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Former Florida assistant named new Troy soccer coach

Troy Athletics Director John Hartwell officially announced Jason Hamilton as the new women’s soccer head coach on Monday.

Hamilton comes to Troy after spending the past season as an assistant coach with the Florida Gators women’s soccer program where he worked with the goalkeepers, team defending and focused on team set pieces.

“I want to thank athletic director John Hartwell and Dr. Hawkins for the opportunity to join the Troy family. It is truly an honor for me to be the head coach of the women’s soccer program and part of such a great university,” Hamilton said. “With a talented group of returning players who gained experience this past season and the support shown by the athletic department, I am excited for the future of out program and its success in the Sun Belt Conference.”

Hartwell says he is pleased with the hire and also excited about the program’s future.

“Jason emerged as the very best of a very good candidate pool,” Hartwell said. “We believe he has all the right tools and experience to lead our soccer program to consistent finishes in the top of the Sun Belt Conference standing and compete for conference championships.”

Prior to his time in Gainesville, Hamilton served as an assistant for the Boston Breakers of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). While with the Breakers, his role included scouting opponents, individual training, as well as working with the goalkeepers. During the 2013 season, Hamilton trained Sydney Leroux, Heather O’Reilly and Alyssa Naeher of the United States National Team

Before going to Boston, Hamilton spent two years at the University of Miami where he rose quickly in the ranks, from volunteer coach to full assistant, before leading the program as the Interim Head Coach in early spring of 2013. While with the Hurricanes, Hamilton worked with the back line, midfield and goalkeepers as well as scouting opponents and directing camps. In 2012 Hamilton helped Miami to one of its most successful seasons in the program’s history as the Hurricanes set program records for shutouts, fewest goals against, and conference shutouts. The 2012 Miami Hurricanes made its first Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament appearance in five seasons and received a berth in the NCAA Championships’ field.

Hamilton received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Detroit Mercy in 2005. He also has several diplomas and licenses from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, the United States Soccer Federation and the United States Sports Academy.

As a player, Hamilton was a midfielder for Macomb College in Clinton Charter Township, Mich. The team advanced to the 2000 NJCAA Final Four, with Hamilton earning a spot on the NJCAA Final Four all-tournament team. He also was an all-conference first-team selection.

He then transferred to the University of Detroit Mercy and played goalkeeper there for his sophomore and junior years. As a senior, Hamilton moved back out onto the field and was a captain. After graduating, Hamilton volunteered for the team and worked with the goalkeepers.

After his college career, Hamilton played four seasons as a defender for the Windsor Border Stars in the Canadian Professional Soccer League. While he was there, the team won two Canada Cup Championships.

Hamilton and his wife, Ashley, welcomed Mackenzie to their family in March of 2013.

Hamilton replaces Chris Bentley, who spent six seasons with the Trojans and compiled a 54-58-9 record.

–Troy Media Relations

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Kailani Decock (19) is in the process of recovering from chemotherapy, and looks to return to the soccer pitch this fall.
Kailani Decock (19) is in the process of recovering from chemotherapy, and looks to return to the soccer pitch this fall.

Troy’s Decock cancer free, ready to play again

The majority of the college students across the nation look to extend their winter break as long as possible. But Troy soccer player Kailani Decock couldn’t wait to get back to the grind of being a normal college student-athlete.

Decock, a senior midfielder for the Trojans, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma last fall, and returned home to Canada to fight. After more than a dozen chemotherapy treatments, Decock is back at her home away from home, and ready to play the game she loves one more time.

Throughout her battle with cancer, Decock found supporters and well wishers at nearly every turn, from her teammates, the “Trojan nation and from her ‘brother,” Ryan White of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens.

White cut off his familiar flowing hair in support of Decock,

“He’s like a brother to me,” Decock said. “He’s this real tough guy and he’s known for having this long, flowing hair. It was really cool that he did that, and I didn’t even ask him. He took a picture of himself and said ‘This is for you, sis.’”

The student athletes at Troy all took part in Project 19, to raise awareness for the disease and support Decock’s fight.

Decock said it was humbling to have so much support.

“I’m so lucky,” Decock said. “I have the whole Trojan Nation, so many at school, just everyone behind me. How can I not be positive? There are people that were there in the cancer ward being treated beside me (that) may have had one person beside them. Some people need programs where people will drive them home from chemotherapy because they have no one there to drive them or they have to take a bus. I have thousands of people behind me, and they have no one to go to chemo with them. I have nothing to complain about.”

Through all the chemotherapy treatments, Decock kept a positive attitude because she never lost site of her ultimate goal: getting back to Troy.

In early January, Decock and her mother made the trek from the bustling metropolis of Calgary, Alberta, Canada to Troy.

“My mom came down with me, and she said I didn’t wipe a smile off my face for the first few days,” Decock said. “I was probably the only person saying ‘Yea! It’s class.’ When I set my mind to something, I do it. I knew that I wanted to get back to Troy and play soccer, and the only way to do it was to get through the treatments. That was my motivating factor.”

Decock has scored just one goal in her Troy career, a game winner against Georgia State way back in 2010.

But she is ready to give her senior year one more try.

“It is a slow process, but I am hoping to get my running back by spring,” Decock said. “I will be here everyday during the summer training. I’m ready to get back on the field. It is the same thing as surgeries, I just did chemo. Right now I’m just going through rehab, not really in the sense that I go to the athletic training room, but it is in a weird way. I have to build my body back up. I can’t go right back in to it. I’m about two months out of chemo right now, and most people wouldn’t go back for a full year. But I am doing this.”

Troy’s 2014 soccer season begins in August.


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2013 year In Review: Troy

Championship, coaching change, construction highlight busy year for Troy

It was the announcement that many felt was coming, but no one was prepared to hear.

On March 9, just minutes after being eliminated from the Sun Belt Conference Basketball Tournament, and just hours after picking up career win No. 501, Don Maestri announced to the world he was done.

Maestri patrolled the Troy bench for 31 seasons. Over the course of his 30-plus year career on the Trojan bench, Maestri guided teams to post-season play on numerous occasions, including Troy’s only trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2003. He was named Coach of the Year by five different conferences, being one of two men with that accolade.

The teams improved over the seasons and Maestri’s Trojans became known for their shooting prowess. Troy has led the nation in scoring three times, 1991, 1992 and 1996 as well as leading the nation in three-pointers seven times: 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2004, 2005, and 2006. On Jan. 12, 1992, Troy became the first and only team to score 200 points in a basketball game, defeating DeVry, 258-141. Troy hit 51 three-pointers during the game, still a NCAA record.

Late in the 2012-13 season, officials at Troy named the playing surface of Trojan Arena in Maestri’s honor. Maestri was also selected as a part of Troy University Sports Hall of Fame inaugural class in 2012.

Just a few weeks after Maestri’s retirement, Troy announced Phil Cunningham as head coach, and a new era of Trojan basketball began.

Cunningham spoke on what the future of the Troy basketball would look like in his debut press conference.

“From an effort level we can control how hard we play, how hard we work in the off-season, how hard our coaches work in preparation,” said Cunningham. “In academics, going to study hall and working to get degrees. Our effort level is going to be 10-for-10 in everything we do.”

On the field of play the highlight of the 2013-year for Troy was the amazing stretch run from the Troy baseball team, culminating in the 2013 Sun Belt Conference regular season championship. The title also allowed the Trojans to take part in the NCAA Baseball Tournament in the Tallahassee Regional.

Troy knocked off in-state rival Alabama twice in the tournament, including a wild 9-8 win that saw Troy score four runs in the bottom of the final inning.

The Troy softball complex began a new face-lift in 2013, and the completion will be prior to the season opener in 2014.

Troy head coach Melanie Davis was taken back by the designs, which add an 8000-square foot training facility that includes a locker room, player lounge, batting cages, hitting area, pitching area and training room. The press box will also be updated to included offices, a media area with press box and an expanded concessions area, as well as new officials locker rooms.

“I don’t even have the words to say what this means in terms of what it means to me as a person and as a member of the Troy University family,” said head coach Melanie Davis. “The fact that the chancellor is committing the University resources along with our donor dollars to elevate our facility to the highest and the best in the Sun Belt Conference and better than almost any facility in the region, it speaks volumes to his commitment to our program.”

The Troy football team finished bowl eligible for the sixth time in the last eight years. The Trojans picked up wins over UAB, Savannah State, South Alabama, Western Kentucky, Georgia State and Texas State, en route to a 6-6 year.

The Troy Women’s basketball team scored its first-ever win in Hot Spring, Arkansas by knocking off rival South Alabama 62-49 in the tournament opener.

The Troy women also made history by knocking off Middle Tennessee for the first time ever. The Trojans bested the Lady Raiders 74-70 in overtime.

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Touching base

Hey folks, just wanted to drop a line and let you know what was going on. As most of your probably know, The Messenger is in the process of restaffing. For the time being, I will be handling the day-to-day Troy coverage with some help from Danielle Percival. If you have any Troy related questions, hit me up on Twitter @RyanLMcCollough.


Ryan McCollough

Sports Writer,The Messenger

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TROY RB Jordan Chunn scores the touchdown that allowed the Trojans to tie with the UAB Blazers Saturday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium. (Photo by Joey Meredith)
TROY RB Jordan Chunn scores the touchdown that allowed the Trojans to tie with the UAB Blazers Saturday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium. (Photo by Joey Meredith)

Troy conquers UAB in first game of the season during overtime nailbiter

By Danielle Percival

The Troy Trojans capped off a second-half comeback with a 30-yard game-winning field goal by kicker Will Scott in overtime to defeat the UAB Blazers 34-31.

It was the second game-winning field goal of Scott’s career but he said the pressure is always high.

“I still get butterflies on every kick,” Scott said.

To open the overtime period, the Trojan defense held the Blazers to a field goal attempt,but that attempt was no good.

The overtime victory is the first for the Trojans who have only played in five overtime games.

Quarterback Corey Robinson, who already holds multiple career, single-season and single-game records at Troy, broke a national record Saturday night.

Robinson completed 30-of-32 passes for a completion percentage of 93.8%, which is the highest single-game completion percentage in FBS history with a minimum of 30 completions.

“No matter what I do or no matter what anybody as an individual does we got the win and so that’s what we’re hunting,” Robinson said.

Robinson finished 30-of-32 for 319 yards and a touchdown.

His longest completion of the night was the first play of the game to Deon Anthony for a 52-yard gain.

Anthony was the second leading rusher on the team with 61 yards and a touchdown.

His only score of the night was the touchdown needed to tie the game late in the fourth quarter.

“He was not going to be denied on that one touchdown and I commend him for that,” Robinson said.

True freshman Jordan Chunn led the team in rushing with 65yards and a touchdown in his first collegiate game.

“This young man has got a knack,” Blakeney said. “He’s got a big body, understands north and south and breaks tackles.”

The defense allowed 453 total yards to the Blazers but was able to get stops when necessary.

“I was really proud of our guys hanging in there,” Blakeney said. “Our defensive guys, they could have totally shut it down and they didn’t.”

Turnovers are one area of concern for Troy after fumbling four times and losing two of those fumbles.

“They didn’t really stop us,” Robinson said. “We stopped ourselves.”

The Trojans trailed by as many as 14 points in the game but continued to fight taking the Blazers into overtime.

“That showed me a lot about this team and about some of the guys on our football team that they have heart,” Robinson said.

It was a record setting night for Robinson, but where does it rank on his all-time list of football games?

“Number one in 2013,” Robinson said. “Anytime you win in this fashion it always goes up there to the top of your list.”

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Troy volleyball opens season with loss

The Troy volleyball team opened its 2013 season with a tough, 3-2 (25-21, 20-25, 25-13, 22-25, 15-6), loss to Stephen F. Austin on Friday at the Southern Miss Invitational. 

“The loss stings but it was against a good opponent,” Troy head coach Sonny Kirkpatrick said.  “When we played aggressive in our system, we played really well.  The problem was we weren’t always aggressive in our system.

“We’ll make some subtle changes and come out ready to go against too quality opponents tomorrow.”

The Trojans close their portion of the tournament on Saturday when they play host-school Southern Miss at 11 a.m. and Jackson State, an NCAA Tournament team a year ago, at 1:30 p.m.

Against Stephen F. Austin, Courtney Cohen started her senior season by setting a school record with 37 digs in the match, but it wasn’t enough between two 20-game winners from a season ago.  Cohen’s 37 digs broke her own school record of 35 set two seasons ago.

Kayla Pickart led the Trojans offensively with 17 kills and just two errors for a .441 attack percentage.  Newcomer Marija Zelenovic recorded a team-high 18 kills for the Trojans while Preseason All-Sun Belt member Alexandra Alexander posted 40 assists and true freshman Bruna Souza posted 17.

Troy was without fellow Preseason All-Sun Belt selection Blair Winston who led the Trojans with 356 kills a season ago.

The Trojans hit .232 in the match, but Stephen F. Austin recorded a .286 team attack percentage, led by Jill Ivy who had a match-high 25 kills and just four errors for a .488 attack percentage.

After splitting the first four sets, the Trojans fell into an early hole in the fifth set as the Ladyjacks raced out to a 5-0 lead, thanks in large part to two service aces.  Troy couldn’t overcome the early deficit and never got within four points in the deciding set.

Zelenovic and Alexander each recorded double-doubles for the Trojans as the pair posted 12 and 11 digs, respectively.

For more information on Troy Athletics, visit  Fans can also find Troy on Twitter or Instagram at @TroyAthletics or on Facebook at

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Trojans fall to La Tech

The Troy soccer team fell 2-0 to Louisiana Tech in its first match at the 2013 Trojan Classic on Friday afternoon at the Troy Soccer Complex.

The Trojans (1-2) held possession for most of the match, but the Lady Techsters took advantage of a pair of counter attacks to score two goals in the second half to earn the win.

“We are disappointed with the result, but we did create chances of ourselves and had the run of play for much of the game,” Troy head coach Chris Bentley said following the loss. “Credit Louisiana Tech, they had a great gameplan and capitalized on their chances.

In a scoreless first half, both teams combined for just three shots and only one on goal. The Trojans had an opportunity with less than a minute remaining in the half, but Jane Latif’s shot inside the 18-yard box sailed high of Louisiana Tech goalkeeper Caitlin Updyke and the goal.

In the 65th minute, the Lady Techsters’ Kathryn Sloan worked around Troy’s back line and beat goalkeeper Caitlin Buono one-on-one to put Louisiana Tech in the lead 1-0.

The Trojans had an opportunity to tie the match in the 76th minute as Cecilia Thorngren was awarded a penalty kick after Louisiana Tech was called for a handball in the box, but her attempt sailed wide.

The Lady Techsters (1-2-1) added their second goal of the match on a counter as Kailee Hervey took a deflected shot and capitalized on an empty goal to push Louisiana Tech’s lead to 2-0 in the 81st minute.

Troy returns to action on Sunday at 3 p.m. and wrap up the Trojan Classic against Jackson State. Livestats and live video will be available on

For up-to-date information on all of Troy athletics, follow the Trojans on Twitter and Instagram at @TroyAthletics or on Facebook at


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Troy Volleyball Opens Season at Southern Miss Invitational

The Troy volleyball team opens its 2013 season on Friday when it travels to the Southern Miss Invitational. The four-team tournament features three teams that won 20 games a season ago, including the Trojans who are coming off a second place finish in the Sun Belt.

The Trojans will take on Stephen F. Austin on Friday at 3 p.m. before playing Southern Miss and Jackson State on Saturday at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., respectively.

All three matches will be played at Reed Green Coliseum and live stats for all three will be available through and can also be found at Live video will not be available.

Troy was picked to finish second again in the Sun Belt by the league’s 10 head coaches and returns eight letterwinners from a 2012 squad that went 21-12 overall and 10-5 in league play.

Senior setter Alexandra Alexander and sophomore outside hitter Blair Winston were each named to the Preseason All-Sun Belt team and are part of four starters that return from last year’s team.

Alexander led the Trojans and the Sun Belt with an 11.20 assists/set average last season during Sun Belt play. She is one of two seniors on the Trojan squad, joining libero Courtney Cohen, who enters the weekend just 210 digs shy of setting the Troy career record.

Cohen posted a school-record 563 digs a season ago and enters the weekend with 1,519 in her career, the fifth most in the Sun Belt’s rally-scoring era.

Troy will face a tough opponent in its first match as Stephen F. Austin returns nine letterwinners from a squad that went 22-12 in 2012. The Ladyjacks were picked to finish third in the Southland this year by the league’s head coaches after finishing fourth a season ago.

Troy is 0-1 against Stephen F. Austin with the lone meeting coming in 2006 on a neutral court in Ruston, La.

Tournament host Southern Miss is coming off of an 8-20 season in 2012 that saw the Golden Eagles finish 10th in Conference USA with a 4-12 league record. Southern Miss returns 11 letterwinners from that team and was picked to finish 11th in 2013.

Troy is 3-3 against Southern Miss with the last meeting coming in 2006. Troy is 1-2 against the Golden Eagles in Hattiesburg, including the most recent meeting between the two, a five-set win by Southern Miss.

Jackson State was an NCAA Tournament participant a year ago after going 24-12, including an 8-0 mark in SWAC play. The Lady Tigers return eight letterwinners from that team and have been picked to win the league again this year.

Troy is 3-0 against Jackson State, including a three-game sweep in Troy last season. The Trojans are 2-0 against the Lady Tigers on a neutral court.

After the three matches this weekend, the Trojans return to Troy for their home opener on Monday as Georgia Southern visits Trojan Arena. The Trojans and Eagles will begin their Labor Day matchup at 2 p.m. and the match will mark the Trojans first inside Trojan Arena.

For results and recaps throughout the weekend, visit Fans can also find Troy on Twitter and Instagram at @TroyAthletics or on Facebook at

Via Troy Athletics

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Trojan Invitational kicks off cross-country season

Via Troy Athletics

The Troy University cross country team is set to open up the 2013 season with its first home meet of the year, the Trojan Invitational, on Friday evening at the football practice fields. The women’s 3k event will begin at 6:15 p.m., while the men’s 5k event will get underway at 6:45 p.m.

“The team has been looking really strong in its workouts and we’re all excited to compare ourselves to some quality competition,” said distance coach Jeff Jenkins. “We are incredibly freshmen heavy, but they’ve taken the workload with open arms.

“On the women’s side, Julia will continue to be one of our top women, but there will be some freshmen in the mix for the top-5. Keep an eye out for Kendall Harris after an incredible summer of training, as well as our captain, Haley Davies. On the men’s side, we will be without a few of our top guys, but we should still have a strong showing. Enock Kirui is in his last season of cross country eligibility and has been on fire lately. Captain Sam Ammons has been the glue for the team and has been instrumental in pulling the freshmen along into the program. He has been looking incredibly fit during preseason and I’m expecting big things from him.”

Eight women’s squads will be in attendance on Friday, including Sun Belt members Georgia State and South Alabama. On the men’s side, five teams will be competing, including Auburn and South Alabama.

“We have been training pretty heavily this week despite racing on Friday night, but it is all a part of the process,” Jenkins continued. “We are about nine weeks from the Sun Belt Championships and we’re just now finishing our aerobic development training phase. Our hope is to mix it up with some of the other Division I schools and get our name on the regional ranking list. We will see some good Sun Belt and South Region competition and we should be able to go toe-to-toe with any of them. Auburn’s men, Georgia State’s women and UAB’s women were all listed in the preseason South Regional ranking list, so we should have a good showing. With the new Trojan Affinity program alongside the football pep rally and concerts near the finish line, I hope to see a lot of Troy students in attendance.”

Troy hosts three home meets this season, with the Coach “O” Invitational coming up on October 12. The final home meet will be the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Championships, taking place on November 2.

The Trojan Invitational is part of Troy’s opening weekend of home athletics. Troy soccer hosts the Trojan Classic on Friday, beginning at 12 p.m., while the Troy football team kicks off the 2013 season against in-state rival UAB at 6 p.m., from Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Fans can keep up with all the action by following Troy track and field/cross country on Twitter at @TroyTrojanXC_TF .

For more information on all of Troy Athletics, fans can find the Trojans on Twitter and Instagram at @TroyAthletics, or on Facebook at

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Troy athletes launch #Project19 in effort to support teammate

Troy athletes launch #Project19 in effort to support teammate

Troy student athletes pose for a photo in Troy, Ala., Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013.  (Photo/Thomas Graning)
Troy student athletes pose for a photo in Troy, Ala., Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013. (Photo/Thomas Graning)


Coaches and administrators will often tell athletes that there are more important things in life than sports. While that is a valid point to teach players about life’s bigger picture, sometimes it’s not completely understood until an event alters the way a person views life.

Kailani Decock was preparing for her senior season as a Troy soccer player when in May she came down with what she thought at the time was a cold. After trying numerous remedies to no avail, she went to the doctor and in June was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Troy head coach Chris Bentley was given the difficult task of informing the other players. And because it was summer, most of them were at home which for several was out of country. Bentley called them individually.

“We felt it was very important to speak to each player individually,” Bentley said. “We didn’t want to keep any secrets because we are a family. We didn’t want it to hit anyone like a ton of bricks so Kailani asked me if I could call the players for her.”

Though Bentley did call each player, it still hit some of them like a ton of bricks.

“A lot of us were away for the summer so coach had to tell everyone. None of us were prepared for that kind of news,” said sophomore Emily Sleeman. “[Decock] was shocked herself, obviously we were all just as shocked.”

As a result of the diagnosis, Bentley and the entire soccer team began to think of ways to help Decock, the result was much larger than their initial expectations.

“Our goal is to help her offset her incidental medical expenses but from that we want to start raising funds for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma research,” Bentley said. “For Kailani, the hard part was is that it started out as what seemed like just a cold. By chance, she went and had it checked out.”

From the eagerness to help #Project19 was born. The project’s vision as posted on Facebook is “To unite the Trojan Nation in an effort to support Kailani Decock in her bout against Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.”

A Twitter account and video have also been created as to help spread the word about the project, which based its name from Decock’s uniform number.

On Tuesday, every Troy student-athlete converged on the floor at Trojan Arena to form the number 19 in support of Decock, an Alberta, Canada native.

Troy soccer players and all Troy student-athletes will wear special purple bracelets in honor of Decock, as well as host several events on Troy’s campus and in the community.

“We are all here to win games, but winning is a byproduct of doing what’s right in all facets of life, not just on the field,” Bentley said. “Every time our student-athletes look at these bracelets, we want them to remind of how blessed they are to have this opportunity. We want these bracelets to be worn with pride because that’s what Kailani would want.”

Bracelets can be purchased at various Troy athletic events for a minimum $5 donation. All of the proceeds will go to Decock’s medical expenses. The first #Project19 event will take place after Troy’s first regular season home match against Louisiana Tech on Aug. 30.

Visit to view the inspirational video as well as to connect to the several social media channels put in place to help supports follow Kailani’s progress.