With extensive coaching background, Fron emerges as top candidate for the Stars
June 24, 2014
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Stephens College Director of Athletics Deb Duren has announced the hiring of Ray Fron as the Stars’ new head basketball and golf coach. The 25-year coaching veteran arrives at Stephens after serving as assistant head basketball coach and recruiting coordinator at Aquinas College (NAIA DII) the past three seasons.
“I want to thank President Dianne Lynch, AD Deb Duren and the search committee for giving me this opportunity,” Fron said. “I am impressed with the quality people I met on my visit and believe the pieces are in place to make Stephens competitive athletically. Stephens has what I was looking for—a small college with a great track record academically, yet willing to support the student-athlete on the playing field.”
The bulk of Fron’s experience at the collegiate level comes from his time in Grand Rapids, Mich., at Aquinas College. Longtime head coach Linda Nash added Fron to her staff in 1996 and welcomed him back with open arms in 2011. Including his two stints (1996-2008, 2011-14), Fron has helped guide the Saints to four NAIA DII National Tournament appearances and a Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) title in 2007. During his time at Aquinas, the Saints compiled a record 267-190 (.584).
Between coaching stops at Aquinas, the Grand Rapids, Mich., native had the opportunity to become head coach at Spring Hill College (NAIA DI). He inherited a challenging situation as the fourth women’s basketball hire in a four-year span. In three seasons at the helm, Fron brought stability to the Badgers’ basketball program and improved areas such as academics and recruiting.
Prior to joining the collegiate ranks, Fron was the head girls’ basketball coach at Central Catholic High in Modesto, Calif., for four years, leading the program to its first-ever state playoff appearance. He also spent three years as head coach at Riverbank High School in Riverbank, Calif., from 1987-90.
In addition to basketball, Fron will also coach golf at Stephens. While hitting the links is a hobby for Fron, he also has competitive experience playing on the Michigan Amateur Golf Tour (MIAGT).
Classroom success and the development of young women off the court is nothing new to Fron, a big advocate of the small college academic and athletic mission of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
Aside from coaching, Fron has taught special education at both the middle and high school level. He received his B.S. in Psychology and Special Education from Grand Valley State University and also has a Master in the Art of Teaching from Aquinas College.
Athletically, Fron was a prep athlete at Catholic Central High School in Grand Rapids where he lettered in cross country and track, while also playing basketball and baseball. “I also would like to thank my wife and family for allowing me to take on this responsibility as their support has never wavered,” Fron added. “Lastly, I want to thank my longtime colleague at Aquinas College and great friend, Coach Linda Nash, whose friendship has meant so much to me. It goes well beyond basketball.”
Fron and his wife, Kari, have been married for 35 years and are the proud parents of three: Lauren, Robert and Tarah. The Frons are also proud grandparents of Ainsley and Tatum, the daughters of Robert and his wife, Ronda.
On athletics philosophy: “I believe in setting high expectations and creating an atmosphere of players wanting to be engaged in whatever the basketball and/or golf programs are involved in. We will work extremely hard both on the court/course and in the classroom. Coach Nash and I have always preached about having a balance in life.”
On goals moving forward: “Our goal is to win every contest we are in, but we want to be able to enjoy the journey and have fun along the way. I look forward to establishing and maintaining positive relations among the players, staff and the Stephens College and City of Columbia communities.”
Tennis and softball teams lead the way with three apiece
May 28, 2014
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Eight Stephens College student-athletes were recognized by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) this spring for their academic achievements. Earlier this month, the Daktronics-NAIA Women’s Tennis and Women’s Golf Scholar-Athlete lists were announced, while softball released its Scholar-Athletes on Wednesday in Columbia, Ga.
Representing the Stars on the Daktronics-NAIA Women’s Tennis Scholar-Athlete list was Dina Kaissi (Sr., Columbia Mo.), Chelsea Cross (Sr., Belle Rive, Ill.) and Emily Mendoza (Jr., Iowa City, Iowa). Stephens College was one of 12 institutions to have three or more student-athletes on 101-person squad.
Kaissi, who was named to the all-conference team this season, picked up her second career Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete award.
The tandem of Alexi Scharbach (Grad Student, Mount Vernon, Mo.) and Kelsea Whitten (Sr., Gentry, Ark.) account for the golf scholar-athletes. It marks the second year in a row that Scharbach and Whitten have received the academic achievement.
Headlining the Daktronics-NAIA Softball Scholar-Athletes for Stephens was Capital One Academic All-American Jessica McConnell (Grad Student, Edwardsville, Ill.) and Emily Park (Sr., Topeka, Kan.), who both collected the award for the second year in a row. Rounding out the Stars’ honorees was Hesston College transfer Emily Wagner-Davis (Sr., Roseville, Calif.).
The Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete award is bestowed upon students who have been nominated by their institution’s head coach or sports information director. They must be a junior academically, a student at their current institution for a full year and maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.
Senior Kelsea Whitten has career round on Tuesday to move up nine spots in final individual rankings
May 6, 2014
BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. – Three Stephens golfers wrapped up their college careers on Tuesday at the 2014 American Midwest Conference (AMC) Women’s Golf Championships: Kelsea Whitten, Alexi Scharbach and Davielle McCoy. Overall, the Stars improved five strokes from yesterday and finished ninth at the two-day tournament.
Leading the way for Stephens College was senior Kelsea Whitten, who made a strong statement with her 18th-place finish (96-82—178). Not only did she play her final tournament in her home state of Arkansas, but Whitten also lowered her career best by three strokes. Her 10-over-82 ranked as the ninth best score on Tuesday.
On the other end of the spectrum, junior Lesta Newberry was playing in her first-ever collegiate tournament. Newberry finished second among Stephens’ golfers and 37th overall with her 123-128—251.
Finishing right behind Newberry was three-year letterwinner Alexi Scharbach in 38th place. The Mount Vernon, Mo. senior recorded a score of 126 in round one, followed by 128 in the final round.
Senior Davielle McCoy rounded out the Stars’ golfers in 40th place. Thru 36 holes, McCoy carde a 145-147—292.
William Woods University ran away with the team title, defeating second-place Columbia College by 66 strokes. The Owls swept the top four spots in the individual rankings, led by Jamie Palermo and Jodie Peacock at 150.
Whitten finished in top 30, while Scharbach and McCoy recorded lifetime bests on Tuesday
April 1, 2014
FULTON, Mo. – A trio of Stephens College golfers opened the 2014 season at the Owls Spring Invitational on Monday and Tuesday. Playing on the par-72 Tanglewood Golf Course in Fulton, Mo., seniors Kelsea Whitten, Alexi Scharbach and Davielle McCoy each had highlights over the course of the two-day tournament.
Whitten led the Stars throughout the tournament with her 92-95--187. It marked the seventh straight tournament in which Whitten has ranked as the Stars' top finisher. The veteran from Gentry, Ark. has now registered the lowest 18-hole total in 12 of 14 rounds played.
Scharbach finished the William Woods Invitational strong with a career best 114 in the second and final round. The senior's previous low round was a 123 from last year's Owls Spring Invitational. On Monday and Tuesday, the Mount Vernon, Mo. native carded a 123-114--237, good for 44th place.
Rounding out the Stephens competitors was senior Davielle McCoy (45th), who also had a lifetime best performance. Prior to this week's invitational, McCoy had yet to achieve a par, however, she recorded pars on back-to-back holes on Tuesday, including a par-5. The LaMonte, Mo. senior improved on day two by 27 strokes to finish with a 166-139--305.
Columbia College's Avery Rochester (77-74--151) took home medalist honors, while the William Woods green team cleaned up with a 22-stroke win over second-place Columbia.
Next up for the Stars is the Central Methodist University Eagle Open on April 14 and 15. The tournament will be played in Booneville, Mo. at the Hailridge Golf Course.