Jet Pride filled the Fugate Gymnasium in forms of cheers, painted faces, horns, squeaking shoes against the gym floor, and the dribbling of a basketball at the Newman University women's and men's basketball games Thursday, Feb. 23.
Both teams won against St. Mary's with the women's game score being 73-68 and the men's 90-72.
Newman University Women's Game
Beginning the game with the first eight points scored by Mali Wright, Jets took the lead in the beginning of the first quarter but were soon tied with an 8-8 score with St. Mary toward the end of the first quarter. The tie was soon broken by Cierra Tjaden with a three-pointer. Battling each other back and forth throughout the game, St. Mary took the lead with six points, but the Land ady Jets flew around with a comeback by knocking out six free throws down the stretch winning the game. More information on the game can be found on the official site of Newman University Athletics.
Newman University Men's Game
Opening the game with the first score by Daniel Green on a 9-3 run, Jets took the lead early in the game. Knocking down St. Mary's four three-pointers to the end of the half, Jets kept the lead all the way to the end of the game conquering the visiting Rattlers. More information on the game can be found on the official site of Newman University Athletics.
The Homecoming game did not only mark the end of the basketball home season for the Jets, but also moved a step closer to the end of Head Men's Basketball Coach Mark Potter's coaching career. Potter will retire from coaching and transition to motivational speaking full-time.
"God's calling me to do this," said Potter. "To tell my story about depression and what I went through. That’s been a strong calling during the last 11 years since I went through that. Almost daily I see something in the news, or I’ll get a text or e-mail from someone asking for help. There’s nothing more priceless than that, to be able to touch other people through that."
Homecoming Court & Winners
The Homecoming women's and men's basketball games are one of the most popular and exciting events during Homecoming Week and are accompanied by the coronation of the Homecoming king and queen.
During halftime, the red carpet was rolled out as anticipation from the awaiting crowd and nominees filled the gym. Finally, the king and queen were announced — "Queen Ellie McGowan and King Luke Sponsel!"
Sponsel is acquiring a major in healthcare science with a concentration in business. He plans on pursuing a master's degree next fall in hopes of eventually serving all members of society as a health care executive.
Sponsel said, "After transferring to Newman I felt a sense of belonging, something that is difficult to accurately describe. I saw the potential for personal growth through my education and experience at Newman and that was a major factor. Administration, faculty, staff, and alumni care, they want those that attend to be successful."
Sponsel enjoys spending time with his family, friends, playing games, the outdoors, singing, horseback riding, dancing and volunteering.
"My experience has been one of many memories," he said. "I have had the opportunity to meet many individuals who play a key role in the lifeblood of Newman. I have made lifelong friends for which I am grateful. In my opinion, we all have a challenge, to become the best version of ourselves, and I believe wholeheartedly that Newman has been a major contributor to making that possible for me."
McGowan is unsure as to what she wants to do after college but plans on adventuring in different states and occupations until she finds something she loves. She loves Newman because it has "provided me with friendships that I will have for the rest of my life. It has become my home away from home.
"I have experienced so many amazing things here at Newman, but honestly winning Homecoming queen has been my favorite. Just seeing my teammates, other fellow athletes and classmates cheering for me was such a heartwarming experience," McGowan shared.
When asked what their reactions were to being crowned, McGowan answered, "I was immediately shocked once my name was called and then overcome with happiness!" Sponsel replied, "I think my heart skipped a beat because it was not something that I was expecting."
Homecoming Sheet Decorating Contest
The Homecoming sheet decorating contest, according to Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator Maureen Rohleder, began four years ago by the athletics team when they had the CBS game and wanted to get the students more involved.
"So we started the sheet contest and it grew from there," said Rohleder. "These are the best ones we’ve seen so far because it had a theme [Star Wars] and that gave them a direction to go with."
The judges for the contest were: Rohleder, Dean of Students Levi Esses, SGA President Hibah Ullah, Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving Sarah Strole, and Vice President for Academic Affairs Kim Long.
The Newman Student Government Association sponsored the prize money for the top three sheets.
Results for the Homecoming Sheets Decorating Contest:
3rd place: Women's Soccer $50
2nd place: Tennis $150
1st place: Wrestling $300