Tag: Rudy Abbott Field

Leadership helps guide JSU student-athletes to give back

By Chris Allen Brown/Associate Editor

Don’t be alarmed if you see a 7-foot male wielding a chainsaw around Jacksonville, it’s just Norbertas Giga. If you spend more time looking around, you might even see several Jacksonville State volleyball players attempting to roll a fallen tree trunk to a more convenient spot.

Before asking why you may see these sights, maybe the first question should (jokingly) be towards JSU strength and conditioning coach Gavin Hallford and if helping move trees counts as their workout for the day.

The reason that should be the first question is simple — because asking why JSU student-athletes are helping is pointless.

Why? Just continue to look around.

There’s JSU head football coach John Grass with a chainsaw. JSU softball assistant coaches Mark Wisner and Julie Boland working on a patch of land. JSU head volleyball coach Terry Gamble, his son Kyle and daughter-in-law Reagan were all helping. JSU associate athletic director for media relations Josh Underwood is there, too.

Are you beginning to see the picture here?

The reason there are so many JSU student-athletes helping around campus is because the desire to help starts at the top; it starts with those with great influence.

There’s a reason Malcolm Drumwright and Mohamed Abuarisha came straight home from last week’s College Basketball Invitational semifinal game and immediately went to work. There’s a reason Jamie McGuire, Cadi Oliver, Stephanie Lewis and Sallie Beth Burch dropped what they were doing elsewhere around the state to come back home to help.

Because it’s what they were taught to do. Helping those in need has become a staple of what Jacksonville State University is all about.

For years now, the communities surrounding Jacksonville State have traveled to support these student-athletes during sporting events, so it should come as no surprise that these same players … humans … are working around the city to help give back, to help rebuild but most importantly to help show they care.

Think back to JSU softball’s annual Fan Day. Head coach Jana McGinnis rarely does much talking at the event, but when she does, there’s always a ringing statement that’s forever imprinted on minds:

“I hope you (the fans) will consider us as your favorite team because this is home and we are always here for you.”

It may take several months — maybe a year even — before the restorations on Pete Mathews Coliseum, University Field and Rudy Abbott Field are completed, so when the football players are lined up to kick off the 2018 season, just remember to be sure to be at Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium to cheer on those guys who came to help when you needed it most.

Gamecocks (finally) to return home in 2018

Artist rendering of the completed renovations of Rudy Abbott Field, which is set to open on April 3 (JSU Sportswire)

Grant Benefield, Staff Sports Writer

With the first official practice already in the books, hype for Jacksonville State baseball’s 2018 campaign is in full swing.

After playing their entire home schedule at Choccolocco Park in Oxford, AL, last season, the Gamecocks will be more than eager to return to campus. And the wait for the much-anticipated new stadium project is nearly complete, with Rudy Abbott Field set to open on April 3rd when the Gamecocks host the University of Alabama.

JSU defeated the Crimson Tide not once, but twice last season by scores of 2-1 and 11-8.

Speaking of last season, the Gamecocks finished 30-26 (17-13 OVC) and continued their OVC tournament attendance streak, making it for the 14th consecutive year since the team’s move to the Ohio Valley Conference.

The team’s tournament appearance left last season on a sour note, however, as the Gamecocks were eliminated in their first two games, marking the first time JSU failed to win a game in the OVC tournament since the 2013 season.

The Gamecocks lose seven lettermen from last season, including infielder Josh Bobo, who played in 52 games last season and averaged .249 with 22 RBIs and 27 runs scored.

JSU also loses two key pitchers in Joe McGuire and Justin Hoyt. McGuire earned 2017 OVC Pitcher of the Year honors, posting an 8-1 record in 12 starts and a 3.20 ERA with an opponent batting average of .209. Hoyt was stellar in the closer role last season, posting a .282 ERA with 9 saves in 25 appearances.

The Gamecocks will sport 18 returning lettermen and 15 newcomers in 2018, including senior infielder Clayton Daniel. Daniel earned his third-consecutive All-OVC honors and was the only Gamecock to start all 56 games last season.

Also returning is junior LHP Derrick Adams, who posted the largest workload of JSU pitchers last season with 85.2 innings pitched. Adams earned All-OVC honors, claiming a 7-3 record in 15 starts.

The Gamecocks will kick off their 2018 campaign on February 16th at Choccolocco Park with a 3-game series against Southern Illinois. The Gamecocks’ first 17 home games will be hosted at Choccolocco Park, until the inaugural game against Alabama on April 3rd.