Michael O'Brien

Men’s Basketball Creates Athletes Taking Action to Support Black Lives Matter

ATAMen’s basketball player Shackylle Dezonie ’22 was 11 years old when African American high school student Trayvon Martin was killed in a gated community while visiting family in Sanford, Fla.

“It’s been a recurring cycle ever since,” Dezonie said. “Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, and unfortunately the list goes on. Now, with the murder of George Floyd, I can only hope that this time there will be a different outcome, and we can get justice for these families that have been affected by these unjust killings.”

Seeing a need for action, Dezonie and three of his teammates, Jordan James ’21, Gabe Ravetz ’22, and Antone Walker ’21, grouped together to organize an outreach program through social media called Athletes Taking Action (ATA). The four basketball players began networking with other student-athletes on campus and found widespread interest in other teams wanting to make donations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We got notes back not only telling us that their team was now collecting donations but that their teammates wanted to share the initiative with athletes they knew at other schools,” Ravetz said. “This is when we realized the true impact a concept like this could have.”

Athletes Taking Action provides potential gift-makers with a list of 81 organizations taking donations and an additional list of 48 people who are matching donations to organizations supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. But if teams are so inclined, the Wesleyan men’s basketball players have made it known that individual teams retain the autonomy to donate to an organization of their choosing.

Student Athletes Celebrated, Honored

walker harris

Wesleyan men’s hockey senior forward Walker Harris ’20, already the recipient of the 2019-20 Joe Conannon Award and All-NESCAC First Team honors, has been named a Third Team All-American, as announced today by the American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA). Having earned All-American Third Team honors last season, Harris becomes the first two-time All-American in program history.

Wesleyan’s Athletic Department is celebrating student athletes’ recent achievements and is honoring members of the Class of 2020. They include:

Men’s Lacrosse Senior Day

Women’s Lacrosse Senior Day

Six Men’s Lacrosse Players Named Maverik DIII Media All-Americans

Wrestling Earns Several All-NEWA Awards

Walker Harris ’20 Named Third Team All-American

Walker Harris ’20 Honored with Joe Concannon Award

Field Hockey Places Nation-Leading 25 on NFHCA National Academic Team

Wrestling Team Drafts 14-Year-Old of Team IMPACT

team impactOn Feb. 14, the Wesleyan University wrestling team added its newest member to the team as 14-year old Amar Champlin of Team IMPACT signed his National Letter of Intent.

“It is a great day to be a Cardinal,” said head coach Drew Black. “And it is a great day to be Amar and have him and his family join our team. We are all very excited as we added a great Cardinal to the program.”

Amar is in the eighth grade and hails from Old Saybrook, Conn. He loves sports, especially wrestling.

“To be a Cardinal, you need to be dedicated, hardworking, caring, thoughtful, and invested in making yourself better and all your teammates around you better in every way,” Black said. “Amar will certainly make our program better by bringing all of his great qualities and values. We are so happy and proud to add Amar Champlin to the Wesleyan University wrestling team!”

Coach Black Inducted Into New England Wrestling Hall of Fame

Drew Black

Drew Black

Wesleyan wrestling head coach Drew Black was inducted into the New England Wrestling Association (NEWA) Hall of Fame Jan. 19 at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, R.I. The induction ceremony was held in conjunction with the NEWA Dual Meet Championships.

Black is the only coach in the 2020 NEWA Hall of Fame Induction Class. He’ll was joined by former wrestlers Joseph Adam of Trinity, Brian Glatz of WPI, and John Marsh of Bridgewater State, as well as contributor Dwayne Dawson of Western New England.

“To be called a coach is an honor. Coaching at Wesleyan is an honor and it has been a tremendous and impactful life experience for me. I want to thank John Biddiscombe for believing in me and hiring me 22 years ago,” Black said. “It is great to work for and work with people at Wesleyan who care about the sport of wrestling. Someone once said, ‘A coach impacts more lives in one year than most people do in their lifetime.’ I hope I have been able to make a positive impact on our Wesleyan wrestlers’ lives and I look forward to continuing to do so for many more years ahead.”

Black is in his 22nd year at the helm of the Wesleyan wrestling program and 26th year coaching overall. He is the winningest coach in Wesleyan wrestling history (which began in 1934), and entered the year with a 209-178-2 overall record at Wesleyan. Black also spent three years coaching at Phoenix College (junior college) and one year at Stow-Monroe Falls High School in Ohio.

Football Claims Little Three Victory During Homecoming

football

The Wesleyan Cardinals celebrate their Little Three title earned over Homecoming/Family Weekend.

On the Cardinals’ first play in overtime, David Estevez ’22 ran 25 yards for the game-winning touchdown as the Wesleyan football team defeated Williams, 27-21, during Homecoming/Family Weekend at Corwin Stadium on Nov. 2. With the win, the Cardinals, who defeated Amherst in double-overtime a week ago, claimed the Little Three title outright for the third time in the past seven seasons.

e David Estevez earned NESCAC Offensive Player of the Week honors following an incredible performance in yesterday's Little Three win over Williams.

David Estevez ’22 earned NESCAC Offensive Player of the Week honors following his performance in Wesleyan’s Homecoming game on Nov. 2.

Estevez scored all four touchdowns for Wesleyan as he rushed for two, threw for one, and returned a kickoff 96 yards for another score. The Cardinals improved to 7-1 overall as they snapped Williams’s six-game winning streak.

For the sixth time this season, the Wesleyan football team received a conference weekly award as Estevez earned NESCAC Offensive Player of the Week honors following an incredible performance in the Little Three win.

Read more about the game in this Wesleyan Athletics press release.

Photos of the game are below: (Photos courtesy of Steve McLaughlin Photography)

Little Three Champs! Volleyball Earns 3rd Consecutive Title

Little 3

The volleyball team won a Little Three title against Williams College on Oct. 25. (Photos by Steve McLaughlin Photography)

The Wesleyan volleyball team won its third consecutive Little Three title outright as the 19th-ranked Cardinals defeated archrival Williams College Oct. 25 in Silloway Gymnasium by scores of 25-17, 25-23, 25-22.

Little Three Championships are declared when a varsity team from Wesleyan, Williams, and Amherst defeats the other two rivals. The fierce competition among the schools dates back to at least 1910.

volleyball

Wesleyan was led by frosh Bella Ahearn‘s match-high 16 kills as the Cardinals improved to 18-2 overall and 8-1 in the NESCAC. The 18-2 record marks the best start in program history. The Ephs battled in the second and third sets but fell short as they dropped to 12-8 and 4-3.

“It’s always good to win a rivalry match, and our defense and serving were solid again,” said Head Coach Ben Somera. “Offensively, we’d like to see four players attacking over .200 and while our efficiency wasn’t quite there, our kill-production was good. We need to take a look at the video to see why we made so many errors.”

Bennet

Gabby Bennett ’20

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Consecutive kills from Gabby Bennett ’20 and Stasie Litinsky ’20 to open the first set gave Wesleyan a 2-0 lead and we never looked back. The Cardinals led the entire way and closed out the frame with a 3-0 run.
  • It was a different story in the second. Wesleyan scored five unanswered points early to pull ahead 10-4 but Williams rallied with a 13-5 run to take the lead. The set went back-and-forth down the stretch and the teams exchanged kills in the final five points but Litinsky sealed the two-point win to give the home team a 2-0 advantage in the match.
  • Once again, the Cardinals went on a run early as they scored six unanswered to go-ahead 10-3. Later in the match, the Ephs answered with a 7-0 run of their own to take a 16-15 lead. Wesleyan regained an advantage, however, and after back-to-back points for the visitors made it a 23-22 match, the Cardinals closed it out with back-to-back points.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

For more information and photos, view this Wesleyan Athletics press release.

Coach Raba Inducted into the Connecticut Lacrosse Hall of Fame

Raba

Coach John Raba congratulates goalie Otto Bohan ’20 after the men’s lacrosse team won the National Championship in 2018. Raba will be inducted into the Connecticut Chapter of US Lacrosse Hall of Fame on Nov. 16.

John Raba, head coach of the Wesleyan men’s lacrosse team and adjunct professor of physical education, has been inducted into the Connecticut Lacrosse Hall of Fame for the Class of 2019.

“It is an honor and privilege to be inducted into the Connecticut Chapter of US Lacrosse Hall of Fame,” said Raba. “I am extremely thankful to the Connecticut Lacrosse Foundation and all of its members for this honor. I feel blessed for what the game of lacrosse has done for me and the relationships that it has allowed me to have. I look forward to serving the lacrosse community for many more years to come.”

John Raba

John Raba

Raba has been at the helm of the Cardinals for 23 seasons and has guided Wesleyan to a 278-117 (.704) record, including a National Championship (2018), four NCAA Final Four appearances (2006, ’07, ’17, ’18), and two NESCAC titles (2009, ’17). Under Raba’s tutelage, the Cardinals have qualified for the NCAA Tournament seven times and boast a 15-6 overall record in the national postseason. They have also advanced to 17 conference tournaments, where they own a 23-16 mark.

Raba is the all-time winningest coach in the ultra-competitive NESCAC, and in 2017, he was named the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) Division III National Coach of the Year after leading his team to the NCAA Final Four. The 2017 squad led the nation, in all divisions, with a 20-game win streak as they finished 20-2 overall. The 20 wins were a program record. The following year, Raba’s Cardinals returned to the national semifinals but this time advanced to the National Championship, where they won the first national team title in any sport in Wesleyan history, defeating powerhouse Salisbury at Gillette Stadium, 8-6. The Cardinals’ road to the Championship featured road wins over No. 2 Tufts and No. 1 RIT, before knocking off the third-ranked Sea Gulls.

In Raba’s 23 years at the helm of the Wesleyan men’s lacrosse program, the Cardinals have only finished below .500 once, during his first year as head coach in 1997. Since then, Wesleyan has posted an incredible 20 winning seasons.

Raba was also inducted into the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame on Jan. 24.

The induction ceremony will take place on Nov. 16 at Vazzano’s Four Seasons in Stratford.

Tickets for the event can be purchased through the Connecticut Lacrosse Foundation website at www.ctlacrosse.org. The cost of each ticket is $60 per person ($20 for children and a table of 10 for $500).

Wesleyan Celebrates Historic 2018-19 Athletic Season

Women's tennis celebrating the 2019 National Championship (photo by Jamie Schwaberow).

Women’s tennis celebrating the 2019 National Championship (photo by Jamie Schwaberow).

After a historic 2017-18 campaign that featured the University’s first national team championship (men’s lacrosse) and a record-setting five-time individual champion in tennis (Eudice Chong ’18), the Cardinals raised the bar once again this past year with arguably the greatest all-around season in Wesleyan Athletics history.

The 2018-19 campaign was highlighted by the women’s tennis team winning the National Championship–becoming the first women’s team ever at Wesleyan to claim a national title–while Ivie Uzamere ’21 of the women’s track and field team won the National Championship in the weight throw at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Wesleyan’s women’s teams led the way this past year with historic performances across the board. The women’s tennis team won its first-ever Little Three Championship and first-ever NESCAC title before reaching the NCAA Tournament and hosting the first, second, and third rounds for the first time in program history. After cruising through the regional rounds and the quarterfinals, the Cardinals upset the top-ranked team in the country, Emory, 5-4 to advance to the championship match. In the Finals, Wesleyan earned another thrilling upset when sophomore Polina Kiseleva prevailed in the final match as the Cardinals defeated the defending national champions and No. 2 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, 5-4.

73 Student-Athletes Receive NESCAC All-Academic Honors

Sophia Antonio ’19 (women’s swimming & diving) was named to the All-Academic Team for the third time and was also on the All-NESCAC squad. (Photo by Ron Wimer)

The Wesleyan University winter athletic teams put a total of 73 student-athletes on the 2019 NESCAC Winter All-Academic Team, while eight Cardinals earned All-Sportsmanship honors as announced by the conference.

In order to earn a spot on the All-Academic Team, a student-athlete must have reached sophomore academic standing and be a varsity letter winner with a minimum GPA of 3.50 or equivalent on a 4.0 scale. Transfer students are eligible as long as they have completed at least one year of coursework at the institution.

Coach Raba Inducted into the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame

John Raba

Wesleyan men’s lacrosse head coach John Raba was inducted into the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame Jan. 24 at the Red Lion Hotel in Cromwell. Raba is one of 11 individuals and four teams inducted into the 26th class.

“It is an absolute honor and privilege to be inducted into the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame,” Raba said. “I feel blessed to be recognized with some of Middletown’s finest. I feel extremely fortunate to have worked with so many great administrators, coaches, and players throughout the years. Without their support and effort, this honor would not be attainable!”

Raba has been at the helm of the Wesleyan men’s lacrosse program for 22 seasons; in 2018 he led the Cardinals to the University’s first-ever national team championship. Wesleyan had the toughest road to the finals as it defeated No. 8 Cabrini (12-7), No. 2 Tufts (12-11), and No. 1 RIT (19-18) before earning an 8-6 win over perennial powerhouse, No. 3 Salisbury.

In his 22 years, Raba has amassed an incredible 265-113 (.701) record with 19 winning seasons, while competing in arguably the most competitive conference in the country. The three-time NESCAC Coach of the Year became the winningest coach in league history this past season. He was also named the 2017 USILA Division III Coach of the Year and is a six-time New England Coach of the Year.

Raba has coached three national position players of the year and 43 All-Americans during his tenure. His teams have qualified for the NCAA Division III Tournament on six occasions and are 14-5 all-time with four semifinal appearances. Additionally, Wesleyan has won two NESCAC Championships and its 23 conference postseason wins are third all-time behind only Tufts (31) and Middlebury (26).

Women’s Golf Joins Wesleyan Varsity Sports

The three individuals that competed in fall competition this season were juniors Saadia Naeem and Emma Mehta, and first-year Meg Wiley. Naeem is the most experienced of the trio, having been a member of the Wesleyan golf team since 2016–17. She will serve as the team's captain in its inaugural 2019–20 season.

Saadia Naeem ’20 has been a member of the Wesleyan golf team since 2016–17. She will serve as the new women’s golf team’s captain in its inaugural 2019–20 season. (Photos by Steve McLaughlin)

Wesleyan University has announced the addition of women’s golf to its list of varsity sports beginning in the fall of 2019. Women’s golf will become the 30th varsity sport and the 15th for women at Wesleyan, which will become the eighth school in the NESCAC to sponsor the sport. Jon Wilson, a PGA professional at Lyman Orchards, has been named the head coach of the program.

“There have been ongoing discussions for several years about adding women’s golf,” said Director of Athletics Mike Whalen ’83. “We feel now that we have enough interest on the part of our student-athletes that we are confident we can provide a positive experience.”

Volleyball Wins 2nd Consecutive Little Three Title

The Cardinals claimed the Little Three title for the second year in a row and third all-time. (Photo by Jonas Powell ’18)

Wesleyan’s volleyball team won its second consecutive Little Three Championship Sept. 30 following a 3-0 sweep over archrival Amherst College on the road. The Cardinals (10-2) remain perfect in NESCAC play with a 5-0 mark. Shortly after, they saw their 10-match win streak come to an end as they fell to non-conference foe Endicott College, 3-1.

With Wesleyan’s win over Williams earlier this year, 3-1, the Cardinals claim the Little Three title for the second year in a row and third all-time.