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Youth gives team hope

By mrasor Published: August 27, 2006


Do you remember last softball season? Do you remember how a mediocre-at-best team shot to the top of the conference on the heels of a big victory that inspired confidence and a renewed sense of hope?

We may have seen that for another Akron women's team today.

The volleyball squad took second in the West Virginia Classic by winning its final matches Saturday against West Virginia and Oakland.

Akron lost the opening round to Indiana, the tournament champion, but was quite competitive against the Hoosiers.

The best part about this weekend? Like the softball team, Mike Sweitzer's Zips are young. At times, four freshmen were on the court.

Brionna Patterson, Kara Smith, Jenn Fekpe and Megan Rodriguez all played and played well.

Also like the softball players, the volleyball team has some strong veteran leaders. Senior Kim Horn and junior Jennifer Stewart were named to the all-tournament team.

Of course, this is just a nonconference tournament. Akron is still a 10-20 team. They still haven't done anything. My point is, there is reason to think the volleyball team could be the next Zips squad to blossom.


The Buchtelite's Welcome Back issue is on stands. Here are some sports stories that may interest you:

  • Jermaine Reid and Kiki Gonzalez are ferocious defensive linemen who will bolster the Zips hopes. They're also pretty good buddies. Reid's fascination with Akron is why Gonzalez also chose to commit to play here.

  • Akron will open the season on national television. Find out what that means for the university.

  • Charlie Frye may be a starting NFL quarterback, but he's still the same guy who drove a 1993 Grand Prix in college.

  • The Buchtelite breaks down the Zips depth chart.

  • Akron men's soccer seeks a national championship. (We wrote this before UCSB blew out the Zips this weekend.)

  • Caleb Porter's enthusiasm and background made him an obvious choice for Mack Rhoades to replace men's soccer coach Ken Lolla.

  • New coach Joe Klim brings a different perspective to the men's cross country team. Did you know his wife, Nittaya Klim, is coach of the swimming and diving team?

  • The women's cross country team hopes to repeat as MAC Champions despite losing several seniors.

  • Those outrageous Outsiders debate: What excites you about this fall? New addition to the Outsiders is sports editor Dan Kadar, who recently lost the Buchtelite Beer Pong titles to his fellow Outsider Kiel Fleming and myself.

  • And my column is about my top five Zips sports memories and why apathetic students should care about Akron sports.

In case you don't want to click the link, I'll post my column below...

You just hauled your television to the top of Bulger Hall, hung up your college posters with naughty slogans and filled your mini-fridge with, uhh, beverages.

Sure, it's a clich?, but college life really is great. This is my fourth go-around at the University of Akron, and I almost want to pull a Van Wilder for another few years of it.

What makes it really special, though, is Zips sports.

That's not something you will hear on a campus visit. University president Luis Proenza gives his spiel in terms of buildings and academics, not first downs and 3-pointers.

It's probably better that way. The main goals of college are to learn something, gain experience and escape with a degree in a reasonable amount of time.

But if that's all you remember about college, I feel you are lacking a bang on those tens of thousands of bucks.

My dad, for example, graduated from Akron in the late '70s. His only memories are of how broke he was and the engineering exams he bombed.

Please don't make the same mistake.

Some of you are freshmen. You have at least four years to enjoy college life to the fullest. But even seniors have time to develop stories to wax about 20 years from now.

Here are my top five memories involving Zips sports from the past three years.

5) 2005 Men's soccer season - Call me a bandwagoner, but I had never watched a soccer game in my life until Akron became the nation's top-ranked team. I believed soccer was a game for communists and stuck-up kids in high school. I admit my error. I also admit to having a great time heckling the opposing players.

4) 2006 Akron vs. Kent State (men's basketball) - I love making fun of Kent State in football. Truth is, though, the Flashes have been Akron's daddy in basketball. Well, up until last season's matchup at Rhodes Arena. Akron sent the Flashes a message with an eight-point win. The AK-Rowdies fan section also made me proud with its ruthlessness.

3) 2005 Motor City Bowl - Akron in a bowl game? It hasn't sunk in with me, either. Because of that feat, the 9,000 Akron fans were still in decent spirits despite Memphis's 38-31 win in Detroit.

2) 2004 Akron vs. Marshall (football) - This was the Zips' first ESPN game since I can remember. They trailed by two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter at the Rubber Bowl but came back to win, thanks to a laser-accurate touchdown pass from Charlie Frye to Jason Montgomery and a 43-yard field goal from Jason Swiger. I was out of town for the game at a journalism convention in Nashville. For me, the best part of the game was talking to people from other states about Akron football the next morning.

1) 2005 MAC Championship (football) - University founder John R. Buchtel must have had a hand in this outcome. Luke Getsy found a banged-up Domenik Hixon in the endzone to tie the game with a few seconds left. An extra point gave Akron its first-ever MAC Championship in football. I will argue to my death that the Getsy-to-Hixon pass was the biggest play in school history in any sport. Experiencing that play from the front row was incredible. Complete strangers hugged, screamed and even cried with each other.

So consider this: When you talk to your son or daughter about college in 20 years, do you want to talk about difficult classes or miracle passes?

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