Athletics

Cardinals Open Football Season with High Hopes

With the football season officially opening Saturday at Middlebury, The Hartford Courant profiled Wesleyan Head Football Coach Michael Whalen and the football team.

According to the article, this year’s senior players, one of the first classes recruited by Whalen, was envisioned as the class “that could forever change the program. The class that would nearly double in size any other in his time at Wesleyan or his six years as coach at Williams. The class he envisioned being at the heart of the Cardinals’ first NESCAC championship and first perfect season since 1969. Freshmen in 2011 and seniors today, the players who make up that class have grown together over three years and now find themselves surrounded by the highest of expectations. Wesleyan returns just about every key player — 47 letter winners, 29 seniors, 19 starters — and, one would think, has a chance to put together one of the best seasons in program history.”

“Coming in as freshmen, we always had this year in mind,” said Donnie Cimino ’14, a first-team All-NESCAC defensive back last season. “Last year ended up being a success in many ways. We don’t want to take a step back now. This is what we came here for. When Whalen was recruiting us, it was really about this season. He was selling the turnaround, turning a corner, changing history.”

Watch a live stream of the game against Middlebury, Sept. 20 at 12:50 p.m., here.

5 Athletes, 1 Coach to be Enshrined in Wes Athletic Hall of Fame

Five notable Wesleyan athletes and one long-time coach will be enshrined in the seventh class of the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame. In total, the Hall, established in 2008, now includes 37 individuals and 11 teams. Joining the Hall of Fame Oct. 17 will be:

  • Joe Barry Morningstar ’39, a three-sport standout (football, basketball and baseball) for whom Wesleyan’s annual men’s basketball outstanding player award is named;
  • Cochrane Chase ’54, a tremendous football and wrestling talent during his undergraduate career;

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  • Marion J. Stoj, M.D. ’74, a high-scoring forward in men’s soccer who earned All-America honors;
  • Thomas Vincent Reifenheiser III ’94, the most accomplished men’s tennis player in Wesleyan history, who earned NESCAC crowns and national Division III ITA titles and also played squash, two seasons as the team’s No. 1 player;
  • Sarah D. Hann, D.V.M.  ’95, an outstanding distance runner for the Cardinals with a NESCAC cross-country title and All-America laurels to her credit, who went on to international repute as a runner after graduation;
  • J. Elmer Swanson, who joined the Cardinal staff in 1963 as track and cross-country coach, adding the women’s teams in both sports to his portfolio when they turned varsity during the 1970s, and served as a mentor to hundreds of Wesleyan student-athletes during his 30 years as a full-time head coach.

The induction ceremony will take place Friday, Oct. 17 during Homecoming Weekend. To register for the event, go here. For more information on homecoming, go here. Read past AOF stories here.

Volleyball Coach Lackey to Retire After 37 Years, Hundreds of Victories

Wesleyan head women’s volleyball coach Gale Lackey, the senior athletics department member with 37 years of service, will retire in June. In her 30th year coaching volleyball, Lackey is also the senior woman administrator in athletics and an associate athletics director.

Gale Lackey, head coach of women's volleyball, will be inducted into the Connecticut Women's Volleyball Hall of Fame.

Gale Lackey, head coach of women’s volleyball.

Lackey began coaching at Wesleyan in 1978, handling both field hockey and women’s lacrosse and leading the field hockey squad to its only undefeated campaign — and a subsequent berth in the Wes Athletics Hall of Fame —  in 1980.  She took over as volleyball coach in 1985.

“The time is right,” Lackey said. “Coaching and teaching here has been a blessing.  Wesleyan has given me the opportunity to pursue a variety of endeavors and ongoing support to grow professionally throughout my career. The energetic passions of my colleagues, the students, faculty, staff and alumni make Wesleyan a very special place.”

Lackey has the distinction of coaching Wesleyan women’s teams to Little Three championships in three different sports (volleyball, field hockey and lacrosse). With 464 career women’s volleyball victories at Wesleyan (and 477 in total) heading into the 2014 season, Lackey was named New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Coach of the Year in 2001.

Coach McKenna Selected Members of USA Hockey National U22 Squad

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Wesleyan women’s ice hockey coach Jodi McKenna.

Wesleyan women’s ice hockey coach Jodi McKenna was among the coaches charged with selecting the team members for the USA Hockey National U22 squad that competed in a three-game series with Canada Aug. 21-24. The U.S. team won all three contests. The games were considered a friendly series that begins the next ramp up to the 2018 Olympics, which will be held in South Korea in February of that year.

McKenna has been involved in Team USA coaching since the first call came in 2008.

“It’s an honor to be chosen and tremendous for my professional development but it can’t be at the expense of my commitment to Wesleyan and my family,” McKenna explained. She and her husband, Kevin Cunningham, an assistant men’s ice hockey coach at Connecticut College, have an infant son, Brayden. “I was quite surprised and extremely proud to be chosen.”

McKenna with the 2010 Olympic ice hockey team

McKenna with the 2010 Olympic ice hockey team

McKenna was an assistant coach for the 2010 Olympics under Mark Johnson, the legendary head coach at the University of Wisconsin who played in the National Hockey League for 10 years and was part of the U.S. gold-medal winning men’s ice hockey team during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y. The 2010 U.S. women’s ice hockey team secured a silver medal. McKenna had served as an assistant for the World Championships, also under Johnson, in 2009, and was part of the Team USA selection group in both 2008 and 2011. She took a leave-of-absence during the 2009-10 season for her Olympic assignment.

McKenna had worked some junior development camps prior to 2008 and had been an assistant coach at St. Lawrence University before taking over the reins at Wesleyan for the 2007-08 season. Her 2013-14 squad posted an overall record of 8-11-6, the team’s best mark in 11 seasons. With a 5-6-5 record in NESCAC play, the team’s best ever winning percentage in conference action, Wesleyan earned the fifth seed in the NESCAC tournament.

While it can be a bit demanding juggling all her responsibilities as a head coach and mother, McKenna sees her opportunities with Team USA as a positive.

“I always come away from the experience with some new ideas, a fresh perspective that allows me to apply what I’ve learned to my own players.”

For the future, McKenna has the Cardinals ready to become a force in the NESCAC. Last year, Wesleyan had at least a win or tie against every NESCAC rival.

“What I’m looking for in 2014-15 are some more complete weekends and for us to be more of a threat in the later stages of the NESCAC tournament,” she said. “We need to build on our success and make it a habit, not just a flash.”

Cardinals Achieve Success in Prestigious Summer Baseball Leagues

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Gavin Pittore ’16, left, and Nick Cooney ’15, right, have played in the prestigious Cape Cod league this summer.

On the heels of a record-setting season for Wesleyan Baseball, which included a second-ever excursion to the NCAA tournament, 2014 has also been a banner year for Wesleyan Baseball in NCAA-sanctioned summer leagues. Seven Cardinals spent time in these prestigious leagues, including four in the Cape Cod League.

Gavin Pittore ’16 and Nick Cooney ’15 have led the way with standout summers in the Cape Cod league. The league features the best college baseball players in the nation; 256 current Major League players played in the Cape. Overall, there are 1,065 all-time major leaguers who spent their summers there.

Other members of Wesleyan Baseball who are playing in NCAA-sanctioned leagues this summer are:

Donnie Cimino ’15–Chatham Anglers (Cape Cod League) and Nashua Silver Knights (Futures League)

Guy Davidson ’16–Harwich Mariners (Cape Cod League) and Nashua Silver Knights (Futures League)

Sam Elias ’15–Valley Blue Sox (NECBL)

Nick Miceli ’17–Vermont Mountaineers (NECBL)

Sam Goodwin-Boyd ’15–Wachusett Dirt Dogs (Futures League)

Find a complete list of Wesleyan Baseball players in summer leagues here.

Read about Gavin Pittore’s experience in the Cape Cod league in this Cape Cod Times story.

Williams ’02 Runs “Grass-Roots” B-Ball Program

From left, Jason Forde '01, Terrance Williams '02, Andre Charles '06, Justin Weir '02 work with an afterschool program devoted to developing student athletes academically, socially and athletically.

From left, Jason Forde ’01, Terrance Williams ’02, Andre Charles ’06, Justin Weir ’02 work with an afterschool program devoted to developing student athletes academically, socially and athletically.

The Team Scan Cardinals, founded by Terrance Williams ’02, and managed and coached by Williams and Wesleyan friends Justin Weir ’02, Andre Charles ’06 and Jason Forde ’01, is featured August 3 in a New York Times Magazine article. Team Scan is a “grass-roots” youth program that participates in the Elite Youth Basketball League, a recruiting platform started by Nike that has spawned some of the best basketball prospects of recent memory, including Andrew Wiggins, the 2014 top overall pick in the NBA draft.

The Times writes: “As a kid growing up in the borough, Williams was a decent basketball player but a better student, earning admission to a New Hampshire boarding school and eventually Wesleyan University. Williams, who is 35, started Team Scan as a way of reverse-engineering his own path: He wanted to help local kids turn their above-average jump shots into scholarships for private school and college — if not to play for the University of Connecticut, this year’s national champion, then perhaps Connecticut College. He brought on three friends from Wesleyan, who began mentoring kids from the neighborhood and cold-calling boarding schools throughout New England on their behalf. Together, they hoped to create a basketball version of Prep for Prep, the renowned New York City program that sends underprivileged students to private schools and helps them survive once they get there.”

The article traces Team Scan’s trek through the contests that make up the EYBL’s championship series, and describes the relationship of players, coaches, parents, mentors and journalists that work in and follow the league.

Michele Roberts ’77 Makes News as New NBPA Chief

The first woman to lead a North American men’s pro sports union is Michele Roberts ’77. The Washington Post’s Cindy Boren reports that Roberts, a Washington, D.C. lawyer, was elected as executive director of the NBA Players Association.

“Let’s be clear: I’m sure there were people that noticed I was a girl,” Roberts told reporters. … “My sense was, the only thing people cared about was my resolve.”

According to Boren, Roberts will need that resolve. “NBA players believe that the collective bargaining agreement that settled the last lockout was favorable to owners and, when this one expires in 2017, she’ll face NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, whose popularity soared in the wake of the Donald Sterling mess.”

After graduating from Wesleyan, Roberts got her law degree from the University of California and spent eight years as a public defender. She currently works as a trial lawyer for Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom.

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players association, told The Post that Roberts, whom he has known for years, is an excellent choice for the NBAPA job. “I know the players have chosen well,” he said. ” Michele is a tremendously skilled lawyer … who is formidable in a very measured way.”

Upward Bound Students Participate in 6-Week Program at Wesleyan

Area high school students participating in Wesleyan's Upward Bound Math-Science Program are on campus through July 25. The students, pictured here on July 7, often spend their lunch recess near Usdan University Center and play sports on Andrus Field. Upward Bound is designed to help low-income and first-generation college students recognize and develop their potential, to excel in math and science, pursue post secondary degrees, and ultimately careers in the math and science professions.

Area high school students participating in Wesleyan’s Upward Bound Math-Science Program are on campus through July 25. The students, pictured here on July 7, often spend their lunch recess near Usdan University Center and play sports on Andrus Field. Upward Bound provides fundamental support to participants in their preparation for college entrance.

The six-week academic summer program offers intensive math, science, writing and language training; counseling, mentoring and academic support services; exposure to Wesleyan's faculty members who do research in mathematics and the sciences; and education or counseling services designed to improve the financial and economic literacy of students.

The six-week academic summer program offers intensive math, science, writing and language training; counseling, mentoring and academic support services; exposure to Wesleyan’s faculty members who do research in mathematics and the sciences; and education or counseling services designed to improve the financial and economic literacy of students.

Students also go on educational field trips which supplement classroom activities and participate in cultural enrichment activities such as visits to museums, plays, and art exhibits as well as community service. Activities, trips, and involvement are designed to help students become more familiar with S.T.E.M. (Science Technology Engineering Math) education. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Students also go on educational field trips which supplement classroom activities and participate in cultural enrichment activities such as visits to museums, plays, and art exhibits as well as community service. Activities, trips, and involvement are designed to help students become more familiar with S.T.E.M. (Science Technology Engineering Math) education. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Wesleyan Staff Complete “Couch to 5K” Fitness Class

Participants included, from left, Nate Peters, Lisa LaPlant, Sherri Condon, Janice Watson, Mary Kelly, Renee Rasmussen, Beverly Hunter-Daniel, Michele Myers-Brown, Christine Daniels, Heather Minetti, and (not pictured) Tracey Stanley, Roseann Sillasen and Jennifer Enxuto.

“Couch to 5K” participants include, from left, Nate Peters, Lisa LaPlant, Sherri Condon, Janice Watson, Mary Kelly, Renee Rasmussen, Beverly Hunter-Daniel, Michele Myers-Brown and Christine Daniels. Heather Minetti, at right, is Wesleyan’s adult fitness coordinator.

On May 19, Wesleyan Adult Fitness finished its “Couch to 5K” fitness class. During the challenge, all participants successfully completed a 5K event at the Freeman Athletic Center outdoor track.

“Eleven hard working, committed staff took on this personal challenge with the goal of building the endurance and strength necessary to safely complete a 5K event,” said Heather Minetti, adult fitness coordinator. “Congratulations to this very dedicated group of staff.”

Participants included Tracey Stanley, Roseann Sillasen, Jennifer Enxuto, Nate Peters, Lisa LaPlant, Sherri Condon, Janice Watson, Mary Kelly, Renee Rasmussen, Beverly Hunter-Daniel, Michele Myers-Brown and Christine Daniels.

The group began training in March.

Female Student-Athletes Benefit from Alumni Mentoring Workshop

Twenty alumni, parents and community members participated in an Alumni Athletics Mentoring Workshop May 12 in Daniel Family Commons. As part of the program, guests met with several female student-athletes to speak about career options.

Guests included Andrea Balkan ’86, managing partner with Brookfield Real Estate Financial Partners; Patricia Wetherill, M.D., of Norwalk Hospital; Ruth Bodian ’88 project manager at the Massachusetts Child Trauma Project; Clare Colton ’12, research analyst, CEO of Practice and Technology, Media and Telecommunications Practices, Spencer Stuart; Meg Dempsey ’85, elementary school teacher and high school tutor; Allison Monarca, school counselor at Woodrow Wilson Middle School; Francine Rivkin ’78, freelance business consultant; and Sheryl Smith Ph.D. ’78, clinical and sport psychologist.

Also Lisa Campoli ’84, executive vice president and managing partner of Capital Markets at Collier’s International; Liza Barrett ’86, middle school English teacher; Gretchen Cooney ’83, owner of Bucket List Training; Kate Antonucci, social worker; Cindy Robinson, Esq. ’83, attorney at Tremont & Sheldon P.C.; Ashleigh Corvi ’13, assistant dean of admissions at Wesleyan; Alicia Sisk ’86, psychotherapist; Lexi Turner ’83, project leader for the Strength Matters Initiative; Dr. Linda Polonsky, M.D. ’82, specialist at Baystate Medical Practices; Nikki Maletta ’08, advanced practice registered nurse at Yale-New Haven Hospital; Karen Miller ’83, former director of squash and tennis programs at the Greenwich Academy; and Sarah-Jane Ripa ’02, assistant director of student services and outreach for the Department of Continuing Studies at Wesleyan.

Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Alicia Sisk ’86 spoke to student-athletes about her career as a psychotherapist. Sisk works with college students and young adults with relationship challenges and substance abuse issues.

Alicia Sisk ’86 spoke to student-athletes about her career as a psychotherapist. Sisk works with college students and young adults with relationship challenges and substance abuse issues.

Abby Rutt '17 is on the softball team and women's ice hockey team.

Abby Rutt ’17 is on the softball team and women’s ice hockey team.

Student Athletes Honored for Athletic Performance, Academics

More than 170 student athletes were honored for excellence in academic achievement and outstanding athletic performance at a banquet May 1 in Beckham Hall.

Those invited to the gathering were members of the sophomore, junior and senior classes who had distinguished themselves both in the classroom with a minimium GPA of 3.2 and in athletic competition as a significant contributor to the success of their chosen sport(s).

John Steele '14 and Mary Foster '14 received the Roger Maynard Memorial Award.

John Steele ’14 and Mary Foster ’14 received the Roger Maynard Memorial Award.

During the banquet, the Wesleyan Athletics Department awarded John Steele ’14 and Mary Foster ’14 with the Roger Maynard Memorial Award, presented annunally to the top senior male and female scholar-athlete at the university. Wesleyan’s Maynard Award, established in memory of Roger Maynard ’37 by his family, was first awarded in 1970 with women added to the honorees in 1977.

Both Steele and Foster had the distinction of playing number one for the men’s and women’s squash teams, respectively, for four seasons. Steele was a four-time first-team all-NESCAC selection as well as NESCAC Rookie of the Year in 2010-11. In the final national rankings for 2013-14, Steele was 54th among all college squash player, 23rd in Division III and 11th in the NESCAC. Foster, also a four-time all-NESCAC honoree, three times on the first-team and once on the second-team, was ranked 85th nationally in 2013-14 but similarly positioned in Division III and the NESCAC as Steele, 20th and 16th, respectively.

Steele also was a finalist for the presitigious College Squash Association’s Skillman Award, presented annually to an outstanding senior player who exhibits the finest in sportsmanship throughout his or her career.

The Athletic Advisory Council also presented the Cardinal Award to Frank Sica ’73 for providing outstanding service to Wesleyan athletics. Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Ryan Heffernan ’16)

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Cardinal Golf Outing to Benefit Women’s Athletics May 12

The second annual Cardinal Golf Outing to benefit Wesleyan women’s athletics will be held May 12 at Lyman Orchards Golf Club.

The Cardinal Golf Outing is May 12.

The second annual Cardinal Golf Outing to benefit Wesleyan women’s athletics will be held May 12 at Lyman Orchards Golf Club. This year, there’s a twist: in conjunction with the tourney, which celebrates Wes women of the 1980s, alumnae will be on hand to offer advice and support to current students.

The two-hour mentoring session in Daniel Family Commons will match alumnae with current Cardinals to discuss careers, academics and athletics.

“We started the Cardinal Golf Outing to raise money for women’s sports at Wesleyan,” said Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Mike Whalen ’83. “This year we’re adding the Mentoring Workshop to provide our alumnae the opportunity to engage current student-athletes, and provide them with career advice.”

The 2013 tournament, which celebrated the pioneering Wesleyan women athletes from the early years of co-education, attracted 127 golfers and raised more than $20,000. Guests at the evening dinner party had a chance to bid in a silent auction, which is being offered again this year.

All funds raised through the event count toward Wesleyan’s multi-year, multi-million dollar campaign celebrating access, inquiry and impact across the university. Financial aid is the focus of the cam paign, and alumni, parents and friends are urged to share not just their gifts, but their reasons why a Wesleyan education is their cause.

To register for the golf tournament, the mentoring sessions or the dinner, go to this link on WesConnect.