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MSJ ATHLETICS » ABOUT THE LIONS
For the Love of Sports

Today, they count their blessings and their achievements. They are all around - a matter of record, there for anyone and everyone to see. They are the fruits of years of effort and commitment and devotion.

Coach Rod Huber
Head Football Coach Rod Huber has been a member of the staff since football began in 1990.

"Sometimes,” says Rod Huber, the Mount’s veteran football coach, “I look around at where we are now and what we have, and I think about how far we’ve come, the way things used to be and, man, it is hard to keep my heart in my chest. Every now and then my eyes get a little warm just looking at it.”

“Truthfully, it is an unbelievable story,” says Steve Radcliffe, director of athletics now in his 13th year. “Today, we have 21 varsity sports for men and women. That’s the highest in our conference (the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference). Five years ago, we had the fewest. We are enjoying our success and it is all part of a broad-based experience at the College.”

Today, they count their blessings:

  • The multi-million dollar, 2,400-seat Sports Complex, Schueler Field and running track, filled beyond capacity for every home football game since its opening in 2004.
  • The 2,000-seat Harrington Center, home to men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, wrestling, dance team, cheerleading, and intramural sports.
  • The Kinder Morgan Softball Complex and the River Road Practice Fields, used by Mount baseball, soccer, softball and lacrosse teams.
  • Eight tennis courts, currently among the best outdoor tennis facilities on the western side of Cincinnati.
Baseball Coach Chuck Murray
Coach Chuck Murray's baseball teams carry on the Mount's winning tradition.

“And to think,” says Chuck Murray, entering his 12th season as baseball coach, “there was a time when we had no place to practice. We had nothing, no facilities. It was really, really bad. We would load up and go to Dempsey Park or old Bold Face Park, Pete Rose Field down on River Road. One day, we finished practice and when we got back up the hill, they were towing our cars away. We didn’t get a lot of respect. Times have changed. We used to have a team. Now we have a program. The College has done a really good job.”

Now, the Mount has respect and more:

  • Huber’s football team has won three straight HCAC championships and is picked to win a fourth straight in 2007.
  • Murray’s baseball teams have won two consecutive conference titles.
  • The women’s soccer team won four HCAC titles from 1999 through 2002 and also claimed another in 2005.
  • And then there is the women’s volleyball team, which in one stretch recorded seven straight 30-win seasons and has claimed nine straight HCAC conference titles in either regular season or conference tournament play. They are also the unanimous choice to win a 10th straight in 2007, not all that surprising since they have won 80 of 81 HCAC matches.

In many respects, the volleyball program, tenacious and productive, is the bellwether of the entire athletic program at the Mount. This past year, they received the American Volleyball Coaches Association Game Plan Academic Award, bestowed on teams - regardless of their division of play - which achieve an overall 3.30 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.

 
 

The student body at the Mount numbers approximately 2,300 and 31 percent participate in a varsity sport. Forty- four percent of incoming freshmen are participants and not one — by NCAA Division III rules — receives a dollar in athletic scholarships.

“Here’s the kid I’m looking for,” says Huber, in his 18th season at the Mount. “We’re looking for the kid who really, really wants a degree and loves his or her sport whether it’s football, basketball volleyball, whatever. If you want a degree and you love your game, there’s a place for you at the Mount and Division III. We don’t recruit you to win a championship ring — though we give you that opportunity. We recruit you to earn a degree. We never lose sight of why they are here. They are here to earn a degree.”

Huber’s words are not hollow. Every coach and every team has instituted programs to enhance the performance of their student athletes:

  • “On Fridays,” says Huber, “we have three retired teachers who come in and mentor our players who are struggling or need a little extra help.”

“The coaches keep a pretty close eye on us,” says Brian White, a third year starter on the football team, who carries a 3.3 GPA. “That’s probably the best thing about being here at the Mount. It’s more like being part of a family. I know people say stuff like that all of the time, but here they really care about how you are doing on the field and in the classroom.”

Women's Soccer
Members of the womens soccer team in action on Schueler Field.

There was a time when the Mount’s reach, recognition and influence didn’t extend far beyond the 275-Beltway. Now, the College draws student athletes from Louisville, Lexington, Florida, Virginia, and Tennessee. There’s interest from as far away as Arizona and this year, a young man from Texas (who went to high school in England) will play soccer for the Lions.

Today, they count their blessings — especially those who have been there from the beginning — and cherish their memories, all the while thankful that they are, in fact, memories.

“You look around now at what we have here,” says Radcliffe, “and it’s hard to believe the way it used to be. Our coaches used to do the laundry. They lined the fields.”

“We played in five different stadiums in 10 years,” says Huber. “We had a 70-yard practice field with no goalposts. I would go into a school to recruit a high school player and coaches would say to me, ‘Our players don’t want to go to the Mount.'

“Well, look at us now,” Huber continues, “and it’s not just football. It’s across the board and here’s why: Sister Francis Marie, our president, and Sister Elizabeth Cashman (former dean of students) never quit believing we could do this. The Board of Trustees backed us every step of the way and we just kept working and pounding, everybody! I’m telling ya, it’s been a mission, a labor of love.”

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