Aug. 17, 2017

Arizona State’s 2017-18 athletic year begins at 4:30 p.m. on Friday with a home soccer match against Ohio State in the debut of new ASU coach Graham Winkworth.

Winkworth, volleyball’s Sanja Tomasevic and cross country’s Jeremy Rasmussen are first-year head coaches although the latter two were ASU assistants last year. Winkworth previously was at South Alabama for four seasons, where his teams won four consecutive Sun Belt Conference titles.

ASU’s only fall success in 2016 was in women’s triathlon, which won the USA Triathlon Collegiate National championship. In fall sports with NCAA championships including football, the Sun Devils had no postseason team qualifiers and earned no fall Directors’ Cup points for the first time.

Soccer had a coaching change after a 6-11-2 season and last place finish (1-9-1) in the Pac-12.

Defender/forward Jemma Purfield transferred from South Alabama, where she was All-America third team in 2016 with 11 goals and 29 points. She is among 30 players on the watch list for the Hermann Trophy given to the national Player of the Year.

Other promising newcomers include defender Angela Boyle of Anthem, a junior transfer from Oklahoma, freshman forward Olive Jones of Phoenix, freshman midfielder Lara Barbieri of Brazil and freshman goalkeeper Nikki Panas from Canada.

ASU returns its top two 2016 scorers, Jazmarie Mader (8 goals, 16 points in 12 games) and Adriana Orozco (3 goals, 8 points). Also back is senior defender Madison Stark, an “obvious choice” to be team captain, Winkworth said. Key losses include midfielder Lucy Lara and F/MF Aly Moon, forced to retire a year early because of injuries.

In the Pac-12 coaches preseason poll, ASU is picked to finish 11th. The Sun Devils also play an exhibition match at 11 a.m. Sunday against Beijing Normal University from China.

Ohio State, picked to finish eighth in the Big Ten, was 11-7-3 in 2016, reaching the NCAA Tournament second round. Lindsay Agnew and Nichelle Prince, who combined for 45 career goals, are gone. Top returners include senior midfielder Nikki Walts of Scottsdale.

ASU volleyball plays its maroon & gold scrimmage at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena before opening the season at home vs. Weber State, North Dakota State (Aug. 25) and Boise State (Aug. 26). The first home match in 2016 was not until Sept. 30.

New ASU volleyball coach expecting her first child in November

In Sanja Tomasevic’s first season as Arizona State head volleyball coach, she also will be having her first child.

Tomasevic, 37, hoped to have a baby after the season with her boyfriend Stephen Heaven, but the timing worked out differently.

Her due date is Nov. 6, roughly a month before the season ends. She probably will not travel to away matches Oct. 20-21 and in November other than the season finale at Arizona on Nov. 25.

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“That one I’m making for sure,” Tomasevic said, planning to make that the first match outing for her newborn daughter if all goes well. “I will still be at home games and with technology will be part of all the meetings. My staff is more than capable of functioning without me.”

Assistant coach Carlos Moreno will run the team when Tomasevic is not available with help from assistant Macey Gardner.

Tomasevic, promoted in December after serving as an assistant last season under Stevie Mussie, was surprised and at first “freaked out” to find out in February she was pregnant. She turned for advice first to former ASU volleyball coach Patti Snyder-Park then to ASU women’s basketball coach Charli Turner Thorne.

Turner Thorne gave birth to all three of her sons during the season in 1999, 2001 and 2003 including one on NCAA Tournament selection day.

“Talking to Charli gave me more of a boost,” Tomasevic said. “She said you’re not the first coach who has done. It’s like God has a way to play with control freaks who think we can plan everything out.”

She informed her sport administrator Ken Landphere, ASU senior associate athletic director, then Vice President for Athletics Ray Anderson.

“I know it’s inconvenient,” she told Anderson, who stopped her apology by saying having a child is always a positive. “Ken told me this is a perfect teaching moment,” with her players. “These girls might be expected to run the world and still have a family, and you can do that. Back in the day you had to choose one or the other.

“There are not many things more important to me than volleyball, but family is one for sure.”

It will actually be babies galore around ASU volleyball this season and in the near future. Moreno and his wife Maria are becoming first-time parents in September. Nellie Coleman, director of operations, recently gave birth to a son. Her husband Anthony is an ASU men’s basketball assistant coach.

“Seeing the amount of excitement in the girls, these babies are going to be their family too,” Tomasevic said.

Tomasevic is a native of Serbia who helped Washington to win a national title in 2005 and before ASU was an assistant at Miami and Texas-San Antonio.

ASU finished 12-20, 5-15 Pac-12 in 2016. Five players have transferred from the program in the past year, all but one after the coaching change. Tomasevic has 10 incoming players (five transfers, five freshmen) and eight returners.

The Sun Devils are training in Flagstaff for four days before their maroon and gold scrimmage Aug. 19. They open the season with a home tournament Aug. 25-26.


Defender/forward Jemma Purfield is a transfer to Arizona State from South Alabama.

Soccer transfer Jemma Purfield could be gem 

Aug. 9, 2017

Katie Hempen was Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year at Southern Illinois Edwardsville when she transferred to Arizona State women’s basketball, following the path of coach Amanda Levens when she joined Charli Turner Thorne’s staff.

Hempen redshirted in 2012-13 then in three years at ASU became the school single season and career 3-point leader, unquestionably validating her ability to play in a major conference.

If Jemma Purfield has anywhere close to the same impact coming from South Alabama in the Sun Belt Conference to the Pac-12 then ASU soccer will immediately benefit from the hiring of coach Graham Winkworth. 

Purfield is immediately eligible after being released by South Alabama, where she was Sun Belt Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 and Freshman of the Year in 2015. The defender/forward, United Soccer Coaches All-America third team last season, grew up in soccer-crazed England and has played for her country’s U17 and U19 teams.

Here are some highlights from my two recent conversations with 20-year-old Purfield, who is among 30 players on the preseason watch list for the Hermann Trophy, given to the national Player of the Year. 

On the move to ASU

“The first two years at South Alabama were absolutely amazing. It was kind of all I could have wishes for. I achieved so many great things I could have dreamt of. The All-American award topped it off for me but also said there was another level I needed to challenge myself to. That’s what this opportunity brought around. It was a clear choice, that was the next step in my development and here was the place to be.”

On playing outside back and still leading South Alabama in scoring (11 goals, 7 assists, 29 points in 2016)

“That’s a question I often get asked. It’s a lot of work up and down the field so you do get more opportunities to attack. I can also play forward so it really does depend. I like to get myself forward get goal-scoring opportunities. I’m just hoping for more this season.”

On coming to the U.S. for college

“Graham (also a native of England) had a player on his team who lived close to me and reached out to me and said do you want to come to America on a scholarship. It wasn’t something I’d really looked into. It was too good for me not to take. If I’d been in England, I wouldn’t have been able to play soccer and go to school every single day. Although I do want to take soccer to the next level and play professionally, I also want a degree to fall back on when soccer is over.”

RELATED: ASU’s soccer schedule 2017

On playing in the Pac-12

“The Sun Belt is not a bad conference, but the Pac-12 is definitely one of the best in the country, which is the reason for the move and the challenge. We did play great teams (at South Alabama) but as soon as the conference came around, the challenge wasn’t quite the same. That’s part of the challenge coming here because we have a really hard non-conference schedule then the conference schedule is equally hard.”

On growing up in a soccer family in Cottingham

“My dad played and coached and my brother played so I kind of just copied my brother. I’m naturally right-footed but I copied my brother and I’m now left-footed. I do think that helps in soccer because there’s less left-footed players. I got to play with boys until I was about 14 and played on a girls team too. When I was 12, I told my dad I want to take this game to the next level, play for my National team and be a professional footballer. From that day forward, I’ve worked in a different way than I did before to try to get where I want to be. We would go and watch Everton every week as a family, which would be great fun. I was kind of born into soccer and I love it.”

On David Beckham

“I still idolize him to this day. I absolutely love his professionalism, his attitude to the game, how we went about his business when things didn’t go his way or did go his way. I like to model myself after him.”

On Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather fight Aug. 26

“I like boxing. I like the big fights. I am interested in that fight. I want McGregor to win, but I don’t know if it’s going to happen. Depends how good he is in the boxing ring. It’s a very different sport (from UFC), but he can take a punch so we’ll see.”

Up next

ASU plays an exhibition Saturday at Cal State Northridge before opening its season at home against Ohio State on Aug. 18. 

In the Pac-12 preseason coaches poll, ASU is ranked 11th coming off a 6-11-2 (1-9-1 Pac-12) season.

Wrestle Like A Girl? ASU supports addition of women’s wrestling

Aug. 8, 2017

Arizona State is among 11 schools supporting the addition of women’s wrestling as a NCAA emerging sport.

USA Wrestling, National Wrestling Coaches Association, National Wrestling Hall of Fame, U.S. Olympic Committee, Wrestle Like A Girl and a special collegiate Women’s Wrestling Committee have combined to push the emerging sports campaign.

ASU is not committed to adding the sport if the bid passes through committee stage to gain emerging sport status but already has done so with women’s triathlon, which won a national championship in 2016 and will host USA Triathlon Collegiate Nationals on Nov. 5.

Here is the full list of schools supporting the effort: 

  • Adrian College, NCAA Div. III (MI)
  • Arizona State University, NCAA Div. I
  • Averett University, NCAA Div. III (VA)
  • Emmanuel College, NAIA, (GA)*
  • Ferrum College, NCAA Div. III (VA)
  • King University, NCAA Div. II (TN)
  • MacMurray College, NCAA Div. III (IL)
  • McKendree University, NCAA Div. II (IL)
  • Pacific University, NCAA Div. III (OR)
  • Westminster College, NCAA Div. III (MO)
  • Simon Fraser University, NCAA Div. II, (BC, Canada)

ASU already has had success with women’s wrestling. Former Sun Devil Kelsey Campbell was a 2012 Olympian and also won at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials but did not qualify internationally for the Rio Games. 

Ex-ASU runner Cragg wins World Track bronze in marathon 

Aug. 6, 2017

Former Arizona State All-America Amy Cragg won a marathon bronze medal for the United States on Sunday at the World Track Championships in London.

Cragg, a two-time Olympian, took third in 2 hours, 27 minutes, 18 seconds, the highest finish of her major international career. It is the first U.S. women’s marathon World record since 1983 when Marianne Dickerson was silver medalist. 

Cragg was ninth in the marathon at the 2016 Rio Olympics and 11th in the 10,000-meter at the 2012 London Olympics. She was champion at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. 

She finished less than a second behind silver medalist Edna Kiplagat of Kenya and less than ten seconds behind gold medalist Rose Chelimo of Bahrain. Cragg passed Kenya’s Flomena Daniel to finish third and nearly caught Kiplagat.

Cragg, 33, was a 10-time track and cross country All-America at ASU. She is being inducted into the ASU Athletic Hall of Fame on Oct. 13-14. 

Seven current, former ASU athletes competing at World Track

Aug. 3, 2017

Arizona State will have a significant presence at the World Track Championships, Friday-Aug. 13 in London.

Current Sun Devil and NCAA champion Maggie Ewen will make her major international debut in hammer throw. Six former Sun Devils also are qualified including 2016 Rio Olympians Shelby Houlihan (5,000-meter), Christabel Nettey (long jump) and Chris Benard (triple jump).

2012 Olympian Ryan Whiting will return to London in shot put, and Bryan McBride qualified at U.S. Outdoor Championships in high jump. 

All other than Nettey (Canada) will represent the United States.

Others with Arizona ties qualified for Worlds: Devon Allen and Aries Merritt (110 hurdles), Will Claye (triple jump), Ameer Webb (200), Liz Patterson (high jump), Fabrice Lapierre (long jump) and Sage Watson (400 hurdles). Patterson and NCAA 400 hurdles champion Watson, representing Canada, competed for University of Arizona. 

Americans Merritt and Webb and Lapierre (Australia) train with Phoenix-based Altis along with 11 other Worlds qualifiers. Canadian sprint star Andre De Grasse, who trains with Altis, will miss the meet due to  hamstring injury that prevents him from challenging Usain Bolt in what Bolt said will be his final meet before retirement.

Others representing Altis are Shavez Hart (Bahamas), Ella Nelson (Australia), CJ Ujah (Great Britain), Wilfried Koffi (Ivory Coast), Jeremy Dodson (Samoa), Akeem Hayes (Canada), Akako Kimura (Japan), David Torrence (Peru), Mathias Buehler (Germany), Mikel Thomas (Trinidad & Tobago) and Quincy Breell (Aruba).

Valencia, Richardson win silver medals for U.S. in international events

Aug. 2, 2017

Arizona State’s Zahid Valencia and Reili Richardson are silver medal winners representing U.S. teams in international competition.

Valencia went 3-1 at 185 pounds, finishing second behind Russia’s Artur Naifonov after a 7-5 loss in the gold-medal match Wednesday at the Junior World Wrestling Championships in Tampere, Finland.

Valencia is an ASU sophomore making his third Junior World appearance. He was 10th in 2015 and seventh in 2016. “It feels good to win a medal and know that I’ve progressed every year so it’s just a learning experience,” he said.“I still have a lot of growing and learning to do so I’m just enjoying the experience.”

In 2016-17, Valencia was Pac-12 Wrestler of the Year and Newcomer/Freshman of the Year, going 38-1 and finishing third at the NCAA Championships at 174.

ASU wrestling assistant coach Chris Pendleton was an assistant on the U.S. freestyle team, which won at Junior Worlds for the first time since 1984. The Americans finished with 68 points, one ahead of Russia followed by Iran and Turkey.

Richardson, a sophomore point guard, played on the U.S. women’s basketball team that finished second at the U19 World Cup in Udine, Italy.

Richardson averaged 10.8 minutes off the bench for the Americans, who lost 86-82 to Russia in the gold-medal game Sunday. 

Richardson is the fourth ASU women’s basketball player to win an international medal in three years. Others were Sophie Brunner, U.S. silver, 2016 Pan American Games, Katie Hempen, U.S. gold, 2015 World University Games and Quinn Dornstauder, Canada silver, 2015 World University Games.

ASU athletics chief development officer retiring in September

Aug. 1, 2017

Greg McElroy, Arizona State athletics associate vice president and chief development officer, is retiring effective Sept. 15. 

McElroy has been with ASU since May 2014, working on revenue generation and marketing including naming rights options for renovated Sun Devil Stadium.

McElroy has worked for a variety of professional teams since the early 1990s including the Los Angeles Kings, Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers and Dallas Cowboys. He was the lead negotiator for naming right of the new Cowboys Stadium, sold to AT&T.

Under McElroy, ASU became the first Pac-12 athletic department to manage its own multimedia rights rather than work through a third party such as IMG College. The Pac-12 MMR was created to assist in that transition for any member schools. 

The position is not expected to be filled because of expansion of ASU athletics senior staff. 

Rocky Harris (ASU athletics chief operating officer), Frank Ferrara (chief financial officer), Becky Parke (associate athletic director) among others will absorb McElroy’s duties. Daniel Dillon, ASU senior vice president/chief marketing officer, also will help with the stadium naming rights deal. 

ASU hopes to have a naming-rights partner for the stadium within two years. The final phase of stadium renovation, rebuilding the east side, will begin immediately after the 2017 season. ASU closes the season at home on Nov. 25 against Arizona.

ASU athletics enters agreement with Ticketmaster

July 31, 2017

Arizona State athletics is teaming with Ticketmaster as its primary ticketing source.

The multi-year agreement, announced Monday, includes all ASU home athletic events.

Fans can purchase tickets from Ticketmaster or the ASU box office as well as use their phones to control their account and use the e-ticketing feature, similar to concert tickets, to gain admission to games.

ASU will be one of the first universities to offer Ticketmaster’s AccountManager tool.

“We strive to be pioneers in all aspects of our athletic department,” ASU Vice President for Athletics Ray Anderson said. “Our new partnership with Ticketmaster exemplifies that vision as we recognize the seamless and advanced experience Ticketmaster provides to our fans when it comes to purchasing tickets to our events.”

Then ASU student Albert Leffler and ASU alum Peter Gadwa were among the Ticketmaster founders in 1976. Ticketmaster became ASU’s ticketing partner for Gammage Center in 1999.

“ASU is one of two Pac 12 schools who have made the move to Ticketmaster this past year, yet another Power Five school choosing to utilize our services to empower their ticketing, fundraising, and marketing efforts,” said Greg Economou, Ticketmaster chief commercial officer and head of sports. “Ticketsmaster was founded on the campus of ASU so we’re extremely proud of this meaningful and robust partnership.”

Veteran head coach joins ASU women’s basketball staff

July 25, 2017

Veteran head coach Terri Mitchell is joining the Arizona State women’s basketball staff as a special assistant to head coach Charli Turner Thorne.

The new position is yet another change in Turner Thorne’s staff. She already has added two new assistant coaches, Briann January and Angie Nelp, to replace Amanda Levens, now head coach at Nevada, and Meg Sanders. Jackie Moore is returning in a new position as associate head coach.

Mitchell was 348-215 in 18 seasons at Marquette, where she coached through 2013-14. Her teams made seven NCAA Tournament appearances and eight in the WNIT, which Marquette won in 2008. 

Mitchell, 50, was Conference USA Coach of the Year in 1998 and 2000 and Big East Coach of the Year in 2007. She began her coaching career as an ASU graduate assistant in 1989.

“Terri is going to add incredible value to our program in so many ways,” Turner Thorne said. “Her experience as a successful head coach at the highest level combined with her outstanding skill set will make her an invaluable voice on our staff. 

“I want to thank Ray Anderson and our entire administration for their incredible support in allowing us to create this new position.”

Mitchell said, “Charli’s commitment to excellence on and off the court shines through in both word and action. It is why ASU women’s basketball is known as one of the top programs in the nation. I’m excited to start working with Charli, her tremendous staff and the dedicated student-athletes on the team.”

ASU promotes Jeremy Rasmussen to head cross country coach

July 19, 2017

Jeremy Rasmussen is Arizona State’s new head cross country coach, earning a promotion from assistant to replace Louie Quintana.

Quintana was named Oregon State head women’s track and cross country coach Monday.

Rasmussen is ASU’s eighth men’s and sixth women’s cross country coach. He is the first former Sun Devil runner to lead the program. Announcement of his elevation was made Wednesday. 

Rasmussen helped the cross country team qualify for the 1999 NCAA Championships and finish 14th. In track, he was Pac-10 steeplechase champion in 2000 and runner-up in 2001 and 2002. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from ASU.

“Jeremy is the true meaning of a Sun Devil,” track coach Greg Kraft said. “He walked on to our program and became a Pac-10 champion. Jeremy has held every title imaginable in our program. He has attacked each and every role with the single intention on how to make our program better.”

Rasmussen was an ASU graduate assistant in 2003-04 then volunteer assistant from 2004-06. He was an assistant coach at Illinois starting in 2007 and returned to ASU in 2014 as Quintana’s assistant.

“I have a lot of passion because it is my alma mater and I can say there’s no other school I would work harder for,” Rasmussen said. “They call it Sun Devil for life. They’re not lying. I truly am. The goal is to get back to the glory days and put ourselves in an opportunity to be a national contender.”

Quintana leaving ASU cross country for Oregon State

July 17, 2017

Louie Quintana, Arizona State cross country and track distance coach since 2004, is leaving to become Oregon State head women’s track/cross country coach.

Quintana was an assistant at ASU for two years before replacing Walt Drenth as head cross country coach in 2004. His athletes won NCAA track titles at six distances from 800-meter to 10,000. He has coached Amy Hastings Cragg, Kyle Alcorn and Shelby Houlihan, all who went on to become U.S. Olympians. 

His Oregon State hiring was announced Monday. 

Under Quintana, the ASU women’s cross country team finished fourth at the NCAA Championships in 2005 and 2007. Houihan was a 12-time All-America and 10-time All-America Cragg is a 2017 ASU Athletic Hall of Fame inductee.

He joins former ASU throws coach Dave Dumble at Oregon State.

“The timing of this promotion is at the right time for Louie and his career,” ASU coach track and field director Greg Kraft said in a statement. “Coach Quintana is ready for this challenge.” 

ASU’s opening cross country meet is Sept. 2, just six weeks away. Jeremy Rasmussen was assistant cross country coach under Quintana. It’s not known yet how ASU will proceed in filling the opening.

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