“I am the nontraditional student,” said 25-year-old Nick Carlson by way of introduction. “That has summed up a lot of my life.” Indeed, he might be the nontraditional among nontraditionals and, consequently, gives back to his state and country in uncommon ways and at unexpected intervals.

Carlson enrolled at University Campus in Fall 2015, already married, an officer in the Florida Army National Guard, and equipped with a four-year degree in business. He came with the dream of eventually becoming a rural physician—a path he had earlier rejected as taking too long, especially for a restless young fellow. “God helped me understand my calling for medicine. I’m going the long way around.”

Saint Leo offered Carlson welcome and entry into the rigorous science courses needed for medical school admission. He registered for first-level biology, chemistry, and physics, plus their respective lab courses, all at once. And he was determined to excel.

His first discovery: “There is a way to be a student, there’s a way to be a science student, and there is a way to be a scientist.” It took him about a month to make the required mental shift, and he credits the science faculty for mentoring him whenever needed.

And he delighted in his next discovery: that synergies exist among biology, chemistry, and physics, synergies that are apparent when you plunge into all of them. “I never knew physics could be so awesome,” he told his wife, Heather. The A student eagerly followed through with the second-level biology, chemistry, and physics courses.

By Fall Semester 2016, Carlson had taken on part-time employment as a tutor. He also dived into the first level of organic chemistry, a notoriously difficult subject. He managed his time during the first weeks so he was a bit ahead.

Then Hurricane Matthew formed and swirled furiously along the east coast of Florida during the first week of October, leaving floods, damage, power outages, and stressed communities. Carlson was deployed as an officer of the Florida Army National Guard. It was his first call to action for storm duty and a chance to serve his home state.

Carlson went with a logistics unit to a big operations site in Orlando. His job for two solid weeks was to use his military operations and leadership skills to keep track of soldiers, trucks, bottled water, supplies, and food, and to get everything and everybody to the right places at the right times. He was equipping the Guardsmen who were assisting civilians. The days were repetitive, and 14 or 15 hours long. When he got home, it was time to turn around for two days of regular drill training in St. Augustine.

Yet, all that was manageable. The challenge was maintaining his A in organic chemistry without being able to go to class. “Dr. [Brian] Kyte and I communicated by email,” as Carlson continued reading the text and working on study questions during his downtime. By the end of the semester, Carlson’s grade dropped by a few points, perhaps five, and he was satisfied with that.

That’s not to say that Carlson would necessarily want to try something like that again, say with the organic chemistry and biochemistry courses he still needs. Ironically, the next choice he faced involved a similar predicament.

Carlson got word that his financial management unit is likely to be deployed overseas during 2018, and that there were command roles that would have to be filled.

“I felt called to take the position. I had the leadership skills and the training so that I could lead these soldiers, and I would be one of the best choices to accomplish the mission and get everyone back alive.”

The responsibility also involves spending much of 2017 on pre-deployment work, getting to know the soldiers under his command, and spending time with his family while he is still in the States. As for school, he and his wife concluded that his remaining pre-med studies would have to wait until he fulfills his military mission.

Though he considers himself impatient by nature, Carlson says he is at peace with the delay in his nontraditional timetable. “In 2019, I will be back here, taking classes.”

adamson_katieKatie Adamson
Volleyball • Senior
Nelson, New Zealand
The middle blocker was a force at the net in the 2015 season, leading the team in both total blocks, at 103, and blocks per set, averaging 0.87. She tallied a career-high eight blocks in three different matches last season. Offensively, Adamson put away a total of 159 kills in 2015, tallying a career-best 11 against Eckerd College (FL). As one of three seniors, Adamson will help the young Lions squad build off a 21-11 season and an NCAA Second Round appearance.


hannah-beardHannah Beard
Women’s Soccer • Class of 2010
Grassendale, Liverpool, England
Hannah Beard is a former Lions women’s soccer player. Originally from England, she is playing professionally with the Western Sydney Wanderers in the Australian W-League. She was one of the best players in program history to date, winning several individual honors and helping the team reach the NCAA tournament in each of her four years at Saint Leo, and the program’s first Sunshine State Conference Tournament Championship.


tyreece-briceTyreece Brice
Men’s Basketball • Junior
Rock Hill, SC
Tyreece Brice made an instant impact on the court for the Lions in the 2015-16 season as the sixth man. Brice averaged the second most points on the team, 15.5 per game, and finished the season as a 2015-16 Sunshine State Conference All-Newcomer team selection. He played in 31 games with 14 starts and tallied 481 points in 977 minutes for the Lions. Along with his 15.5 points per game, Brice averaged 4.2 rebounds per game and 3.6 assists per game. Brice scored a career-high 31 points against Alabama-Huntsville in the first round of the NCAA South Regional tournament. Brice helped lead the Lions to a 19-12 record and a fourth-place finish in the SSC with a 10-6 mark.


sommer-pollardSommer Pollard
Softball • Junior
Clearwater, FL
Sommer Pollard was the everyday starter behind the dish for the No. 1 pitching staff in all of Division II, owning a 0.93 earned run average. Pollard played in all 47 games, with a .991 fielding percentage with only three errors on the season. She recorded 300 putouts behind the plate, with 19 assists. A Second Team All-Sunshine State Conference selection, Pollard finished the season with a .366 batting average (41 hits in 112 at-bats) while scoring 24 runs and driving in 17. She recorded one triple during her sophomore campaign against Colorado Christian, where she went 2-for-2 from the plate. Pollard recorded 15 stolen bases over the course of the season.


rivera_brandonBrandon Rivera
Men’s Soccer • Senior
Orlando, FL
The local product out of Lake Nona High School in south Orlando has come a long way since his freshman season when he saw action in just two matches. In fact, in his junior campaign, Rivera saw action in all 18 games for the SSC regular season champion, including making 13 starts. He scored a career-best four goals on the season, adding a career-high four assists, including his first career assist that came against Lees-McRae (NC) in a 4-1 victory where the midfielder saw three passes find the foot of the goal scorer. Rivera’s breakout game came in the SSC Tournament Semifinals, where he tallied two goals in the Lions 2-1 win over the 2014 reigning NCAA National Champion Lynn (FL), earning himself a spot on the SSC Tournament team.


maftuna-tuhtasinovaMaftuna Tuhtasinova
Women’s Swimming • Sophomore
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
A native of Uzbekistan, Maftuna Tuhtasinova competed in the final four regular season events and the Sunshine State Conference Championship for women’s swimming and made an immediate impact on the team. The freshman was a finalist in three events at the SSC meet, including a third-place finish in the 200 Backstroke with an NCAA “B” cut mark and Saint Leo record time of 2:02.01. Her 100 backstroke time also qualified as an NCAA “B” cut time, and Maftuna was a part of 200 medley relay and 400 medley relay teams that set new Saint Leo records.


zach-whitakerZach Whitaker
Baseball • Senior
Land O’Lakes, FL
Zach Whitaker was Saint Leo’s top pitcher in 2016, recording a 4.38 earned run average over 72.0 innings pitched, with a 6-1 record and one save. He finished among the top 10 in the Sunshine State Conference in ERA, and held opponents to a .277 batting average. Whitaker fanned 62 batters over the course of the 2016 season, tied for most on the team.


jim_cerbieJim Cerbie ’79 got his 400th win as head baseball coach for The Providence Day School in Charlotte, NC, on April 5, 2016. During his 29-year baseball coaching career at Providence Day, he has seen 28 of his players sign to play college baseball at some of the most prestigious programs and schools in the country.

jim-jacobsenJames Jacobsen ’70 is the golf coach at Bergen Catholic High School (NJ), where he won his 1,000th match on April 22, 2016. This gave him an overall 34-year coaching record of 1023-33-1. He was named Coach of the Year by the Star Ledger, The Record, and The Bergen County Coaches Association.