Faculty reminisce, note evolution of society sports

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Faculty reminisce, note evolution of society sports

The Dragons play the Bear Cubs in 1999, one of the fledgling years of women's society soccer at BJU. Photo: BJU Archive

There was a time in the history of our school were many students ate, slept, and breathed society basketball and soccer.

Many external factors, such as the introduction of intercollegiate sports and the development of the city of Greenville, have changed the dynamic of society sports.

The stories and memories from this time period live on in the hearts and minds of some current faculty members.

During his senior year, dean of students Dr. Eric Newton, as a member of Theta Kappa Nu, would wake up as early as 5:30 a.m. to practice with his fellow teammates in hopes of winning a basketball championship, which eluded Newton his sophomore and junior seasons.

The Panthers battled all the way to the championship against the heavily favored Beta Patriots.  Despite the odds his team was able to overcome and pull off a significant upset.

“Beta had an incredible team in those days,” Newton said. “They were the kind of society that would have had several players on the Bruins.”

In the fall of 1998, Dr. Nathan Crockett, one of Dr. Newton’s high school friends, and a few of his friends and relatives made the decision to join Alpha.

Before Crocket’s tenure, Alpha’s athletic performance left more to be desired, going winless in basketball the previous two years and winning only one soccer game. However, the society experienced a complete turnaround during Crocket’s freshman year.

“We went from being one of the worst [soccer teams] in the league to being one game away from the best team within a year,” Crockett said.

Alpha continued to build on its athletic momentum during and after Crocket’s tenure, boasting several top soccer and basketball teams throughout the years. This  trend has continued as Alpha remains a top competitor.

Accounting professor Kris Martin, a member of Omega, earned a reputation as being one of the best soccer players on campus during his time as a student.

During his sports career, he took part in the annual heavily-attended Turkey Bowl every year he played soccer for Omega.

His society was able to capture the championship his freshman year. Omega also found success on the basketball court.

Led by Chuck Kittrell, a University representative who garnered over fifty college offers in high school, Omega claimed second place on the hardwood during his sophomore season.

Although the men’s society sports experienced incredible growth and popularity during the late 1900s and early 2000s, women’s sports lagged behind. The atmosphere for society women’s games was lackluster.

The attendance at women’s society games has raised in recent years.

“Guys were not allowed to go to the women’s games,” Martin said. Many women students did not even come to society women’s games according to Martin. When Dr. Martin was in school, women were not offered soccer, the most popular sport on campus at the time.

He said it’s exciting to see the growth of women’s sports on campus.

“Women’s sports have come a long way,” Martin said.

Martin said he is interested to see how society sports will continue to change.