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The rebirth of JCU athletics

September 12th, 2013

Blue Streaks fans have often departed athletic events feeling more blue than gold in recent years.

John Carroll has garnered a reputation as a successful athletic school in the Ohio Athletic Conference, but not the best. Such an honor is typically reserved for Mount Union.

But that time has come and gone. A new age has begun in JCU athletics.

New faces fill the offices in the athletic hallway in the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center. Seven new varsity coaches will lead JCU teams onto the field during the 2013-14 school year. Each brings an unparalled sense of optimism and excitement to the athletic department.

The most striking characteristic of the coaches is youth. Each of the seven is under the age of 40 and has a obvious passion for his or her respective sport.

The collective energy has already sparked confidence from a key leader in the athletic deparment, Athletic Director Laurie Massa, who told me in a recent interview: “I just think that success is close.”

Each of the new coaches shares her confidence. New swimming and diving coach Mark Fino went as far to say, “We will win the OAC in a few short years.”

Athletes and fans alike are brimming with excitement. I talk with JCU student-athletes every day and I cannot describe the amount of positive energy surrounding the athletic department.

The school’s new coaches have many wondering if Ohio Athletic Championships and even deep playoff runs are not far away.

Perhaps the best example of the  fresh optimism was the Blue and Gold’s rout of St. Norbert College in football on Saturday, Sept. 7.

The Blue Streaks traveled to Bridgeview, IL, a southwestern suburb of Chicago, to do battle with the Green Knights. Despite the lengthy six-hour drive, a number of JCU students, faculty and staff made the journey to Toyota Park. A school-sponsored tailgate also hosted a healthy gathering of fans. Massa reported on Monday that reactions to the entire event were “overwhelmingly positive.”

The game itself also proved to be a success. In his first game as head coach, Tom Arth led his Blue Streaks to an impressive 41-0 rout over St. Norbert. His new pro-style offensive scheme worked to perfection, while his dominant defense shut down the Green Knights with ease.

Clevelanders are constantly bombarded with the phrase “rebuilding.” Area sports teams utilize the term too often to describe the stage they are stuck in. In my opinion, JCU’s current transformational phase cannot be lumped into that category. I prefer to see it as a rebirth.