He hasn’t seen anything to change his mind.
“It’s been a good spring season,” Oshoniyi said Wednesday. “There was a lot of uncertainty as far as who the coach would be, but the boys have embraced my ideas and philosophies in training this spring. It’s a fun group and I think the culture is pretty good right now.”
Oshoniyi came to ETSU after spending the last three seasons as an assistant at Penn State. He previously worked at Wake Forest and South Florida.
He inherits an ETSU team that went 10-6-4 last season under former coach Scott Calabrese and played in the NCAA tournament for the second time in four years. Calabrese, who built the program from scratch, is now the head coach at Florida International. Oshoniyi isn’t sure how much different the game philosophies are between the two coaches.
“It’s hard to tell right now,” he said. “As far as everybody being accountable, I think we’re very, very similar in our approach. The seniors here last year did a great job of setting the culture, but we graduated seven starters from that group. The biggest thing is that other guys are not used to having to step up yet.”
Oshoniyi knows about stepping up. He became a two-time NCAA Division II All-America goalkeeper and won two national championships at Southern Connecticut, and went on to play 12 years in the MLS. He was part of a championship team with the Kansas City Wizards in 2000.
The new coach hasn’t officially put together his staff at ETSU, but he expects to retain David Lilly as an assistant. The Scotsman was a star player at Milligan College, joined Calabrese’s staff in 2010 and was one of four finalists for the head job when Oshoniyi was hired.
“I’ve already expressed to him and the administration that I want to keep him on as assistant coach,” said Oshoniyi. “He’s been tremendous in this transition, helping me learn the ins and outs, how things are done here.
“The boys had really taken to him during the transition phase when there wasn’t a coach.”
Perhaps the highest priority for Oshoniyi is getting his family settled in Johnson City. His wife Tippi and their three kids — sons Xander, 7, and Rennick, 1, and daughter Londyn, 4 — have been living in Pennsylvania since his hiring. They’re in town right now for a short visit.
“They’re just here for the next couple of days,” said Oshoniyi, “and we’re still looking for a place to live. My oldest son finishes school in the middle of June, and hopefully we can all move down here then.”
ETSU has at least four track and field athletes who will compete in the NCAA regionals in Jacksonville, Fla., next weekend.
Brett Squibbs (pole vault), Tyler Stepp (long jump), Michael Williams (400 hurdles) and Dede Edgecomb (100 hurdles) have all qualified among the top 48 in their respective events.
Two on the bubble are Ashley Kessler (pole vault) and Lexie Burley (triple jump). Kessler is ranked 51st, while Burley, a senior from Johnson City, is No. 55.
“We won’t officially know until tomorrow,” coach George Watts said Wednesday. “If we have some people who scratch — maybe they decide to concentrate on one event instead of another – things can change.”
There are two regionals, and the top 12 in each event advance to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore. Stepp, a senior from Dandridge, made it last year.
Watts’ teams wrapped up the regular season last weekend in Jacksonville at the conference championships. The men finished second and the women third.
“We competed really well,” said Watts. “I think we maxed out both the men’s and women’s teams. There were some nice surprises.”
That came in the wake of news that the men’s indoor team won’t be eligible to compete in the Southern Conference championships next winter for falling short on NCAA Academic Progress Rate numbers.
Thirty-six teams across the country failed to meet the minimum standard of 930 points. The ETSU men’s indoor track team scored 924; the outdoor team was right on the 930 mark.
“It won’t be any fun sitting out the indoor conference meet with the men’s team,” said Watts, who is in his second year at ETSU. “There was a combination of things that happened out of our control, things that happened before we got here. Part of it was kids who come for a year and leave, and you also have a handful who don’t do well academically.
“Our men’s team is consistently a 3.0 cumulative GPA from one year to the next; they’re not doing that poorly. We just have to keep working to do better.”
The academic news is certainly better elsewhere this spring.
Three ETSU teams produced the A-Sun scholar athletes of the year in their respective sports, while also winning conference championships. Jessica Brumit was the recipient in women’s tennis, Ismael Merino in men’s tennis and Gabriella Wahl in women’s golf.
Brumit, a junior from Elizabethton, has a 3.98 GPA and also earned second-team all-conference honors on the court. Merino, a freshman from Peru, was at 3.92 and also was a second-teamer.
Meanwhile, Wahl, a junior from Germany who graduated early, sported a 3.65 GPA and was named to the first team. She is currently playing in the NCAA Championships in Tulsa, Okla., having qualified as an individual.
All three of those teams collectively maintain grade-point averages of 3.60 or higher. Men’s tennis leads the way at 3.80.
Former ETSU pitcher Kerry Doane has made four minor-league appearances, all in relief with five days in between, for the Lake County Captains this spring. He has an 0-1 record, with an ERA of 6.75 in 9.1 innings.
The Captains of Eastlake, Ohio are the Cleveland Indians’ affiliate in the Class A Midwest League.
Doane was a 24th-round pick last June after leading the Bucs to their first NCAA tournament appearance in 31 years. He went 13-2 and led the nation with 12 complete games.
The Pompano Beach, Fla., native began his pro career with Mahoning Valley in the New York Penn League last summer but was slowed by injury and pitched in just nine games.
The Game Time Tour of ETSU coaches and administrators will make its final stop tonight at Bristol Motor Speedway. It begins with a meet-and-greet at 6:30 and includes a light meal.
Tickets are $15 at the door.
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