Coaches turn focus to spring sports

by Meridith Zembal
Staff Writer

Expectations are high for all University athletics entering their 2001-2002 season.

Every year the athletic programs on campus hope to become stronger, faster, and more dynamic while student-athletes strive at the same time to earn an undergraduate degree.

La Verne athletes are not paid to play, nor do they receive special treatment.

The No. 1 goal of coaches is to see their athletes graduate and fine-tune each individual player.

As athletes prepare for winter and spring-semester sports, coaches and athletes say they are excited about the upcoming season.

Winter sports are men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men and women’s swimming and diving, and men’s volleyball.

Women’s basketball coach Julie Kline said she is looking forward to a successful season and is hoping to improve the team’s 10-15 overall record from last year.

“We have an experienced base coming back,” Kline said.

“We also have some great new players. We will be very competitive in conference,” she said.

Terry Boesel is returning once again as head men’s basketball coach.

Gabe Duran, last year’s head coach and alumnus of the basketball program, will be assisting Boesel in his search for a winning season.

“It’s like I never left,” said Boesel.

“We’re co-head coaches, which is great for us and the players,” he said.

With few changes in the coaching staff, the team should be able to make great strides.

“We don’t have a standout, super-star like in year’s past,” said Duran. “(But) we’re deeper, more balanced than before.”

Last season the men ended with a 9-15 overall record and 5-9 in SCIAC.

Team unity often leads to a successful season and both coaches are looking forward to such cohesiveness, they said.

The upcoming season should also be a special time for the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams. The swim and dive teams made their debut at La Verne four years ago and are now slowly becoming one of the most prominent teams in the conference. The men’s team is likely to place ahead of rival Claremont-McKenna and the women’s team is battling for third place in conference, said head coach John Hallman.

This year, of the 15 seniors who are on the team, 10 are from that inaugural season. Those swimmers are the reason that the team should have its strongest year yet.

This strong foundation will make the Leopards tough to beat in the water, said Hallman, who has 13 years of collegiate coaching under his belt and high hopes for this season.

“This should be the best team ever,” he said.

The men’s volleyball team is on a mission to reclaim its 1999 NCAA Division III National Championship title.

The men on the team are hoping to hang onto their reputation as one of the nation’s elite Division III teams.

This season will mark head coach Jack Coberly’s fourth year. His son, Morgan Coberly, a former player for the men’s team, is in his third year as assistant coach for the team.

“It takes a lot of commitment to develop a successful season,” head coach Coberly said.

“That is, people that really believe in success and believe in making something happen. That is the sort of people I have,” he said.

Golf, women’s water polo, track and field, men’s and women’s tennis, baseball and softball are also part of the 2002 spring athletic program.

The baseball team’s intense training has already begun.

Head coach Scott Winterburn said he is looking to take the team to new heights this season.

The program consists of 21 returning players and 13 newcomers.

Last year the men finished 21-21 overall and 15-9 in SCIAC.

Their tough pre-season schedule should prepare them for their conference opponents, Winterburn said.

“The core returning players have a better understanding of what is expected,” Winterburn said.

Softball, which is coached by Kline, should have a good 2002 season as well, Kline said.

La Verne’s softball trademark is strong pitching and impressive defense.

“Our ultimate goal is to go farther than last year,” Kline said. “Anything less is unacceptable.”

The golf team’s primary emphasis is to compete and enjoy the game while improving each individual’s skills. The team is coached by hall of fame honor, Rex Huigens.

This season Huigens will work on building each player’s strengths and closing the weaker gaps in any individual’s game.

Huigens stresses that competitive toughness and a consistent mental approach are the main factors in a successful golfer.

As for men’s and women’s tennis, head coach Steve Bergevoy hopes to develop each tennis player to perform at his or her peak level.

Both the men and women’s teams compete in the SCIAC conference, which could be considered one of the toughest conferences in the region.

“This could be the best (men’s) team this university has ever seen,” Bergevoy said.

“And the women are at least 75 percent improved from last year,” he said.

Both the men and women of track and field have nationally known individual and conference champions returning this year.

Expectations are high for incoming athletes who will only add to the success and improvement of this team.

“A lot of great people are back,” said head coach, Pat Widolff.

“I’m excited; we will be very competitive this year,” he said.

The women’s water polo team also returns for a fourth year with high hopes for many victories in 2002.

Last year the Leopards came in fourth place, beating both Pomona and Claremont in end of the year conference tournament.

Claremont went on to become Division III National Champions that year.

The women compete in SCIAC, which generally consists of five of the best teams in the nation.

All of the women who contributed to the team’s 1999 inaugural are back ­ not one player was lost ­ making for a strong core.

“We’re set up to be the best team ever,” said Coach Tim Hugar.

Besides coaches, Leopards fans and athletes say they hope and expect winter and spring 2002 to be among the university’s most winning seasons ever.

For more information, game schedules can be found online at the University of La Verne website and in the athletic office in the Student Center.

Journalism operations manager at the University of La Verne. Production manager and business manager of the Campus Times.

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