Athletic News

Goalie Tracy Griffin, #2 nationally in saves

WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Easily the world's most popular, most viewed, most played and most attended sport is soccer. The game also generates more revenue than all of the others. Anyone who has watched the World Cup recognizes the incredible passion with which the fans of futball (American soccer) express their affection for their favorite player or chosen teams.

While the game has not enjoyed the same following in the United States, it continues to thrive on the amateur level through college.

For Southwestern Assemblies of God University's Tracy Griffin, soccer is not just a game. It carries a strong devotion and purpose.

Griffin, the Lady Lions goal-keeper the past three seasons, recently ended her collegiate career as SAGU's all-time leader in games played, wins, shutouts (6) and saves. In fact, she led the Red River Athletic Conference in saves in 2010. She averaged a whopping 11.75 per game.

Kingpin Queen

A native of Wylie, Texas, the effervescent Griffin stood out like a kingpin in a bowling alley. She could be seen shouting encouragement to SAGU defenders, barking out coverage assignments, always a vocal and emotional lightning rod on a young team.

Her senior effort ranked her #2 in the nation in rejections, trailing only Berea College's Katie Downey. Berea, located south of Lexington, Kentucky, endured an 0-16 season that saw them outscored 86-3.

Griffin made 188 saves in 16 games, including four outings with 20 or more stops. Team Lioness also had a rough 1-15-1 campaign, scoring seven times while surrendering 58. Serving as the physical backstop and last line of defense, Griffin was kept busy by a leaky defense.

The goalie who donned the #1 jersey was the leader on a team that surrendered 3.4 goals per game. She posted one shutout, blanking Southwestern College (Ks) 2-0. Four times this season Griffin suffered defeats by the slimmest of scores, falling 1-0. Yielding two goals on four occasions led to three 2-1 setbacks and a 2-2 tie. In eight of the sixteen games she played this year she allowed two goals or less.

She also registered an 8-0 whitewashing of Southwestern Adventist University (Tx), a game the NAIA later negated when the SWAU team couldn't finish the season with enough healthy players.

She remains the only Lady Lions goalie to post a shutout.

Increasing the pressure on the netminder was an offense that failed to score in twelve of the team's 17 games. Still, she battled like a fearless badger.

As a junior she averaged 5.08 per game, which was second best in the RRAC. In her first year between the pipes she had a breakout season. In her sophomore debut, Griffin prevented 7.11 shots from reaching the net, a norm that rated #30 in the NAIA and #2 in the Red River.

That is 382 stops in 47 career games over three years. The women's soccer program at Southwestern has only been in existence since 2006, and Griffin has been one of the Lady Lions standout performers.

Making the Grades

Griffin, whose cheery disposition belies her gritty work ethic, was able to achieve her athletic success while making the Dean's List during six semesters.

Her first autumn on campus was bittersweet. She never missed a practice or a game, but was forced to redshirt due to a fractured leg that required surgery.

 

Resilient Badger: "Never Give Up!"

Griffin's battle cry was as old as it was motivational: Never Give Up!

"There was a few times where I just wanted to quit. I felt like an awful goalkeeper because we would lose almost every game," she said in a recent interview. "My confidence went down a lot, and I didn't like that feeling. But I knew I was placed at this school for a reason."

"God gave me talent to play, and a drive to play to use it best, even if we lost every single game. People would often tell me, "It's just a game." But it was not just a game to me! It's a passion and a love that I have. I don't just play it just to play it. I play it because I'm in love with the game! It is a great game!"

She sat down after the season to review her experience in establishing SAGU's women's soccer program. Griffin spoke glowingly of her coaches, teammates, about the progress the team achieved, and lessons learned while on the soccer pitch (field).

Tracy Griffin: Q & A

Q: Who were your head coaches at Southwestern?

TG: Well, when I came the program had only been two years old. It was coached by Jeremy Tosaya until my junior year. Tim Grant took over and finished out being my coach for my last two years.

Q: How about influential coaches prior to college?

TG: I played at Wylie High School (Class 5A) in the North Dallas school district. I also played for a very good club team, the Dallas Texans '88. They were very successful. I am an 89'er (year of birth), so I played a year up (against older players). It definitely had its challenging moments, but we did pretty well.

The coach I learned the most from was my personal goalkeeper coach, Paul Hason. He's from Czechoslovakia and is currently the SMU goalkeeping coach. He was a great and taught me everything! Also, my Texans coach, Jimmie Lankford, made a great impact on my soccer life.

Q: What made you want to play goalie?

TG: When I was 9 years old, our goalkeeper got hurt, so I volunteered to go in. I don't know what I was thinking! A ball came my way, and I tackled it! Ever since then I was nominated to be the keeper for teams.

I went to a soccer camp when I was 13, training with other goalkeepers. That camp sparked my career and equipped me to become a lot better. I have played soccer for 15 years now, and 12 years have been at goalie. The camps, the coaching and experience helped me to improve and hone my skills. They instilled a strong drive to want to play well.

Q: Summarize each of your seasons at Southwestern.

TG: My freshman year was when I broke my leg and had surgery.

I got to play every game in my sophomore season. I wrote down the teams we would play and the scores from each game from the previous year. I was determined not to yield as many goals as we did the year before. I did just that. We had two wins, and I had two shutouts that year. Both were firsts for SAGU.

As a junior – it was the same story, different year. My goal again was to let in fewer goals against the teams we played the previous years. With a few exceptions, we accomplished just that.

That year was the best year SAGU Women's Soccer has had. Between Mandy Fortner and Grant, they really helped this team so much. We won four games that year and only got "killed" by two good teams. We held our own, defensively. We were pretty solid. We lacked offense. The games were all very close; 2-1, 1-0, even 0-0. Scores like that. We all played well together.

My senior year - at the beginning, I was so excited about this new team! We had some great players who really knew the game. We had speed for the offense, and as well for the defense.

But some unexpected things happened. We lost some key players, especially due to grades and injuries. That hurt us a bit. Plus, we struggled with inconsistency.

We started playing a new formation that didn't work out as well as we had hoped. People were switched to different positions, so it required a lot of adjusting. Injuries then forced players to be moved again. Personally, I started and ended every game, except one (torn hip-flexor).

The new girls were so awesome though, and I'm really excited for them and the team next year! I know it will be a lot different with new players coming in. Plus, the coaching is solid.

Q: How would describe the development of the women's soccer program?

TG: This team has improved SO much!!! The year before arriving on campus, I kept up with the scores and saw a few games. SAGU Women's Soccer is NOTHING like that team 5 years ago. We have a strong defense and offense compared to our early years. Little mistakes really hurt us. But those can be fixed, and they will be.

Five years into the program there are still plenty of things that need attention, but they will get better. This year's scores didn't show that we got better from previous years, but the players individually made a lot of strides!

Q: How has college soccer benefitted you personally? Spiritually?

TG: Coming from a winning school and club team, it was so hard to come here and lose so often. I am a very competitive person and I despise losing. I still hate it. But my years here really helped adjust my pride and taught me to be humble.

My prayer has always been to represent Christ on and off the field. When pride walks on the field, God walks off. I strived to live by that truth.

God is the reason we were on that field to begin with. Our attitude always relect who we are. It is so important to me that God's light shines through me - on or off the field.

Q: How did college soccer add to your educational experience at Southwestern?

TG: It made me stay really focused. It's hard playing college soccer and being a full-time student, especially when you get to your upper level classes. This year we had plenty of road games, so I stayed determined and focused to stay on track.

I honestly believe if I hadn't play soccer, I wouldn't have strived as hard to be the student I am now.

Q: Your thoughts about Head Coach Tim Grant and Assistant Coach Mandy Fortner?

TG: Coach Grant has coached a number of sports, and his knowledge of soccer grew in the past two years. I am grateful for him. He worked so hard to motivate us! He's a great man of God, with a crazy, but funny, personality! He always makes practices and bus rides really fun!

He has done such a great job with us, and I am really going to miss him! Coach Grant was most known for this singing this, very loudly: "He's a greeaaattt, big, wonderful God!"

Coach Mandy - where to start?! She has been the assistant coach for two years now. I believe that she was the big reason why we did so well the past two years. She got us in really good shape and kept us in shape. She helped us so much with our game. She is probably one of the best coaches I've ever had. She did a great job, and I can't thank her enough for what she's done for this team, especially this year.

She taught us that "You can go so much further than your mind is telling you." That inspires me when I am running or in life in general.

Q: Your fondest memory on the playing field at SAGU?

TG: During my junior year when we played UTB (University of Texas at Brownsville), we lost 1-0. That was probably the best game that I have ever seen SAGU play. In the previous years, UTB killed us 8-0 and 7-0. We came out so strong and were ready to play. And their only score came on a fluke goal. We all played with so much passion and fire! I'll never forget it.

Q: Who were teammates that you most enjoyed?

TG: I love all the girls I have played with throughout the years! They all had their own role and each of them inspired in different ways. But the players I enjoyed the most as teammates were Madison Wells and Natalie Horton. They had such encouraging personalities and great attitudes. They always brought it to the field too. They had a competitive mindset, wanted to win, and yet were very humble and their Christian attitude was clearly evident.

Q: What were your best accomplishments?

TG: I most treasured being a team captain for three years. I was able to set some records each year for shutouts, wins and saves. Making an all-tournament team and being named All-Region as a sophomore were special. Ranking #2 in the nation in saves this year took a lot of work. It was fun working with the midfielders and defenders.

Q: What is your immediate future?

TG: Well, my final semester will be the fall of 2011 when I will do my student teaching. The Education program and the professors have really prepared me for a career I'm about to begin. I will graduate next December 2011. I'll start applying for an elementary teaching position. I also want to coach soccer as well.

Q: How do you feel the Education Department at SAGU prepared you?

TG: The professors have made a tremendous impact on my life. They are so passionate for the Lord and about what they teach. They also worked so well with me during my absences related to soccer. I couldn't have asked for anything better.

Q: What do you think the future holds for Lady Lions soccer?

TG: I'm so excited for the years to come for this team! We have some great coaches, and a great group of girls. Each year, the girls that come in get better, stronger and faster. They have so much potential. As long as the players love the game and the Lord, if the girls' hearts stay in love with the Lord they are going to become a better, winning team!

There are some talented players that give them a very good core. The redshirted players could really be good. Plus, the new recruits could strengthen the team.

Q: What did it mean to suit up to play home games on campus?

TG: It was always a great feeling knowing that I was playing on our home field with our fans behind us cheering us on! When I stepped out on the field, nervousness would just go away. Each half, when I got to the goal that I was defending, I prayed that God would work through me and the team to reflect Him in our actions and attitudes.

Q: Who were your favorite fans?

TG: We had lots of great fans. My favorites are still my grandparents, Elree and Martha Len Griffin. They never missed one home game, and they even made a lot of the away games! My grandparents were my biggest fans. I don't know what I would have done without them. They raised me to become the person and athlete I am today. I am so grateful and blessed to have such special grandparents and the love they have for me.

Tracy Griffin was a player whose exemplary performance on the pitch represented SAGU with class and spirit.

Her jersey number reflected her perfectly!

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Senior Spotlight on SAGU All-American After Four years of take-aways, Nick gives back  WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The athletic career of Nick Ekanem didn’t take the road le...

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Senior Spotlight: Senior Bowl trio

Senior Spotlight: Senior Bowl trio

Apr 26, 2013 - Football News

First in a Series on Senior Athletes Haynes, Adewola, Ekanem among national all-stars WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University football team...

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Spring Update: Lions Football

Spring Update: Lions Football

Apr 24, 2013 - Football News

Q & A with Jesse Godding Assessing spring results and recruiting needs WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  It has been said that spring is when nature gets back on its feet and fights a...

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CSFL adds two new football members

CSFL adds two new football members

Apr 22, 2013 - Football News

Wayland Baptist, Oklahoma Baptist fill void SNU, NWOSU depart for NCAA’s D2 WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  A year after Southern Nazarene University and Northwest Oklahoma State Univer...

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SAGU releases 2013 football schedule

SAGU releases 2013 football schedule

Apr 18, 2013 - Football News

Lions to introduce new helmet design Key returners could drive team over .500 WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Spring is in the air. For sports fans it can mean the crack of the bat agai...

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As good as Golson

As good as Golson

Dec 23, 2012 - Football News

QB-WR combination thrilled fans Small town stars lighting it up at SAGU WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  When it comes to friends, these guys have taken their alliance to the gridir...

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Josh Harris makes the grade

Josh Harris makes the grade

Dec 22, 2012 - Football News

NAIA announces 259 scholar athletes Soph. is Lions #2 QB, lone scholar rep  WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) a...

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Lions thump Steers in finale, 24-13

Lions thump Steers in finale, 24-13

Nov 12, 2012 - Football News

SAGU getting close to big season Defense, Ekanem force 4 turnovers WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  A quick start by the offense and big plays by the defense led Southwestern Assembli...

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WISD Appreciation Day on Saturday

WISD Appreciation Day on Saturday

Nov 05, 2012 - Football News

Lumpkins Stadium: SAGU vs Texas College, 2pm Students, Staff and Families invited to take in Lions football WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The final day of the college football re...

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Langston's #3 defense curbs Lions

Langston's #3 defense curbs Lions

Nov 05, 2012 - Football News

Nine trips into LU territory nets one TD Home finale on Saturday vs. Texas College LANGSTON, Oklahoma -- The Lions' bid for their first .500 season was cut short against a perennial powe...

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SAGU, Golson TD wins in OT, 28-27

SAGU, Golson TD wins in OT, 28-27

Oct 28, 2012 - Football News

Defense scores TD, forces six turnovers Lions travel to Langston (4-4) on Nov. 2 GOODWELL, Oklahoma  --  Traveling 480 miles, Southwestern Assemblies of God University had...

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500-yards and 37-points not enough

500-yards and 37-points not enough

Oct 21, 2012 - Football News

Tied 30-30, Lions fall at WBU 58-37 Defense forces 5 turnovers, offense sputters late PLAINVIEW, Texas  --  Rallying from a 14-point deficit to tie the game at 30-30 la...

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SAGU-Wayland meet in plain view

SAGU-Wayland meet in plain view

Oct 20, 2012 - Football News

Lions to meet new CSFL foe Focal Point: Pioneer passing vs SAGU secondary PLAINVIEW, Texas  --  Saturday afternoon the Southwestern Assemblies of God University football team b...

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Watch for Football Preview Tonight

Watch for Football Preview Tonight

Oct 19, 2012 - Football News

SAGU plays Saturday at Wayland 2:00pm Kickoff; Live Video Available PLAINVIEW, Texas  -- Southwestern Assemblies of God University will begin a stretch of three straight S...

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Twelve gridders rank nationally

Twelve gridders rank nationally

Oct 16, 2012 - Football News

Lions' defense rated #25 in NAIA SAGU travels to Wayland Baptist on Saturday WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  At least a dozen players on the Southwestern Assemblies of God University fo...

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Stakes remain high for FB Lions

Stakes remain high for FB Lions

Oct 16, 2012 - Football News

SAGU hopes to spoil three homecomings Team can achieve lofty goals in final 4 games WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Saturday’s 41-0 blanking of Haskell University has energized the foot...

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Ground game paves road to 41-0 win

Ground game paves road to 41-0 win

Oct 15, 2012 - Football News

Lions rush for 364 yards, 3 TD's Ekanem, Heathcock, defense stifles Haskell WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The bumpy terrain terrain of three straight losses was flattened by a st...

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Lions caged in Oklahoma

Lions caged in Oklahoma

Oct 07, 2012 - Football News

Golson, Heathcock dauntless in defeat  SAGU to host Haskell at Homecoming MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University football team produced...

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Saturday Football Preview

Saturday Football Preview

Oct 06, 2012 - Football News

SAGU versus Bacone, 2:00pm Listen to the Audio Feed MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma  --  The college football series between Southwestern Assemblies of God University and Bacone College has...

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James Gish honored nationally

James Gish honored nationally

Oct 03, 2012 - Football News

Fred Mitchell Award shines on kickers One of two NAIA PK’s chosen in September WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Fred Mitchell Award recognized a host of place-kickers for their excel...

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Big plays ignite Lions in 43-38 setback

Big plays ignite Lions in 43-38 setback

Sep 24, 2012 - Football News

"Oh McDonald" sets receiving yardage record Ekanem breaks career mark for interceptions WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Jeremy McDonald (San Antonio, Tx / Cornerstone Christian) and Nic...

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Preview of Today's Games

Preview of Today's Games

Sep 22, 2012 - Football News

Soccer doubleheader, football on tap Lions-Bulldogs game on SAGU TV in HD WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Three of the four teams from Southwestern Assemblies of God Universit...

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Coach Godding's post-game Q & A

Coach Godding's post-game Q & A

Sep 17, 2012 - Football News

Quick 10-0 deficit, turnovers prove costly Lions defense and special teams praised WAXAHACHIE, Texas  -- In the aftermath of a heartbreaking 25-17 defeat at the hands of Austin Coll...

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Lions lose ball, late lead, in 25-17 setback

Lions lose ball, late lead, in 25-17 setback

Sep 17, 2012 - Football News

Costly turnovers thwart would-be win SAGU to host Texas Lutheran on Saturday WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The one that got away. It was like an angler with a 'prize catch' hooked, th...

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FB Lions host 'Roos at 7:00pm

FB Lions host 'Roos at 7:00pm

Sep 15, 2012 - Football News

Preview of Saturday's Game Golden domers clash; SAGU, Austin College WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Saturday’s seventh meeting between friendly football rivals Southwestern Assemblies ...

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Coach Godding Talks Howard Payne

Coach Godding Talks Howard Payne

Sep 12, 2012 - Football News

Lions' 27-17 victory reveals much about team Turnovers, NAIA-leading players, offense growing pains WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  In the aftermath of a thrilling road victory, So...

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Shakeem Taylor, Nat'l Player of the Week

Shakeem Taylor, Nat'l Player of the Week

Sep 11, 2012 - Football News

  Lions cornerback has four picks and a TD SAGU defense ranked #8, yielding 13.5 ppg WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The National Christian College Athletic Association selected Shakeem Ta...

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Ekanem chosen for Holiday Bowl

Ekanem chosen for Holiday Bowl

Sep 11, 2012 - Football News

Cornerback to play in nationally televised game Pre-Season All-American in Dec. 17 All-Star game WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Southwestern Assemblies of God University’s Nick Ekanem ...

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Lions win, 27-17; score 24 unanswered points

Lions win, 27-17; score 24 unanswered points

Sep 09, 2012 - Football News

Leuschner bounces back with winning TD Taylor returns INT 100-yds for touchdown BROWNWOOD, Texas  --  Saturday night’s college football game between Southwestern Assemblies...

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Lions travel to play Howard Payne

Lions travel to play Howard Payne

Sep 07, 2012 - Football News

Game kicks off at 6pm in Brownwood Follow the play-by-play, audio (links posted here) WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The last time the Southwestern Assemblies of God University footbal...

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New Offensive Coordinator Introduced

New Offensive Coordinator Introduced

Sep 05, 2012 - Football News

Football Lions welcome Frank Tristan Target is utilizing playmakers WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  When it comes to great ideas, the excitement they cause in people is often a tru...

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Coach Godding talks Bethany game

Coach Godding talks Bethany game

Sep 03, 2012 - Football News

Quotes after 13-12 season-opening setback Positives, surprises, working areas targeted WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  After taking the nation’s #24 ranked team, Bethany College (Ks), t...

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#24 Bethany rallies past Lions, 13-12

#24 Bethany rallies past Lions, 13-12

Sep 03, 2012 - Football News

Late TD overcomes solid SAGU effort Lions yield 238 yds, force four turnovers WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The hunger games of college football go beyond who is most hungry. Oft...

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Hungry Lions begin new season today

Hungry Lions begin new season today

Sep 01, 2012 - Football News

2012 Team and Season Preview SAGU welcomes #24 ranked Bethany College WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  With the appetite of a farmhand at haytime, the football team at Southwestern Assem...

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Lions take to the gridiron today

Lions take to the gridiron today

Aug 13, 2012 - Football News

SAGU eyes winning football season 13 starters return to power Team Purple WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The sounds are unmistakable. The shrill of constant whistles may give it away, ...

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Football Lions to face 2 ranked teams

Football Lions to face 2 ranked teams

Aug 07, 2012 - Football News

SAGU meets #24 Bethany in opener NAIA announces Pre-Season Top 25 Poll WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The 2012 college football season kicks off for Southwestern Assemblies of God Univ...

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Pre-Season All-America team includes 3 Lions

Pre-Season All-America team includes 3 Lions

Jul 31, 2012 - Football News

USA College Sports and NCCAA selects trio Ekanem, Golson, Johnson counted on to lead SAGU WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University football team had...

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In good hands with All-Stater

In good hands with All-Stater

Jun 27, 2012 - Football News

Godley running back transfers to SAGU Landry Martinez loads up Lions backfield WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Southwestern Assemblies of God University, whose spread option offense has become as d...

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Recruit has earned his stripes

Recruit has earned his stripes

Jun 25, 2012 - Football News

Grandview HS Zebra named All-State Austin Martinez signs to play football and baseball WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Austin Martinez comes to Southwestern Assemblies of God University having...

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Football Lions eager for 2012 season

Football Lions eager for 2012 season

May 15, 2012 - Football News

NAIA lists Pre-Season Football Poll SAGU opens camp on August 13 WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics released the 2012 Pre-Season Football Top 25 Coac...

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Football game moved to OPSU

Football game moved to OPSU

Apr 08, 2012 - Football News

Game was to be played at Lumpkins Lions to face Aggies in Goodwell, Oklahoma WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Southwestern Assemblies of God University’s scheduled football game on Saturday, October 27...

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Football Schedule Announced

Football Schedule Announced

Mar 26, 2012 - Football News

Lions have six home games Homecoming is set for October 13 WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University football team has announced their 2012 schedule, and it include...

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David Howard: A Prize Catch

David Howard: A Prize Catch

Feb 01, 2012 - Football News

Wide Receiver named to the All-NCCAA team Making a catch in every game during his career, including 30 for TD's WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The National Christian College Athletic Association...

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Football Lions hungry for 2012 season

Football Lions hungry for 2012 season

Dec 26, 2011 - Football News

Unfinished business drives offseason plans Plus, NAIA, NCCAA post-season results WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- After staying in the playoff hunt in both the National Association of Intercollegiate A...

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Kallal named Academic All-American

Kallal named Academic All-American

Dec 17, 2011 - Football News

LB is one of two CSFL players honored ROME, Georgia  --  The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced Friday that 244 football student-athletes have been nam...

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