Focus on Athletics

Saints Basketball For a Cause

By Noah Kemp, ’18
On October 2, Holy Cross College’s men and women’s basketball teams hosted a pre-season exhibition event called “Threes and Freebs,” in honor of special guest Mary Freeby, a senior at Holy Cross who is suffering from a blood disorder called paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), for which she needs a bone marrow transplant. All the proceeds raised by the event went to support Freeby during her bone marrow transplant.

“My family and I are extremely grateful for all the support this community has shown for us.” Freeby said, “I would not nearly be as positive as I am about this process without the prayers and support from the people here at Holy Cross.”

The event started with Freeby’s father, Chuck Freeby, introducing the event, followed by an opening prayer. Following was a short game between the intramural all-stars and the Holy Cross College basketball alumni as well as a free throw and 3-point contest with students from the crowd.

“I think this event really shows that while Mary has great friends, that she also has the school behind her.” said Alyssa Davis, ’18, who is a close friend of Freeby and helped put together the event with other friends and the Holy Cross basketball programs.

Friends of Freeby, Reagan Stout, ’18, Kasey Schaffer, ’18, and Davis, along with Mike McBride, men’s basketball coach, and Aimee Niespodziany, athletics director and women’s basketball head coach, organized the event to show support for Freeby.

“Coach McBride called me as soon he caught wind of her diagnosis and said we should do something.” Niespodziany said. “Some time passed and he was kicking around ideas and then began to work with a student group. Together, they formulated the format of the night with the idea to show Mary that the basketball programs, past and present, support her.”

She continues to explain, “We want to provide an opportunity for not only the Holy Cross community but Mary’s community, from her grade school to high school to us, her college, to come together and give her the support she needs to battle through the medical treatments she is about to undergo.”
The night also included short games between the women’s basketball program and the intramural all-stars, the men’s basketball program and basketball alumni, and then a coed men and women’s basketball programs game.

“It means a lot for our basketball program to use our platform in order to support one of our fellow students. We try and develop tough habits on the court every day, but that is nothing compared to what Mary has to go through.” said Nate Miller, a junior point guard on the men’s basketball team. “I think it’s a great event to try and bring the whole Holy Cross community together and have fun.”

The event ended with a closing prayer dedicated to the success of Mary Freeby’s treatment and a group picture of all the teams and players who participated in the event with the Freeby family.

“Basketball has always been an integral part of my life, so I can’t think of a better way to leave than through this ‘Threes and Freebs’ night.” Freeby said.

Older Stories

Saints Win Soccer Award

By Drew Schauss, Sports Information Director

soccer award smallerThe Holy Cross men’s soccer team received the prestigious TOPSoccer Program of the Year. TOPSoccer is a community-based training and team placement program for athletes with disabilities, organized by youth soccer association volunteers. The program is designed to bring the opportunity of learning and playing soccer to any players, age 8 and older, who have a mental or physical disability.

TOPSoccer was formed to perpetuate the Indiana Soccer & US Youth Soccer mission statement which is, in part, “to foster the physical, mental and emotional growth and development of America’s youth through the sport of soccer at all levels of age and competition.” There are thousands of children with disabilities who need, and can be provided with, the opportunity to play soccer through the TOPSoccer program.

soccer award 3 smallerThe Saints men’s soccer team was awarded the Program of the Year award after another successful year of helping out the training program. This program has allowed our Saints to help participants achieve confidence both on and off the field. Senior captain Brian Aldrich has been involved in the program throughout his years in a Saints uniform and was also nominated as Buddy of the Year. Not only have the lives of the participants of the TOPSoccer program been changed, but so have those of the Holy Cross soccer team. “This has been one of the best experience of my life, and something I will cherish forever,” Aldrich said. “I looked forward to seeing the kids every week and teaching them new skills and watching them grow more confident in their abilities on the soccer field. I’d like to thank the soccer program for allowing us the opportunity to work with TOPSoccer and hope they continue this partnership for years to come.”

soccer award 2 smallerNot only were the Saints honored for their service, but head coach Omar Gallo was named Indiana Soccer Director of the Year for his work with Michiana Echo Soccer Club. In Gallo’s 4+ years with Echo, the club has nearly doubled its size. Gallo has implemented mental training, nutritional training, and consistent goalkeeping training to help the program reach new heights. Michiana Echo and Indiana Soccer have praised Gallo for his ability to connect with each and every member as well as their family to make the club one of the best in the state. Along with his work with TOPSoccer, coach Gallo has developed a program called, “First Skills” which helps young players build a commitment to their individual development, make soccer fun to practice and play, but most importantly to teach good sportsmanship and respect for all.

Saints Show Their Smarts

By Drew Schauss, Sports Information Director
Over the 2015-2016 season, six Holy Cross student athletes were named to All-Conference teams, and 16 were honored for their academic achievements. This represents nearly 25 percent of all Holy Cross student athletes, an astounding feat for the college.

The all-conference team selections are voted on by the CCAC coaches. To be nominated for one of the all-academic teams, a student-athlete must have been enrolled at Holy Cross College for a minimum of one academic year, have completed at least 30 semester hours and boast no less than a 3.25 cumulative grade point average. To be a scholar-athlete, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.50 on a 4.00 scale and must have achieved junior academic status.

All-Conference Teams

Men’s Golf

    Kaleb Gorbahn, ’19

Men’s Basketball (Honorable Mention)

    Madison McCaffrey, ’17

Women’s Basketball (Honorable Mention)

    Tagin Schultheis, ’18

Men’s Soccer (First Team)

    Lukman Ahmed-Shaibu, ’16
    Jonghyun Son, ’16

Men’s Soccer (Second Team)

    Brian Aldrich, ’17

Scholar Athletes

Men’s Basketball

    Michael Ognar-Pettersson, ‘16
    Coley Schultheis, ’16

Women’s Basketball

    Shelby Nelson, ’16

All-Academic Teams

Women’s Soccer

    Kaylee Ables, ’17
    Sara Bogol, ’17
    Hayley Deisinger, ’17
    Zayra Valencia, ’16

Men’s Soccer

    Brian Aldrich, ’17
    Connor Simpson, ’16

Women’s Basketball

    Shana Anderson, ’17
    Shelby Nelson, ’16
    Tagin Schultheis, ’18

Men’s Basketball

    Michael Ognar-Pettersson, ’16
    Coley Schultheis, ’16
    Adam Vizar, ’16

Men’s Golf

    BJ Kolcz, ’16

Women’s Golf

    Kylie Day, ’17
    Sarah Hartle, ’16
    Kendra Luckey, ’16

Saints Serve the Community

By Drew Schauss, Sports Information Director

For Holy Cross College student athletes, serving the community off the court is a vital part of being a Saint. Last year, the men’s soccer team and the men’s basketball team partnered with charities that enhance the lives of children locally and around the world and they will continue these partnerships through the 2016-2017 school year.

Soccer shoots “Goals for Tysen”

gallo and tysen.smallerFor the second straight year the men’s soccer team is partnering with Tysen’s Mission to a Million. For every goal the Saints score this year in the regular season and playoffs, the team will donate $5 to the charity, which goes toward providing special opportunities for children with disabilities or life-threatening medical conditions.

The organization began when Tysen Lefebvre was granted a wish to meet Adam Sandler from Make-A-Wish Eastern Ontario in 2012. He is now on a mission to pay it forward and raise $1 million to grant 100 wishes for other children.

Coach Omar Gallo has known Tysen for a few years and last year, after seeing how Tysen is changing lives, wanted to get the team involved. “When I noticed that Tysen had already helped grant over 26 wishes for other children, I immediately knew we had to get involved. I informed the team about it and we came up with the idea of ‘Goals for Tysen.’ For every goal our men’s college team scores this year in the regular season and playoffs, we will donate $5.”

Tysen was thrilled when he found out that the Saints men’s soccer team would be joining his cause last year. “I’m so happy Omar started this challenge with his team,” says Lefebvre. “It’s fantastic that they are helping me on my mission, and encouraging others to do the same. I am honored to be associated with them and I am looking forward to cheering them on this season. GO Saints!”

The Saints scored 42 goals last season, but this year are hoping to greatly surpass that. “As a team, our goal is to make one child’s wish on Tysen’s list come true,” explains Gallo. “This experience will continue to teach our players about life and understand the importance of giving back.” With a strong returning core and senior leadership, the Saints anticipate a productive and successful season.

Basketball team grows by two

This spring was a special time for two young men and the Holy Cross men’s basketball program. The Saints, with the help of the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, made two boys’ shared dream come true.

On April 13, 2016, eleven-year-old Khalon Manson Howard from Mishawaka and his brother Jaycob Michael Beal signed their letters of intent to become part of the Holy Cross basketball team. As part of their signing day, Khalon’s favorite local basketball player, Demetrius Jackson, surprised him via FaceTime to congratulate him on becoming a Saint. Khalon is battling leukemia and regularly receiving treatments in Indianapolis. He is a sports fanatic who loves basketball and is a member of the local Midwest Basketball Academy program. Jaycob is Khalon’s 9-year-old brother. He also loves sports, and has been by his brother’s side throughout his brother’s illness, giving up basketball travel in order to do so.

khalon with team khalon with basil

Both the boys and their family will be immersed in the men’s basketball program and now attending as many workouts, practices, and games as possible. The boys spent time after their signing getting to know their new teammates and getting some shots up. Khalon and Jaycob impressed the crowd with their ball handling and shooting skills. Both boys will be invited to join the Saints on the bench during the 2016-2017 men’s basketball season.

The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation began in 2005 when Jaclyn Murphy was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma, a malignant brain tumor. Her wish was to help every sick child find a team to show them love, support and friendship. The mission of Friends of Jaclyn is to improve the quality of life for children and their families battling pediatric brain tumors and other childhood cancers while spreading awareness.