MOBILE, Ala. – The University of Mobile Athletic Department saw the 2021-22 season come to a close in early June, marking a year that included championships and individual honors. Looking ahead, UM coaches see a promising future as one of the largest athletic programs in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) grows from 19 to 21 competitive sports with the addition of men’s and women’s bowling.
The UM Men’s Soccer program finished the 2021 season with an impressive 18-3-1 overall record. The Rams claimed the 2021 SSAC Regular Season Championship with a perfect 7-0 conference record, while earning a host-bid for the NAIA Men’s Soccer Opening Round, where Mobile claimed the opening round championship against three other teams in the Mobile bracket. The opening round victory advanced Mobile to the final site of the 2021 NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship played in Decatur, Alabama.
The Rams managed to win their way through the tournament, eventually earning a runner-up finish in the national championship match after falling 2-0 to Keiser University. The runner-up finish is the fourth in program history, with Mobile earning the national title in 2002.
Head coach Daniel Whelan earned his 100th career victory during the 2021 season, while claiming his third SSAC Men’s Soccer Coach of the Year honor.
Graduating forward Alejo Binaghi was named the NAIA Men’s Soccer Player of the Year, becoming the second Ram ever to earn the prestigious honor.
Additionally, Binaghi earned an NAIA First-Team All-America selection, while being named SSAC Men’s Soccer Player of the Year, SSAC Men’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Year and SSAC Men’s Soccer Golden Boot winner.
Binaghi was one of eight Rams selected to the SSAC Men’s Soccer First-Team All-Conference Team. Joining Binaghi with NAIA All-America status were Angel Almiron, Antoine Bedos and Rodrigo Parades who were selected to the NAIA Men’s Soccer Third-Team All-America Team. Additionally, Jose Sanabria, Joshua Bynoe, Maxime Benoit and Sebastian Jorgge earned NAIA Men’s Soccer All-America Honorable Mentions honors.
The UM Women’s Soccer team finished strong, winning three of their last five matches and ending the year with a 4-12-2 overall record. Following the season, midfielder Anakah Madril was named to the SSAC Women’s Soccer Second-Team All-Conference team while she and 14 teammates earned conference all-academic honors for excelling in the classroom. Nana Bjerre was selected to the SSAC All-Freshman Team following her first season with Mobile.
UM Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams competed in five meets throughout the 2021 season, including the SSAC Championship Meet which saw freshman Jacob Harned earn a top-10 finish and qualify for the 2021 NAIA Men’s Cross Country National Championship Meet in Vancouver, Washington, where he placed 259th overall out of 333 competitors. Harned and teammate Preston Webb, were named to the SSAC Men’s Cross Country All-Conference Team following the season.
After winning the 2020-21 SSAC Volleyball Championship, the UM Indoor Volleyball team looked to defend their title during the 2021 season. The Rams finished 24-6 overall, with a 10-4 conference record, but were upset in the conference championship tournament by the eventual winners of the 2021 SSAC Volleyball Championship, Blue Mountain College.
Senior Melea Meadows took home the SSAC Volleyball Defender of the Year Award, the first in program history, and was joined by Sarah Warren and Rachel Hart as SSAC Volleyball First-Team All-Conference selections.
UM Rams Basketball ended the 2021-22 season 14-17 this year, finishing 8-7 at home in Pharr Gymnasium. Mobile grabbed a couple of massive wins during the season, while being one shot away from upsetting the No. 1 team in the nation and the eventual winner of the 2021-22 NAIA Men’s Basketball National Championship, Loyola University (La.).
True freshman DaMariee Jones was named SSAC Men’s Basketball Freshman of the Year and was joined by Ezra McKenna and Trent Moye on the SSAC Men’s Basketball All-Freshman Team. Senior Gary Jefferson earned SSAC Men’s Basketball First-Team All-Conference honors.
UM Women’s Basketball finished the 2021-22 season with a winning record at 14-11. Mobile started the season claiming victories in six of their first eight games, but struggled in the second half of the season. The Rams were eliminated from the conference tournament in heartbreaking fashion, which saw their season come to an end. Erica Jones and Sidney Sims both earned SSAC Second-Team All-Conference honors.
Track & Field
Following a successful indoor track and field season that saw five Rams (Latavia Jack, Anna Cabrera, Fedra Florentin, Donald Evans III and Joseph Moses III) qualify for the 2021-22 NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships in Brookings, South Dakota, the outdoor track and field season for Mobile had even more success. A total of 17 Rams qualifed for NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Nationals in Gulf Shores, Alabama, while the women’s outdoor track and field team won their second-straight SSAC Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championship.
Fedra Florentin was named SSAC Freshman of the Year for both the indoor and outdoor season, and head coach Andy Canegitta was awarded his second consecutive SSAC Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Coach of the Year honor.
In just the second season as a sanctioned sport at the University of Mobile, the UM Beach Volleyball team joined the Sun Conference for the 2021-22 season and finished the year 15-12. Mobile found more success in the first half of the season, beginning the year with an 8-2 mark through their first 10 matches. The Rams finished in the top five of the Sun Conference standings.
Melea Meadows and Veronica Makovey were selected by the AVCA (American Volleyball Coaches Association) as top flight of the year. The pair finished with an impressive 14-4 record in their first season as a duo.
The UM Men’s and Women’s Golf teams competed in 10 tournaments during the 2021-22 season, with the men’s team earning one tournament win on the year. The women’s team recorded a second-place finish during the season, their best tournament finish in over three seasons.
Noah Martino, Cy Smith and Steven Johnson from the men’s team were selected as SSAC Men’s Golf First-Team All-Conference nods, while freshman Grace Bryant was selected to the SSAC Women’s Golf All-Freshman Team.
After competing in four cheer competitions during the 2022 season and claiming two wins, the UM Competitive Cheer team secured their four-straight appearance in the NAIA Competitive Cheer National Championship in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where the Rams placed 13th out of 15 competing teams.
UM Men’s and Women’s Tennis both finished the 2022 season ranked in the NAIA Tennis Top 25 polls and competed in the NAIA Tennis National Championships at the Mobile Tennis Center.
On the men’s side, Joao Okano and Boris Klingebiel were named NAIA Men’s Tennis All-America Honorable Mention as well as being named to the SSAC Men’s Tennis First-Team All-Conference Team, where they were joined by teammate Sergio Ruiz. Additionally, Okano was named the conference’s newcomer of the year following his first season with Mobile.
On the women’s team, Maria Reynaldo Toledo and Sofija Hrovat were named to the SSAC Women’s Tennis First-Team All-Conference Team. Both Toledo and Hrovat, as well as eight teammates, were later named to the SSAC Women’s Tennis All-Academic Team.
UM Rams Baseball had a season of ups and downs during the 2022 season, finishing the year with a 25-20 overall record. Mobile finished 19-8 at home at Jacobs Field. Throughout the season, Mobile claimed victory over five opponents who were at once ranked inside the NAIA Baseball Top 25 Coaches’ poll.
Tucker Musgrove and Blake Roberts were selected to the SSAC Baseball First-Team All-Conference Team, with Musgrove finishing in the top three in voting for the SSAC Baseball Player of the Year honor. Three Rams earned conference second-team all-conference honors, while 13 earned all-academic honors.
In what was one of the most successful seasons in program history, the UM Softball program racked up awards following an outstanding 52-4 2022 season. The Rams finished the season as the runner-up in the NAIA Softball National Championship and broke the program’s consecutive win record with 34-straight wins to start the season. The previous record was 28 consecutive victories set by the 1997 team.
Mobile won the SSAC Softball Championship during the 2022 season and Head Coach AlisonSellers-Cook was named SSAC Softball Coach of the Year. Sellers-Cook recorded her 500th career victory during the season. Seven players were named SSAC Softball First-Team All-Conference selections, with five being named to the SSAC Softball Second-Team All-Conference Team.
After falling in the national championship game to Oklahoma City University, Emily Butts, Brinkley Goff and Jaden Morace were named as NAIA Softball First-Team All-Americans. Morace set the new single-season runs record at Mobile and in the SSAC with 75 runs scored during the year and tied the program record with 84 hits in one season. She was named the SSAC Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year for her success on and off the field of play.
Caitlin McRee joined Morace, Butts and Goff as a NAIA All-American, claiming honorable mention honors.
Additionally, the Mobile coaching staff is up for the NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches’ Association) Coaching Staff of the Year honor.