|Year of Graduation:||1989-1993|
When searching for the definition of a premier defender in soccer numerous skills and attributes floated to the top of every coach’s wish list. Fortunately for Maryville College, a young lady from Kingsport, Tennessee, decided to bless the program with her talents.
Molly Hewa came to MC in 1989 with Coach Jerry Litton’s wish list full of skills. A tough, aggressive player that was never afraid to fight for control of the ball described Hewa’s play. She was composed individual that played using her head and a player that never gave up to help fellow defenders. Her efforts became a strong foundation on the first NCAA squad hosted by MC.
In 1989, Coach Litton’s team went 11-6 against four-year varsity challenges. With goalkeeper Betsy Crews stopping the opponent and Kelly Smelser crashing opponents’ nets with goals, Hewa worked beside Marilyn McCoy to secure eight shutouts, including key wins over Liberty, Centre, Warren Wilson, and Rhodes. Although she focused on defense, the skilled attacker could also contribute on offense and scored a goal in a loss to Lynchburg College.
Molly’s sophomore season was Coach Litton’s final campaign on the hill. The Scots went 13-6 and Molly tossed in a goal and an assist while helping MC secure an amazing 11 shutouts on defense. The orange and garnet stepped up and claimed victories over Presbyterian, Liberty, Sewanee, and Rhodes.
Coach Pepe Fernandez began his tenure in the fall of 1991 with the women. Molly’s junior squad posted a 12-2-1 record. Wall of Fame goalkeeper Lara Sibold was surrounded by Hewa’s prowess and their defense combined for eight shutouts. They tied Emory University and defeated Lees McCrae, Rhodes, Sewanee, Liberty, and Clemson for some of the biggest wins in MC’s short soccer history.
Molly’s senior squad finished winning 15 of 18 challenges. This was the first women’s team to be ranked in the top 25 nationally in the school’s brief playing history “This was one of the most offensive explosive team we have ever had,” stated Coach Fernandez. With Dria Arenth, Jara Griffith, and All-American Julie Dingles tearing up the nets, Hewa and her fellow defenders posted 10 shutouts including blanking of Carson Newman, Greensboro, Tusculum, Wooster, Sewanee, and Centre. At the conclusion of the season Coach Fernandez and his staff (Bill Elliott and Blake Hornbuckle) awarded Molly with the team’s Coaches Award.
“Molly could shut down her side of the field with her fearless play and athleticism,” stated Coach Fernandez. “She had a rare combination of height and speed that you do not see often in Division III. Molly was a talented soccer player and relished her role of shutting down any opponent.”
The entire athletic department benefitted from Molly’s passion for others. When the school needed her to represent the athletic department at meetings with the board or faculty she was first in line to volunteer. As a student-athlete she was the epitome of what Maryville College stands for: scholarship, respect, and integrity.
The Scots’ J.D. Davis Award award seeks to honor senior student-athletes who exhibit leadership, athletic ability, Christian values, and academic achievement. These are all characteristics for which J.D. Davis is remembered. Molly was honored for her contributions on and off the field by being named the 1993 Female J.D. Davis award winner from MC’s athletic department. J.D. was a positive influence in the lives of hundreds of young people on the MC campus. Molly touched the lives of many faculty, staff, and students during her journey in the orange and garnet.
The following is a reflection from one of Molly’s professors, Dr. Sherry Kasper. “Molly Hewa Sers is one of the cherished students that taught me how to be a teacher. Just imagine you are a new teacher that knows about economics, but very little about teaching. Then imagine that you have a smart, motivated and hardworking student, like Molly, who demonstrated over and over again that she was learning what you were trying to teach and let you know she was engaged with that fabulous smile. Her presence in my classroom gave me great confidence that I was on the right track. Also imagine you are a new teacher who really wants to believe that the “Student-athlete) exists. Then you get to teach Molly Hewa Sers, talented athlete and accomplished student. With her example, she taught me that I could hold high expectations for all the student-athletes. I, was fortunate, as I hope were subsequent generations of students, that Molly came into my life.”
Molly’s decision to come to MC from the Kingsport area opened up recruiting door in upper East Tennessee that brought Beverly Stepp, Pam Russell, Mike Smelser, and Ryan Riggins-all Scot standouts- to the MC pitch.
Beverly Stepp Meyer reflects, “Once high school competitors, then college teammates, I knew Molly was a fierce fullback. I could always count on Molly behind me on defense with her speed and impeccable slide tackles. Nothing would stop Molly from winning the ball.”
Upon graduation she was accepted into UT’s MBA program and attended from 1993-1995. Before graduating from Tennessee she interviewed with Frito-Lay on campus. After working six years with Frito-Lay she expanded to Pepsico since 2001 and is the present day Director of Culinary at Pepsico.
Julie Dingels Fernandez, a fellow Wall of Fame inductee and teammate of Molly, had this to say. “Molly is the type of person that always has your back, and I knew I could count on her on and off the field. Her natural leadership abilities, strong character, unwavering faith, and loyalty to her family and friends paved the way for personal and professional successes throughout the years. These qualities are why I am honored to call Molly one of my best friends for over 23 years.”
Ladies and gentlemen, a standout student-athlete on the pitch and a role model for future Scots to emulate, please help me welcome Molly Hewa Sers to the 2012 class of the Maryville College Wall of Fame.