Athletics

Wesleyan Football Drafts 10-Year-Old Michael from Team IMPACT

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The Wesleyan football team poses for a team photo with their newest member, Michael, pictured in center with the No. 5 jersey.

On Sept. 10, Wesleyan’s football team welcomed its newest member to the program, 10-year old Michael from Team IMPACT.

Michael receives high-fives and handshakes from the Wesleyan football team.

Michael receives high-fives and handshakes from the Wesleyan football team.

Michael, from Cromwell, Conn., was born with an immune dysfunction and is blind in one eye. He also suffers from cardiac issues, developmental delays and cognitive impairments. Michael started speaking at 4 1/2 years old and took his first step at 2 1/2. He now walks independently and has scoliosis in his spine. Because of his immune deficiency, he is very susceptible to getting sick.

Partnering with Team IMPACT, whose focus is to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses through the power of team, the Cardinals made Michael apart of their team.

Wesleyan’s leadership group, which consists of seniors Ike Fuchs, Shane Jenkins and Jordan Stone, junior Jake Cronin and Khephren Spigner, and sophomores Ryan Earle, Isaiah Thomas, came together and came up with the idea to officially draft Michael before the teams’ intrasquad scrimmage. The Cardinals created a tunnel of players for Michael to run through, where he would meet Head Coach Dan DiCenzo at the 50-yard line. From there, DiCenzo handed him a jersey and hat, and named him the team’s official No. 1 draft pick.

The leadership group also thought of the idea to run a play for Michael near the end of scrimmage, in which they handed him the ball as the 10-year old ran into the endzone for a touchdown.

Wesleyan Launches New Athletics Website

WesPrestoWesleyan, in partnership with PrestoSports, has launched a new athletics’ website, http://athletics.wesleyan.edu. The platform will serve as the home for all news, information, scores and schedules for the college’s 29 varsity athletics teams.

PrestoSports has crafted a website that features not only a modern look, but also improved fan amenities. The website host has designed and built over 2,000 successful websites for college athletics, conferences, high schools and other sports organizations.

The new website will provide fans, parents, alumni and media with easy access to game stories, press releases, video features, live statistics, photos and email sign-up, as well as a mobile app. Working with the PrestoSports network, the site will give instant connections to scores and standings.

The new design will contain several new features including an updated mobile interface, improved site navigation, a composite schedule page, embedded video, and an improved social media presence, among many others.

Fans that visit the new and improved Wesleyan University Athletics’ website are encouraged to sign up for e-mails and the Wesleyan mobile app, and to subscribe to the Department’s social media channels for an enhanced fan experience; FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Flickr.

Swanson Called Wesleyan Coach of Running Elite

Boston Marathon winner and former Runners World editor Amby Burfoot, his former Wesleyan coach Elmer Swanson and Jeff Galloway, Olympian, author and coach and founder of the Galloway Run Walk Run method of running. (Lori Riley / Hartford Courant)

Boston Marathon winner and former Runners World editor Amby Burfoot ’68, his former Wesleyan coach Elmer Swanson and Jeff Galloway ’67, Olympian, author and coach and founder of the Galloway Run Walk Run method of running. (Lori Riley / Hartford Courant)

The list of athletes who ran on Elmer Swanson’s teams over the 30 years he served as Wesleyan’s track and cross-country coach “reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ in elite running,” observed Hartford Courant Sports Columnist Lori Riley. She remembered Swanson, who died Aug. 12, at the age of 92, in an piece rich with comments from some of his well known—and fleet-footed —alumni.

Riley’s roundup notes: “He coached [Amby] Burfoot [’68], who won the Boston Marathon in 1968, his senior year, and went on to become the editor of Runners World magazine. He coached Bill Rodgers [’70], who won four Boston marathons and four New York City marathons and become one of the most recognizable runners in the world. He coached Jeff Galloway [’67], who ran the 10,000 meters in the 1972 Olympics and pioneered the Galloway Run-Walk-Run method, enabling many to start running and continue in the sport injury-free. He coached John Fixx [’83], son of Jim Fixx, who wrote the iconic “Complete Book of Running” during the height of the running boom in 1977. He coached Sebastian Junger [’84], who went on to become a filmmaker and author and wrote the best-seller The Perfect Storm (and also ran a 2:21 marathon).”

And, the praise from these runners for their college coach included these comments:  Junger, in a Facebook post, recalled Swanson as “such a source of calmness and love.’ Burfoot called Swanson “a rock… a second father.”  Galloway noted that “Elmer helped focus on that importance of running without making it overbearing,” and Fixx concurred: “Elmer’s runners seem to run longer after college, and continue to do better … It’s as though he paced his coaching so, in fact, our best years weren’t in college.”

Wesleyan Celebrates Historic Memorial Day Weekend for Women’s Tennis, Crew

28May2016 Eunice Chong of Wesleyen University won the NCAA Division III Womens Tennis Championship match over Juli Raventos of Williams at Kalamazoo Colleges Stowe Stadium.

Eudice Chong ’18 won the NCAA Division III Women’s Tennis Championship finals over Juli Raventos of Williams at Kalamazoo College’s (MI) Stowe Stadium. She’s pictured here with Head Coach Mike Fried.

The 2016 Memorial Day Weekend was a historic one for Wesleyan athletics as women’s tennis player Eudice Chong ’18 defended her crown as the NCAA Division III Individual Singles Champion, and the women’s crew team captured a bronze medal in the Varsity 8 Grand Final at the NCAA Division III Rowing Championships.

Chong, a First Team All-NESCAC selection for the second consecutive season, capped off an incredible sophomore campaign with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Juli Raventos of Williams College in the championship finals of the singles bracket. Chong and Raventos met twice, earlier in the season, with Raventos claiming both matches — the only two losses of Chong’s collegiate career. With a win over Raventos in the third match-up of the season, Chong became Wesleyan’s second two-time national champion in school history.

She also remains the only national champion in Wesleyan tennis history, and boasts an incredible 52-2 overall record in two seasons. In addition to her individual singles title, Chong also reached the doubles semifinals with teammate Aashli Budhiraja ’18. Read more here.

While Chong was excelling on the tennis court, the women’s crew team was busy placing third overall in the Varsity 8 Grand Final at the 2016 NCAA Division III Rowing Championships in Gold River, Calif. With a time of 6:47.82, the Cardinals became the first at-large team to win a bronze medal in the history of the national championships. Wesleyan was edged by Wellesley, who finished first in 6:46.10, while Williams placed second in 6:47.40. Read more here.

In addition to Wesleyan’s varsity athletics success, the Cardinals’ club sports also shined as the women’s ultimate frisbee team finished second in the USA Ultimate Division III College Championships.

Women's Crew claimed bronze in the 2016 NCAA Division III Rowing Championships.

Women’s Crew claimed bronze in the 2016 NCAA Division III Rowing Championships.

Athletics Celebrates Partnership with Community Foundation of Middlesex County

Thayer Talbot, Jeff McDonald, and Wallace Jones stand in the lobby of the Freeman Athletic Center. Jeff McDonald is speaking.

Assistant Football Coach Jeff McDonald tells about his helpful experience with the Community Foundation of Middlesex County when the Athletics Council was seeking an anti-bullying program to link with their work in MacDonough Elementary School. Thayer Talbott, left, and Wallace Jones, right, look on.

The Community Foundation of Middlesex County (CFMC) invited Wesleyan coaches for “A Slice and A Celebration” in the Warren Street Lobby of Freeman on May.

Over pizza and a beverage, the coaches were celebrated for their community involvement, as well as offered the opportunity to learn more about the Community Foundation and how it can be a resource to the nonprofits and our broader community. Foundation leaders in attendance were Cynthia Clegg, president and CEO; Thayer Talbott, senior director of programs and operations; and Wallace Jones, CFMC board chairman.

Women’s Tennis, Crew Teams Qualify for NCAA Championships

Aashli Budhiraja ’18

Aashli Budhiraja ’18

The Wesleyan women’s tennis and women’s crew teams both qualified for the NCAA Championships this week. Women’s tennis, ranked No. 8 in the ITA national rankings, returns to the postseason tournament for the first time since the 2000-01 season, and only the second time in program history. The Cardinals earned a first round bye after posting an 11-5 overall record, and will face the winner of No. 14 Mary Washington and Simmons on May 14 at 11 a.m. on the campus of Amherst College, the regional host. If Wesleyan wins, it would advance to play either No. 7 Amherst, SUNY Geneseo or Ithaca in the third round May 15 at noon.

Women’s tennis is riding a historic season, in which the Cardinals won their first-ever NESCAC Tournament match. Wesleyan, seeded No. 5, defeated the No. 4 seed and sixth-ranked Bowdoin 5-1 to advance to the semifinals. The Cardinals are led by reigning Individual Singles National Champion Eudice Chong ’18, and enter postseason play having won seven of their last eight matches.

In addition to the women’s team qualifying for the team championships, Chong and Aashli Budhiraja ’18 also qualified for the NCAA Individual Championships, while Victoria Yu ’19 was selected as a singles alternate. Additionally, Steven Chen ’18 of the 11th-ranked men’s tennis team qualified in singles play on the men’s side and Michael Liu ’17 was selected as an alternate. Chen and Liu were instrumental in Wesleyan’s success this season, which saw the team win its first-ever NESCAC Tournament match when it defeated Tufts, 5-3, to advance to the semifinals. The Cardinals narrowly missed out on an at-large bid to the team championships and finished the season with a 13-6 record.

Women’s crew, ranked No. 3 in the country, earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Women’s Rowing Championships and will bring its Varsity 8 boat, comprised of Ava Miller-Lewis ’17, Remy Johnson ’16, Annalee Holmdahl ’17, Emma Koramshahi ’16, Ricky Flowers ’19, Emma Halter ’17, Annie Dade ’16, Amanda Molitor ’18 and coxswain Elissa Greenberg ’18. The Cardinals are making their second appearance in the postseason tournament, and first since 2014. Six teams qualified for the championships, while two at-large Eights were also selected. The championship regatta will take place May 27-28 at the Sacramento State Aquatic Center in Gold River, Calif. Wesleyan finished second overall at the New England Championships and third at the National Invitational Rowing Championships.

* Update 5/16/2016
The eighth-ranked women’s tennis team played No. 14 Mary Washington in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and defeated the Eagles decisively, 5-0. Advancing to the ‘Sweet 16′ on Sunday, Wesleyan faced No. 7 Amherst College on the Little Three rivals’ home court. The Cardinals came up short, as they were defeated 5-2. Wesleyan’s historic season came to an end as it finished the year with a 12-6 record.

Women's Crew.

Women’s Crew.

Scholar Student Athletes Honored at Banquet

On April 28, the Wesleyan Athletics Department honored more than 175 scholar student-athletes that excelled both on and off the field throughout the course of the 2015-16 season. Coaches, faculty and staff from the department also attended the event, which included dinner, speeches and awards in Beckham Hall.

To be recognized, a student-athlete must be at least a sophomore with a grade-point average of 3.25 or above, and be a key contributor to his or her team’s success.

In addition, scholar athletes Joe Edmonds ’16 of the men’s basketball team and Rachel Hobert ’16 of the women’s soccer team presented inspirational speeches to their peers.

(Photos by Caroline Kravitz ’19)

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Wes Sailing Team Hosts First Inter-Collegiate Regatta

On April 30, the Wesleyan University Sailing Team hosted their first ever inter-collegiate regatta on Lake Pocotopaug in East Hampton, Conn. After a morning of little to no wind, the afternoon picked up and the students were able to sail eight races.

Wesleyan seniors and co-captains Katie Walker ’16, Kevin Winnie ’16 and Rachel Kurlander ’16 sailed their last college regatta at the event, which was sponsored by the New England Intercollegiate Sailing Association.

Bates College, Sacred Heart, and Fairfield University also participated, with Bates taking first place in the regatta. Wesleyan took third. (Photos courtesy of Wesleyan Sailing Team)

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Chicago Cubs Executive VP, GM Jed Hoyer ’96 Discusses His Wesleyan Experience

Jed Hoyer at Wesleyan, 1995.

Jed Hoyer at Wesleyan, 1995.

(By Mike O’Brien, Director of Athletic Communication)

On April 18, Chicago Cubs Executive Vice President and General Manager Jed Hoyer ’96 spoke to the news site MLB Trade Rumors about his career and his time at Wesleyan. When asked what led him to choose Wesleyan, Hoyer responded:

“The over-arching goal of my college search was to combine three factors – great academics, the ability to continue playing baseball, and a campus environment that would broaden my limited horizons. I looked at a lot of different schools and the best combination of those factors was Wesleyan. In hindsight, I was less intense and strategic about that decision than I would have been later in life. I simply had a great feel for the school, loved my interactions with the baseball coach (Pete Kostacopoulos), and could picture myself on campus. I had a wonderful four years at Wesleyan and will always be thankful that my instincts were right.”

Hoyer was also asked to comment about how his major in history influenced his future career: “I loved being a history major. I loved the professors I had. I really enjoyed the reading material. Even today, if I get a chance to sit down and read a book, I’m going to grab a biography or something about a historical period. But I will say if I knew I’d be where I’m sitting right now, I certainly would have angled myself more towards economics or something more quantitative. I do think that’s important when you start your life after college to know that every move you make doesn’t have to be planned so specifically. I was kind of referencing that before in regards to coaching. I coached baseball because I loved being out there, and I wanted to stay involved with the game. It gave me an awesome perspective on the game that I never had. I worked for a couple consulting firms later on, and that really helped me learn how to build business models and advanced my quantitative skills. I think every job I’ve had has provided me with different skills or knowledge that I can use every day in baseball.”

Hoyer also reflected on his favorite professor, Richard Slotkin, Olin Professor of English, emeritus, on lessons learned at Wesleyan that he still uses daily, on his playing days at Wesleyan, and more: “The most vivid memory of the classroom at Wesleyan – and I think back on this quite a bit – there was a professor named Richard Slotkin, and he taught American Literature. His classes were incredibly hard to get into because he was such an amazing lecturer. I remember sitting in his lectures and thinking … I hope someday I can be as good at my job and as passionate about my job and as knowledgeable about the field of study as this guy is. Candidly, I think I’m still trying to get there. I think it’s great when you see anyone in any walk of life that so dominates their field – and you can tell that it brings them so much joy to share it.”

Read the full story here.

Wesleyan Football Team Helps Artists for World Peace Pack for Health Mission in Tanzania

Members of the Wesleyan football team and coach Dan DiCenzo, second from right, celebrate their successful packing service for Artists for World Peace. Founder and executive director Wendy Black-Nasta P’07, center is shipping the equipment to a Tanzanian village where she and others will offer an eye clinic this summer. (Photo by Lucy Guiliano for Artists for World Peace)

Members of the Wesleyan football team and coach Dan DiCenzo, second from right, celebrate their successful packing service for Artists for World Peace. Founder and executive director Wendy Black-Nasta P’07, center is shipping the equipment to a Tanzanian village where she and others will offer an eye clinic this summer. (Photo by Lucy Guiliano for Artists for World Peace)

On April 2, in a relentless rain, 20 Artists for World Peace volunteers—including Wesleyan Football Coach Dan DiCenzo and staunch members of the football team—loaded a 20-foot shipping container with $648,000 worth of medical equipment, eyeglasses, and other items.

“It was great to see our guys help such a fine organization,” said DiCenzo.

Jewelry artist Wendy Black-Nasta P’07, founder and executive director of Artists for World Peace (AFWP), had contacted the coach when she realized her group needed help. She had arranged for the shipping container, which arrived in the parking lot of Ace Hardware in Middletown, at 10 a.m. She and her team had only two hours to pack it with the donated equipment she had been collecting for the past two years. Included in the shipment were two complete eye examination rooms, one donated by Professor Raymond Dennis, who heads the Ophthalmic Design and Dispensing program at Middlesex Community College. Individual pieces weighed as much as 350 libs. It will be used in the small village of Kibosho-Umbwe, in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania, where Black-Nasta and her group are returning this summer. On their previous visit in 2014, the team opened the first health clinic in the region, which they had helped build.
Black-Nasta, who arranged that trip and the one upcoming, has been traveling to the village since 2008. Her organization supports and educates the 20 children in the Good Hope Trust Orphanage.

The organization’s eye clinic will be running the first two weeks of August. To view their efforts, see AFWP’s Facebook page, blog and view the entire medical clinic and trip on AFWP’s website.

Black-Nasta was grateful to Coach DiCenza and the team for their support.

“Thank you again for being part of this with us and for bringing an incredibly joyful group of guys. Even the rain couldn’t dampen our spirits,” she said.

Female Student-Athletes Mentored by Alumni, Staff

More than 55 student-athletes attended a Women’s Mentoring Workshop on April 10 in the Daniel Family Commons. The workshop was part of the Athletics Advantage Program, also known as A+. The program combines individual training, mentoring, internships, career coaching, job shadowing, community service and other dimensions of the successful undergraduate Wesleyan scholar-athlete career.

Twenty-three alumni, current coaches and Wesleyan Career Center staff spent two hours with the students and discussed declaring a major, finding a summer job and figuring out a career. Alumni mentors range from the class of 2015 to as early as 1975.

“The event was a great success for both the mentors and the student-athletes. Mentors commented how much they enjoyed connecting with the undergraduates and students appreciated the kernels of wisdom shared by the wide range of mentors present,” said Geoff Wheeler, A+ co-director and men’s soccer coach. Wheeler co-directs A+ with Jen Lane, women’s softball coach.

This was the third mentoring workshop highlighting the female student-athlete.

(Photos by Jonas Powell ’18)

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Star Runner Bill Rodgers ’70 Featured in Runner’s World

In May 2009, Bill Rodgers ’70 – a decorated cross-country, and track and field athlete at Wesleyan – was featured in an article in Runner’s World magazine by Steve Rushin. Following graduation, Rodgers became one of the best-known and most popular American marathon runners ever. The feature takes a look at Rodgers’ life and his successes, which include four wins in the Boston Marathon, four consecutive wins in the New York Marathon, and twice qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team. In all, Rodgers won more than 20 marathon events in a span of 11 years (1973-1983). In addition to his athletic success, Rodgers also battled back from prostate cancer and now uses running as a way to raise awareness about the disease.

In the feature, titled “The Most Likely Return of Boston Billy,” the author interviews Rodgers’ college roommate and teammate, Amby Burfoot ’68. As a senior at Wesleyan, Burfoot won the Boston Marathon in 1968 to become the first collegian to win the world’s oldest continuous marathon event. The duo are pictured in the article in their 1967 cross-country team photo.

Author Nick Weldon recently updated the story seven years after it was published. Read the full article here.