaching career since her playing days here at Greensboro College,” said Athletic Director Kim Strable. “Beyond her on-court qualifications, she has earned a certification in Emotional Intelligence as well as a Positive Psychology specialization, which she transforms into a style of leadership that has a way of bringing the best out of her players and teams. We welcome her home to where it all started.”
While obtaining her B.S. in Sport and Exercise Studies from Greensboro College, Macy was a four-year member of the Pride women’s basketball team. During her career, Macy was named in the Greensboro College record books for three-point field goals attempted and made, while also ranking ninth in all-time games played with 105. She was also inducted into the Greensboro College Athletics Hall of Fame as a member of the 1996 women’s basketball team on March 31, 2012. In addition to the Greensboro College Hall of Fame, Macy was also inducted into the Starmount High School Hall of Fame.
“This season was different for sure,” said junior guard Destiny Timberlake about the season. “After the passing of Coach Tuggle, I didn’t know how the team would do with a new coach coming in. After meeting Coach Macy, I knew she would be a change in coaching ways but she would be good for us.”
The Pride finished this season with an overall 6-9 record and a 6-8 mark in USA South play. “We’re rebuilding,” Timberlake said. “Now we prepare for next season in hopes to finish with a ring on our fingers. Go Pride!”
By Alycia Artis
After their fall season was cancelled, members of the Greensboro College football team were given an amazing opportunity. They are being allowed a shortened spring season, and they will now be able to host football games on Pride Field. For years, the football team has been waiting for this moment – the chance to call the home field “Home”.
According to senior Ju’warren Byrd, all that has been transpiring on the former soccer field has been extremely exciting. “It feels great. It’s something I’ve always wanted to see, and they hooked it up the way I’ve always pictured it,” Byrd said. “And being able to play at home is a lot
better for attendance. Playing at Grimsley sort of limits the amount of people that want to show up because it is a ways away. Now everyone can just walk outside and watch us dominate on the field.”
Junior David Loughry had positive things to say as well. He said finally having their own scoreboard “really makes Pride Field home for us.” He said playing off-campus his first two seasons were definitely “weird” but being back on campus just “brings a different kind of excitement heading into the season.”
“It’s exciting knowing that we have an opportunity to play on campus now,” said sophomore Justice Brannon. Although he has not been at Greensboro College for long, he says that he knows how surreal it is for former players: “it is very exciting.”
“Running out on Pride Field with the city in the background is going to be real special,” Loughry added with emphasis.
The football team’s first game will be against Methodist College at 1 p.m. on March 6. Come out and support the Pride.
by Alicia Artis
The world we once knew was gone in a flash due to the hardships and struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic. While some got hit harder than others, one group of people particularly impacted were athletes and coaches. The global pandemic not only sent most of the world into quarantine, it also resulted in the shutdown of sports of all levels.
Once sports started back up for high school athletes, the new challenge was college recruiting during the pandemic; this has proven challenging for both players and coaches.
When high school sports came back, athletes and college coaches had to deal with the new National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) COVID-19 recruiting regulations. Some of the new NCAA recruiting rules are extended dead periods, zero visits both in home and on campus, and coaches unable to attend live games to scout players. These were put in place by the NCAA in response to the COVID-19 outbreak to slow the spread and keep athletes and coaches safe.
However, these new rules would end up being costly as coaching staffs and recruiting coordinators had to come up with new ways to scout, meet and sign high school athletes. The struggles of recruiting during this historical era in our lives go both ways: while coaching staffs have to come up with different game plans to look for talent, the athletes themselves also have to find new ways to get seen by colleges.
“I had to pitch during a Zoom call so the coaches could see me throw since they were not able to see me throw in person,” said high school senior baseball player and Pepperdine University signee Bobby Christy, about his coronavirus recruiting experience.
This just goes to show the lengths that athletes went to during the pandemic to get recruited. The new class of college recruits are doing things differently than any other class in recent history. But for the coaching staffs it’s even more of a challenge, as there is a possibility they may have to recruit with these difficult circumstances for years to come.
These new obstacles are putting coaches in tough situations as they try to bring in the best possible players.
Greensboro College men’s soccer head coach Tony Falvino offered insight into the difficulties that coaches face during these unprecedented times: “Tape and video is good, but it’s hard to really judge a player without seeing him live because of the new rules.”
In the end its clear that even though the whole world is struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, high school athletes and college coaches are also dealing with the struggles of the new NCAA regulations in the recruiting process. But as the rest of the globe perseveres through these dark times, so too will college coaches and the future athletes of college sports.
By Alex Trepper
This issue’s athlete profile is Spencer George, a freshman on the men’s swim team. George is originally from Coats, NC, a small town in Harnett County. He has been swimming for six years, and while he played other sports like basketball and baseball throughout high school, he decided to “stick with swimming.”
Good thing he did! George has already made a significant mark on the men’s team, picking up several wins during the limited season, including the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 53.82, the 100-yard individual medley with a time of 2:13.43 and a 50y freestyle race that marked the fifth-fastest time in the history of the men’s swimming program with a time of 23 seconds.
Reminiscing about his years on various swim teams, George said that his favorite memories of the sport were “just hanging out with my friends for hours at long swim meets.”
Spencer is a true student athlete, managing his time between long practices and challenging courses in his criminal justice major. He says that he chose Greensboro College and its swimming program because he “really liked everything Coach Sheridan was proposing, and GC was the best deal.”
Speaking about what he enjoys about Greensboro College, George said, “I enjoy the smaller class sizes and the friendliness of the professors here at GC and how everyone is willing to help out.”
Though the end of his senior year in high school and the beginning of his career as a GC swimmer has been altered due to the Covid-19 pandemic, George maintains a positive, laid-back attitude throughout practices and meets, encouraging his teammates to be better, though he does look forward to being able to go to more on-campus events once the pandemic has passed. He also says that he is looking forward to the annual ODAC meet as well as getting a break after the season is over, a break which is surely well-deserved.
Coach Jim Sheridan notes that George “drives himself to be better every day.” He says that he has “adapted well to the change in training” even though he is “tired most of the time.” George’s teammates describe him as goofy, encouraging, and hardworking, and as one of those guys you just want to hang out with.
Fans of the men’s and women’s swim teams at Greensboro College can look forward to a couple more meets before the final inter-collegiate ODAC meet in March, including a women’s home meet against cross-town rival Guilford College on February 13 and an away meet at Emory & Henry College in Emory, VA on February 20. The season will conclude with the ODAC Championships from Friday, March 5 to Sunday, March 7.
By Tess Perdue
The Greensboro College Men’s Soccer team hosted Carolina University, formerly Piedmont International University, in their home opener on Feb. 6 at noon.
Despite holding training sessions during this past fall semester, complications due to the COVID-19 pandemic strictly limited the team to practices and intrasquad scrimmages, so this was the team’s first competition since the fall season of 2019.
As part of the NCAA’s pandemic mandates, the team was not allowed to gather for pre-season in August or host practice sessions of more than 10 players at once. Other omittances from the Pride’s usual run of events included team dinners, accessibility to the athletic recovery room, locker room usage and participating in away games. Weekly COVID-19 tests were also required, along with donning masks at practices and in other public areas.
At Friday’s practice before the game the following day, Christian Thomas spoke with humility about being offered the chance to play another season despite the complications that arose from the quarantine.
“It has been a very long year, an even longer fall it seems at times, especially because a few of us on the team were expecting to graduate this spring” said Thompson. “Some of us took on an extra semester to return in the fall as well, so we have got to make sure we take care of business this spring and come ready for the fall.”
He continued, in tandem with senior Alexander Bishop: “Having a shortened schedule with only nine games is a little less than we would have liked, but as our coach says part of becoming men is adjusting to situations as quickly as possible.”
Speaking to senior Jordy Briceno, who has made the All-Conference team selection consecutively for the past three seasons, and junior William Curry, a prominent goal scorer, it was noted that many of the newcomers had concerns about the immediate future of the program over the next year, and rightfully so.
“This is a situation we’ve never been in before, and with the last time we competed being about 18 months ago, it is up to the upperclassmen to ensure that the freshmen and transfers are given good role models” said Briceno. “This goes for classroom performance, behavior on and off the field and decision making during these tough times.”
“We are ready to step onto the field again though,” Curry continued. “We have been running, lifting and training in smaller groups as well as on our own throughout the entire quarantine period.”
The Pride rallied to a 5-0 win over the Carolina University Bruins, two goals from striker Darli Mihindou, followed by consecutive goals from mid-fielders Christian Thompson, Briceno and Curry. Overcoming the challenge of missing an entire year together, the Pride did not miss a single beat and shutout the Bruins to start the season.
By Keita Gresham