Rams Round-up

David Haney Features, Spring 2020

Beach Volleyball Coming Spring of 2021

Beach volleyball is one of the fastest-growing college sports in the nation, and the University of Mobile will join the competition when the Rams beach volleyball program starts in the 2020-2021 academic year. Indoor volleyball Head Coach Jon Campbell will lead the new beach volleyball program, assisted by current indoor volleyball assistant coaches Amber Campbell and Melody Fillingim. Both Jon and Amber Campbell were founding coaches for the university’s volleyball program and enter their 16th season as the 2020-2021 season gets underway. Fillingim will start her second year as assistant volleyball coach at UM.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics announced last April that its National Administrative Council voted to add beach volleyball as an emerging sport in the 2019-2020 school year.

Jon Campbell said the coaching team is excited about the opportunity to start another program.

“We love coaching volleyball and are very happy to see the sport continuing to grow each year. We hope to bring in more athletes than ever before with this addition,” Campbell said.

The inaugural University of Mobile beach volleyball season is scheduled to begin in the spring semester of 2021.

Jon Seymour Named Interim Head Baseball Coach

The University of Mobile named longtime associate head baseball coach Jon Seymour as interim baseball coach following the passing of Coach Mike Jacobs in December 2019. Seymour served as assistant coach then associate coach under Jacobs, who founded the UM baseball program in 1990 and served as head coach all 30 seasons since the program was established. Seymour and Jacobs coached together at UM for over 15 years.

“I would have spent another 15 years investing in this program as associate head coach with Mike Jacobs. He was a walking mission statement of what this school is – a mentor to me and to so many young men that he poured his life into over the year,” Seymour said. He added, “We are not going to try to win baseball games in the name of Mike Jacobs. We are going to play the game of baseball to the best of our ability, in the name of Jesus Christ to glorify Him, and in that, we will honor Mike Jacobs.”

Rams Retire Joe Espada’s No. 6 Jersey

On Saturday, Nov. 16, the University of Mobile baseball program invited university baseball alumni back to Jacobs Field on campus for the annual UM Alumni Game. Among returning alumni were Joe Espada, current bench coach for the Houston Astros in Major League Baseball, and J.C. Romero, who played over 10 seasons in MLB, winning the World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008. Both Espada and Romero played baseball for UM in the mid-’90s and continue to support the Rams baseball program. The UM hitting facility on campus was named after Romero in 2012.

The university honored Espada during afternoon festivities in a ceremony where his No. 6 university jersey was retired as teammates, alumni, family and fans gave him a standing ovation.

“I have learned from a very young age that we are here on earth to serve others. I am a believer of that. I try to teach that to my girls,” Espada said. “I want you guys to know that I don’t do this just to get recognition or get my jersey retired. I just do it because I think that’s what God wants us to do. To share our experiences, to share our knowledge, and to make an impact on people’s lives. That’s all I try to do.”

To Coach Mike Jacobs, Espada said, “Coach, thank you very much because this place is like a home. Friends, teammates, and everyone, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.”

Espada is the third Ram to have his jersey retired, joining Romero and the late Scott Vereen who played in the early ’90s. Romero wore the No. 32 jersey and Vereen wore No. 16. Espada’s No. 6 jersey will join Romero’s and Vereen’s on the wall in the baseball locker room.

Notable Honors from Fall Semester 2019

Women’s Soccer: Heidi Giles, a senior from Clive, AB, Canada and a member of the women’s soccer program, was named 2019 Southern States Athletic Conference Women’s Soccer

Scholar-Athlete of the Year, the SSAC league office announced Dec. 12. This is the second straight year Giles recorded a 4.0 GPA and has been honored with this prestigious award.

Giles, who started all 19 games during her senior season for a Rams team that reached the final site of the NAIA National Tournament, was also named to the SSAC 1st Team All-Conference Team and the SSAC All-Academic Team following the season.

She was also named to the 2019 CoSIDA Academic All-District after earning Academic All-America honors in 2018.

Women’s soccer Head Coach Brian Person said, “Heidi continues to be not only one of the best players in the conference but one of the hardest working, humble, and unselfish people I have had the pleasure to coach. This is reflected by her athletic awards and equally in her academic accomplishments. As a senior, she has maintained a perfect cumulative 4.0 which has been and continues to be an inspiration to those around her. Thank you, Heidi, for your steadfast example both on the field and in the classroom.” Giles will graduate in May 2020 with a degree in accounting and in business.

Men’s Soccer: The Southern States Athletic

Conference announced on Nov. 14 that Liverpool, England native Ellis Roberts earned the SSAC Defensive Player of the Year award for the 2019 season. In 17 matches played, Mobile defensively held opponents to just 11 goals scored during the 2019 season. Along with the Defensive Player of the Year award, Roberts was named to the SSAC First-Team All-Conference Team.

The SSAC also announced that University of Mobile men’s soccer Head Coach Daniel Whelan was voted the SSAC Coach of the Year. Whelan, who just wrapped up his sixth season as head coach, led his Rams to the NAIA National Championship

On Saturday, Nov. 16, the University of Mobile baseball program invited university baseball alumni back to Jacobs Field on campus for the annual UM Alumni Game. Among returning alumni were Joe Espada, current bench coach for the Houston Astros in Major League Baseball, and J.C. Romero, who played over 10 seasons in MLB, winning the World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008. Both Espada and Romero played baseball for UM in the mid-’90s and continue to support the Rams baseball program. The UM hitting facility on campus was named after Romero in 2012.

Tournament in Irvine, California. Mobile finished with a 17-2-2 overall record. At one point during the 2019 season, the Rams were ranked the No. 3 team in the country in the NAIA Men’s Soccer Top 25 Coaches’ poll. They ranked No. 9 in the final poll.

Along with several individual awards for Mobile players and coaches at the SSAC Awards Banquet, the men’s soccer program was awarded the SSAC Team Sportsmanship Award for showing the most class and sportsmanship before, during, and after matches played throughout the 2019 season.

Volleyball: Samantha Nichols had an illustrious four-year career at the University of Mobile as a key player for the volleyball program. Along with recording over 1,000 kills in her collegiate career and earning several SSAC Player of the Week Awards, she broke two school records. During Nichols’ freshman year in 2016, the 6’3” Cypress, Texas, native broke the single season total blocks record with 184 blocks. This set her up to break the all-time school record for total blocks, previ- ously held by former Ram Paula Stilkey with 535 blocks. At the end of Nichols’ collegiate career, she finished with 544 total blocks, engraving her name in the UM record books.

She was named to the SSAC Second-Team All-Conference Team during her first two seasons with the program (2016 and 2017) along with being named to the SSAC All-Freshman Team. She was named to the SSAC First-Team All-Conference Team her junior season (2018), and capped off her collegiate career by taking home the SSAC Volleyball Player of the Year Award during her senior season (2019) while being named to the NAIA All-American Honorable Mention Team.

Nichols will graduate in May 2020 with a degree in biology. Reflecting on her UM experience, she said, “Even now, it still does not feel real. It is such an honor to receive these awards and definitely a solid way to end one’s volleyball career, but I literally could not have done it without my teammates, my coaches and my family along the way. Although my title of ‘student-athlete’ has come to an end, the stories, friends, memories, lessons, characteristics and much more will continue with me into this next chapter of life. I am forever grateful for these four years at the University of Mobile. Go Rams!”Keep Up with UM Athletics

Never miss any games, news and the latest Rams information. Following University of Mobile Rams social media channels on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; visit the website at umobilerams.com, or call the UM Athletic Department office at 800.WIN.RAMS.


About the Author

David Haney

David Haney is director of sports information at the University of Mobile and has been with the UM Athletic Department since 2019. He is a 2016 graduate of UM. Prior to his position at UM, David spent three seasons working in professional baseball with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Angels AA affiliate. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with family, enjoys the outdoors and watching baseball and football. He also owns a family-run business called H.I.S.S. (Haney's Independent Snake Studies), a no-kill snake relocation and rehabilitation service for wild venomous and non-venomous snakes. He and his wife, UM alumna Haley Ikner Haney, live in Semmes, Alabama, with their three cats: Moe, Mae and Missy.