New seasons. Fresh rosters. Old leaders have moved on, and now the future of Coyote athletics relies on the next wave of standout athletes.
Experience is a coveted trait among stars, but a handful of first-and-second-year athletes are already standing out in their individual sports, paving the way for the future of USD athletics.
This handful includes redshirt freshman setter Madison Jurgens, redshirt freshman wide receiver Reggie Crawford, and true freshman forward Tiannah Moore.
Madison Jurgens is a redshirt freshman setter on the USD volleyball team from Odell, Nebraska.
Jurgens earned the starting setter spot this season, after the team lost three-time Summit League Setter of the Year, Brittany Jessen to graduation last May.
Before the season began, Jurgens said she was ready for the role after shadowing Jessen for a year.
“I’ve learned from her,” she said. “I’m excited to finally play and see how the work that I’ve put in over the past years contributes to real games.”
Head coach Leanne Williamson said she noticed Jurgens’ quick development before the season.
“She’s stronger and able to make sets that she couldn’t at the end of the spring,” Williamson said, “She’s a lot more confident than I was expecting, so that’s a good thing.”
Just past the season’s midpoint, Jurgens is 606 assists and 10.10 assists per set rank fourth in the Summit League. Equipped with precise serving skill, Jurgens’ team-leading 22 aces also rank second in the Summit League.
Jurgens’ began playing volleyall at five-years-old, with encouragement from her mother, who was a high school volleyball coach.
Around age ten, Jurgens realized volleyball was going to become a large commitment, one she enjoyed.
“I started playing on a club team and realized the time commitment it was going to take and I had to quit a couple of things to do that,” Jurgens said. “When I started having to choose between other things I realized volleyball was going to be my number one priority.”
Four hours north of her hometown, Jurgens said USD was a pleasant fit.
“When I visited I came into it with a very open mind. Vermillion is very similar to where I grew up and I think the community aspect of it seemed very inviting to me,” she said. “The coaches were great, it just felt like a perfect fit for me.”
Jurgens said her goal as a member of the volleyball team is to keep improving every day.
“I obviously want to help the team win a conference championship,” Jurgens said. “Personally, I just work on improving every day. I don’t focus on one thing specifically, but just improving every aspect of my game.”
Reggie Crawford is a redshirt freshman wide receiver on the football team from St. Louis, Missouri.
Crawford has started the first four games of his career, catching 5 passes for 54 yards thus far. One of those catches was a four-yard touchdown catch against Northern Colorado Sept. 8, the first touchdown of his career.
The six-foot-two-inch receiver opted to redshirt last season, a decision Crawford said helped him understand responsibilities as a student-athlete.
“I took my redshirt year as a learning experience. I saw a lot of things up close and personal. I’m loving being able to get out there and play,” he said.
He’s developed that love since age 10 when Crawford began playing football, he said.
“I started out playing basketball and baseball and my coach had a football team. I was a pretty big kid growing up, so he asked me to come out,” Crawford said. “It came naturally to me and I could see myself playing through high school.”
A two-time all-state player from Chaminade High School, Crawford said he chose USD because of the genuine coaching staff.
“They were consistent in checking up with me every day and that made me feel like they really cared about me on-and-off the field,” he said.
Crawford said his favorite thing about being a USD football player is gameday at the Dakota Dome.
“Running out onto the field and seeing all the fans and hearing the sounds echo all around is definitely an experience,” he said.
Crawford hopes to instill in his team the importance of always giving 100 percent.
“I want our team to take advantage of the skills we have and what we can accomplish. Of course, everyone wants to win a national championship, but just take it step by step,” Crawford said. “I want to help my team any way I can, being a vocal leader and just performing to the best of my abilities.”
Tiannah Moore is a freshman forward on the soccer team from Lincoln, Nebraska.
An all-state forward scoring a school-record 24 goals for Northeast High School last year, Moore is already adding electricity to a powerful USD offense.
Moore leads the team with 10 shots on goal, just 11 games into her Coyote career. Four of those shots have found the back of the net, tied for fourth-most in the Summit League.
Head coach Michael Thomas said Moore is a significant presence when she enters play.
“Tiannah’s done a great job of bringing some immediate energy onto the field,” he said. “Like any freshman, she’s had a learning curve, but she has a really high ceiling.”
A student of the game since age five, Moore said she had always been interested in playing at the collegiate level, and chose USD because of the environment.
“I chose USD because of the people,” she said. “Everyone here is so welcoming, caring, and always supporting not only the community itself, but the athletes.”
Moore said the team shares that same sense of community.
“This team has shown me love, accountability and priorities, all while enjoying the sport that I love,” Moore said.
Like any freshman, Moore said she’s learning to manage her time.
“I still find balance very difficult at times, and sometimes it becomes overwhelming. I often catch myself having troubles with connecting with people and building friendships because of how busy I usually am,” she said.
Moore hopes to win as many games as possible and hopefully break some school records.
“In the future I hope to create more goal scoring opportunities and eventually win our conference,” Moore said.
The future of Coyote athletics is in good hands.