Park notebook: Jones named first eSports coach

Park University on Monday, Jan 7 announced Ashley Jones as the first esports coach.

Ashley Jones

Ashley Jones

Jones will be in charge of beginning Park’s esports program, which is the first college or university in the Kansas City area to offer video gaming as a school-sponsored sport.

Jones, who began her new role on Monday, will oversee a seven-member esports team after spending time as an information technology administrator and technical writer at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy department, a role she had since June 2017. Jones earned a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Florida.

Park’s esports team will compete in the League of Legends by way of the National Association of Collegiate Esports.

Park is currently constructing a home base for the esports team. The Parkade is in the process of completing construction inside the Mabee Learning Center/Academic Underground, according to Park’s press release.

Park men ranked No. 5 in preseason poll

The Park men’s volleyball team have been tabbed the fifth best team in the nation, it was announced Tuesday via the 2019 NAIA men’s volleyball coaches’ preseason poll.

Grand View was given the nod as the No. 1 ranked squad, with all 10 first-place votes. Also of note, Missouri Baptist is ranked fourth and Missouri Valley 10th.

The Pirates, who went 15-10 a season ago, currently own the longest active streak in the polls with 19 straight weeks being ranked.

Senior outside hitter and honorable mention All-American Andrea Maggio returns for the Pirates this season, which begins Jan. 18 at Quincy. First team all-conference honoree Leandro Sodre and second team all-conference member Felipe Guirau are also expected back.

It will be the first season that the NAIA will recognize men’s volleyball as a national championship sport.

National champion Pirates are
postseason No. 1

As expected, the Park University women’s volleyball team received a No. 1 national ranking in the final NAIA volleyball poll.

The Pirates, of course, claimed their second NAIA national championship on Dec. 1, finishing the season with a 36-1 record.

Park was No. 1 in the NAIA Top 25 poll in six of the eight occasions this season. Its lone loss came in the AMC tournament championship game, a five-set loss to rival Columbia.

The Pirates, whose other national title came in 2014 when they went 40-0, picked up a plethora of individual honors, as well.

The honors begin with standout sophomore outside hitter Nada Meawad, who earned the TeamSnap/AVCA NAIA National Player of the Year honor, NAIA First Team All-America, in addition to the Google Cloud Academic All-American, one of 14 players to achieve the honor, which requires a 4.0 cumulative GPA.

Meawad, a two-time AMC player of the year, registered 36 kills in the five-set national title victory against No. 3 Columbia, and 29 kills in the national semifinal match against No. 11 Midland. She finished with 471 kills for the season, averaging 4.32 per set. Meawad was second on the team in digs with 327.

Senior setter Danna Gomes was also placed on the NAIA First Team All-America squad.

Park coach Mike Talamantes was named the NAIA National Coach of the Year for claiming his fifth NAIA title as a coach, two for women and the other three with Park’s men. His career coaching record with the women’s program is 253-48.


Talamantes is hosting tryouts for the women’s program 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Jan. 27 in the East Dome of the Breckon Sports Center. … The Park men’s basketball team opened the 2019 portion of its schedule with a 67-65 overtime victory over conference foe Harris-Stowe State on Jan. 5 inside the Breckon Sports Center. Zach Rutland led the Pirates with 20 points and converted 5 of 6 free throw attempts, including his final two with four seconds left to seal the victory to improve Park to 6-7 overall and 4-3 in AMC play. … The Park women earned a 62-59 victory over Harris-Stowe on Jan. 5, improving them to 5-7 and 4-4 in AMC. Kennedy Kuykendall had a game-high 19 points for Park.