The Stephens Stars athletics teams are busy getting ready for their respective seasons.
There’s a noticeable difference between the 2012 and 2013 Stephens’ soccer teams. Last year, first-year head coach Xander Kennedy began fall practice with seven student-athletes. Fast forward a year and Kennedy started his two-a-day practices last week with 19 players.
“We are certainly making progress,” Kennedy said. “I’ve been able to push these young women a lot harder than last year, and I feel like we are going to be in soccer shape in time for our first match.”
The soccer team opens its 2013 campaign with a home contest at Cosmo Park against Spring Hill (Ala.) Friday, Aug. 30, at 4 p.m. The Stars, who return 10 players, will continue their busy home stretch with matches against University of the Ozarks (Ark.) and Central Baptist (Ark.) Sept. 6 and 7.
In contrast to soccer’s front-loaded home schedule, the Stephens volleyball program won’t play on the newly refinished Deb Duren Court at Silverthorne Arena until Sept. 27. At that time, the Stars will have four consecutive home matches. Volleyball will begin the season with exhibition matches against Cottey College and Wentworth Military Academy on Friday, Aug. 30.
The squad returns three starters from last season including sophomores Madison Reale (St. Louis, Mo.) and Emily Manczuk (Odessa, Mo.), and lone senior Jenna Zmyslony (Barnum, Minn.). Also bringing a wealth of experience to the court will be junior setter Samantha Phegley, a transfer from MCC-Longview, where she garnered NJCAA All-American honors in 2011 and All-Region honors in 2012. Second-year head coach Rose Obunaga added seven freshmen to the fold, which is the largest incoming freshman class in program history.
Stephens welcomed a new member to the athletics staff with the hiring of head cross country coach Travis Cook on Aug. 1. Cook, a former cross country and track and field athlete, lettered in both sports at Centralia High School. Prior to transferring to the University of Missouri, Cook participated on the track and field team at NAIA’s Central Methodist during the 2007-08 season. The first-year head coach recently finished his Master of Education in Counseling Psychology at Mizzou with a specific emphasis in sports psychology.
Tentatively, the Stars have penciled in meets at Central Missouri (Sept. 14), Missouri Southern State (Sept. 24), Central Methodist (Oct. 12) and St. Louis College of Pharmacy (Oct. 26), along with the American Midwest Conference meet on Nov. 8.
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