A look ahead: The Eagles in the Pros
By Jordyn Matez
Though FGCU’s sports programs are commonly known as fairly new programs that still require more growth, the player statistics state otherwise. According to FGCUAthletics,
35 Eagle athletes have gone pro in the just 22 years that FGCU has been founded. The fact that most sports programs were founded well after FGCU’s inaugural academic year makes this statistic even more impressive, with the earliest program (women’s basketball) not being founded until 2002.
Some athletes have found themselves in the national spotlight more recently, such as Chris Sale and Brandon Goodwin.
Chris Sale is frequently the first name that comes to mind when people think of FGCU alumni.
Sale had a stellar season in 2018. He pitched 158.0 innings while striking out 237 batters over 27 games with an Earned Run Average (ERA) of 2.11. His overall W-L record is 12-4.
In his 9 years as a MLB pitcher, Sale has pitched 1482.1 innings, collecting 1789 strikes with an overall W-L record of 103-62. His career ERA is 2.89.
Sale has also been an American League All-Star every year since 2012 and was a part of the MLB All-Rookie Team in his rookie season in 2011. This marks outstanding achievement in every year he’s played pro.
Most recently, Sale has led the Boston Red Sox to a massive MLB record: no team in history has won as many games as the 2018 Boston Red Sox. The Sox, with Sale as one of their primary pitchers, finished their season leading the American league with an overall record of 108-54.
At FGCU, Sale was just as prominent statistically at the collegiate level. Though he was drafted by the White Sox in the 1st round of the 2010 MLB draft (13th overall pick) he could begin his senior year with the Eagles, his many collegiate awards put FGCU baseball on the map.
Sale was recognized as a 2010 Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Year, a member of the ABCA/Rawlings NCAA All-American 1st Team and a CBF National Pitcher of the Year Finalist, among various other ASUN Conference honors.
Today, Sale will continue his MLB career in the 2018 MLB Playoffs, with hopes of reaching the World Series alongside his teammates.
Another extremely prominent member of FGCU’s athletic alumni is Brandon Goodwin, an FGCU Basketball alum who was officially picked up by the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies in early September and made his professional debut this past Tuesday. (add stats here if possible)
Goodwin is the first FGCU basketball alum to have ever made it this far professionally, and his professional progress has been eagerly anticipated by many FGCU basketball fans since Goodwin was picked up by the Grizzlies’ summer league in Spring of 2018.
Though Goodwin spent only two years with FGCU after transferring from UCF at the beginning of his junior year, he managed to break multiple franchise records.
Goodwin’s records include his career scoring average of 18.5 points per game, which is three points higher than any other athlete in program history, the top two single-season program records for points (632 in 2017-18 season, 629 in 2016-17 season) and holding the third place position for free throws made, with 280, among many others.
Though Sale and Goodwin are currently among the two most celebrated former Eagles currently, there are still many other athletes who have made strides professionally.
Brooke Youngquist-Sweat of FGCU’s beach volleyball program is most commonly known for her performance in the 2016 Olympics at Rio De Janeiro, where her and her partner Lauren Fendrick finished last place overall with an 0-3 record.
Sweat, a defender, began her professional career in 2007 with the AVP Tours. Her highest achievement includes placing third internationally in the 2013 Berlin Grand Slam with her then-partner Jennifer Fopma.
Sweat’s other achievements include being a 10-time worldwide winner, along with more than 30 top three finishes across multiple professional tours. She ended her 2017 season ranked seventh worldwide and has won three separate AVP Tour Championships.
During her time at FGCU, Sweat helped the FGCU volleyball team to the ASUN Championship in the program’s first year as a Division-I team in 2007 and held All-American and Division-II Daktronics South Region Player of the year (2006) honors, as well as holding the second-most kill record to this day, with 1,173 overall.
Joining Sale in Major League Baseball recognition are pitchers Jacob Barnes and Richard Bleier.
Jacob Barnes has been an anchor in the Milwaukee Brewers over the past three seasons. He has pitched 147.1 innings over 149 games while striking out 153 batters over his career with an ERA of 3.54.
Richard Bleier has been in the majors for three years collecting five wins and one loss over 119 innings pitched striking out 54 batters with an ERA of 1.97. He was a minor league All-Star in 2015.
FGCU currently has 22 former student-athletes who have gone pro, and hope to add to that number after former FGCU pitchers Mario Leon and Josh Dye were drafted in this past season’s MLB Draft.
Aaron Guillen of the FGCU men’s soccer team is currently a member of the North Carolina Football Club as a defender. He has been on the team for two years and has started 22 games. He has played solid defense, clearing the ball 86 times in the past year while blocking 16 shots on goal and intercepted the ball 37 times.
Nico Samayoa, also a former member of the FGCU men’s soccer team, was selected by New England in the fourth round of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, becoming only the third player in FGCU history to join MLS. At FGCU, he was unanimously voted the 2017 ASUN Defensive Player of the Year and was a three-time all-conference selection.
Though she is still a student-athlete at FGCU and a rising sophomore, it was announced earlier this week that swimming and diving’s Rebecca Moynihan will be competing in the 2018 New Zealand Short Course Championships in hopes of qualifying for the Federation Internationale De Natation (FINA) World Championships in 2019.
Moynihan is a wonderful representation of what is currently happening in FGCU Athletics and what is yet to come. Moynihan, among many other FGCU student-athletes, is finding more and more professional opportunities.
Though FGCU is still definitely growing, it’s athletic programs are growing with it. With 35 former Eagles nationally recognized in under 20 years, there is no limit on where FGCU Athletics can, and will go professionally.