On May 4, Wesleyan Baseball Coach Mark Woodworth ’94 inducted six new members into the Wesleyan Baseball Wall of Fame. Also inducted was a historical class of eight alums who graduated between 1866 and 1931 who were instrumental in the early years of the program. This year, a new brick backstop was built not only for the field, but to serve as an actual “Wall” for the Wall of Fame.
by Cynthia Rockwell •
On May 26 Eudice Chong ’18, a member of the Wesleyan tennis team, did something that no other collegiate tennis player—in any division—had done before: She won her fourth consecutive National Collegiate Athletic Association Singles Championship. And to add a twist to that already thrilling game, Chong, ranked number one on Wesleyan’s team, played the final match against her teammate, doubles partner, and friend, Victoria Yu ’19, ranked second on the team.
Back on campus following the victory, Coach Mike Fried reflected on the program and the experience. As an undergrad at Brown he had played on their tennis team and then enjoyed a stint as a professional player. Most recently, Fried had spent 10-plus years as a stock trader and asset manager in New York City before signing on as head tennis coach of Wesleyan’s men’s and women’s program in 2013 (“Wall Street allowed me to figure out how I wanted to be spending my time”).
At Wesleyan, he was determined to create a team that drew on his experience at Brown—and built beyond it: “Most important was to create an environment that would allow us to be among the best teams in the country—and to do that in a way that was never at the expense of academics.”
And what was that environment? “Commitment; unwavering support for each other; and camaraderie, friendship.”
Fried recalls that, when recruiting for the team he imagined, Chong was “an incredibly good tennis player—but I’d be lying if I said I saw the full depth of her character or how invaluable a leader she’d be—let alone that she’d win four NCAA singles titles! We were lucky enough to convince her to join the program that we were creating, that Wesleyan was where she wanted to spend her college years—both for academics and tennis. We got very lucky.”
After Commencement, Chong, who majored in psychology with a minor in the College of East Asian Studies, headed home to China. There, she’ll play tennis at the professional level. The Wesleyan Connection caught up with her for a Q&A in New York City, where she was spending a few days before her flight.
Q: Will you talk about the experience of winning that fourth NCAA singles championship? What was it like to compete against your teammate, friend, and doubles partner Victoria Yu?
by Olivia Drake •
The 2018 spring season will go down as the greatest in Wesleyan University Athletics history.
On May 26, Eudice Chong ’18 of the No. 5-ranked Wesleyan University women’s tennis team made history at the NCAA Division III Individual Championships in Claremont, Calif., as she became the first person to win four NCAA Singles Championships in any division of college tennis. She competed against her teammate, Victoria Yu ’19, in the finals while the duo also finished as runner-up in the doubles bracket. As a team, Wesleyan women’s tennis reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships for the first-time ever. Read a Q&A with Chong and Coach Mike Fried here.
And on May 27, the men’s lacrosse team won the 2018 NCAA Division III Men’s Lacrosse Championship with an 8–6 victory over No. 3 Salisbury University at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Senior Harry Stanton, the program’s all-time leader in goals, was named the Most Outstanding Player as he scored two more, including an assist on another. Read a Q&A with Coach John Raba here.
by Michael O'Brien •
The Wesleyan University spring athletic teams put a total of 125 student-athletes on the 2018 NESCAC Spring All-Academic Team on May 18, while 11 Cardinals earned All-Sportsmanship Team honors as announced by the conference office May 17.
To be named to the All-Academic Team a student-athlete must have reached sophomore academic standing and be a varsity letter winner with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.40. Transfer students are eligible as long as they have completed at least one year of coursework at the institution.
Tufts ranked first in the conference with 157 athletes on the All-Academic list, while Middlebury checked in at the No. 2 slot with 131. Little Three rivals Wesleyan and Williams were tied for the third-most selections with 125 each, as a total of 1,165 individuals from the 11 NESCAC schools earned this honor.
The women’s crew team led the charge for the Cardinals with 19 honorees, while the women’s track and field program saw 16 players earn the achievement. Men’s lacrosse, men’s crew, and baseball each placed 15 people on the All-Academic unit, while men’s track and field (13), women’s lacrosse (11), golf (8), softball (7), women’s tennis (4), and men’s tennis (2) were all represented.
by Lauren Rubenstein •
On May 2, the sixth annual Scholar-Athlete Dinner was held in Beckham Hall to honor top scholar-athletes in all 29 varsity sports.
Photos from the event are below: (Photos by Tom Dzimian)
by Michael O'Brien •
The 2017–18 winter season was a historic one for the Wesleyan athletic programs, highlighted by the men’s basketball team winning its first-ever NCAA Tournament game, while Laila Samy ’18 of women’s squash, Caroline Murphy ’20 of women’s swimming and diving, and Isaiah Bellamy ’18 and Devon Carrillo ’17 of wrestling all earned All-American honors.
Here is a team-by-team breakdown:
Men’s Basketball (22–7, 7–3 NESCAC) * NCAA Second Round / NESCAC Finals
- Set a program record in overall wins (22) and tied a program record with seven NESCAC victories.
Hosted first- and second-round games in the NCAA Division III Tournament for the first time in program history.
Won the Little Three title outright for the second consecutive season and the third straight year overall, with a 3–1 regular-season record against Amherst (2–0) and Williams (1–1).
- Earned a second consecutive NCAA at-large bid and third tournament appearance in the past four years.
Defeated Southern Vermont in the first round, 101–71, for the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament win.
Head Coach Joe Reilly won his 300th career game on Feb. 9, 2018.
- Jordan Bonner ’19 earned Second Team All-NESCAC honors and was named NESCAC Player of the Week twice. He was also a CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team selection.
- Jordan Sears ’18 was named the NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year and Austin Hutcherson ’21 was named the Rookie of the Year. Hutcherson was also named the D3hoops.com Northeast Co-Rookie of the Year.
- Wesleyan led the country in total blocks (169) and ranked second in Division III in field-goal percentage defense, holding opponents to a 37.2 shooting percentage.
Women’s Basketball (17–8, 5–5 NESCAC) * NESCAC Semifinals
- After going 7–15 overall a year ago, the Cardinals turned things around in 2017–18 and finished with a 17–8 overall mark and 5–5 NESCAC record to earn the No. 5 seed in the NESCAC Tournament.
- Defeated fourth-seeded Middlebury on the road in the quarterfinals, 63–62, before falling to top-seeded and eventual national champion Amherst in the semifinals.
by Olivia Drake •
According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 1 in 8 American women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime, and every day new cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed.
On April 15, more than 40 teams from Wesleyan and the Middletown community participated in the inaugural Cardinal Community Classic, a 3v3 basketball fundraising tournament. All proceeds, totaling nearly $3,400, were donated to Middlesex Hospital’s Comprehensive Breast Center to support local individuals affected by breast cancer.
The event was spearheaded by men’s basketball team member Jordan Bonner ’19, whose aunt is a breast cancer survivor. Bonner recruited Lina Marzouk ’19, Remi French ’20 and local business owner Ernesto Vargas to help organize the event. In addition, men’s basketball team members JR Bascom ’18 and Jordan Sears ’18, football player Brandon Morris ’19, and assistant basketball coaches William Battaglia and Tyler Gaffaney helped Bonner with planning and logistics. Several other student-athletes volunteered to serve as referees, scorers, and registration table staff.
“I really wanted to put together an event to honor my aunt and support people who are going through the same journey,” Bonner said. “This event benefited not only patients, but our community as a whole. We believe this event and the generous donations made will touch the lives of those most affected in the greater Middletown community. The tournament also fosters a better sense of community between Wesleyan students and Middletown residents as we come together to support individuals affected by this disease.”
Bonner hopes that in subsequent years, Wesleyan can establish a Cardinal Community Classic scholarship fund that can be awarded to Middlesex Hospital’s Comprehensive Breast Center and other entities that are doing similar work.
by Olivia Drake •
For the first time in Wesleyan’s history, the Cardinals not only hosted an NCAA Division III Tournament at Silloway Gymnasium but they also won their first-ever NCAA game, with a 101–71 triumph over Southern Vermont on March 2.
The Cardinals finished the season with a 22–7 overall record—the most wins in a single season for the program.
The unit was anchored by three outstanding seniors—Jordan Sears, Nathan Krill and JR Bascom—who helped lead the winningest class in Wesleyan men’s basketball history.
The No. 15–ranked Wesleyan University men’s basketball team cut a 21-point, second-half deficit to three midway through the final half on March 3, but No. 14 Swarthmore was able to regroup and claimed a 97–75 victory in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a member-led organization dedicated to the well-being and success of college athletes.
Read more about the final tournament game and view a photo gallery in this Wesleyan Athletics article.
by Michael O'Brien •
Laila Samy ’18 highlighted the day for the Wesleyan women’s squash team as she was named the 2018 Betty Richey Award winner Feb. 18 at Harvard. The award is the most prestigious annual honor bestowed by the College Squash Association (CSA). With another win on Feb. 18, Samy concluded her dual-match season with a perfect 24-0 record; however, the 21st-ranked Cardinals lost to 18th-ranked Tufts, 7-2, to finish fourth in the Walker Cup “C” Division of the CSA National Team Championships.
The Betty Richey Award is given to the women’s college squash player who best exemplifies the ideals of squash in her love and devotion to the game, her strong sense of fairness, and her excellence of play and leadership. The winner is determined by a vote of both coaches and players—each varsity team casts one coach and one team vote.
The senior concludes her collegiate career in dual-match play with an incredible 83-1 overall record. She is a three-time First Team All-American and was named the 2017 NESCAC Player of the Year. She will have her eyes set on an individual national title when she competes at the CSA Individual Championships March 2-4 at George Washington University.
“Laila is at heart a team player and as a coach I could not have asked for more in Laila’s passion towards her teammates succeeding on and off the court. I consider her as an extension of the coaching staff and she has always gone above and beyond to help her teammates improve,” said head coach Shona Kerr. “Laila is well-liked and respected by other coaches, officials and players on other teams. She has grown as a player and as a person over her college career and will go on to be a great ambassador for college squash as she looks to pursue a career in the sport.”
by Michael O'Brien •
Wesleyan Athletics Giving Days (WAGD) is a competitive fundraising initiative bringing together donors and volunteers in support of Wesleyan Athletics. For a week, athletic teams compete for the greatest percentage of donor participation for their sport. At the end of the week, the highest scoring teams—one men’s and one women’s—each win $5,000 for their most critical needs.
The program runs Feb. 21–28, 2018. Donors making a gift online or over the phone at 860-685-2110 increase their team’s overall participation percentage, moving them up the leaderboard. The WAGD website will be updated each day.
In addition to the winning men’s and women’s teams scoring $5,000 for their individual sport, if the number of participating donors exceeds 1,500, an extra $5,000 will be unlocked for Sports Medicine enhancements.
“Sports medicine is an essential part of the overall athletic experience for all Cardinal student-athletes, said Director of Athletics Mike Whalen. “Strengthening the Athletic Injury Care program to meet the needs of our athletes is one of many non-sport-specific reinvestment opportunities planned for Wesleyan Athletics.”
Student-Athlete Bledsoe ’18 Says Rebounding Is about Positioning, Luck and “Wanting the Ball More than the Other Team”
by Olivia Drake •
On the basketball court, there really is nothing that Maddie Bledsoe cannot do. The senior captain on the Wesleyan University women’s basketball team averaged 7.5 points and 5.4 rebounds during her junior campaign, but during the 2017-18 season, she has taken the next step and become a truly elite, game-changing type of player for the Cardinals.
The evolution began with the versatile athlete becoming a dominant rebounder on both ends of the floor, increasing her boards per game to 10.8, which is the most in the NESCAC. Bledsoe corralled a career-high 21 rebounds, to go along with 18 points, during an 88-76 victory over Westfield State on Dec. 2 en route to earning MVP honors, as the Cardinals won the Courtyard by Marriott Tournament in Middletown, Conn.
Grabbing 21 boards once was not enough for the Newton, Mass. native, as Bledsoe accomplished the feat again during a 69-64 triumph at Connecticut College on Jan. 20. She also recorded her first career 20-point, 10-rebound game, finishing with a career-high 22 points and 10 boards during a thrilling 74-65 overtime win over Little Three-rival Williams on Dec. 9 at Silloway Gym.
by Olivia Drake •
On Jan. 27, the Athletic Department hosted its third annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day celebration at the Freeman Athletic Center.
As part of the celebration, more than 50 female Wesleyan student-athletes and coaches led a sports clinic for local grade-school children. Seventy-three girls participated in seven sports sessions on softball, field hockey, tennis, lacrosse, crew, volleyball and soccer.