So Many Firsts

UMKC Athletics Celebrates Its Finest Year

UMKC Athletics Director Carla Wilson calls 2014-15 an exciting year of firsts.

Junior distance runner Courtney Frerichs became the university’s first four-time NCAA All-American, earning the honor twice in cross country, once in indoor track and another time in outdoor track. This month, she broke her own school record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a WAC-record time of 9:32.12 to move into the top spot in the NCAA. The Olympic hopeful’s time also ranks No. 2 in the world this year.

Sophomore point guard Martez Harrison was named an All-American, the first in the history of UMKC Division 1 Men’s Basketball. The team posted a school-record mark of 6-1 at home in league play, while finishing second in the WAC, matching its highest ever finish.

For the first time, the Women’s Soccer and Women’s Volleyball teams won conference titles.

The Kangaroos sit at No. 2 in the Commissioner’s Cup for the first time in school history, and with two teams left to compete, a No. 1 finish is certainly in reach. The Western Athletic Conference awards the cup to the school that performs the best in each of the conference’s 19 men’s and women’s championships.

All of these accomplishments happened during Wilson’s first full academic year as athletic director.

“This year of firsts is an energizing one,” Wilson said. “It’s built a tremendous amount of momentum.”

As the fourth UMKC director of athletics, Wilson is the first woman, as well as first minority, to lead intercollegiate athletics at UMKC. At the time of her appointment, she became the only female athletics director in the Western Athletic Conference. Wilson, a 1988 UMKC graduate, was recognized this year in the Top 25 Women in Higher Education by Diverse magazine.

“I am humbled by the honor,” Wilson said. “At UMKC, we hold student athletes to high standards and we are accomplishing our mission of excellence.”

Wilson is proud of her student athletes’ performance off the court, in the classroom and community. In the fall, they posted the university’s highest-ever cumulative grade point average of 3.28. The interaction between UMKC student athletes and Kansas City community leaders during Ladies Networking Night and Men’s Jerseys to Suits Networking event garnered national attention.

“This confirmed the strong partnerships we continue to form on a daily basis,” Wilson said. “And it showed the entrepreneurial and leadership qualities that our student athletes possess.”

Other highlights of the athletics year:

  • UMKC Women’s Soccer Coach Chris Cissell named 2015 Community for Coaches Missouri Male Coach of the Year.
  • Antoine Rozner from the UMKC Men’s Golf team was selected by the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Committee to participate in the 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships.
  • 13 of 14 teams who have completed their season have finished 1st, 2nd or 3rd in the regular season and/or their post-season tournament
  • 31 WAC Players of the Week throughout the year
  • 51 Academic All-WAC selections so far during 2014-15
  • 3 All-American honors during the year (Most ever in a single academic year)
  • 3 WAC Player of the Year honors (Most ever in a single academic year)





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