— Keiser University’s football team, the Seahawks, captivated their audience by rallying late in the fourth quarter to tie and then won a nail-biter in overtime in the first football game ever played by the Seahawks. They defeated the University of Pikeville Bears 24-17 in Pikeville, KY on August 23.
Keiser University’s Flagship campus, located in West Palm Beach, Florida, is the headquarters of their new football program. “Football brings people together,” said Dr. Arthur Keiser, Chancellor of Keiser University. All Seahawk football games are streamed live for Keiser University’s 21 Florida campuses, some of which hold pep rallies and watch parties. “It’s had an incredible impact on our students. Even on our adult learning campuses, which are different from this residential one, there is a great deal of excitement about Seahawk football.”
At the season opener, both teams got off to a rocky start with the Bears leading at halftime 3-0. By the end of the 3rd quarter, the Bears were ahead 9-3, due to a missed extra point.
In the 4th quarter, the Seahawk’s Marques Burgess scrambled for 12 yards to give the Seahawks their first touchdown and Logan Robinson made the extra point to put the Seahawks in the lead 10-9. Next, the Bear’s Xondre Willis scored his second touchdown on an impressive 49-yard run. Pikeville gained the 17-10 lead on a completed pass for the two-point conversion.
With only 1:13 remaining in the 4th quarter, Seahawk’s quarterback Eli Matthews completed a 19-yard pass to tight-end Jaylen Arnold to tie the game 17-17. The Seahawk’s defense managed to contain the Bear’s offense as time expired.
The Keiser Seahawks went all-out in overtime, converting on all three of their fourth-downs, the last of which came when Burgess scored from the 2-yard line. During the Bears’ possession, they managed to get inside the Seahawk’s 5-yard line, but an interception on third down secured the first victory for the Seahawks.
“Our student-athletes are going to learn three things: to compete in the classroom, to represent this school and this community well, and to win some football games. Twenty years from now, I want our players to look back and say, ‘that place was a difference maker’,” said Head Football Coach Doug Socha of the Keiser University Seahawks.
Keiser football is new, but the flagship campus has a total of 25 NAIA Varsity Sports. The other sports have rosters that are mixed between domestic and international students, but most of the football team’s 125-member roster is made up of local students. Flagship Campus President Gary Vonk is building upon the attention that football has created in the community and around the country.
“As our campus continues to flourish with the addition of facilities, and educational and athletic programs, we are thankful that our student athletes enjoy a well-rounded experience,” said Flagship campus President Dr. Gary Vonk. “By also applying the lessons of teamwork, time management and focus to their academic areas of study, many student athletes find that they become better prepared for the professional world.”
“The philosophy of connecting athletics and academics is, ‘Commit, care, compete’,” added Athletic Director, Kris Swogger, “When you follow these three C’s in academics and athletics, they transfer to the workforce to cultivate a culture with eagerly employable students. Our job is to develop habits that lead to success – showing up on time, being respectful, handling adversity.”
Before coming to Keiser, 27 of the players had left South Florida to play for out-of-state schools, only to return and now play again in West Palm Beach. Some stated their return was due to Coach Socha’s great reputation in the community.
Dr. Arthur Keiser emphasizes the experience is about much more than just football. “What is most important is that these kids will get a high-quality education with small classes and tutoring, which is what we do for all of our students. So, they’ll get the athletics they desire because that’s what they love. But at the same time, they’re going to get the career-focused education they need.”
The Chancellor commented that the players’ character shines on and off the field and is evident when you encounter them on campus. “They will shake your hand, be polite, and respectful. If we can help create this type of young person, that’s what this is all about.”
The Keiser University Seahawks’ first home football game will be Saturday, Sept. 22 at 12 p.m. against the Georgetown Tigers at the Flagship Residential campus located at 2600 North Military Trail in West Palm Beach, Florida.
About Keiser University
Co-founded in 1977 by Dr. Arthur Keiser, Chancellor, Keiser University is a private, not-for-profit University serving nearly 20,000 students offering 100 degrees at the doctoral through associate level on 20 Florida campuses, online and internationally, employing 3,800 staff and faculty.
Keiser University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award certificates and degrees at the associate, baccalaureate, masters, specialist, and doctoral levels. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Keiser University. For additional information regarding Keiser University, visit www.keiseruniversity.edu.
Photo caption (L to R): Dr. Arthur Keiser, Chancellor of Keiser University; L. Shaw Pomianowski, Keiser University Football Player (WR); Doug Socha, Head Football Coach; R. Dalton Barkman, Keiser University Football Player (WR); Dr. Gary Vonk, President of the Flagship Campus.
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Organization: Keiser University
Address: 2600 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach, Florida 33409
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