Wingate’s Ross getting a foothold in pro soccer

By Adam Riley II, Staff Writer 

Wingate alumnus Callum Ross is playing very well this season for the Charlotte Independence of the United Soccer League.

The rookie midfielder was a member of the 2016 Division II men’s soccer national championship team for Wingate just a season ago. And he scored his first — and so far only — professional goal for the Independence while still a Wingate student, in a game on May 12 against Pittsburgh.

callumandadam
Former Wingate Bulldog star poses with The Weekly Triangle’s Adam Riley II after last Wednesday’s Charlotte Independence game in Matthews

He told this story to The Weeekly Triangle after playing in a 0-0 draw against Richmond last Wednesday at the Matthews Sportsplex:

“So the day before, I had a 10-page paper due, and I was up till like two in the morning. I got up the next morning and managed to grab my first goal It was a bit of hard work and just a bit of trying to balance my time and get some sleep when I could. I loved scoring my first goal and I’m still looking for my second one.”

Now he has a new routine as a professional.

“For me it’s trying to get to bed before 11 or at least get off my feet and get some rest, then I’m up early-ish like 7-7:30 a.m. or so up on the training room kind of pre-gym stuff and warming up, you know?”  Ross said.

“Usually by 1 or 2 p.m. we’re finished, then we get our lunch. I go to the gym a lot maybe two or three times a week just to keep on top of things throughout the season. It’s  a busy schedule but if you manage yourtime correctly and put your mind to it and concentrate it’s not too much. You’ve just got to stay on top of it.”

Meanwhile, he has climbed his way up the depth chart and into the starting lineup, starting in 13 of the 14 games he has played in his rookie season.

“For me it was a case of kind of waiting for my chance to start,” Ross says.

His patience finally paid off following the suspension of a teammate, for undisclosed reasons. Callum assumed the starter role at midfielder and since then he hasn’t looked back.

“Every week I’m just trying to improve, trying to learn, listening to the coaches things like that and trying to take the opportunities when I get them,” Ross said. “I love starting, love playing and playing football. Also, I just need to try to keep improving and see how many minutes I can get by the end of the season.”

The tie last Wednesday extended the Independence’s unbeaten streak to nine games, and Charlotte is one point behind Charleston in second place in the USL Eastern Division. Ross hopes that for the second straight season, he might be playing for a championship.

“We’ve been struggling to pick up points, things like that, but we know inside this locker room that there’s plenty of talented players and we’ve got a style of play where other teams struggle,” he said.

“But we know what we want to do. We’re not satisfied with playoffs now, we’re up there now with the best teams and we want to go all the way and win the league, and then carry that through the playoffs.”

 

 

 

 

Bulldogs hope summer program lifts 8-3 football season in ’16 to higher level

By Adam Riley II, Staff Writer

 The Wingate University football program looks to build off of  a successful 2016 season, finishing 8-3 overall and 5-2 in South Atlantic Conference play. All that begins in the summer.

Over the course of an eight-week period during the months of June and July, the Bulldogs have what they call the “Dog Days of Summer”. This is a period where players come back to campus to conduct the bulk of their preparation for the upcoming season.

The Bulldogs train at 6 a.m. four mornings a week.

“Certain days we’re running then lifting, specifically doing speed and power development, other days we lift and then run afterwards for our conditioning work. And that final 4-week build up until camp starts it’s a big push to get everybody geared and ready to go.” said WU head strength and conditioning coordinator Will Hayes.

Head coach Joe Reich’s Bulldogs eclipsed another 7-game winning record last season, which earned them a shot at the SAC championship in the last game of the regular season at Newberry.  They fell just shy of claiming their first title since 2010 in a 27-22 loss.  The Bulldogs finished second in the league, tying with rival Catawba, which had won the conference the previous year.

“We played with great effort last season, I want us to carry that over into next season.”  Reich says. “From a league perspective, we got ourselves in the championship conversation last season.”

Training camp officially starts on Aug. 7 and Reich and his Bulldogs enter the 2017 season with high hopes and expectations.

Redshirt senior linebacker  Zack Singleton, one of the team’s captains, said:  “I’m really looking forward to it. We have a lot of athletes coming in, probably the most athletes we’ve ever had on the team.”

Reich said,  “One of our main focuses going in Aug. 7 is to stay healthy throughout camp.”

The Bulldogs were hit drastically by the injury bug last season, losing starting safety Kameron Johnson, a redshirt sophomore, due to a season ending foot injury in camp. In addition, the Bulldogs suffered  two more critical blows with injuries to running back Lawrence Pittman and receiver/return specialist Adam  Riley. Both Bulldogs suffered season-ending ankle injuries just one week apart. Pittman was leading all NCAA football players in touchdowns scored when he was sidelined for the season.

And three-year starting quarterback Kyle Johnson suffered an injury to his throwing arm on the opening drive of the season-ending game against Newberry, in which he did not return.

The Bulldogs lost a number of key seniors from this past season on both sides of the ball. They include: defenseive end and SAC Defensive Player of the Year Ray Edwards; first team all-SAC defensive end Andre Foulks; and four-year starter at cornerback Cornell Cheron. 

On offense, most notably  notably the Bulldogs will lose All-Conference Receiver and four-year starter in Jordan Berry, as well as fellow starting receiver Joe Wallace, in addition to quarterback Johnson.

KEY RETURNERS:

Defense:

Zack Singleton (LB)

Kameron Johnson (DB)

Josh Shelton (DB)

Robbie Wallace (LB)

James Basham (DE)

Tim Longmire (DB)

Jabari Foster (DB)

Joseph Kelly (DB)

Christopher Biroses (P)

Offense:

Blake Hayes (RB)

Lawrence Pittman (RB)

The entire OL

Jake Jensen (TE)

B.J. Muckelvene (WR)

Malik Bledsoe (WR)

Jay Hood (WR)

J.T. Stokes (WR)

Adam Riley II (WR/PR)

The Bulldogs will play seven night games in a 10-game season, four of which will be at home for the first time in the school’s history.

“We are looking forward to Saturday Night Lights! Playing seven of 10 games at night this year will be a different experience for us.” Reich said in a previous interview. “I like the idea of the new reality, playing at night and I think it will really get all of our guys fired up.”

The Bulldogs’ season begins at 6 p.m. on Sept. 2, as they travel to Charlotte to face off against the Golden Bulls of Johnson C. Smith University. Wingate’s first home game is on Sept. 16 against conference opponent Carson-Newman, with kickoff at 6 p.m. at Irwin Belk Stadium.

Are ‘super teams’ good for the NBA?

By Adam Riley II, Staff Writer 

The National Basketball Association has had a long history of “super teams” since even before the recent addition of NBA forward Kevin Durant to the already high-powered Golden State Warriors.

And for those of you who don’t know what a “super team” is or what is classified as one, allow me to enlighten you on the subject. In the world of sports, a super team is when a team already has MULTIPLE potential Hall of Fame candidates and one or more of them have come from another team. Also, the super team in the making has already achieved a certain level of success prior to adding another superstar player to the roster.

Finally, following the newly acquired superstar player, this team poses a potential “threat” to the equality of competition of the other teams in the league/association.

As previously stated above, this trend dates back to even before my time: starting in  1968 to be exact, with Wilt Chamberlain and his move to the Los Angeles Lakers along with other super star players that were also acquired by the Lakers, Wilt is just one of many. Other super teams soon developed after that. For instance, the 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks with the additions of Lew Alcindor and Oscar Robertson; and we can’t forget about the 1982-83  Philadelphia 76ers having Julius Erving and Moses Malone.

Over the first 30 years since the league’s existence we see this “super team” trend with just three teams. Some of the most recent super teams of  the 21st century include the 2007-08 Boston Celtics when the organization conjured up trades for both Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, when they already had stardom in the 1st round draft pick Paul Pierce aka “The Truth” and Rajon Rondo.

One of the most famous super teams includes the 2010 Miami Heat, when they acquired Chris Bosh and Lebron James to join Dwyane Wade, which they went on to win back-to-back NBA titles. We have to throw in the Cavs when Lebron went back to Cleveland to join forces with Kevin Love and the immaculate Kyrie Irving. We all know about the most recent super team in the Golden State Warriors with Steph Curry, arguably one of, he greatest shooters in NBA history — if not the greatest — with Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. And this past season they added the former league MVP and 3-time scoring champion Durant.

All this talk about super teams is exciting to hear and everything, but is it really worth the watch?

Is it really worth watching the NBA Finals, supposedly one of the most competitive championship games in sports history, if you already know who’s going to win before the game starts? Or rather you give it the benefit of the doubt in hopes of a really good Finals series that goes to Game 7 where it’s do or die, but instead you get a blowout?

Both of those of those scenarios sound like a waste of time, well at least to me it is. What I’m trying to get at is that all these “super teams” in the league are really making it hard for fans to enjoy watching the game of basketball. Don’t get me wrong —  a lot of fans love the idea of super teams, especially if their team is one or is in the making. I’m just saying as an athlete and fellow sports fan in general, it kind of takes away the fun of the game. Winning is cool and all, but it gets to a point where it becomes boring because of the lack of competition, which will inevitably make winning effortless. And there is a distinct line between beating a team(s) that you’re supposed to beat and just flat out beating EVERY single team.

I love a close game! I love the feeling of knowing you can potentially come back from a deficit and win the game, when all odds are against you there’s still hope; if you still end up losing you lost giving your best and that’s all a coach, player, GM, anyone really, can ask of you.

As you can see, the NBA is no stranger to the super team phenomenon and this isn’t just something that recently occurred. It’s been going on for quite a while, and as you can see if you pay attention to sports news, more teams now are beginning to follow suit and jumping on the “Monstarz” bandwagon (“Space Jam” reference!). I personally don’t agree with it, but hey I’m just one guy and for some players it may be about the money and others about actually winning NBA Titles. Who knows?