First-ever conference awards have Trevecca off on the right foot

Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 11:17pm

In the opening game of the 2011 season, Trevecca Nazarene forward Jonathan Baskin found himself alone on a breakaway — just him and the goalie.

But his shot lacked pizazz and went right to the keeper. It was an ominous sign as Baskin scored just one goal the entire season.

“That just set my season off on the wrong foot,” Baskin said. “This year was the exact opposite.”

Baskin wasted no time to make up for two years of frustration. The Mt. Juliet native matched his career high in just one game with four goals in the Trojans’ season-opening 8-0 victory against Concord (W. Va.) College last week. He tacked on another in a 4-2 win against Ohio Valley College the very next day.

His timing couldn’t have been better. For his performances, he earned the first Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) player of the week honor for men’s soccer.

Earlier on Monday, Trevecca reeled in the first G-MAC honor of any kind when junior and Franklin native Kristen Johnson was named the first volleyball player of the week.

“It was very unexpected,” said Johnson, who recorded 30 kills and 38 assists in three opening weekend matches. “It wasn’t even in my mind that could happen. I was just playing to win. It was very special to me. I was speechless when I heard it. I don’t think it has sunk in at how big of a thing this is. Even if it is only for a week, it is the very first and that’s just awesome to me.”

In February, the NCAA approved the G-MAC as the 24th conference in Division II. The eight-member league is currently in the education assessment program for the 2012-13 season with the goal of becoming a full-fledged Division II conference on Sept. 1, 2013.

“To get four [goals] in one game and five in one weekend was just a huge boost for me confidence wise and morale wise,” said Baskin, who now has six goals this season. “It was just perfect timing to be the first weekend of the G-MAC. There is only one first award and it is just awesome that the timing was perfect for me to get it. It is a neat feeling.”

Baskin and Johnson both received their player of the week certificates in an email from Trevecca sports information director Greg Ruff. But both athletes said they want to print the award off to make it official – just as Trevecca’s transition to Division II will soon be.

Trevecca is in the second year of its three-year transition from the NAIA to NCAA Division II. They’ll compete against G-MAC opponents over the next two years but won’t be eligible to compete in Division II postseason tournaments until 2014-15.

“It is a good vibe,” Baskin said. “We are Division II but NCAA, just the title, it just feels good. It is such a notable program. The NAIA, some people have never heard of it. But NCAA I think it is a really good vibe at our school. ... We had the best fan support that we’ve ever had on Tuesday night. It is really encouraging to see.”