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Alabama Seal of Excellence Award EMAIL US
The first and only university program recognized by the governor for Dr. Amy Jones
work-based learning. IMC Chair
from the editor
have a confession to make. Until a few weeks ago, I had no background in sports. EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Yes, I’ve watched my sisters cheer at football games and play on softball fields, Shelby Ray Gandy
but I have never done anything athletic—unless you count three-legged races
(if you ever need a partner, I’m your girl). So, when I was offered a leadership role LAYOUT ARTIST
for a sports magazine, I’m sure you can imagine what I was thinking—“Me? How Benjamin Shadden
can I accurately and confidently lead a team and produce a publication on a topic I
know nothing about?” Quite frankly, I was intimidated. However, the support of my FACULTY ADVISOR
team and the guidance of IMC faculty encouraged me to accept this challenge and Greg Jones
utilize my existing skills to make this magazine a success.
I live by to-do lists (trust me, peek in my phone’s notes app, and you will know). STAFF
The last thing I do before going to bed every night is make my to-do list for the next Anthony Davis
day in the order that I need to complete the tasks. Some call it perfectionism. I call
Katie Ryon Gibbs
it efficiency. Naturally, I handled the production of this magazine in the same way.
Mark Everett Gilliam
But just when I thought I had everything under control, I was thrown a curveball late
in the game. With less than a month to complete the magazine, we lost an entire Alexandria Love
work week when the printing company moved the deadline up five days. We had to Sophie Vick
pick up the pace to compensate for the lost time. This meant continuous late nights Hardija Vidnere
spent in the mac lab to work on layouts. And, hundreds of texts exchanged to get
opinions and finalize ads. Plus, constant last-minute changes made to ensure the FEATURE WRITERS
magazine was in the best shape possible when we crossed the finish line. Of course, Chelse Anderson
we encountered numerous hurdles along the way, but we overcame them as a team.
Jacquez Deloach
The 2022 ZONE staff consists of talented IMC students who, within seven weeks,
Haina Franco
communicated ideas, conducted interviews, wrote stories, sold and designed adver-
tisements, captured photographs and created layouts to guarantee the magazine’s Jaden Tuck
distribution at the homecoming football game. As you hold this magazine in your Joseph Worthy
hands (or view it online), you hold (or view) the hard work, dedication and passion
of this team. PHOTOGRAPHERS
I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to lead and work alongside the 2022 Joe Chance
ZONE staff as we highlight the UWA athletics program and the amazing people, Emily Gethke
talent and opportunities that it encompasses. We hope that we have achieved our Taylor Ramsey
goal of making this magazine as fun to read as it was to produce and that you, the Donovan Williams
reader, gain a better understanding of UWA Athletics and the dedicated individuals
who proudly represent our university.
Amy Jones

Shelby Ray Gandy

Shelby Ray Gandy
Jordan Allison
Amanda Gilliland
Editor-in-Chief, ZONE Magazine Tina Jones
IMC: Graphic Design

ZONE is published annually by students in The University of West Alabama Integrated Marketing Communications program. Stories and
photographs that appear in ZONE are produced by these students. Views expressed in the magazine do not necessarily express the views of
The University of West Alabama. The University of West Alabama is an Equal Opportunity Institution and welcomes application for employment
regardless of race, color, age, sex, disability or ethnic origin.
Photo: Jordan Allison
7 8BALL BREAKS BARRIERS by Mark Everett Gilliam
11 REMAIN CALM: IT’S A DRILL by Alexandria Love
17 MILLER MAKES A MOVE by Katie Ryon Gibbs
25 THESE SHOES WERE MADE FOR... by Haina Franco & Chelse Anderson
29 #GOINGPRO by Shelby Ray Gandy
31 NEMO FINDS HOME by Mark Everett Gilliam
35 SISTERS SADDLE UP by Katie Ryon Gibbs
39 NOTHING BUT NETWORK by Hardija Vidnere
43 MAKING EVERY STEP COUNT by Jaden Tuck & Jacquez Deloach

Photo: Donovan Williams

o: Jordan Allison

Photo: UAW Athletics

ZONE Magazine | 5
by Mark Everett Gilliam

enior running back Deme-
trius Battle was born in the
eighth month, at 8 a.m.,
weighing eight pounds and eight
ounces, which earned him the
nickname “8Ball.”
Battle grew up in Birming-
ham, Alabama. At the age
of eight, he saw a team
practicing football for the
first time. “I had never seen
anything like that before. I told
my mama that’s what I wanted
to do. We drove past that field,
and I begged her,” Battle said. “She
finally said yes and let me go out for
Battle went to his first practice with no gear.
The coaches allowed him to practice and, instantly, he was running
people over and making an impact on the team.
Battle started his high school career at Restoration Academy in
the eighth grade. He was on the varsity team as a linebacker. After
Restoration canceled the football program, Battle transferred to John
Carroll Catholic High School in Homewood. “My mom was focused on
education, so she wanted me to go somewhere that would set me up for
success later,” Battle said.
As a JCCHS Cavalier, Battle did not see much team success. However,
he took his classwork more seriously, and made the change from linebacker
to running back.
College recruitment came late for Battle. In his senior season, he was
not hearing much from coaches or recruiters. He earned walk-on oppor-

Photo: Jordan Allison

tunities at The University of Alabama and other schools, season at UWA, Battle has run for 1,262 total yards and
yet he continued to reach out to coaches. has a chance to break the all-time UWA rushing yards
When Battle connected with UWA head football coach record during the 2022 season.

Brett Gilliland at a football camp, he started to send his Battle has already earned a bachelor’s degree in Inte-
highlights from each game to Gilliland. grated Marketing Communications at UWA and is currently
“Some of the coaches came and visited me at my house working on his master’s degree in IMC.
and even came to one of my practices,” Battle said. “I “I was the first one in my family to earn a college degree,”
felt wanted at West Alabama because of how much the Battle said. “My mom was crying happy tears when I grad-
coaches cared for me.” uated. We could not even go out to eat because of how
Gilliland said, “When we can contact recruits, we try and proud she was.”
meet them anyway we can. Battle was at his high school
practice, and we showed up. It was cool because I could tell
how excited he was that we were there.”
Battle eventually signed with UWA and moved to Liv-

“My mom asks

“I am a city boy, so moving to
the country was an experi-

me, ‘how can the

ence for me,” Battle said.
“But it was easy for
me to connect with
my teammates and sky be the limit
classmates on and
off the field.”
when there are
Battle went
from being the
footprints on the
main guy at
John Carroll
to being near
the bottom of
the totem pole
at West Alabama.
“It was kind of like Battle is a leader on and off the field and represented
a wakeup c all,” UWA Football in the Gulf South Conference Media Days.
Battle said. “I had Battle is also a member of the GSC Student-Athlete Advi-
a big head think- sory Committee. Battle and several other student-athletes
ing I would start. from the GSC region participated in an event where they
I l ear ne d to b e talked with GSC employees about improvements.
patient, and that “He has learned how to push himself and learned how
allowed me to focus to be pushed,” Gilliland said. “He has quietly become a
even more on my leader on the team. He is not someone that we have had to
education. My pro- constantly push. That speaks volumes to his teammates.”
fessors say they saw a Battle said, “I feel like I have a voice on campus because
big change in me from I have been chosen to lead things outside of football. I am
my freshman to sopho- also a graduate assistant within the IMC program, and I
more year.” help other students with classwork.”
Battle earned his first Battle has had many people impact his life. However,
carry in the 2019 season his mother has been his go-to person his entire life. She
and had an 18-yard run, leads by example, and Battle tries to follow in her footsteps
the beginning of a dominant every single day.
career for the John Carroll “My mom asks me, “how can the sky be the limit when
Catholic High School prod- there are footprints on the moon?,” Battle said. “She
uct. Coming into his senior preaches that anything I put my mind to, I can do it.” | 7
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group of UWA Athletic Training (AT) students opens the
Math and Science Building doors, finding injured students,
friends and faculty scattered around the lobby.
“I thought it was real. Panic took over me until I understood the
situation. I leveled myself and took charge. It was like an adrenaline
rush, and the rush felt good,” said Junior AT student Laraleigh Roberts.
At the 2022 Athletic Training Summer Camp, UWA AT students
tested their skills during a mass casualty simulation. Athletic trainer and
instructor Taylor Ramsey designed a real-world experience for students
to utilize skills they learned in Emergency Care and AT courses.
“The main goal was to see what they have learned and prove they
know it. Due to recent events around the country, it does not hurt to
be prepared,” said Ramsey. “You never know what will happen. Now
they have a little more experience under their belt for these types of
There were seven “victims.” Their injuries included cardiac issues,
bullet wounds, shock, severe bleeding, graze wounds, anxiety attacks,
trauma and a subdural hematoma (brain bleed) from a fall down the
stairway. Sometimes, according to the students, the patients that look
and sound the worst are the most stable.
Communication brought the simulation to life. Preparation began
several months in advance, using volunteers from the university com-
munity and campus, including athletic training, athletics, counseling
and campus police.
Ramsey and head athletic trainer and instructor Hudson Byrnes
met several times to discuss the campus police’s involvement. They
met with the university’s counseling services for debriefing. Nearby
paramedics donated supplies. Ramsey and Byrnes also needed ample


space for the simulation to play out as they had envisioned. UWA’s
Math and Science Building fit the parameters. On the day before
the simulation, Ramsey and Byrnes did a walk-through to plan the
placement of the victims.

“A person right in front of the door. Victims in the hallway and
coming down the stairs. I wanted it to make sense according to the
timeline of a shooting,” said Ramsey.
Ramsey also needed a strategic way to break the students into groups
and have each group experience the simulation without the other groups
noticing. Throughout camp, instructors told students to prepare for
anything and presented PowerPoints on reacting, accessing and handling
mass casualty events. Remaining calm was the first priority.
“Calm is contagious. If we are calm, the victims will calm down.
That makes it easier to assess their injuries,” said Roberts.
Next, they identified the most critical injuries and assigned a leader
who remained calm and provided extra help with severely wounded
victims. Finally, they assessed the available supplies that provided a
temporary solution until the arrival of emergency medical personnel.
The hands-on simulation tested the AT students’ skills and provided
Roberts said, “I learned more about myself and knew more than I
let myself believe. I understood how to take leadership in the situation.
I needed to take charge and help as many people as possible. I assessed
injuries and assigned tasks. I took control.”
This simulation acted as Ramsey’s trial run to see what aspects
could be improved to prepare for a bigger and better simulation in the
future, potentially during the Spring 2023 semester.
Plans for the next simulation include a list of victims’ ages and
injuries. Ramsey prefers to involve students with whom the AT depart- ment does not interact with daily. Using unfamiliar students and staff
assure that the AT students can do their jobs despite not knowing
the people they are treating.
The next event will involve more departments. The participation
of multiple areas allows for every student involved to gain experience
catered to their specific majors of study.
In the future, AT and nursing students will provide medical relief
and aid with campus police, local authorities and EMS reporting to the
scene. Psychology majors and counseling services will provide trauma
and shock debrief therapy on-site. Also, the theater department will
provide actors to play roles of victims.
Integrated Marketing Communications students will report on the
scene, questioning medical personnel and victims. The opportunity will
give AT and IMC students experience in asking the right questions to
get information. In addition, AT students will learn how to withhold
patient information from the public to avoid federal HIPPA violations.
“I want to reach as many people as we can to get everyone
involved,” said Ramsey. “It could be something that we continue
every couple of years.”


Jordan Allison, Sarah Cook, Shaelin DeLong, Mark Everett
Gilliam, Candice Keene, Joni Maddox and Colden Peeples
Photos: Taylor Ramsey
ZONE Magazine | 11
by Alexandria Love

We will fight, fight, fight, for the Red and White, for the glory of UWA!” As West Alabama
Marching Band (WAMB) plays the familiar opening notes of the “UWA Fight Song,” fans sing along as they take
part in this long-standing tradition. WAMB plays a key role at many UWA athletic events, delivering powerful
performances that lift the spirits of athletes, fans, family and faculty. Played numerous times during a single sport-
ing event, the UWA Fight Song is ingrained inside the minds of WAMB members. It’s a song they will cherish and
remember forever as they move into the next phase of their lives when they will sing from the stands as UWA alumni.

“I love when
everyone is playing
“I found
their best and we
myself in love
are fully in sync.
with this band
It’s those special
and the energy
moments that
they had. It felt
remind me why
like family.”
I love being a

Emily Vineyard has been a part of the West Alabama Color guard captain Taylor Cunningham’s favorite mem-
Marching Band for five years. She is the current drum major ory is from the previous season when she watched the
and plays trumpet and French horn in the side court pep color guard perform her original routine. In May 2023,
band. She will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in his- Cunningham will graduate with her bachelor’s in second-
tory with a minor in anthropology in May 2023. Vineyard’s ary mathematics education. After graduation, she plans
plan after graduation is to work as an archaeologist while to pursue her master’s and hopes to teach and coach a
pursuing a master’s in prehistoric history. flag team in rural Alabama.



“The community “My favorite part

atmosphere I is being with my
found while fellow Tigerettes.
visiting brought
me to the decision
I have made some
of my best friends
to commit to through this
West Alabama.” program.”

Two-year member of WAMB, Braxton Jones is a transfer The year 2023 brings about new beginnings in Emily
student who plays euphonium and tuba. His favorite mem- Newsome’s life. She starts a teaching internship in January,
ory is performing with his closest friends. After graduating marries her high school sweetheart in April, graduates with
in May 2023 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, Jones plans a dual degree in elementary and early childhood education
to move to Atlanta, Georgia to pursue a career as a music in May and plans to teach kindergarten in the Tuscaloosa,
artist or music producer. Alabama area following graduation.
ZONE Magazine | 13

Photos: Jordan Allison

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ince starting her new role in April, Miller
met with all athletic coaches individually
by Katie Ryon Gibbs to learn what each team needed mov-

ing forward. Miller works to enhance marketing

campaigns, secure sponsorships for all sports at
UWA and assist with athletic event management.
Former UWA Marketing “We are a real university, and we deserve real
Coordinator Jenny Miller is sponsors,” said Miller. She has experience in devel-
the university’s first Director oping sponsorships from her time in the UWA Office
of Institutional Advancement, providing Miller with the
of Athletic Sponsorships
knowledge and ability to increase sponsorship reach
and Marketing. for UWA Athletics.
Miller earned her Bachelor of Science in Communica-
tion & Information Sciences in May 2013 from The Uni-
versity of Alabama and her Master of Arts in Integrated
Marketing Communications in May 2020 from UWA.
Another aspect of Miller’s new role is tackling online
ticket sales. Ticketing for game days was moved online at
the start of the 2021 football season. Miller assists Tiger
fans in purchasing tickets and oversees the selling of sea-
son passes, parking passes and seating schedules. This
new online system allows smooth operations on game days.
Miller is working towards adding value to assets. “I would
like to eventually develop a way to promote multiple day
events,” said Miller, “and work with current sponsors to ensure
we deliver what was promised.”

“We are a real university,

and we deserve real

For the past three years, Miller has overseen the operation of the
UWA Tiger Club, the donor hospitality program for UWA’s biggest
supporters of athletics. She brought Tiger Club with her to the Athletics
Department from the institutional advancement office. Although Tiger
Club is a fundraising function for the university, it supports athletics.
Miller said, “The heart of Tiger Club is people who support athletics.
Its home is over here.”
Jordan Allison, Assistant Director of Athletic Communications, works
alongside Miller. Allison said, “Jenny is one of my personal great friends
on this hall. She is a phenomenal worker and a go-getter. UWA Athletics
needs people like that. Jenny moving to Athletics is a huge steal for us.”
Miller lives by the mindset “the possibilities are endless,” and she hopes
to bring that to UWA Athletics. “I am extremely thankful that Athletic Direc-
tor Kent Partridge and University President Ken Tucker have given me this
opportunity. I really think that we are going places,” said Miller.

Magazine | 17

by Joseph Worthy



2015 -2018

Photos: UWA Athletics Photo: Joe Chance

he time that college athletes are allowed to One of those great models includes current head coach
spend within their respective sports programs Ross Nelson. Nelson held the position of assistant coach
is limited by their graduation. However, for with the team from 2016 to 2019, coaching Roberts during
Harrison “Harry” Roberts, a transition of roles allowed his time as a player and offering Roberts the opportunity

him to continue his contributions to the UWA men’s soccer to join the coaching staff.
program in a different way. In the summer of 2021, Roberts underwent yet another
Roberts accumulated a list of accolades for his team and transition regarding his role within the program. He was
himself as an athlete. As a freshman midfielder in 2015, named assistant coach of the team under Nelson after
Roberts made the GSC All-Tournament team and was graduating with his master’s degree.
awarded Most Valuable Player of the GSC Conference
“I’ve been a part of this program and
Tournament. He helped the Tigers secure the title of GSC
Regular Season Champions in 2015 and 2017, and the made Livingston my home for nearly
title of GSC Tournament Champions in 2015, 2016 and eight years.”
2017. Roberts also holds the record for most assists in The continuous changes to Roberts’s role within the
UWA history and was named to the UWA men’s soccer men’s soccer program challenged Roberts to adapt and
and GSC All-Decade team. learn rather quickly. Roberts transitioned from athlete to
After graduating in 2019 with a bachelor’s in sport man- graduate assistant coach to assistant coach within a span
agement, Roberts chose to pursue his master’s in sport of two years.
management at UWA. While he took classes as a graduate “I’ve been a part of this program and made Livingston my
student, Roberts took the position of graduate assistant home for nearly eight years,” said Roberts. Roberts’s time
coach with the team he knew so well, working alongside in Livingston has been constant, productive and rewarding.
the same coaches he sought guidance from as a UWA His rise through the ranks proves as a testament to his
midfielder. dedication and support of West Alabama men’s soccer.
“Being given the opportunity to continue to learn under From a successful career as an athlete to becoming an
great role models as I started my coaching journey has assistant coach, Roberts has not stopped giving back to
truly been an honor,” said Roberts. the program he loves.

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h ie

aking up on April 15, Hannah Mynard knew ting the defense handle the rest.” Catcher
she was going to finish strong on the mound Kelsie Gilliam said, “The Union series within
as the UWA Softball team faced GSC rival itself was different. We all knew that we had to
Union University in a double-header. take care of business to have a greater chance of going
The Tigers lost the first game, but the junior pitcher’s to the GSC tournament. After the final pitch, everyone’s
determination and grit came through and allowed them excitement was through the roof.”
to take the win during game two against Union because
of her no-hitter.
Mynard is only the 11th pitcher who has thrown a no-hit- “This was my first
ter at West Alabama. The last such accomplishment was
in 2009.
“I remember waking up knowing I would pitch either one
career no-hitter.”
of those games or one that I just needed to do my job in Athletes must stay focused and not let the excitement
the circle by giving my defense ground balls and attacking or nerves distract them from playing the game. “When
each hitter,” Mynard said. I threw the last pitch of that game, it was definitely an
Mynard’s two previous games had not been up to par. overwhelming feeling of joy and excitement,” said Mynard.
She wanted to turn that around in the second game against “This was my first career no-hitter.”
Union, and that is what she did, throwing a no-hitter against The Enterprise, Alabama native’s no-hitter is a huge
Union in game two. accomplishment for her and the UWA softball pro-
“I knew I was throwing a no-hitter throughout the game, gram.
but honestly I felt so loose because the defense was solid Gilliam said, “During the game, a few
behind me,” Mynard said. “We were hitting the ball really players had an idea of the no-hitter that
well, and I just kept the mindset of doing my job and let- Hannah had going, but it was not ver-
bally mentioned. I personally the ball and blocking it when I threw in the dirt. Several
did not realize until after the coaches that I have had joke around saying that catchers
game. I knew she threw an make pitchers look good by framing balls and making them
excellent game, but it didn’t look like strikes if they can,” Mynard said.
click that it was that good. Catchers must have the pitcher’s back and work for their
Therefore, the last pitch of pitch. Calling games, getting on the umpire’s good sides
the game was just another and throwing runners out as they attempt to steal bases
pitch to me and was just as are just a few key roles that catchers play on the field.
important as the first pitch of “Our bond on and off the field is pretty strong,” Gil-
the game.” liam said. “We are both competitive. We hold each other
Mynard is quick to praise accountable and push one another every day at softball
the work of Gilliam. A catcher because we know each other’s potential. Having a strong
observes batters at the plate, pitcher/catcher bond is the key to success.”
cataloging their weaknesses Mynard, Gilliam and the rest of the team are using the
and tendencies for every at-bat. Union game last April to prepare them for the upcoming
“Kelsie did an amazing job season.
catching against Union,” “I am using last year as a place to pick up from for this
Mynard said. “She got sev- next season,” Mynard said. “We ended hot at the confer-
eral calls low in the zone ence tournament with several big wins against Montevallo
and off the plate. She and Valdosta State, and I know I can speak for all the
also did a great job returners that we want to bring that energy and mindset
getting around to into every game.” | 21
Emily Djagbare, WSOC
Harry Colville, MSOC
Haina Franco, WTEN, WXC
Conor Duggon, MSOC
Sierra O’Grady, WSOC Harry Deveney, MSOC Miguel Gamborino, MTEN Killian Griffin, MSOC
Nick Thibodeau, BASE Laila Hepworth, WSOC Shane Pettit, MSOC
Dior Wilson, WSOC Sadie Jones, WSOC
Paige Laidler, WSOC
Hardija Vidnere, WTEN EGYPT
Germany Peter Oyetunji, MSOC KENYA Raneem Elbarky, WBB
Oneal David, MSOC
Marcel Hornung, MTEN
Peter Turay, MBB Shadrack Bett, MXC JAPAN
Ellis Williamson, MSOC Faith Jepchirchir, WTRA, WXC Emiri Takanishi, WTEN
Yannick Pohland, MSOC
Dancan Kibet, MTRA, MXC Yurie Takanishi, WTEN
Patrick Sacher, MSOC

W - Women’s | M - Men’s | BASE - Baseball | BB - Basketball | SOC - Soccer | TEN - Tennis | TRA - Track | VB - Volleyball | CX - Cross Country
Brodie Clark, WSOC
Antoine Amet, MSOC
Nuutti Jokinen, MTEN
Isle of Man
Callum Sherry, MSOC
Amy Denholm, WSOC Loic Danze, MTEN Venla Makela, WSOC
Anna Dickov, WSOC Adrian Evrard, MSOC Ilari Vesanen, MTEN
Baronyi Kengeye, MSOC
Lucy Horn, WSOC Heden Ly, WTEN
SPAIN ITALY Nathalia Medeiros, VB
Irawan “Ming” Deewajee, WTEN
Maria Mon, WSOC Camilla Bedin, WSOC Isabela Sarti, VB


Ilia Dehodiuk, MTEN Wilson Igbinovia, MTEN Selis Demirci, WSOC

ZONE Magazine | 23
Photos: Jordan Allison

alk to most athletes and they will agree that wearing the proper gear enhances their performance. That
equipment ranges from helmets, to gloves, to pads, to uniforms – but what about shoes? No matter the sport,
well-fitting and sport-specific shoes guarantee strength, support and increased performance. With that in mind,
UWA athletes speak about the unique qualities of their shoes and how these distinctive “tools of the trade” ensure
they perform at the top of their game.

kicking goals setting spikeS

In a sport that depends on kicking and passing the ball Adolf Dassler is unfamiliar to many, but the Germa-
with your feet, soccer cleats are an essential part of every ny-based international sportswear brand Adidas is not.
soccer player’s gear, so they can perform to the best of UWA Athletics partners with Adidas, providing the best
their abilities and be comfortable during both competitive quality shoes and apparel for West Alabama student-ath-
and practice games. The main purpose of soccer cleats letes. The Adidas shoes that UWA volleyball players wear
is to allow a player’s feet to create friction with the ground have a secure fit and an extra cushion to reduce ankle
as the players run without slowing them down. injuries. The shoes can last for years with proper care.

“There is a big difference between an every- "My feet feel more secure and tight
day shoe and my cleats. One I use for comfort, on the court when I'm wearing my
the other one is for safety, to secure my feet
Adidas shoes."
for the sudden movements I make on the field.” - Johanna Martin, middle blocker
- Maxime Correia, men’s soccer ALUMNus
GAINING YARDS Shooting Hoops
Wearing the right football cleat can increase safety, From the field to the court, Adidas shoes support athletes
stability and body control on the field. The bottom of a on the move. Basketball is a sport of footwork, and basket-
football shoe carries two different types of studs: perma- ball shoes are designed specifically for players to smoothly
nent and removable. Football cleats also have a toe stud maneuver across the court. The shoes keep players’ feet
at the tip of the shoe. This provides players with extra grip securely locked in place while changing direction quickly.
when pushing off from a crouched position at the line of The outer sole is coated in durable rubber, providing extra
scrimmage. protection against both indoor and outdoor surfaces.

“My cleats help me do the job. They have “My shoes provide stability and
ankle and Achilles support. For any change Comfort while running up and down
of direction, the studs at the bottom help me
the BASKETBALL court.”
to always have grip to the ground.” - ZOE WATTS, CENTER
- Jaden Tuck, linebacker | 25



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n and cur rent UW
-changing” are three words
that former UWA Cheerleader
A Cheerleader Chloe Baker use
d to describe their experience
Madiso n Mc Min States Football League
nal che erle ade rs for the inaugural season of the United
as professio
earlier this year.
by Shelby Ray Gandy

One week, we were regular college students, and
the next week we were professional cheerleaders,”
said Baker. “When we first made it,
Tryouts were held during the last two weekends in March,
with over 100 women vying for the title “USFL Cheerleader.” I tweeted something like
Both McMinn and Baker made the cut for the 2022 USFL ‘your newest USFL cheer-
Cheerleading Team, comprising an elite group of 25 women
who would cheer for all USFL teams. leaders’—that tweet just
The USFL consists of eight teams split into two divisions, blew up,” said McMinn
each playing 10 regular season games at Protective Sta-
dium in Birmingham, Alabama. The top two teams in each
division advance to the semifinals, and the two division
winners play in the championship game. The inaugural USFL season kicked off Saturday, April
“The very first time we walked out on that field, the sta- 16, with the New Jersey Generals facing off against the
dium was packed,” said McMinn. “People had to stand Birmingham Stallions.
up because there were no more seats. Chloe and I were During their first two weeks as USFL Cheerleaders,
standing right beside each other, and I just remember Baker and McMinn wrapped up UWA’s spring semester.
getting the biggest chill bumps and looking at each other, “Our schedule was crazy,” said McMinn. “The first two
thinking, ‘This is it. This is actually happening.’” weeks, we practiced four days a week. We were going
Baker and McMinn share a close bond and knew they to our classes, leaving Livingston at 2 p.m. to drive to
wanted to experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity Birmingham for practices, eating dinner, coming back to
together. Both said that if only one of them had made the Livingston and staying up until 2 a.m. to study for finals.
team, then neither of them would have done it because Then, we had to redo everything the next day.”
they both knew this was something they wouldn’t want to McMinn and Baker both agreed that once the semester
experience without one another. ended, they were able to start genuinely enjoying this
surreal experience. They no longer had the
stress of classes or finals on their minds and
grew more comfortable with the cheer rou-
tines, coaches and the other cheerleaders.
Once the regular season finished in Bir-
mingham, it was time for the two semifinal
games and the championship game in Can-
ton, Ohio.
“Aside from cheering while we were in
Ohio, we also got to watch the unveiling of
the new USFL exhibit at the Pro Football
Hall of Fame,” Baker said.
Chloe Baker

The Birmingham Stallions and the Philadelphia Stars
faced off in the championship game in Ohio’s Tom Ben-
son Hall of Fame Stadium on Sunday, July 3. During this
game, half of the cheerleaders cheered for the Stars, and
the other half, including Baker and McMinn, cheered for
the Stallions.
Baker said, “The Stallions were losing halfway through After 12 weeks of countless practices, games and trips
the game, but they won the game! We were freaking out! to Birmingham, Baker and McMinn’s time as USFL Cheer-
Confetti was raining down over the whole stadium. I had leaders concluded once the Stallions claimed the title 2022
goosebumps. Tears were running down my face. I could USFL Champions.
see the players hugging their families all around the field— Baker said, “The girls we were on the team with—I still
It was like we had won the Super Bowl.” talk to them every day. Many of them dance at UAB, and
Baker added, “It was definitely a bittersweet ending Madison and I plan to go to a UAB game to see all of them.
because we were sad it was over, but it couldn’t have We’re friends with people we would have never met outside
ended more perfectly.” of this experience.”
McMinn said, “We loved it so much. It was just some-
thing that we never got tired of—the experiences,
the cheerleaders we got to meet. We even got close
to people who had nothing to do with cheerleading,
like all the game day operations staff and the football
coaches. It was the experience of a lifetime.”
Before the season ended, Baker and McMinn started
to prepare for next season’s tryouts.
“This entire experience taught me to ‘just go for it.’
So many things could have stopped Chloe and me
from trying out, but it ended up being one of the best
experiences of our lives. I am forever grateful for that
random Tuesday night Chloe and I decided to pursue
this opportunity,” said McMinn.

ZONE Magazine | 29
HOME by Mark Everett Gilliam

aseball has always been a passion of
UWA infielder Jake Nemith, but the
game of life has thrown many curve-
balls at the Pace, Florida native.
Nemith’s parents Chris and Gina wanted him
to get involved in sports at an early age. At age
three, Nemith fell in love with the game of baseball.
Nemith earned the nickname “Lil Nemo” when he was
younger and, as he grew older, his teammates adapted
it to “Nemo.”
In high school, Nemith traveled from city to city with
the All-Area team, showcasing his talent and get-
ting offers from NAIA and smaller NCAA Division
II schools. However, none of the offers included
Following his high school graduation,
Nemith visited Pensacola State Community
College to meet the head baseball coach.
Nemith heard the news he wanted to
hear: he was offered a scholarship
to play the game he loved just 10
miles from his hometown.
During his first season at
Pensacola State, Nemith
was covering first base
when a runner slammed

Photo: Jordan Allison

into his side. He felt pain but kept playing. Later in

the game, Nemith said, “I hit a triple and slid into third

base. I couldn’t feel much of anything in my shoulder
and was not able to raise it.”
He went to the doctor and was told he could finish the
season. However, he eventually needed surgery at the end
of the season. He took the year off and moved to Montgomery,
Alabama for shoulder rehabilitation with a former coach, where
he learned he might not be able to throw again. After countless
days of rehab and pushing through the pain, Nemith was able to
accomplish what was once a simple feat—throwing a baseball.
A fully-recovered Nemith moved to Iola, Kansas where he
had a connection to Allen Community College. Soon after his
move, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and Nemith was sent back
home. During the day, he worked as a Domino’s Pizza delivery
driver, and, at night, Nemith worked out with his buddies to stay
in shape. During this unusual time brought by the pandemic,
Nemith began thinking about his future. He considered hanging
up his cleats for good and finishing school back in his home state at The
University of West Florida.

“When I was on my visit, I asked Coach Rundles

to just give me a jersey and an opportunity. That
was all I wanted, just a chance.”

Nemith’s Father, Chris, knew Ken Jones, who was a years later, Nemith has developed into a leader
coach in Livingston and a friend of UWA head baseball on and off the field. Nemith currently serves as the
coach Gary Rundles. On behalf of Nemith’s father, Jones Vice President of Fellowship of Christian Athletes on
called Coach Rundles and asked if they had a spot avail- the UWA campus.
able. Rundles invited Nemith to tour UWA. “When Jake walks on the field, he is going to play and
“When I was on my visit, I asked Coach Rundles to just let it all out. He will let the other team know that he is the
give me a jersey and an opportunity,” Nemith said. “That best player between those lines,” said teammate Michael
was all I wanted, just a chance.” Rich. “When he walks off the field, he is honest about his
Now with a spot on the roster, Nemith knew he had to shortcomings. That is hard to find in people that have a
earn his keep. Throughout the following season, Nemith comfort in being vulnerable, especially as a teammate but
gave it his all at every practice and workout. also as a friend.”
Coach Rundles noticed the work that Nemith Nemith knew to put his trust in God and follow the path
had invested, and he eventually offered Nemith a that He paved for him.
scholarship. “When I was on my own, it helped me grow in my faith,”
“When I was presented with the walk-on opportunity Nemith said. “I love to read books, and I started to really
I was thrilled, and when Coach Rundles offered me the read my Bible and other biblical based books. I started
scholarship I was thrilled,” Nemith said. “It was a great to understand that faith was not just going to church on
feeling to know that someone noticed the work I had put Sunday.”
in. It was really exciting.” Nemith found his home at The University of West Ala-
Within six months, Nemith went from being a walk-on to bama and is excited to see where the Lord will lead him
being one of the best players on the team. And now, two next. | 31

Great service & even better Margaritas


For more information on the

UWA Baptist Campus Ministries, contact
Logan McCoy at

Photo: Emily Gethke
t is often said that rodeo creates family forever; however, UWA
Rodeo is taking that statement to the next level by having a
family duo on the women’s team. Sisters Jaylie and Taycie Mat-
thews transferred from East Mississippi Community College to pursue

degrees at UWA while continuing their love for rodeo.
“We have been watching the Matthews sisters on their journey and
are excited to see what they have to bring to the UWA team,” said
Daniel Poole, UWA Rodeo coach.
The UWA Women’s Rodeo team started building on its barrel
racing program last year. Barrel racing is a competitive sport and
holding world records is a difficult task.
Jaylie is the 2019 International Professional Rodeo Association
World Barrel Racer and the 2020 and 2022 Ozark Barrel Racer
Champion. Taycie is the 2021 Ozark Barrel Racer Champion,
and currently holds the title of 18th Barrel Racer in the world.
“A lot of people think rodeo is a bunch of crazy people
chasing cows around in the dirt,” said Poole. “The majority
of the athletes have been working towards this level since
they could walk. It’s all they have done their whole lives.
It’s what they have focused on since they were kids. Most
of them have never known anything but rodeo.”
The Matthews sisters began riding when they began
learning to walk. As they grew older, they began attending
amateur barrel racing events to get their feet wet in the
rodeo world and advance their skills by watching others
their age.
Taycie started barrel racing professionally in 2017 with
her horse, Bud. They grew up together and learned the
sport together and have been an amazing team since the
start. Jaylie started barrel racing professionally in 2018.
Both sisters have made their names known in the rodeo
world by achieving awards year after year.
“I always have a friend looking out for me at practices
and races,” said Jaylie about having Taycie on the same
Rodeo athletes take pride in caring for their animals
and making sure they are well taken care of before them-
selves. The phrase, “my horse eats before I do,” has become Photo: Jordan Allison
part of the team’s mantra. They travel across state lines for
their competitions, pulling their trailers full of horses and gear. The
athletes own their equipment and horses.
Jaylie’s horse, Tilly, was injured in the last college rodeo, so this season, she will be riding one of Taycie’s horses, Pop Rocks. Although
Jaylie and her horse have a specific bond, she knows how Pop Rocks
operates. The transition of being on a different horse this season won’t
be as hard as jumping on a stranger’s horse.
“Coach Poole is a great coach and his expectations for the team are
high,” said Jaylie. “I am looking forward to being at UWA because
he wants the team to excel just as much as the rest of us.”
Jaylie and Taycie are both excited to see where this next journey
of their careers will lead them. They hope to bring great things to
the team and form a tight bond of friendships.
“If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing,” said Taycie.

ZONE Magazine | 35


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n unrecoverable injury is an athlete’s worst nightmare. Players practice day to day, week to week, year
to year—but one millisecond can change an athlete’s future. An unfortunate and frequent occurrence is
that many student-athletes do not realize when they have been injured.
“I’ve been in this game for 40-plus years, and the biggest change I’ve seen is that a lot of athletes don’t even know
they have injuries, especially with incoming freshmen or transfer students. Unfortunately, a lot of times, you don’t get
true answers in the recruitment process,” said UWA women’s basketball head coach Rusty Cram.
According to NCAA, athletes who get injured during the first half of the season qualify for an extra year of eligibility.
However, if an injury happens in the second half of the season, the player does not get another year of eligibility,
regardless of the injury. This was the case for UWA women’s basketball point guard Jala Williams.

Photos: Joe Chance

“The worst injury I’ve had was tearing my ACL my freshman year.

The NCAA has strict rules for injuries, and I knew there was a pos-
sibility of getting a year back, but I missed my chance by one game,”
Williams said.
An unfortunate parallel occurred as Williams ended her fourth season
with another injury.
“When I got hurt last year, we thought it was my hamstring, but in reality,
I had torn the meniscus in my left knee,” said Williams.
Before Williams’s accident, the team had a 10-3 record.
“We were in great shape. It changed the whole year. It hurt us. We had to find
a replacement for her with the same experience as Jala. We had to shift other
people to different positions to make up for her absence. It’s like football losing
their quarterback. It’s awful to lose a point guard,” said Cram.
According to Cram, time is one of the most important things during the recovery
process. It is crucial not to push too hard too fast. The body must be allowed time
to heal correctly. Fortunately, UWA Athletics offers strength coaches and physical
trainers that care for student athletes’ bodies.
“We have a great trainer, Taylor Ramsey, who was with me throughout my recovery,
even on the mentally tough days,” said Williams.
Mental toughness, especially for someone who’s been injured several times, can
be challenging. UWA offers counseling for all students, which helps numerous
student-athletes overcome difficult moments like Williams’s.
“Mental rehabilitation plays a big part in physical rehabilitation. You start get-
ting a little scared of it happening again because of what you’ve been through.
That is the hardest thing to overcome the majority of the time,” said Cram.
Along with mental strength comes unity. Teammates, coaches and athletic
trainers are all there for every single step of recovery. Each athlete is different.
Some may require more psychological help, and some may want to jump
straight into it and get back as fast as possible.
“The worst you can do is exclude someone that’s been injured. If they
can’t be on the court, there are other ways to contribute. Team chemistry is
everything. So yes, Jala was still in every single step of the game,” said Cram.

“I’m a teammate first, and I’ll always be there to support my team. Sitting
on the sideline was also another way to look at my sport. While on the
bench, I could watch the game and understand it completely differently,”
said Williams.
Injured players support their teammates from the sidelines. And, teammates
support fellow players.
“My team is very supportive. Bria and Tazsa made sure I was doing good.
They always uplifted me during rehab, always giving me positive reinforce-
ments,” said Williams.
Many UWA athletes get injured, some with minor and some with significant injuries.
Regardless, they are not alone.
“I have the right people in my corner. I don’t know how to explain how thankful I am
to have these girls behind my back,” Williams said.
Williams will be back on the court this fall for her senior season fighting for the Tigers. | 39
t is often forgotten that athletic graduate assistants

(GAs) are students. Managing equipment, attending
every practice, assisting at workouts and handling
coaching responsibilities disguise GAs as ordinary staff

members to athletes and coaches alike. Similar to most
college students, GAs hold jobs while furthering their edu-
cation, and with that, the balance of work, school and life
by Anthony Davis generates everyday challenges that must be managed.

“I take care of details that people don’t see. The things that
go unnoticed are my responsibility.”
Robert Davis, a former UWA men’s basketball player, couldn’t stay away from his love
of basketball. After two years of playing for the Tigers, Davis decided to join the UWA
men’s basketball staff as a graduate assistant coach. Davis’s day starts with morning
workouts with the team. “Making sure my job is done with my athletes is the first part
of my day. When things unwind at the end of the day, I can handle my schoolwork,”
said Davis. Davis is currently in pursuit of his master’s in sport management.

“I love the impact that I am able to make on our athletes.

It is so cool to see them learn and grow as students.”
Mekhi Mayfield, a former Samford University softball player, is a graduate assis-
tant coach with the West Alabama softball program. Mayfield has a full load of GA
responsibilities, such as on-field coaching, recruiting, fundraising and monitoring
the academic progress of student-athletes. “Being a GA is fun. We go to practice,
and then we work in the office on recruiting and scouting opponents,” Mayfield said.
Mayfield is currently pursuing a master’s degree in physical education and is on
track to graduate in May 2023.

“Everyone has their own way of coaching, so being

around different coaches gives me an idea of how I
want to coach in the future.”
As a graduate assistant coach for the football team, Tucker Brown starts his day by
putting together practice scripts and handling responsibilities given to him by other
coaching staff. “Whatever the coaches need, I handle, whether it’s checking the transfer
portal, breaking down film or running errands for coaches. It really varies from day to
day,” said Brown. As an undergraduate student at Samford University, Brown majored
in business administration. As a current graduate student at UWA, Brown is pursuing
a Sport Management MBA.

ZONE Magazine | 41
Photos: UWA Athletics
By Jaden Tuck &
Jacquez Deloach

Always on the move!

WA athletes push their bodies to unbelievable limits to perform at the highest level possible. The amount
of conditioning, specifically running, that UWA athletes complete can be measured in miles… many miles.
When calculating the total distance of miles that athletes cover throughout practices and games, many players
discover that if they hit the interstate, they’ll end up in a new city.

Ready, Set, HUT!

Football requires a combination of physical and conditioning training. Football
players can run up to a mile or more in a single game, totaling close to 12 miles in
a single season. That is equivalent to traveling from Livingston to York. However,
that excludes practices.
Running back Demetrius Battle runs 10-12 miles weekly. In a single month,
Battle can rack up to 48 miles from practice, the same as making a trip to York
and back nearly five times! Livingston
“It doesn’t feel like I run that much during the week, but it helps me on game
day because I am in shape and conditioned. I can run as many yards as I want, m il e s
and not lose my breath,” said Battle.



m il e s
Just keep kicking!
There is no standing around when it comes to soccer. It requires high
amounts of endurance and conditioning. While football players have breaks
Livingston between downs, soccer players play two 45-minute halves without stopping
except for injuries or fouls.
By practicing twice a day, for four days, UWA soccer players can run
at least 56 miles per week. That’s the distance from the UWA campus to
Tuscaloosa. With a weekly rate of nearly 60 miles, UWA soccer players
can reach Huntsville, Alabama in four weeks.
Men’s soccer midfielder Oneal David confirmed that the team’s running
drills and warmups are over in a span of 19 minutes to condition their
bodies for a considerable amount of running in a short amount of time.
Considering that the main focus of track and cross country is running long distances, it should be no surprise that
UWA track and cross country athletes produce the highest traveled distances among UWA athletes.
In one week, they run up to 60 miles. That is an average of over six miles a day. Within four weeks, runners could
enter a different time zone when heading east, to the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia.
“It’s mile after mile of running. You check your watch periodically and realize that you just ran 15 miles. It makes me
ask myself, ‘how have I been running 15 miles?,’” said Seth Lord, a junior on the men’s track and cross country teams.

Atlanta, GA

257 miles

Livingston, AL | 43
4. Hines-Spree Rodeo _________
6. ________ and Field
7. Baseball’s playing field
9. bump, set, spike

1. Football game opener
2. ________ band
3. Racquets, balls, and 2 or 4 people play
5. Home of basketball (2 words)
6. ________ Stadium
8. ___ something that matters




UILE __ __ __ __ NGTSILVONI __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

GESRTI __ __ __ __ __ __ ABALMAA __ __ __ __ __ __ __
@UWA Athletics


@UWA Women’s Basketball @UWA Bands
@uwawbb @uwabands / @uwa_tigerettes / @uwa_colorguard
@uwa_wbb @uwa_band


@uwambb @uwa_womenssoccer
@uwa_basketball @uwawomenssoccer


@uwa_tennis @uwamenssoccer


@UWA Women’s Volleyball @UWA Softball @West Alabama Football
@uwavolleyball @uwasoftball @uwa_football
@uwa_volleyball @uwa_softball @uwa_football

@UWA Rodeo Team @UWA Baseball
@uwarodeo @uwa_baseball


@UWA Cheerleading @uwa_track
@uwa_cheer @uwa_tfcc


@UWA Tiger Bass @UWA Athletic Training
@uwabass @uwa_athletic_training

Magazine | | 45

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