WRUF Profiles

Campbell’s career meets passion

By on April 8th, 2014

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Florida’s Associate Head Soccer Coach Victor Campbell has always had a passion for sports. However, he never saw himself pursuing a coaching career, especially in soccer.

Khamisha Remikie / WRUF

In his younger years, Campbell participated in football, basketball, tennis and baseball. He did not begin to play the game of soccer until the age of 18. Campbell does not believe his late start in the sport hindered his success in any way; in fact he believes it was beneficial for him. Campbell said, “learning at a late age, only provided that hunger. Sometimes being a late bloomer, allows you to achieve things later on in life because you have the hunger for it.”

Campbell attended Methodist College where he received a degree in Business Administration. He then served as a Certified Public Accountant for six years. Campbell realized that career was not best for him and decided to begin his coaching career.“I always grew up involved in sports. That’s all I kinda knew. I enjoyed playing sports. I didn’t realize once you got older and got a job, that would all end,” said Campbell. He desired to return to the thing he knew best, which was sports.

After seven years of assisting with soccer at Methodist College, Campbell continue his coaching career by becoming an assistant coach for the University of Florida’s soccer team. Campbell is extremely happy to be coaching at UF and is grateful for such a great opportunity. Campbell said, “to have a career here at the University of Florida as a coach is amazing.”

Campbell has had the honor to work with the Gators for 19 seasons. During his time at Florida, he has created many memories. Campbell said, “my most memorable moment would be the ‘98 season. Not so much the championship game, but that ‘98 season was pretty special.”

Campbell is looking forward to a great season for the upcoming year. He believes, as a coach, he plays a major role for the team to maximize their potential and have a great season. “The players has to know that the coach cares about them more as person, than a player if you want the best out of them.”

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Coach Michelle Tumolo: Young But Experienced

By on April 3rd, 2014

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For many student athletes, their time on the field ends after graduation. But for University of Florida Lacrosse Assistant Coach, Michelle Tumolo, lacrosse is just as big a part of her life now as it was when she played as a student at Syracuse University.

Tumolo played attack during her time for the Orange. She finished her college career ranked third in all-time scoring with 278 points, second in career assists with 137 and fifth in all-time goals with 141, according to GatorZone.com. She is also a 2012 Tewaaraton Trophy Finalist, which is an award given annually to the most outstanding college lacrosse player.

Tumolo graduated from Syracuse in 2013. She was hired as Florida’s newest assistant lacrosse coach in fall 2013. Overall, Tumolo had a smooth transition from player to coach.

“It’s hard if like someone is doing something wrong, you can’t exactly do it for them. So I think that’s the biggest difference. But other than that it’s a great experience. I’m so lucky to still be able to be a part of the sport even though I’ve graduated and can’t play anymore,” said Tumolo.

But coaching isn’t new territory for Tumolo. She was a coach for the South Jersey Devils Lacrosse Club in 2010. She also coached Syracuse’s Elite Lacrosse Camp from 2010 to 2013. Tumolo’s experience as the Syracuse lacrosse team captain her sophomore, junior and senior year helped her prepare for her job too.

“When your peers respect your, it makes it that much easier. And I think that being on the team at Syracuse, I had respect there. And now being a coach here, they respect me,” Tumolo said.

The 22-year-old has only been playing lacrosse for eight years. And even though she’s the same age as some of the players on the Gators lacrosse team, she still has a lot of experience to share.

“Now that I’ve played and I’ve had that energy, I can give it to my team now—My young and fun energy and the confidence that they need,” said Tumolo, “I know what it’s like to go through just building confidence. So if I player needs that I really look at them and you can come to me for any of that insight. The hard part for me is that they’re my age, basically. So it’s hard to have to have authority with them but at the same time they respect me, so it doesn’t make my job harder.”

Tumolo’s goal for her first season as assistant coach is to win as many games as possible. She does not want to the Gators to suffer another loss like the team’s defeat to University of North Carolina in the first game of the 2014 season.

“I hope that we stay strong. And then when we go into the tournament, I hope we come out with a victory, you know, ALC champs. That would be a big goal. But each game is a goal for us, and for me personally, keeping that win streak going, because that first game was a little tough,” said Tumolo.

Tumolo plans to continue her coaching career. She hopes to become a head coach one day.

Colette DuChanois / ESPN 850 WRUF

University of Florida Lacrosse Assistant Coach Michelle Tumolo

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Liz Slattery shines in her freshman season for the Gators

By on March 27th, 2014

If Gators freshman mid-fielder, Liz Slattery, kicks the seams off the soccer ball like she did in high school, her college career could be fantastic.

Kan Li / Alligator Staff

Liz Slattery battles for the ball during Florida’s 3-0 victory against Auburn

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, she attended Indian Hill High School, but it wasn’t until the University of Florida reached out to her that she became interested in the school.

“I had actually never even considered the state of Florida or even the school until they reached out to me for soccer and I came down and visited and absolutely loved it!” Slattery said.

Slattery finished her high school career with 66 goals and 36 assists, but putting up those numbers weren’t her biggest high school achievement.

“I would say my biggest accomplishment was being named an NSCAA High School All-American two times, my junior and senior year.”

These weren’t her only awards, she also won Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012 by the Southwest Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association Girls Division II, ESPN High School fall girls soccer all-star selection in 2011, and was the recipient of the 2013 Indian Hill H.S.’s Outstanding Female Athlete Award.

In her first season as a Gator, Slattery, appeared in all but one match and started one at holding midfield. She recorded two goals and one assist. Her first collegiate goal came off a beautiful header in a 3-0 victory over Alabama on September 20th.

Soccer never stops for the Cincinnati native even during the offseason.

“During the offseason, I play for my club team back home in Ohio and then I train with a personal trainer to work on lifting, agility, speed work stuff to try and get me as fit and as cut as possible.”

The Gators mid-fielder has the freshmen jitters out of her system after completing her first season so now she can look forward to achieving new goals next season.

“Individually, I would like to start and get a lot of minutes on the field and I want to be a big contributor to our team and the way we play this year” said Slattery, “As far as our team, I want to win the SEC, a National Championship, and I hope that we can be more united as a team than we were last year.”

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Spencer Newman: Best of Both Worlds

By on March 19th, 2014

 www.florida.usta.com

Senior Spencer Newman is happy to be back where it all began.

Newman enrolled at the University of Florida in 2011 as a five star tennis recruit hoping to make an immediate impact on the team.

“I’m from Florida and I didn’t really see myself representing any other schools,” said Newman, “The program here is unbelievable and I had known most of the team since I was 9 years old.”

Newman was battling injuries for most of his freshman season, but that did not stop him from posting strong numbers for the Gators.

He finished the season 11-8 in singles play and 1-0 in doubles, earning SEC Freshman of the Week honors on March 30, 2011.

Despite having such strong ties with the team, Newman made the decision to transfer to Michigan in Fall 2012.

“I felt like I wasn’t getting a fair opportunity to play higher in the lineup here,” Newman said. “Plus, I really wanted to play for Mark Merklein.”

Merklein is a former All-American at UF and was an assistant coach at Michigan at the time.

Newman ‘s time with Michigan was short-lived. He only competed in two tournaments for the Wolverines before his body started breaking down. His short stint with Michigan all but ended when he tore his labrum competing for the Wolverines.

He was still battling injuries from his time at Florida.

Newman never fully recovered from a tibial plateau fracture in his right leg.

To top it all off, he was still recovering from a stress fracture in his right wrist – his strong hand.

Newman transferred back to Florida the next semester, but was forced to sit out the season per NCAA regulations.

The mandatory time off was a blessing in disguise for Spencer. He was able to put all his focus into getting healthy. He wanted to return a better, healthier player.

A year has passed. Spencer Newman has high expectations for this year.

Things are looking different this time around. Mark Merklein has since returned to Florida as an assistant coach. Newman feels better than he ever has before.

“I expect our team to do really well this season. This is the deepest team I’ve ever been on. We all can get the job done on the court on any given day,” Newman said.

Newman remembers where he was as a freshman a few years ago. He plans to make the most of his second opportunity in Gainesville.

“I get to play for the program I always wanted to play for, and I get to play for the coach I wanted to play for,” Newman said with a smile on his face. “What more can I ask for? I’m getting the best of both worlds.”

Spencer Newman and the Gators continue their season with one thing on their mind: an SEC championship.

 

 

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Antoinette Bannister takes shots through Adversity

By on March 19th, 2014

University of Florida Women’s Basketball shooting guard, Antoinette Bannister has been no stranger to adversity, but her commitment to her loved ones and ultimately the game has been the fuel she has needed for her dedication and growth.

For Bannister, the game of basketball is in her blood. As a native of Jacksonville, Florida, Bannister spent her entire pre-collegiate career as a member of her father’s team who also coached both of her brothers. Despite the talent that Bannister may have inherited from her athletic family background, she admitted that having her father double as her basketball coach forced her to develop a strong work ethic early in life.

“I felt like he was being unfair because he would make me work extra hard. He would push me more than anyone else just so people would always say ‘Oh, he’s showing favoritism,’ –my dad never ever showed favoritism. I had to earn my playing time with him. I wasn’t always a starter. I started being in his starting line-up when I was like 15 or 16. I had to earn my way up there. It didn’t just come.”

Bannister’s hard work and commitment to improvement was evident in her impressive high school career. According to GatorZone.com, Bannister set Florida’s all-time prep scoring record with 4,758 points, ending her final game of the season with 45 points, 14 rebounds, and 8 steals against IMG Academy.

Her all-star high school career earned her a spot with her “dream school,” the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. However, after coming home for Winter break after the Fall during her freshman year, Bannister learned that her mother had been diagnosed with a serious illness and would have to undergo surgery.

After learning of her mother’s physical condition, she returned to UNC with uncertainty to play one last game with the Tar Heels against Clemson. However, her concern for her mother ultimately led her to seek a position with the University of Florida.

“I was able to leave there on a good note. I miss being there, I really do. I miss the team, I miss the coaches. I had no problem with North Carolina, they were my dream school but when stuff popped up with my mom, I really felt like I had to be closer to her.”

Following her transfer, Bannister had to sit out for the remainder of the season before she could gain NCAA eligibility. Still, after months of hard preparation for her sophomore season, adversity struck again. Bannister injured her arm against Florida State and had to sit out for another 12 games. Bannister did not give in to the unfortunate circumstance but dedicated the power she had to getting better in the areas she could affect.

“Having to sit and just watch was really, really difficult but I got in better shape. I worked on a lot of stuff like shooting, getting to the basket more, and just working on my off game so when I came back, I was able to help the team.”

Bannister has not let any of her obstacles block her drive or positive attitude.

“I feel like having that injury really made me become a more patient person. It really made me realize the thing you love can be taken away from you at any moment and you just can’t take it for granted.”

Bannister has already accomplished and overcome more than most on and off the court but she no signs of stopping or slowing down. She has a long collegiate and possibly professional career ahead of her where fans will be able to witness, firsthand, the product of Bannister’s dedication and resilience in the face of difficulty.

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Ciarra Brewer is jumping into the spotlight

By on March 19th, 2014

 

For most four-year-olds, life can be pretty simple. A normal day can consist of coloring, learning the alphabet, and riding a tricycle. But don’t jump to conclusions about the preschool activities of University of Florida triple-jumper Ciarra Brewer.

At the age of four, Ciarra was running track.

“I’ve been running track for a LONG time,” joked Brewer.

Growing up in Union City, California, track and field was a way of life for the Brewer family.

Her father was a track and field coach at Berkeley High and led the school to seven California State championships through the seventies and eighties. Her mother was a high-jumper for the University of Colorado.

Her brother, Arneax, was a two-time California state finalist in the triple jump as well.

“Being in a jumper’s family, I know it’s something we are all passionate about and we can all relate to,” she added.

Few athletes can relate to what Brewer has done in track cleats. She was the nation’s top-ranked girls triple-jumper coming out of high school.

Among a mountain of accomplishments, she is the reigning two-time defending SEC outdoor triple jump champion, claiming the top spot back to back years in 2012 and 2013 with marks of 13.58 meters and 13.85 meters respectively.

At the 2014 Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville, Brewer became the national leader in the triple jump with a mark of 13.55 meters.

Despite a plethora of individual achievements, Brewer considers her crowing achievement as a Gator to be finishing second-place as a freshman at the 2012 SEC Indoor Championships in Kentucky where the women’s team captured its seventh SEC indoor title.

“People didn’t think that we would’ve won,” said Brewer. The No. 6 ranked Florida women’s team won the title by upsetting No. 2 LSU and No. 4 Arkansas.

When Brewer thinks about this year’s team, she gets the same vibes when reminiscing of that 2012 championship team.

“I feel like we having a really good chance of winning and I hope we all come together the same way we did in Kentucky.”

UPDATE: At the 2014 SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships in College Station, Texas, the UF women’s team came together to become the 2014 SEC Indoor Champions, beating second-place Texas A&M by 5.5 points.

Brewer’s jump of 13.59 meters put her as the 2014 SEC Indoor Triple Jump champion.

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Marquis Dendy: A Gifted Athlete

By on March 19th, 2014

University of Florida junior long jumper and triple jumper Marquis Dendy jumped just over 27 feet, but he fell three inches short of a new car.

Setting a world record in the men’s long jump was not enough for Marquis Dendy. Although Dendy’s record-breaking mark crowned him champion of the 2013 SEC Indoors, it was not quite enough to win a bet he made with his dad.

Marquis Dendy at the Razorback Invitational. Photo courtesy of Wesley Hitt.

Dendy reflects on the conversation he had with his dad, “So I said, ‘Ok look, how about this. If I make up those three inches in triple [jump] will you get me the car anyway?’”

Dendy’s parents began car shopping immediately.

Dendy says, “If I break [personal records] or break records then I get a little something from my parents. It’s just all fun.”

If that’s the case then Dendy is going to be walking away with a few gifts from his parents. As a freshman Dendy made it to the US Olympic Trials, but fouled out in the finals. Dendy, a computer software engineer major, says he is aiming for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“I just really want to be an Olympic gold medalist. Representing my country with a gold medal- that’s my number one goal. In the long and triple jump.”

Although Dendy has his sights set on Rio, he realizes he needs to focus on what he can control now, because he knows his career in track and field will not last forever.

“I want to just take down a lot of records, long and triple jump, and just basically come out, more importantly, with a degree. If you have a piece of paper that says University of Florida computer software engineering degree it’s going to take me way farther, especially when I settle down outside of track and field,” says Dendy.

A Delaware native, Dendy was attracted to UF not just for its warm weather, but also for the talents of the track and field coaching staff, and for what they had done with previous stars. In such a short time, Dendy’s resume surpasses that of many other 21 year-olds, but he is just looking to improve in any way possible, and to him that means not fouling and staying healthy.

Dendy has had a multitude of injuries plague him throughout his career including a torn labrum he suffered at the 2013 World Championships, but he is hoping his strong mental discipline will push him through, and another small gift from his parents would not hurt either.

“I think I want my car repainted now so I think I have to talk to [my dad],” Dendy laughs.

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UF was the Right Choice for Rachel Spicer

By on March 19th, 2014

Rachel Spicer didn’t grow up as a Gator, but the minute she stepped on campus, she knew the University of Florida was where she wanted to be.

Spicer, a junior from Highland Village, Texas, said there are no Division I schools with gymnastics programs in her home state. She knew she would be leaving Texas for college. She visited the University of Oklahoma because going to The University of Oklahoma would keep her closer to home, but she couldn’t see herself there.

She then got the opportunity to come to UF, she said.

“The atmosphere here just called my name,” Spicer said. “I knew this was it. This is where I want to be.”

From the time she started her college career, Spicer has seen UF gymnastics history. Her freshman year, the Gators were runner-up to the national champions, Alabama. Her sophomore year, 2013, the Gators won their first-ever gymnastics national championship.

“It was unbelievable,” she said. “My freshman year, we were so close. We got second place by (less than a point). It was like nothing, it was like a step on a landing.”

Spicer said the team worked ten times harder the next year because they knew they had the potential to be champions.

“To actually go out and do it and make school history is such a great feeling to know you’re on the first national championship team ever,” she said.

Spicer said she started doing gymnastics when she was about 4. She also participated in dance until she was about 8 when she had to choose between the two.

“It just got so intense with gymnastics and the training hours,” she said. “I was only 8, maybe 9, and I couldn’t do 25 hours a week of other stuff and keep up with school so that’s when I decided to just do gymnastics.”

According to Gatorzone.com, Spicer competed in the Junior Olympics each year from 2008 to 2011. In the 2010 Level 10 Championships, Spicer was all-around champion in her division.

She said she did her training before school at 6 a.m., go to school at 9:30 and return to gym after school. She graduated early from high school and started at UF before her senior year was over.

Spicer is majoring in applied physiology and kinesiology with a minor in business. After graduation, she wants to combine medical and business and perhaps be a medical equipment sales representative or something similar.

“I have a major that’s definitely not the easiest because I know that’s what my life will be after gymnastics,” she said.

 

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Whitson’s back to make an impact

By on March 17th, 2014

For Karsten Whitson, baseball has always been his passion. He was raised in Chipley, Florida where learned to love the game of baseball. “Growing up, as I got a little older and moved through tee ball and little league, I just loved the game and knew it was something that I really wanted to do,” said Whitson.

He gained this passion and love for the game from the person he considers to be his role model, his dad. “He taught me how to play the game, he taught how to the respect the game, and for that I always looked up to him,” said Whitson.

Following his father’s footsteps, Whitson chose to attend the University of Florida where he would continue to play baseball. He always dreamed of being a Gator, so the decision to attend UF was fairly easy.

After his second season with the Gators, Whitson experienced a shoulder injury which required surgery and resulted in him miss his entire junior year. Although his playing time would be affected by this procedure, Whitson looked forward to his surgery because he knew that it was necessary. “I was to my last resort. I was like I got to get this fixed. I’m tired of being in pain,” Whitson explained.

After patiently waiting, Whitson is now ready to get back on the field and return to the game he loves. He has used this experience as a stepping stone and has put in much time and effort to prepare for the upcoming season. Whitson participated in the team’s fall inner squads, where he threw 15 innings. Whitson said, “that was kind of a good boost for me because I was able to face hitters again and kind of get some confidence back.”

Whitson hopes his return will greatly impact his team and looks forward to the goals they will accomplish this upcoming season. “We expect to get back to Omaha and we definitely expect to be a team that’s going to contend for a SEC championship this year,” said Whitson.

Whitson  looks forward to being back on the field with his teammates and playing the game he loves the most. Whitson said, “Its going to feel good. Just being out there is going to be awesome, and being out there with these guys is what I think I miss most.”

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Life took four-time decorated star from the field to the track

By on March 17th, 2014

Walking onto the University of Florida campus his freshman year, Eddie Lovett didn’t see track and field as his future.

Lovett was thrilled to run track, but his main focus was football. Now three years later as three years later as a senior, he’s a four-time decorated Southeastern Conference champion.

The reality is before Lovett came to UF he played football with former Gator defensive back Matt Elam in high school, which made his focus on another sport apart from his true diversion.

“When I first got here, I was excited to run track, but I wanted to play football,” Lovett said. “ I even talked to Mouse (coach Mike Holloway) about it and he gave me his words and I thought about it, but once the [track] season started and after SEC’s, it was just kind of like, let me see where this goes.”

The senior hurdler from West Palm Beach, Fla., accrued a numerous amount of accolades throughout his collegiate career.

From being the UF record-holder in the 60-meter hurdles and 55-meter hurdles with times of 7.50 and 7.10, Lovett is the second UF athlete to attempt a four-peat.

His pure intention was not to only be a hurdler, but to achieve greatness on and off the track.

“I pretty much give credit to a lot of my ability to a higher power, to God, and just what I believe his purpose is for me and using the abilities I have,” Lovett said. “Before I get on the blocks, I basically say God lead my steps, I speak to my dad, I say a prayer to him and that’s about it, and just get ready for the race and however it happens, it happens.”

Purpose is Lovett’s biggest motivation, and since being an indoor SEC champion from his freshman year, he follows the same principles.

The Palm Beach Lakes High alum said being consistent and having a gradual build gets him to that point in the season when it’s time to turn the jets on, he makes it happen.

His instructor since 2011 has been Mike Holloway. Holloway has coached Lovett throughout his whole tenure at UF.

Witnessing the maturation process of one of his finest athletes, Holloway knows Lovett as well as anybody else.

“If you look at Eddie’s performances over his career here, he’s done a wonderful job of understanding that it’s not about being the best in the country at a meet, it’s about being the best guy in the country at the national championships.”

Aiming to be the best in the country at all times will assist Lovett in seeking to complete his four-peat as a UF track star.

 

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