A group of men’s soccer alumni and former staff paid tribute to former teammate Jules Verdin during Senior Day ceremonies, prior to the final home game of the 2017 season on October 25, 2017, against the University of Tampa. Verdin, the 2014 Sunshine State Conference Freshman of the Year who passed away in July 2015, would have been a senior. Honoring him with the tribute were (left to right) Coach Emmanuel D. Mulowayi, Bafou Sanogo, Chris Madden, Vincent Wiskowski, Bo Barry, Franck Bayebanen, Mike Painter, Davis Hall, Jorge Braham, Andy Garcia, Brandon Rivera, and Henry Adu.
Marie Coors ’17 Earns National Award
Former Saint Leo women’s golfer, Marie Coors ’17 (pictured with Athletic Director Francis X. Reidy) was honored with the NCAA Today’s Top 10 Award at the NCAA Honors Celebration on January 17 in Indianapolis, IN. In competition for the Lions, Coors won the 2017 NCAA Division II women’s golf individual national title. She was also named the 2016-2017 Sunshine State Conference Golfer of the Year, Women’s Female Athlete of the Year, and Woman of the Year, among many other accolades. She graduated with a 4.0 grade average, rounded.
Women’s Cross Country Claims NCAA South Region Crown
In November, the Saint Leo women’s cross country team turned in a dominating performance befitting its veteran lineup and captured the program’s first NCAA South Region title. In addition, Colett Rampf captured her third straight NCAA South Region individual crown, crossing the finish line in 20:49.14, a full 52 seconds ahead of the second-place runner. Rampf (at far left) was also named Sunshine State Conference Runner of the Year and came in eighth at the NCAA D II cross country national championship.
Saint Leo’s tennis teams volunteered at Love One Another at the Pasco County Community Services Nutrition Center in Dade City, FL, on Sunday, November 12. Love One Another is an outreach ministry that serves a hot meal to those in need every Sunday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Clothing, toiletry items, and dog and cat food for pets are also distributed. Saint Leo’s men’s and women’s tennis teams served meals.
Saint Leo’s Own Beastmaster
In Season One, Episode Nine, of Netflix’s Ultimate Beastmaster, Ken Corigliano ’06 did his nation proud by winning the competition against 11 others and being named “Beastmaster.” After giving his all, Corigliano placed fourth in the finale for Ultimate Beastmaster.
“As one of the top four, I bested 104 athletes including five other show winners,” the U.S. Air Force major explained. “These athletes were pros, medalists, or they owned gyms. I used what I learned from my time as a Saint Leo athlete to compete against the world’s greatest.”
Corigliano ran cross country for the Lions. He was also chosen to represent the SSC as a member of the NCAA Division II 40th Anniversary Tribute Team in 2013. Corigliano noted that he initially
failed his fitness test at Saint Leo. What a transformation!
Father Damian DuQuesnay, who had been the oldest living monk in the Order of Saint Benedict of Florida, passed away on May 8. Greatly loved and admired by colleagues, students, faculty, and staff, he was a remarkable man of faith.
Born on July 24, 1918, in Highgate, Jamaica, Father Damian graduated from Jamaica College Prep and Saint Benedict College (now Benedictine College) in Atchison, KS, in 1943 with a BS in zoology. He received his MS from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, in 1951.
He was ordained into the Holy Priesthood on the Feast of Corpus Christi Day, June 20, 1946, by Bishop Emmet Michael Wash in the unfinished Abbey Church. Father Damian was the first Jamaican to ever wear the habit of a Benedictine.
Father Damian taught numerous subjects at Saint Leo College, including biology, histology, and zoology. He also served two separate terms as department chair of the science faculty. He was prefect in the prep school for 10 years, where he taught algebra, biology, chemistry, French, geometry, Latin, and religion. He thoroughly enjoyed teaching students at both the prep school and the college. When asked what type of teacher he was, he simply said “fair.”
Father Damian was appointed abbey prior in 1957 and also served as novice master and brother master. After his retirement from the Saint Leo faculty, he was chaplain to Holy Name Monastery, a responsibility he held for four decades but eventually relinquished at age 90 due to his limited mobility.
He was the abbey botanist and remained faithful in his daily devotionals and prayers right up until his passing.
Dr. Teresa Harrell, instructor of speech and senior academic advisor at the Langley Education Office, passed away June 26.
She graduated with distinction from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in social work and educational policy in 1972. In May 1994, she was awarded her PhD from the University of Minnesota, majoring in training and development in the College of Education. Dr. Harrell had served at the Langley Office since 2006 and is remembered for her fierce dedication to the success of our students.
Dr. Scott R. Homan, associate professor of management at the Savannah Education Center, passed away on June 23. He graduated from Purdue University in 1988 with his bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership and supervision; he earned his master’s degree in the same discipline the following year. After a stint at Anderson Consulting in Chicago, he decided to pursue his love of teaching and completed his doctorate degree from Texas A&M University. He joined Saint Leo in Spring 2013 and taught graduate and undergraduate courses in business management.
John “Jack” Reynolds, who served on the Saint Leo Board of Trustees from 1990 to 2012, passed away on April 17. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from St. John’s University at night and his Master of Business Administration at the Stern School of New York University (also at night) and attended the advanced management program at Dartmouth College. He was employed for 10 years by W. R. Grace and for many years by ITT, rising to the position of corporate vice president and division president. He was a trustee emeritus at the time of his death.
Walt Riddle, retired Saint Leo University and Sunshine State Conference (SSC) publicist, passed away on May 7 after a lengthy illness. Celebrated as a gifted writer and a transformational figure for both Saint Leo University athletics and the SSC, Riddle first came to Saint Leo’s University Campus in 1989 as the sports information director and special events coordinator. The following year, he assumed the duties of SSC assistant commissioner and sports information director, and helped the conference establish its first central office. Under Riddle’s guidance, the SSC developed one of the nation’s largest NCAA Division II television packages.
Riddle remained with the Sunshine State Conference until 2001, when he returned to his duties as Saint Leo’s sports information director. In 2006, he transitioned to a new role as Saint Leo’s director of athletic marketing and Green and Gold Club coordinator, a job he held until his retirement in 2011.
“The Sunshine State Conference and Saint Leo University lost a friend, leader, and mentor with the passing of Walter Riddle,” said Francis X. Reidy, Saint Leo’s director of athletics. “He had a positive impact on many young coaches and sports information directors around our league. Walt was instrumental in helping Saint Leo athletics transition to its current state of success.”
Dr. Burt Rosenbaum, for nine years an adjunct professor at Saint Leo College, passed away on March 30. After graduating from the College of the City of New York with a degree in mechanical engineering, he began his career at NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics), which became NASA, and published about 30 applied mathematics research papers with emphasis on statistics. Several of his papers contributed to NASA’s successful Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969, for which he received the Apollo Achievement Award.
He continued his studies at Case Institute of Technology (now Case Western Reserve University) while working, marrying and starting a family. In June 1957, just six months shy of his 35th birthday, he received his PhD in theoretical physics.
After retiring from NASA in 1973, Dr. Rosenbaum and his new family moved south and eventually to Florida, where he accepted an adjunct position at the University of Tampa. For the final nine years of his second career, he remained at Saint Leo College teaching mathematics, statistics, physics, and computer science until 1994.
Jules Verdin, a member of Saint Leo University men’s soccer team and the 2014 Sunshine State Conference Freshman of the Year, died on July 7 in a hiking accident in Switzerland. He was 19 years old.
“The Saint Leo soccer community mourns Jules’ death,” said Keith Fulk, Saint Leo’s head men’s soccer coach. “He was one of the best players I had the privilege and honor of coaching, and he was a constant student of the game—always asking questions about how he could improve his game. I think he really matured during his first year here at Saint Leo, from the time he arrived to the time he left campus at the end of the school year, and that’s what you want to see in your students.”
July 7, 2015. It is a day that will not be forgotten by any of the young men on the Saint Leo soccer team. On that day, they learned that Jules Verdin, their teammate and friend, died tragically in a hiking accident in Switzerland. Verdin, a native of Tongeren, Belgium, was hiking with his family near the Jungfrau in the Swiss municipality of Lauterbrunnen when the accident occurred. Verdin, who wore the No. 5 jersey, was named the 2014 Sunshine State Conference Freshman of the Year and a Second Team All-SSC selection. He had completed his first year at Saint Leo, recording two goals and two assists for six points.
“Jules was like a little brother to me,” said senior Henry Adu, a native of Ghent, Belgium, located just 90 miles from Verdin’s hometown. “When I got to Saint Leo, I dreamt that someone from Belgium would join the team, someone who spoke Dutch and shared the same interests and understood the Belgian lifestyle. From the first day we met, we became connected. We hung out almost every day.”
[Video was created and shared on YouTube by teammates of Jules Verdin]
Adu recalled, “I was in Miami at a CVS store when I heard the news from his mum. I was preparing to fly out of the country back to Europe for the summer. It was the most shocking and painful news I have ever experienced in my life. I broke down in the CVS store crying like a little child. The first person I called was Coach to tell him about it. I had no choice but to tell my teammates about it. The most difficult time was my 10-hour flight from Miami to London; all I could do was cry. I never got a second of sleep. I was just living in the memories and looking at his pictures.”
Rewind to November 21, 2014. The NCAA South Regional Final saw two SSC foes face off for the second time that season as the Lions met No. 3 Lynn on the Young Harris College (YHC) Soccer Field in Georgia. Lynn, the eventual 2014 National Champions, got the better hand, taking the game 3-0, ending Saint Leo’s season. Looking back now, it is fair to say that while ending a season can be tough, that is not why those men will remember YHC Soccer Field. Instead, it was the last time Verdin stepped on the field in Green and Gold.
Fast-forward to September 3, 2015. About 10 months passed since the Lions had gazed upon the YHC Soccer Field, an air of remembrance drifting among them as they took the pitch for the first time in the 2015 season. In a match-up of nationally ranked squads, No. 13 Saint Leo faced host No. 3 Young Harris. The team placed the No. 5 jersey across the bench, the place it would remain all season long.
“We came out flat, and we started the day exactly the same. We fought hard, we continued to battle, but we needed to focus on our composure and technical ability. [It] was very emotional for the team knowing this was the last place Jules Verdin played with us,” Head Coach Keith Fulk said, following the 3-0 defeat.
“This season was an emotional roller coaster for us, but I am extremely proud of every single one of my teammates for staying together and picking each other up”
— Matt Campbell, team captain
September 5, 2015. Just two days later, the Lions remained in Georgia for a neutral site game against Lees-McRae on YHC Soccer Field once again. In an opportunity to rid the field of demons that haunted it, Saint Leo entered the game with sharp focus. Less than one minute into the game, the team scored and eventually took the game 4-1.
“It was by far the most emotional week for these kids; they wanted to win so badly. In the first game they came out flat, [but the second game] was the complete opposite. They were outside on their ‘hype zone,’ and at halftime, I got them to calm down. Now it’s time to move forward,” Fulk said after the game, delivering a phrase that sat with the Lions all season.
It’s time to move forward.
September 19, 2015. Another memory, another moment. Saint Leo hit the road to face No. 1 Lynn. The same Lynn that bounced the Lions out of the NCAA Tournament the previous season. The same Lynn that Jules Verdin faced in his last game. Sometimes it’s hard to move forward, when forward resurfaces the past. The Lions reveled in this resurfacing, however, as they knocked off the top team in the nation, 3-1, on their own field.
Maybe it was a high they were not expecting. Maybe it was a high they could not handle. Following the win over Lynn, the wave of emotion hit a lull, sending the then 3-1 Lions on a three-game losing streak, bringing them to just 3-4 on the season, and 1-2 in SSC play. The path was not easy.
Bonding helps a team in any situation, but in a situation like this? Ultimately the most important thing a team can do is find their way back to the winning course without getting caught up in the emotion.
“This season was an emotional roller coaster for us, but I am extremely proud of every single one of my teammates for staying together and picking each other up,” senior and team captain Matt Campbell said. “Jules was such a huge part of our team. He was not only an unbelievable player, but he was a great teammate and was always willing to lend a helping hand, or give some comic relief when needed. His death was hard on all of us, and I believe it showed at the beginning of the season. It took some time for us to grieve together and learn how to cope with the loss of our brother.”
“… he would have run to the fans and slid on his knees and would start chanting, ‘Champions! Champions!’ All he wanted was to win a trophy for Saint Leo University and celebrate with the team. It felt very special to win something for him.”
— Henry Adu, teammate
Something clicked. Following their 3-4, 1-2 opening to the season, the Lions rebounded, turning in five-straight wins, taking down Nova Southeastern, Christian Brothers, Embry-Riddle, Tampa, and Florida Southern. They turned their record to 8-4, 4-2 in SSC, finding themselves right in the race for the SSC regular season title, with three games left, two in conference.
A game with Stetson, a Division I foe, ended the winning streak, but it was trivial in the ultimate storyline, as the Lions followed that Monday game with a Thursday game versus Eckerd, and a Saturday game versus Barry.
The Lions downed Eckerd, 4-2, in a heated battle, giving Saint Leo an opportunity to play for the championship.
October 31, 2015. Heading into the match-up with Barry, there were four teams that could earn the No. 1 seed for the SSC Tournament and the regular season title, depending on how Saturday finished. But the Lions had the upper hand. This was the final game to be played in the SSC regular season as all other games had already taken place, and Saint Leo knew that a win or a tie solidified their spot as the regular season champions.
Once again, the Lions took the pitch, with the No. 5 jersey on the bench. Eighty-five scoreless minutes passed before Barry lined up for a corner kick. The ball sailed off the foot of the Barry player, crossing the goal box, finding the head of a teammate who knocked it in. It seemed as though the Lions’ chances had ended with just five minutes of action remaining. But if there was one thing the Lions had learned over the season, it was resiliency. And resilient they were, as they charged down the field, earning a foul outside the box, giving Saint Leo an opportunity to score. Junior Maximilian Schulze-Geisthovel stepped up to the ball to take the free kick, blasting it past the wall of defenders, but Barry’s keeper was there to block the shot, sending it straight to the foot of freshman Yuga Yanagisawa, who was trailing the ricochet. Yanagisawa sunk the rebound and tied the game. Maybe it was divine intervention, fate, chance, destiny, or someone watching from above—call it what you may—but the Lions capitalized on the opportunity in front of them and hung on to the tie through the final three minutes of regular play and two overtime periods. The Saint Leo Lions were named the 2015 Sunshine State Conference regular season champions.
“Oh, my gosh, that day! This was the very first time I cried in front of the team about Jules,” Adu reminisced. “I thought, ‘What would he do if he was here?’ Knowing him very well, I know he would have run to the fans and slid on his knees and would start chanting, ‘Champions! Champions!’ All he wanted was to win a trophy for Saint Leo University and celebrate with the team. It felt very special to win something for him.”
The path to success is usually not a paved road; for the Saint Leo men’s soccer team, a single day in October proved that no matter what happens, you can find triumph in any tragedy.