Brenau cheerleaders perform during the Brenau Competitive Cheer Showcase on Thursday, March 23, 2017. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)
Brenau cheerleaders perform during the Brenau Competitive Cheer Showcase on Thursday, March 23, 2017. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Record Number of Brenau Student-Athletes Competing in 2017-18

Aug. 17, 2017
Kristen Oliver
Ismaelle Occeus, a senior from Lawrenceville, Ga., competes in the triple jump during the NAIA Track & Field Championships in Gulf Shores, Ala. Occeus place 10th in the event. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Ismaelle Occeus, a senior from Lawrenceville, Ga., competes in the triple jump during the NAIA Track & Field Championships in Gulf Shores, Ala. Occeus place 10th in the event. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

A record 218 student-athletes are committed for the 2017-18 school year at Brenau University. That number reflects the growth of the 139-year-old institution’s intercollegiate athletics program.

Of the 218 student-athletes, 24 will play multiple sports, bringing the total positions across all athletic teams to 242. Golden Tigers athletics are part of the university’s residential undergraduate Women’s College. This year’s student-athletes represent a relatively large percentage of the student body expected on campus for the fall. Currently, approximately 950 students are expected for on-ground classes.

“It is not necessarily unusual for a small college to have a significant percentage of its students as athletes, but it is noteworthy,” said Athletic Director Mike Lochstampfor. “I would attribute it to our president, Dr. Ed Schrader, and his vision when he came in 2005 to grow the athletics department and look at opportunities to provide new teams, to upgrade, or to reinstall previous programs. I think it has changed a bit of the culture of the university and provided engagement for students and the community.”

When Lochstampfor joined Brenau in 2002, the athletic department had four sports and fewer than 40 athletes. Today, the 218 student-athletes will participate on 15 teams: cross country, soccer, volleyball, basketball, competitive cheer, swimming and diving, spirit cheerleading, competitive dance, softball, tennis, track and field, golf, lacrosse, and junior varsity softball and basketball.

“Of course I’m a sports person, and I love to see athletes have the opportunity to compete. I love to see the interaction with the student body,” Lochstampfor said. “But more than that, I think the growth in the program made sense along with the growth and development of the university as a whole. For athletics to be part of that was exciting.”

Senior Sydney Haas from Hildebran, North Carolina, said it is also exciting for the student-athletes to experience the increased strength of the program.

“It is a very satisfying feeling,” said Haas, point guard on the Golden Tigers basketball team and a member of the track & field team. “You can see the improvement and the growth. The basketball team has improved the last few years, and we are hoping that this year and each year after we will continue to do better and better.”

Lochstampfor touted the excellence of his student-athletes not only on the field or court, but in the classroom as well.

“Our athletes are very devoted to what they do academically,” he said. “So we’re not just adding athletes. We’re adding students that take seriously their career aspirations, which is very much tied into their athletic involvement.”

Brenau student-athletes last year ranked high among National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics schools. Twenty students received NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors, which is awarded to juniors and seniors with a 3.5 or higher cumulative grade-point average. In the spring semester, 28 student-athletes finished with 4.0 grade-point averages. And all Brenau athletic teams were eligible for the NAIA Scholar Team awards.

That academic excellence, however, is not the result of easier schedules or course loads, according to Lochstampfor.

“If you look at our athletes, many of them are engaged in majors that are very challenging and rigorous,” Lochstampfor said. “They are in health sciences and areas that require class and lab participation.”

Lochstampfor credits the coaches and athletes for understanding the mission of the university to educate the young women living on campus.

Brenau infielder/outfielder Kelsey Payne, a junior from Chattanooga, Tenn., and other Brenau players celebrate as the winning run crosses the plate during the championship game of the SSAC conference tournament against Mobile. Brenau won 2-1 in nine inning. Brenau's finished SSAC play, both regular season and the conference tournament 30-0. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Brenau infielder/outfielder Kelsey Payne, a junior from Chattanooga, Tenn., and other Brenau players celebrate as the winning run crosses the plate during the championship game of the SSAC conference tournament against Mobile. Brenau won 2-1 in nine inning. Brenau’s finished SSAC play, both regular season and the conference tournament 30-0. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

“Our schedules are tough, but Brenau makes sure that we have the opportunity to be a student first and to take care of our academic requirements, while at any other school academics come second,” said Kelsey Payne, senior organizational leadership major and member of the Brenau softball team from Chattanooga, Tennessee. “Brenau wants to mold strong, smart women, so it’s really cool that we’re supported in our academic endeavors as well as athletics.”

The 218 Golden Tigers will this year compete in the Appalachian Athletic Conference in the NAIA. Previously, the university was a member of the Southern States Athletic Conference. Lochstampfor said the move offers a great deal of potential for Brenau.

“In many ways, but especially from a geographical perspective, it is a much better fit for us,” he said. “We have Truett McConnell University 30 minutes north of us. We have Reinhardt University an hour west of us, and Point University two hours south. That more closely integrates us within a conference that allows our athletes to be in the classroom more frequently and spending less time on the road.”

Mason Garland, senior biology major from Hoschton, Georgia, said between competing on the softball team, her biology classes and the two jobs she works on campus, her schedule is “quite rigorous.”

“Brenau has been a great experience for me because education takes precedent over athletics,” she said. “The end goal of college is to earn a degree, and Brenau athletics understand this. Brenau is able to gather great athletes due to the astounding success of each team in the athletic department. I think Brenau has made a name for herself not only for her great education but also for acquiring these high-quality student-athletes.”

General inquiries: info@brenau.edu, +1-770-534-6299 or +1-800-252-5119 | Admissions: admissions@brenau.edu, +1-770-534-6100 or +1-800-252-5119 ext. 6100