The Milligan College community is trying to do what it can to help a former soccer player who is recovering from gunshot wounds in Pennsylvania.
Jason Hotchkin reportedly was shot in the arms, leg and back while he and a friend were talking with a woman on a downtown street in West Chester, Pa., at about 2 a.m. Sunday. He was initially listed in critical condition at a suburban Philadelphia hospital but had been upgraded to good by Wednesday.
Hotchkin, 35, graduated from Milligan in 2003 and played professionally for the Harrisburg Heat and Harrisburg City Islanders before retiring in 2012. He has been working as a youth coach in Pennsylvania and does not have medical insurance.
Milligan women’s soccer coach Lisa Buckley has been part of a local effort to raise money for Hotchkin’s medical expenses. (A website set up for the cause on giveforward.com showed over 250 donations topping $20,000 by late Thursday afternoon. There’s a link on the millliganbuffs.com website.)
“Basically once we found out what happened and the predicament Jason was in — him coaching club soccer and not having any insurance — a group of alumni came together,” Buckley said Thursday. “It’s spearheaded by Brian Davis and is mostly a lot of alumni and Jason’s former teammates. We’re trying to do what we can to help.
“As a program, Adam (Laney, the Milligan men’s coach) and I came together to auction off a jersey with his old number. It’s another good fundraiser and we’ll do that after the Virginia Intermont game next week.”
Hotchkin’s assailant has been identified by West Chester police as Curtis Zebley, 25. He’s being held on $500,000 bail for attempted murder and other charges.
One report said the men didn’t know each other, and Hotchkin was trying to be a peacemaker before the shooting broke out.
Buckley said he’s in good spirits under the circumstances.
“He has gotten in touch on social networks,” she said. “He said he’s feeling blessed.”
Hotchkin’s old team is looking pretty green at the start of this season, with 16 newcomers on a roster of 29.
The Buffs opened the schedule last weekend with a couple of lopsided losses at a tournament in Lawrenceville, Ga. They were beaten 4-1 by Auburn-Montgomery and 3-0 by Georgia Gwinnett College.
“We had a weekend where we took some knocks,” said Laney, the coach. “Hopefully we learned what we needed to learn, against two pretty good teams. Given how new we are, it’s one of those things where you can’t be shocked by the results.”
The Buffs will host VI on Wednesday in that game with the jersey auction afterward. They are the two-time defending regular-season champs in the Appalachian Athletic Conference and, despite returning just three starters, were picked third this preseason, behind Tennessee Wesleyan and Bryan.
“We’re trying to create a personality and build around controllable things like work ethic, attitude, tactics and maturity off the field,” said Laney. “We had a team meeting yesterday and our assistant coach made the point that we lost our first match last season 4-0. We turned around and won the conference and did some great things.”
The women’s team is battling injuries and opened its season with a 1-1 tie Tuesday night at home against Southern Wesleyan. Teagan Wood, a junior from Kingsport, scored the lone goal for the Lady Buffs.
“We’ve got a lot of injuries, three or four starters out with just nagging stuff,” said Buckley. “I came into the season knowing I had depth and challenging myself to use that depth. Now I get to.”
The team plays today at USC-Beaufort and Saturday at Savannah College of Arts and Design. They’ll host Virginia Intermont on Sept. 5.
The Lady Buffs were picked fourth in the AAC preseason poll. They haven’t finished lower than third in Buckley’s five previous seasons as head coach.
“We have a lot of new faces. I think we had six new ones on the field for the first game,” said Buckley. “It may just take awhile.”
The women’s cross country team has won 10 straight conference championships and been a fixture at the NAIA national meet. Things don’t shape up much different this year.
The Lady Buffs are ranked 19th in the NAIA preseason poll, which is right where they finished last season. Three of the runners from that team have returned for coach Chris Layne, including senior Natalia Rivas, junior Mackenzie Patten and sophomore Meagan Wright.
Rivas, who ran at University High, finished 16th in the NAIA marathon last spring.
“I’m excited about the talent and leadership returning,” said Layne, “but we’ll definitely need to see a few new faces step up … if we’re going to do the things we want to do.”
The season opens Sept. 7 with the inaugural Buffalo Valley Cross Country Stampede on the Buffalo Valley golf course in Unicoi. Milligan is the host of that event.
The school will also host a volleyball tournament this weekend –Milligan Mountain Madness at Lacy Fieldhouse. It’s a two-day event with St. Catherine’s, Bryan, Emmanuel and Southern Wesleyan.
Milligan will open against St. Catherine’s today at 3.
The Buffs are still looking for their first win of the young season. They lost three matches on a Florida trip last week.