Growth Of Graduate Assistant Program Highlights Summer

The resurfacing of the main court in Yoder Arena kicked off a busy summer for EMU Athletics. (photo by James DeBoer)
The resurfacing of the main court in Yoder Arena kicked off a busy summer for EMU Athletics. (photo by James DeBoer)

Summer has brought a number of exciting changes to the EMU Athletic Department, including a handful of new faces and even some light construction to open up new office space.

The busy summer started with the resurfacing of the gym floor in Yoder Arena, wrapping up in mid-May. The main court was sanded down to the original wood and given an updated design including a change to a black border around the court.

After four successful years, the graduate assistant program will step up to six GAs. According to Director of Athletics Dave King, the program has helped EMU’s coaches in a variety of aspects ranging from in-game coaching to recruiting.

"The role of the assistant coach in collegiate athletics has become increasingly important, as the efforts to recruit student-athletes and provide them with a quality experience has become more and more time-consuming," King explained. "The graduate assistant program has allowed us a cost-effective way to provide assistant coaches to our staff. It is also gratifying to give young people an opportunity to prepare for a career in athletics, especially given the quality of our graduate programs at EMU."

Here are the graduate assistants beginning this fall:

Baseball – Nic Love is a 2016 graduate of Eastern Mennonite and a native of Bedford, Va. He is pursuing a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies.

Men’s Soccer – Carl Becker is a 2014 graduate of Eastern Mennonite and a native of Vienna, Va. He is pursuing a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership.

Women’s Soccer – Sheldon Rice is a 2002 graduate of Eastern Mennonite and lives in Bridgewater, Va. He is pursuing a Master of Arts in Education.

Softball – Angelia “Jelly” Miller is a 2016 graduate of Eastern Mennonite and a native of Bridgewater, Va. She is pursuing a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies.

Sports Information/Administration – Kate Smucker is a 2017 graduate of the University of Mary Washington and a native of Bird-in-Hand, Pa. She is pursuing a Master in Business Administration.

In addition to the new GAs who are starting their two-year programs in 2017-18, Quntashea Lewis returns for her second year as the women’s basketball GA, pursing a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies. Men’s basketball assistant Melvin Felix has increased his time to give leadership to the program’s developmental team.

Whitney (Shifflett) Ulibarri has joined the Athletic Training staff. She lives in Front Royal, Va., and graduated from Bridgewater College in 2015 and is pursuing a Master of Science in Athletic Training through Indiana Wesleyan University with expected graduation in June of 2018.

Beth Bergman stepped in as administrative assistant over the summer. A basketball player from her days as a student at Eastern Mennonite, she is in her second decade of working on campus, having served most recently as the registrar at Eastern Mennonite Seminary.

Over the summer, EMU has also hired Ashley Kisner as the head field hockey coach, Danielle Lickey as head men’s volleyball coach, and Hannah Chappell-Dick as interim cross country coach.

“I’m really excited about the direction of the athletic program as we move into our second century as an institution,” King said, “and I’m grateful for the commitment of the staff and the positive energy they are bringing to the upcoming 2017-18 school year. I’m looking forward to a great year.”

The Royals open the 2017-18 year with home events all three days of the weekend of Sept. 1-3. Women’s volleyball hosts the two-day EMU Invitational, while women’s soccer and field hockey both also open the season at home.