Tag Archive for athletics

3 Wesleyan Baseball Players Sign Professional Contracts

Three key players in Wesleyan baseball’s fantastic run over the last three years have signed professional baseball contracts this summer. Gavin Pittore ’16 signed a free-agent contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers; alumnus Nick Cooney ’15 signed a contract with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks in the independent American Association; and Donnie Cimino ’15 was drafted in the 37th round by the Chicago Cubs.

“This is a thrilling achievement for Wesleyan baseball,” said Head Coach Mark Woodworth. “For three great young men to achieve at an elite level academically, while simultaneously becoming world-class athletes

Gavin Pittore ’16 is Playing in the Prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League this Summer

Gavin Pittore pitching for Wesleyan in Spring 2015.

Gavin Pittore pitching for Wesleyan in Spring 2015. (Photo by Brian Katten ’79)

In this News @ Wesleyan story, we speak with Gavin Pittore of the Class of 2016. This summer, Pittore played with the Bourne Braves of the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League (CCBL), the foremost of the dozen or so wooden-bat summer collegiate baseball leagues sanctioned by Major League Baseball. A second-team all-NESCAC pick in 2015, Pittore posted a 7-2 record with a 1.54 ERA and seven complete games over his 10 starts during Wesleyan’s 30-11 baseball season. Pittore had 12 relief appearances for the Braves (22-20-2 overall, playoff semifinalist), throwing 17 innings while giving up a mere eight hits and no earned runs with 17 strikeouts and a 1-1 record. He was chosen as one of nine pitchers for the West squad in the annual Friendly’s Cape Cod League All-Star Game that was played in Wareham Sat., July 25, won by the East, 1-0. Pittore pitched a scoreless inning in that contest. Five days later (July 30) he was signed as a free agent by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Q: You have accomplished perhaps every college player’s summer dream of playing in the Cape Cod League. Can you describe how you prepared for and earned an opportunity for a spot on one of the 10 teams?

A: Playing in the Cape Cod Baseball League is definitely a dream come true for me. I’ve always been familiar with the league, but not until relatively recently did I think I would have a chance of playing there. I played on the Cape last year and really got to understand what it was about. My sophomore year at Wesleyan was filled with growing experiences and many obstacles, which definitely prepared me for the mental and physical challenges presented by playing a summer on the Cape. One thing I took away from two years of trying to get into the league is that patience is key. As a sophomore, I was very anxious to be placed in a league and [Wesleyan Head] Coach [Mark] Woodworth made sure to emphasize the fact that as long as I pitched well in front of the right people, I would end up where I belonged. I took his advice and went to the annual tryout for the Cape League after both my sophomore and junior years. Both years I was signed to a temporary contract, both of which luckily turned into permanent contracts. Listening to my coaches and sticking with my daily routine prepared me to play in such a prestigious league.

Q: As a member of the Bourne Braves, you are the only Division III pitcher on a staff of some 17 hurlers. Some are from Division I powerhouses like LSU, Illinois and Notre Dame. How do you feel throwing alongside players from such high-powered programs?

A: It definitely is intimidating at first. There is a big adjustment, especially mentally, going from playing Division III baseball to facing lineups that are essentially all college all-star teams. Similarly, it is difficult to adjust to being surrounded by players that come from such storied programs.The first few weeks everyone is still getting to know everyone else and starting to understand where everyone fits in, so it was important for me to prove that I belonged. After a couple successful outings, I no longer viewed myself as D3 guy playing amongst SEC, Big 10, and ACC players, but rather just another member of the Bourne Braves. At the same time, it is an honor to be competing with and getting to know such talented and successful guys. It’s been a privilege getting to know and getting to learn from the 2015 Bourne Braves pitching staff.

Chong ’18 Claims NCAA Division III Tennis Title

Eudice Chong '18 with Head Coach Mike Fried on the courts of the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio moments after capturing the 2015 NCAA Division III women's tennis singles title. (Photo courtesy of Ohio Northern U.)

Eudice Chong ’18 is pictured here with Head Coach Mike Fried on the courts of the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio moments after capturing the 2015 NCAA Division III women’s tennis singles title. (Photo courtesy of Ohio Northern U.)

Eudice Chong ’18 claimed the first-ever NCAA Division III tennis title for the Cardinals in a thrilling 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 victory in the title match of the NCAA Division III women’s tennis singles championship in Mason, Ohio on May 23.

Named the NESCAC Player and Rookie of the Year, as well as the ITA Division III Rookie of the Year, Chong completed the 2014-15 campaign undefeated in singles play (22-0), dropping just two sets all season, both of them 4-6 to Joulia Likhanskaia of Bowdoin, whom she played for the third time this year in the NCAA finals.

Chong also earned All-America honors in doubles this spring as she teamed with Helen Klass-Warch ’18 to reach the NCAA Division III doubles quarterfinals, losing a three-set match to the top-seeded pair from Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. The Cardinal tandem amassed a 20-4 record at No. 1 doubles this year.

Baseball Wraps Up Stellar Season, Graduates 7 Stalwart Seniors

Sam Elias '15 was named NESCAC Pitcher of the Year.

Sam Elias ’15 was named NESCAC Pitcher of the Year. (Photos by Brian Katten ’79)

#THISISWHY

Seven stalwart baseball seniors played their final game for Wesleyan on May 15 on a grand stage, the NCAA Division III New England Regional Tournament in Harwich, Mass. The Cardinals were making their second straight appearance in the NCAA playoffs after capturing their second consecutive NESCAC Tournament title.

Mentors Share Experience with Female Student-Athletes

#THISISWHY

On April 17,  more than 30 alumni, parents and community members and 80 student-athletes participated in an Alumni Athletics Mentoring Workshop in Beckham Hall. As part of the program, mentors met with female student-athletes to speak about career options.

Student-athlete Melissa Leung ’16 has first-hand knowledge of the workshop’s value. “At last year’s event, I met my mentor, Clare Colton ’12,” says Leung, who attended the event for the second year in a row. “Clare provided resume and email etiquette advice and connected me with Jim Citrin (P’12 P’14), senior director of Spencer Stuart, who created an internship position for me with Spencer Stuart in Shanghai last semester, during my semester abroad.”

(Photos by Dat Vu ’15.)

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Former Wesleyan field hockey and lacrosse player Suzi Byers ’94 shares her experience with Rosemary Martin ’16 at the mentoring event.

89 Cardinals Named Academic All-NESCAC

At left, Brenna Diggins '17 and Jess Cherenza '15 were named academic all-NESCAC during the winter, 2014-15 season. Eighty-nine students earned this distinction. 

At left, Brenna Diggins ’17 and Jess Cherenza ’15 were named academic all-NESCAC during the winter 2014-15 season. Eighty-nine Wesleyan students earned this distinction.

When the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) announced the names this month of 939 athletes among its conference member schools who earned the distinction of academic all-NESCAC during the winter 2014-15 season, Wesleyan celebrated its largest pool ever in winter with 89 student-athletes. These student-athletes, sophomores and above, meet the criteria of being significant contributors to their teams while achieving a cumulative GPA of 3.35 or higher.

The student-athletes play in the following winter sports: men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s squash, men’s and women’s indoor track and wrestling.

Some highlights from this season’s group of honorees include:

Jordan Schildhaus ’15

Jordan Schildhaus ’15

  • Women’s ice hockey standout Jordan Schildhaus ’15, who received academic all-NESCAC laurels in each of her three eligible seasons. She led the Cardinals in scoring during 2014-15 with 23 scoring points and was named first-team all-NESCAC. She was a second-team all-NESCAC pick in both 2013-14 and 2012-13 after being named NESCAC Rookie of the Year in 2011-12.
  • Five athletes who had the pleasure of competing in NCAA Championship events, including:
    • Wrestler Ryan Sblendorio ’15, who placed third at 174 pounds during the Northeast Regional Championships to earn a spot at the NCAA Division III Championships where he went 1-2, winning one match with a first-period pin.
    • Ellie Martin ’16, who qualified for the NCAA Division III Women’s Indoor Track Championships in the 400-meter race and placed ninth nationally, a mere .03 seconds shy of All-America status as a top-eight finisher.
    • Three members of the men’s basketball team–Tim Gallivan ’15, Chris Tugman ’15 and Harry Rafferty ’17—as Wesleyan won the NESCAC men’s basketball tournament title with wins over Bates, Trinity and Amherst to receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championships. The Cardinals lost their opening-round contest to Skidmore.
Ryan Sblendorio ’15

Ryan Sblendorio ’15

Since sophomores became eligible for the award during the 2010-11 year, Wesleyan’s previous record for academic all-NESCAC distinctions was 87 individuals in the 2012-13 season. The best results overall came in spring 2013, when 94 student-athletes were recognized.

For the complete list of all winter academic all-NESCAC selections, click here or see below:

8 Student-Athletes Recognized with NESCAC All-Sportsmanship Awards

NESCAC_Primary_RGBThe NESCAC has announced the 2014-15 winter recipients of the All-Sportsmanship awards for each of the 11 member colleges. In total, eight Wesleyan athletes have been recognized with one in each of the eight winter sports (men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and men’s and women’s squash). They are James Albrecht ’15 (men’s ice hockey), Liz Baumgartner ’15 (women’s swimming and diving), Mike DeLalio ’15 (men’s squash), Bridget Doherty ’16 (women’s squash), Bryan Galvin ’15 (men’s basketball), Cara Jankowsi ’15 (women’s ice hockey), Cherkira Lashley ’15 (women’s basketball), Travis Williams ’15 (men’s swimming and diving).

The NESCAC All-Sportsmanship Team 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. Through their positive actions and example, these student-athletes inspire others to adhere to the quality of sportsmanship that the NESCAC and the NCAA endorse.

The All-Sportsmanship Team was created by the NESCAC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). The NESCAC SAAC serves as the liaison between the student-athletes of NESCAC member institutions and conference administrators.

For more information and a list of all-sportsmanship award winners in each winter sport throughout the NESCAC, click here.

Student Athletes Promote Anti-Bullying at Local Middle School

Wesleyan student athletes made an appearance at Woodrow Wilson Middle Middle School to share inclusive, accepting social values with other students. (Photo courtesy of Kathleen Schassler/The Middletown Press)

Wesleyan student athletes made an appearance at Woodrow Wilson Middle Middle School to share inclusive, accepting social values with other students. (Photo courtesy of Kathleen Schassler/The Middletown Press)

On Feb. 27, representatives from seven Wesleyan athletic teams visited Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Middletown to promote the anti-bullying message “if it’s mean, then intervene” with about 300 seventh and eighth graders.

The student-athletes worked with the school’s RAM Pride Patrol program, which is run by seventh grade teacher and Wesleyan alumnus Anthony Albrech ’08. Albrecht organized the participation by Wesleyan athletes with Jeff McDonald, assistant football coach.

McDonald drafted 16 student athletes from the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, men’s hockey team, football, men’s tennis team, women’s basketball and men’s track to come to the school for two separate presentations.

Kristen Carlson, administrative assistant, also created specially-designed lanyards to give to the participants.

A story about the event was published in the Feb. 28 Middletown Press.

NESCAC Win Sends Cardinals to NCAA Championship

Coach Joe Reilly takes the net after the Cardinals won the NESCAC championship by defeating Amherst on March 1 at Trinity.

Coach Joe Reilly takes the net after the Cardinals won the NESCAC championship by defeating Amherst on March 1 at Trinity.

Wesleyan defeated Amherst, 74-70, in the championship game of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Men's Basketball Tournament this afternoon. Sixth-seeded Wesleyan improves to 19-8 with its sixth victory in a row, and earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.

Wesleyan defeated Amherst, 74-70, in the championship game of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Men’s Basketball Tournament March 1.

This month, Wesleyan’s men’s basketball team was crowned NESCAC champs and played in the NCAA Division III Championship for the first time in history. However, the team came up short at Nationals after losing to Skidmore in a first-round game March 6.

The field of 62 teams in the NCAA championship was announced March 2. Wesleyan’s team claimed the NESCAC title after defeating Amherst 74-70 in overtime on March 1. Wesleyan led most of the game but had to fend off several Lord Jeff rallies to secure an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship. In that game, Jack Mackey ’16 broke the Wesleyan single-season record for three pointers by upping his figure to 75, bettering the mark of 73 set by Chris Bray in 2000-01. Mackey ended the 2014-15 campaign with 77. Read more about the game here.

In the first-round NCAA Division III Championship game, the Cardinals faced Skidmore for just the sixth time, and the first in 10 years. Though Wesleyan recovered from a 12-point halftime deficit by starting the second period on a stellar 13-0 tear, Skidmore pulled ahead midway through the second half and went on to claim an 81-66 victory. Read a full account of that game here.

“It was an amazing run to the NESCAC Championship and first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament,” said Head Coach Joe Reilly. “The overwhelming support we received from the students, administrators and alumni was energizing. It’s fun to be part of the new era of Wesleyan Athletics. We are extremely proud of how our student athletes represented Wesleyan both on and off the court this season and look forward to building off this success for next year and beyond.”

The 2014-15 Cardinals finished 19-9 on the year, the second greatest number of wins in a season, just behind the 20-6 record of the 2011-12 squad. As the sixth seed, Wesleyan is the lowest seed ever to claim a NESCAC men’s basketball crown.

While the NCAA qualification is the first for men’s basketball, the NESCAC crown is the sixth by a Wesleyan team in the last 10 years. Baseball (2014), football (2013), softball (2010), men’s lacrosse (2009) and men’s soccer (2005) are the other prominent Cardinal squads with NESCAC titles to their credit.

Men’s Tennis to Participate in Challenging Stag-Hen Invitational in California

Coach Mike Fried.

Coach Mike Fried.

Wesleyan men’s tennis will have ample opportunity this spring to test its mettle.

Head coach Mike Fried, who set up a challenging schedule for his young Cardinals, is hoping it will achieve the desired effect.

“When trying to bring the program up to the top national mix, we needed to do something more competitive with our spring training trip,” he said.

In past years, the Cardinals traveled to Orlando, Fla. during March break, playing 4-6 matches against high-level Divisions I, II, III and NAIA opponents, but not the top teams in Division III. Breaking from tradition,

Whalen ’83 to Devote Full Attention to Athletic Director Position; DiCenzo Becomes Head Football Coach

Michael Whalen '83

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.

Gridiron Club Honors Assistant Coach DiCenzo, Bussani ’14

Dan DiCenzo and Jake Bussani '14

Dan DiCenzo and Jake Bussani ’14

In November, the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston named Associate Head Football Coach Dan DiCenzo the Division III assistant coach of the year.

In addition, NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year Jake Bussani ’14 received a Joe Zabilski Award for being the top Division III defensive player in New England. The honor is annually awarded to New England’s best collegiate players in Divisions II and III. Bussani was one of four NESCAC players chosen for the New England Football Writers Division II/III all-star team. The last Cardinal to grace the NEFW all-star squad was Shea Dwyer ’10 during the 2010 season.

Bussani is currently enrolled in Wesleyan’s Graduate Liberal Studies program.

Founded in 1932, the Gridiron Club promotes the game of football at all levels and nurtures the ideals of citizenship, sportsmanship, leadership and athletic and academic achievement. The club carries on its tradition of honoring exemplary players, coaches and officials at all levels of sport.

(Photos courtesy of SteveMcLaughlinPhotography.com)