A Ticket to the Big Dance

More From This Author

Gary Stallard
Sports Information Director Gary Stallard, who also serves as a Liberal Arts Instructor, begins his eleventh season with Angelina College. Following a career as a U.S. Marine, Stallard completed his bachelor’s degree at Stephen F. Austin University, where he majored in English and Journalism. For more than 16 years, he has worked as a sports writer/columnist/photographer for the Lufkin Daily News; he continues to contribute free-lance articles on occasion. Stallard has won several awards for writing, including the Golden Hoops Award for basketball writing in 2003, Regional Sports Writer of the Year in 2004, and the Texas Press Association’s first-place award for column writing in 2007 and in 2014. He has also done basketball, football and baseball radio and live streaming play-by- play and color commentary for an ESPN affiliate. Currently Stallard serves as play-by-play broadcaster for AC basketball, baseball and softball games. Prior to arriving at Angelina College, Stallard taught English at Lufkin High School for four years. He currently teaches Developmental Writing classes at AC. He and his wife Susan live in Lufkin.

Angelina College Men’s Soccer Earns National Tournament Berth

The broadcast announcer didn’t even have time to finish his monologue. As soon as the NJCAA posted “Angelina College” in the national tournament bracket, the room full of Roadrunners and Roadrunner backers erupted in celebration, drowning out everything else on the screen.

During Tuesday’s watch party on the AC campus, the Roadrunner soccer team heard – rather, saw – its name posted on the screen as one of the participants in the upcoming NJCAA Division I soccer tournament kicking off in Melbourne, Florida this weekend.

Angelina College soccer players react to seeing the team’s name listed on-screen during Tuesday’s watch party for the NJCAA Division I Soccer Selection Show. The Roadrunners will play in the national tournament beginning Nov. 13 in Melbourne, Florida. (Gary Stallard/AC Athletics photo)

The announcement marks the first time an AC soccer team has participated in the national tournament in the program’s six-year history.

“I’m elated. It’s been a journey, it’s been a process, and to see the hard work over the course of these past two years rewarded with a trip to the big dance is very, very special,” AC head coach Nataki Stewart said.

The tournament will follow a pool play, double-elimination format starting on Sunday, Nov. 13. The Roadrunners enter the tourney as the No. 10 seed and will start off in Pool C with No. 3 Monroe College and No. 6 Jefferson College. AC first will face Monroe College at 3 p.m. on Sunday the 13th.

The ‘Runners finished the season with a 15-2-1 record and a No. 6 ranking in the final national polls.

AC’s Lady Roadrunners were hoping for an at-large berth after a 15-2-1 season and a No. 12 national ranking, but the team was squeezed out of the 12-team tournament, ending their season.

“The women had a fantastic year,” Stewart said. “We were the only team in the country to go toe-to-toe with the No. 1 team in the nation (AC’s only losses came to No. 1 Tyler Junior College, and each of the three losses came by a single goal) three times. I thought with that kind of resume, and with some of our big wins in the regular and postseason, our ladies had a shot.

“It certainly doesn’t take anything away from the history this special group has created.”

Stewart said his team isn’t going “just to say we went.” He believes his Roadrunners have a shot at a deep run toward a national title.

“To be honest, we had a reset yesterday after discussing our loss in the conference finals,” Stewart said. “We had to refocus with a very tough session with hopes of hearing our name called today.

“Now that we know, now comes the preparation and getting back to who we were a few weeks ago. We have a ticket, so we definitely have a chance, and I expect us to make a great showing.”

The email address for AC’s Sports Information Director is gstallard@angelina.edu.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Read More

- Advertisement -

Explore East Texas

- Advertisement -