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Troy women headed to Tallahassee for NCAA Regionals

The Troy women’s golf team had to wait until the final page of the groupings to hear its name called, but when it did the cheers echoed off every part of The Brick.

Troy found out that Tallahassee, Florida is its destination for the NCAA Regionals at a viewing party Monday afternoon.

Bart Barnes, Troy women’s golf head coach, feels the team will play well for a variety of different reasons.

“It couldn’t have worked out any better as far as I am concerned,” Barnes said. “We get to stay close home in Tallahasse where a lot of friends and family can come watch and cheer us on. It is also nice to stay in the South where we know what the weather and grass is like.”

Troy captured the Sun Belt’s automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament by winning the conference tournament two weeks ago.

The night got even better for the Troy golfers as the live selection show on the Golf Channel put the Trojans watch party on the world-wide broadcast.

Junior Brooke Spinks feels the Trojans have a lot of momentum heading in to the 54-hole stroke play tournament.

“I feel like we have done all our homework, and are ready to compete for the chance to be champions.”

The women of Troy will travel to SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee for NCAA East Regional May 8-10.

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Troy’s Bart Barnes will remember April 16 for rest of life

Troy’s Bart Barnes will remember April 16 for rest of life

Bart Barnes and the Troy Women’s golf team won the Sun Belt title last week. (Photo/Troy Athletics)
Bart Barnes and the Troy Women’s golf team won the Sun Belt title last week. (Photo/Troy Athletics)

Bart Barnes went to sleep last Tuesday night with a lot on his mind. He had guided his team to the brink of a conference title, but yet his heart was back at home.

Barnes, head coach of the Troy women’s golf team, awoke Wednesday morning and prepared for the tournament. His thoughts were at home, but he had business to finish.

Instead of packing his bags and making the trip back to his parent’s home between Opp and Elba, Barnes strapped on his golf shoes and went to the course.

Over the next few hours, Barnes’ team would make shot after shot en route to the Sun Belt Conference Championship and a spot in the NCAA Tournament field. After the round, Barnes was given the news his grandfather, who he loved dearly, had passed away.

While he didn’t know why at the time, Barnes couldn’t help but get a little emotional at certain points during the final round last week.

“I will always look back on that day and smile,” said Barnes. “At one point during the day, I just got a sense of calm over me, knowing someone was there with me. I will always think about the good times we had together, and then I will think about that day in Loxley. My grandfather was with me that day step for step, and he was with us in spirit the entire way.”

Troy entered the final day of competition with a six shot lead over Texas State, and hit big shots down the stretch to take home the title.

“We were about halfway done on the final day, and I saw a look in each one of their eyes,” said Barnes. “It was a look of relaxed confidence. We played 15, 16 and 17 very well, so that allowed me to take that walk to 18 and be happy. It was a short walk where I thought about a lot of things, but enjoyed every step of it.”

The overall title was not the only championship Troy brought home.

Fatima Fernandez Cano took the individual win by defeating Texas State’s Marie Puisite on the first playoff hole. On the playoff hole, Puisite’s tee shot found the water, while Cano sent hers perfectly down the fairway.

Cano made par on the hole to take the title.

“She was so amped up that she drove the ball a good 20 yards farther than she did in regulation,” said Barnes. “She was ready for the moment. She has been so close on a few occasions this spring, and was prepared to make it count. It was an awesome way to end the day.”

The 2014 Sun Belt Conference title puts a stamp on what has been a memorable season for Barnes. Barnes was promoted to head coach in August of last year after serving for three seasons as an assistant. The Troy women fired the best team round in over a decade in September en route to a third place finish at the Fred Marx Invitational. Troy also downed Georgia, which at the time was ranked 50th in the nation, in a match-play tournament earlier this month.

Barnes saw the talent the team possessed, but admits he didn’t think it would all be put together this season.

“To be honest, I’d be lying to you if I told you that I knew we would win the conference this year,” said Barnes. “I knew we had a lot of great talent. I figured we would have a chance, but I just love how this team never quit and always got better. I will remember this season for a long time, and we aren’t done yet.”

The Trojans earn the Sun Belt Conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, which takes place May 8-10 at one of three regional locations.

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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