Sports Challenges Showcase Soccer and Softball Skills of Students, Faculty, and Staff

Friday, May 12, 2023

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Softball participants pause for a group photo at home plate
This week’s softball competition between students and faculty and staff attracted a great turnout.

You’ve heard of the World Series and the World Cup – well, at the conclusion of the spring semester, the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine continued its own epic sports tradition as faculty and staff faced off with students in the traditional end of semester soccer and softball games. The first round of competition featured soccer matches played at the Purdue Turf Recreation Exercise Center (TREC) Indoor Soccer Complex in April. The second round consisted of the annual senior student vs. faculty/staff softball game, which was held just this week, on Wednesday, May 10, at the softball fields to the west of the Co-Rec/TREC complex.

The softball game featured a “huge turnout” by the students, according to faculty event coordinator, Dr. Craig Thompson, clinical associate professor of clinical pathology. “They had two full teams and we played nine innings,” Dr. Thompson said. “The faculty team had a big first few innings, but the defense fell apart and the students found their offensive stride and ultimately won 16-10.” To Dr. Thompson’s recollection, this is only the second time the students have won.

Student teams consisted of veterinary medicine, clinical year, and veterinary nursing students. At least some of the credit for their success goes to fourth-year student Ernie Harshman, who coordinated student participation. Dr. Thompson organized the faculty team. The teams were co-ed, and everyone was encouraged to play or come to support their respective squads. Another plus involved the fact that the team members’ significant others and offspring also were welcome to play.  It was a fun capstone sporting event at the end of the spring semester.

Soccer match participants gather for a group photo near goal
The first of the two PVM soccer matches featured talents of first- and second-year DVM students and faculty, staff, and family members.

The other major spring sporting event for the college featured the traditional competition on the soccer pitch between students and the faculty and staff, which Dr. Steve Thompson chronicled in a very detailed recap, from which this summary is excerpted. On the Saturday of Easter weekend (April 8), the students squared off against the faculty/staff team in two matches at the TREC. The first game began at noon with just enough attendance from the faculty and staff and their families and a comparable student turnout from the first- and second-year DVM classes to make the match possible. Max Rowley, of the DVM Class of 2023, supported the effort as a central referee.

The first-half started as a six on six match-up, with Dr. Steve Thompson, clinical associate professor of small animal primary care, protecting the goal for the faculty/staff team. The students played solid defense as the faculty/staff team gained possession of the ball.  With Dr. Craig Thompson sidelined because he was preparing for the upcoming softball game, his wife, Amanda, and son, Dante, stepped in to play for the faculty side. This powerful combo proved effective when Dante scored a goal, giving his team the first lead of the day. Then, Dr. Chad Brown, director of Purdue Veterinary Nursing Programs, made a defensive move that, with help from sons of Drs. Hogan and Parnell, led to another successful shot on goal by Dante. Then, Dr. Justin Hayna, clinical assistant professor of equine theriogenology, arrived making it possible to play 7 on 7. The change seemed to energize the students and Ximena Yanez, on an assist by Bridget Mallin, found the back of the net with her shot. The students again took possession and Bridget found Adrian Dixon who scored to tie the game. As the half wound down, Dante took over goalie duties and Dr. Thompson moved up into the wing, scoring a goal to give the faculty/staff team a one point lead.

The second-half began as a 6 on 6 competition so each team could have a sub. With Dr. Hayna adding some offense, the faculty/staff team continued scoring while the students only scored one more time, resulting in a final score of 6-2 in favor of the faculty/staff. 

Soccer match participants take a group photo at the goal line
The second faculty/staff v. student soccer match featured a good turnout by the third- and fourth-year DVM students and included a good-natured refereeing controversy.

The second game featured a great showing by the third- and fourth-year DVM students and Veterinary Nursing students enabling them to field a team of 14, along with classmates who came to cheer them on. The faculty/staff sideline was more sparse, but included Drs. Nolie Parnell and Jessica Christensen who were there for verbal support. Bridget agreed to referee.

As the defending co-ed soccer intramurals champions from last spring for all of Purdue campus, the students jumped out to a quick lead with Kami Graber setting up Max for a quick goal after Bridget started the game quickly, even as a faculty/staff team member was just running back onto the field from the break between games. As the game continued, the students dominated possession, but the faculty/staff team was able to even the score on a goal by Keenan Hogan. Later, Kami found herself all alone at the near post and put the ball in the net easily outside of the goalie’s reach. The faculty/staff team would up their pressure, but Carter Huber made multiple saves as the students’ goalie, before the faculty/staff team evened the score with a goal by Cotter Hogan. Additional goals by both teams resulted in a 4-3 hafltime score in favor of the students, albeit with some controversy about the referee’s clock management, which resulted in the faculty/staff team playing with only six on the field when Kami scored the go-ahead goal that earned her a hat trick. 

The second-half was played as a 6 on 6 match with Drs. Thompson and Brown sharing goalie duties and turning away many point blank shots on goal by the students. But then, alert plays by Max and Stephanie Verkuilen led to a goal by Kami who expertly placed her shot past Dr. Brown. Possession favored the students as the game entered the final 10 minutes, and Kami got another chance to beat Dr. Brown with a clinical finish and pad the student lead at 6-3. The faculty/staff team kept competing and ultimately a hard cross from Dr. Thompson that was perfectly timed, hit Dr. Max Derré, small animal surgery resident, in stride for a quality late goal that made the score 4-6. In the waning minutes, the students subbed freely to ensure that everyone had playing time, before an additional goal by each team resulted in the students winning by a two goal advantage. 

The Class of 2023 will graduate with a 1-0 record in the soccer series, one of only a few classes to achieve a winning record, according to Dr. Thompson. The Class of 2024 will have a 1-0 record to carry forward to next semester. Dr. Thompson pointed out that the faculty and staff have won or tied 21 of their 39 games. The students have a combined record of 18-16-5.

Writer(s): Kevin Doerr |

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