Winter Break: Not Quite A Break For Some Kean Athletes

What happened in KU sports while most students were on winter break

Campus Life > Winter Break: Not Quite A Break For Some Kean Athletes
Winter Break: Not Quite A Break For Some Kean Athletes

Sophomore Justin Watson up against Stockton University

Sara Ridgway

While most students were home for the holidays this winter break, some Kean University athletes were still on campus competing in their sport. 

The women's and men's basketball teams began their seasons in the fall, but both continued playing over winter break and will continue to do so in the spring. 

The men's volleyball team returned to campus in earlyJanuary to begin training for their season, which continues well into April. 

Women's basketball

The women's basketball team opened their season back on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 with a loss to Brooklyn College. But during the rest of the fall semester and throughout winter break, the team increased their win to loss ratio, with their current record now standing at 12-6. 

Before Christmas, the team traveled to Puerto Rico to compete in the Puerto Rico Clasico, where the team split games with one win and one loss. 

In 2017, the team picked up five conference wins and suffered one conference loss to Montclair State University. 

Sophomore Marajiah Bacon scored her 1,000th point on Saturday, January 21, 2017 in a win over The College of New Jersey. She is the youngest by year and quickest in 42 games to achieve this feat. 

The team continues conference play throughout February, all in pursuit of becoming New Jersey Athletic Conference champions. 

Men's basketball

The men's basketball team opened their season last fall on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 with a loss against Stevens Institute of Technology. The teams record currently lies at 1-18. 

"We started out slower than we expected," said sophomore Justin Watson, "but we've improved everyday since the first practice."

Although the team is significantly smaller than last season, with a total of ten players on the roster, the group is very close and they are continuing to restore the team's culture and strengthen the overall program. Watson said that this means a lot to them. 

When it comes to goals, the sophomore said that the team prepares to be 1-0 each and every game. 

"Despite the outcome of the game before, we get back to work and prepare for the next one," Watson said. 

The team's latest victory was on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 with a 68-64 conference win over Rutgers-Newark. 

Men's volleyball 

The men's volleyball team returned to campus early in the new year to begin their ten-day preseason. Practices began on Monday, January 2, 2017 and continued through the next two weeks in preparation for their season opening tournament, the Kean Winter Classic. 

Held in the Harwood Arena, the team pulled out four wins over the course of Thursday, January 12, and Friday, January 13, 2017.

"We persevered and were able to come away not only with wins, but with growth as a team on and off the court," said Head Coach Charlie Ginex. 

Juniors Jared Warner and Jacob Kauffman were both named to the Kean Winter Classic All-Tournament Team. 

After picking up another win against John Jay College, the 5-0 team traveled to play division one school New Jersey Institute of Technology, where Kean University added its first loss to their record. 

"We feel like if we can put the time in, stay focused and continue to be better each day than we were the day before, that we will have a successful season," Ginex said. "Of course getting back to the NCAA Tournament and advancing further than we have in years' past is also a goal of ours, but we know that we need to take care of the task at hand each day in order for that to happen." 

The Kean University men's volleyball team began their season ranked number 10 in the nation and are projected to win the Skyline Conference title for the sixth consecutive year. 

With a talented group of players, Ginex said this is the most depth that the program has add. This season, six freshman have been added to the roster, including Jay Bynum, Ian Capp, Nate Daugherty, Dylan Flor, Jacob Milnazik and Seven Zarzycki.

So while most Kean University students go home for the break, take winter classes, work or even travel, the athletes of the basketball and volleyball teams are still on campus putting in countless hours of hard work and passion in the gym of Harwood Arena. 

"We'd definitely enjoy being home a little longer, spending time with family and friends, but in contrast we love just playing basketball without worrying about classes," Watson said. 

about the author

Sara Ridgway is double majoring in a marketing and communication with a concentration in media and film. She works as a Staff Writer for The Cougar’s Byte. Now entering her junior year at Kean University, Ridgway is currently honing her skills as she prepares for a career as a reporter upon graduation. In addition to being a well-rounded student, Ridgway has a variety of interests outside of the classroom. Ridgway plays for the Kean University women's volleyball team and also enjoys snowboarding, photography and other outdoor activities. She also has aspirations of travelling the world and working as a reporter abroad.