Athletics

Belichick ’75 Leads Patriots to Super Bowl Win

Bill Belichick '75

Bill Belichick ’75

Bill Belichick ’75, head coach of the New England Patriots, led his team to the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history on Feb. 5, beating the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 34-28 in OT—the first time an overtime period was ever needed in the 51-year history of the NFL’s annual championship game. The win made Belichick the winningest coach in Super Bowl history. All five of Belichick’s wins have come as head coach of the Patriots, a team he has coached since 2000.

Beginning his NFL career as an assistant coach with the Baltimore Colts in 1975, Belichick moved to the Detroit Lions in 1976, remaining there for two seasons before spending a year in the Denver Broncos organization before moving on the the New York Giants in 1979. In 1991 he was named the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, and also coached for the New York Jets before becoming head coach of the Patriots in 2000. He earned his 200th regular season victory as a head coach after the Patriots’ 30-7 win at Minnesota on Sept. 14, 2014. He became the sixth NFL head coach to reach that mark.

At Wesleyan, Belichick was a football, squash and lacrosse letterwinner, serving as a team captain for the 1975 lacrosse squad, He majored in economics.

Returning to Middletown for Commencement in May, 2002,Belichick received Wesleyan’s Raymond E. Baldwin Medal, the highest honor awarded by the alumni body for extraordinary service to the University and to the public interest. He also spoke to a group of prospective students and their parents during WesFest in April, 2004 and stayed to watch his daughter Amanda ’07 play in a women’s lacrosse game. During Wesleyan’s 2005 Commencement, Belichick received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater and in May, 2008, he became one of the inaugural members of Wesleyan’s newly established Athletics Hall of Fame.

Local Girls Celebrate Women in Sports Day with Wesleyan Student-Athletes

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On Jan. 28, 35 local girls in grades K-6 celebrated National Girls & Women in Sports Day at Wesleyan.

Several Wesleyan student-athletes and eight coaches led sports clinics in field hockey, lacrosse, crew, soccer, softball and volleyball. All participants were treated to a pizza party and discussion with Wesleyan student-athletes and were offered free admission to Wesleyan’s women’s athletic contests. Throughout the day, the female athletes celebrated the courage, confidence, and character gained as they participated in sports.

Jennifer Lane, head coach of softball, coordinated this year’s event with help from Olivia Berry, assistant softball coach and Jeff McDonald, assistant football coach.

“The young girls and the Wesleyan student-athletes enjoyed themselves immensely,” Lane said. “It was a great opportunity for the Wesleyan student-athletes to give back to the community and it was a chance for the youth participants to experience sports they had and had not played before. The young girls loved working with the Wesleyan student-athletes and their parents couldn’t say enough wonderful things about the day.”

This year marks the 31st anniversary of National Girls & Women in Sports Day, which was created by the Women’s Sports Foundation. The event recognizes the extraordinary achievements of those who have helped to effect change and create opportunities for women and girls in sports.

New England Patriots Coach Belichick ’75 Leads Team to Super Bowl

Bill Belichick '75

Bill Belichick ’75

Bill Belichick ’75, head coach of the New England Patriots, will lead his team to the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 against the Atlanta Falcons. The Super Bowl is the National Football League’s annual championship game. Belichick’s team has never lost to the Falcons, in fact, in his four games against Atlanta since 2000, he’s 4-0.

Beginning his NFL career as an assistant coach with the Baltimore Colts in 1975, Belichick moved to the Detroit Lions in 1976, remaining there for two seasons before spending a year in the Denver Broncos organization before moving on the the New York Giants in 1979. In 1991 he was named the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, and also coached for the New York Jets before becoming head coach of the Patriots in 2000. He earned his 200th regular season victory as a head coach after the Patriots’ 30-7 win at Minnesota on Sept. 14, 2014. He became the sixth NFL head coach to reach that mark.

At Wesleyan, Belichick was a football, squash and lacrosse letterwinner, serving as a team captain for the 1975 lacrosse squad, He majored in economics.

Returning to Middletown for Commencement in May, 2002,Belichick received Wesleyan’s Raymond E. Baldwin Medal, the highest honor awarded by the alumni body for extraordinary service to the University and to the public interest. He also spoke to a group of prospective students and their parents during WesFest in April, 2004 and stayed to watch his daughter Amanda ’07 play in a women’s lacrosse game. During Wesleyan’s 2005 Commencement, Belichick received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater and in May, 2008, he became one of the inaugural members of Wesleyan’s newly established Athletics Hall of Fame.

Kickoff for the 51st annual Super Bowl will be at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 5 at NGR Stadium in Houston, Texas and will be aired on FOX. Join fellow Wesleyan alumni for a Super Bowl meetup in Houston. Email Karen Whalen to register.

Men’s Hockey Drafts 9-Year-Old Connor from Team IMPACT

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On Jan. 20, the Wesleyan men’s ice hockey team welcomed its newest member to the team, 9-year-old Connor Albert from Team IMPACT.

In April 2016, Connor was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a type of cancer that starts in the bones. The issues, however, started in January 2016 when a small limp continued to get worse. One day, while playing basketball, Connor fell on his hip and the pain increased drastically. Doctors found a tumor in his hip, which they thought was benign, until four different biopsies concluded it was bone cancer. He underwent hip replacement surgery in the fall and is still recovering from it, and is doing very well. He uses a walker or crutches to get around, and has chemo treatments that are week long stays in the hospital. He is also doing regular physical therapy.

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 Connor apart of theirs this month.

Hockey players visit Connor in the hospital.

Hockey players visited Connor in the hospital.

Prior to his arrival on campus, several members of the team visited Connor in the hospital. Among those were the leadership group consisting of Rob Harbison ’17, Marty Rubin ’18, Luke Babcock ’19, George Blinick ’19 Vince Lima ’19 and Matt Horton ’20.

“It means so much to our team to be able to brighten the life of a real warrior like Connor,” Rubin said. “He is constantly teaching us how to remain positive in the face of adversity, which as a NESCAC team recently finding our own success, that lesson has been an overwhelmingly helpful reminder.

Connor also reminds us to remain united because we play for something larger than ourselves. I would argue he is teaching us more than we are even teaching him, that’s how great of a kid he is.”

Coach Kenny Inducted into Middletown Sports Hall of Fame

Herb Kenny coached men’s basketball at Wesleyan for 27 years. (Photo courtesy of Wesleyan University Special Collections & Archives)

Herb Kenny coached men’s basketball at Wesleyan for 27 years. (Photo courtesy of Wesleyan University Special Collections & Archives)

Former men’s head basketball coach Herb Kenny will be inducted to the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame on Jan. 26.

The Middletown Sports Hall of Fame and Museum was created to honor the numerous outstanding athletes and other sports-minded individuals, and to preserve the deep and rich history of sports in the life of the City of Middletown.

Kenny, an adjunct professor of physical education, emeritus, coached the Cardinals from 1968-1995 and ended his career with a 312-280 record.

Kenny was known for his intense coaching style and intricate offenses. To honor Kenny for his 27 years of coaching, Wesleyan annually holds a Herb Kenny Tournament.

He was president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches in 1992-93 and last year was chairman of the NABC’s Division III committee and a member of its committee on academics. He is on the board of directors of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.

A resident of Meriden, Kenny came to Wesleyan as freshman coach in 1964 after coaching basketball, baseball and football at Platt High School-Meriden. He has served on the board of directors of the Meriden Boys Club.

Kenny is a 1955 graduate of St. Bonaventure. In 1964, he received a master’s degree in physical education from the University of Connecticut.

Kenny will join Wesleyan’s Mike Whalen, director of athletics, and John Biddiscombe, the former director of athletics, on the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame roster.

The 24th Annual Middletown Sports Hall of Fame Induction Dinner will be held at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell, Conn. Tickets are $50 a person and $15 for children 12 and under. For tickets, call 860-347-6924.

Coach Kenny will be inducted into the Middletown Athletic Hall of Fame.

Coach Kenny will be inducted into the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame. (Photos courtesy of Wesleyan University Special Collections & Archives)

Stone ’17 Ends Wesleyan Football Career; Takes Advantage of Athletics Advantage Program

Jordan Stone '17

Jordan Stone ’17

Student-athlete Jordan Stone ’17 not only ended the Cardinal football season as tri-captain of the team, he also scored a professional career thanks to Wesleyan’s Athletic Advantage Program (A+).

Head Coach Dan DiCenzo says he was not surprised with the decision his team made to elect Stone as a captain. “Jordan is a special kid and has a presence about him. He works hard and leads by example. He is everything we are looking for in a student athlete.”

A 255-pound, 6’4″ athlete, Stone was named 1st Team All NESCAC in 2015 and 2016 and contributed to the team’s defense being in the top 10 nationally. He ended his Wesleyan football career with 81 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss, five breakups and three blocks. The Cardinals ended their season with a 6-2 overall record and claimed the Little Three title,

Stone, who began playing football at the age of 8 in his hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y., says he chose to play football at Wesleyan for many reasons, including the education it would provide him along with “the extensive alumni base that is willing to help you prepare for your future.”

Jordan Stone '17 and Jaylen Berry '18 participated in the Athletic Department's alumni mentoring program.

Jordan Stone ’17 and Jaylen Berry ’18 participated in the Athletic Advantage Program. After graduating, Stone will work for Endurance Specialty Holdings, Ltd. full-time.

Through the A+ Program, which combines individual training, mentoring, internships, career coaching, job shadowing and community service opportunities for student-athletes, Stone was able to spend the past two summers interning at Endurance Specialty Holdings, Ltd., a position which he found through alumnus Jack Kuhn ’86, whose son Matt also was on the team. Stone noted his time at Endurance has not only prepared him for post-Wesleyan life, but it has also benefited him on the field.

“In terms of preparation and attention to detail, those are two big things that I have brought over from the internship to the football field,” he said. “If there was a meeting and you weren’t prepared, you’d be lost. You need to know every detail, and that’s the same for football.” He continued: “When you are on the field, you need to pay attention to every detail; you need to be able to pick up on your opponent’s tendencies and capitalize on them. No detail is too small.”

Director of Athletics Michael Whalen says that Stone has shown tremendous growth over his time as a Cardinal and ended his football career gaining more confidence in his abilities.

“He had a commitment and passion to play. He loved to play. He’s always been focused on getting better, and was never complacent, and that’s not just on the football field, that’s in every phase of his life,” Whalen said.

Jordan Stone '17.

Jordan Stone ’17.

Like many student-athletes who complete their final sports season, Stone says he has accepted that he will no longer play on another team, but he is planning to volunteer some of his free time to his pop warner team, The Queens Falcons.

“It will be a great opportunity to give back to the program that introduced me to the game, and a chance to share my experiences among the young kids who have aspirations of playing college football,” he says.

After graduating, Stone will return to Endurance Specialty Holdings as a full-time underwriting trainee. “I am looking forward to engaging into this next chapter in my life,” he says.

For more information on athletics alumni mentoring, see this website.

(Lauren Dellipoali, athletic communication intern, and Olivia Drake, editor of The Wesleyan Connection, contributed to this article.)

68 Student-Athletes Named to NESCAC’s Fall All-Academic Team

Women's soccer player Sarah Sylla '17 is one of 68 student-athletes who was named to the NESCAC's Fall All-Academic Team. (Photo by Steve McLaughlin

Women’s soccer player Sarah Sylla ’17 is one of 68 student-athletes who was named to the NESCAC’s Fall All-Academic Team. (Photo by Steve McLaughlin)

Sixty-eight Wesleyan student-athletes were honored for their excellence in the classroom when the New England Small College Athletic Contest (NESCAC) announced its 2016 Fall All-Academic Team. Nine others were named to the All-Sportsmanship Team.

To be honored on the All-Academic Team, a student-athlete must have reached sophomore academic standing and be a varsity letter winner with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.40. A transfer student must have completed one year of study at the institution.

The women’s soccer team led the way for Wesleyan with 14 selections, followed by men’s soccer with 12, golf with nine and football with eight. The cross country teams put a combined 14 student-athletes on the list, while field hockey and volleyball had seven and four All-Academic honorees, respectively.

“The Wesleyan Athletics pursuit of excellence ideology extends beyond performance in an individual’s sport and I’m extremely proud of the accomplishments of our student-athletes, especially those who also excel in the classroom,” said Director of Athletics Mike Whalen. “Our coaches seek student-athletes who demonstrate equal passion and commitment to academic challenges as they do for winning a NESCAC or Little 3 championship.”

Men's soccer player Adam Cowie-Haskell '18 also was named NESCAC All-Academic. (Photo by Peter Stein ’84)

Men’s soccer player Adam Cowie-Haskell ’18 also was named NESCAC All-Academic. (Photo by Peter Stein ’84)

The All-Sportsmanship Team is composed of one student-athlete from each institution for each sport, and is selected by the players and coaches from their respective team for their positive contributions to sportsmanship. It recognizes student-athletes from each varsity sport who have demonstrated outstanding dedication to sportsmanship. These student-athletes exhibit respect for themselves, teammates, coaches, opponents and spectators. They display sportsmanship not only as a participant in their sport but also as a spectator and in their everyday lives.

Representing the Cardinals on the All-Sportsmanship Team are Will Dudek ’17 (Men’s Cross Country), Joie Akerson ’17 (Women’s Cross Country), Saadia Naeem ’20 (Women’s Golf), Zach Lambros ’17 (Men’s Golf), Colleen Lynch ’17 (Field Hockey), Lou Stevens ’17 (Football), Jack Katkavich ’17 (Men’s Soccer), Sarah Sylla ’17 (Women’s Soccer), and Rachel Savage ’17 (Volleyball).

Football, Volleyball, Women’s Crew Victories Highlight the Fall Cardinal Sports Season

The Wesleyan football team finished with a 6-2 overall record and claimed the Little Three title for the second time in the past four seasons. Pictured, the Cardinals celebrate their 20-0 victory over Amherst on Oct. 22, 2016. (Photo by Lianne Yun ’18)

The Wesleyan football team finished with a 6-2 overall record and claimed the Little Three title for the second time in the past four seasons. Pictured, the Cardinals celebrate their 20-0 victory over Amherst on Oct. 22, 2016. (Photo by Lianne Yun ’18)

The 2016 Wesleyan University fall athletic season featured several strong performances and achievements, both on the field and off it. Sixty-eight Cardinals earned New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) All-Academic and 16 were named NESCAC All-Conference.

In team sports, football, volleyball and women’s crew highlighted the fall for the Cardinals. The Wesleyan football team finished with a 6-2 overall record and claimed the Little Three title for the second time in the past four seasons, and 14th time in program history, with a 20-0 win over Amherst College and a 59-14 rout of Williams College. The 45-point margin of victory against the Ephs was the largest in the 122-game history of the rivalry.

The Cardinals boasted one of the nation’s top defenses, in which Wesleyan led the NESCAC and ranked fourth in NCAA Division III

Women’s Soccer Hosts Clinic to Benefit Local Food Pantry

kicking4hungerThe Wesleyan women’s soccer team hosted a free kids’ soccer clinic on Nov. 12 for ages 5-13 to benefit the Amazing Grace Food Pantry in Middletown. The event called Kicking4Hunger encouraged area children to donate a non-perishable food item in exchange for the free clinic. Around 25 kids from the Middletown area attended and were taught the basic skills of soccer — passing, dribbling, shooting — by members of the team.

Senior captain Carly Swenson ’17 spearheaded the second annual event, along with former player Tess Daggett-Edenholm. Swenson and Daggett-Edenholm started a program on campus called Athletes C.A.R.E (Creating Abundant Relief Effort), which is a non-profit effort that started at Lafayette College. Swenson said the goal is to “use athletics to make a lasting impact on the lives of others by providing assistance and support to the needy, hungry and homeless.”

The soccer team was able to donate about 65 pounds of canned goods to the Amazing Grace Food Pantry.

“It was a beautiful day and we had a ton of fun running around with these young soccer players,” Swenson said. “Based on the reviews from the kids and their parents, we plan on organizing other sporting clinics.”

Women’s Crew Claims First Place Victory at Head of the Charles Regatta

(Photo by Mike Box)

Wesleyan women’s crew team. (Photo by Mike Box)

The Wesleyan women’s crew team continues to excel as the Cardinals finished first out of 28 boats from Division I, II and III programs at the 52nd Annual Head of the Charles Oct. 23 in Cambridge, Mass.

Wesleyan’s Varsity 8 boat finished in 18:04.538, almost a full second ahead of the second-place boat and nearly four seconds ahead of the third-place boat.

The crew consisted of Sarah Osborn ’19, Clara Babbott-Ward ’20, Emma Halter ’17, Allison Quintana ’19, Annalee Holmdahl ’17, Rachelle Flowers ’19, Amanda Molitor ’18 and Ava Miller-Lewis ’17 and coxswain Rachael Crunkleton ’20.

Ithaca College finished in second with a time of 18:05.494 and the William College Boat Club placed third in 18:08.416.

Earlier in the day, Wesleyan Varsity 4 boat finished 10th overall in the 35-team field with a mark of 21:57.064.
The crew featured Grace Middleton ’20, Alexandra Branman ’19, Sonja Welch ’20, Olivia Pearson ’19 and coxswain Elisa Greenberg ’18. Additionally, Wesleyan’s Club 4 boat competed and finished 24th overall out of 59 teams with a mark of 20:44.5. The crew consisted of Emma Porrazzo ’19, Eleanor Highleyman ’19, Monica Rao ’19 and Kate Suslovic ’17.

Wesleyan Inducts 8th Athletics Hall of Fame Class

On Oct. 21, Wesleyan welcomed three former athletes, one coach, one athletic director and a team to the 8th Class of the Athletics Hall of Fame.

On Oct. 21, Wesleyan welcomed three former athletes, one coach, one athletic director and a team to the 8th Class of the Athletics Hall of Fame. Wesleyan’s Athletics Hall of Fame, housed in the Freeman Athletic Center, is filled with entertaining and enlightening accounts of Cardinals past.

Wesleyan inducted its eighth class to the Athletics Hall of Fame on Oct. 21. The class features Bill Brooks ’49, P ’71, Jenna Flateman Posner ’04, Alexis Keeler ’02, Peter “Kosty” Kostacopoulos, Don Russell, and the 1994 Wesleyan women’s soccer team.

“All of this year’s inductees have very impressive credentials and are well deserving of this recognition,” said Director of Athletics Mike Whalen ’83. “It was particularly gratifying for me to have Don Russell and Peter “Kosty” Kostacopolous inducted as both were at Wes during my time as a student-athlete. There were a large number of former student-athletes who played for both Don Russell and Pete Kosty who attended the dinner to support their former coaches. In fact, Jed Hoyer ’96 who played baseball for Coach Kosty and is now the General Manager of the Chicago Cubs took the redeye from Los Angeles after the Cubs won Game 5 of the National League Championship Series (NLCS), attended the dinner and then flew back to Chicago to watch the Cubs win the National League pennant. That is a testament to how strong the bond is between student-athlete and coach.”

The induction ceremony took place during Homecoming Weekend with a reception at the Daniel Family Commons in the Usdan University Center, followed by a dinner and ceremony in Beckham Hall of Fayerweather. There were over 180 people who attended this first class event.

“The Wesleyan University Athletics Hall of Fame (HOF) is intended to honor and give lasting recognition to those individuals or teams, who either through participation, support or interest, have made outstanding contributions in the athletics arena and specifically to the Wesleyan athletics program,” added Whalen. “The individuals and teams enshrined have not only brought recognition, honor and distinction to Wesleyan and its athletics program, they have continued to demonstrate in their lives the values imparted by participating in intercollegiate athletics.”

The HOF was founded in 2006 through the collaborative work of the Athletics Advisory Council (AAC), the Athletic Department and the Office of University Relations. The HOF is on display in the Warren Street lobby of the Freeman Athletic Center, and includes world class and national caliber athletics, Olympic medalists, NCAA champions, regional titleholders, and teams that have won New England titles and placed in national competition.

Photos of the most recent inductees are below and in this Wesleyan Flickr Album. (Photos by John Van Vlack)

Bill Brooks '49, P '71 was a dual-sport athlete at Wesleyan, excelling in both football and track. On the football field, he played an integral role in three consecutive undefeated seasons; 1946 (7-0), '47 (7-0) and '48 (8-0). He played running back for the Cardinals and holds the program record for longest scoring run from scrimmage, in which he ran 94 yards against Swarthmore in 1947. Additionally, Brooks achieved great success on the track and is Wesleyan's all-time record holder in both the 100 and 220-yard runs, crossing the finish line in :09.7 and :23.3, respectively.

Bill Brooks ’49, P ’71 was a dual-sport athlete at Wesleyan, excelling in both football and track. On the football field, he played an integral role in three consecutive undefeated seasons; 1946 (7-0), ’47 (7-0) and ’48 (8-0). He played running back for the Cardinals and holds the program record for longest scoring run from scrimmage, in which he ran 94 yards against Swarthmore in 1947. Additionally, Brooks achieved great success on the track and is Wesleyan’s all-time record holder in both the 100 and 220-yard runs, crossing the finish line in :09.7 and :23.3, respectively.

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.