By: Angela Caraway-Carlton
Sports at St. Thomas University in Miami.
St. Thomas University (STU) in Miami Gardens has successfully grown their sports program over the last few decades, offering endless opportunities for student-athletes. The private Roman Catholic school’s athletics program began in 1965 with men’s basketball, and today, St. Thomas boasts 12 varsity sports teams known as the “ Bobcats.”
Young men can participate in baseball, basketball, golf, tennis, soccer, and cross country; while young women are offered the chance to compete in basketball, softball, soccer, tennis, volleyball and cross country.
St. Thomas is continuing to expand its sports program by launching a beach volleyball program in the spring of 2017, which is perfectly-suited for Miami’s warm, tropical vibes. Players will hold court at the Dominick Miniaci Beach Volleyball Courts on campus.
“ Watching the evolution and growth of our program and our facilities has been very exciting,” says Laura Courtley-Todd, director of athletics. “ Alumni come back to visit and we get to see the pride in their faces as they see how much the campus has changed. Our little “ Biscayne College,” the original name of St. Thomas University, with only one building has grown into an academic and athletic powerhouse.”
STU’s standout sport is baseball, with the Bobcats baseball team capturing eight conference championships and making appearances at five NAIA World Series. Most recently, the Bobcats finished runner-up at the 2015 NAIA World Series, the highest national finish in the school’s history in any sport. Head coach Jorge Perez, who is entering his eighth season at STU, has experienced a triumphant run too, with seven Bobcat players in the past five seasons selected in the Major League Baseball draft.
The baseball program has seen a strong lineage of successful coaches over the years including Paul Mainieri, the current head coach at LSU; Al Avila, the current general manager of the Detroit Tigers; and Manny Mantrana, the current head coach of Texas-Pan American.
St. Thomas plays its home games on campus at Paul Demie Mainieri Field. The Bobcats also have the unique opportunity to train at the same facilities as elite Major League Baseball players — they use the state-of-the-art Boras Batting Cages as part of a partnership with the Boras Sports Training Institute.
Men’s basketball also has a long, rich history at St. Thomas University. The hoops program started in 1965 under legendary Head Coach Ken Stibler, who collected 216 wins from 1965-1983. In recent seasons, the Bobcats have made seven NAIA National Tournament appearances, including four trips to the national tourney in the last five seasons.
In 2009, the Fernandez Family Center on campus opened its doors as the new home for Bobcats men’s basketball and for the return of women’s basketball to St. Thomas. The women’s team has seen significant success since its return, with five Sun Conference championships and three NAIA National Tournament appearances.
Champions On and Off the Court
The St. Thomas Athletic program is a strong advocate of the NAIA’s “ Champions of Character” program, instilling in the Bobcat student-athletes the core values of integrity, sportsmanship, responsibility and servant leadership.
The school also emphasizes the importance of balancing athletics and academics. “ Our student-athletes understand the importance of being a student first. Watching them compete at national tournaments and then seeing them accept their diplomas solidifies that we are doing things right at STU,” says Courtley-Todd. “ Our philosophy is to provide a pathway to a college education through athletics participation whereby the student-athletes develop as champions of character and leaders for life.”
For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit STUBobcats.com.
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