Coin tosses, first pitches and handshakes all signify the beginning of the game. Owls Athletics was started with resumes, phone calls and campus visits. Meet the first generation of Owls coaches who are the first of their kind to win every day.
Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss and Coach Mike Krzyzewski aren’t the first three people that would be named to provide inspiration for a soccer coach.
“I’m kind of a nerd. I’m a bookworm,” admits head soccer coach Tim Gould.
Finance, business, organizational management and improvement are usually the subjects on Gould’s bookshelf when he isn’t reading a hall of fame coach’s biography. “I’ve gotten hooked on organizing and helping players set goals,” said Gould. “I want them to improve on areas that they can control like attitude, communication and team interaction.”
Gould knows that he has a unique opportunity to allow all players to assume a leadership role, both on and off the field. From the small town of Highland, Ill., Gould grew up in a house with two older brothers. The oldest brother, Jon, played basketball while the other, Nic, was a standout goalie. “I played the longest. He [Nic] was probably better,” said Gould. “He was the varsity goalie as a freshman and played in the field for two years.”
Gould credits both of his brothers for getting him involved in soccer as early as first grade. From there, he would play local club soccer, varsity soccer and eventually with larger clubs where he interacted with coaches with collegiate experience.
Gould would go on to be a four-year starter for Blackburn College in Carlinville, Ill. During his playing career, the Beavers finished top four in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference three times. Blackburn College is where he developed a love for coaching.
“A part of me always thought I would be good at it. Once I got into college, I helped with soccer camps on campus. I realized that the kids listened to me and I could do this,” said Gould.
Gould returned to Blackburn College in 2013 as head women’s soccer coach after a career of coaching at the high school level. He had multiple players named St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week, as well as all-SLIAC and academic all- SLIAC performers during his time at Blackburn.
After 15 years in Carlinville, Gould decided to look for a new adventure and challenge in life. Now at The W, Gould has found a rewarding and surprising experience in Columbus where he has been surprised by the amount of interest and positivity surrounding The W.
“All of the men are excited about the education, the soccer and being the first team. They’re all already envisioning what it will be like to return to campus in 10 years to say they were the ones who started this.”
Gould hopes fans experience a team that plays hard and is competitive. He looks for his players to have fun, grow and have a high-quality experience.
“You’re tall, you should try out” were the words that introduced then seventh-grade student Roxanne Hernandez to volleyball.
Formerly at a college between Brooklyn and Long Island, Hernandez comes to The W from LIU Post University in Brookville, New York, where she was the assistant volleyball coach and head coach for the Island Volleyball Academy. Hernandez was the first coach on The W campus in the fall of 2016 and admits that it has been a change of pace from her New York lifestyle.
“I talk fast and move fast, but it’s been a great transition. I have learned to slow down and think more,” said Hernandez. She does admit that the biggest adjustment has been the humidity. She was also pleasantly surprised that southern hospitality is real. The student-athletes on the recruiting trail have constantly amazed her with the answering of “yes ma’am” or “no ma’am.”
Hernandez is a coach who strives to get players involved and help them learn through a process she described as selfteaching. For game time strategy, Hernandez relies on a solid defense and a strong foundation of skills.
“I love celebrating. Not only the team’s wins, but an individual’s success in practice,” said Hernandez. “I want to establish a relationship with my players. I want them to understand that I’m not just here to be their boss.”
Hernandez also emphasized she has distaste for losing. Simply put, “I don’t like to lose.”
She draws the understanding and importance of a team by remembering her time as a student-athlete. During her first season at Canisius College, Hernandez recalls being eight hours away from home and being homesick. The ability to have a team and a family to bond with created as she described a network of friends. As a Division I athlete, Hernandez would go on to be voted All-Tournament Team at the 2012 University of Buffalo Invitational, rank third throughout The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in blocks per set during her senior season and serve as captain of the Griff ’s volleyball team.
All the rewarding experiences from her career, the comebacks, the unity, the wins, the upsets, are what drove her to be a coach.
“It felt right. I wanted to give back.”
When not on the court, Hernandez is seeking the peace of the outdoors whether at the lake, the beach, camping or at Plymouth Bluff.
Morgan Turnipseed was always on the fly, both literally and figuratively. Throughout her college career at Mississippi College, she would rush from volunteering with orientation to cross country practice then finish the day with cheerleading where she would be thrown into the air. She accomplished all this while meeting the demands of a full academic schedule.
From the busy schedule, came conflicts. From the conflicts came growth. The same holds true for cross country runners. Turnipseed remembers a time in her career when she didn’t finish first. After one meet, her approach to running and coaching would be forever shaped. Turnipseed remembers starting the race at the end of the pack. At each turn, Turnispeed would find her friends, fellow Fellowship of Christian Athletes members and a special spiritual leader cheering her on. As the race and the cheers progressed at each turn, so did Turnipseed. She would finish in first place for the first time.
“You need a family. You always need people to push you when it’s hard,” explained Turnipseed.
Turnipseed views encouragement as a gift to be used to push people to the next level.
“Kids, athletes, students need confidence. Encouragement can build that confidence,” said Turnipseed.
A lot of perseverance, endurance and the ability to encourage yourself is what it takes to be a long distance runner, according to Turnipseed. Overcoming the mental hurdles of life and long distance running is the message that she shares with the cross country athletes at The W.
“Your body will constantly tell you, ‘I want to quit’,” said Turnipseed.
Turnipseed is the newest addition to Owls Athletics As a hurdler for the Choctaws’ track and field team and a cross country runner, she was named 2014 Mississippi College Female Athlete of the Year, ASC All-Academic Team Member and Member of the Mississippi College Hall of Fame. She would go on to serve as a graduate assistant at Mississippi College for the Choctaws' track and field team. “That would be a dream job,” explained Turnipseed when her husband approached her when he discovered the job opening at The W. After much prayer and thought, she applied.
Turnipseed was already familiar with campus. The sidewalks and beauty of campus were a part of her personal running route through downtown Columbus.
When not running or coaching, she spends her time kayaking, fishing and hunting. When asked about a hunting or fishing tale, she reflected back to spending time with her dad while hunting. He would be busy hunting while she would be coloring and playing with Barbies.
Matt Wofenbarger is fascinated by superheroes. Thor, Captain America and The Avengers are among his favorites. His viewings of the Marvel universe are only interrupted when there is a disturbance in the force from the latest Star Wars movie. At the top of his superhero list, “The Iron Man,” but it’s not Tony Stark.
Growing up playing little league and collecting baseball cards, Wolfenbarger became fascinated with Cal Ripken, Jr. Ripken holds the record for most consecutive games played with 2,362 breaking the 56-year-old record of the great Lou Gehrig and was twice named the American League Most Valuable Player. The fact that Ripken never took a game off and was always willing to compete is what attracted Wolfenbarger to Ripken. The Ripken approach would shape his career.
He was told to compete no matter who is in the batter’s box.
“‘Don’t be scared of anybody.’ I was told by my coaches to compete on the mound. ‘Have confidence and don’t give in. Dominate the batter,’” said Wolfenbarger. “That hasn’t changed.”
Wolfenbarger looks to pass on the same message to his players. The confidence and the willingness to compete is what he looks to instill in players both on the field and in the classroom. With a background in education, “Coach Wolf ” as many call him, looks for all his players to compete in all aspects of life.
“I want to fire up players to practice to their potential so they will play to that potential in a game,” described Wolfenbarger.
Wolfenbarger is especially “fired up” for the opportunity to usher an entire class from day one as freshmen all the way to graduation.
“Very rarely do players continue on to the MLB,” explained Wolfenbarger. “Getting a degree is important. Academics are important. A degree from The W carries weight.”
With this year being the start of men’s athletics at The W and the first-ever baseball program, Wolfenbarger has found both excitement and nervousness.
“When traveling across the Southeast, everyone is excited. All the families, friends and communities are excited. It’s all positive and excitement,” said Wolfenbarger.
He even added that all the players were constantly calling and texting until Move-In Day to explain how excited they were to have the opportunity and were ready to hit the field.
Coach Wolfenbarger is also extremely grateful for the opportunity and couldn’t express enough thankfulness he has toward his wife, daughter, parents and former coaches. They have given encouragement, confidence and made baseball fun. While his daughter is only 2-years-old, Wolfenbarger can’t wait to discover the sport that interests her.
From her very first car until the car she drives today, Tatjana Matthews still uses the same floor mats. Why? Because of the red clay. Matthews has a slight obsession with red clay. The kind of clay that’s found at home plate, on pitcher mounds and becomes one with cleats and gloves. She even keeps a special collection of socks—a pair with red clay stains and others without.
Since around the age of 3, Matthews has been collecting red clay. Growing up with an older brother, she followed him everywhere and refused to leave his side even when it came time to join little league. When her brother went to practice for little league, Matthews grabbed her cap and glove and joined the team. From that day, Matthews played baseball until she reached the seventh grade.
“I was a baseball player. I was the first girl in the state of South Carolina to make All-Stars for baseball,” described Matthews. “They literally made me play softball and I loved it.”
Getting involved in sports is a way of life for Matthews and her family. It really wasn’t a decision of if you would play sports, but more of which and how many sports you would play. Athleticism is in her core, her blood, her DNA. Matthew’s father was a hall of fame basketball player for The Citadel. One of her uncles was a standout football player and even went on to be a member of the New York Giants, while another played basketball at Charleston Southern University. Two of her aunts played basketball at Francis Marion University with one winning a national championship. The list goes on.
Matthew’s collegiate athletic career began at Francis Marion University where she was named to the Peach Belt Academic team and Academic All-American. She currently holds the record for most RBIs in a season, career RBIs, fielding percentage, games started, consecutive games started and is top 10 in doubles. Matthews is excited for the potential to see her records broken in the upcoming season. In her words, “Records were made to be broken. I have the records because of great teammates.”
Now at The W, time has flown by since Matthew’s arrival on campus in November 2016. She uses words like terrifying, humbling, fun and exciting to describe the adventure of being the first Owls softball team. For the first team meeting of 2017, Matthews had flashbacks of her first ever collegiate at bat, a mixture of nerves and excitement. On the first day of classes for the fall semester, all Owls softball players sent first day of school pictures to Coach Matthews. It was a requirement. It’s the vision Matthews has for her team. “We are a family.”
“They will learn more than playing softball at The W,” said Matthews. “You’re going to learn how to give back to community and the university. They are going to learn life skills.”
When not on the diamond, Matthews enjoys being a mom. She boasts that she can tell you about any Pixar or Disney movie. During the summer, slip-n-slide baseball in the backyard with her kids was the highlight of the week followed by watching the Little League World Series on whichever TV that was not showing the latest Disney movie.