There were so many new faces at Meet the Raiders this year, that even Rocky Raider had a new face.
Three Rivers College held its annual meet-and-greet event Monday where players are announced and introduced to fans. This year, 70 percent of the men’s and women’s basketball, softball and baseball teams are new to the school. Men’s basketball returns three players in Jeffery Porter, Aidan Saunders and Ludy Kayouloud. Its Hall of Fame coach Gene Bess is back for his 48th season. Women’s basketball is nearly as young with four returning players in DeNayia Holmes, Markeia Porter, Alex Kohler and Casey Douglas. Baseball and softball both have twice as many freshmen as sophomores, as well.
Rocky Raider got an updated head for the 2017-18 season, complete with an air conditioner. “It’s basically the same head, but it’s clean and has a great (air conditioning) unit in it,” cheerleading coach Kayla Sparkman said. “It looks a lot like the old one, so we are still keeping tradition alive by making sure it still does look like Rocky Raider.” The old head, which Sparkman said was made in the 1990s, had mesh eyes where the new one has see-through plastic eyes. This year’s Rocky Raider tried on the head before the event, but did not make an appearance before the crowd, and said it felt nice.
Prior to announcing the players, the Booster Club President Don Crandall presented Jack Duckett a plaque thanking him for his many years of helping provide burgers, hot dogs and fi xings for the event. “I say, Jack are you ready for this year? He always says ‘Yes let’s do it,’” Crandall said at the event. Crandall added that Duckett donates without any negotiation or give-and-take with the Booster Club. “He just shows up,” Crandall said.
Voice of the Raiders Roger Burton returned to MC the event for the fourth year. This time Burton, who also announced a softball game earlier in the day, was donating his time on his 24th wedding anniversary. Burton carries on the tradition set by longtime Voice of the Raiders Wilbur Thornton. Thornton came up with the idea of volunteering his time instead of being paid while the team still sold radio ads, turning Three Rivers radio announcing from an expense into a fundraiser. Three Rivers has also redesigned raidersathletics.com.
By SCOTT BORKGREN DAR Sports Writer