Michael Whalen ’83 will focus his energy on Wesleyan’s entire athletics program.
Michael Whalen ’83, who returned to his alma mater as head football coach and associate athletics director in 2010, has stepped down as head football coach, effective Feb. 1, to devote his full attention to his post as athletics director. He assumed that position in July 2012.
Dan DiCenzo, who has been associate head football coach and defensive coordinator at Wesleyan the last five years, is taking over the head coaching position, succeeding Whalen.
“Coach Whalen has dramatically improved Wesleyan’s football program,” said Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth, “and I am grateful for his remarkable service as coach. Now it’s time for him to focus all his energy on our entire athletics program. I’m so pleased that the football program will be in the very capable hands of Coach DiCenzo, and I anticipate both a seamless transition and great seasons to come.”
Over his five years as Wesleyan football mentor, Whalen compiled a solid 26-14 record for a .650 winning percentage.
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Jay Fabien ’15 and his “rescued” husky, Glacier, hang out on Citrin Field Jan. 23. Fabien, formerly a wide receiver for the Wesleyan Cardinals Football Team, hopes to coach student-athletes after graduation and later join the U.S. Army Special Forces. (Photos by Olivia Drake)
He loves “chick-flicks” and played alto-sax in high school. But he also wants to earn a spot in the Special Forces after graduation. In short, the Cardinals’ No. 80 in football has many layers. They all start and end with respect, and comfort in being himself, on and off the field.
He’s no prima donna, even though he has only played one position since he was 9 — wide receiver. Being a distraction to the team is not in his DNA.
“I’ve never been that way,” said Jay Fabien ’15. “I love all aspects of being a wide receiver.”
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Egypt native Laila Samy ’18 says she chose Wesleyan because “the squash team .. was not just a team, it was a family.”
In this Q&A meet Laila Samy from the Class of 2018.
Q: You came to Wesleyan from your hometown of Cairo, Egypt. Can you describe your life growing up in a foreign country? What was your secondary-school education like?
A: Growing up in Egypt and going to school there made me feel very grateful because I had a great opportunity to both play squash and get a decent education which lead me to move on to the next experience which is completing my last two years of high school in the U.S. and that lead me to be able to attend Wesleyan.
Q: You have already established yourself as one of the top newcomers on the collegiate squash scene with a 12-0 record at No. 1 and a title in the Division III National Championships. When did you begin playing the sport and when did it become apparent you were far from a run-of-the-mill player?
A: I started playing squash when I
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Placekicker Ike Fuchs ’17. (Photo by Brian Katten)
Placekicker Ike Fuchs ’17 (#10) accounted for 16 of the Cardinals’ 22 points during a 22-0 football victory at Williams College Nov. 1, raising Wesleyan’s record on the season to 6-1.
For his performance, Fuchs received three regional awards and one national honor. Fuchs was named NESCAC Special Teams Player of the Week as well as ECAC Division III Northeast Special Teams Player of the Week. He also was the recipient of the New England Football Writers’ Association weekly Gold Helmet Award for the top effort by a regional Division II/III player during the week.
Ike Fuchs ’17
He is the first Cardinal to earn this coveted honor since Shea Dwyer ’10 was recognized for his 213-yard rushing performance with five TDs in a win over Hamilton in 2010. Fuchs also was named USA College Football’s Placekicker of the Week, a national honor.
Fuchs went 5-for-5 on field goals including a career-best 39-yarder and added an extra point on Wesleyan’s lone touchdown, that by running back Lou Stevens ’17 in the second quarter. Fuchs’ other three-pointer came from 31 yards, 35 yards, 23 yards and 25 yards. He entered the game 3-for-6 on field goals but had made his last two before the Williams game. As a result, Fuchs established a pair of school records as he broke the mark for field goals in a game, set by Greg Zlotnick ’86 when he booted four field goals against Coast Guard in 1983. Fuchs has now made seven straight field goals, breaking Zlotnick’s season record of six in a row, also set in 1983.
Wesleyan’s Homecoming Celebration was held Oc. 17-19 on campus.
Hundreds of Wesleyan alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends of the university took part in an array of Homecoming Weekend events Oct. 17-19 on campus.
Events included campus tours, a luncheon for the Athletics Advisory Council (AAC) and AAC meeting; the Athletics Hall of Fame Ceremony and Dinner; the Class of 1965 50th Reunion Planning Reception and Dinner; a 35mm screening of the 1935 picture Top Hat; a celebration of Rabbi George Sobelman, Wesleyan’s first Jewish Chaplain; a Leadership Donors Reception; Skull and Serpent Society Annual Meeting; Alpha Delta Phi Banquet Dinner; Wesleyan Old Methodist Men’s Rugby Club Scrimmage; and Middletown Day Festivities, featuring a spirit tent, live bands, face painting, balloon animals, bouncy house and snacks. As part of Middletown Day, all events, including the Homecoming Day football game, were free to Middletown residents. View photos of Middletown Day here.
Athletic contests included Football, Men’s and Women’s Soccer, Men’s and Women’s Field Hockey and Women’s Volleyball. View highlights of Homecoming athletic contests here.
Team tailgates and concessions were held by Women’s Volleyball, Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball, Men’s Hockey, Men’s Swimming & Diving, Women’s Swimming & Diving, Men’s Lacrosse, Women’s Lacrosse, Men’s Baseball and Women’s Softball.
View photos of Homecoming 2014 below and in the full Homecoming 2014 photo gallery. (Photos by John Van Vlack and Olivia Drake)
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Wesleyan student-athlete Jesse Warren ’15 will start as quarterback in the Homecoming Day game, Oct. 18 against Amherst College. Warren leads the conference in passing efficiency (154.9) and has a league-best seven touch down tosses while throwing no interceptions. (Photo by Brian Katten)
It’s a long rivalry. Wesleyan and Amherst have played nearly every year since 1913, missing just three seasons during World War II. They first met on the gridiron in 1882, with Wesleyan prevailing. The teams will battle for the 120th time during Wesleyan’s Homecoming, Oct. 18.
A webcast of the game is available here.
One aspect of the game is unmistaken. It represents the second straight year both teams bring identical 4-0 records into the encounter.
A Wesleyan triumph would add significant historical perspective to the proceedings. Having ended an 10-year skid versus Amherst last season with a 20-14 road victory, Wesleyan can put back-to-back wins against the Jeffs into the books for the first time since 1992-93. Even more significant, with a 19-17 homecoming win vs. Williams in 2013,
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Middletown Day coincides with Homecoming on Oct. 18.
For the second year in a row, Wesleyan will welcome its neighbors to campus for fun, food and football during Middletown Day, Oct. 18.
Starting at 11 a.m., the public can enjoy family entertainment (face painting, balloon art, a bounce house for little visitors, and a DJ), along with free popcorn and food for sale from Wesleyan athletic teams.
Plenty of Wes alumni also are expected at Andrus Field for the Homecoming football game versus Little Three rival Amherst College. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m. and Middletown residents will be admitted to the game for free with ID.
The mighty Middletown High School Marching Band is scheduled to perform a half-time show, and several Middletown and area players are featured on the Cardinals’ roster this year.
Middletown Day festivities will take place on the College Row side of Corwin Stadium, with access from Wyllys Avenue. Free parking is available around campus.
For more information, see the event poster.
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.
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;
- 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.
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.
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.
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