Freed-Hardeman University's athletic teams had plenty to celebrate throughout the 2017-18 season. In addition to success on the field, they also demonstrated success in the classroom. Here are the Top 10 FHU Athletics' moments during the past year.
Women’s National Championship
For the first time in school history and following 21 prior attempts, the Freed-Hardeman Lady Lion Basketball Team claimed the national championship. The title came following a 76-64 victory over Westmont (California) College in the NAIA Division 1 Women's Basketball National Championship at the Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings, Montana. Following the championship game, Kim Mallory, senior, was named Tournament Most Valuable Player, and FHU Head Coach Dale Neal was named the 2018 NAIA Coach of the Year. Throughout his 24 years at the helm of the FHU women’s basketball team, Neal has led the Lady Lions to 22 straight NAIA national tournament appearances and has compiled a record of 673-176, a winning percentage of .792.
World Series Runner-Up
The FHU Lion Baseball Team proved that it doesn't matter how a team begins a season but how they finish it. They put together one of the best seasons in program history to claim the program’s first-ever World Series berth. At one point in the 2018 season, the FHU baseball team stood just above .500 with a record of 10-9. Despite the slow start, the Lions won 37 of their last 44 games to finish the season with a 47-16 record. The Lions only got better as the year went on, as they cruised through the AMC Tournament with three straight wins, followed by a sweep of the NAIA Tournament Opening Round bracket in Upland, Indiana, to advance to the NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho. In the World Series, the Lions notched quality wins over No. 2 Georgia Gwinnett, University of Northwestern Ohio and No. 6 Lewis and Clark State before falling to eventual World Series champion Southeastern (Florida) in the title game.
Softball World Series Berth
Following an impressive season, which saw the Lady Lion softball team post a 22-2 record in conference play, the Lady Lions took home the AMC regular season title, securing their spot in the NAIA tournament opening round field in Campbellsville, Kentucky. In the NAIA tournament opening round, the Lady Lions split a pair of games in the opening day with a 7-3 victory over No. 13 Lindsey Wilson College and a 1-0 loss to Saint Xavier. Despite falling behind in the bracket, the Lady Lions put together three straight victories on the second day of the tournament to claim their first-ever World Series berth. In the World Series in Clermont, Florida, the Lady Lions picked up an impressive victory over Faulkner University before falling to No. 1 Georgia Gwinnett and No. 8 Southern Oregon University.
Hall of Fame
Freed-Hardeman Women's Basketball Coach Dale Neal has had many titles throughout his 24-year career with the Lady Lions, but this past season he added a monumental one. He was named an NAIA Hall of Fame inductee, which is the highest honor presented by the NAIA. Nominees must have outstanding character and leadership ability and be held in high esteem by their colleagues, former coaches and athletes. The NAIA Hall of Fame consists of an athlete and coach category for each sport and a category for general meritorious service.
Clymer Sets FHU Season Records
In her first season with the FHU Lady Lion Soccer team, Samantha Clymer made her presence known immediately by shattering four FHU single-season records. Clymer, a native of Mayfield, Kentucky, compiled 20 goals throughout the 2017 season, setting the single-season record for most goals in a season. The previous record of 15 goals was set in 2002 by Leslie Tiensvold, who was recently inducted into the FHU Athletics Hall of Fame. Clymer, a transfer from NCAA Division 1 University of Tennessee at Martin, set three other FHU single-season records including Most Points in a Season (42), Most Points per Game (2.33) and Most Goals per Game (1.11). Throughout the 2017-18 season, Clymer led the Lady Lions to an 8-4 record in conference play, which included an eight-game winning streak from Sept. 19 through Oct. 14.
FHU Athletes Make the Grade
In addition to the countless hours put forth in their respective sports, the athletes at Freed-Hardeman demonstrated equal success in the classroom in 2018. In total, 133 athletes were named to the American Midwest Conference Scholar Athlete team, which requires athletes to maintain a 3.0 GPA. Additionally, 41 athletes were named NAIA Daktronics Scholar Athletes. This honor requires athletes to be at least a junior and achieve a 3.5 or higher cumulative GPA.
Moore and Britt Earn Top Honors
FHU golfer Lance Moore and volleyball player Alex Britt received recognition inside and outside the athletic arena in 2017-18. Moore, a senior golfer from Hamilton, Alabama, took home the 2018 Charlie Smith Heart of a Lion Award. The award is given annually to an FHU senior athlete who has demonstrated qualities of courage, determination, hard work, exemplary performance and service to others. Athletes are nominated and voted on by the FHU athletics staff and recognized at the annual Sports Advisory Council Benefit Dinner.
Britt, a senior volleyball player from Lebanon, Tennessee, also received recognition at the end of the 2017-18 academic year, when she was awarded the Faculty Scholarship Leadership medal during the annual commencement exercises at FHU. The faculty has presented the medal annually since 1938 to the student in the graduating class who possesses the highest degree of the following attributes: ability, quality of work, accuracy and love of knowledge and leadership. A cash award made possible by the Alpha Chi Honor Society accompanies the medal.
Tennessee Amateur Team of the Year
Following an incredible 2018 season, which saw the Freed-Hardeman Lady Lion Basketball team capture the school's first-ever National Championship, the team was honored at the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame as the Tennessee Amateur Team of the Year. The award was presented to Freed-Hardeman at the annual Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet held at the Omni Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, June 16, 2018. Additionally, at the conclusion of the 2018 season, Kim Mallory and Sandrea Sylman were both named First-Team All-Americans, while all 14 athletes on the team were named to the Academic All-Conference squad. In order to qualify for the Academic All-Conference team, athletes are required to maintain a 3.0 or higher grade point average.
Golf Team Milestones
The 2017-18 season was another breakout year for the FHU golf teams, as they achieved milestones and earned victories. For the first time in program history, the FHU men’s golf team was recognized in the national poll, coming in at No. 22 in the NAIA Golf Coaches poll. Throughout the 2017-18 season, the FHU golf teams combined for an impressive 14 wins and placed 12 golfers on the Academic All-Conference squad, which requires athletes to maintain a 3.0 or higher GPA.
Cross Country Championship Qualifier
For a second straight year, FHU sophomore cross country runner Tyler Alverson punched his ticket for the NAIA Cross Country National Championship following an impressive finish in the American Midwest Conference Championship Nov. 3, 2017. In the AMC Championship race, Alverson finished third out of 100 runners, with an 8K time of 25:33.