New faces, experienced athletes make their way to AU

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New faces, experienced athletes make their way to AU

Chris Martucci

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According to a study done by The Sports Journal in 2016, 40 percent of college student-athletes that receive scholarship money either transfer, leave school or do not graduate within six years.

The reasons for an athlete transferring schools are many: wanting a change in scenery, wanting to be closer to home, a chance to star at a different school. None of these reasons are mutually exclusive because there are many other reasons why an athlete will transfer schools.

As another school year begins at Ashland University, the Eagles athletic teams welcomed in a flood of transfers in many sports from all divisions of collegiate athletics.

Swimmer Brenda Neves wanted a different experience after two tumultuous years at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville, Iowa, where she was only one of two swimmers left in her class last year.

“It wasn’t too good of a situation,” Neves said. “The coach and I didn’t get along too well and I was ready to make a change.”

When it came time to decide which school to transfer to, Neves looked for a school that had a good biology program and would allow her to continue swimming at the same time. That is when she found Ashland.

“I liked the campus and I think that everyone is very nice, which I think is hard to find on a big campus,” Neves said.

Neves’ roots are reflected in her Brazilian accent, hailing from Sao Paulo, Brazil, the largest city in the Western Hemisphere. She started swimming when she was eight and has not looked back since.

Her specialties in swimming include mid-distance freestyle and breastroke, where she hopes to contribute to the Eagles swimming and diving team’s success.

Neves is not the only transfer looking for a change of scenery.

Derek Koch saw himself as a small fish in a big pond. At first glance, it seems like an oxymoron because his 6-foot-9 frame with big, broad shoulders sets him apart from many of his peers, but at Bowling Green State University he felt like just one of many students in the classroom.

“I do better with smaller class sizes,” Koch said. “The class sizes at Bowling Green had a large number in each class, so I felt like I needed to find somewhere that was smaller.”  

Koch, a forward for the AU men’s basketball team, is the all-time leader in rebounds in Ohio high school basketball history.

He graduated from Northwestern High School in West Salem, Oh. in 2017 and went on to play for the Falcons, where he averaged 6.7 points and 5.4 rebounds in his one year with them.

It was not just the smaller classes that drew Koch to AU, but also the culture of the Eagles men’s basketball team.

“They’re definitely like family, and that was what I was missing last year,” Koch said. “It’s a lot easier to come to practice when you know that your teammates have your back no matter what.”

Since he is transferring from a Division I school, Koch does not have to sit out one year before playing for his new team. With that in mind, he is ready to make a big splash with the Eagles this season.

While Koch was looking for smaller classes and a better team culture, there are other athletes that follow a coach from their previous school to their new school.

Volleyball players Brooke Peiffer and Lexi Lombardo couldn’t believe it when they heard the news. Their beloved coach, Kevin Foeman, was leaving Lake Erie College for AU after coaching there for three seasons.

“It was definitely a hard thing to take because he is such a great coach,” Peiffer said. “Lexi and I’s first instinct was ‘we have to go.’”

“We were sad, obviously, that he was leaving. It was a big shock to the team,” Lombardo said. “But we realized that this was an opportunity to do great things and follow a coach that we really love, so we took advantage of it.”

So far, the switch has proven to work for both sides as the Lady Eagles have gotten off to a 7-1 start on the year. Both Peiffer and Lombardo knew that AU was the place for them after visiting the campus.

“It’s bigger than Lake Erie College, and the people here are awesome,” said Lombardo. “The cafeteria is great as well.”

Peiffer came around to the idea a little longer, but eventually, she came to the same conclusion: AU was the place for her.

“Coach Foeman was the reason I came initially, but after seeing the campus, I fell in love with the place.”


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