Figueroa named new Cobra Basketball Coach

June 26th, 2012

Former Champaign Centennial standout Anthony Figueroa has been selected as the new Men's Basketball Coach at Parkland College. Figueroa will replace Nate Mast who recently resigned to take a coaching position at SIU-Carbondale.  In addition to his coaching duties, Figueroa will also be the Athletic Department's Athletic Academic Monitor.

Figueroa had recently been named the head coach at St. Thomas More but could not pass up the opportunity to be the coach at Parkland.  Prior to PC, he had coached at Lackawanna CC in Pennsylvania, Millikin University, and at Centennial.  He was selected from over 50 applicants from the position and will officially start his duties on July 2.

"Anthony was somebody who has been on my radar for quite some time. He is highly respected among local high school and college coaches and has earned the chance to run his own program."  "During his interview, it became clear the passion he has for the C-U community and for the Parkland job.  I have no doubt that he will continue to build upon the success Coach Mast had over the past three seasons and will build his own legacy at Parkland."

Parkland Volleyball Assistant Coach makes USA Olympic Team!

June 25th, 2012

EUGENE, Ore.  Gia Lewis-Smallwood is headed to London this summer.

"I have not been there," the Centennial graduate said Sunday. "I've been a lot of places, but I am very excited to go."

The former Illini finished a "disappointing" fifth place in the discus at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Sunday, but she earned a spot on the U.S. team for the London Olympics thanks to her previously meeting the "A" standard of 203 feet, 5 inches.

"I am beyond happy and excited," she said. "This is absolutely amazing."

Stephanie Brown Trafton won the event with a throw of 213 feet, 10 inches for a chance to defend her Olympic gold medal.

Lewis-Smallwood's best throw Sunday was 192-10, but she was all but guaranteed a spot after making the finals.

"This is a wonderful moment. I wanted to compete a little better," she said, "but I competed really well all year, which is why I was in the position I was in in the first place."

Four years ago, Lewis-Smallwood fouled out of the finals and had not hit the "A" standard.

"I'm just so happy for Gia because she's been working for this for four years," said Mike Turk, the Illinois men's track & field coach and a personal coach for Lewis-Smallwood. "She certainly has established herself with her body of work over the last couple years to set up this opportunity for herself. It's a blessing to see this come through for her."

Lewis-Smallwood, who works at the YWCA of the University of Illinois and as an assistant volleyball coach at Parkland College for the past three seasons, remembers the days when Champaign's Bonnie Blair was winning gold medals.

"It's exciting," Lewis-Smallwood said. "I remember so many of the other Champaign products that have gone through the Olympics. I am so blessed to be among their ranks. It is really, really cool."

Turk, who has been working with Lewis-Smallwood since after the 2008 Trials, agreed

"She's a local product, a product of the UI," Turk said. "She's been supported by so many people there. That's what makes it so special for all of us that are involved with her."

Next up for Lewis-Smallwood, it's back to the gym.

"What I have to do now is refocus and retrain," she said. "Lots of practice and lots of lifting. Be ready to rock and roll."

Congratulations to Gia and all of the Olympians!

Parkland Award Winners Announced

June 19th, 2012
The following Parkland Athletes have been honored by the Athletic Department for their Athletic and Academic Achievement for the 2011-12 school year.
Female Athlete of the Year:       Melanie Moore          Volleyball                 Champaign
Male Athlete of the Year:          Bobby Burns              Baseball                   Las Vegas, NV.
Student Athlete of the Year:      Cody McCollum          Basketball                Effingham
Female Newcomer of the Year:  Kelsey Kniepman       Softball                    Greenville
Male Newcomer of the Year:     David Keenan            Golf                         Catlin
Female:  Melanie Moore 1st Team NJCAA All-American, 1st Team All-Region and All-MWAC
Male:     Bobby Burns 3rd Team NJCAA All-American, 1st Team All-Region and M-WAC
Student Athlete:  Cody McCollum 3.97 GPA earned NJCAA Academic honors, two year starter
Female:  Knipeman  2nd Team NJCAA All-American, 1st Team All-Region and All-MWAC
Male:     Keenan 1st Team All-MWAC  Gold and All-Academic

Eight Cobra Athletes Recognized For Excellence In Classroom

June 19th, 2012
The NJCAA Headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., has released the names of the 2011-2012 NJCAA Academic Student-Athlete Awards. Over 1,680 NJCAA student-athletes met the requirements for individual academic honors out of the nearly 60,000 student-athletes who competed in the NJCAA for the 2011-2012 academic year on over 3,500 teams in 28 different sports.

The 2011-2012 season marks the 29th year the NJCAA has recognized the success of its student-athletes in the classroom. With minimal changes, the NJCAA academic awards program has been in place since 1983.

The award winners from Parkland are:
NJCAA Award for Superior Academic Achievement: (3.80-3.99 on a 4.0 scale after 4 semesters of work)
Cody McCollum             Effingham                  Men's Basketball
Nathan Chisholm          Champaign                Men's Basketball
NJCAA Award for Exemplary Academic Achievement:
(3.60-3.79 on a 4.0 scale after 4 semesters of work)
Kelsi Donley                  Mahomet                   Women's Soccer
Jennifer Free                 Bismarck                     Women's Basketball
Zachary Hall                  Troy                           Baseball
Brad Reedy                   Effingham                   Baseball
Sadie Somers                Heyworth                   Women's Soccer
Elizabeth Sprague          Dunlap                       Softball

Cobra Catcher Bobby Burns Named Third Team All-American

June 12th, 2012

Bobby Burns, a Sophomore Catcher from Las Vegas, NV has been named a 2012 NJCAA All-American.  Burns, a Third Team selection, paced the Parkland attack at the plate and did an outstanding job working with a talented pitching staff.  Bobby was a spark plug in the Cobra lineup the last two years and his leadership behind the plate will be missed next season.  Congratulations to Bobby on a well deserved honor, and he will continue his baseball career next season at Morehead State University.

Kelsey Kniepmann Earns NJCAA Softball All-American Honors

June 12th, 2012

Freshman Infielder Kelsey Kniepmann has been named an NJCAA Second Team All-American by the DII Softball Committee.  Kniepmann, who was a key contributor to the Cobras 3rd place finish in the National Tournament, compiled a .435 average and let the team in Runs Batted In while being named the Team MVP.  Congratulations from all of us at as she was truly a joy to watch on the softball diamond as the Cobras put together another stellar season.  Way to go Kelsey!

Two Former Cobras Selected In 2012 MLB Draft

June 7th, 2012

Current Purdue Boilermaker and former Parkland Cobra Nick Wittgren was selected in the 9th round today of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Miami Marlins. Wittgren, who played one season for the Cobras in 2009-10, was 10-0 at Parkland College before moving on to Purdue.

Wittgren served as the Boilers' closer in each of his two seasons as a member of the program. He recorded five wins and 22 saves in his 55 career appearances. With a Big Ten-leading 12 saves in 2011 and 10 this year, he became the first pitcher in program history with two seasons of 10-plus saves. He was on the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch list in both seasons and broke the all-time record for saves in March of this year

Wittgren was a two-time All-Big Ten honoree, earning Second Team honors in 2011 and Third Team honors this year. He closed out the 2012 Big Ten Tournament championship game victory against Indiana, earning the win after pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

Wittgren joined the Boilers after one season at Parkland College, where he helped lead the Cobras to a 5th place finish at the 2010 NJCAA DII World Series.

Also, Illini first baseman and former Parkland Cobra Jordan Parr has been selected in the 26th round by the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Parr led the Illini in hitting this season at .348 to go along with 5 home runs and 45 runs batted in.  After sitting out the 2010 season at Illinois State due to injuries, Parr transferred to Parkland for the 2011 season where he hit .338 with 6 home runs and 32 RBI.