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Fall sports seek walk-on athletes through open tryouts

Any student who wishes to walk on to an athletic team in the fall must attend a mandatory meeting in the UNF Arena Sept. 1 at 7 a.m. Open tryouts will be held for cross country, track and field, men’s golf, women’s diving, women’s basketball, baseball and softball.

Before students can try out for a team, they must meet certain requirements the university has set forth. They must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours at UNF and cannot be enrolled before August 2006. If the student has been enrolled for at least one semester, then that student must have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher and must have completed all medical documentation.

Cross country and track will hold their open tryouts Sept. 15. Head coach Mark VanAlstyne always looks forward to the new potential athletes who try out for the program, he said. He also understands the process the walk-on athletes have to go through can be demanding.

“We have a lot of interest, and when they go through the steps necessary to walk on, we lose some interest,” he said.

Sports teams across the nation have showed how important walk-on athletes are, sometimes earning a scholarship for their efforts.

UNF has a tremendous history of walk-ons, VanAlstyne said. He believes it is vital to an athletic program to have walk-ons.

“We have individuals on the team with a lot of talent, but we do not have much room for error,” he said. “We could be deeper on both men’s and women’s side, but if we do our job we will be competitive.”

Lakira Jones was a walk-on athlete for the women’s basketball team who earned a scholarship at the forward/center position after her freshman year. Now as a sophomore, she has eight new teammates who are by her side. The date for the women’s team open tryouts has yet to be announced.

“Typically we get one girl a year, but we have had five or six calls this year so we will see how it goes,” said assistant coach Nancy Miller.

In her 12th season as assistant coach at UNF, Miller has seen many girls come through the program.

“We are coming off a great season,” Miller said. “After losing in the last second in the championship game we are using it as motivation and momentum for the upcoming season. With the limited number of scholarships the team is allowed, it is harder to compete at the Division 1 level, and walk-on athletes are crucial.”

With new players like guard Fabiola Josil, who transferred from the University of Illinois, guard Wykieria Brown and forward Megan Peterson, among others, the women’s team is looking at another dominant season.

Men’s golf open tryouts date has yet to be determined, but the success from the team and individuals such as Kevin Phelan, Sean Dale, Major Forbess and Kevin Aylwin have carried the team this summer. The golf team welcomes anyone to try out for the team and will need to fill the spots of seniors Jordan Gibb and J.C. Horne.

“We are always looking for good players, but our expectations are even higher off the recent success, so it is always interesting to see if anyone good tries out,” said head coach Scott Schroeder.

Schroeder said he will not set a date for tryouts unless he has potential athletes looking to be on his team.

UNF Diving will be having tryouts with the date to be determined. Athletic Director Lee Moon reinstated the swimming and diving team in April, just one month after the university announced it will be discounting the program. Women’s diving will be looking for girls to try out for the team with the new reinstatement.

UNF baseball and softball also do not have determined dates for their tryouts.

Teams that are holding open tryouts in spring 2011 include men’s and women’s soccer programs. Teams that are not holding open tryouts include men’s basketball, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and swimming.

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