Boosted by a powerful offense, a steady pitching staff and a whole lot of positive energy and team camaraderie, the Spalding University baseball team has its sights set on adding to its historic season this weekend.

Spalding, fresh off clinching its first-ever share of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular-season title, will now turn its attention to trying to win its first-ever SLIAC Tournament crown.

The Golden Eagles (29-10, 18-4 SLIAC) are No. 1 seeds from the East Division in the four-team, double-elimination tournament, hosted by Greenville, and they will open play against West No. 2 Westminster (17-13, 13-8) at 11 a.m. EDT Friday in a game at SIU-Edwardsville. West No. 1 and defending champ Webster (29-10, 18-4) and East No. 2 Greenville (22-15, 14-6) will play at noon in the other first-round game at Greenville.

Spalding, currently ranked No. 13 nationally in the Perfect Game Top 25, is playing in the SLIAC Tournament for the third straight year (and the second straight as a No. 1 divisional seed) but seeking its first championship in the event and its first NCAA Division III postseason bid.

“What it comes down to is that we can control our own destiny, and I think the players have taken that mindset, and it’s helped them walk in and know how important this tournament is going to be,” coach Matt Downs said, adding that he’s glad the Eagles got to experience the format and routine of the tournament in 2017 and ’18. “I think with that experience the last two years, the guys will feel really comfortable.”

Downs said he’s had a great time coaching the team, which he said has excellent chemistry, likes to have fun together on and off the field and never requires a command from him to bring energy and focus to practice.

“They have a lot of fun. These dudes create their own energy, and I’m just along for the ride with them,” Downs said. “They really enjoy each other. Everybody is on the same page. They know their roles, and they know what’s going on.”

In the clearest example of solidarity for this fun-loving team, Spalding’s players are literally the golden Eagles going into the weekend, with, as of Wednesday, 26 players  having dyed their hair blond. Downs said he’s promised them he’ll dye his hair, too, if Spalding can make the NCAA field.

“If you’d have told me 95 percent of the guys on the team would do it, I’d have not believed you,” reigning SLIAC Player of the Year Garrett Wilson said with a chuckle, his bleach-blond hair extending to his shoulders. “So I’m happy for it.”

The Eagles’ bright hair might draw some eyes this weekend, but it’s their bats and arms that will really command their opponents’ attention.

Spalding finished the regular season as the SLIAC leader in runs, home runs, RBIs, doubles, triples and stolen bases, and several players are among the individual league leaders.

Shortstop Eric Meyer has challenged for the SLIAC triple crown, tying for the conference league in homers (10, which are also Spalding’s NCAA-era school record), and finishing second in batting average (.396) and RBIs (41). He’s also No. 1 in runs (45) and doubles (14).

Teammate Quenton Brownlee is the league leader in RBIs (46), second in runs (43), third in homers (eight) and steals (21), and eighth in average (.372).

And Wilson is third in batting average (.395), fifth in runs (37) and seventh in steals.

“Offensively, what this team has done is nothing short of amazing,” Downs said, noting that Spalding’s results have come largely in the sizable confines of Derby City Field. “We have a clear-cut plan and message and culture on the offensive side that’s probably here to stay for years to come.”

On the mound, Spalding, which had to replace last year’s All-American ace, Jimi Keating, has gotten solid performances up and down the staff and leads the SLIAC in strikeouts.

Senior Dillon Sievert, a former catcher who is in his first season as a starting pitcher, is a key two-way player for Spalding. The right-hander is 6-2 with a 2.71 earned-run average and leads the team in innings, and offensively he’s fourth on the team in runs and steals.

Junior Zach Jones (7-0) is third in the SLIAC in wins and fifth in ERA (2.28), and sophomore Jack Parisi (6-0, 3.36) is No. 3 in the league in strikeouts (75).

“To think about how good (Jones and Parisi) are now, and how they’ll be back next year is very exciting,” Downs said.

Wilson said the Golden Eagles, who had an NCAA-era school-record 13 straight wins at one point this year and have been ranked as high as No. 9 nationally, are confident heading into the SLIAC Tournament and will be looking to take another step forward.

“I think we have a really good chance,” he said. “It’s been really fun, but everybody is really determined. We all have one goal: To get as far as we can possibly go. (After being eliminated from the 2018 SLIAC Tournament), Coach has sort of kept it in the back of our mind that we don’t ever want the feeling again.”

Spalding University’s field of dreams project is officially off and running on S. Ninth Street, with shovels in the ground and ballgames not far off.

On Friday, April 12, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Metro Council President David James  joined Spalding President Tori Murden McClure, Athletic Director Roger Burkman and Spalding Board of Trustees Chair Jim Rissler in the official groundbreaking of the 7.4-acre athletic fields complex between Eighth and Ninth Street. All the coaches and student-athletes from the Golden Eagles’ soccer and softball programs surrounded them and helped celebrate the start of the construction phase of the project that will give those teams an on-campus home for the first time.

Spalding is building two turf soccer fields – expected to be ready for competition by mid-fall 2019 – and a turf softball field (ready by spring 2020) that will be lighted and available for use year-round.

“I want you all to think about the impact all of you are having on our university, our community and all of these young people you see standing behind me (thanks to your support of the fields project),” Burkman said. “They’re really the reason why we do what we do. … I’m so thankful that (the softball and soccer teams) will have a place to call their homes.”

To be built on the site of a former industrial tract that had long been unused, the new Spalding fields will also beautify the Ninth Street corridor while providing a community resource. The fields, which could also be used for field hockey and lacrosse, will be available for other schools and clubs to rent. Men’s soccer coach Adam Boyer said he envisions the fields being the site of future youth clinics and camps and other types of service events.

“There is no doubt about it that this will be one of the coolest Division III facilities in the country and provide a wealth of benefits to our student-athletes,” Boyer said. “It’ll be a huge boost to our overall student-athlete experience in addition to improving our ability to recruit players to our programs. We’re looking forward to seeing the impact these fields have on our entire student population at Spalding – from intramural opportunities to being a unified source of school provide.

“These fields are a dream come true.”

McClure has said that the athletic fields are, literally, a game-changer for Spalding’s student-athletes and will position them to grow and succeed.

“When you’re a Division III student-athlete, you’re truly a student first and an athlete second. But I firmly believe that college athletics is not extra-curricular; it’s extra curriculum,” she said. “You learn the persistence, the endurance, the resourcefulness that it takes to make a difference not just on the field but in the real world.”

Spalding purchased the property, located between South Eighth and South Ninth and bounded by West Kentucky and West Breckenridge streets, in 2014, and it is using raised funds to build the fields complex. Fundraising continues, and information on how to support the project is available on the Ninth Street: Field of Dreams page.

The fields complex is the latest example of Spalding’s initiative of transforming urban spaces, including ones covered with impervious surfaces, into community resources that beautify campus and the neighborhood. In 2017, Spalding transformed an unused 2.2-acre parking lot at the corner of S. Second and W. Kentucky streets into Trager Park, a public green space with 100 new trees. Other recently created green spaces include Mother Catherine Square in the center of campus.

“This is one of those projects you dream of not just as a president of a university or as a student but also as a mayor, to say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we had a great big green swath in our city, right here by Ninth Street, a gateway to the west, an extension to a college campus?’ It’s awesome, and it’s here,” Fischer said. “The persistence and the tenacity of Spalding that you all demonstrate each and every day has led to this tremendous announcement we have today. This is a wonderful thing.”

Fischer spoke at Spalding on the eve of the start of the mayor’s Give A Day week of service program, and he praised Spalding for becoming the world’s first certified compassionate university  and he noted that Spalding will be a partner with the city in the Lean Into Louisville program.

Fischer said the city celebrates “what Spalding has done for our city in terms of the soul of our city, the conscience of our city.”

“The Sisters at Spalding and the staff and faculty have really helped set the pace for so much of what we do,” Fischer said. “… Spalding is always there when it comes to making a statement, whether it comes to commemorating Muhammad Ali and the Columbia Gym, or Lean Into Louisville, or being a compassionate university, or in helping make our city an even more beautiful place. This complex is a great win for Spalding and a great win for our city.”

Schaefer Construction is the general contractor for the project. Sabak, Wilson and Lingo Inc. is Spalding’s architecture and civil engineering partner for the fields. Schaefer Construction also announced it is making a $50,000 donation to the fields project on Friday.

Other comments from Friday’s groundbreaking

*Mirza Ugarak, men’s soccer player: “The new sports facility will be a tremendous resource for current and future students to mature into adults who will make the world a better place.”

*Kayla Strehle, women’s soccer player: “Spalding has shown us all just how much it cares about women’s sports with two-thirds of this complex being dedicated to women’s teams.”

*Ally Klein, softball player: “Coming to Spalding has allowed me to build friendships with my teammates and create memories on the field that will last a lifetime. … Having our own field is honestly the one missing piece in what has been an amazing college athletic experience. … It’ll make us better students and better athletes and help bring our community together.”


A crowd of about 1,000 college basketball fans and friends of Spalding University packed Cardinal Stadium’s Brown and Williamson Club Monday night to get the lowdown on March Madness while supporting the NCAA Division III Golden Eagles’ athletic department.

Spalding’s 11th annual Bracketology fundraiser featured a star-studded panel of basketball analysts –  former Louisville stars Luke Hancock and Milt Wagner, former Kentucky stars Mike Pratt and Dan Issel and former U of L assistant Jerry Jones – on stage to reflect on their playing and coaching days and to make their picks for the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

For those who couldn’t make it out, we’ve got you covered. Here are the Final Four and national champion picks of the panelists.

Mike Pratt
East: Duke
West: Gonzaga
South: Tennessee
Midwest: Kentucky
Title game: Duke over Tennessee

Luke Hancock
East: Duke
West: Florida State
South: Virginia
Midwest: North Carolina
Title game: North Carolina over Florida State

Dan Issel
East: Duke
West: Michigan
South: Tennessee
Midwest: North Carolina
Title game: North Carolina over Duke

Milt Wagner
East: Duke
West: Florida State
South: Tennessee
Midwest: Kentucky
Title game: Duke over Kentucky

Jerry Jones
East: Duke
West: Buffalo
South: Virgina
Midwest: Houston
Title game: Duke over Houston

Bracketology is the largest annual fundraiser for Spalding’s athletic program. In addition to fans hearing from and taking with the celebrity bracketologists, the event also featured a buffet dinner, a bar, a silent auction with a trove of sports memorabilia and other cool items and a $20,000 cash raffle.

We hope to see you next year!


Table setting at Spalding Bracketology with
The Bracketology table setting. Photos by Meghan Holsclaw.

As the Spalding University women’s basketball team has surged to a school-record 12 straight wins and a trip to the conference tournament, the Golden Eagles have relied on senior Alex Martin to carry a major all-around load.

The 5-foot-6 Martin, was already a three-time all-conference player heading into 2018-19, but she has saved her best season for last.

She leads Spalding (19-6, 14-2 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) in scoring (17.2 ppg) and is tied for the team lead in rebounding (6.6), both career bests. She’s also first on the team in steals (48) and second in assists (63).

She’ll lead the second-seeded Golden Eagles against No. 3 Westminster at 7 p.m. EST Thursday in the SLIAC Tournament semifinals at Greenville. The winner will face the No. 1 Greenville-No. 4 Webster in Saturday’s title game with an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament on the line. Spalding is participating in its first SLIAC Tournament in three years and will be vying for its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2015.

“If I could have written a book about how my senior year would go, this would be it,” Martin said. “This has been amazing.”

Learn more about the Spalding women’s basketball program

Martin said helping Spalding get back to the conference tournament was her No. 1 goal this season and that it’s exciting to get there with so much momentum.

The Golden Eagles were only 7-6 after losing back-to-back games by a total of six points at Westminster and at Greenville on Jan. 3 and Jan 5. But they’ve hit their stride since and avenged both league losses when Westminster and Greenville visited Louisville. Spalding’s 75-65 win over Greenville on Feb. 6 was the Panthers’ only conference loss.

Martin missed the first five games of the season with a toe injury – one of multiple injuries the Golden Eagles have battled this season. At one point, Spalding had only eight players available and was forced to have people playing out of position to fill out the lineup. But Martin said those setbacks helped Spalding in the long run because the players matured and learned new roles and skills.

Martin, for instance, played power forward some out of necessity, and she said that helped improve her rebounding in the post.

“Our coaches say every day that we’re not quitters,” Martin said “We could be down 15, and wont quit. We just don’t give up. If somebody goes down, we say, ‘OK, let’s pick up the slack somewhere else.'”

Martin certainly hasn’t been slacking in the scoring department. She reached double figures in all but two regular-season games. She topped 20 points five times, including a career-high 35 points in the loss at Westminster. She was twice named the SLIAC Player of the Week.

Though she’s Spalding’s top scorer, Martin said passing is her favorite part of the game.

The Ballard High School alumna said she has always been a fan of NBA point guard and Louisville native Rajon Rondo and enjoyed watching him facilitate the offense and set teammates up for baskets.

“Seeing other people’s success and seeing other people score (is satisfying),” Martin said. “You can always hit a three, but having that pretty pass, you might only get to do it a couple times a game, so that’s the best part.”

Martin looks back on her Spalding career fondly. She said she was drawn to stay home and play for the Golden Eagles because of the reputation of coach Charlie Just and the opportunity for her family to attend all her games.

Martin is in Spalding’s natural science and pre-athletic training program. She’ll graduate in June, then be back next school year to complete her master’s of science in athletic training. Eventually, she hopes to become a trainer for a college basketball team.

Spalding University student-athletes were treated to a quick basketball shoot-around and a pep talk from rapper and entrepreneur Percy Miller, aka Master P, on Friday afternoon at Columbia Gym.

Miller spoke to the Spalding athletes about the importance of education as well as the opportunities and relationships that can be created and strengthened through playing sports. An excellent basketball player, Miller went to the University of Houston on an athletic scholarship, later attended Merritt College in California. He briefly played in the NBA.

“Education is so important,” he told the Golden Eagles. “Without that, you’re going to make the wrong choices and decisions. …  Keep chasing those dreams and those goals and know that education is going to take you a long way. … Everybody might not make it to the NBA or the WNBA, but you can use this as a tool to get you to different places and to see and build those dreams and goals.”

Miller used the trip to Spalding on Friday as an opportunity to meet with and console two local families who have recently lost teenagers to tragedies – 18-year-old Richard Harper and 13-year-old Ki’Athony Tyus.

The visit with the families and with the Spalding athletes was arranged by Louisville community activist and anti-violence advocate Christopher 2X, who works with Miller as a community and public relations ambassador for Miller’s professional Global Mixed Gender Basketball League. In February 2018, Columbia Gym became a site of that organization’s Balling for a Cause youth basketball and leadership camps, which promote peace and life skills.

“Once (Miller) started to learn more about Spalding’s mission regarding social justice and he’s learned more about how Spalding has become a beacon of light for members of the community, he said it would be good to meet those families there,” Christopher 2X said. “‘Let me give those words of encouragement at Spalding and the Columbia Gym.’”

Last June, Christopher 2X was awarded an honorary doctorate for public service from Spalding.

Rapper Percy Miller, aka Master P, posed with Spalding student-athletes on Feb. 8, 2019
Rapper Percy Miller, aka Master P, posed with Spalding student-athletes on Feb. 8, 2019

Before last weekend, Marcus Montgomery had never scored more than 29 points in a high school or college basketball game. So after he shot way, way, way past that to a record degree on Saturday, Montgomery said he’s feeling more confident than ever to help lead Spalding University.

Montgomery, a sophomore guard, set Spalding’s school record with 51 points in the Golden Eagles’ 133-121 loss at Greenville on Jan. 5, earning him St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Week honors. It’s the second-most points ever scored by a player from any school in a SLIAC game.

Montgomery, a former backup who was making his third start of the season, broke DeWhon McAfee’s Spalding record of 39 points, set in a loss to Indiana University-Southeast on Dec. 8, 2012. Montgomery also easily surpassed his own previous collegiate high of 25 points, which he’d accomplished twice this season and once as a freshman. He said his career high while at Butler High School was 29.

“I’ve had multiple 20-point games, but I never imagined I would crack 50,” Montgomery said. “It shows my hard work is paying off. … Now I just want our team to win the conference and make it to the NCAA Tournament. That’s all that matters.”

MORE: Find all news and information about the Golden Eagles at

With the Golden Eagles (4-9, 3-3 SLIAC) set to return to the court on Wednesday night at MacMurray, Montgomery leads Spalding, averaging 16.9 points per game, and he’s been surging since the holidays. In his past five games, he’s averaged 26 points.

Montgomery said Saturday’s game was still disappointing because it ended in defeat. But his record-setting performance was a bright spot. Montgomery found his groove in trying to help the Golden Eagles rally against Greenville, whose pressing, up-tempo style tends to create high-scoring games.

With a combination of driving layups and jump shots, Montgomery finished 18 of 29 from the floor, including 6 of 11 from 3-point range, and made all nine of his free throws. He added five rebounds and three assists. Montgomery scored 29 points after halftime, including 21 over the final 6:36 of the game, as he said his teammates were looking to get him the ball.

“It was just going out and playing and having fun,” Montgomery said. “When we broke their press, I just kept scoring. … I felt like I could hit any shot.”

Unbeknownst to him, Montgomery surpassed 50 points on a layup with 17 seconds left on the game’s final basket. Montgomery knew he’d just completed a big game – and guessed that he’d topped at least 30 points – but he said he had no idea that he’d gotten to 51 until teammate Chance Hill informed him.

“I said, ‘For real?’ I thought he was playing,” Montgomery said. “But he said, ‘No, you really had 51.’”

Montgomery said it really didn’t hit him until the day after the game when he said he started receiving text messages and calls from friends, relatives and former coaches congratulating him on his record performance. In all, he got more than 50.

On Monday, he said, he got another round of congratulations from classmates who saw him at lunch at the College Street Café. Later in the day, he learned about the SLIAC Player of the Week honor.

“It was cool,” he said, adding that his father told him that the 51-point game was the result of the hard work Montgomery put in over the summer.

The record-breaking game suggests Montgomery has made quite a leap since his freshman year, when he averaged 6.7 points in 20 appearances, including two starts, and also battled a foot injury.

In the offseason, he said he was routinely in the gym getting up shots and working toward a bigger role as a sophomore.

Now Montgomery said his confidence his high and that he believes he’s earned his teammates’ confidence, too.

“I’m ready to play,” Montgomery said. “Any shot I shoot, I think it can go in. That’s how my teammates feel, too.”

Montgomery, a business administration major, said it’s special to have his name in the record book of a university that’s he grown up around.

His mother, Vicki, formerly worked in the Spalding financial aid office, and as a youngster, Marcus visited campus all the time and shot ball in the Columbia Gym. He also has known Spalding coach Kevin Gray for years, having played for him on a youth club team.

“I’ve been around here most of my life,” he said.

On Saturday, he left a lasting mark.

Tenko Kono has appeared in every Spalding University men’s soccer game during his four years with the Golden Eagles, and just in time, on his Senior Day, his parents finally got to see him play in person.

The defensive midfielder and back said he was thrilled to have his family travel from Japan last weekend to attend Spalding’s regular-season finale.

“I wanted my mom to see how hard I’ve worked the last four years, so it was nice to have her watch me play,” Kono said.

It gave an emotional boost to a player who’s heading into his final postseason with the goal of leading Spalding to a conference tournament title and its first NCAA Division III Tournament berth. Kono’s top-seeded Golden Eagles will host No. 4 Iowa Wesleyan in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Tournament semifinals at 7 p.m. Thursday at Bellarmine University’s Owsley B. Frazier Stadium.

The winner will face the winner of the Webster-Greenville semifinal in Saturday’s title game with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line.

“My goal since high school (was to) play in the NCAA Tournament,” Kono said. “That would be pretty cool to finish my career by playing on the national stage for Spalding.”

Kono moved to Lexington, Kentucky, as a 12-year-old when his father’s job with a logistics company led him there. Kono attended and played soccer at Lafayette High School. His family moved back to Japan after Kono graduated high school, but he wanted to attend college and play college soccer in the United States.

He got that chance at Spalding, and by doing so, Kono said, he’s found a home away from home.

“People are nice here,” said Kono, whose Golden Eagles won SLIAC regular-season titles in 2016 and ’18. “People treat me like I’m a part of their families. We’ve won two conference championships. I have a great coaching staff. My teammates are amazing.”

Spalding has multiple international players, and Kono said he’s always felt like the program was a good fit for him.  A psychology major, Kono said he plans to move back to Japan after graduation, but he hopes to find a job like his father had that allows him to travel and maybe live for a while in the U.S. or another country.

During his time in Louisville, Kono said he’s successfully introduced his teammates to Japanese food and music. A couple of Japanese pop songs are in regular rotation for a group of Golden Eagles when they ride together to games, Kono said with a laugh.

Two opposing soccer players, Spalding's Tenko Kono on the left and a player from Alma on the right, compete to control the ball
Spalding senior soccer player Tenko Kono, in action against Alma.

He expects to have support from afar this week. He said his family members, who are 13 hours ahead of Louisville in Japan, try to watch all his games on the online live stream, even when they occur during the middle of the night.

They’ll be watching a player who’s been a mainstay on Spalding’s defense, leading the team in minutes played (1,651). Kono’s the only player to start all 18 games.

“The amount of ground he covers in a game is really incredible,” coach Adam Boyer said. “He came in extremely fit this year, and his defensive tenacity has been my favorite aspect of his game. He reads the play well, and he’s a very good tackler of the ball. He’s not afraid to get into challenges in the air, 50-50 balls, so he does a lot of the dirty work. An aspect he’s been much improved on this year is his ability, once he wins the ball, to pass out of pressure and connect with his teammates.”

He’s also scored two goals, including an overtime game-winner on a penalty kick at Principia on Oct. 20. He was named the SLIAC Defensive Player of the Week after that game.

“As a senior and a captain, I had to take that kick,” he said, “so I stepped up and put it in the back of the net.”

Kono figures to get more chances to step up this week.

He’s already left a mark on the Spalding program.

“Tenko is a great example of someone who came in with the right attitude, the right work rate, the right approach to being a student,” Boyer said. “He is kind of that senior leader, the guy everybody looks up to. He’ll finish his career having played in two postseasons, winning two regular-season conference championships. He’s really just an example of everything you’d want in a student-athlete.”

Ready to play under the lights

With this week’s rainy weather, Spalding moved Thursday’s game off the grass to Bellarmine’s turf field. Boyer said the Golden Eagles are excited to play a night game there.

“There’s nothing better than the lights going on and the environment that creates simply by playing in the evening,” he said.

Boyer said he’s proud of how the Golden Eagles have won games in every manner possible this season, including times they’ve gotten big leads early and times they’ve come from behind.

“Overall, I’m impressed with the group, their body of work over the season,” he said. “I think they deserve to be the No. 1 seed, deserve to host. Now, the question is, can we go on and pick this season up one more level and take another big step for the program and make the national tournament.”

Kornell Hilliard sets goals and gets goals.

He’s been hitting the mark as well as anybody in the country this season while contributing to a hot start for the Spalding University men’s soccer team.

Hilliard, a junior forward, said that he set the goal before the season of trying to lead all of 411-team NCAA Division III in total goals and total points, and so far – like many of his shots – Hilliard looks to be right on target.

Entering the weekend, Hilliard’s 10 goals for Spalding (7-1) tied for third-most in D-III, and his 23 points (two points per goal, plus a point per assist) tied for No. 2. For part of the past week, he led both categories. Among all three NCAA divisions, only five total players entered the weekend with more goals than Hilliard, and only four had more points.

“Since I got here, that’s what I’ve been striving to do – try to get as many points and help my team out as much as I can,” said Hilliard, a former Fern Creek High School star. “I think I’ve achieved that so far, and hopefully I’ll get more.”

Hilliard, the current St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week,  has been especially effective the last two weeks, scoring seven goals in Spalding’s last four games. That included his second career hat trick in a 4-1 victory over Earlham.

His most recent goal – on an overtime penalty kick – won the game for Spalding at Hanover, 1-0, on Tuesday. That was the Golden Eagles’ first victory in that series since 2015.

“Statistically, to be producing the way he is, it’s a testament to his ability, but it’s also a sign of where he’s at right now from a leadership standpoint and a confidence standpoint,” Spalding coach Adam Boyer said of Hilliard. “He just seems to be getting better and better every game, and it’s awesome to see for him because I know he has a lot of personal goals in mind with being as successful as he’s being and producing statistically like he is. It’ll be exciting to see him both accomplish some of those individual goals and help the team accomplish its team goals.”

At 6 feet 1, 170 pounds, Hilliard’s size and athletic ability can be a handful for defenders. Hilliard said the pace at which he runs onto the ball has been the biggest contributor in his execution, and he said he’s confident in his shot-making skill and the ability to curl balls past the keeper.

In addition, he and Boyer both said Hilliard’s fitness is at an all-time best. Hilliard is second on Spalding in minutes played and is averaging nearly 87 minutes per game.

In the offseason, “I trained way more than I’ve trained the other years,” said Hilliard, who played in the Premier Development League over the summer. “I was training every day, playing soccer every day, making sure I got touches every day.”

Being a prolific goal scorer is nothing new for Hilliard, who scored a remarkable 52 goals in leading Fern Creek to the state semifinals as a senior in 2015. He said that season gave him the confidence that he could succeed at the college level.

He was right. He had 11 goals and six assists as a freshman in 2016, then had 15 goals and seven assists last year, when he was named to the United Soccer Coaches NCAA All-Central Region third team.

“Now that we have a little perspective, he was one of the biggest recruits we’ve ever gotten,” Boyer said. “I think it’s great when you have a guy who grew up in Louisville, committed his youth soccer career to playing in Louisville, represented a Louisville high school and helped a program like Fern Creek get … to a Final Four. Then he gets to go and represent his local university. I think that’s as cool as it gets. … The fact that he’s a local player who has that history here in Louisville makes him even stronger and better when he steps on the field.”

Hilliard, who hopes his success at Spalding will inspire his younger brothers to believe they can become college athletes, too, said he’s enjoying the camaraderie and chemistry of the Golden Eagles.

They are flying high, riding a three-game winning streak into Sunday’s final nonconference game at Centre College. Spalding has had three straight SLIAC Offensive Player of the Week winners, with Mani Bakari, Abnel St. Fleur and now Hilliard.

“This is a really good group of guys, and they all bring something to the table that you need to win,” Hilliard said. “When we play, we all know we need to hold each other accountable, and we all know that we’re there for each other and have each other’s backs.”

Next Saturday, Spalding will open SLIAC play by hosting defending league tournament champion Westminster at 3 p.m. at Champions Trace Park. Boyer said he has viewed the nonconference schedule as a chance to build momentum and confidence heading in league play.

“It’s really encouraging that we are playing well and winning as we enter the most important part of the season,” Boyer said. “We know from a mental standpoint, the guys are in a good spot and have good self-belief and believe in their ability to go out and win games. Hopefully we can take all this positive momentum from the first half of the season and carry it into conference.”


Spalding soccer player Kornell Hilliard, wearing yellow jersey and blue head band, waves during starting lineups
Kornell Hilliard has seven goals in his past four games.

Spalding University announced Wednesday, Sept. 5, that it has reached a milestone in its ongoing, largest-ever capital fundraising campaign: surpassing $30 million in total contributions since 2014. They have supported new construction projects, facility improvements and academic and scholarship programs that broadly impact campus and student life.

The $30.4 million raised to date is a record for a Spalding campaign, and it far outpaces the original fundraising goals – $20 million by 2020 – set by the university’s board of trustees when it voted to launch the campaign four years ago. The goal was officially upped to $30 million in 2016.

“We are extremely grateful for the individuals and organizations who have stepped forward in support of our campaign and the mission and progress of Spalding,” Chief Advancement Officer Bert Griffin said. “We’ve made improvements all over campus and have not used any tuition dollars to make it happen.”

Spalding President Tori Murden McClure added: “Through this campaign, we have provided our students and the community with more resources and services while making our campus greener and more beautiful. We are grateful to our many partners who are helping us meet the needs of the times and change our community for the better.”

Some highlights of the $30 million capital campaign:

● Nearly $11 million in student scholarships and fieldwork stipends have been or will be distributed by way of the campaign, including more than $4 million in federal grants for clinical psychology and social work students from the Health Resources and Services Administration.

● More than $7 million has been donated or pledged in support of a greening initiative that has beautified the 23-acre downtown campus. Completed projects include the Mother Catherine Spalding Square green space on West Breckenridge Street between South Third and South Fourth and 2.2-acre Trager Park, which, in partnership with Louisville Gas and Electric Company and the Trager Family Foundation, opened last fall at the corner of South Second and West Kentucky. The Trager Park site was formerly an unused asphalt lot.

Ongoing outdoor projects are the seven-acre athletic fields complex between South Eighth and South Ninth streets that will be the home of Spalding’s NCAA Division III softball and soccer teams, and the Contemplative Garden at Spalding University, which will be a meditation space at 828 S. Fourth St. that is designed to honor Trappist Monk Thomas Merton and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Thanks to a recent anonymous $500,000 challenge grant, installation of the playing surfaces at the fields complex is expected to begin this fall, and it could be ready for competition by late spring 2019.

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● Kosair Charities has contributed more than $1.2 million to Spalding in support of the Kosair Charities Enabling Technologies of Kentuckiana (enTECH) assistive-technology resource center, the Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy and the Spalding School of Nursing.

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● A $500,000 challenge grant from the James Graham Brown Foundation has helped raise $1 million to develop programs focused on restorative justice and restorative practices as well as Spalding’s Center for Behavioral Health.

● Nearly $1 million was raised to renovate the lower level of the Columbia Gym into a student fitness center and lounge.

● Other facilities that have undergone major improvements and modern updates are the Republic Bank Academic Center, which is the home of Spalding’s nursing and social work programs; the Spalding Library; the historic Tompkins-Buchanan-Rankin Mansion; and the Egan Leadership Center Lectorium.

Spalding alumnus Tyler Glass is showing with every snap of his camera and every post on his Instagram account that he possesses what just about everyone covets on social media nowadays: influence.

He’s also finding adventure and professional success along the way.

Glass, a former Spalding natural science major and soccer player, has spent the first two years since his graduation traveling to amazing outdoor spaces, learning photography and showcasing dramatic pictures of mountains, waterfalls, glaciers and cliffs on Instagram.

People like his pictures a lot. As in likes and likes by the thousands, and he’s built a following of more than 800,000 on his @tylerwayneglass Instagram account.

“I’m someone who’s gotten extremely lucky,” Glass said. “There’s a lot of hard work with it, too.”

Companies that sell outdoor clothing and equipment have taken notice of his work and hired him as a freelance contractor to take photos that feature their products – the kind of cool nature shots you’d expect to see in a catalog.

The brands he’s worked with include Moosejaw, Naturewise and Kelty Built, plus hotel, car rental and camper van companies.

“Their mission is brand awareness, and I’m a tool to get that done,” said Glass, who has made recent trips to Iceland, Oregon and Colorado. Trips to Canada and Switzerland are planned. “It’s probably one of those things in a couple years I’m going to look back and think, ‘This was pretty cool.'”

He and a travel/business partner make a list of destinations at the beginning of the year and contact brands that they like to let them know where they are going and are available to provide content or to perform Instagram takeovers.

“A lot of it has to do with, you spend so much time on Instagram and follow other Instagram influencers who are going places,” he said. “You see where they’re going, and you say, ‘Wow, that’s a pretty cool shot, but maybe I can do better, get a different shot, get a different angle.'”

Glass, who once thought he’d go to law school after getting his bachelor’s, started photography after his Spalding graduation in 2016. He hoped it would be an activity that might fill the time void left after the completion of his four-year college soccer career.

He and friends took a three-week drive out west after graduation, and he brought along an inexpensive camera and lens.

“From there, it just became a passion,” Glass said. “It definitely wasn’t me thinking, in two years I’ll have over 50,000 followers and getting paid to travel to these places. I kind of thought that (trip) would be me like my last hurrah before entering the workforce, and instead, it jump-started all this stuff.”

During 2017, Glass said, he improved his skills and developed a personal style of photography and editing, and his Instagram pictures were getting shared more and more. He’s worked to keep his Instagram page and Instagram stories fresh and unique, and his pictures made their way onto Instagram Search and Explore pages. He gained more attention when Tamron USA, the lens company, featured a story on its website about Glass proposing to his girlfriend during the trip to Iceland last year and highlighting some of the photos he took.

The increased following has led to increased business.

“I spent a lot of last year reaching out to brands, and the last few months, I’ve had a lot of brands reach out to me,” he said. “It was just finding the best way to put myself out there so that a lot of people could see me. Obviously Instagram has helped me out a lot with that.”

Glass has a pretty sweet gig, and he knows it. He said he tries on his trips to live in the moment and appreciate the cool places he’s getting to see. Instead of concerning himself only on getting the perfect picture of an amazing sunset in Oregon, for instance, Glass said, he tries to make sure to take time and enjoy getting to witness the sunset.

Before he left for a recent trip, his father told him goodbye and reminded him, “Realize what you’re doing right now because you’re doing something that a lot of people your age aren’t getting to do and would die to get to do,” Glass recalled.

Glass also looks back fondly on his time at Spalding.

The graduate of Louisville’s Academy for Individual Excellence had originally planned to attend Georgetown College and play soccer there but changed his mind right before the start of his freshman year and came to play at Spalding instead.

“It’s the best decision I ever made,” he said. “I made the absolute best friends I’ll ever have in my entire life. It’s one of the most important things that’s happened in my life. It’s kind of taught me with these trips and with life in general, that life is not going to go exactly how you planned no matter how hard you try or how well you think you’ve got it planned out. Life is going to change up a little bit, but usually it’s going to be for the better.”