Oglethorpe’s Jim Owen Named Nation’s Best D-III Golf Coach

Coach Owen instructs Anthony Maccaglia.

Yesterday, the Golf Coaches Association of America, together with Eaton Corporation, announced the six outstanding collegiate golf coaches receiving this year’s Dave Williams Award, presented by Eaton Golf Pride to recognize the national coaches of the year. Oglethorpe University head men’s golf coach Jim Owen earned the honor among all D-III coaches.

Owen guided the Stormy Petrels through a magical 2011-12 season that culminated with the program winning their second NCAA Championship in just four years. After a fall season that featured three top-five finishes, Owen settled on a spring lineup of a freshman (Anthony Maccaglia), two sophomores (Hayden Jones and Anthony Amodeo), a junior (Eric Quinn) and a lone senior (Matt Rebitch). That quintet proved nearly unbeatable, winning three of six spring events while narrowly settling for second place in the other three.

Coach Owen with Hayden Jones.

The Petrels won the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) for the 10th time in April when they led wire-to-wire en route to an easy 21-stroke victory at the Tunica National Resorts in Mississippi. Less than a month later, Owen’s squad duplicated the feat, this time on the biggest stage of them all at the NCAA Championships, on their way to a convincing 20-stroke win at the Mission Inn Resort in Florida.

In addition to the 2012 NGCAA Coach of the Year (COTY) honor, Owen has been named SCAC Men’s Golf COTY 12 times! He’ll be looking to guide his program to their 13th straight trip to the NCAAs when the 2012-13 season gets underway this fall as the Petrels begin play in the new Southern Athletic Association.

Congratulations, Coach Owen!

Oglethorpe Men’s Golf Wins National Championship

2012 Mens Golf Champions

2012 Oglethorpe Men's Golf Championship Team

Oglethorpe University completed a wire-to-wire run to claim the 2012 NCAA D-III Men’s Golf Championship on Friday at the Mission Inn Resort in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida. The title is the Stormy Petrels’ second in four years for head coach Jim Owen and makes Oglethorpe just the sixth school to win multiple championships in the 37 year history of the event.

Petrel freshman Anthony Maccaglia (Tampa, Florida) shook off a balky start to his round to claim medalist honors, becoming just the fourth freshman (along with Methodist’s Brion McLaughlin in 1997 and Chad Collins in 1998 and Oglethorpe’s Olafur Loftsson in 2009) to claim the top individual prize. Additionally, Oglethorpe is now one of only three programs in the nation to have multiple individual champions. Methodist University and Cal State Stanislaus are the other two.

The Stormy Petrels entered the round with a 16-stroke advantage over Methodist and managed to keep most of the tournament drama on who would claim second, third and fourth place. The Pioneers of Transylvania tracked down Methodist for the second spot, besting the third place Monarchs by a scant stroke.  Claremont-Mudd-Scripps claimed fourth.

Oglethorpe’s Hayden Jones (Orlando, Florida) pushed Maccaglia, shrinking his pre-round 7 shot advantage down to 3 before settling for second place individually at even par for the Championships. Other individuals scoring top-5 finishes at the Championships were Dex Reese (Illinois Wesleyan) and Jeremy Sanders in a tie for third and Tain Lee (Mudd-Scripps) in fifth.

Maccaglia’s stellar week that saw him finish the tournament as the only player under par at -5 was capped by a bevy of awards. He became an individual champion and team champion by the NCAA standards while also earning the Arnold Palmer Award for being the tournament medalist and Phil Mickelson Award as the nation’s best freshman by the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA). Jones, just a sophomore, earned First Team All-America status by the GCAA.

Oglethorpe sophomore Anthony Amodeo rallied from a difficult first two days to come home in a tie for 36th while senior Matt Rebitch (Delmont, Pa.) finished tied for 40th. Junior Eric Quinn (Norcross, Ga.) carded a tie for 66th place result.

“I couldn’t be happier for this group of guys,” said Owen. “After the fall season, they really embraced the team concept and started minimizing their mistakes. I knew coming down here we had a great chance to win, but never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined a 20 stroke victory.”

Golfers Break from NCAA Prep to Train Special Olympians

Fresh off winning their 10th SCAC title, the Oglethorpe men’s golf team is prepping for the 2012 NCAA D-III Championships at the Mission Inn Resort in Florida. Following Sunday’s practice round, the squad took a break to spend time with members of the Lake County Special Olympics and help sharpen their golf skills.

The NCAA has recently partnered with the Special Olympics to help celebrate the uniqueness of Division III college athletics. The clinic was coordinated through the NCAA by Mary Adamson, Lake County Special Olympics Coordinator, and Oglethorpe Head Men’s Golf Coach Jim Owen (pictured far left). More than 30 members of the Lake County Special Olympics attended with 10 different teams and coaches participating at the 2012 Championships lending a hand with instructional advice.

The Special Olympians rotated through five stations of drills that were tailored to fine-tune their golf skills. The stations included 15 minutes of one-on-one instruction on iron play, driving skills, bunker play, short game situations and putting.

“The response to participate in this clinic was overwhelming,” said Owen. “We actually had to turn volunteers away to keep the instruction to a one-on-one basis. It was a thrill to work with the Special Olympians and I know our kids really enjoyed the experience.”

All five starters on the Stormy Petrel squad—Matt Rebitch, Eric Quinn, Anthony Amodeo, Hayden Jones and Anthony Maccaglia (pictured far right wearing white in the photo)—participated in the clinic as the team gets set for Tuesday’s first round.

“We’re really focused on bringing home the school’s second golf title so the break from our pre-tournament routine to help out with the Special Olympians was a welcome one,” said senior Matt Rebitch. “Now we’re hoping they can come back out later in the week to help cheer us on!”

Oglethorpe Names New Athletics Director

Oglethorpe University has chosen Rebecca “Becky” Hall as director of athletics. Hall is currently the assistant athletics director and senior woman administrator at Wittenberg University and will become Oglethorpe’s fourth director of athletics since reassigning to NCAA Division III in 1990.

OU's newest Petrel - Rebecca Hall

Becky Hall will replace Jay Gardinerwho has served as director since 2004. Gardiner is now the inaugural commissioner of the new Southern Athletic Association, Oglethorpe’s athletic association beginning in the 2012-2013 season.

“After a national search that yielded exceptional candidates, the committee identified the best match for Oglethorpe,” said Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students Michelle Hall. “Becky is truly a great fit, full of energy, ideas and experience that will guide our growing athletic program.”

A 1998 graduate of Urbana University where she was a star softball player, Hall was immediately hired by Wittenberg University as an assistant coach and rapidly made an impact on Tiger athletics. She was promoted to head softball coach in 1999 and, just one season later in 2000, led Wittenberg to their first North Coast Athletic Conference Championship. That season concluded with the Tigers making their first trip to the NCAA Championships and securing the school’s first NCAA Tournament softball victory.

While remaining as head softball coach, Hall took on progressive responsibilities. She served as Wittenberg’s director of intramurals and club sports from 2003-2007 before being promoted to assistant director of athletics and senior woman administrator in July of 2007. In that span, Hall has continued to lead a successful softball program and overseen a 3.5 million dollar budget while also fundraising over $58,000 of supplemental income to the department.

In recent years, Oglethorpe has experienced a surge in growth, having added two new dormitories to the campus with plans to break ground on a state-of-the-art new campus center soon.

“Becky’s addition to our leadership team is a strategic move to continue to elevate our athletic programs, build a winning tradition and develop scholar-athletes who are successful on and off the playing fields,” said Oglethorpe University President Lawrence M. Schall.

In addition to her fundraising success, Hall directly supervised all phases of 10 varsity sports teams while at Wittenberg. An advocate for several non-profit organizations, Hall engaged the Wittenberg student-athletes in a variety of community service efforts including events for Strike Out Cancer and Toys for Tots. Continue reading

Oglethorpe Hosts Family of Baseball Great and Alum Luke Appling

Pictured: Luke Appling (right) celebrates a Stormy Petrel win.

Oglethorpe University welcomed the family of 1932 alum and Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Luke Appling to the Brookhaven campus this past Saturday for “Luke Appling Day.” Four generations of the Appling family attended the celebration. Appling’s sister, Linda Appling Sumpter, tossed out the first pitch prior to the Petrels’ game against Birmingham-Southern.

“Luke Appling Day” was in observance of the inaugural “NCAA Division III Week,” an initiative launched to celebrate the division’s unique philosophy that equally values academics, athletics and student-athletes’ involvement in a full and rich campus life.

Lucius “Luke” Appling enjoyed a stellar college career at Oglethorpe and, in 1930, led the Stormy Petrels to a perfect 15-0 record. In his final game against collegiate competition, Appling went out in style, hitting three homeruns against Mercer University. Appling was signed to a professional contract and spent the next 20 seasons wearing the #4 jersey and playing shortstop for the Chicago White Sox. He made seven All-Star Appearances and won two American League batting titles, including hitting .388 in 1936 and being named the best shortstop in baseball.  In 1964 he was elected into the Major League Baseball Hall Fame.

Appling's sister, Linda Appling Sumpter, tossed out the first ceremonial pitch.

Among the attendees for Luke Appling Day were two of Appling’s three children—Linda Appling Sumpter and Carol Tribble. Their brother, Luke Appling III, was unable to attend but his daughter, Lisa Dunbar, was on hand for the occasion. Her daughter, Erin, Appling’s great grandchild, served as the Stormy Petrel Ball Girl for game. In addition to Lisa, six more of Luke Appling’s grandchildren were in attendance with their families. 

The pregame reception included a historical display of artifacts depicting Appling’s career provided by the Oglethorpe University Archives. A booklet of press clippings detailing Appling’s meteoric rise in the world of baseball was presented to family members. Oglethorpe student-athletes joined the family members for a post-game cookout in the right field pavilion.

Four generations of the Appling family gathering on the steps of Oglethorpe University’s Schmidt Center.