Category: Sports

Royals, intermural


JUTN campus building plans update

KNOXVILLE — A little over a year ago, proposed changes to the Johnson University Tennessee campus were announced to students in chapel. These plans included the demolition of the Alumni Memorial Chapel, Bell Hall and the old gymnasium. It also included a remodel of the gymnasium in the Phillips-Welshimer Building and a new sports complex for student life activities.

Since then, the plans have been modified and revised. When construction began in late December, it was not what many students expected.

The president’s Memorial Garden started the process of new projects to take place on the JUTN campus. The Garden is being constructed behind the Glass Memorial Library and is projected to be finished by the end of this month. 

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Kevin O’Brien, director of operations, said “The president’s Garden is about 75 to 80% complete. They expect to be finished by the end of this month, if not a little before.”

Aside from the president’s Garden, two other projects have been decided upon. The Transitional Building and the Athletic and Recreation Center.

The Transitional Building will be constructed close to the Plant Services Building behind Richardson Hall.

“We expect to have dirt moving by the 1st of June, if not a little before,” O’Brien said.

The Transitional Building has a two-fold purpose. First to get the music department out of the Alumni Memorial Chapel. When the music department no longer needs the building, it will then become the campus services building.

“It is being constructed so that it can be immediately turned over into eleven office spaces, and then there are shop spaces that are below and behind it,” O’Brien said. “That will be the HVAC: heating, venting and air conditioning shop, and the electrical shop.”

The estimated completion of construction for the Transitional Building is March 31, 2018. The building is projected to be ready for student use by fall of 2018.

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 11.49.27 PMThe athletic and recreational facility is still in the design stage, although it was approved by the trustees to be constructed.

“The architects have [the plans] and they’ll produce that to us within a week,” O’Brien said. “We’ll look at those again, might make a few revisions from there, but as soon as we settle in on what it is going to contain and look like on the interior, the exterior is set, then we’ll begin the process of hiring a construction manager and getting bids from sub-contractors.”

Construction for this project is expected to begin around the middle of July. The project is an estimated 12 to 14 month building process.

In companion with the new recreation building, a new regulation size baseball field and softball field will be added. The soccer field will be moved and the area around the field will be expanded. Six new tennis courts, a new outdoor basketball floor and sand volleyball area will also be constructed.

During the time of construction for the recreation building students will not be allowed on the athletic area. This includes the soccer and baseball fields.

“In the interim, while those fields are not in use, then our soccer team, our baseball team, our tennis teams will all have to practice off site and play off site,” O’Brien said. “They have all identified alternate locations where they can do that. They will not be able to host a tournament, they will be able to have home games, but they will be played off site.”

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The building projects will not effect the tuition of the students. Funds are instead raised through churches, private individuals and other sources.

“We raise the money to pay for the building and then the students utilize it,” O’Brien said, “Students don’t pay for it.”

O’Brien said students will pay toward the general operation of the buildings, through their tuition cost and room and board, but the building expenses will not effect tuition cost.

“Beyond the transitional building and the recreational building, further constructions have not been discussed fully,” he said. “There are [only] preliminary designs for different situations.”

O’Brien said that Alumni Memorial Chapel will need to be demolished at some point.

“We can still use the auditorium until such time as the heating and air conditioning goes out and it’s too expensive to fix,” he said. “But between now and whenever they would decide to tear it down, it can still be used. We can still use it, but it is not, in the lower levels, suitable for classes to be held there any longer. And that is why they are moving the music program to the transitional building.”

O’Brien said that part of the reason the AMC needs to be demolished is because of an infestation of black mold that is beyond reasonable repair. O’Brien also said that the heating and air conditioning in the AMC is regularly breaking down.

O’Brien said there have been different proposals discussed, such as designing a stand alone chapel to replace the AMC. Ultimately, however, O’Brien said “Architects and consultants were out here and there is absolutely no affordable way to do it.”

O’Brien said that should someone present the necessary funding for a stand alone chapel, the PW gym would then become two floors of classrooms and office space.

O’Brien said that if a stand alone chapel cannot be funded in a reasonable time frame then the PW gym will become a full-time chapel.

“The stand alone chapel is the only plan that does not have a design if it were to happen,” O’Brien said. “Placement on campus is a sore topic. Making a dedicated chapel in the gym is an option that is alive and may be decided. We have to do what we can do.”

The original building proposal plan presented to the student body can be reviewed here.



Johnson Ultimate ends their season with UT Tournament

KNOXVILLE- The Johnson University Tennessee Ultimate Club team had it’s fourth and final tournament of the semester this past weekend where they placed 7th overall.

Uniquely, four out of the seven games the team played ended in universe points, meaning that the teams were tied until overtime with the next team to score winning the game.


Blake West will return as a senior co-captain next semester (Photo/Karysa Parrott)

The Royals went head to head against UT’s team twice in the first and final games of the tournament. Johnson lost the first game and won the last game.

The team also said goodbye to students Ross McSherry, Alex Eaton and Matt Kollman as it was their final tournament at JUTN.

At the end of the tournament, McSherry, who was a senior co-captain with Blake West this year, gave the team his last speech for the tournament.

He said that even though his passion may come and go for the sport, his passion for the team stays constant.

The team voted during the week to name Blake West and Nate Plyler as next years senior co-captains. Sean Torres and Colin Giebler were voted in as junior co-captains.


Johnson Ultimate team hosts first tournament

KNOXVILLE — Johnson University’s Ultimate Frisbee Club hosted its first tournament earlier this month at Seymour First Baptist Church where they used the fields for the six teams that came to play.

There were two current Johnson teams, x and y, and an alumni team in addition to teams from STEM Academy, Wingate Universtiy, and Tennessee Tech.

The first three games of the day were part of a pool in which the wins and losses for each team would help set up the tournament.

Brooke Fowler, one of the ten players who played on the Johnson y team and a junior at JUTN, said “It definitely would have been nice to have more teams to make it a little bigger, but overall I’m impressed with the way things went.”

johnson tournament

Pictured are Nate Plyler and James Sheets narrating the first game. (Photo/Brian Tucker)

During the first game of the tournament, students Nate Plyler and Sheets narrated the Johnson x and TTU game.

“One of my favorite things was getting to have our community out there supporting us and joining in on the fun,” Fowler said. “Another [favorite] was having a game under the lights because that’s always a blast!”

At the beginning of the championship game played by Johnson y against STEM, Sheets announced the players on both STEM’s and Johnson’s team and graphic design for JUTN, Brian Tucker sang the national anthem.

The championship game ended with a victory for Johnson y.

“Winning the championship was super cool but also definitely challenging; STEM Academy is a really good team and it was so much fun to get to play with good spirited people,” Fowler said.



Senior athlete recognized by NCCAA

KNOXVILLE — Gunner St. John, a senior on the Johnson University Men’s Basketball Team, was awarded the prestigious Pete Maravich Memorial Award earlier this month.

St. John and the Royals’ head coach, Brandon Perry, traveled to Ankeny, Iowa for the National Awards Banquet hosted by the National Christian College Athletic Association.

St. John was personally interviewed and sat on a panel discussion with other finalists for the award before being announced the winner.

St. John is the first JU player ever to be awarded the Pete Maravich Award in over 27 years of Johnson’s records.

“It’s an honor,” St. John said. “Out of all the seniors that get put up for the award, they think I’m the one who deserves the award and that’s neat.

“It shows not just my friends and family the hard things that I do on and off the court, but it’s nationally acknowledged throughout the whole league,” he added.

The Pete Maravich Award is given to one outstanding Christian basketball player from the NCCAA for Division II.

In order to be considered for the award, an athlete must be a senior, in good academic standing, who exhibits outstanding leadership skills and has an all-encompassing Christian testimony, both on and off the court.

“The Maravich award is about more than athletics. It’s a combination, whole person award,” Perry said.

The coaches nominate the players who they believe best represent the listed qualities.

“[St. John], to me, represents exactly what a christian athlete should be, so it made sense to nominate him,” Perry said.


St. John shooting a free throw. Picture provided by Johnson University.

While the team was at JU Florida, Feb. 12, Perry received the email that St. John was one of the top three finalists.

“[St. John] is not fake,” Perry said. “He is a very real guy. What you see is what you get in [St. John], and what I see is Christ-like. I see him living out faith everyday in the way that he encourages and the way that he talks to our guys.”

St. John also reached 1,000 points this semester and the Royals were announced second team all region for the season.

While those achievement mean a lot to St. John, he said that “to have an award that acknowledges my character and things that are bigger than basketball is neat.”

St. John said he has been playing basketball since the age of 5, and was happy to continue that passion through all four years at Johnson.

“When I got here I had to play right away as a freshman,” he said. “The team wasn’t as good, but we have built it up and it has gotten better and better. Being a part of a team that loves each other, it’s like a small family. It’s so much fun.”

Perry said that St. John has shown leadership on and off the court.

“Team wise, [St. John] is very vocal. He is vocal about his faith, vocal on our team, he is a leader,” Perry said. “He is always encouraging and uplifting our guys.”

St. John said he believes Johnson has played a big part in his athletic and spiritual achievements.


St. John going in for a rebound. Picture provided by Johnson University.

“[Johnson is] producing not only good basketball players, but guys with good character and guys that do a lot more than just basketball,” he said. “We all love playing, but we have big agendas, not just for basketball, but for things we want to do in life.

“A lot of guys make sacrifices, even though they might play basketball they also have all the community hours, just like everybody else. It’s tough, but it’s a sacrifice and [we] love doing it,” he added.

St. John said his advice for team members in the next season would be to keep working hard on and off the court.

“Stick to the course,” he said. “I know it’s tough if you take the normal load of 15.5 hours. Doing that plus a sport, and community service, it’s not easy. But it pays off because you learn a lot from it.”


No chirping heard from this cricket

KNOXVILLE—Abigail Smith played softball for 10 years, but little did she know that she would use the same skills developed then now in a new sport.

Before the beginning of the semester Smith had never played cricket before, but now she goes to play cricket every Friday in the old gym.

Smith said her friend Wyatt Whewell inspired her to play.

“Whenever he finds a new sport he gets obsessed, and he wants all his friends to play,” Smith said. “So we give it a try, but this one is actually really fun.”

Smith said people who have never played cricket always compare it to baseball.

“People like to say that it’s kind of like baseball because there is a batter and a pitcher,”she said. “But there are two batters, and they are each standing at opposite wickets.”

She said there are”two bowlers standing at opposite sides, and they are like the pitcher.”

The bowlers are trying to hit the wicket while the batter is trying to defend it.

Recently Smith and seven other people played multiple games of cricket at which Smith spent the majority of that night fielding.

That means Smith’s job was to catch the ball and try to get the other players out.She said her favorite part of playing is when she gets to bat.

“It’s really fun,” she said. “I like it because I’ve had a lot of practice with softball, and the bat in cricket is twice as wide as the one in softball—So, it’s a lot easier to hit in cricket.”

In the last games she played there were two overtimes and her team won both times.

“I was so caught up in everything happening,” she said.“The two overtimes were so crazy, and were so fun.”

Smith encouraged everyone to try cricket.

“Give it a try,” she said.”None of us knew how to play at first, so don’t be embarrassed. It takes a while to learn the game, but once you do it’s really fun.”



Johnson Ultimate takes third in first tournament of spring semester

KNOXVILLE- The Johnson University Ultimate Frisbee team placed third overall in their first tournament of the semester at Mars Hill University last weekend.

The Royals played a total of eight games over the weekend, winning three games on the Saturday and two on Sunday.

With a close score of 15-12, Johnson won the first game against the Reinhardt University Ultimate team on Sunday.

During the second game against East Tennessee State University’s Ultimate team the Royals kept their spirits high even in the midst of fighting for a place in the championship.

ETSU won with a final score of 15-11, but the Royals returned for their last game of the tournament winning with a score of 15-11 against Wingate University.

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JU student athlete excels on and off the court

KNOXVILLE — Not every college basketball player scores 1,000 points in their career, but that is exactly what Kenny White, one of the leaders of the Johnson University Royal’s Men’s Basketball team did earlier this season.

White accomplished this feat early in his Junior year against Berea College in November.

White’s teammates Seniors Jordon McClendon and Gunner St. John also eclipsed the 1,000 point mark this season.

For White, he credits his on-court success to his hard work and up-tempo style.

“Honestly, our style of play allows us freedom to create shots for ourselves,” White said. “With an up-tempo style, the opportunity to score presents itself.”

White took advantage of that opportunity early in his Sophomore year under new Head Coach Brandon Perry taking over the reigns.

“Coach Perry allows us to play basketball,” White said. “Meaning we have a lot of trust from Coach Perry to create shots for ourselves and teammates.”

White averaged 20.4 in his Sophomore campaign. Currently, with a few more quality players on the roster, White is still averaging 18.6. White is currently on pace to break the school’s all-time scoring record.

For White, the path to becoming a leader on and off the court for Kenny White has been quite a journey. White, orginally from the Washington D.C. area moved to local Halls, Tennessee in elementary school.

The transition from urban D.C. to rural East Tennessee was a different experience but White saw sports and family as a way to adjust. And while he made that adjustment, family remained an important part of his life.

White credits his parents for his morals and values that were instilled in him early.

“Support from my parents is the biggest reason I am at this point,” White said. “Especially in my first year at Johnson, which is the hardest in college in my opinion.” White said his parents offered invaluable guidance as he grew as an athlete and student.

“They would help me through situations I had not experienced yet,” he said, “Also, the discipline that I’ve been taught helped with balancing being a student-athlete and with school work in general.”

White said he has believed from an early age that work ethic and character are key to being successful on and off the court.

Since coming to Johnson, White has seen his game and approach to life grow tremendously through his role of being a student-athlete.

“We learn about life and character,” White said. There are many things that I have learned from life that I use to play with on the court, and many things I’ve learned on the court that I use in life.” White said his experience as a student athlete at Johnson has been beneficial.

Being a student-athlete at Johnson teaches responsibility, discipline, communication, teamwork, and many other traits necessary to succeed in life,” he said. “It is not just all about sports with us athletes.”

White’s past has helped lead him already in his two and a half seasons to being one of the most successful players in Johnson history.


White looks to take his team back to the National Tournament

After graduation, White plans to pursue an opportunity to play professional basketball internationally. Outside of the court White sees himself interested in a career in Business marketing.


Brazilian indoor soccer coaching offered to campus kids

KNOXVILLE — Johnson Student Luciano Nascimento is teaching Brazilian soccer on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 4:30-5:45 the old gym this semester.

The lessons are open to second through fifth grade kids.


Nascimento playing against the kids

Nascimento, a native of Brazil, started a soccer academy in India, where he worked as a missionary teaching kids for five years.

Of the kids he taught, 10 of them went on to be professional soccer players.

“I don’t want to do any[thing] professional here, it is just for fun,” Nascimento said.

Nascimento will be teaching the kids the skills of futsal.

Futsal is a Brazilian game that was developed from soccer but is played mainly indoors. The ball used is smaller and harder. It requires more skill to learn, so when players transition to an outdoor field it is much easier.


Teaching the kids how to properly bounce the ball on their heads.

“The best soccer players in the world, they all start with futsal,” Nascimento said.

Along with the game of futsal, Nascimento hopes to teach the kids spiritually by praying with them, sharing Bible stories, and setting an example of how to behave at home and school.

No previous soccer experience is needed to join the free program.

If you have any questions contact Nascimento at


Royals Wellness offers fitness classes

KNOXVILLE — Johnson University students, faculty and staff have access to a variety of health classes and educational programs throughout the semester.

Royals Wellness is a 13-week program that provides four different fitness classes designed to encourage the Johnson community to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

The four classes are RoyalFit, Zumba, Yoga and Power Yoga. All classes are taught by three different instructors.

Royals Wellness also offers educational programs such as nutrition, motivation and goal-setting.

RoyalFit uses functional movements, strength and high intensity variations to make the body tough and resilient. RoyalFit meets Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30–6:30 p.m. in the racquetball court or outside if the weather permits.

Debora Hudnall is a certified instructor of Zumba and teaches the Zumba classes here on campus.

“Zumba is a combination of putting aerobics and rhythmic movements together,” Hudnall said. “We do squats and lunges that can build muscle mass and implements both cardio and muscle building.”

Zumba meets from 6-7 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays in the Old Gym.

“My favorite part about Zumba is that it doesn’t feel like a workout,” Carli Long, who participates in the class,  said. “You get to dance as well as workout, so it makes it really fun and the times really flies by.”

Yoga and power yoga are powerful strength, balance and flexibility builders designed to leave the participants feeling relaxed and peaceful.

Yoga meets from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Monday and  6-7 p.m. Thursday in Richardson Hall, room 167.

“I really love that yoga gives you challenges to work toward based on where you are already at,” Josey Waggoner, a participant in the class, said. “It really teaches you to have grace for yourself.”

Classes began Jan. 16 and will run through April. 28. Royal Wellness costs $20 and participants can partake in any and all of the classes offered.

The sign-up for Royals Wellness is until Friday. Stop by Rita Karnes’ office to pick up an informational packet or e-mail for more information.


Girl’s soccer season ends on good note

KNOXVILLE — Through the ups and the downs of this season, the girls soccer team was able to go to the championship, which gave the team a great way to end the season.

“One of the most historic seasons we’ve had, which was not expected, we won the most amount of games in one season,” said girls soccer team coach Mason McNally.


This season the team reached the championship after defeating their rivals, KCU.

After losing their first game against them, the team was ecstatic to beat them with a score of 2-1 during the championship.

Both player Brooke Fowler and McNally said this was a highlight of the season.

There were also individual highlights that came out of this season.

Abby Barron, a freshman at Johnson University, was ranked in second place nationally for the most goals scored and third place for the most points per game.

“Even going through a severe case of shin splints… Abby, along with Laurie Morgan and Emily Robist, were given the all-regional award, which was a huge honor.”


Fowler and McNally agreed that one of the best highlights was the unity of the team. Their theme this season was “One team, one goal, one God. ”

“All of us made a commitment to do our best for each other, to edify each other, to be a family,” Fowler said.

McNally was please with the culture of this year’s team.

“My goal is to build a culture that athletes want to be a part of, and this season had that culture,” she said.

McNally reported there will be a Spring camp for those interested in joining the soccer team in March.

Pre-season training starts a week before move-in for Fall Semester in 2017.

If interested, contact McNally at