Tom is a freelance journalist and has contributed to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Baltimore Sun among others. He is the author of three books.
Locally, he's a regular contributor to the Asheville Citizen-Times and Blue Ridge Outdoors
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (April 17, 2019) – In a weekday baseball game between Big South and Southern Conference foes, Furmancaptured a 3-2 victory on Tuesday over the host UNCA Bulldogs at Greenwood Field.
The Paladins (13-23, 5-7 SoCon) opened the scoring when lefty Sterling Thurmon took a 2-2 offering from starter Danny Wilson over the rightfield fence to put his team up, 1-0. The Bulldogs responded in the bottom of the inning on a two-RBI single from Jacob Edwards, to briefly take the lead. Furman scored two of their own in the fifth to seal the victory.
Wilson took the loss for the Bulldogs, while Nik Verbeke earned the win for the Paladins, his second of the year. UNCA returns to Greenwood on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. to start a three-game set with Charleston Southern (14-26, 4-11 Big South). That same night the Paladins will travel to face SoCon foe Western Carolina (16-16, 5-7).
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (April 16, 2019) – National – The Carolina Panthers signed wide receiver Chris Hogan on Friday, their biggest free agent addition in recent weeks as the 2019 NFL Draft approached in late April. Here’s an article I contributed to Forbes on Hogan, as well as several other recent roster moves by the team.
College Baseball – The UNCA Bulldogs opened their Big South weekend series with a 12-2 victory over the Winthrop Eagles (20-15, 10-5 Big South) on Friday. Lefty Jordan Carr captured his third win of the season when he threw 5.2 innings, striking out five and allowing two earned runs. Blake Brown picked up his first save in relief for the Bulldogs. Third baseman Brandon Lankford had a home run and two RBIs for UNCA.
The Eagles came back to take a doubleheader on Saturday and capture the series win. As a result, the Bulldogs dropped to 12-22 overall and 7-8 in the conference. They host Furman (12-23, 5-7 SoCon) tonight at 6:00 p.m. at Greenwood Field.
College Tennis – Brevard College’s Samantha Sepe ran her current match winning streak to 11-straight and for the effort was named the USA South Conference Women’s Tennis Player of the Week.
The Niceville, Florida junior went 2-0 at both doubles and singles in matches against LaGrange (Ga.) and Huntingdon (AL). As previously reported, Sepe strung together a 96-game consecutive win streak in recent weeks. The Tornados are 12-5 on the season and in third place in the USA South’s West Division. Brevard hosts Piedmont today at 3:00 p.m.
College Lacrosse – Senior attackman Hewitt Farr earned the USA South’s Men’s Lacrosse Player of the Week honors for his work last week. Farr had five goals and four assists in an 18-5 win over Averett (Va.). He added two groundballs and two caused turnovers. On the season, Farr has 48 goals and 19 assists and opened the year with an eight-goal outing against the only area rival Brevard faced this season, Montreat.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (April 8, 2019) – College Tennis – It’s been a banner season for tennis at Brevard College, where junior Samantha Sepe won 96 consecutive games and nine-straight matches at first singles in recent weeks. She recently dropped a single game in a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Covenant College to snap the consecutive-games streak but kept the match streak alive. The Tornados are 5-0 in USA South play and 11-4 overall.
On the men’s side, senior Tom Mittring of Germany extended his singles winning streak to 23 straight matches on Saturday. He’s 13-0 within the USA South. At second singles, fellow countryman Tim Hengst owns an 11-match win streak. The two team up at first doubles for Brevard and are 10-2 on the season.
Tourists Baseball – The Asheville Tourists went 2-2 in their opening series with the Augusta GreenJackets this past week. The Tourists dropped a 9-5 opening day South Atlantic Leaguedecision at McCormick Field last Thursday, but bounced back to take the next two games from Augusta. They were washed out tonight in Charleston (3-1) and will play a twin bill on Tuesday and a single game on Wednesday against the RiverDogs to get in the three-game set.
Third basemanJohn Cresto leads the team in hitting on the young season, with a .417 average in 12 at-bats. Cresto spent 2018 at Grand Junction where he hit .257 in 59 games. He is a native of Encinitas, California and played baseball for Santa Clara University as an undergraduate before turning pro following his junior year.
Ryan Feltner is scheduled to get the start on the hill tonight for the Tourists. The 6’4″, 210 lb. right-hander pitched as an undergraduate for Ohio State and was a fourth-round pick of the Colorado Rockies (Asheville’s parent team) in 2018. He started nine games without registering a decision last year at their Grand Junction, Colorado affiliate.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (April 4, 2019) – Fieldhouse recently caught up with Asheville City’swomen’s soccer’s director of operations, Stacey Enos. Last year, Enos served as both the team’s first-ever head coach and its director of operations. She previously was the athletic director and head women’s soccer coach at Warren Wilson College and was a national champion as a player at the University of North Carolina. She was also a member of the inaugural US Women’s National Team from 1985-1987.
The interview was conducted at Asheville City’s 2019 launch event on March 28 and was edited for length and clarity.
On 2019 Management
Last year, I was the head coach and also the director of operations, so my focus was to get us off the ground. I’m excited to serve as the director of operations this year and we’ve hired Lisa-Marie Woods to coach. She played in Norway and was a player for us last year. It’s a good opportunity for us to bring her back in.
So this year we’re going to have a playoff (for the Carolinas Conference). It serves a couple of purposes. It keeps players invested in the team throughout the summer, particularly if they’ve lost a game they won’t put their heads down and want to go home. We’re building some rivalry but we’re also keeping players invested and it’s the right way to go about a summer league playoff structure.
On the 2019 Roster
We’ve been working hard to bring players back. So we have people coming back like Parker Roberts from Florida. Unfortunately, Brooke Bingham tore her ACL playing spring ball at UNC and so she’s out. My focus has been to fill some roles and we feel we’ve accomplished that goal and we’re going to take the field with good personnel.
We have five really unbelievable high school players, we have college players, and we have players that have played pro at the highest level and have kind of retired now and they want to keep playing, but they don’t want to keep playing at the level that’s required professionally. So it’s a good balance; I think it’s a good mentoring system. It’s a really incredible opportunity for the youth to be on the pitch with some of these players.
[Warren Wilson College head coach and 2018 team member]Lydia Vandenberghis expecting her first child in about a week; we’re going to register her and she doesn’t have to take the field until she’s really fit. So she feels like by the end of June she could be ready. She has a great chance to be a mom and also a chance to get fit.
Our roster is pretty set but we would take a couple of exceptional players still. We lost a player from Central America to her national team just this week so that’s opened a spot. The World Cup is happening this year and so rosters shift and if you get people called up, you’ve got to be ready to go and we support that. That’s our whole focus.
We’re amateur only. Basically, if a player has played professionally, then they need to go through a transfer back to amateur process because we don’t pay players. What we do provide is housing, and we can provide travel expenses for when we’re on the road. That way we can tap into some college players. We have host families who can help with housing, so it works out.
Our focus has always been to help create a second tier that’s going to feed the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) and to be a viable option for players that don’t get picked up in the pro ranks or don’t go abroad.
We’d like to help create a really good base for the U.S. system.
On the Team’s Style of Play
We want all of our players to be comfortable with the ball, no matter what the situation and Lisa-Marie has really bought into that mentality. We want them to be critical thinkers in whatever situation they’re put in. So, we really try to keep the ball on the ground and play an attractive style of soccer and not a kick-and-run game. We press but we really try to impress upon players that we want the ball to go through the midfield. We want people to touch the ball.
Lisa has bought into that and it’s a style of play for her and for our players to solve on-the-field situations if they need to check off. We were playing Beaufort (County FC) last year and I subbed Lisa in and she tactically saw what other players couldn’t see. It’s her mindset. She kind of poached between the lines and broke down the defensive line and gave us an attack which goes back to some of our philosophy – we want players to solve on-field situations.
On the AC Academy Program
We have an academy program we’re starting and it’s free. We’re really trying to address the pay-to-play mentality and we’re also trying to get players to love to train.
I think Lydia, Meghann [Burke] and I love to train. Unfortunately, we’re currently in this reward system of games, games, games. But we value being at practice and pushing yourself.
You have to get players to change their mentality. You become a player in training, not in games. I think the games help you distinguish yourself. But we all believe in the training. So that’s the focus of the academy and we can also use it to pull players up if we need. Roster tryouts for the team are on April 20.
On Being Part of the Asheville Community
We’ve been working with the neighborhood association (near Memorial) and really trying to be good stewards and be respectful and have things in place and hire parking attendants. We try to not impede residents in their progress in and out; we want them to come home and we hope they come to a game, too.
We definitely have good interest and we picked up some players and more international players, which is good. We have a good roster returning from last year and coaches are calling us, so it’s healthy. It feels right and we’re excited and looking forward to getting going.
I think the greatest thing that Asheville City has is its fans and the environment. People want to come play with us.
The Blues open their 2019 schedule on Friday, April 26 at 7:00 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (March 27, 2019) – College Baseball – The UNCA Asheville Bulldogs are 8-14 to date this season with an even 3-3 mark in the Big South Conference. They travel tonight to face the SoCon’s ETSU in a non-conference midweek game. The Bucs, at 17-15, will be a test for the Bulldogs before they return home for a weekend conference series against Longwood (Va.) (7-16, 2-4). The first pitch in the three-game series is set for 6:00 p.m. on Friday under the lights at Greenwood Field.
Rounding out the Fieldhouse programs in the WNC/Upstate region are WCU(10-11, 0-3 SoCon), Furman(5-16, 0-3 SoCon),Brevard (6-17, 1-13 USA-South),Montreat (15-15, 2-19 NAIA), andMars Hill (12-18, 2-12 SAC).
College Softball – Nearby on college softball diamonds, all five area teams are well into their 2019 seasons. They include WCU (10-17, 0-3 SoCon),Furman (9-20, 1-2 SoCon), Mars Hill (18-9, 2-2 SAC), Brevard (10-15, 4-2 USA South), and Montreat(18-18, 9-7).
To date, the best stories of the season are in the non-DI ranks, as Mars Hill, Montreat, and Brevard are each poised to post far better marks than last season. The Lions have already eclipsed their 17 wins of last year, the Cavs have equaled their 2018 total, and the Tornados are within a win of last season’s total.
Preps – Black Mountain’s picturesque Owen High School has both its baseball and softball seasons in full swing on the hills rising from the Swannanoa Valley. See this week’s Black Mountain News for articles on both teams: (baseball, softball)
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (March 26, 2019) – The release date for “Underdog: Kim Conley & the Making of an Unexpected Olympian” has been bumped to July 1, 2019, from its original scheduled April 1, 2019 date. The move facilitates a longer-than-expected production time as the book goes through its final stages prior to its printing and Amazon release.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (March 12, 2019) – College Baseball – In an annual battle with the elements, college baseball teams in the Western Carolina/Upstate areas are beginning to gain the upper hand and get in more games with fewer cancellations.
At the NCAA DI level, the area’s three teams are off to varied starts: Western Carolina (Southern 8-5, 0-0), UNC Asheville (Big South 5-9, 0-0), and Furman (Southern 4-9, 0-0). Western is the turnaround story of the group to date as the Catamounts won just seven regular-season games last year before rattling off four wins in the Southern Conference tournament. They defeated two Big-10 teams this past week (Michigan State, Ohio State) and were set to host Notre Dame (ACC 6-8, 1-2)at Hennon Stadium tomorrow.
There are also three non-DI baseball teams in the region, as Lees-McRae and Warren Wilson don’t field squads. They are: Montreat (AAC (NAIA) 11-10, 1-4), Brevard (USA South 4-12, 0-8), and Mars Hill ( SAC 8-12, 2-6).
In the only 2019 game scheduled between the three teams, the Tornados topped the Cavs 4-3 in a weekday game on February 14.
In late February, Montreat’s Lydia Wilson earned All-American honors for the fourth time at the NAIA Nationals in Brookings, South Dakota. I recently wrote about the distance runner and the program’s efforts for the Black Mountain News.
College Lacrosse– Last week I had an article in Forbes online on how the UNC and Duke programs still comprise the power hub of men’s NCAA DI lacrosse in the South, despite expansion in the sport in the region and nationwide. The two universities are best known for their basketball rivalry and first faced-off on the lacrosse field in 1938. They’ll renew their rivalry this year on March 30 in Chapel Hill.
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (February 14, 2019) – The UNC Asheville men’s basketball team defeated USC Upstate last night in Spartanburg, S.C., 57-53. It was the second time the Bulldogs (4-22) defeated the Spartans this season and also gave the visitors their second Big South win of the season. The Bulldogs received 17 off the bench from freshman Taijon Jones.
With four games remaining, the season will go down as a rebuilding campaign for UNCA with its top four players in minutes (DeVon Baker, Taijon Jones, Coty Jude, and Cress Worthy) all freshmen. The four also lead the team in points scored.
Furman remains the top area NCAA DI team, while Montreat is the winningest among the Mountain Five teams.
College Baseball– Among NCAA DI teams, UNCA opens its 2019 campaign with a three-game weekend series at the College of Charleston. Furman hosts Morehead State for a three-game set beginning on Friday. The Paladins went 24-28 in 2018.
The WCU Catamounts open their 2019 season by hosting Oakland (Mich.) on Friday in Cullowhee.
Next: area indoor track, women’s college basketball, and college lacrosse
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (February 4, 2019) – Men’s Lacrosse – It was opening weekend in NCAA men’s lacrosse and Furman drew a formidable opponent in the Duke Blue Devils on Saturday in Greenville. The Paladins (0-1) were stymied on offense, scoring three in the first but following it with two goals in each of the next three quarters in a 17-9 defeat. The nine Paladin goals were spread out among seven scorers.
In men’s lacrosse, Furman is the only NCAA DI entry in the Fieldhouse region. The “Mountain Five” (Brevard, Mars Hill, Lees-McRae, Montreat, and Warren Wilson) narrows to four in both men’s and women’s lacrosse as Warren Wilson does not field teams in either sport.
Mars Hill defeated Lees-McRae, 19-18, in a season-opening matchup of regional men’s teams. Spencer Andrews scored five goals for the Lions (1-0), while Alec Molander had six goals and five assists for the Bobcats (0-1).
Brevard handily defeated DII Belmont Abbey, 13-3, in an impressive preseason win on January 30, while Montreat scrimmaged and fell to the University of Tennessee’sMCLAentry on Saturday, 16-15. The Cavaliers will host the Tornados on Wednesday at 5:00 p.m.
Women’s Basketball – The UNCA Bulldogs are currently on a six-game winning streak in the Big South after defeating Winthrop on Saturday, 70-36.Senior Zip Scott had 14 points to lead the Bulldogs, while teammate Sonora Dengokl leads the team on the year with a 15.1 ppg average.
In the Mountain Five, Warren Wilson had won six straight before falling to Johnson & Wales (N.C.) on Saturday, 73-57. The records of all area teams as of Sunday included:
Furman (12-10, 3-3 SoCon)
UNCA (11-9, 6-3 Big South)
Western Carolina (4-17, 0-6 SoCon)
Warren Wilson (11-12, 3-2 USCAA)
Brevard (9-13, 5-10 NCAA DIII)
Montreat (10-13, 9-11 NAIA)
Mars Hill (1-16, 0-12 NCAA DII)
Lees-McRae (10-11, 7-7 NCAA DII)
Outdoors – Late last month, I wrote an article on the remarkable effort of explorer Colin O’Brady in a record-breaking trek across Antarctica. The piece was for Forbes and can be found here.