New coaches’ experience, attitude raise the bar in track and volleyball

The two newest Golden Tigers coaches have a couple of things in common. Both know what it’s like to guide championship-winning programs and both have some heavy-duty academic credentials on their resumes along with athletics-related accomplishments.

Volleyball coach Jeff White
Volleyball coach Jeff White

Jeff White, the only Georgia volleyball coach to guide two different high school teams to state championship “final four” contention, is, by his description, “about halfway through” a Ph.D. program at the University of Georgia.

Rick Ludwig, former captain of the Georgia Bulldogs track team who stayed on after graduation as an assistant coach during back-to-back Southeastern Conference championship seasons, already has a doctorate.

These things fall right into the plus category if you embrace the Brenau philosophy that the well-rounded liberal arts experience includes nationally recognized championship-contesting intercollegiate sports built around athletes who are equally motivated in the classroom and the sports arena. The new volleyball and track and field coaches demonstrate that, as passionate as they are about their sports, they place heavy personal value on academic achievement and have other things in their lives that ring their bells.

White took charge of a volleyball team that, to put it gently, had some rocky patches. The team finished the 2011 season with a 12-18 record, the worst overall record in the highly competitive Southern States Athletic Conference. But the California native came to Brenau without naivety: He had worked with three former Brenau players in club sports and knew the issues. He also knew that he would lose only two seniors from the 2011 squad with a group of returning veterans in key positions, which has helped with recruiting. He added four hot prospects: libero Virginia Hannah, Suwanee, Ga.; middle hitter Sydney Koon from Johns Creek, Ga., a transfer from Montreat College in North Carolina; Brenau Scholars scholarship recipient Bailey Hicks, a setter from Buford., Ga.; and opposite hitter Ellen Lemos, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, a junior transferring from the NCAA Division II Northern Michigan University.

Brenau Volleyball kicked off the 2012 season Aug. 28 and ran up a 10-3 record in the first four weeks of the season.

Track Coach Rick Ludwig
Track Coach Rick Ludwig

Ludwig, on the other hand, starts with a clean slate: He will steer Brenau’s newest intercollegiate athletics program, track and field. Although he could fish off the dock a bit in the pool of experienced athletes in the Tigers’ cross-country program, track and field requires a broader skill set. Ludwig is no slouch in the recruiting department, either. By June Ludwig had signed eight new Georgia athletes, all from different high schools and three transferring from other colleges:

Shelbee Carter, Gainesville, Ga., a transfer from NCAA Division I-AA Jacksonville State University in Alabama, who will participate in the long and triple jump, pole vault and sprints; Dana Cole, Acworth, Ga., discus, shot put, javelin and hammer; Megan Dixon, Jasper, Ga., pole vault and intermediate hurdles; Dierdre Duncan, Marietta, Ga., a transfer from Chattahoochee Technical College, all throwing events, sprints and the 4 x 100 relay; Snowie Saunders, Cumming, Ga., high jump and hurdles; Alexa Osterloh, Cumming, throwing events as well as pole vault; Olamide Sokunbi, Marietta, Ga., sprints and relays with emphasis on the 400-meter dash and 4 x 400 relay; and Jasmin Steen, Cusseta, Ga., long and triple jump as well as sprints.

To read more about the Tigers track and field and volleyball program, check the Web site at www.brenautigers.com.

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