Athletics

Student-Athlete Bledsoe ’18 Says Rebounding Is about Positioning, Luck and “Wanting the Ball More than the Other Team”

Maddie Bledsoe ’18 leads the NESCAC in rebounds per game with 10.8 this season. Both of her parents also attended Wesleyan. (Photo by Jonas Powell)

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.

Student-Athletes Teach Sport Clinic for Girls

Several local grade-school children learned about the game of tennis during a sports clinic for girls held Jan. 27 in the Freeman Athletic Center. Wesleyan student-athletes and coaches taught the clinic.

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. 

Six Ironmans In, Cooney ’83 Is Still Devoted to Supporting the Wes Experience

(By Karl Ortegon ’18)

Gretchen Millspaugh Cooney ’83, who played field hockey and swam at Wesleyan in the late ’70s and early ’80s, recently returned home to Philadelphia after competing at the Ironman World Championships in Hawai’i. The race is synonymous with a super triathlon: swim 2.4 miles, hop on your bike and cycle through 112 miles of terrain, and finish it off with a 26.2-mile marathon. No breaks.

For the World Championships, one can only compete by first racing in a qualifying Ironman prior, and going fast enough at the qualifier to secure one of a few slots designated for one’s age group and gender. Cooney claimed her spot at the Ironman Maryland in 2016 to punch her ticket to Kona for this fall’s World Championship.

Student-Athletes Raise Awareness, Funds for Men’s Health in Movember

The Men's Crew Team showing off their mustaches-in-progress to raise awareness for men's health issues in support of the Movember Foundation.

The Men’s Crew Team showing off their mustaches-in-progress to raise awareness for men’s health issues in support of the Movember Foundation.

This month, Wesleyan students, many affiliated with athletic teams, are raising awareness and raising funds for men’s health through the Movember Foundation. According to its website, the Foundation is the only charity tackling men’s health on a global level, with a focus on addressing prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. It has funded over 1,200 men’s health projects in 21 countries.

Wesleyan has had an official Campus Representative with the Foundation for the past four years. This year Luke Forsthoefel ’20, a member of Men’s Crew team, is the Campus Representative for all of Wesleyan.

“The issue of men’s health is especially important to me because I think in a lot of ways there are societal norms and expectations put on men that can make it difficult for those who need help to get it,” he said. “There is a certain stigma around men asking for help and support when they need it, which is why I think it is so important to get people of all genders involved in helping men break this stigma.”

Volleyball Wins First Little Three Title Since 1992

The Wesleyan University volleyball team won its first Little Three title since 1992 on Sept. 30, as it swept arch rival Amherst College by scores of 25-15, 25-16, 25-14. Later in the day, the Cardinals defeated Stevens Institute of Technology in four sets (25-18, 30-32, 25-10, 25-23) to conclude the doubleheader sweep.

The Little Three title is just Wesleyan’s second in program history. Additionally, the win over the Mammoths is the program’s first since 2008, and it’s the Cardinals first sweep against Amherst in exactly 12 years to this day.

“It was great to win the Little Three Championship and meet another goal for the season,” said head coach Ben Somera. “Our execution in the Amherst match was the best it’s been all year, and we were solid in every phase of the game. It’s not easy to play well for a sustained period of time against two quality opponents. At times our focus and intention left us, but we were able to rebound and regain our form.”

Outside hitter Harper Graves ’21 was named the NESCAC Player of the Week for her stellar play during a 3-0 stretch for the Cardinals. In the two NESCAC victories, Graves averaged a .423 hitting percentage. Graves has played a huge factor in the team’s early success, as she ranks third on the squad with 2.50 kills per set.

Wesleyan continues to shine early in the 2017 season and is now 12-1 overall and a perfect 5-0 in the NESCAC. The Cardinals face off against Western Connecticut State on Oct. 5 in Danbury, Conn.

Read more details about the two matched in this Wesleyan Athletics article.

Wesleyan Defeats Tufts During Night Football Game

Head Coach Dan DiCenzo celebrates the Cardinal football team’s victory over Tufts on Sept. 23. The Saturday game was the second night game in school history.

Trailing by 14 with just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation, quarterback Mark Piccirillo ’19 helped orchestrate an incredible comeback as the Wesleyan University football team defeated Tufts University Sept. 23 in overtime, 24-17. The Saturday game was the second night game in school history, as the Cardinals picked up its first win of 2017.This is DiCenzo’s eighth season coaching, and third season as head coach in 2017.

Piccirillo found captain Eric Meyreles ’18 in the corner of the end zone for a 24-yard score with :06 on the clock, and minutes later connected with senior Mike Breuler for a 14-yard game winning touchdown in overtime. On the Jumbos’ ensuing possession, captain Shayne Kaminiski ’18 sealed the victory with an interception.

Class of ’89 Alumni Credit Wes Football for Friendships

Mike Charlton '89, Matt Coan '89 & Jim Lukowski '89

Matt Coan ’89, Mike Charlton ’89 and Jim Lukowski ’89 met in the late 1980s while students at Wesleyan.

The gridiron is the foundation where lifelong friendships are built. At Wesleyan, this bond between teammates started way back in 1881 and has only flourished since then.

It would be difficult to find a better example of the friendships Wesleyan Football produces than in the three captains from the 1988 team: Mike Charlton ’89, Matt Coan ’89 and Jim Lukowski ’89.

Charlton, a Connecticut native who grew up in Detroit, played four years on the defensive line as a nose guard. As if football and academics weren’t enough, he also competed on the wrestling team throughout his college tenure.

“You miss football a lot when the playing days are over because it’s not only a very fun sport to play, but it’s very much a team sport and a team sport leads to friendships that—in my case with Matty and Jimmy as good examples—last a lifetime,” Charlton said. “Those bonds are things that are created on and off the playing field.”

Download Athletics Mobile App for Game Schedules, Results, Photo Galleries

This fall, get a front seat to Wesleyan sporting events by downloading the Athletic Department’s mobile app.

Wesleyan Front Row gives Cardinal fans the ability to enable notifications to access game schedules, score updates, statistics, game recaps and photo galleries.

For some events, a live stream of the game is available through the app, giving unprecedented access to off-campus fans, including parents and alumni, who still want to cheer on their favorite athletes from afar.

“The mobile app allows fans, parents, alumni, prospective students and current students to get information about their favorite teams instantly,” said Mike O’Brien, assistant athletic director for the Office of University Communications. “It’s an incredibly easy way to stay up-to-date on Wesleyan Athletics, and we are very excited to provide this accessibility to our fans.”

Don’t miss another game or update! The mobile app is available for download for iPhone and Android.

Williams Named 2017 Berkshire Region Coach of the Year

Kim Williams

Wesleyan University women’s lacrosse head coach Kim Williams was honored by the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Association (IWLCA), as she was named the 2017 Berkshire Region Coach of the Year following a historic season.

The regional coach of the year award is the second postseason accolade for Williams, who was also named the 2017 NESCAC Coach of the Year during the spring.

In just her second year at the helm of the program, Williams led Wesleyan to its best season in program history. The Cardinals finished 11-6 overall and 7-3 in the ultra-competitive NESCAC, setting program records for overall wins and conference victories. Wesleyan qualified for the conference tournament for the first time since 2009, and earned its first-ever at-large bid to the NCAA Championships.

The Cardinals ranked within the top-20 for the majority of the season, and finished the year ranked No. 19 in the final IWLCA Division III Coaches Poll. Wesleyan went 4-6 against teams ranked in the top-20, and won its first Little Three Championship outright since 1982 .

Williams will be honored at the IWLCA Honors Banquet held on Nov. 15 during the IWLCA Annual Meetings at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Florida.

4 Home Football Games Highlight Community, Athletes, Service, Alumni

The first home football game is Saturday, Sept. 23.

The first home football game is Saturday, Sept. 23.

This year, Wesleyan’s four home football games each offer a highlight to draw fans from near and far to Corwin Stadium on Andrus Field.

The first home game, Saturday, Sept. 23, against Tufts, is a night game — “The second home night game in Wesleyan’s history,” notes Athletic Director Mike Whalen ’83. “I’m thinking of it as our time to focus on Middletown, and we’re reaching out to local high schools. Dario Highsmith ’20, a sophomore running back—an outstanding player—graduated from Middletown High. He’s a former Gatorade High School Player of the Year, and someone to watch.”

On Saturday, Oct. 7, with the Cardinals at home vs. Colby, Whalen notes that the focus will be on celebrating Wesleyan alumni athletes from all decades. This, he adds, is really a particular interest for Head Coach Dan DiCenzo. “We invite alumni to be honorary captains for the game,” says Whalen. “It’s a way to connect the current team with previous players. Our alumni attend practice the night before, have breakfast with the team that morning, and even go on the field for the coin toss to start the game.”

The annual “Salute To Service” will be held on Saturday, Oct. 14, when Wesleyan faces Bates. “We’re hoping to get even more veterans—alumni and community members—this year, including, of course, Wesleyan’s Posse cohort. We’ll have bagpipes—and possibly a color guard,” Whalen says.

Nov. 4, the Homecoming/Family Weekend Game, vs. Williams, is the final home football game of the 2017 season—and promises an exciting game, playing out the intense rivalry between the Cardinals and the Ephs. Tailgating on Andrus Field— surrounded by both alumni and families new to the Wesleyan community—is a highlight each year for those who cheer “Go, Wes!”

2016-17 One of the Most Successful Years in Wesleyan Athletics History

Wesleyan President Michael Roth, center, celebrates the football team's Little Three title at Williams. Wesleyan won 59-14.

The Wesleyan football team, joined by President Michael Roth, center, celebrates its Little Three title at Williams. Wesleyan won 59-14.

The 2016-17 Wesleyan University Athletics campaign will go down in the record books as one of the most successful years in Wesleyan Athletics history. Several programs notched their best seasons ever, while breaking numerous records in the process. In all, the Cardinals claimed two national championships, five Little Three titles, one NESCAC Championship, one semifinal appearance and one quarterfinal appearance en route to the No. 50 ranking out of 324 Division III schools in the Learfield Directors’ Cup – Wesleyan’s highest ranking since the standings were introduced in 1993-94.

Watch a sports highlight video below:


The Cardinals’ five Little Three Championships are the most since the 1992-93 season, and second most of all-time (Wesleyan won six overall in 1986-87).

The top accomplishments from the past year are broken down by season below:

10 Student-Athletes Named 2017 Division III Scholar Athletes

Aashli Budhiraja '18, pictured here playing an opponent from Williams, was one of six women tennis players to be named a Division III Scholar Athlete by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.

Aashli Budhiraja ’18, pictured here playing an opponent from Williams, was one of six women tennis players to be named a Division III Scholar Athlete by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.

Six members of the Wesleyan women’s tennis team, and four members of the men’s squad were named 2017 Division III Scholar Athletes, as announced by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) in July. In addition, both the men’s and women’s tennis programs earned All-Academic Team honors.

Michael Liu ’17

Representing the women’s team were Aashli Budhiraja ’18, Dasha Dubinsky ’18, Helen Klass-Warch ’18, Ella Lindholm-Uzzi ’17, Nicole McCann ’18 and Victoria Yu ’19. On the men’s side, Steven Chen ’18, Jonathan Holtzman ’20, Michael Liu ’17 and Jake Roberts ’17 all earned praise.

In order to earn ITA Scholar-Athlete status, a player must be a varsity letter winner; have a grade point average of at least 3.50 (on a 4.00 scale) for the current academic year; have been enrolled at their present school for at least two semesters (including freshman year through senior year).

Both programs also were named an ITA All-Academic Team for posting a cumulative team grade point average of 3.20 or above (on a 4.00 scale). All varsity letter winners were factored into the cumulative team GPA for the current academic year (including fall 2016 and spring 2017).