On the eve of the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College women’s soccer team’s NAIA first-round win over No. 9 William Carey, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics presented Monica Mendes the Champions of Character Award.
“I was very surprised to receive this award because I know this award is represented amongst each player on the team, and to be the one chosen is exciting, ” Mendes said. “When my coach said my name, I was lost for words. Receiving the Champions of Character award is a big deal, and I’m happy that I can represent the team.”
The award is given to 32 players around the country, and Mendes was chosen for UTB-TSC.
“NAIA Champions of Character program is something that goes parallel to what we value in our women’s soccer program, and Monica was selected because we believe she represents what we look for in a soccer player here at UTB,” coach Nikola “Nik” Barjaktarevic said. “Every single core value is infused with her positive attitude, and it all brings a very outlook to everything we do as a team.”
Launched in 2000 by the NAIA, the program promotes character and sportsmanship through athletics. It conducts clinics and has developed an online training course to educate athletes, coaches and athletic administrators with the skills necessary to promote character development in the context of sport.
An accomplishment for a player’s ability on the playing field is the most common form of recognition, but for Mendes this was special.
“It means a lot because it defines your character and the person you are, ” Mendes said. “It’s not just an athletic award. The best thing you can receive in life is when someone recognizes you for your values and people see you as a role model. Getting this award means a lot to me as a person and keeps me motivating myself to work hard and continue building character.”
UTB-TSC is in Orange Beach, Ala., the site of the 2012 NAIA national championships, to take on No. 4 Oklahoma City. This is the first time is school history that the women’s soccer team advanced to the second round of the NAIA national tournament.
“The game vs. William Carey was extraordinary, ” Mendes said. “To be a part of team that passes the first round of nationals for the first time in UTB history was phenomenal. We fought through the obstacles and came out victorious. We are now focused for the next game vs. Oklahoma City, and as of right now, that’s all that matters. The team is ready to play Oklahoma City.
“We have grown together as a team and have been improving in each practice and game. We know that we are going to play against a very good team, however we have earned our position in the national tournament. Together the team connects both off and on the field, and our bond gives each player a reason to play for each other. If we play how we know we can, then we will reach our goal and continue forward. For UTB nothing is impossible.”
National Notebook: UTB-TSC seeks to defend 2011 national title
T he University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College has two teams vying for a shot at the NAIA national tournament title in 2012.
The volleyball team is defending its 2011 throne, and the women’s soccer team, after beating William Carey last week, reached the second round for the first time is school history.
The No. 2 UTB-TSC volleyball team is 26-1 and the Red River Athletic Conference champion with an unblemished conference record of 11-0. They won the RRAC tournament, beating the University of St. Thomas-Houston in three straight sets in the championship game.
UTB-TSC is led by RRAC player of the year and 2011 NAIA national championships MVP Danica Markovic, who is averaging 3.28 kills per game (292 total kills). Her game high came in the only loss of the season, 21 against vs. No. 1 Concordia on Oct. 25.
“Our goal is to go back and win it again, and we have been working hard these past few months and all we want to do is win again,” Markovic said. “Me winning MVP (last season) is nothing without the girls around me, everyone on my team is an MVP. I promise that we are going there to fight, sweat and cry for a chance to win it again.”
The volleyball team has not played since the RRAC tournament championship game and is eager to get back to competition and defend their crown.
“We’ve had two weeks off and have been working hard. I think we definitely have a shot at it, but we have to go up there and do what we have to do,” coach Todd Lowery said. “Everyone is gunning for us and each other at the national tournament.”
UTB-TSC’s first task will be three pool play games starting Nov. 27 at the Tyson Event Center in Sioux City, Iowa. They start against St. Francis (Ill.), face College of Idaho on Nov. 28 and then Westmont (Calif.) on Nov. 29.
Depending on the outcome of their pool-play matches UTB-TSC will have the opportunity to be assigned its bracket position to start play Nov. 30.
For the women’s soccer team, excitement is all around the squad as they head intoMonday’s game against No. 4 Oklahoma City University. The game will be played in Orange Beach, Ala., this year’s site for the NAIA national tournament.
Monday’s game will be the second encounter against OCU. The first time, UTB-TSC lost 4-0 on Aug. 31. UTB-TSC knows it will be a tough task, but is up to the challenge.
“We have been working hard.” coach Nikola “Nik” Barjaktarevic said. “Since our first meeting (with OCU) we are a different team but have a lot of respect for them. They are an unbelievable team and really talented. We feel it’s a good matchup and we have a chance if we play how we have been playing. Playing hard, smart, disciplined and playing good defense will be the key.”
-- UTB-TSC Services
Flash fall behind early in loss to Sidekicks
HIDALGO — The Rio Grande Valley Flash fell behind early and faield to recover as the Dallas Sidekicks won 7-3 on Sunday night at State Farm Arena.
The Sidekicks scored four goals in the first half to put a distance between themselves and the Flash. Ricardinho, Franck Mbemba, Renato Pereira and Jamie Lovegrove found the net.
The Flash’s Angel Hernandez responded with his third goal of the season. Dallas added a goal by Carlos Videla to keep its lead at four.
The Flash scored two more goals, one to end the third period and another at the start of the fourth. They were scored by Jorge Duran and Hernandez.
The team meet again in the next game for the Flash, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30 at the Allen Event Center.
-- Flash Services
Rockets recall Motiejunas
McALLEN — Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey announced Sunday the team has recalled forward/center Donatas Motiejunas from Houston’s single-affiliation NBA D-League partner, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
Motiejunas (7-foot-0, 222, Lithuania), who was assigned to Rio Grande Valley on Nov. 13, averaged 24.0 points and 9.5 rebounds in two starts with the Vipers. During Friday’s season opener against Bakersfield, Motiejunas led the team with 31 points and boards in 36 minutes. Last night, he posted a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds against the Jam.
The Rockets are back in action Tuesday, Nov. 27, when they play host to the Toronto Raptors at the Toyota Center.
-- Vipers Services