Athletics – The Citadel Today https://today.citadel.edu Wed, 23 Mar 2022 19:03:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.4 https://today.citadel.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Citadel-Favion-new-150x150.png Athletics – The Citadel Today https://today.citadel.edu 32 32 144096890 Conroy Named Head Basketball Coach at The Citadel https://today.citadel.edu/conroy-named-head-basketball-coach-at-the-citadel/ Wed, 23 Mar 2022 19:03:02 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=31416 The architect of the last 20-win season in program history, Ed Conroy returns as the head basketball coach at The Citadel.]]>

From The Citadel Athletics

The architect of the last 20-win season in program history, Ed Conroy returns as the head basketball coach at The Citadel. The announcement was made by Director of Athletics Mike Capaccio on Wednesday.
 
Conroy will be formally introduced at a press conference at 4 p.m. on Thursday.
 
“We are very excited about welcoming Ed back to The Citadel and The Citadel family,” said Capaccio. “Ed has had proven success at The Citadel and is very appreciative of this opportunity. I could tell from our first conversation how he felt and the drive that he had for this job, as well as his love and respect for The Citadel.  
 
“We are looking forward to him building the program and having success in a very difficult job. As a cadet-athlete and former coach, he has a good understanding of the school and what it takes to win in the ever changing times of college athletics.”
 
Conroy previously served as the head coach at The Citadel from 2006-10. He guided the Bulldogs to their first 20-win season in over 30 years and a postseason berth in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.
 
The 20-win season of 2008-09 saw the Bulldogs amas a school-record 15 Southern Conference wins. The team was led by first-team all-conference selections Demetrius Nelson and Cameron Wells. Wells would go on to become a three-time all-conference selection after being tabbed the Southern Conference Freshman of the Year by the coaches and media in 2007-08.
 
Following the 2008-09 season, Conroy was selected as the SoCon Coach of the Year by the league’s head coaches and media members. He was also named the NABC District 22 Coach of the Year, CollegieInsider.com Coach of the Year and the CollegeInsider.com Skip Prosser Man of the Year.
 
“I want to thank Gen. Walters and Mike Cappaccio for the tremendous opportunity to be the next head basketball coach at The Citadel,” said Conroy. “Ginny and I are extremely excited to return to Charleston and be a part of a city, community and institution that means so much to our family.
 
“I look forward to building relationships with our current team and recruiting elite cadet-student-athletes to our basketball program. I cannot wait to get to work and have the incredible privilege of representing The Citadel and Citadel Basketball again!”
 
Conroy most recently spent the 2021-22 season as the associate head coach at Vanderbilt. In his one season with the Commodores, Conroy helped guide the team to 19 wins and the third round of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).
 
The 19 wins marks the most for Vanderbilt since 2016-17, an improvement of 10 wins from the previous season.
 
Conroy went to the West End after spending the previous five seasons on staff at the University of Minnesota. He served as the team’s associate head coach in his last season after serving as an assistant for the previous four seasons.
 
During his time with the Gophers, Conroy guided the Gophers front court to three straight seasons with the conference’s leading rebounders in Jordan Murphy (2018, 2019) and Daniel Oturu (2020). The former left with the second-highest rebound total in Big Ten history, while Oturu earned the first Minnesota nod to an All-America team in 21 years.
 
During his tenure, the Golden Gophers made two appearances in the NCAA Tournament, including a first-round victory over Louisville in 2019.
 
Conroy spent six seasons as the head coach at Tulane where he led the Green Wave to a pair of postseason berths and the school’s first 20-win season in 13 years. The back-to-back trips to the postseason were the first appearances for the Green Wave in 1996-97, a span of 18 years.
 
Conroy’s tenure at Tulane was marked by a number of signature victories, including the first win over Memphis since 1992 and the first over Cincinnati since 1991.
 
He guided Green Wave players to seven all-conference honors, including 2012 C-USA Freshman of the Year, Ricky Tarrant.
 
The Davenport, Iowa, native has served as an assistant coach at seven different schools throughout his career. Prior to landing the head job at The Citadel, he spent one season as an assistant at Coastal Carolina, following stints at Tennessee (2003-05) and Tulsa (2000-01).
 
Conroy’s first head coaching job came from 1997-2000 at Division II Francis Marion University, where he earned the Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year award in 1998. That was preceded by assistant coach stops at Furman (1994-97), VMI (1993-94) and N.C. State (1990-93).
 
A four-year letterwinner for the Bulldogs from 1985-89, Conroy still ranks among the all-time top 10 at The Citadel in career free throw percentage (.815) and career 3-point percentage (.395). A three-year starter, he served as team captain as a senior and held the rank of Lt. Colonel in the Corps of Cadets, the highest rank achieved by a basketball player in the modern era at The Citadel.
 
Conroy and his wife Ginny have three children: daughter, Hannah, and sons Riley and Hunt. His son Riley is on staff at Southeastern Louisiana, while Conroy’s brother, Duffy, has spent the last seven seasons as an assistant basketball coach at Louisiana Tech.
 
He is also the cousin of The Citadel Hall of Famer, Pat Conroy.
 
Coaching Career
2022 • The Citadel • Head Coach
2021-22 • Vanderbilt • Associate Head Coach
2020-21 • Minnesota • Associate Head Coach
2016-20 • Minnesota • Assistant Coach
2010-16 • Tulane • Head Coach
2006-10 • The Citadel • Head Coach
2005-06 • Coastal Carolina • Assistant Coach
2003-05 • Tennessee • Assistant Coach
2000-01 • Tulsa • Assistant Coach
1997-2000 • Francis Marion • Head Coach
1994-97 • Furman • Assistant Coach
1993-94 • VMI • Assistant Coach
1990-93 • NC State • Assistant Coach
 

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Search underway for new Bulldogs basketball coach; Baucom contract will not be extended https://today.citadel.edu/search-underway-for-new-bulldogs-basketball-coach-baucom-contract-will-not-be-extended/ Thu, 10 Mar 2022 20:03:20 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=31131 The Citadel head basketball coach, Duggar Baucomduring the opening round of the SoCon tournament against ETSU on March 4, 2022.The Citadel head basketball coach, Duggar Baucomduring the opening round of the SoCon tournament against ETSU on March 4, 2022.“We thank him for his leadership and the significant impact he made on our basketball program since he began coaching the Bulldogs in 2015."]]> The Citadel head basketball coach, Duggar Baucomduring the opening round of the SoCon tournament against ETSU on March 4, 2022.The Citadel head basketball coach, Duggar Baucomduring the opening round of the SoCon tournament against ETSU on March 4, 2022.

Photo above: The Citadel head basketball coach, Duggar Baucom during the opening round of the Southern Conference tournament against ETSU on March 4, 2022.

The Citadel is exploring potential replacements for Bulldogs’ basketball coach, Duggar Baucom, the head men’s basketball coach since 2015. The 2021-22 basketball season will be his last in that role.

“The Citadel is grateful for Coach Baucom’s professionalism and dedication,” said The Citadel Athletics Director, Mike Capaccio. “We thank him for his leadership and the significant impact he made on our basketball program since he began coaching the Bulldogs in 2015. We wish Duggar the very best in his future endeavors.”

The college granted Baucom a one year extension in 2021 and has decided not to renew the coach’s contract. The Bulldogs finished the current season with 12 losses and six wins in the SoCon regular season.

During his career Baucom has had 15 former players make it to the professional ranks, including Kevin Martin who played 12 seasons in the NBA and Reggie Williams who played seven seasons in the NBA. During the 2020-21 campaign, The Citadel finished with a winning record for the first time since 2008-09, recording a 13-12 mark.

“We are actively looking for a new head coach to lead our basketball team to the next level,” added Capaccio. “We hope to have that person in place and ready to go before training for the next season begins.”

The Citadel has had 112 basketball seasons and 30 head coaches. See the full list of the Bulldogs’ head basketball coaches here.

The Citadel Athletics media contact

Media with questions about this announcement should contact The Citadel Athletics Department’s communications representative, John Brush, at jbrush@citadel.edu or by calling (270) 293-0590. 

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The Citadel photographer’s top 21 images from 2021 https://today.citadel.edu/the-citadel-photographers-top-21-images-from-2021/ Thu, 30 Dec 2021 11:00:00 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=29559 "Building and nurturing our community, supporting one another and marching forward together is, to me, what principled leadership looks like."]]>

Cameron Pollack has served as The Citadel’s Manager of Photography since 2020. Prior to joining The Citadel, he graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in Government and completed internships with the Boston Red Sox, NPR, Detroit Free Press and The Philadelphia Inquirer. If he doesn’t have a camera in his hand, you can find Cameron reading on his porch, trying every new restaurant in Charleston or roller skating in Hampton Park.

“I had no idea how 2021 would pan out. Would we spend the year masking and social distancing with a perpetual drone of anxiety over our heads as we had in 2020? Or would we get vaccinated and quickly return to something resembling the before times? Not knowing what the outcome would be, I resolved to do what I always do — document what makes The Citadel unique; and show the strength of our community whenever I saw it.

Whether it’s General Walters cheering on the basketball team by himself, Sergeant Major Jason Moffitt getting vaccinated by one of our own nursing cadets, knobs embracing on Recognition Day, our Regimental Commander Kathryn Christmas welcoming her VMI counterpart at parade, Sierra Company commander Jaret Price leading a stair climb commemorating 9/11 or our Volleyball team supporting each other at the NCAA tournament, I was always drawn to the moments when we lifted each other up.

In this time of perpetual flux, building and nurturing our community, supporting one another and marching forward together is, to me, what principled leadership looks like. Going into 2022, I’ll still be photographing with that in mind.”

Cameron Pollack, Manager of Photography for The Citadel

Cameron’s top 21 images from 2021

The moon sets behind Padgett-Thomas Barracks at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina on Thursday, August 12, 2021.
Knobs take part in a Leadership Reaction Course, which involved an individual movement training segment, a rope bridge, and learning to navigate the USMC obstacle course at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina on Saturday, February 27, 2021.
Gen. Glenn M. Walters, USMC (Ret.), ’79, president of The Citadel, watches with Commander William Lind, USN (Ret.), ’91, as The Citadel basketball plays Furman at McAlister Field House at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday, January 13, 2021.
Saturday Morning Inspection in dress whites takes place in Watts Barracks at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina on Saturday, March 6, 2021.
The rehearsal flight for the HMX-1 Operational Test Event in support of the VH-92A Presidential Replacement Helicopter, deployed to Charleston by Marine Helicopter Squadron One, in coordination with the White House Military Office, takes place on Summerall Field at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina on Monday, March 22, 2021.
Knobs embrace after hearing the 4th Class System is no longer in effect after participating in The Gauntlet on Summerall Field in Charleston, South Carolina on Thursday, March 25, 2021.
Sergeant Major Jason Moffitt receives the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine from Citadel nursing cadet Victoria Conley during a vaccination clinic for Citadel faculty and staff at McAlister Field House in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday, March 24, 2021.
Cadet Kevin Pham jumps into the water with his rifle during Palmetto Battalion Army ROTC’s combat water survival test at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina on Thursday, April 1, 2021.
Cadets TyShonna Jones and Olivia Montgomery work on their respective paintings in a class led by Professor Rick Sargent in Bond Hall at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina on Tuesday, December 7, 2021.
Senior cadets preside over a pass in review during the 2021 Long Grey Line Parade on Summerall Field at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina on Friday, May 7, 2021.
The cadet change of command takes place during the Long Gray Line parade for the Class of 2021 on Summerall Field at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina on Friday, May 7, 2021.
Thousands of people, including sisters Izzy and Hannah Leland, seen dancing, descended onto Summerall Field for an American Ballet Theater performance on Saturday, July 17, 2021.
Lima Company Cadet Isabel Flores watches over the Law Barracks quad as knobs matriculate to The Citadel on Saturday, August 14, 2021.
Cadets Jerry Higgins and Douglas Karam, accompanied by Biology professor John Weinstein, Ph.D., deploy an experiment to measure how face masks, rubber gloves and hand wipes decompose in the salt marsh behind Inouye Hall on Thursday, October 14, 2021.
Sierra Company commander Cadet Jaret Price climbs his company’s tower during a group stair climb to mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attack in Stevens Barracks in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday, September 8, 2021. The cadets, the Commandant of Cadets, the college chaplain and other members of the commandant’s team climbed 110 flights of stairs in unison.
November Company cadet (and The Citadel quarterback) Jaylan Adams puts on his Citadel class ring for the first time during a ceremony in Summerall Chapel on Friday, October 1, 2021.
The Citadel regimental commander Cadet Colonel Kathryn Christmas, and Virginia Military Institute regimental commander Cadet First Captain Casey Meredith swap covers during Parents’ Day parade at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina on Saturday, October 2, 2021. This year marks the first year in which both of the rival military schools’ Corps of Cadets are commanded by Women.
The Citadel linebacker Brian Horn flexes while wearing the Silver Shako trophy after defeating Virginia Military Institute in a Southern Conference game at Johnson Hagood Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina on Saturday, October 2, 2021. It was the first victory for the Bulldogs in The Military Classic of The South since 2018.
A cadet sitting guard is silhouetted in the 5th Battalion sally port prior to Twilight Memorial Parade at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina on Friday, November 12, 2021.
The Summerall Guards, The Citadel’s elite silent drill platoon, marches on before their performance on Summerall Field during Homecoming on Saturday, November 13, 2021. (Editor’s note: This photo was made using a UAV.)
The Citadel volleyball huddles before their first set against Georgia Tech in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at O’Keefe Gymnasium in Atlanta, Georgia on Friday, December 3, 2021. The Bulldogs’ match against the Yellow Jackets is the first appearance in an NCAA Tournament by a women’s team in the history of The Citadel.
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The Citadel’s Hayden Brown is guided by faith https://today.citadel.edu/the-citadels-hayden-brown-is-guided-by-faith/ Sun, 12 Dec 2021 11:00:00 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=29320 The super senior from the Upstate has grown and developed his game and himself during his time here in the Lowcountry.]]>

As seen on WCBD – Count on 2, by Dan Fanning

The Citadel helps mold its cadets into some of the future leaders of tomorrow.

The basketball team’s leader, and maybe one of the biggest leader on campus, is forward Hayden Brown.

“He’s kind of our heart and soul. Literally our spiritual leader. And for the school, maybe the greatest ambassador for a cadet student athlete that may have ever played here,” said Bulldog Head Coach Duggar Baucom.

The super senior (5th year due to COVID) from the Upstate has grown and developed his game and himself during his time here in the Lowcountry.

“I think the structure ultimately helped me. I think I’m one that kind of thrives with structure. If there’s too much freedom or whatever I just kind of sometimes can get lazy. So I think that’s something this school kind of breathes into its individuals,” The Citadel’s forward Hayden Brown said.

Military college isn’t for everyone, but Hayden has gotten through it thanks to the people at The Citadel.

“Yea I kind of briefly mentioned it already but the people. It’s not the most appealing place it’s a military school. I had no military background. But you meet people here…I don’t have an answer for it but they’re just special,” Brown said.

Hayden also has some special talent evidenced by him being named the preseason SoCon player of the year.

His goal this season is to lead the Dogs to a SoCon title. another one is to be guided by his faith.

“My ultimate goal is to glorify God in whatever I do. So if that’s on a basketball court, cool. If it’s in a church, cool. That’s my ultimate goal,” he said.

Brown continues to bless defenders at the rim.

As someone who lives by being where his feet are.

Bulldog fans, coaches, and fellow peers are glad they’re set firmly at the Military College of South Carolina.

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Bulldogs win! Citadel volleyball earns school’s first SoCon title in women’s team sports https://today.citadel.edu/bulldogs-win-citadel-volleyball-earns-schools-first-socon-title-in-womens-team-sports/ Mon, 22 Nov 2021 16:58:46 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=28961 The Citadel volleyball team won the military school’s first Southern Conference championship in a women’s team sport on Nov. 21. ]]>

Photo: The Citadel volleyball players celebrate after winning championship point at the SoCon tournament (Courtesy: Chase Cochran, Samford Athletics)

As seen in The Post and Courier, by Jeff Hartsell

For years, Citadel volleyball had a reputation.

“When I was at other schools, The Citadel was a place you scheduled to get your wins in,” said fourth-year coach Dave Zelenock. “It was a known thing — this is who you schedule to get your wins in.”

That reputation is changing.

The Citadel volleyball team won the military school’s first Southern Conference championship in a women’s team sport on Nov. 21. 

The No. 7-seed Bulldogs defeated No. 4 Wofford 3-0 at the Pete Hanna Center in Birmingham, Ala., taking their first league title by scores of 25-23, 25-18, 25-22 to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament. 

All-SoCon first-teamer Sharlissa de Jesus, who spent her summer working out with The Citadel football team, led the way with 18 kills. SoCon freshman of the year Ali Ruffin added 11 kills, while all-freshman player Belle Hogan had a team-high 42 assists as the Bulldogs improved on the first winning record in program history to 14-11. 

Makaya Middleton and Maddy Cardenas added six kills each, and Gina Delancey had five. Kenzie Kellerman, a 4-11 junior, had 11 digs, second only to 12 for de Jesus. 

The Bulldogs, who missed their first five games this season due to COVID-19 protocols, beat the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 seeds on the way to the title, including three-time defending champion Samford. 

“It’s huge,” Zelenock said. “We’ve only have volleyball for 20 years, and for all the women who started it for us, it’s a big deal.”

https://twitter.com/SoConChamps/status/1462564138736041984

Citadel volleyball began in 1998, and the team went 0-24 in its first season and 1-53 during the first two, never managing a winning record until this year.

“It’s definitely a huge milestone,” said de Jesus, a fifth-year senior from Puerto Rico. “But I think it will teach us that we’re capable of anything if we put our minds to it.”

That goes not only for volleyball, but for soccer, golf, cross country, rifle and track and field, the other women’s sports at The Citadel.

“I think for women’s athletics and The Citadel, it’s a huge deal,” said Zelenock, who was hired from Tennessee Tech in 2018. “I think for all the women’s programs, showing them that it’s possible is huge. For our team and our program, it’s a huge step forward. It’s going to help us with recruiting and show people that it’s not the way the program was years ago when it was first starting out.”

The Citadel will learn its NCAA Tournament assignment on Nov. 28, when the selection show is held at 8:30 p.m. on ESPNU. First-round play in the 64-team field begins Dec. 2.

“I have no words,” de Jesus said of earning a postseason bid. “Never in my life did I think that this would be happening, since I started as a freshman. But it’s a huge milestone and we’re definitely going to work even harder in our next few practices to keep making history for The Citadel.”

This year marked a high-water mark for women’s sports at The Citadel.

The Bulldogs’ soccer team, 10-7-2 this year under coach Ciaran Traquair, posted just the second winning record in program history, which dates back to 2001. The Citadel set a school record with 43 goals scored, and forward Suzuka Yosue became just the third Bulldog to earn first-team All-SoCon honors.

But this volleyball run is the biggest team achievement in the history of women’s sports at The Citadel, which first admitted women to the Corps of Cadets in 1996. Within five years, the military school went from no women’s sports to seven teams. Today, more than 50 percent of the women in the Corps participate in varsity sports, the highest percentage in Division I of female students playing varsity sports, according to The Citadel. 

Cross-country runner Mandy Garcia became The Citadel’s first female scholarship athlete in 1997, and Lt. Col. Bonnie Jo Houchen was named the Bulldogs’ first volleyball coach in 1998.

https://twitter.com/SoConSports/status/1462564747719684105

Track and field’s Peaches Hudson was the first Citadel woman to earn All-SoCon honors in 1999, and there are two females in the school’s athletics Hall of Fame — track and field’s Stephanie McNeil (Class of 2007), a nine-time SoCon champ in throwing events, and soccer’s Mariana Garcia (2014), the only Bulldog to earn SoCon freshman of the year and player of the honors in that sport.

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Citadel cadet takes oath before taking the field https://today.citadel.edu/citadel-cadet-takes-oath-before-taking-the-field/ Mon, 18 Oct 2021 15:58:42 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=27857 Cadet -- and Bulldog soccer player -- Ryleigh Jenkins is joining a long family line of serving our country.]]>

Cadet — and Bulldog soccer player — Ryleigh Jenkins is joining a long family line of serving our country. Her grandfather was a Navy Seal; her dad, a Marine.

Before her nine-win Citadel soccer team hit the road for Mercer, she had her own ceremony as part of her process of becoming a Navy Midshipman.

As seen on WCIV – ABC News 4, by Scott Eisberg

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The Citadel Athletics and The Blood Connection Enter into Multi-Year Partnership with Mission to Save Lives in the Lowcountry https://today.citadel.edu/the-citadel-athletics-and-the-blood-connection-enter-into-multi-year-partnership-with-mission-to-save-lives-in-the-lowcountry/ Tue, 21 Sep 2021 14:45:14 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=26868 The military college will officially welcome The Blood Connection to campus when their partnership kicks off on Sept. 22 with a blood drive.]]>

Image above courtesy: The Citadel Athletics

The Blood Connection press release seen in the Associated Press

CHARLESTON, S.C. – The Blood Connection, your community non-profit blood center, is excited to announce its new partnership with The Citadel Athletics. The military college in downtown Charleston will officially welcome The Blood Connection (TBC) to campus when their partnership kicks off on September 22nd with a blood drive for the Corps of Cadets and Charleston community.

The Citadel Athletics is proud to partner with The Blood Connection. We look forward to helping increase the local footprint of The Blood Connection and to bring more awareness towards the cause,” says Kevin Olivett, Associate Athletic Director for External Operations at The Citadel.

TBC is the primary blood provider for Lowcountry hospitals including Roper St. Francis hospitals, Trident Health hospitals and is a supplemental provider for MUSC Hospitals. The blood supply has been critically low since before the summer because of historically low blood donor turnout, as well as an increase in traumas and natural disasters.

“During this third wave of COVID, we have seen a marked decrease in blood donation while maintaining a significant need for blood products. In any community, blood donation is a critical part of the overall process of caring for patient. Please consider donating blood so we can continue providing the best in healthcare to our patients,” said J. Rick McEvoy, MD, MBA, Chairman of Pathology at Roper St. Francis Healthcare and Medical Director at Roper Hospital Laboratories.

“The Blood Connection – which was started and is based in South Carolina – is honored to work with The Citadel – a treasured landmark of Charleston and South Carolina – to host blood drives on campus. Because TBC is the blood provider for Lowcountry hospitals, this partnership will positively impact the Charleston community directly. We are excited for the many blood drives ahead that will help save hundreds of lives,” said Delisa English, President & CEO of The Blood Connection.

About The Blood Connection

The Blood Connection has been committed to saving lives since 1962. Founded in Greenville, South Carolina, TBC is an independently managed, not-for-profit, community blood center that provides blood products to more than 80 hospitals within Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Recognized by the U.S. Congress for its dedication to disaster preparedness and the community, TBC works diligently to collect blood from volunteer donors to meet the ever-increasing demand. By keeping collections local, TBC serves hundreds of thousands of patients a year in its communities. TBC is licensed and regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. For more information, visit thebloodconnection.org.

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Meet the active duty Marine playing football for The Citadel. (PS, he’s fast.) https://today.citadel.edu/meet-the-active-duty-marine-playing-football-for-the-citadel-ps-hes-fast/ Fri, 13 Aug 2021 20:09:51 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=25827 He’s served in Haiti, Kuwait and Syria, and was posted to the Pentagon for the last two years as the highest ranking enlisted Marine.]]>

As seen in The Post and Courier, by Jeff Hartsell

He’s already served in Haiti, Kuwait and Syria, and was posted to the Pentagon for the last two years as an advisor to the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, the highest ranking enlisted Marine in the Corps.

His next assignment? 

Perfecting the mesh point in The Citadel’s triple-option offense.

Meet Elijah Bass, an active duty Marine who is playing football for The Citadel this season.

Sgt. Bass, 24, is a day student at The Citadel (not a member of the Corps of Cadets) who is attending college through the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program. That program allows selected Marines without a college degree to earn a officer’s commission and a bachelor’s degree at the same time.

And it also allows Bass to fulfill his dream of playing football.

“It’s kind of always been my dream,” Bass said. “And I feel like dreams are just dreams until you go out there and make it a priority. And so I wanted to make my dream come true.”

Bass’ dream is no idle one. At 6-0 and 230 pounds, he established himself as one of the fastest players on the team during summer workouts. Coach Brent Thompson has him working out at fullback during preseason practice, and says Bass should at least make an impact on special teams this season.

“He’s doing a really good job for not having played a whole lot of football,” Thompson said. “He’s figuring it out on on the run here a little bit. There’s 22 bodies out there running around him, and you’ve got to figure out where you fit in. It’s a bit of a learning curve for him, but he’s making progress every day.

“I don’t know if we will use him at B-back this year, but I think special teams is probably the best way for him to make an impact.”

Lacrosse to Marines

Bass said he hasn’t played football since the eighth grade in Mississippi. His family moved to Stafford, Virginia, as he started high school, and there he played lacrosse for four years.

“I was definitely interested in playing football in high school,” Bass said. “But my mom, she thought football was dangerous and was very strict on that, so my brother and I played lacrosse.”

After graduating from high school, Bass joined the Marines rather than go to college.

“Personally, I knew my maturity level was not where it needed to be to go to college,” he said. “My stepfather is a Marine, and he always told me, ‘If you want to mature a little bit, take the Marine path.’ And I just knew that was something I wanted to do, so I made that decision.”

After basic training at Parris Island, Bass went to Combat Logistics School to become a landing support specialist, and deployed to Haiti, Kuwait and Syria before he was assigned to the Pentagon.

Then he was selected for MECEP and came to The Citadel with a plan to study psychology and philosophy, and to play football.

Bass was familiar with the story of Luke Boyd, another active duty Marine who studied at LSU through MECEP and walked onto the football team.

“I knew Luke’s story, so I knew I could walk on at The Citadel if I got my size and speed up,” Bass said.

‘Do you like football?’

As fate would have it, Bulldogs strength coach Donnell Boucher spotted Bass working out in the gym.

“He asked me, ‘Hey, do you like football?’” Bass said.

Bass began working out with the Bulldogs over the summer, and immediately moved to the top of the speed charts Boucher uses to track the players’ progress in different sprints.

“We were definitely shocked,” Thompson said. “If you look at him, you can see he’s an explosive guy, but you don’t know how fast he truly is until you get him out there on some radars and clocks. Immediately, we said we’ve got to find something we can do with him.”

Bass started out at linebacker, but was moved to fullback because “it’s one of the easier positions on offense to learn,” Thompson said.

Even if he doesn’t carry the ball once this season, Bass already has made an impact on Citadel football.

“He’s great for the locker room and the meeting room,” Thompson said. “He’s got a lot of experience, he handles his business really well and he’s really organized. He’s doing a great job with our guys.”

The Citadel has a couple of long-time players in graduate students Raleigh Webb and Willie Eubanks III, but Bass is the new “old man” of the squad.

“They definitely make fun of me when it comes to my age,” said Bass, who’s been married to his wife, Kayla, for a year. “But the whole point is, if I can keep up, then we’re all the same age. They include me in all the great shenanigans, and its a good time. But it’s also, for me, a good mentorship opportunity.

“They want to know more about my life story, but then they are teaching me lessons as much as I’m trying to teach them.”

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Al Kennickell to be Inducted into The Citadel’s Hall of Fame https://today.citadel.edu/al-kennickell-to-be-inducted-into-the-citadels-hall-of-fame/ Sun, 11 Jul 2021 10:00:00 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=25202 From his time as versatile player for the Bulldog football team, Al Kennickell was committed to the concept of team first.]]>

As seen in Savannah CEO

Record-setting performers on the field and distinguished alumni highlight The Citadel’s 2021 Hall of Fame class that was announced last week. 

The six inductees include Carlos Avalos (Football), Brian Baima (Football), Bo Betchman (Baseball), Ralph Ferguson (Football), Col. Julian Frasier, III (Honorary) and Al Kennickell (Honorary)

Al Kennickell, Honorary, Class of 1977

From his time as versatile player for the Bulldog football team coached by Bobby Ross, Al Kennickell was committed to the concept of team first. Although a starter at center for two seasons, he was listed on the offensive depth chart at every position except quarterback and tackle during his four years playing for the Bulldogs. He utilized the leadership skills learned as a cadet and football player to purchase his family’s printing business and turn the Kennickell Group into an internationally recognized company doing business worldwide.
 
Kennickell has continued to give back to The Citadel and was honored as The Citadel Alumni of the Year in 2016. He is a lifetime member of The Citadel Alumni Association, the Legacy Society, the Star of the West Society, and past president of the Citadel Brigadier Foundation. While president of the Brigadier Foundation, he ushered in several changes that led to a major increase in dollars raised for athletic scholarships. “My goal was to pay back The Citadel for the football scholarship they gave me many years ago, and to do it as many times as possible,” said Al Kennickell. “I am grateful for what I learned as a cadet and player; it really had a huge impact on my life. I love The Citadel and owe a great debt.”

Al has also given back to his hometown of Savannah GA and the low country area, having served as the Chairman of the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce, the Savannah Executive Association, the Savannah Sports Council, the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf (PGA Champions Tour), and the RBC Heritage (PGA Tour).

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Nai’Ryan Bookert’s journey to The Citadel: A group home, a new family and 8-man football https://today.citadel.edu/nairyan-bookerts-journey-to-the-citadel-a-group-home-a-new-family-and-8-man-football/ Mon, 24 May 2021 15:37:59 +0000 https://today.citadel.edu/?p=24467 “I’m going to do what I have to do to play, to get on the field. And in the classroom, I’ll do what I have to do to get a degree.”]]>

Photo: The Citadel football commitment Nai’Ryan Bookert and his adopted family (from left) Katie, Stella, Jason and Skarlett Tanner.

As seen in The Post and Courier, by Jeff Hartsell

She was a 28-year-old mother of a young daughter, working in donor development and volunteer coordination at the Callen-Lacey Center for Children, a residential group home in Moncks Corner.

He was an 11-year-old with a big smile and an even bigger spirit, despite being separated from his birth mother and five siblings and already a veteran of several group homes across the state.

“He was so full of joy,” recalled Katie Tanner. “And he was so goal-oriented. He wanted to meet his goals, and he didn’t want life to hold him back, or his circumstances.

“He just had a joy that was contagious, and we just had that bond. Now, I know it was a God thing.”

St. John’s Christian quarterback Nai’Ryan Bookert accounted for over 3,000 total yards and 35 touchdown as a senior. (Courtesy: Rob Gantt, Berkeley Independent)

That connection has grown over the years into a new family and new dreams for Nai’Ryan Bookert, who committed last week to play football for The Citadel. A 6-3, 210-pound two-sport star at tiny St. John’s Christian Academy, Bookert also had a preferred walk-on offer from South Carolina, conveyed in a phone call from Gamecocks coach Shane Beamer.

“I’m so happy that the Tanners took me in and put me in St. John’s,” Bookert said. “They’ve given me so much support. They’ve always been with me through everything and supporting me 100 percent, and I don’t know if I’d be in this position without them.”

The Tanner family, which includes father Jason and daughters Skarlett and Stella, formally adopted Nai’Ryan in 2020, an emotional end to a long struggle with the red tape and bureaucracy of the adoption process.

‘This is our kid’ 

That story really began when Jason Tanner decided he wanted to meet this kid his wife was always talking about. He took Nai’Ryan on a shopping trip for some football cleats and came away impressed.

“That was on a Saturday,” said Katie, now public information officer for the Berkeley County School District. “And on Sunday, Jason told me, ‘I really think this is our kid.’

“I asked him if he was serious, because I had always had a heart to foster and adopt. And he said, ‘Absolutely. Let’s get started.’”

Nai’Ryan was all for the idea, too.

Citadel football commitment Nai’Ryan Bookert and his adoptive sisters, Stella (left) and Skarlett Tanner.

“The first time I met the whole family, I was so happy,” he said. “It was hard, growing up, to adapt to different environments, and it’s still hard sometimes. I grew up with the mindset where I wasn’t going to let just anybody tell me what to do. But once I accepted (Katie) as my mother, it was lovely, and I really appreciate the way they have taken me in.”

When Stella, now 3, was born in December 2017, Nai’Ryan was at the hospital and held the baby in his arms. He moved in with the Tanners the next summer. But making things official with the S.C. Dept. of Social Services took a little longer.

“We actually had a pretty big challenge ahead of us with DSS,” Katie said. “We got some local media involved and they actually helped us. It took us over a year to get licensed. But now he lives with us, he went to St. John’s and the rest is history.”

Future at The Citadel 

At St. John’s Christian, Bookert did a bit of everything for the football team, which played eight-man football until his senior year, when the team transitioned to 11-man football in the S.C. Independent Schools Association. As a quarterback, he passed for 1,897 yards and 16 touchdowns while running for 1,115 yards and 19 scores.

He also played basketball under St. John’s coach Drew Crowell, who played Division I basketball at Wofford.

“He’s just a class A student-athlete, exactly what you’d want to get on your team,” Crowell said. “At our school, it’s K-3 and up through high school. He’s the guy that goes the extra mile to speak with all the younger kids and is a role model for all the younger kids.”

Of course, the jump from St. John’s Christian and playing eight-man football for most of his career to The Citadel is a big one. Crowell and St. John’s football coach Brandon Clontz are convinced Bookert can make it.

“He’s every bit as fast-twitch as some of the football roommates I had at Wofford, some of the running backs and receivers we had,” Crowell said. “I don’t know how The Citadel plans to use him, but at receiver he’s gonna bully people at the line of scrimmage. At linebacker, he’s gonna be as quick as any linebacker on the team. He’s just a natural playmaker.”

Clontz said Bookert played quarterback for St. John’s “out of necessity.”

“I think he’s best suited defensively,” he said. “Outside linebacker, strong safety maybe. He can run, and he’s very athletic for how big he is. He’s a really competitive guy, and when he gets around more competitive guys, it’ll do nothing but help him.”

No matter the position, Bookert says he ready for the challenge when he reports to The Citadel this summer.

“I know I’ve got a lot of growing and learning to do,” he said. “I know I can’t just rely on my athleticism. But I’m old school. I’m not going to let anybody outwork me. And I like structure and order.

“I’m going to do what I have to do to play, to get on the field. And in the classroom, I’ll do what I have to do to get a degree.”

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