The Women’s Basketball and Indoor Track & Field teams secured East Coast Conference Championships during the 2013-2014 winter athletics season. Both teams succeeded because of a combination of talent, depth, and a complete team effort. Guided by Head Coach Alton Mckenzie, the Indoor Track & Field Team now has earned back-to-back ECC championships, while the Women’s Basketball team will look to achieve the same feat next season.
Indoor Track & Field
The Indoor Track & Field team ran in nine multi-team meets this season, and a majority of the student-athletes displayed consistent improvement. The team was led by Kaydian Jones (Journalism–Kingston, Jamaica/St. Andrew HS) and Shauna-Kay Creary (Accounting–Kingston, Jamaica/St. Andrew HS). Kaydian is a senior who was selected to compete at the NCAA Division II Championships this year in the 200M and 4x400M events. She finished 14th in the country with a time of 25.06 in the 200M and her 4x400M relay team finished 6th in the nation and earned All-American status. Jones was also given All-Region honors for her performances in the 60M, 200M, Long Jump, and 4x400M relay.
Shauna-Kay Creary is also a senior, and helped the Firebirds score crucial points in the Field to secure the ECC Championship. She competed in five events, which included a 2nd place finish in the High Jump, 2nd place in the Triple Jump, and 3rd in the Long Jump. (Below is a picture of all the gear she needed to pull this off!)
“This year was different because we were defending our title, so the spotlight was more on us in comparison to last year where nobody was really looking at our small team to win the Conference,” Creary said. Defending a championship is never an easy feat, but the Firebirds’ consistent improvement throughout the season helped to defy any challengers. (See below the jubilation on the face of Kaydian Jones as she hugs Coach McKenzie after the Firebirds sealed the championship)
Throughout the 2013-2014 season, the Indoor Track & Field 4x400M relay team was dominant. In fact, they blew away the competition at the ECC Championship meet then had an excellent showing at the NCAA Division II Championship meet. The Relay Team finished 6th in the nation, good enough to receive All-American honors. These all Americans were Kaydian Jones, Simone Grant (Health Education–Bronx, NY/Pelham Prep Academy), Marlena Wright (Journalism–Bronx, NY/Dewitt Clinton HS), and Jerily Benjamin (Health Education–Queens, NY/Phillip Randolph HS).
Head Coach Alton Mckenzie was pleased with the effort displayed by the student-athletes, and is already looking forward to continued improvement. “The main feeling I have is one of knowing that there’s always more significant goals to strive for so we cannot rest on our laurels,” Mckenzie said. “My focus never really centered on how I felt about the team’s success or accomplishments, because I know how hard they worked to attain that success. If anything it was reassuring to see that we’re being consistent with our performances.”
The Women’s Basketball team finished their regular season with an impressive record of 21-8 (15-5 in the ECC). This was good enough to earn them the 2nd seed in the ECC Championship Tournament, behind only top-seeded LIU Post. UDC was able to defeat LIU Post on their home court to secure the ECC Championship with a final score of 67-57. Telisha Turner (Criminal Justice–Wilmington, Delaware / Glasgow HS) led the Firebirds with 24 points in the game.
“We came in as the underdog to win it and Coach was telling us in the locker room that he never won on this court. They beat us last time we played in there, so we definitely had a chip on our shoulders and felt like we owed them one,” Turner explained.
It was a very emotional win for the Women’s Basketball team and junior Denikka Brent (Mechanical Engineering–Chesapeake, VA/Booker T. Washington HS). “I would say the most memorable moment of the season was the last seven seconds of the East Coast Conference Championship game. We were up, and we had the ball. We basically were stalling until the time ran out. I remember looking at everyone’s facial expression change as it started to sink in that we were conference champs. That moment was the most overwhelming moment of my life,” Brent said.
The Firebirds earned a No. 5 seed with their automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament but were defeated in the first round by Stonehill College. This, however, did not detract from their overall stellar season.
Head Coach Jay Butler summed up the experience of winning an ECC Championship like this: “It was a special season for us coming off of a 10-win season in 2012-13, and to be able to win the 2014 ECC championship the following year was a great accomplishment.”