The following are highlights from teams across Watauga County for the week of Aug. 9 — Aug. 16.
• BOONE — App State assistant softball coach Shane Showalter possesses over 20 years of coaching experience. While helping compile four consecutive winning seasons in the High Country, he has also been coaching the Greek Women’s Olympic Team.
A coaching career that has included stops at Colorado College and Colorado State University, Pueblo also featured a five-year stint at Austin Peay State University. That is when he met his friend Tony Foti, the Greeks’ head coach.
Foti liked Showalter’s coaching style and the two became close. “I didn’t find it. It found me,” Showalter said. It was a unique opportunity that he could not pass up.
He recently returned from Spain, where the Greeks compiled a 7-3 record in the 2022 Women’s European Championships. Showalter’s squad won four of its last five games and ended the tournament on a three-game winning streak with a 13-9 victory over France before a pair of one-run victories over Ireland and Germany concluded tournament play.
Despite a successful outing against some of the world’s best teams, the preparation and execution does not come without its challenges. “Most of our team is American-Greek. Softball in Greece is very, very new. They don’t even have a softball field anywhere in Greece.”
With softball just beginning to grow in Greek culture, it leads to additional hurdles that many of the Greeks’ competitors have not dealt with. “The top teams are funded very well and we’re raising money just to get to the tournament,” he added.
“The biggest challenge is we aren’t together at all until a week before the tournament. Then we get together and then we train for a week and try to go compete with these teams that are playing together every day all year long.”
• BOONE — Dr. Jacob Cooper has been promoted to Assistant Athletics Director for Sport Psychology and Mental Wellness, Director of Athletics Doug Gillin announced Thursday.
Hired three years ago as the first full-time, embedded sports psychologist at App State, Dr. Cooper has worked diligently with Mountaineers’ student-athletes, coaches and support staff to promote positive mental health and maximize athletic performance.
“As we continue to identify areas of need, the mental health and well-being of our student-athletes remains a top priority,” said Dr. Jon Mitchell, Senior Associate Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Health and Well-Being. “Dr. Cooper has had a profound impact on many of our student-athletes and has been integral to their success both on and off the field.”
Prior to arriving at App State, Dr. Cooper spent five years providing therapy, psychological assessment and consultation within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Federal Bureau of Prisons system (BOP) and multiple university counseling centers. Additionally, while completing his Ph.D. he worked with the Boston University (BU) Sport Medicine Department as a sport and performance consultant for their student-athletes and teams along with professional athletes in the Boston area.
“It’s a tremendous blessing for me and my family to receive this opportunity,” said Dr. Cooper. “I’m incredibly thankful to Doug Gillin and Dr. Jon Mitchell as well as Dr. Chris Hogan for their continued personal support and sincerity in supporting the mental wellness of our student-athletes.”
• BOONE — Leadership in sports can arise in many different ways.
For some, it’s rallying the troops at halftime. For others, it’s setting an example on the field, and many leaders are simply the person on which their teammates can always rely.
For junior goalkeeper Jazz Salters, her most recent journey in leadership began in January, when she decided to attend her first meeting with App State’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Last month, that journey led to her being one of three App State representatives at the Sun Belt’s SAAC Conference in New Orleans.
“It was really cool,” Salters said of the experience. “It was interesting to hear what other SAACs are doing, because no SAAC does the exact same thing, so it was cool to hear ideas from other schools that we can implement in our SAAC and make our SAAC even better.”
• BOONE — For the sixth straight year, an App State Football standout has made the “Freaks List” produced by Bruce Feldman of The Athletic.
Outside linebacker Nick Hampton comes in at No. 84, making him the highest-ranked Sun Belt Conference defender on the list. Listed at 200 pounds as a freshman, the 6-foot-3 Hampton is now at 240 pounds as he heads toward the start of the 2022 season with 19.5 career sacks and 30.5 tackles for loss to his credit.
Those totals rank first among returning Sun Belt defenders, and his 11.0 sacks in 2021 rank sixth among returning FBS defenders. Hampton was one of only five FBS players last season with more than 10 sacks, 15 tackles for loss and 65 tackles.
Below is the write-up on Hampton from the “Freaks List” announcement:
He seems to live in the opponent’s backfield. Hampton has 19.5 career sacks and 30.5 TFLs and has really developed since coming to App State in 2018, when he weighed 200 pounds. Now, he’s an imposing 6-3, 240 pounds who incline-presses 365 pounds; sumo deadlifts 600; can broad-jump 10-6, vertical 39 inches and hits 21 mph on the GPS. His flying 10-yard sprint time is 1.20. “Nick’s strength levels are through the roof,” said App State strength coach Brad Bielaniec. “I have trouble putting exactly into words what he’s capable of in terms of power. His ability to produce exponential power at any point and time is what really separates him from the pack.”
• NEW ORLEANS — PFF’s All-Sun Belt teams include seven representatives of App State Football.
Offensive tackle Cooper Hodges, running back Camerun Peoples, cornerback Steven Jones Jr. and outside linebacker Nick Hampton made the preseason first team. Running back Nate Noel, quarterback Chase Brice and offensive guard Isaiah Helms are on the second team.
Eighteen players who started at least one game in 2021 return from an App State team that enjoyed a 10-win regular season and captured a division title during Shawn Clark’s second full season as head coach. The Mountaineers went 7-1 in league play.
• CHAPEL HILL — App State visited the Tar Heels for an afternoon scrimmage Sunday.
The two squads played a full game before running through an overtime period and practicing shootouts.
Most of the Mountaineers had the chance to play against North Carolina, who finished the 2021 season as the No. 8 team in the country. All three of App State’s goalkeepers put forth significant time in the cage.
Newcomers Bridget Donovan, Fien Zwaan, Sarah Perkins, Henriette Stegen, Samantha Connors, Hadley Kuzmicky and Lise Boekaar suited up for the Black & Gold for the first time, each earning several minutes of play.
App State will be in Boone for their second and last exhibition on Sunday, Aug. 21, where they will host Davidson at noon. The squad will then have its season opener on Friday, Aug. 26 at 6 p.m. against Towson. Towson’s match will have live stats available and will be streamed on twitch.tv/appstatesports.
• BOONE — App State Athletics is excited to launch its new mobile app through a partnership with From Now On.
The free app can be found on the App Store and Google Play by searching, “App State Athletics.”
“Our team has been working on a mobile app for a while now and are excited for our fans to experience this new way to engage with App State Athletics,” assistant athletics director Kelsey Tolbert said.
“The app has a user-friendly experience and capabilities that will allow our fans to stay connected to their favorite teams 24/7. A lot of conversations have been had this summer regarding upgrades to the fan experience, this app does just that!”
The addition of this app allows fans to easily access game day information like tickets, parking, maps, live tweets and merchandise all in one place. Team schedules, rosters and news are also available on the app for all Mountaineer teams.
Users can personalize which teams they would like to follow and have the ability to opt in to team-specific push notifications for live updates throughout the season.
The new mobile app will be a must-have for all Mountaineer fans to enjoy the latest team information, special deals and in-venue notifications.