A Culture of Commitment
Talented, hard-working student athletes. Experienced and knowledgeable coaches. Good facilities and administrative support. Spartanburg Methodist College has these essential ingredients for success in college sports.
But basketball player Anthony Adger believes there’s another key to SMC’s success—something harder to put a finger on but nonetheless essential. It could be described as a sense of community—a sense of family, even.
Athletes are normally expected to bond with teammates. At SMC, Adger says, camaraderie goes beyond a player’s specific team. “Everybody gets along so well. We all support each other,” he said. “That’s the beauty of it.”
Student-athletes turn out to cheer on each other’s teams. They encourage each other in the weight room and when paths cross at practice. They are friends in class and around campus.
Adger, a highly touted point guard from Iva, South Carolina, added that coaches, too, are supportive outside of their own sport. “If the gym or locker room is locked, you can go to any of the coaches. They’ll help you out.”
This culture of commitment and support has produced winning teams over the years – and 2015-2016 was a shining example.
Adger’s team had a strong season, achieving a 26-7 record, winning the Region X championship and earn-ing a spot in the NJCAA national tournament. Coach Jon Cremins was named Region X Coach of the Year.
Men’s basketball was among many highlights in 2015-2016 (see below for the complete list). Perhaps the biggest story of the year was SMC softball. The team earned a trip to the NJCAA World Series in St. George, Utah. They came up short of the national title, but finished the year with a 55-11 record.
A host of individual honors came the team’s way: Coach Thad Fox was recognized as Region X Coach of the Year Bailey Pearson won league Pitcher of the Year and Maddy Labrador was named Player of the Year. Numerous other players were named to the Region X all-conference team.
“It’s pretty remarkable,” said Todd Shanesy, who covers local college teams for the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.
Shanesy has watched the ups and downs of numerous programs in the Upstate in his years as a sports journalist. He’s impressed by the consistency of SMC’s success and a winning tradition that has included several World Series trips by the baseball program and, only a few years ago, a national number one ranking for men’s basketball.
“Just across the board, their teams are solid,” he remarked. It’s all the more impressive, Shanesy said, because many of schools in the NJCAA have much higher enrollments than SMC. Moreover, SMC cannot offer full athletic scholar-ships for all student-athletes. That means SMC’s coaches and admission staff must work together to make scholarship and financial aid dollars stretch.
A lack of scholarships can put SMC’s teams at a disadvantage. But in some respects, it turns out to be a positive for the college. Coaches recruit players who are strong enough students to earn academic scholarships and state aid (such as lottery scholarships). Student-athletes who are serious about their coursework bring stability and leadership to their teams while adding to the academic strength of the college.
Describing SMC’s foundation for success, athletic director and head baseball coach Tim Wallace echoed some of basketball player Adger’s thoughts. Support for all students permeates the institution, he said. Coaches and student-athletes find themselves drawn to the college and to one another.
“SMC athletics has been successful…first and foremost, SMC itself is an institution that is attractive to student-athletes and their families,” Wallace said. “Folks can appreciate the fact that the college sincerely cares about the experience that young people will have here.”
SMC’s Championship Season
42-20 record; competed in NJCAA Eastern District Tournament; Mason Berne ’16 named NJCAA Second Team All-American and Region X Player of the Year; Head Baseball Coach Tim Wallace named Region X Coach of the Year.
26-7 record; Region X champions; NJCAA national tournament appearance; Coach Jon Cremins named Region X Coach of the Year.
Region X champions; Coach Briana Clark named Region X Coach of the Year; Heather Chapman ’16 named Player of the Year.
Undefeated record; NJCAA national tournament qualifier Matthew Terry ’17.
Brooke Hutto ’16 named Region X champion; NJCAA national tournament qualifiers Hutto and Abrea Grant ’16.
Region X champions; District champions; NJCAA national tournament qualifiers.
55-11 record; NJCAA World Series appearance, Coach Thad Fox named Region X Coach of the Year, Bailey Pearson ’16 named Pitcher of the Year, Maddy Labrador ’16 named Player of the Year.
Region X champions; finished 13th in NJCAA national tournament; Adam Elliget ranked 10th singles player in nation; Elliget and Junior Duarte ’17 earned All-American honors.
Daquon Wilson ’16, national silver medalist.