BYU Athletics Blog | July 2014

Freshman Quick Kicks: Nadia Gomes

Jul 30, 2014 - Posted by knielsen at 12:01 pm | Permalink

PROVO, Utah – Two months ago, Nadia Gomes was playing soccer in Portugal trying to help the Portuguese U-19 team qualify for the European U-19 Championships.

Gomes was a 5A state champion with Brighton High School and was the 5A girls soccer MVP for both the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune. She played her club soccer with Murray Max where she was team captain, but even though she played a state championship game at Rio Tinto Stadium, her experience in Europe included plenty of larger stadiums and challenging experiences on the field she hadn't been through before.

"It was a cool experience," Gomes said. "I really liked it."

Gomes played in two qualifying tournaments for the UEFA U-19 European Championships over the past year. Her Portugal team won its group in the first round of qualifying defeating Russia, Macedonia and Belarus, but fell short in the final round of qualifying coming in third in the group behind Spain and Switzerland. Gomes scored two goals in six games, starting in four. Group winner Spain lost to the Netherlands 1-0 this past Sunday in the title game. 

Her international experience is something few BYU recruits have on their resumes when they arrive in Provo, but she has already helped some players with her goal-scoring skills in camps this summer.

"I like to give advice to the girls so they can get better," Gomes said.

Gomes and the Cougars start fall camp on Aug. 4. The first scrimmage is the Blue/White game on Aug. 13 and the season opener is Aug. 22 at Cal State Fullerton.

Watch BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood talk about Gomes and the other incoming freshmen in the video below.

Freshman Quick Kicks: Alyssa Jefferson

Jul 28, 2014 - Posted by knielsen at 11:35 am | Updated: July 28, 2014 11:39 am | Permalink

PROVO, Utah – BYU freshman Alyssa Jefferson had a much less stressful summer this year thanks to getting to be an instructor at summer camps instead of being a camper trying to earn a spot on the Cougars roster.

"It's a lot less stressful now," Jefferson said. "It's more fun to be part of the team instead of trying so hard to be on it and annoying the girls."

Jefferson signed to play with BYU last February and has been getting used to how the Cougars play defense this summer.

"It's hard," Jefferson said. "It's a lot more different than club. In club, it's more standoffish and waiting on them. In this, you're on them the whole time."

Jefferson is another member of the seven-time Utah State Cup champion Sparta United club team and played at Jordan High School. She was a three-time All-Region selection and is healthy to start her freshman year at BYU. The other incoming freshmen help her feel comfortable since they are familiar faces.

"It's a blast," Jefferson said. "Even the other two we've played against for so long. It's been fun and it's a good start to know each other so closely, because then you feel comfortable giving them instructions and talking to them."

Fall camp starts on Aug. 4, the first scrimmage is the Blue/White game on Aug. 13 and the season opener is Aug. 22 at Cal State Fullerton.

Watch BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood talk about Jefferson and all the other recruits in the video below.

Freshman Quick Kicks: Rachel Bingham

Jul 23, 2014 - Posted by knielsen at 3:24 pm | Updated: July 23, 2014 3:28 pm | Permalink

PROVO, Utah – Rachel Bingham has been enjoying her month worth of summer camps leading up to the start of her first fall camp with BYU women's soccer in August.

"I've been coming here since I was little," Bingham said. "So it's weird and cool to be demonstrating in front of the little kids. I looked up to the coaches and thought they were awesome, so it's cool to be one of them now."

Bingham is one of a group of Sparta United players whose team won seven Utah State Cup titles in their youth career who have arrived in Provo to play for the Cougars. She played her high school soccer at Maple Mountain High School and participated in the 2013 NSCAA Girls' High School All-American game for the West squad.

Bingham was named first team All-State in 2010, 2012 and 2013 by the Salt Lake Tribune and was UHSAA Region 8 MVP in 2012 as she captained Maple Mountain her junior and senior seasons.

Along with camps, she has been able to play with her new teammates for the first time.

"It's helped a lot with the speed of play," Bingham said. "Coming into it, the speed of play is the biggest thing that's the difference."

As for having played with five of her teammates already on her club team, "it's awesome. It's nice knowing people on the team."

Fall camp starts on August 4, the first scrimmage is the Blue/White game on Aug. 13 and the season opener is Aug. 22 at Cal State Fullerton.

Watch what head coach Jennifer Rockwood had to say about Bingham and the other recruits on Signing Day in the video below:

Sander leads USA to gold

Jul 21, 2014 - Posted by at 11:10 am | Updated: July 21, 2014 11:11 am | Permalink

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Former BYU outside hitter Taylor Sander led the U.S. Men’s National Team to defeat the world’s No. 1 Brazil 3-1 (31-29, 21-25, 25-20, 25-23) Sunday, clinching the FIVB World League gold medal for a second time in the team’s history.

Sander led Team USA in points for the third-consecutive match. He notched 24 points in the contest on 22 kills, earning him MVP honors of the tournament. He was also named Best Spiker. 

Two and a half months ago, Sander was playing for BYU in the NCAA Men's National Championships.

Taylor Sander played an amazing game,” USA middle blocker David Lee said. “Guys like him are the future, and tonight really couldn’t have worked out better.”

Team USA handled three key phases of the match with Brazil, winning in attacks (60-51), blocks (14-11) and digs (42-40), on their way to the 3-1 win.

With the win, the U.S. joins Brazil (9), Italy (8), and Russia (3) as teams that have won gold more than once at the FIVB World League.

The last gold-medal win for Team USA at the FIVB World League came against Serbia in 2008.

Next up for the team will be the USA Volleyball Cup against Iran in August.

Rockwood ranked 14th out of NCAA coaches

Jul 14, 2014 - Posted by knielsen at 10:59 am | Updated: July 14, 2014 11:02 am | Permalink

PROVO, Utah – BYU women's soccer head coach Jennifer Rockwood was ranked the 14th best coach over the past five seasons by AllWhiteKit.com in its 2014 CoachRank, which was released today. 

The ranking takes into account conference performance, NCAA tournament performance, and is adjusted by the conference's performance. The ranking only includes the past five seasons from 2009 onward.

The West Coast Conference has three coaches in the top 25 with Garrett Smith at Portland, Rockwood and Jerry Smith at Santa Clara coming in at 8th, 14th and 19th, respectively. Rockwood was ranked behind four ACC, two SEC, one Pac-12 and one Big 12 coach.

In-state coaches included Utah State's Heather Cairns at 28, UVU's Brent Anderson at 34, Weber State's Tim Crompton at 100 and Utah's Rich Manning at 106.

Rockwood is a 308-89-32 in her career at BYU and over the past five years has led the Cougars to the Elite 8 in 2012 and the NCAA tournament in four of five seasons. The Cougars have won three regular season conference titles (2 WCC, 1 Mountain West Conference) and one MWC tournament championship since 2009 as well.

For a complete list of coaches, click here.

For an FAQ on the rankings, click here.

Cougars on Good Day Utah

Jul 07, 2014 - Posted by knielsen at 11:50 am | Updated: July 7, 2014 11:55 am | Permalink

PROVO, Utah – BYU head coach Jennifer Rockwood along with Jaiden Thornock, Niki Fernandes, Katherine Snyder, Marissa Nimmer and Hilary Smith Kaufusi were part of Fox 13's Good Day Utah and Big Budah's visit to the East Bay Golf Course on Monday morning.

The players and coach helped Big Budah participate in the Ice Challenge as part of the Aloha Golf Classic to raise awareness about breast cancer. The Aloha Golf Classic will take place on Saturday, July 12 at East Bay Golf Course.

Watch the video below and check out the Aloha Golf Classic here.