This month, the Wesleyan Student-Athlete of Color Leadership Council (SACLC) released its “The Battle is Worth It” video with the Wesleyan community. The video, which was produced by Wesleyan’s Video Services team, features athletes from SACLC who aim to bring awareness to their work and support other athletes of color.
SACLC aims to build a safe, more diverse environment, which will enhance the athletic experiences of student-athletes of color throughout all Wesleyan sports teams. Programs and services are developed with the intention of implementing a system that establishes a social network amongst athletes of color, promotes solidarity, and encourages discourse in an attempt to alleviate the disadvantages associated with being an athlete of color.
Men’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.
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Wesleyan Athletics is hosting its fourth annual “Be The Match” Marrow Donor Drive. This year the drive will be held virtually.
What is Be The Match?
For the thousands of people diagnosed every year with life-threatening blood cancers or diseases like leukemia and lymphoma, a cure exists. These patients can receive blood stem cells as a cure. Unfortunately, 70% of patients cannot find a match within their family and therefore look to the Be The Match registry for that life-saving match.
Over the past 25 years, Be The Match has managed the largest and most diverse marrow donor registry in the world (20 million and counting). Our first three Wesleyan drives have added around 500 potential donors to the registry. We have saved one life that we know of and we currently have other pending matches.
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On May 21, the Wesleyan University Athletic Department hosted a virtual event to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of scholar-athletes. The ceremony combined the annual Scholar-Athlete Banquet with the end-of-the-year Senior Awards presentations.
It was hosted by Director of Athletics Mike Whalen ’83 and featured remarks from President Michael Roth ’78. Several coaches presented individual awards to the student-athletes.
Hockey goalie Tim Sestak ’20 and women’s soccer defender Mackenzie Mitchell ’20 were the recipients of the Roger Maynard Memorial Awards, which are presented annually to the Wesleyan male and female scholar-athlete who best exemplifies the spirit, accomplishments, and humility of Roger Maynard ’37 (established by the family of Roger Maynard, a former Wesleyan trustee who lettered in cross-country and track.)
In addition to winning the prestigious Maynard Awards, Sestak and Mitchell were also chosen by the Department as the two scholar-athlete speakers, an annual tradition of the Scholar-Athlete Banquet.
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Despite graduating from Wesleyan with degrees in fields such as economics or psychology, several Wes alumni went on to pursue jobs in sports and athletics. While some became professional athletes on nationally-recognized teams, others delved into coaching, refereeing, sports reporting, and team management. In this “Best of Wes” article, read about Wes alumni who turned their love of the game into a lifelong passion and career. We’ll include another Alumni in Sports feature next week! (Interested in other Wesleyan-themed lists? Check out our previous “Best of Wes” pieces.)
Rob King ’84
In March 2020, Rob King ’84 was named vice president and editor-at-large of ESPN content. In this role, King defines the content division’s journalistic direction and acts as an advisor to ESPN’s leadership team on complex editorial issues, while ensuring ESPN’s commitment to journalistic excellence remains at the highest level. King previously served as senior vice president of original content, focusing globally on all of ESPN’s award-winning long-form storytelling and enterprise journalism. Prior to joining ESPN in 2004, he worked for three newspapers as a reporter. At Wesleyan, he ran track, played basketball, and majored in English.
Eudice Chong ’18
Wesleyan’s women’s tennis team standout Eudice Chong ’18 is presently playing professionally and ranks No. 376 in the world in singles play and No. 158 in the world in doubles. Chong made NCAA history as she became the first collegiate tennis player—female or male in any division—to win four straight singles titles. She also won a doubles title as a junior for a total of five national championships. A three-time NESCAC Player of the Year, Chong concluded her final season at Wesleyan with a 30-2 overall singles record while going a perfect 30-0 against Division III competition. She also won the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Oracle Cup in both singles and doubles in 2017, the ITA National Senior Player of the Year in 2018, and the Division III Honda Athlete of the Year in 2018. Chong majored in psychology and has a minor from the College of East Asian Studies.
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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
Andrew Schwartz ’20, of the men’s swimming and diving team, was named to the NESCAC Winter All-Sportsmanship Team. (Photos by Steve McLaughlin)
Women’s hockey player Coleen Castro ’20 was named to the NESCAC Winter All-Academic Team.
Wesleyan’s winter athletic teams put a total of 80 student-athletes on the 2019–20 New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Winter All-Academic Team, while eight earned a spot on the 2019–20 NESCAC All-Sportsmanship Team.
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 grade point average (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 study at the institution.
Wesleyan ranked seventh out of 11 schools with its 80 honorees.
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On March 8, the men’s hockey team celebrated its first-ever NESCAC Championship with a 7-2 victory over Trinity College. Although the win secured the league’s automatic bid into the 2020 NCAA Tournament, NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors decided to cancel all remaining winter championships as well as the spring sports season across all divisions (I, II, and III). Wesleyan had several winter sports scheduled to compete in their respective NCAA Championships, including men’s hockey, which are affected by this news.
The Cardinals scored seven goals in just over 30 minutes of action, erasing an early deficit to thunder past No. 8 Trinity at Lansing Chapman Rink on the campus of Williams College.
The victory was a resounding one as the fifth-seeded Cardinals scored four unanswered goals in a span of just 10:25 between the second and third periods to take a commanding 4–1 lead that proved enough in the end. Six different goal scorers lit the lamp for Wesleyan while Walker Harris ’20 finished with four points (one goal, three assists) to tie the NESCAC Championship game record for the highest point total by a single skater. One night removed from making 40 saves in the Cardinals’ semifinal win over the Ephs, Tim Sestak ’20 was tremendous once again, posting 38 saves on 40 shots-on-goal from Trinity as he continues to deliver in the postseason for Wesleyan throughout his career.
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On 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!”
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On Jan. 25, Wesleyan Athletics held its fifth annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day Clinic. More than 130 local girls—from kindergarten to sixth grade—participated in this free event.
Several coaches from women’s teams and student-athletes taught the clinic and introduced the girls to softball, soccer, field hockey, rowing, track, tennis, and more.
“Our female student-athletes did a fantastic job in being role models for our local youths,” said Christine Kemp, head field hockey coach and assistant strength and conditioning coach. “The girls had a blast and had the opportunity to try out a number of sports all morning.”
The clinic was held in conjunction with the Annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day. This celebration inspires girls and women to play and be active, build confidence and character, and become strong leaders in sports and life.
The event concluded with a pizza party.
Photos of the clinic are below: (Photos courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)
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On Jan. 26, the Athletics Department welcomed 25 alumnae back to campus for its annual Women’s Athletics Mentoring Workshop.
The alumnae met with female student-athletes to network and offer career advice.
The workshop was held in conjunction with the Annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day. This celebration inspires girls and women to play and be active, build confidence and character, and become strong leaders in sports and life.
Photos of the Athletic Mentoring Workshop are below: (Photos courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)
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The men’s basketball team recently met, mingled, and scrimmaged with members of the Connecticut Spokebenders Wheelchair Basketball Team.
Wesleyan’s men’s basketball team recently learned what it’s like to dribble, pass, guard, and shoot baskets without ever setting foot on the court.
On Jan. 21, the team traveled to New Britain, Conn., to meet members of the Connecticut Spokebenders Wheelchair Basketball Team. The Spokebenders are one of the longest-running competitive wheelchair basketball teams registered with the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA).
After watching the team practice, the Spokebenders welcomed the Cardinals to participate in a few drills via wheelchair, and eventually challenged the Wesleyan athletes to a scrimmage.
“Thankfully they took it easy on us,” said Wesleyan Assistant Coach Tyler Gaffaney. “Afterwards, we mingled and got to know each other and called it a day. It was a great experience all around.”
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