In a four-day span last month, the Shorter women’s softball team won the NAIA softball championship, and the Shorter men’s track team won their second consecutive Outdoor Track and Field championship.
The Lady Hawks’ softball championship win over Oklahoma City was the stuff legends are made of — a 1-0 thriller that lasted nine innings and gave Shorter its first-ever softball championship on Wednesday.
Coming into the season the Lady Hawks weren’t considered by many to be one of the teams to compete for the national championship after losing seven starters from last year’s team. But the Lady Hawks — led by a strong contingent of Northwest Georgia talent —simply wouldn’t be denied.
In track, the Shorter men were a heavy favorite entering this year’s national championship meet, and the Hawks put on the show that had been anticipated, compiling 93 points to finish well ahead of runner-up Azusa Pacific (69 points). The Hawks also racked up a new program-best point total at a national meet on the shoulders of three more national championship performances.
THOSE TWO champion-ships capped a 2012 that saw Shorter competing at the highest levels of NAIA tournaments.
Also consider that the Shorter men’s basketball team made it to the Final Four of the NAIA basketball tournament, the men’s baseball team made it to the nationals, the women’s golf team finished fifth in the nation, the women’s track team was 16th in the nation, and Shorter women made it to the Sweet 16 in their basketball tournament.
Add to that the Cheer Hawks captured their fourth consecutive the NAIA national championship in the Small Coed Division at the NCA Collegiate Cheerleading National Championships.
The Hawks are leaving the NAIA as winners and may be giving the folks in NCAA Division II a glimpse of what it will be like when the Hawks begin showing up at their home fields and home courts.
And as Shorter’s student athletes were winding down a super-successful season, Shorter athletic officials have been working against the clock to meet all of the NCAA’s regulations. Just this past Friday, the Hawks were scheduled to submit its own compliance manual to the NCAA — a document that not only involves the athletic department, but also input from the university’s other departments ranging from financial aid to admissions.
THAT MANUAL is only a piece of the puzzle as Shorter’s staff continues to work on the Year One Candidacy Member Annual Report and Institutional Self-Study Guide.
These documents are just the first steps in what will be a three-year conversion process for Shorter.
The 2012-13 school year that begins this fall will be Shorter’s second year of candidacy, during which those policies are carried out. The 2013-14 year will be Shorter’s provisional year leading up to the fall of 2014, when the university will be considered a full member of the NCAA. Throughout the entire timeline, Shorter’s coaches and athletic staff will be kept up to speed on the ins and outs in regard to NCAA guidelines.
Since January, the athletic department has hosted weekly workshops that have covered all types of topics, including academic eligibility, lengths of practices and seasons, recruiting, financial aid, and how to communicate with those who support athletic interests through booster clubs and alumni. Also scheduled for the coaches are trips to various NCAA rule seminars
While the process to become a full NCAA member is on-going over the next two years, Shorter’s teams will already be complying with the requests of the Gulf South Conference, Shorter’s new league that has included the Hawks and Lady Hawks in conference schedules for 2012-13.
NEXT YEAR’S entry into the Gulf South Conference will give Shorter athletes a new group of rivals to impress, and you can count on this newspaper to bring you the news of those accomplishments. But whatever awaits the Hawks as they enter the ranks of the NCAA, they can look back at the 2011-2012 season as a season of champions.