UWA football takes GSC crown outright in Valdosta

VALDOSTA, Ga. – For once in their lives West Alabama players had permission to be stingy – greedy even – and it paid off as the Tigers claimed the outright 2017 Gulf South Conference football championship with a 38-14 victory over Valdosta State at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.

The win improved the Tigers to 8-2 overall and 7-1 in league play. Over the last two seasons West Alabama is 13-3 in Gulf South Conference games, winning the outright league crown this year for the first time since 2012 and winning seven GSC games for the first time in school history.

Valdosta State is 4-4 overall and 3-3 in GSC play. A Blazer win along with other GSC team wins paired with a UWA loss could have left the Tigers in a multi-team tie for the conference crown.

West Alabama made sure there was never a doubt. Valdosta State never got closer than 10 points as the Tigers ran up 511 yards of total offense, 277 of those on the ground. The Tiger defense limited VSU to just 4-of-14 on third down conversions and 1-of-3 on fourth down tries.

“We said we were going to be greedy all week,” defensive end Terrence Jones said. “Sharing was never an option.”

The Tigers jumped to a 14-0 lead on a 2-yard first quarter score and 3-yard touchdown run in the second period by Lakenderic Thomas, who finished the game with 129 yards on 18 carries. Tyler Rogers was a more than adequate compliment to Thomas, piling up 114 yards on 14 carries. Neither had a negative-yards rushing play.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this football team and this staff,” UWA head coach Brett Gilliland said. “We came out with a mindset to start fast and we made the necessary plays to do that. We set the tone early and made it stand up.”

A 25-yard field goal by Colin Douglas and a 29-yard touchdown pass from Valdosta State quarterback Rogan Wells to Brian Saunds with just over a minute left in the second quarter made it 17-7 West Alabama at the half.

“We didn’t want to share a title, so this was a statement game for us,” Thomas said. “Our offensive line may have had their best game all year. They knew what we had to do and did it.”

Rogers dampened the Valdosta State halftime enthusiasm by sprinting 59 yards to score on the fifth play of the second half, increasing the UWA lead to 24-7.

“Our scout team did a great job all week giving us a great look,” Rogers said. “Our offensive line got a great push and it’s just our job to hit the hole.”

Wells hooked up with Tshumbi Johnson for a 14-yard touchdown pass to cut the West Alabama lead to 24-14 with 9:03 left in the third period. The Blazers would not score again.

Donta Armstrong made a SportsCenter Top 10 touchdown play, leaping over double coverage in the endzone to snatch a 31-yard touchdown pass from Harry Satterwhite to make it 31-14 with 10:22 left.

“We came out of the timeout and Coach Gilliland and Coach (offensive coordinator Don) Bailey said ‘let’s end this thing’,” Armstrong said. “Once the ball is in the air it’s either ours or nobody’s. I knew I would come down with it.”

Tevin Moore finished the scoring with 28 seconds left, capping a 10-play, 40-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run.

Satterwhite was 18-for-30 for 234 yards and was sacked just one time. Wells completed 17-of-34 for 199 yards and was sacked three times. Wells was also VSU’s leading rusher with 91 yards on 16 carries.

Armstrong finished with seven catches for 118 yards and Barnard McGhee caught four for 31. Armstrong finished with 197 all-purpose yards after getting 79 punt return yards.

Saunds was VSU’s leading receiver with five grabs for 76 yards.

Terry Samuels was West Alabama’s leading tackler with 6.5 stops, including a sack. Jones and Devante Davis also sacked Wells. Malik Slater had 7.5 tackles to lead Valdosta State.

West Alabama finishes the regular season by hosting North Greenville in a non-conference game Saturday at Tiger Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. Valdosta State closes its season at Shorter.

UWA cuts ribbon at Center for Workforce Development on campus

The University of West Alabama held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the launch of its Center for Workforce Development on Nov. 2. Pictured left to right: Dr. Tina N. Jones, executive director of UWA’s Division of Economic Development and Outreach; Mr. Curtis Jones, instructor of automotive technology at UWA; Dr. Mary Hanks, chair of UWA’s Ira D. Pruitt Division of Nursing; Mr. Joseph Brown, Alabama Power Company, economic development chair for UWA’s board of trustees; Dr. Aliquippa Allen, interim dean of UWA’s College of Business and Technology; Dr. Donnie Cobb, CIST professor and director of UWA’s Center for Workforce Development; Ms. Angela Till, State of Alabama deputy secretary of commerce; Mr. Fitzgerald Washington, State of Alabama secretary of labor; Dr. Ken Tucker, UWA president; Mr. J.D. Pruitt, instructor of welding at UWA; Ms. Veronica Triplett, director of UWA’s Center for Business and Entrepreneurial Services; Mr. Johnnie Aycock, special assistant to the president at UWA; and Allison Brantley, director of economic development at UWA.

LIVINGSTON, Ala.—The University of West Alabama hosted a full roster of state, regional, and local officials on Thursday, Nov. 2, for the ribbon cutting ceremony commemorating the launch of the new UWA Center for Workforce Development at Hunt Annex on campus.

UWA President Ken Tucker welcomed a standing-room only crowd, thanking all in attendance for their commitment to supporting the University in its efforts to drive workforce and economic development for the Black Belt region.

“We want to create an education and training pipeline to help unemployed and underemployed individuals to increase their knowledge and abilities so they can get better jobs, pay raises, benefits, and other opportunities that will increase their standard of living,” Tucker said. “Rather than being an island unto itself, UWA is working with local and regional leaders to make a positive difference in the lives of those we serve.”

Dr. Tina N. Jones, executive director of UWA’s Division of Economic Development and Outreach, introduced several special guests and explained that the Division serves not only Sumter County, but west Alabama and the entire Black Belt region by developing the unique natural and cultural assets to address the educational, social, and economic needs of the area.

Mr. Joseph Brown, Western Division manager for Alabama Power Company, sits on the UWA Board of Trustees and serves as chair of its economic development committee. Brown spoke to the crowd gathered, offering the Board’s support and encouragement for this endeavor.

“This event and this initiative are proof of the positive impact that UWA has on economic and workforce development on and off campus,” Brown said. “This Center is truly fulfilling a tremendous need in our region.”

Alabama Secretary of Labor Fitzgerald Washington also applauded UWA’s efforts, which he says are proving to be fruitful. Sumter County’s unemployment rate is down from 6.2 percent to 4.7 percent. He said that Alabama is currently paying 15 percent lower in unemployment wages than the state has paid in the last decade.

“We made a commitment to lower unemployment rates, and that’s what we plan to continue doing, bringing these rates down to single digits” Washington said, citing an only 3.8 percent unemployment rate for Alabama right now, down from 4.2 percent in August and tied for Alabama’s lowest in history. He said Alabama boasts the largest recent drop in the nation.

Angela Till, deputy secretary of commerce for the State of Alabama, commended the University for working to align with the needs or area businesses and industries to improve the overall economy.

“Without workforce development, there is no economic development,” Till said. “UWA is helping to build and strengthen a qualified workforce, and this is vital to our state’s economy.”

Dr. Donnie Cobb, professor of computer information systems and technology for UWA’s College of Business and Technology, serves as director of the new Center for Workforce Development. Cobb shared some of the ways people can support and empower the Center, from offering facility tours at area operations, discussions with students, donations of consumables, and any other steps that can help guide student success.

“Our program has seen a 600 percent growth in recent years, and although that’s phenomenal, we want more,” Cobb said.

Interim Dean Dr. Aliquippa Allen also spoke on behalf of the College of Business and Technology, commending the faculty and staff that have taken lead roles in creating the center and driving its success. She introduced Mr. Curtis Jones, instructor of automotive technology, and Mr. J.D. Pruitt, instructor of welding. Both have developed curriculum as part of the University’s workforce development effort to prepare students for certificate programs that increase their skill levels and can even be transferred toward a two- or four-year program.

Information on UWA’s Workforce Development programs and contact information relevant to each are online at http://www.uwa.edu/workforce_ development.aspx.

To learn more about UWA’s Center for Workforce Development or the programs and initiatives offered to empower and grow west Alabama’s workforce, contact Dr. Donnie Cobb at 205-652-3704 or email him at dcobb@uwa.edu. Reach the Division of Economic Development and Outreach by calling 205-652-3828 or email Dr. Tina N. Jones at tnj@uwa.edu.

UWA students crown Elizabeth Jones of Tuscaloosa Homecoming Queen

The UWA 2017 Homecoming Court, pictured left to right, are sophomore maid Ma’Kiyah Hall of Reform, Ala.; LaPrease Sparks of Birmingham, Ala.; Chloe Paige of Hattiesburg, Miss.; UWA’s 2017 Homecoming Queen Elizabeth Jones of Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Lauren Sevenish of Tuscaloosa, Ala..; Quenterica White of Sawyerville, Ala.; and freshman maid Rian Crawford of Pell City, Ala.

LIVINGSTON, Ala.—During Homecoming festivities on Saturday, Oct. 28, the University of West Alabama announced its 2017 Homecoming Queen, Elizabeth Jones of Tuscaloosa. Jones and the Homecoming Queen’s court were nominated and elected by the UWA student body as the leading ladies of the week.

The queen, a closely guarded secret, was announced and crowned on the field during halftime festivities at the UWA vs. West Florida game on Saturday.

Homecoming Queen Elizabeth Jones is a senior from Tuscaloosa. A graduate of Hillcrest High School, Jones is majoring in elementary education. She is a member of the UWA cheerleading team and is vice president of Phi Mu Fraternity.

Jones serves as a UWA Orientation leader and vice president of the student ambassador leadership council. She is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Kappa Delta Pi, and Blue Key Honor Societies. She has served as a UWA CARES peer mentor and was named to Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.

Jones is the daughter of Steven and Lisa Jones and the late Katharyn Jones. She was escorted on the field by her father.

Chloe Paige, a senior from Hattiesburg, Miss., and nursing major, is a member of the court. A graduate of Hattiesburg High School, Paige is a member of the Student Government Association and Student Nurses Association and also serves as treasurer of her nursing class.

Paige works as a student recreation attendant at Hughes Gym, UWA’s Rec Center.  She is a Trustee Scholar and a 2017 John Brown Scholar through the First Presbyterian Church of Livingston. She is the daughter of the late Arthur Ray Russell and Tamika Paige, and she was escorted on the field by her brother, Keirston Paige.

Lauren Sevenish, a senior from Tuscaloosa, is a member of the court. She is a graduate of Tuscaloosa County High school and is majoring in Integrated Marketing Communications with a focus in graphic design. Sevenish is a member of Phi Eta Sigma, Phi Kappa Phi, Alpha Chi, and Lambda Pi Eta. She serves as an Orientation leader and Ambassador for UWA’s Office of Admissions. She also serves as the public relations chair for the UWA Student Government Association.

Sevenish is president of Blue Key Honor Society, president of Cardinal Key Honor Society and president of the UWA Ambassador Leadership Council. She is the daughter of Rick Sevenish and Shell Ann Golden, and she was escorted on the field by her father.

LaPrease Sparks, a senior from Birmingham, is a member of the court. Sparks, a graduate of Ramsay High School, is majoring in elementary education. She is a member of Alpha Phi Omega, Alpha Chi Honor Society, Phi Kappa Phi, and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.

Sparks is the acting Anti-Basileus and Epistoleus of Sigma Gama Rho Sorority, Inc. She serves as a resident assistant for UWA Housing in Gilbert Hall. She was recognized by Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. She is the daughter of laPerrian Sparks and Melvin Davis and was escorted on the field by her father.

Quenterica White, a senior from Sawyerville, is a member of the court. She is a graduate of Francis Marion High School and is majoring in elementary education. White has been a member of the UWA Scarlet Band for almost four years and has served as a member of Side Court Posse for one year.

White is a pledge of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity. She has been named on the Dean’s List several times at UWA. She is in her second year serving as a UWA resident assistant for Hoover Apartments. She is the daughter of Randall and Malinda White and was escorted on the field by her father.

Ma’Kiyah Hall, a sophomore from Reform, is the court’s sophomore maid. Hall is a graduate of Pickens County High School. Ma’Kiyah is a member of UWA’s Scarlet Band as a Scarlet Guard. She is the daughter of Marlin and Jennifer Hall and was escorted on the field by her father.

Rian Crawford of Pell City is the court’s freshman maid. Crawford attended Pell City High School. She is a member of the UWA Cheerleading Team.  A criminal justice major, she is the daughter of Willard and La Tonya Crawford and was escorted on the field by her father.

University Charter School announces PK-8 opening structure

University Charter School signed its official charter on Thursday, Oct. 26, marking the beginning of a five-year contract with its authorizer, the Alabama Public Charter School Commission. Pictured left to right at the charter signing ceremony are University of West Alabama President Ken Tucker, University Charter School Board President Micky Smith, APCSC Chairman Mac Buttram, UCS Head of School Dr. J.J. Wedgworth, and Logan Searcy of the Alabama State Department of Education. The University of West Alabama sponsored the application for the new charter school in Sumter County, which is set to open for grades pre-k through eight in August 2018. The school will add a grade each year to become a pre-k through 12 school in 2022.

LIVINGSTON, Ala.—Sumter County’s new University Charter School has now entered into contract with the Alabama Public Charter School Commission with a pre-k through 8th opening grade structure. At the charter signing ceremony, held Thursday, Oct. 23, in UWA’s Tutwiler Conference Center, school leaders and the Alabama Public Charter School Commission signed the contract outlining a final plan for opening, enrollment, and development of the school.

A standing room only crowd gathered in support of the charter signing. APCSC was represented by Chairman Mac Buttram and Logan Searcy. UWA President Ken Tucker offered support on behalf of the University of West Alabama, and UCS Board President Micky Smith thanked all in attendance for the continued support shown to the effort.

Buttram commended the community and school organizers for the work that has been done thus far to establish the school and provide opportunity and choice to students. He also recognized UWA for offering leadership in the application process, referencing the University’s long history of providing teacher education to the region.

“I hope some other universities will look at what UWA has done and follow their lead,” Buttram said, referencing several other higher education institutions that were once teacher colleges, like UWA.

Opening in August of 2018, the school will serve grades pre-k through eight and will add one grade per year to reach grade 12 by the 2022-23 academic year. The finalized contract is a framework that has evolved to accommodate the needs and interests expressed by the community, including grade structure and enrollment eligibility.

“We are excited to solidify plans for University Charter School and begin the process of registering and enrolling students for the 2018-19 school year,” said Head of School Dr. J.J. Wedgworth. “We believe we have a strong plan for moving forward and for meeting the needs and interests of the community as determined through the interest surveys we have collected.”

Wedgworth explained that the school was first expected to open for pre-k through 5th grade, but an interest inventory conducted throughout the community following the school’s application approval showed the need for additional grades. She said that the Commission allowed flexibility if plans could be backed by significant research.

“The goal is for UCS to provide an educational option to as many of the children in our region as practically possible,” Wedgworth said. “Based on the results of our recently-conducted interest survey, the practical grade structure based on enrollment interest is pre-k through 8th grade. Although we originally planned to open with a pre-k through 5th grade structure adding the remaining upper grades in Year 2, we saw an opportunity based on survey results to expand the opening grade structure and provide an educational option to more children in Year 1.”

Capacity for the first year is set at 350 students. Enrollment will include three phases: pre-registration, seat offering and acceptance, and final registration.

Pre-registration for kindergarten through 8th grade will begin Nov. 15, 2017, for students residing in Sumter County. With pre-registration for Sumter County residents concluding on December 13, if the number of Sumter County pre-registrants exceeds the facility’s capacity, a lottery for Sumter County residents will be held on Dec. 14.  If pre-registration does not exceed capacity, this lottery will not be necessary, and students will be offered available seats on a first-come, first-served basis.

A second pre-registration period will be held for students who do not live in Sumter County, including Mississippi residents who live within 15 miles of the Sumter County line or whose guardian works in Sumter County. These students can pre-register for kindergarten through 8th grade beginning January 3, 2018, through January 31, 2018. If the number of pre-registrants exceeds space remaining after Sumter County registration, a lottery for non-Sumter residents will be held on Feb. 1, 2018. If the number does not exceed availability, this lottery will not be necessary, and students will be offered available seats on a first-come, first-served basis.

Pre-kindergarten will be open to students who will turn four years old on or before Sept. 1, 2018. Enrollment for pre-kindergarten will be announced at a later date, as directed by the Office of School Readiness policies and procedures for First Class Pre-K Classrooms.

“UCS will continue pre-registration until all seats are filled or until we feel that we have reached a sustainable founding class size,” Wedgworth explained.

Following pre-registrations and any lottery drawings that may be necessary, parents and students will receive letters from UCS with an offer for a seat in the grade in which they pre-registered. Parents must then accept or decline the seat in that grade in order to move into the final registration process. Following acceptance of a seat offer, the seat is held for the student, and the student’s more detailed application will be completed for enrollment.

“For all three phases of enrollment—pre-registration, seat offering and acceptance, and final registration—UCS will utilize SchoolMint, which is a mobile and cloud-based student enrollment platform,” Wedgworth said. “We believe this system is a good fit for our needs, and it’s easy to use. I encourage all students and their families to set up a profile now on SchoolMint to become familiar with the platform and to be prepared for the opening of pre-registration.”

Beginning November 15, the pre-registration application will be available to families residing in Sumter County, but parents can access UCS’s SchoolMint platform now to create an account at https:// universitycharterschool. schoolmint.net/signin.

Anyone who would like assistance or has limited access to a computer, mobile device, or internet can participate in one of six on-site pre-registration sessions, three for each pre-registration period. For Sumter County resident pre-registration, the sessions are scheduled for Nov. 20, Dec. 4, and Dec. 13. For non-Sumter County resident pre-registration, the sessions are scheduled for Jan. 4, Jan. 15, and Jan. 30. All sessions will be open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., held in Lyon Hall Room A136.

UCS will be housed temporarily in Lyon Hall, which is home to the University of West Alabama’s Julia S. Tutwiler College of Education.

“Plans are already being made for constructing a standalone, independent facility for University Charter School,” Wedgworth said. “As the school grows and develops, a new facility will be built to reflect the school’s needs and offerings. This will be built in a different area on campus already designated to University Charter School. We look forward to matching the innovative school plan with a facility that will house its many offerings and accommodate a growing student body.”

University Charter School is the result of an innovative collaboration between UWA and its surrounding community. A rural, regional public institution of higher education, UWA, in fulfillment of its mission to “improve the region through education and outreach” fostered the development of UCS as a solution to some of the unique challenges facing rural public education in the Black Belt region.

By partnering with UWA, UCS will open with the support of an experienced board of directors, well-trained teachers and staff, and proven systems to implement the innovative educational model. The University partnership will bring to UCS relationships within the education and philanthropic communities and experience in the design, implementation, and support of staff from the Julia S. Tutwiler College of Education that are formally trained in rural education.

“University Charter School was designed with input from and support of the community to meet the needs and desires of the community and this will continue to be the priority for the school,” Wedgworth said.

To learn more about University Charter School, call 205-652-5459 or visit www.universitycharterschool. org. Further information on enrollment, employment, and other operations of the school will be announced as it continues to be developed.

Tigers to feature throwback LU helmet decal for Homecoming

LIVINGSTON – West Alabama football will recognize the days of the only national title in school history and the winningest coach in program history by wearing the old “LU” logo on one side of its helmet for Saturday’s Homecoming game against West Florida.

The right side of the UWA red helmet will have the current Tiger Head logo and the left side will feature the LU, harkening back to the days (1967-95) when the institution was known as Livingston University.

The 1971 LU football team won the only national championship in school history, while Coach Frank North (1979-84) won 31 games to top the all-time Tiger coaching win list. A group of North’s former players and friends are gathering in his honor for a tailgate party behind Tiger Stadium Saturday at 2 p.m.

West Alabama sits atop the Gulf South Conference standings with a 5-1 league record (6-2 overall) and can clinch at least a share of the GSC championship with a win. West Florida is 5-2 overall and 3-2 in conference play.

Kickoff is set for 4:04 p.m.

This year’s Homecoming game will be televised/streamed on ESPN3, which includes WatchESPN and the ESPN app. ESPN3 is available to affiliated TV and high-speed internet service providers in the United States, on college campuses and on U.S. military bases.

UWA announces schedule for Homecoming celebration

LIVINGSTON – Homecoming activities begin Wednesday, Oct. 25, at the annual Serendipity talent show. Students will compete for prize money and bragging rights in four categories. Serendipity begins at 7 p.m. at Lyon Hall Quad, across from Bibb Graves Auditorium. Eh440, a Toronto-based vocal group, will serve as emcees for the event. The 2017 Homecoming court will be presented during Serendipity.

On Thursday, Oct. 26, Coach Brett Gilliland, the Tiger football team, the Scarlet Band from Tiger Land, UWA cheerleaders, LUie and spirit groups will be on hand for the Homecoming bonfire, pep rally and fireworks show at 8 p.m. at the Intramural Complex. Following the pep rally, the Office of Student Engagement will host a DJ and band party for UWA students.

Friday kicks off alumni events for Homecoming, beginning with a 3-Man Scramble hosted by UWA Baseball and UWA Softball at Livingston Country Club. The event begins with lunch at 11:30 a.m., followed by a 1 p.m. tee time. The cost is $100 for an individual or $300 per team. Contact Gary Rundles at 205-652-3870 or Carie Dever-Boaz at 205-652-3485 to register.

The annual UWA alumni party, sponsored by the National Alumni Association and the Office of Alumni Affairs, is one of the most anticipated events of the year for the UWA family. The party begins Oct. 27 at 6 p.m. at the courtyard of Bell Conference Center on campus. Always a great time for friends, food and fun, this year’s party will feature live entertainment by Alexander City-based band Lucky Town. Admission to the party is included with NAA membership. Alumni may also renew their NAA membership at the door.

During the alumni party, the UWA Campus School will host Parents’ Night Out for children age six weeks and older from 6-10 p.m. The cost for a family is $25 for one child, and $15 per additional child, which includes pizza and drinks. To register by Oct. 23, contact Kim Smith at 205-652-3832or ksmith@uwa.edu.

Tiger Volleyball fans have two opportunities to catch a match during Homecoming weekend. UWA faces UAH on Friday at 6 p.m. at Pruitt Gym. Fans are encouraged to wear pink for breast cancer awareness. UWA will host UNA on Sunday at 1 p.m. Admission is free for both games.

On Saturday, Oct. 28, Homecoming festivities continue at 10 a.m. with an alumni awards reception hosted by the NAA and Alumni Affairs at Bell Conference Center. Each college will present its Alumni Achievement and Emerging Leader Awards, and former Tiger greats will be inducted into the UWA Athletic Hall of Fame, while the NAA presents other prestigious awards.

In the art gallery of Webb Hall on campus, Sumter County native Travis L. Truelove’s photography will be on exhibit from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Truelove’s photography features deer, fish, birds, and other wildlife.

Softball fans will gather at 10:30 a.m. at the UWA Softball Complex for the Alumni Softball Game. Join fellow softball alumni and coaches for a few friendly innings of softball. Contact Coach Carie Dever-Boaz at 205-652-3485 to know more or sign up to play.

There will be a rededication ceremony hosted by the Department of History and Social Sciences, for the Freedom Wall, which was established in memory of longtime history professor Dr. David Bowen. The ceremony is set for 11 a.m. at Wallace Hall.

Colleges and divisions will host alumni for a picnic lunch on Foust Lawn beginning at 11:30 a.m. The lunch features catfish, chicken, and tailgate snacks, and alumni are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or quilts to be comfortable and enjoy the gathering. To RSVP, call 205-652-3586.

Spirited festivities continue at 1 p.m. when UWA students and organizations, special guests, and marching bands from across the state wind through downtown Livingston for the annual Homecoming parade.

The family-friendly Homecoming festival, Tiger Cubs and Tailgate, begins at 2 p.m. on the Campus School lawn with inflatable moonwalks and games for the little ones. Festival activities are free.

In addition, former players and friends of former LU football coach Frank North will gather in his honor for a tailgate party behind Tiger Stadium at 2 p.m.

Tiger fans can show their support for the Tiger Prowl, which begins at 3 p.m. at Lyon Hall Quad. The Tiger football team, cheerleaders, and band will make their way from the Quad between Lyon Hall and Bibb Graves Hall to Tiger Stadium for the afternoon football game.

UWA and West Florida kick off at 4 p.m. at Tiger Stadium. Pre-game festivities feature the Scarlet Band from Tiger Land show and the newest Athletic Hall of Famers serving as honorary team captains. In addition, the homecoming court will be presented at halftime, and the new queen will be crowned. General admission for the game is $15. For more details on ticketing visit www.uwaathletics.com.

For more information about UWA’s 2017 Homecoming events, please contact the Office of Alumni Affairs at 205-652-3852.

UWA overcomes deficit for win over nationally-ranked West Georgia

Tra Fletcher scores on a 34-yard pass from Harry Satterwhite with 3:22 to play Saturday night, pushing UWA over West Georgia.

LIVINGSTON, Ala. – Harry Satterwhite and Tra Fletcherconnected on a 34-yard pass and run with 3:22 left to play, completing a 34-31 come-from-behind West Alabama victory over West Georgia in a battle of two nationally-ranked teams Saturday at Tiger Stadium.

Ranked 15th in the D2Football poll and 23rd in the AFCA poll, West Alabama extended its winning streak to five games by beating a ranked opponent for the third time in four weeks. The Tigers are 6-1 overall and 5-0 in Gulf South Conference play.

West Georgia, ranked 17th and 22nd, had its winning streak snapped at three games, dropping to 5-2 and 2-2. Both Wolves losses have come on the road to nationally-ranked opponents.

When Fletcher weaved his way into the north endzone with the game winner, it marked the only time West Alabama led in the game. West Georgia led 28-17 at the half, but the Tiger defense limited the GSC’s top total offensive team to just three points in the final 30 minutes.

“That was my first game-winner,” Fletcher said. “They play wasn’t intended for me, but Harry was scrambling so I came back to the ball and just made a play.”

West Alabama was forced to kick off from its own 20-yard line following Fletcher’s game-winner due to an excessive celebration penalty. The Wolves drove to the UWA 23 before Jordan Jones blocked a 31-yard field goal attempts Trey Wiggins, but UWG was called for delay of game and handed another play to either tie or take the lead.

The Wolves opted to go for it on fourth-and-11 from the Tiger 28 and Candler’s pass was picked off by Tiger linebacker Khalia Hackett.

With three West Georgia timeouts left, the Tigers were forced to punt, giving West Georgia one last shot from its own 16 with three seconds to play. Willie Candler completed a 28-yard pass to Shannon Smith as time expired.

“We executed and did just enough to win, but we also did just enough to lose,” UWA head coach Brett Gilliland said. “I am proud of our defense, especially in the second half to hold a great West Georgia offense to just three points.

“We challenged our players about our energy and intensity at the half,” Gilliland said. “It was an emotional game with a lot of ups and downs.”

UWA’s 34 points is the most given up by West Georgia this season. The Wolves came into the game as the top scoring defense in the GSC, allowing just 14.2 points per game.

Satterwhite celebrated his 22nd birthday by completing 29-of-42 for 308 yards and three touchdowns. He was intercepted once. Candler was 13-of-21 for 212 yards, one TD and one interception.

“We had some mistakes, but that’s a really good football team,” Satterwhite said. “We just try to control what we can control and our playmakers made plays at the end. If we can get the ball to those guys in space, they can make plays.”

In addition to the game-winner to Fletcher, Satterwhite also hooked up with Corey Davis for scoring tosses of 26 and 16 yards. Lakendric Thomas scored on a 3-yard run, while Colin Douglas made field goals from 27 and 36 yards to complete UWA scoring.

“West Georgia has some great defensive backs,” Davis said. “It was a rollercoaster ride, but we kept the faith, played as a team and came out with the victory.”

The game began with a penalty and points for West Georgia. The Wolves were penalized 15 yards for an unsportsmanlike conduct during warmups, but Devontae Jackson returned the opening kickoff from his own endzone to spot the Wolves a 7-0 lead.

Jackson scored again in the first quarter on a 77-yard run and Candler connected with Mikell Lands-Davis to give West Georgia a 21-14 lead after one quarter, marking the most points UWA had allowed in the first period this season.

Candler used his legs to score again before the half on a 6-yard run with 8:25 to play in the second quarter. It would be the final time West Georgia visited the endzone. UWA outscored the Wolves 17-3 in the final 30 minutes.

Jackson led all rushers with 169 yards on 22 carries. He also caught three passes for 59 yards and returned four kickoffs for 145 yards while amassing 373 all-purpose yards.

“Jackson is a really good back. Arm tackling won’t work on him,” Tiger linebacker Terry Samuel said. “We just had to bow our back and be relentless. We knew we had to stop them.”

Davis led all receivers with eight catches for 79 yards, followed by Donta Armstrong with six for 69 yards and Qua Boydwith five for 69 yards. Thomas was the leading rusher for UWA with 62 yards on 15 carries.

Taderion Myhand piled up 12 tackles, nine solo, for West Alabama to lead all tacklers in the game. Samuel added 10 more. Myhand had 1.5 tackles for loss and Samuels two more. Terrence Jones and Michael Williams each recorded a sack for the Tigers. Tevin Madison recovered a fumble.

Cameron Magee had 10 tackles for the Wolves, followed by Korie Rogers with nine. UWG managed just three tackles for loss, with two of those coming on sacks by Deondre Gardenhire and Chad Price.

West Alabama remains in GSC play next week, traveling to Florida Tech (4-3) for a 1 p.m. CDT kickoff in Melbourne. West Georgia stays on the road to face Mississippi College (0-7).

UWA outlasts No. 9 Delta State for GSC win

CLEVELAND, Miss. – In a top 25 match-up that featured the top two offenses in the Gulf South Conference, it was the defenses and special teams that were the difference in a 29-26 West Alabama victory over Delta State Saturday at McCool Stadium.
The victory leaves West Alabama 5-1 overall and the only undefeated team in the GSC at 4-0. Delta State dropped to 5-1 and 3-1.
West Alabama built a 29-10 lead after three quarters, only to see Delta State cut the lead to the final margin before Vince Sciorrotta’s 27-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right with 1:05 left in the game.
“This was a GSC game on the road versus a great football team,” UWA head coach Brett Gilliland said. “They are the No. 9 team in the country for a reason.
“They are a playoff team and I hope we are,” Gilliland said. “We made some mistakes tonight that we haven’t done all year, and a good team like Delta State will take advantage of that.”
Hanging on to a 29-24 lead with 3:53 left, Delta State picked up a safety when a Tiger punt snap sailed over punter Zach Gaines head and out of the end zone. After trading punts, the Statesmen had a chance to send the game to overtime, but Sciorrotta’s miss sealed the deal.
Delta State started fast, picking up 89 yards on its first two drives, but the Tiger defense limited the league’s top rushing offense to just 36 yards on the next seven drives. The game of runs didn’t end there, however.
The Tigers and Statesmen traded interceptions right before the half. Tevin Madison corralled his third of the year off man coverage deep in UWA territory, but DSU returned the favor when Jamoral Graham intercepted Harry Satterwhiteto set up a Statesmen TD on a 54-yard pass from Collin Willis to Willis Chambers to make the halftime score 16-7 UWA.
West Alabama took control of the football game in the third quarter, outgaining Delta State 180 to 42 total yards, only to see the Statesmen outgain the Tigers 148-0 in the fourth period.
“That was a long, tough night,” UWA offensive tackle Dontavius Blair said. “Our defense really stepped up big and pulled on their big boy underwear. This was a night for big boys.”
Colin Douglas opened the scoring with a 25-yard field goal at 10:08 in the second period. Satterwhite and Tra Fletcherhooked up on a 42-yard scoring pass and Taderion Myhand scooped up a DSU fumble and returned it 23 yards for a TD with 2:42 left in the half.
Tyler Rogers popped a 62-yard run for a touchdown with just two minutes gone in the second half to stretch UWA’s lead to 22-10, but the two-point attempt failed. A 38-yard Sciorrotta field goal and a 1-yard plunge by Lakenderic Thomas gave the Tigers a 29-10 lead after three periods.
“We had to fight for everything we got tonight,” Rogers said. “We tried to pound them all night and I just saw an opening on the long run. We had to fight for all we got.”
Willis scored on a 4-yard run and Sciorrotta kicked two more field goals, from 43 and 32 yards, in the fourth quarter.
Satterwhite finished 17-of-34 for 189 yards, a TD and an interception. Willis completed 20-of-37 for 230 yards and a score after replacing starter Breck Ruddick, who was pulled late in the second quarter after completing 16-of-27 for 74 yards.
West Alabama stymied Chris Robinson, the leading rusher in the GSC, to just 16 yards on 12 carries. Ruddick led the Statesmen with 47 yards on seven trips. Kam Myers had nine receptions for 78 yards and Mario Lanier caught seven for 53 yards.
Thomas led UWA rushers with 80 yards on 26 carries, followed by Rogers with 70 yards on five rushes. Donta Armstrong led Tiger receivers with six catches for 36 yards. Fletcher caught four for 64 yards.
Terry Samuel led West Alabama defenders with 11.5 tackles, followed by Devante Davis with 9.5. West Alabama had seven sacks to increase the total over the last three games to 19. The Tiger offensive line did not allow a Satterwhite sack.
“We knew they had a great offense and we got what we expected from them” UWA defensive lineman Ashton Dericosaid. “We got what we expected from a great team. I am glad to come out of here with a win.”
The Tigers had 12 tackles for loss and forced three turnovers. UWA lost one fumble.
West Alabama returns to Tiger Stadium to host West Georgia on Saturday at 4 p.m. Delta State travels to West Florida.

UWA’s freshman class grows by 22 percent for fall 2017

LIVINGSTON, Ala.—The University of West Alabama has announced its fall 2017 enrollment, including triple-digit growth percentages in freshman interest and an increase in overall on-campus enrollment for the third consecutive year.

UWA’s freshman enrollment is up 22 percent from last year, from 370 to 453. This is UWA’s highest freshman enrollment since 1995, the year the school’s name was changed to reflect its commitment as a regional institution providing not only quality education, but also improving the quality of life for the citizens of west Alabama.

According to Dr. Blake Bedsole, director of admissions and enrollment management at UWA, the significant increases are the results of several efforts to grow enrollment.

“Our University has made an intentional effort to improve our communication plans,” Bedsole explained. “We’ve expanded our multi-channel marketing efforts, and our traveling counselors and in-house admissions staff have worked extremely hard to produce this kind of result.”

The enrollment number is not the only significant increase. UWA saw a staggering increase in freshman applications for the fall 2017 semester, growing by triple-digit percentages in several categories.

“These numbers prove that UWA is becoming a top choice for many students, and that more students are considering UWA than ever before. Equally impressive is the fact that the significant growth of the freshman class comes with no degradation in academic quality,” Bedsole said.

In this year’s freshman class, the average ACT score is 21, and average high school GPA is 3.35. Many of these students were valedictorian or salutatorian of their high school graduating class.

UWA’s 2017 freshman class represents 57 of Alabama’s counties, 16 states in the U.S., and five other countries.

Overall on-campus enrollment is up 3 percent, from 1,772 in fall 2016 to 1,819 students enrolled in on-campus classes for fall 2017. This number does not include online enrollment, which when factored in increases overall enrollment by 18 percent, from 3,514 to 4,148.

“This year’s admissions and enrollment numbers are very encouraging for UWA, especially considering that enrollment is flat or declining in many institutions across the U.S.,” said UWA President Ken Tucker. “Our University is committed to building on these efforts and continuing to recruit outstanding students, growing our academic and student offerings, and providing a high-quality, safe, and enjoyable educational experience that will prove an excellent return on investment for students for years to come.”

Established in 1835, the University of West Alabama is a fully accredited, four-year public institution located on a 600-acre campus in Livingston, Ala. UWA offers nearly 60 undergraduate and nearly 40 graduate degree programs. For more information on admissions, visit enroll.uwa.edu.

University Charter School Board names Wedgworth Head of School

LIVINGSTON, Ala.—The Board of Directors for Sumter County’s new University Charter School has just completed an interest inventory in an effort to prepare for the school’s August 2018 opening. The survey has been conducted by the newly-named head of school, Dr. J.J. Wedgworth.

The interest inventory, conducted through a survey collected online and via hard copy distributed to accessible public locations throughout the county, was designed to gauge the current level of interest in enrollment, as well as the specific educational needs of families interested in enrolling at University Charter School.

“We are pleased with the level of response we received from the interest inventory, and we are already working to ensure that these needs are addressed in our planning efforts,” Wedgworth said. “In preparing our application over several months, the team worked diligently to identify our county’s needs, most of which are common throughout the Black Belt region and even other rural communities throughout the nation. Conducting this interest inventory gives us solid information from the families University Charter School will serve and helps ensure that we work through this planning year to address their needs.”

Named head of school in September, Wedgworth will be responsible for oversight of all academic programs and curricula; faculty and staff hiring, professional development, compensation, other personnel matters; and student enrollment, and attendance, and will also oversee budgeting, financial management, fundraising, technology, and management of school facilities.

Wedgworth will also assist and guide the board of directors in making decisions in all areas covered under school governance and contract guidelines with the Alabama Public Charter School Commission.

The head of school will work closely with the principal of the school after that position has been established and filled.

Wedgworth said that the board will soon announce employment opportunities as well as application and enrollment periods. Enrollment will be open first to Sumter County residents, followed by a subsequent enrollment period for non-Sumter County residents of Alabama. If enrollment exceeds the school’s capacity, a lottery will be held.

Wedgworth has played a lead role in the school’s establishment, from feasibility research to application preparation, which proved successful when the Alabama Public Charter Schools Commission voted unanimously in July to approve the application. The school was the only one of three applications approved unanimously, without condition for this application cycle.

Consistent among Wedgworth’s professional efforts are successful efforts in improving the region through education, from scholarly research presentations on solutions to public health issues and quality of life assessments in the region to expertise in managing data and implementation of programs and initiatives resulting from that research.

Wedgworth said that as head of school, her mission is to do what’s best for students in every scenario.

“My mission is to have the courage to do the right thing for the children, day in and day out,” she said. “I will strive to successfully consult and collaborate to bring out the best in others in support of the students. I envision the faculty and staff of UCS as one that embodies a sustained, relentless commitment to improvement and to becoming a better version of themselves.”

According to Wedgworth, instilling that commitment will provide a single-minded focus to working on behalf of the students in the long-term, despite inevitable ups and downs. She hopes to continue building on the foundation of support that has brought the project to this point.

“We have received such strong support from the UWA Board of Trustees and from President Tucker, with their leadership and commitment to the mission. Mr. Johnnie Aycock and the application team worked diligently to develop an amazing framework for our school, and our community has shown tremendous support through this process.”

The University Charter School Founding Board of Directors includes President Mr. Micky Smith, Vice President Rev. Byron Franklin, Secretary Mr. Kyle Edmonds, Treasurer Ms. Veronica Triplett, Dr. Robert Witt, Ms. Leslie Prystup Emory, Mr. Anthony Crear, and Dr. Jan Miller.

“We have embarked on a mission to equip children to pursue their passions and to create a better future for themselves and our area,” Wedgworth said. “The coming year will be filled with promise and possibility, and fresh opportunities to learn, and grow and inspire.  I will strive to place ‘passion for students’ above everything else, and I will always consider it a privilege to serve in this role.”

Prior to this position, Wedgworth served as director of research integrity in UWA’s Office of Sponsored Programs and Research, having served in the department since 2014. During her tenure in this department, she facilitated the development of many successful grant applications campus-wide, developed a research compliance infrastructure for the university, and was also successful in co-authoring two major grants, including a National Science Foundation award and funding to establish the Steelcase Active Learning Center in UWA’s Lyon Hall. She has also served as an adjunct instructor for eight years, teaching classes for both the College of Education and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Before coming to UWA, Wedgworth was employed at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa as a research project manager for more than six years, as well as a tutor for athletic student services.

A Sumter County native, Wedgworth is a 2002 graduate of Sumter Academy and returned as a faculty member teaching high school science classes there while also coaching volleyball and softball. She holds a bachelor of science in biomedical science and psychology from Auburn University; a master of science in human environmental science with emphasis on rural health from the University of Alabama; and a doctorate in environmental microbiology, also from the University of Alabama.

To learn more about University Charter School, call 205-652-5459 or visit www.uwa.edu/charterschool. The page also includes a link to submit the interest survey or download a printable copy. Frequently asked questions are also addressed on the page. Enrollment, employment, and other information about the school will be advertised as it continues to be developed.