Courtesy: Savannah State Athletics
SAVANNAH, Ga. – Savannah State Athletics announced the hiring of a number of new coaches and several additions to its staff ahead of the fall semester.
Head Women’s Tennis Coach Chuck Keenan had the interim taken off his title after a nationwide search.
Despite several early season obstacles, as interim head coach last season, Keenan put together a full team of players, scheduled a full season and ended up earning the program’s first Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) win, beating LeMoyne-Owen College 4-1.
Keenan comes to Savannah State from the Savannah Area Tennis Association where he served as the Community Tennis Coordinator. He also was head tennis professional and racquet sport instructor at the Savannah Yacht Club.
Prior to those positions, Keenan was the head men’s and women’s tennis coach at Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) from 1999-2011. He led the Bees to five consecutive Sun Conference Championships from 2006 to 2010 and two Region XIV Championships in 2007 and 2008.
In 2007, Keenan was named the ITA NAIA Women’s National Coach of the Year after leading the Bees to their third consecutive trip to the NAIA National Championship.
He was named the Sun Conference Women’s Coach of the Year in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 as well as the SCAD Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2008. He also was named the NAIA Region XIV Coach of the Year in 2007 and 2008.
The football program added Georgia Southern graduate Favian Upshaw to its roster as a wide receivers coach. Upshaw comes to Savannah State from Tulane University where he served as a graduate assistant coach since 2018, earning a master’s degree in liberal arts.
During his time at Tulane, Upsahw served as an assistant coach for the quarterbacks during the 2018 Cure Bowl. Prior to Tulane, Upshaw was the co-offensive coordinator and a teacher at Astronaut High School in his native Titusville, Florida.
Upshaw is no stranger to Savannah. As a backup quarterback for Georgia Southern, Upshaw played against the Tigers in 2014 and again in 2016. His breakout year for the Eagles came in 2015. He played in all 13 games, starting two and was on the field for 374 snaps. He completed 19 of 48 passes for 227 yards.
Upshaw was named the MVP of the 2015 GoDaddy Bowl, leading his team to a 58-27 stomping of Bowling Green in the Eagles first bowl game in school history. He helped secure the championship with a career-high 199 rushing yards on 12 carries with four touchdowns.
The Tigers also named Savanna Hockman the new volunteer director of operations. Hockman comes to Savannah State from Wake Forest University where she served as a recruiting intern for the football program. Prior to Wake Forest, she served as a student assistant equipment manager to the Kennesaw State University football program.
She graduated from Kennesaw State University with a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management in 2019. Her father, Kyle Hockman took over as head football coach at New Hampstead in Savannah in February of 2019. Kyle Hockman has coached high-school and college football for over 30 years winning five regional titles. He has produced over 150 college football players.
Savannah State baseball added Volunteer Assistant Coach Scott Nestor during the offseason. Nestor comes to Savannah State from Rochester University in Rochester Hills, Michigan where he served as an assistant coach. Prior to that, he was the director of operations for the Oakland Bulldogs Baseball program in Rochester Hills, Michigan.
Over his years of coaching, Nestor has helped develop seven professional baseball players, including several MLB draft picks. Nester earned his bachelor’s degree in Sports Studies from Central Michigan University, where he also played and coached baseball.
Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Justin Vandusen added four new interns as well this semester. Zoe Lincoln, Isabel Delgado, Robert McGhee and Mark Christiani will assist Coach Vandusen during the 2020-21 season.
The Savannah State Athletics Media Relations Department also introduced a new scholarship and position within the department. The Video Coordinator/Intern Media Relations Director position will be the recipient of the Pearson Media Relations Scholarship each year.
The position will work directly under Assistant Athletics Director for Media Relations Joshua Peacock and will be charged with leading the football program’s video department, as well as assist with live streaming and video work.
For the Fall 2020 semester, the position was awarded to Mass Communications major and former football star Desmond Young.
The scholarship is named after Lee Pearson, a longtime Sports Information Director at Savannah State. While studying at Savannah State, Pearson was one of the first six students to receive a minor in Mass Communications before it was offered as a major.