Tag Archive for athletics

Kostacopoulos Remembered for Being Wesleyan’s Winningest Coach

Peter “Kosty” Kostacopoulos

Peter “Kosty” Kostacopoulos

Peter “Kosty” Kostacopoulos, adjunct professor of physical education, emeritus, and former head baseball coach and assistant football coach, passed away on March 25 at the age of 86.

Kosty earned his BS from the University of Maine, where he lettered in football, basketball, and baseball, and made the All-Maine Conference in football and basketball. After coaching at Bowdoin for nine years, he arrived at Wesleyan in 1968. He served as head baseball coach for 28 years and assistant football coach for 19 years. He also served as a head squash coach during this time.

Kosty led the Cardinals to 11 Little Three titles. Twice named NCAA Coach of the Year, he won over 400 games and had 24 winning seasons in his time at Wesleyan. In 1994 Kosty led the team to the NCAA College World Series and was chosen as a coach for the Division III All-Star game at Fenway Park in Boston. “Coach Kosty had the ability to challenge his players and get them to perform at their best in the most important games,” recalled Mike Whalen, the Frank V. Sica Director of Athletics and chair, Physical Education. “For many, he was a great coach, mentor, and friend, and he will be missed.”

In addition to being Wesleyan’s winningest coach, Kosty was also known as an active recruiter. “From the honor of being recruited by him, to playing under his guidance, he gave us the transformational experience of our lives,” said Mark Woodworth ’94, head baseball coach. “Coach Kosty was larger than life and the embodiment of what a coach should be. His legacy lives on and is firmly embedded in the Wesleyan Baseball program, but is found even more in the hearts and minds of those of us fortunate enough to have been able to call him Coach.”

Known as a mentor and an enduring friend to his students, Kosty was inducted into the Wesleyan University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016. John Raba, Head Coach of Men’s Lacrosse, said: “Peter Kostacopoulos was one of the finest individuals to ever have coached at Wesleyan. His championship record, innovation, teaching, and influence in the lives and careers of players and coaches are unsurpassed. Peter will be deeply missed by many of us in the athletic community at Wesleyan.”

Kosty, who retired from Wesleyan in 2001, is survived by his wife Joann Hanson Kostacopoulos and his sons John Kostacopoulos, Peter Kostacopoulos, Jr., and Paul Kostacopoulos. The family is planning a celebration of Kosty’s life this summer, to be announced at a later time.

Coach Russell Remembered for Shepherding the Advancement of Title IX for Women’s Athletics

 

don russell

Donald Russell, professor of physical education, emeritus, and former director of athletics and head football coach, passed away on Feb. 2 at the age of 93.

Russell earned his BA from Bates College, where he played offensive and defensive tackle for the football team. Arriving at Wesleyan in 1960, he served as an assistant football coach under Norm Daniels, then became head football coach from 1964 through 1970, after which point he stepped down from that position, though he remained as the head of athletics until his retirement in 1991.

Russell led the Cardinals to three Little Three championships (’66, ’69, ’70) and to a stunning undefeated 8-0 record in 1969. All of this took place during tumultuous years on campus with demonstrations, bomb threats, and sit-ins. In fact, the year the football team was undefeated, Wesleyan had to get a restraining order to prevent a demonstration from interfering with the homecoming game with Williams.

“Throughout this difficult time, Don’s steadfast leadership and strong relationship with the players was instrumental in the team’s focus on football and accomplishing what no Wesleyan football team has done since,” said John Biddiscombe, adjunct professor of physical education, emeritus.

Student-Athletes of Color Bring Awareness to Their Work Through New Video

This month, the Wesleyan Student-Athlete of Color Leadership Council (SACLC) released its “The Battle is Worth It” video with the Wesleyan community. The video, which was produced by Wesleyan’s Video Services team, features athletes from SACLC who aim to bring awareness to their work and support other athletes of color.

SACLC aims to build a safe, more diverse environment, which will enhance the athletic experiences of student-athletes of color throughout all Wesleyan sports teams. Programs and services are developed with the intention of implementing a system that establishes a social network amongst athletes of color, promotes solidarity, and encourages discourse in an attempt to alleviate the disadvantages associated with being an athlete of color.


Intercollegiate Athletic Competition Postponed for Spring Semester

Given the current public health situation, the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), which is made up of 11 institutions including Wesleyan, is postponing intercollegiate competition for the 2021 spring semester.

After much discussion, the presidents of NESCAC schools released an announcement on Jan. 27 stating: “As member institutions prepare for the spring semester, the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and communities remain our foremost concerns. Although COVID case numbers have started to decline, nationally and in our region, the numbers remain far higher than they were at the start of the fall semester. After a careful review, the NESCAC presidents have agreed that conditions will need to improve significantly in order to conduct conference competition this spring.”

As a result of adjustments to the NESCAC schools’ 2020–21 academic calendars, students are returning to campuses at different times, ranging from late January to late February. If the situation improves and conference competition proves feasible, regular-season conference play would likely not start until late March or early April, and would necessarily be limited in scope and duration.

As in the fall, all member institutions plan to limit travel off-campus, restrict visitors, maintain strict protocols on physical distancing, and implement a robust COVID-19 testing program. NESCAC school presidents will continue to monitor the progress of the pandemic, as well as changes in federal, state, and local guidelines on public health and athletic competition.

“The NESCAC decision will come as a disappointment to many who have worked long and hard for the chance to compete, and I understand their frustration,” Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 wrote in a campus-wide email. “Like so many Wesleyans, I would love to watch our athletes compete, as I would be delighted to see our musicians play and our actors perform. We all will have to wait until it is safe enough to do so.”

The presidents will make a final decision in late February or early March.

A Call to Action: McMahon ‘22 Pushes for Student-Athlete Voter Registration

McMahon

Off the ice, women’s hockey team member Audrey McMahon ’22 is serving as Wesleyan’s resident ambassador for Voice in Sport (VIS), a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to supporting women student-athletes and the #MoreVoicesMoreVotes initiative. (Photo by Jonas Powell ’18)

Although many amendments have been ratified since the first election in this country more than 230 years ago, the simple fact remains: Voting is a right and a privilege.

With just 46 days (upon the publishing of this article on Sept. 18), remaining until Election Day 2020, Audrey McMahon ’22 of the Wesleyan women’s ice hockey team has set an ambitious goal: to get 100% of eligible student-athletes registered and pledged to vote.

McMahon has taken on the role of Wesleyan’s resident ambassador for Voice in Sport (VIS), a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to supporting women student-athletes. In an initiative that has gathered steam over recent months, McMahon has joined a campaign initiated by VIS called #MoreVoicesMoreVotes.

Wesleyan as a whole has taken drastic action in 2020, making Tuesday, Nov. 3 a University holiday with all classes canceled for the entire day. In addition, the athletic department has mandated no sport practices on Election Day, giving student-athletes the opportunity to vote at their own leisure. Building off the University’s support, Wesleyan students can register to vote in Middletown, making the process easier for those who haven’t registered elsewhere or who want to switch. McMahon is tripling down on the campus-wide initiative to create a groundswell that’ll make the voices of student-athletes heard.

McMahon is already encouraged by the initial support she has received amongst the athletic programs at Wesleyan. She started the campaign by contacting Wesleyan’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), who passed the message along to other members to distribute to their respective teams. From there, teams showing interest will designate a team leader tasked with ensuring each eligible teammate is registered and pledged to vote. Thus far, 17 teams have designated team leaders and committed themselves to the campaign with others expected to join in the weeks to come.

“Most of the athletes who have signed up as leaders, as well as the coaches who have reached out, are really supportive of the campaign itself,” McMahon said. “Since many students may already be registered, the pledging aspect of the process is key, which is simply making a plan for how you will vote. This is done by either determining the location of your in-person polling place or requesting an absentee ballot.”

Men’s Basketball Creates Athletes Taking Action to Support Black Lives Matter

ATAMen’s basketball player Shackylle Dezonie ’22 was 11 years old when African American high school student Trayvon Martin was killed in a gated community while visiting family in Sanford, Fla.

“It’s been a recurring cycle ever since,” Dezonie said. “Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, and unfortunately the list goes on. Now, with the murder of George Floyd, I can only hope that this time there will be a different outcome, and we can get justice for these families that have been affected by these unjust killings.”

Seeing a need for action, Dezonie and three of his teammates, Jordan James ’21, Gabe Ravetz ’22, and Antone Walker ’21, grouped together to organize an outreach program through social media called Athletes Taking Action (ATA). The four basketball players began networking with other student-athletes on campus and found widespread interest in other teams wanting to make donations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We got notes back not only telling us that their team was now collecting donations but that their teammates wanted to share the initiative with athletes they knew at other schools,” Ravetz said. “This is when we realized the true impact a concept like this could have.”

Athletes Taking Action provides potential gift-makers with a list of 81 organizations taking donations and an additional list of 48 people who are matching donations to organizations supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. But if teams are so inclined, the Wesleyan men’s basketball players have made it known that individual teams retain the autonomy to donate to an organization of their choosing.

Wesleyan Athletics Hosts Virtual Marrow Donor Drive

marrow

Wesleyan Athletics is hosting its fourth annual “Be The Match” Marrow Donor Drive. This year the drive will be held virtually.

What is Be The Match?

For the thousands of people diagnosed every year with life-threatening blood cancers or diseases like leukemia and lymphoma, a cure exists. These patients can receive blood stem cells as a cure. Unfortunately, 70% of patients cannot find a match within their family and therefore look to the Be The Match registry for that life-saving match.

Over the past 25 years, Be The Match has managed the largest and most diverse marrow donor registry in the world (20 million and counting). Our first three Wesleyan drives have added around 500 potential donors to the registry. We have saved one life that we know of and we currently have other pending matches.

Scholar-Athletes, Seniors Honored for 2019–20 Accomplishments

On May 21, the Wesleyan University Athletic Department hosted a virtual event to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of scholar-athletes. The ceremony combined the annual Scholar-Athlete Banquet with the end-of-the-year Senior Awards presentations.

Maynard awardIt was hosted by Director of Athletics Mike Whalen ’83 and featured remarks from President Michael Roth ’78. Several coaches presented individual awards to the student-athletes.

Hockey goalie Tim Sestak ’20 and women’s soccer defender Mackenzie Mitchell ’20 were the recipients of the Roger Maynard Memorial Awards, which are presented annually to the Wesleyan male and female scholar-athlete who best exemplifies the spirit, accomplishments, and humility of Roger Maynard ’37 (established by the family of Roger Maynard, a former Wesleyan trustee who lettered in cross-country and track.)

In addition to winning the prestigious Maynard Awards, Sestak and Mitchell were also chosen by the Department as the two scholar-athlete speakers, an annual tradition of the Scholar-Athlete Banquet.

Hockey Wins First-Ever NESCAC Championship

hockeyOn March 8, the men’s hockey team celebrated its first-ever NESCAC Championship with a 7-2 victory over Trinity College. Although the win secured the league’s automatic bid into the 2020 NCAA Tournament, NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors decided to cancel all remaining winter championships as well as the spring sports season across all divisions (I, II, and III). Wesleyan had several winter sports scheduled to compete in their respective NCAA Championships, including men’s hockey, which are affected by this news.

The Cardinals scored seven goals in just over 30 minutes of action, erasing an early deficit to thunder past No. 8 Trinity at Lansing Chapman Rink on the campus of Williams College.

hockeyThe victory was a resounding one as the fifth-seeded Cardinals scored four unanswered goals in a span of just 10:25 between the second and third periods to take a commanding 4–1 lead that proved enough in the end. Six different goal scorers lit the lamp for Wesleyan while Walker Harris ’20 finished with four points (one goal, three assists) to tie the NESCAC Championship game record for the highest point total by a single skater. One night removed from making 40 saves in the Cardinals’ semifinal win over the Ephs, Tim Sestak ’20 was tremendous once again, posting 38 saves on 40 shots-on-goal from Trinity as he continues to deliver in the postseason for Wesleyan throughout his career.

Wrestling Team Drafts 14-Year-Old of Team IMPACT

team impactOn Feb. 14, the Wesleyan University wrestling team added its newest member to the team as 14-year old Amar Champlin of Team IMPACT signed his National Letter of Intent.

“It is a great day to be a Cardinal,” said head coach Drew Black. “And it is a great day to be Amar and have him and his family join our team. We are all very excited as we added a great Cardinal to the program.”

Amar is in the eighth grade and hails from Old Saybrook, Conn. He loves sports, especially wrestling.

“To be a Cardinal, you need to be dedicated, hardworking, caring, thoughtful, and invested in making yourself better and all your teammates around you better in every way,” Black said. “Amar will certainly make our program better by bringing all of his great qualities and values. We are so happy and proud to add Amar Champlin to the Wesleyan University wrestling team!”

Athletics Hosts 5th Annual Women in Sports Clinic for Area Girls

On Jan. 25, Wesleyan Athletics held its fifth annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day Clinic. More than 130 local girls—from kindergarten to sixth grade—participated in this free event.

Several coaches from women’s teams and student-athletes taught the clinic and introduced the girls to softball, soccer, field hockey, rowing, track, tennis, and more.

“Our female student-athletes did a fantastic job in being role models for our local youths,” said Christine Kemp, head field hockey coach and assistant strength and conditioning coach. “The girls had a blast and had the opportunity to try out a number of sports all morning.”

The clinic was held in conjunction with the Annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day. This celebration inspires girls and women to play and be active, build confidence and character, and become strong leaders in sports and life.

The event concluded with a pizza party.

Photos of the clinic are below: (Photos courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics)

girls camp

girls in sports camp