Fan Appreciation Day to jump-start exciting fall sports lineup | Voice of the Bears

football players run out from the tunnel
The Mercer Bears run into Five Star Stadium before their 2021 Homecoming matchup against Chattanooga. Photo by Christopher Ian Smith

Mercer Athletics will host its annual Fan Appreciation Day on Aug. 13, ahead of fall sports kicking off their respective seasons with high expectations.

The free event will take place 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Heritage Hall of the University Center, where Mercer fall sports student-athletes will be available for an autograph session. Posters for the football, men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball programs will be available. Toby the Bear will be in attendance for photo opportunities and added features include Kona Ice on site and a bounce house for the younger fans.

As the season gets closer to kicking off, Mercer football’s anticipation builds as the Bears received their highest-ever preseason projection by the league coaches and media members. Mercer was projected to finish second by the media and third by the league’s coaches.

In addition, Mercer football has made appearances in five preseason polls: No. 16 in the College Football Network, No. 17 by Athlon Sports, No. 18 by The Blue Bloods, No. 23 by STATS Perform FCS Top 25 and No. 18 by FCS Nation Radio. These preseason rankings are the first-ever for the Bears in program history.

Six Mercer football student-athletes were voted onto the 2022 Preseason All-Southern Conference teams, as announced by the league office at its annual Media Day. More preseason honors were announced when the Phil Steele All American team included a member of the Mercer special teams and the Phil Steele All Southern Conference team saw 13 Bears recognized at 17 different positions.

The Bears open the 2022 season at 7 p.m. Aug. 27 against Morehead State at Five Star Stadium. The next week, Mercer ventures back onto The Plains for a return trip to face SEC foe Auburn with a 7 p.m. kickoff. Mercer last visited Auburn in 2017.

Mercer fans not only have the excitement of a winning football team at home games this season but also many other activities making the environment around Five Star Stadium on game day the best in the Southern Conference.

Mercer Athletics has revealed a thrilling lineup of talented artists to the 2022 Ford Concert Series. Entering the fourth season of the concert series, Toby Town — the designated tailgating area on Black Field — is eager to host live music before each of Mercer’s five home football games this fall.

The Ford Concert Series will include headlining performances by Corey Smith (Aug. 27), Mitchell Tenpenny (Sep. 17), Rodney Atkins (Oct. 8) and Nate Smith (Oct. 15). Closing out the concert series for 2022 Homecoming is Jupiter Coyote (Nov. 12).

Additional performers include Highway 49, Blane Dunnam and Jacob Powell on Aug. 27, Mackenzie Carpenter on Sept.17, Kaitlyn Baker and Joe Lasher on Oct. 8, Molly Stevens and Carter Faith on Oct. 15, and Dillon Carmichael on Nov. 12.

Click here to view the 2022 Mercer football schedule.

Soccer and volleyball kick off

Men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball also begin play this month.

Head coach Brad Ruzzo’s 2022 men’s soccer schedule features a stretch of seven consecutive home games from Sept. 11 through Oct. 4. The defending SoCon Tournament champion men’s soccer team begins its 2022 regular season on Aug. 25 at home versus Winthrop.

Coach Ruzzo enters his 15th season at the helm of the men’s soccer program. He has led Mercer to winning four of the last six SoCon tournament championships and garnering four NCAA Tournament bids as automatic qualifiers.

Click here to view the men’s soccer schedule.

Head coach Tony Economopoulos’ 2022 women’s soccer schedule will feature 11 games at Betts Stadium this fall. The Bears begin the regular season away from home with a road tilt against Campbell on Aug. 18. In his 11 seasons at the helm, Economopoulos has led the Bears to the best winning percentage in program history. The first home game for the Bears will be Aug. 21 against Charleston Southern.

Click here to view the women’s soccer schedule.

Head volleyball coach Derek Schroeder has announced his 20-match regular season schedule. In 2021, the Bears won the regular season title and completed the regular season with a 12-4 conference record. The Bears will open play at their first tournament at Florida Atlantic. Schroeder’s squad will begin play on Aug. 26 against Lehigh at noon before closing the day with a 7 p.m. battle against FAU. The Bears will battle Alabama A&M at noon Aug. 27. First home action is the Mercer Bears Classic set for Sept. 2-3 at Hawkins Arena.

Click here to view the volleyball schedule.


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