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NEPSAC News NEPSAC®
In this issue
New England Preparatory School Athletic Council President George Tahan Belmont Hill School Vice-President Martha Brousseau Greenwich Academy Secretary Ryan Frost Cardigan Mountain School Treasurer Jim Smucker Berwick Academy Co-Directors of Championships Lisa Joel Phillips Andover Academy Bob Howe Deerfield Academy Jamie Arsenault New Hampton School
F our NEPSAC Skaters Help Lightning Win Cup
atorade G Honors 17 NEPSAC athletes
oston B Pride Joins Logan Display
Director of Classifications Mark Conroy Williston Northampton School Past Presidents Bob Howe Deerfield Academy Jamie Arsenault New Hampton School Mark Conroy Williston Northampton School Richard Muther St. Paul’s School Middle School Representatives Amber Kuntz Beaver Country Day School Rob Feingold The Fay School District Representatives DISTRICT I
reativity and Patience: C Recruiting in the Covid Era
esign Thinking Class Advises D Basketball Nonprofit
ehind the Mind: B Stories of Hope
ougars Continue to Support C Norris Cotton Cancer Center
Stefan Jensen Hyde School Nan Hambrose Kents Hill School DISTRICT II
Matt Lawlor Brewster Academy Tara Brisson Tilton School Ryan Frost Cardigan Mountain School DISTRICT III
Rob Quinn Berwick Academy Betsy Kennedy Pingree School Jen Viana Cushing Academy Rick Forestiere Thayer Academy DISTRICT IV
Geoff Barlow Avon Old Farms School Rob Madden Taft School John Egan Christian Heritage School Tauni Butterfield Greens Farms Academy Communications Specialist Laurie Sachs The Rivers School “NEPSAC” and the NEPSAC logo are registered trademarks of the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council and may not be used or displayed without permission. New England Preparatory School Athletic Council qualifies as a public charity under Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3).
Spotlights Sydney Masciarelli ’21 ������������������� 32
Freya Coombe ��������������������������������� 39
Marianapolis Preparatory School
Greens Farms Academy
John Broderick ’22��������������������������� 35
Belmont Hill School
The Williams School
Owen Finberg������������������������������������37 South Kent School
Departments 4 Around NEPSAC
ON THE COVER: The Stanley Cup. Photo by Josh Appel.
NEPSAC News | Fall 2020 | 3
President’s Letter George Tahan Belmont Hill School
at Milton Academy, has been named NEPSAC’s first Coordinator of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Lamar has been the AD at Milton Academy since 2011 and their Head Boys’ Basketball Coach since 2008. He is a past President of the Independent School League and is currently the Co-Chair of the Equity and Justice For All Advisory Committee for the Town of Milton. I hope you share the Board’s excitement in Lamar’s appointment. In addition to the above, on October 13th a NEPSAC Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Workshop webinar was offered. Led by Melissa Lawlor from Brewster Academy and Jini Sparkman from Holderness School, both Directors of Exercise from October 13, 2020 NEPSAC Equity and Inclusion on their respective Diversity Equity & Inclusion Workshop THE ARGYLE SWEATER © Scott Hilburn. Dist. By ANDREWS campuses. They lead a session exploring MCMEEL SYNDICATION. Reprinted with permission. All social justice with the goal of better rights reserved. understanding how our own lenses »» A series of topical Webinars offered impact the way we serve in our roles, and how, with new insight, seasonally. (The first took place on October 13th on the our constituencies could be better served. topic of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.) Thank you to all who attended the workshop. I hope you »» Virtual NEPSAC Business Meeting (November 17th @ TBA – enjoyed the opportunity to take on these challenging issues Attendance required) with your NEPSAC colleagues. »» 2020–21 Annual Awards winners will still be determined. In closing, I wish you all continued success and good Presentation of the awards will be postponed until 2021–22 health as you move toward the end of the fall season and the when they can be awarded in person. start of the winter season. I look forward to our virtual Business Meeting on November 17th as well as our future webinars. As »» A digital “NEPSAC Buyers Guide” will be sent to athletic always, do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or directors in November featuring vendors that support concerns. Take care and stay well! NEPSAC and typically attend the Annual Meeting. All the best, In an effort to lend further support, we will hold a second virtual George Tahan Business Meeting on April 16th. The purpose of this additional NEPSAC President business meeting is to have an opportunity to consider how the
hope your school year has gotten off to a safe and healthy start. I know the fall of 2020 has all of us still dealing with the continuing challenges of the COVID 19 pandemic and its impact on our schools and our athletic programs. NEPSAC continues to do its best to help member schools navigate the issues related to the pandemic, while at the same time moving the organization forward with respect to issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion. The NEPSAC Executive Board has already taken a number of measures in response to the pandemic. First, the Board determined that we would not be able to hold our two major fall events, which include our fall championships and our Annual Meeting. With respect to the Annual Meeting, the Board decided the following will be offered remotely:
current year has gone and to consider how the 2021-22 school year may look. Finally, the Board has begun considering the status of NEPSAC winter championships. More information on that will follow shortly as the Board considers their feasibility in the face of the ongoing pandemic. Beyond the above, the Board, with your help and support, has been able to create and fill the new Board position of Coordinator of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Thank you to all those who expressed interest in the position. I am thrilled to be able to announce that Lamar Reddicks, the Athletic Director
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COMMUNICATIONS NOTE The NEPSAC AD email list is updated throughout the year. Please remember to check for the most recent version before sending an email blast. You will find it in the Athletic Directors section of the NEPSAC website. www.nepsac.org
TREASURER’S REPORT Online Payments and Bank Transfers by Jim Smucker, Berwick Academy, NEPSAC Treasurer Reminder Dues are available for online payment (www.nepsac.org): »» Coaches Association Dues (paid by Oct. 15, 2020) »» NEPSAC Dues (paid by Oct. 15 2020) – $225 per school »» New for this year, District Dues are available to be paid online.
NEPSAC Directories Please pay for your Directories online (www.nepsac.org) as soon as possible.
Online Payment Account For efficiency and to help with our record keeping, we ask that you only create one online account per school.
Coaches’ Associations and District Banking Transfers:
Completed: Football, Girls Soccer, Volleyball, Boys Ice Hockey, Girls Ice Hockey, Boys Basketball, Girls Basketball, Alpine Skiing, and District II If you have any questions or need any assistance please reach out to Jim Smucker. Boys Soccer, Wrestling, XC/Track, Swimming/DIving, Field Hockey, and Boys Tennis: NEPSAC anticipates moving forward with transferring these accounts to TD Bank so that these Associations can comply with NEPSAC’s 501(c)(3) status. Jim Smucker will be in touch with these Association’s Presidents and Treasurers to begin the process.
NEPSAC Calendar Note: All meetings are subject to change based on COVID-19 regulations and may be held via zoom.
OCTOBER 6 | Executive Board Remote (8:15 a.m.) 6 | District III Remote (11:00 a.m.) 22 | District II Remote (9:00 a.m.)
NOVEMBER 10 | District I Hebron Academy (10:00 a.m.) 16 | Executive Board Remote (8:00 a.m.) 17 | Remote Business Meeting
JANUARY 12 | Executive Board Remote (8:00 a.m.) 26 | District III TBD (11:00 a.m.)
FEBRUARY 4 | District II TBD (9:00 a.m.) 16 | Executive Board Remote (8:00 a.m.) 23 | District I Hebron Academy (10:00 a.m.)
Got news to share with other NEPSAC schools? Send the details
to email@example.com and we’ll put it in the next issue.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
We love old team photos — the uniforms! the equipment! the haircuts! — and this one is extra special, with signatures of the 1945 players on it. Many thanks to Brooks School for sharing it with us.
NEPSAC News | Fall 2020 | 5
Uncle Mark and Worcester by Sean Kelly, Director of Athletics & Boys Basketball Coach at The Wheeler School, President of the NEPSAC Boys Basketball Coaches Association
he City of Worcester has always held a special and emotional place in my basketball life. In 1998, I played my first high school game at the Bancroft School where I sank a long three-pointer — my first varsity points — to help my team to victory. Between 2005 and 2007 there were other sentimental moments that happened in Worcester. In February of 2005, at Harrington Auditorium on the campus of WPI, my Wheaton College basketball team dropped a heartbreaker in the NEWMAC Championship narrowly missing the NCAA Tournament. Two years later, I was fortunate to begin my coaching and teaching career as an assistant for Marcus O’Neil while working at the Tilton School. It so happened that it was at Worcester Academy, in the Thomas Blackburn Holiday Tournament, that my parents first saw me coach a basketball game. Given my complicated relationship with basketball in Worcester, there is no real surprise that my reuniting with Coach O’Brien, the man who coached against me as a player two decades before, began the way it did. That December day ten years ago in Worcester was a cold one with snow on the ground, and it seemed symbolic of the type of basketball experience one has in the city limits as a visitor - part magical and part bleak and forbidding country. As I exited the bus with my Wheeler team, preparing to coach my alma mater for just the third time ever as head coach, I was determined to evoke and recreate the positivity I felt leaving that same Bancroft gymnasium 21 years before as a freshman point guard with my first high school game, my first high school win, and my first high school points tucked away in my gym bag. Instead, I left two hours later scratching my head after a 2-point loss. I played the possessions of the game over in my head as the bus made it’s way down Route 146. We started the game so well and had squandered a late lead. The more I thought about it, the more I felt Coach O’Brien’s players were grittier, more physical, and smarter than us — they seemed to accurately represent the demeanor of their Bulldog mascot, and as I would soon learn, their head coach. The more I reflected on the game I came to one simple realization: I was out-coached. Never one to walk away from a potential moment of selfgrowth, regardless of how painful it might be or how much humility would be needed, I grabbed my phone and sent Coach O’Brien an email with my phone number and asked if he had a few minutes to talk. I wasn’t entirely sure if he would respond, but there was something in his demeanor that made me feel comfortable reaching out. And sure enough, he called back. I began the conversation in a cordial way, but then shifted to a somewhat abrupt and youthful directness: “How did you beat us!?” Mark chuckled and said, “We just stuck a guy in the high post and beat you on the boards.” Oh. The conversation moved from attacking zone defense, to memories of Wheeler-
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Bancroft battles in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, to future opponents, and so on. Two hours later, I hung up with a friend, a mentor, and a number stored in my phone as “Uncle Mark.” Much to my dismay, I was out-coached again a year later (although in my youthful denial I was quick to blame Worcester officiating and not my stubbornness of staying in man-to-man defense). It would be the last time we played at Bancroft because of classification changes and a desire for both schools to schedule differently, but Uncle Mark and I never let the change hinder our communication. After all, I recognized just three games into my coaching career that I had attracted a great mentor. As a young coach, I admired the way Obey’s teams competed and the affection he had for his players. I valued and mimicked the way he communicated with those players and his coaching peers. He was kind-hearted, sarcastic, funny, sharp, and occasionally a bit too straightforward, which always led to laughs and never confrontation, which is a hard thing to accomplish in today’s world. After working with him for a decade, his passion and dedication to and for his kids and his school was so consistent, so strong, and so clear. Those were the qualities I made every effort to implement into my own relationships at Wheeler and in the culture of my basketball program. Over the years I enjoyed my time texting, speaking, or meeting up with Uncle Mark. Those conversations usually began with talk about basketball, but in recent years, when I became a father myself, those discussions changed to talk about family, too. I listened to stories from everything about his daughter’s dance recitals to being by his mother’s side before her passing. I shared with him my own stories along the way and I was always pleasantly reminded that our relationship was about so much more than basketball. Coach O’Brien’s presence and personality will be missed immensely on the sidelines at Bancroft and across all of New England this year and for many years to come. Though my trips to Worcester will feel a bit different without Uncle Mark, his friendship and mentoring distinguished and solidified the specialness of Worcester to me, within and beyond the game of basketball. I can also say, with both certainty and confidence, that his legacy will be forever present in the huddles and locker rooms of his surrogate nephew’s teams about 50 minutes south on Route 146.
Lamar Reddicks Named First NEPSAC Coordinator of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
ur membership provided the necessary votes to amend the NEPSAC constitution and bylaws to create the position of Coordinator of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) to sit on the
NEPSAC Executive Board. It is with great excitement that we are able to share that Lamar Reddicks from Milton Academy will take on this position in its inaugural year. Many of you already know Lamar but for those who don’t, he has served as Milton’s Athletic Director and head boy’s basketball coach since 2011. Equally important, Lamar has been engaged in equity and justice work both on campus and in the Town of Milton at large, serving on its Equity and Justice for All Advisory Committee. We are looking to having Lamar in this leadership role and know that we will all be committed to supporting him in this work. “I was pleased to hear that NEPSAC thought this position was one of importance,” Lamar wrote in his application. “I want to be a part of change and I think we are swiftly approaching a time where people are ready for change. I have seen a lot of momentum in our country and even within our own coaching groups.” Lamar has been working with students of color at Milton since he arrived 13 years ago and is well known in the town for his work on their Equity and Justice for All Advisory Committee. He is inspired by the words of Angela Davis, who said, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” “I feel strongly about the need for this position and I am deeply committed to the work that needs to be done across all of NEPSAC,” he said. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to create some real change in our wonderful league.”
NEPSAC News | Fall 2020 | 7
2019-20 ABCA Team Academic Excellence Award Winners Announced Hopkins School and Noble & Greenough School Honored
he American Baseball Coaches Association is proud to recognize the over 400 member college and high school programs from across the country who have been awarded the 2019-20 ABCA Team Academic Excellence Award. Teams from every level of college and high school baseball were honored with this year’s award, which highlights programs coached by ABCA members that posted a GPA of 3.0 or above on a 4.0 scale for the entire 2019-20 academic year. A record 451 college and high school programs submitted nominations and received this year’s award. In total, 148 high school teams along with 303 programs from the NCAA Div. I, II, III, NAIA, and Junior College levels were recognized. “In light of the challenges faced by so many programs across the country, we are humbled to be able to honor a record number of teams for their outstanding academic achievements,” said ABCA Executive Director Craig Keilitz. “It is a testament to the leadership of our member coaches and the commitment of their student-athletes who persevered during an unprecedented academic year.” Coaches were able to nominate their teams for the ABCA Team
Deerfield Athletic Complex Named Facility of Merit
Academic Excellence Award following the conclusion of their spring semesters prior to the nomination deadline of July 17. To be honored, teams had to meet the following criteria: »» Must be a high school or college team »» Head coach must be a current ABCA member »» Team must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 on a 4.0 scale during the 2019-20 academic year (Due to some schools changing to Pass/Fail grading, spring semester grades were not required to be included in the cumulative calculation). The American Baseball Coaches Association has a long tradition of recognizing the achievements of baseball coaches and student-athletes. The ABCA/Rawlings All-America Teams are the nation’s oldest, founded in 1949, and the ABCA’s awards program also includes the ABCA/Rawlings All-Region Awards, the ABCA/Diamond Regional & National Coaches of the Year and several other major awards such as the ABCA Hall of Fame and the Dave Keilitz Ethics in Coaching Award.
ongratulations to Deerfield Academy for their award from Athletic Business magazine. Facilities of Merit entries are evaluated on the following criteria: »» Functional planning, including efficiency, traffic flow, use of space; »» Design, including finishes, lighting, materials; »» Site, including problem-solving and integration with surroundings; »» Cost, including cost-saving measures, financing and energy conservation measures.
The site and appearance were particularly appealing to this year’s judges, as both give a nod to Deerfield’s setting in the rolling farmlands of western Massachusetts. The facility includes a field house and arena and provides community gathering space as well. A central spine connects existing structures to the new ones and clarifies the traffic flow among them.
Got news to share with other NEPSAC schools? Are congratulations in order for a student, coach or team? Send the details to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put it in the next issue.
8 | NEPSAC News | Fall 2020
Visit the Athletic Business award showcase for more photos of the project.
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Four Former NEPSAC Skaters Help Lightning Burst Bubble, Win Cup by Bob York
he 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs is worthy of an asterisk. The National Hockey League’s Holy Grail has long been considered by many to be the most difficult trophy to win in all of sports. Getting your name chiseled on it requires surviving a gauntlet that lasts nearly two months and normally necessitates winning 16 games. This year, it was 18. Nor is this tourney an endeavor for the faint of heart. It’s played on a sheet of ice and surrounded by boards and glass none of which yield to the human body. It’s played with contestants needing to be ever vigilant of opponents’ fists, elbows and high sticks that can send them to the locker room at a moment’s notice in need of “repairs.” It also requires one and all to be willing to sacrifice life and limb by using their bodies to block pucks aimed at their goal that can be traveling in excess of 100 miles per hour. Losing a few teeth or getting a few stitches was only a part of what a player’s badge of courage involved this year, however. During this year’s rendition of hockey’s summit meeting, valor, first and foremost, meant chalking up a shutout against COVID-19. And NHL officials believed the best chance of accomplishing that was if all 24 tourney teams not only played, but lived, in a protective “bubble” – and it worked. In total, the NHL reportedly administered 33,174 COVID-19 tests to club personnel and players from Aug. 1, to Sept. 29, and not one positive result was recorded. So, prior to heading off to their respective destinations of either Toronto (Eastern Division teams) or Edmonton (Western Division teams), all competitors faced a realization that no other Cup contestants had ever had to deal with before: “You can’t go home again!” And with that, they bid their families, friends and fans adieu. They entered their respective bubbles on July 26, and for the victorious Tampa Bay Lightning and the vanquished Dallas Stars – the two teams that made it to the finals – that meant living in isolation for 65 days. “Different,” was the word NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman used to described this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs in comparison to any of its predecessors. “The gauntlet that you had to run to hoist this trophy is unbelievable … and never more unbelievable than this year,” added the commissioner during the trophy presentation. “This Stanley Cup will go down in the record books as perhaps the hardest run of all times. You guys should all be incredibly proud. “ Among the members of the Lightning that Bettman was tossing accolades to were four former New England Prep School
Brunswick School alumnus Kirk Shattenkirk hefts the Stanley Cup following the Tampa Bay Lightning’s win.
Athletic Council standouts. They were Mathieu Darche (Choate, 1996), Tampa Bay’s director of hockey operations, while forward Alex Killorn (Deerfield, 2008) and defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk (Brunswick, 2004), and Zach Bogosian (Cushing, 2006) received plaudits from the boss as well. “Being a member of this Stanley Cup winning team is something truly incredible and I am so appreciative of having had an opportunity to be a part of it,” said Darche, whose job as the Lightning’s director of hockey operations finds him focusing on the team’s financial matters such as budgeting, negotiation and execution of player contracts and keeping track of the team’s cap space. “Winning a Stanley Cup is such a difficult thing to do … I know because I was never able to win one as a player,” quipped the former Choate hockey standout, in reference to an NHL career that spanned 250 games (2000–2012) with five teams including the Lightning. Darche concluded his time in the NHL with 72 points on 30 goals and 42 assists, while he also tallied 443 points, including 212 goals in 552 games in the American Hockey League. “I think the fact that the team had such an outstanding regular season last year and was then swept by the Blue Jackets in the first round of the playoffs gave them a great deal of impetus this year,” added Darche, the Boars’ leading scorer both years he played at Choate. “And once we came back for training camp in July, the players and coaches did an outstanding job of keeping focused on the prize and it certainly paid off.” In fact, according to Darche, “it was their focus on the prize and getting the job done that helped the coaches and players get through those two months in the bubble. Everyone simply concentrated on the task at hand and everything else became secondary and the closer everyone got to that prize, the easier it was to concentrate on it. And by the time the finals rolled around, our coaches and players just wouldn’t be denied.” “Mat and I still keep in touch with each other,” said Ray Diffley, Darche’s coach at Choate. “In fact, he sent me a picture of him hoisting the Stanley Cup and I just couldn’t be prouder of him or happier for him. I know with him having grown up in the Montreal area, getting an opportunity to win the Cup is indeed a dream come true. “He was the epitome of what a student/athlete is all about,” recalled Diffley. “Mat was outstanding in the classroom as well as in the athletic arena. He was a three-sport athlete … hockey, football and track … and was named to numerous allstar teams in hockey and football both years he was at Choate. “It’s funny,” continued Diffley, “but when Mat came to
NEPSAC News | Fall 2020 | 11
Alex Killorn, back in his Deerfield days.
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Choate, we knew we were getting a good athlete … we just didn’t know how good. It didn’t take long to figure it out though. He played linebacker in football and was outstanding. He had a nose for the ball and I wouldn’t be surprised if he led the team in tackles both years he played. “In hockey, “Mat played up front and led the team in scoring both years he was with us,” said Diffley. “I remember the year before he came to Choate, we went 2-23 and he helped lead us back on the road to becoming an outstanding hockey program again. He helped make every game we played a competitive game … he was one of those guys who makes everyone around him better. In fact, I don’t know how many times that first year he played here, opposing coaches would come up to me and ask: ‘Where the heck did you find that kid?’” Despite a professional hockey career that spanned a dozen years (2000-2012) as well as a fouryear stay at McGill University in Montreal (1996-97 to 19992000) where he rang up 170 points on 78 goals and 92 assists to earn first team AllCanadian status, Darche never encountered an opponent quite like COVID-19. “You have to give the NHL and all the participating teams a great deal of credit in the way they handled this tournament,” said Darche. “Everyone had a team-first attitude and abided by all the rules set in place to keep everyone safe and the playoffs on track and it paid off … in the end, everyone remained safe and well.” In addition to undergoing daily coronavirus testing, symptom checks and temperature screenings, team personnel had two major ground rules where they lived at Hotel X, a luxury hotel on the Lake Ontario waterfront in Toronto. One was that each player had his own room and that no other member of the team was allowed to enter another player’s room. The second regulation: Everyone had to wear a mask whenever they were out of their room.
No longer arch rivals, Deerfield’s Alex Killorn and Choate’s Mat Darche are on the same team now.
In an attempt to help their guests maintain their edge while competing for the Cup, the hotel upgraded some of its amenities to help players fine-tune their skills at the hotel rather than going to the rink. And so, it turned its squash courts into stickhandling and shot training sites. Other hotel facilities, such as its rooftop pools, lounges, movie theatre, tennis courts, basketball courts and golf simulators remained untouched, however, so as to provide players and other team personnel with alternative areas to help take up their down time. The City of Toronto also made BMO Field, the home of the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League and the Toronto FC of Major League Soccer, available so that players could spend time some time outdoors. “I think I can speak for everyone on the team when I say we all spent a good deal of time every day Skyping with our loved ones back home,” said Darche. “Needless to say though, hockey … in one form or another … consumed the majority of our time over the last two months. “Every day we’d either be playing or practicing,” added Darche, “and when we weren’t playing or practicing, we were likely watching or scouting games in person in Toronto or watching games in Edmonton on TV. In Toronto, the front office people would gather in a luxury box at the Scotiabank Bank Arena to take notes on the games, while the players would scatter around and watch them from the upper sections of the arena.” When Darche receives his Stanley Cup ring later this year, it will mark the second professional championship ring to be
bestowed upon the family in a year’s time. Older brother J.P. won a Super Bowl ring with the Kansas City Chiefs in February. Following a nine-year playing career in the National Football League as a long snapper with the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs, he retired and went back to med school and upon graduating he returned to the Chiefs – as their team doctor. Choate guys, such as Darche, normally don’t have much to do with guys who attended their archrival school – Deerfield – such as Killorn did, but a picture of the two arm-in-arm in a victorious Lightning locker room that Darche sent to Diffley, says archrivals no more. “He’s an outstanding hockey player,” said Diffley of Killorn, who chalked up 46 goals and 41 assists for 87 points in just 49 games for the Big Green. “We did our best to get him to come to Choate, but we couldn’t. Now I feel as though it’s finally OK to cheer for him,” he quipped. That guy who got away played a key role in Tampa Bay’s run for the Cup this season, posting career highs in goals (26) and in points (49). He then followed up with 10 more points in the playoffs off five goals and five assists. “I don’t think Alex, or any of the other players who had the opportunity to compete for the Stanley Cup felt they were sacrificing anything at all by having to live and play in a bubble for two months,” said Brendan Creagh, Killorn’s coach at Deerfield. “Most players, such as Alex, who make it to the NHL and are successful there, have been making sacrifices all their lives to make themselves better.
Mat Darche’s family was on hand to cheer the Lightning on.
NEPSAC News | Fall 2020 | 13
“These are the guys who get up at 4 in the morning to get in some extra skating time and work on the facets of their game that need some attention,” added Creagh. “They’re willing and able to pay the price now in order to achieve that goal they’re focused on later on … I like to call it delayed satisfaction. Unfortunately, there are a lot of talented athletes out there who lack the ability to work hard now in order to attain their gratification later on.” Another aspect of life that Creagh feels has helped Killorn, whom he says “has always been a difference maker at every level of hockey he’s ever played at,” is the decisions he makes for himself. “He’s always been true to himself … he does what he feels is best for him, not what someone else wants him to do. “Back when he came to Deerfield, a lot of people wanted him to enter the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League,” added Creagh. “But he opted to come here to get what he felt was important, too … an education. Then, when it came to attending college, he had numerous choices, but he chose Harvard, again, to insure he got the best education possible. Now look him … he’s got the best of both worlds. For Kevin Shattenkirk, whose overtime goal in Game Four of the Stanley Cup finals lifted the Lightning to a 5-4 victory over the Stars, he is already a former Lightning as he recently signed a free agent contract with the Anaheim Ducks. Overall, Shattenkirk, known as an offensive defenseman, netted 34 points for the Lightning during the regular season on eight goals and 26 assists. He then added three goals and 10 assists during the playoffs. As for Shattenkirk’s days at Brunswick School, he played two seasons (2003-05) with the Bruins which consisted of 48 games. During that span he registered 43 points on 14 goals and 29 assists. One-and–done was Zach Bogosian’s approach to the Lightning as well, as he will receive his championship ring in Toronto, having signed on with the Maple Leafs as a free agent. After coming over from the Buffalo Sabres, Bogosian played just eight regular-season games in Tampa Bay and 20 through the playoffs and finished with six assists. In two seasons at Cushing (2004-06,) Bogosian mustered 18 points on one goal and 17 assists. Neither Shattenkirk’s nor Bogosian’s prep coaches could comment about their former players for this story because both are now associated with the NHL and are unable to talk about a player who is under contract to another team.
Zach Bogosian’s turn with the Cup.
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Gatorade Honors 17 NEPSAC Athletes by Bob York
atorade has been quenching the thirst of millions of studentathletes ever since it was developed in 1965. Then, in 1985, the beverage went bottoms up again: to toast their brain, brawn and character as well.
For the past 35 years, Gatorade has been handing out its State High School Player of the Year awards and when it comes to this six-state region, New England Prep School Athletic Council standouts have consistently partaken in the revelry. The 2019–2020 rendition of this annual shout out proved no different, as 17 NEPSAC student-athletes were on hand, hailing from 15 schools and representing 10 sports. Of those 15 schools, two — Phillips Academy Andover and St. Paul’s School — paced the balloting with two players each. Dallion Johnson (basketball) and Alex Fleury (track & field) competed for Andover, while Malcolm Bussey (football) and Jordan Geronimo (basketball) represented St. Paul’s. As for a breakdown of sports, boys and girls basketball topped the listings with three award winners each, while football, girls cross-country and boys soccer registered two each. Geographically, seven award winners claimed Massachusetts as home turf, while Connecticut and Rhode Island had five and three respectively, while New Hampshire posted two. In addition to Johnson and Fleury of Andover, Massachusetts boasted territorial rights to Kalel Mullings of Milton Academy (football) and Noble & Greenough School’s Caroline Ducharme (basketball). Other Massachusetts ballot busters included Northfield Mount Hermon School’s Khamari Hadaway (soccer), Cat Barry of Tabor Academy (soccer) and Josh Baez of Dexter Southfield School (baseball). Connecticut’s Fab Five consisted of Sydney Masciarelli of Marianapolis Prep (cross country), Allie Palmieri of Green Farms Academy (basketball), Suffield Academy’s Micawber Etienne (basketball), Paula Hernandez of Woodstock Academy
(volleyball) and Taft School’s Sammed Bawa (soccer). Margot Appleton of Portsmouth Abbey (cross country), Megan Bodziony of St. Andrew’s School (basketball) and Sophia Gorriaran of Moses Brown School (track and field) were Rhode Island’s three representatives.
ndover’s dynamic duo of Johnson and Fleury were invited to the medals podium as they — like their cohorts from throughout the region — exhibited the traits that the Gatorade selection committee is looking for. On the court, Johnson, a 6-2, 175-pound guard, sparked the Big Blue to the NEPSAC Class A Tournament semifinals this past winter as he averaged 22.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game during his senior campaign. He ended his prep career with 1,600 points and was a three-time NEPSAC All-Star. “Dallion is a tough competitor who gets better every year,” said St. Paul’s coach Max Gordon. “He’s a high-level shot maker from outside the three-point line, but he can also score in the paint. He is also a composed leader with the ball … he’s never selfish … never in a hurry … just poised and ready to do what his team needs to win.” Away from the court, Johnson maintained a B average in the classroom and is an NAACP Youth Member. He has volunteered locally as part of multiple fundraising campaigns to benefit cancer research and has donated his time as a youth mentor and basketball coach. Johnson has signed a national letter of intent to play basketball on scholarship at Penn State University in the fall.
NEPSAC HONOREES AT A GLANCE CROSS COUNTRY
Sydney Masciarelli Marianapolis Prep Margot Appleton Portsmouth Abbey FOOTBALL
Malcolm Bussey St. Paul’s School Kalel Mullings Milton Academy SOCCER
Khamar Haday Northfield Mt. Hermon School Cat Barry Tabor Academy Sammed Bawa Taft School BASKETBALL
Dallion Johnson Phillips Academy Andover Jordan Geronimo St. Paul’s School Caroline Ducharme Noble & Greenough School Allie Palmieri Greens Farms Academy Micawber Etienne Suffield Academy Megan Bodziony St. Andrew’s School VOLLEYBALL
Paula Hernandez Woodstock Academy BASEBALL
Josh Baez Dexter Southfield School TRACK & FIELD
Alex Fleury Phillips Academy Andover Sophia Gorriaran Moses Brown School
leury, meanwhile, took the 2020 winter track season by storm, highlighting the campaign by setting a state indoor record in the mile during the Boston University Last Chance Meet in February when he was clocked in 4:05.57. That time not only won the race but also proved to be the second best clocking among prep competitors throughout the nation. During the winter season, Fleury chalked up a No. 1 ranking in the
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1,000-meter run, a No. 5 spot in the 1,500-meter run and a No. 7 rating in the 3,000-meter run on the national stage. He also won the 2020 USA Track & Field’s New England Championship and was a two-time Lawrence Eagle Tribune Indoor Track & Field MVP as well as the Merrimack Valley Conference MVP. He was also a New Balance Indoor All-American in the mile and the 800-meter run. “Alex’s work on the track has been incredible,” said Grant Gonzalez, an assistant track coach at Northfield Mount Hermon School. “Last year’s double win in the 800- and 1,500-meter races at our NEPSTA Championship Meet was quite the show.” Fleury graduated from Andover this spring with an A average in the classroom and was named a Boston Globe Foundation/Richard J. Phelps ScholarAthlete. A peer mentor at Andover and a volunteer at local homeless shelters and food banks, Fleury will attend Harvard University and will compete for the Crimson on its track team.
alel Mullings was voted the premier football player in Massachusetts after leading Milton Academy to an 8-1 record and a berth in NEPSAC’s Mike Silipo Bowl. He did so by never coming off the field as he played linebacker on defense and tailback on offense. Defensively, the 6-2, 230-pound Mullings, who will play linebacker at Michigan, registered 51 tackles, four sacks and three interceptions. Offensively, he rushed for 509 yards and 12 touchdowns while averaging an astonishing 7.8 yards per carry. He wasn’t a one-dimensional offensive football player, however. He also caught 33 passes for 358 yards and five scores. In addition, he logged a touchdown on a punt return and was selected to play in the All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. “Kalel is a great player … he’s all over the field,” said Jeff Toussaint, the Thayer Academy head football coach. “He’s so fast, strong and physical. He is unbelievably explosive. He is simply a dominant high school player.” Mullings maintained a B average in the Milton classrooms and also enjoys
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music. He plays the saxophone and was a member of the school’s a cappella group. He volunteered locally on behalf of the Special Olympics and as a middle school flag football coach. He also served as a campus tour guide.
aroline Ducharme was the big reason why Noble & Greenough captured the NEPSAC AA Girls Basketball Tournament this winter, but it wasn’t just because of her size. The 6-2 guard/forward led the Bulldogs to a 27–3 record because of what she did with that 6-2 frame. In short, she led Nobles in every meaningful statistic possible, pacing the team in points per game with 24.8, rebounds (14.0), assists (5.2) and blocked shots (3.0). Ducharme, who was an All-New England selection as a freshman but missed her entire sophomore year due to injury, will enter her senior season having chalked up 1,652 points during her career. “Caroline impacts the game more than any player I have seen in my 12 years of coaching,” said Bill O’Dwyer, the Thayer girls basketball coach. “She is so dynamic on the court. She can play all five positions and is highly effective at all five.” Ducharme owns a B average in the classroom and volunteers locally as part of fundraising campaigns to benefit the American Cancer Society and also donates her time as a youth basketball coach.
hamari Hadaway led the Massachusetts voting when it came to boys soccer and it was easy to see why the Northfield Mount Hermon School goalie was so well thought of. The Hoggers’ defender led his squad to a 15-1-3 record and a berth in the Class A Tournament semifinals after providing 11 shutouts on the season. The senior, who has committed to take his stingy play to Princeton University in the fall, finished his NMH career with 30 shutouts. The United Soccer Coaches State Player of the Year, Hadaway was a two-time Boston Globe All-Scholastic selection, as well as the New England Soccer Journal Goalkeeper of the Year.
“Khamari is most definitely one of the best keepers we have seen in New England in my time coaching,” said Milton head coach Chris Kane. “His great play helped make NMH a truly elite team defensively and overall.” Hadaway owned a 3.51 GPA in the classroom and was a member of a coed a cappella singing group at NMH. He also participated in a fundraising campaign to benefit children in Malawi who did not have the resources to play soccer. Locally, he volunteered with Operation Happy Birthday.
at Barry of Tabor Academy prevailed as the premier girls soccer player in Massachusetts — for the second straight year. Her back-to-back awards highlighted a career in which she registered 132 points on 88 goals and 44 assists. During her senior season alone, she chalked up 39 of those points via 27 goals and 12 assists as she helped lift the Seawolves to an 11-5 record. She was a two-time New England Soccer Journal Forward of the Year, played in December’s High School All-American Game and the University of South Carolina bound Barry was listed as the nation’s No. 17 recruit in the 2020 class. “Cat can dominate a field whenever she wants,” said Susanna Donahue, the head coach at the Rivers School. “Her size, strength and speed made her an incredibly effective player at whatever position Tabor put her at.” Barry maintained an A- average in the classroom. She served as head tour guide at Tabor and volunteered locally as a peer tutor. She also donated her time teaching English to recent immigrants and as a youth soccer coach.
osh Baez flexed his muscles early and often on the baseball diamond as the Dexter Southfield School junior was named the MVP of the WWBA Upperclass Southeast Labor Day Perfect Game Tournament in September and not even the Coronavirus could make voters forget his heroics.
During the tourney, Baez clouted a pair of home runs during its three games and reached base every time he stepped to the plate. The transfer came from the Snowden International School where he spent his sophomore season posting a .423 batting average with 25 runs scored and 18 RBI. He went on that season to earn MVP honors in the Boston City League championship game as he led the Cougars to the league title. “Josh is a true five-tool player, said Danny Donato, the Dexter coach “He hits for a high average and his power is off the charts.” Baez owned a B- average last year and has made a verbal commitment to play baseball at Vanderbilt University in the fall of 2021. He volunteered locally helping to build a weight room at his previous school and has donated his time as a youth baseball coach and umpire.
alcolm Bussey and Jordan Geronimo of St. Paul’s School proved to be New Hampshire’s only award winners, but they proved to be pretty dynamic winners. Bussey helped lead St. Paul’s to a 9-0 record and a victory in the Dave Coeatti Bowl last fall as the 5-11 tailback rambled for 1,436 yards and 22 touchdowns on 123 carries to average a hefty 11.7 yards per carry. A two-time All-New England selection, Bussey averaged over 10 yards per carry in eight of nine games and scored multiple touchdowns seven times. “Malcolm is the best running back we have played against in the nine years of me being here,” said Joe Linta, the head coach of Hamden Hall School. “He is a high school version of (2019 NFL MVP candidate) Christian McCaffrey.” Bussey, who will be a senior this fall, maintains a B average in his studies. He also plays hockey for the Pelicans and volunteers locally with a Learn to Skate program and on behalf of a Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, a program to raise awareness of violence against women.
eronimo, a 6-6, 205-pound forward poured in 18.0 points per game as well as nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocked shots every time he put on a Pelicans uniform last winter. The
University of Indiana bound standout is a two-time Lakes Region League All-Star and a 2020 All-New England Class A All-Star. He was rated as the number 90 recruit in the 2020 Class by 247Sports.com “Jordan is ultra-athletic,” said Gregor Makechnie, head coach of Proctor Academy. “He’s a very good shot blocker and a solid defender. He finishes well around the rim and he seems like a very good teammate … he’s positive and encouraging.” He maintained a 3.98 GPA his senior year and was the head of the St. Paul’s Student Cultural Alliance, which provides a space for the school’s minority population to feel comfortable.
ydney Masciarelli’s name was placed at the forefront of Connecticut’s cross-country contingent for a second straight year because that’s where she always ended up after the starter’s gun had sounded. This Marianapolis Prep threesport standout went back-to-back after capturing her second straight New England Division IV championship in a time of 18:49. The junior highlighted her regular-season effort by winning the Canterbury Invitational for a second straight year as well as her own Marianapolis Prep Invitational. She placed second in the Foot Locker Northeast Regional Championship and was seventh in the National Foot Locker Race in a time of 17:19.4. Masciarelli, who also won the Gatorade award in girls track last year by sweeping the 800-, 1,500- and 3,000-meter races at the N.E. track championships for a second straight year, won last year’s regional Foot Locker race in a time of 17.12.6 and then won the national competition in 17:00.3 – the 10th fastest time by a girl in the 35 years the meet has been held in San Diego – by a mere .7 seconds. “Sydney continues to be an impressively focused and dedicated runner,” said Emil Gaudet, Masciarelli’s cross-country coach. “She trained like an athlete much more seasoned than she is, and after the regular season ended, she continued to do runs and workouts by herself on an ice and snow-covered track without complaint.”
Masciarelli, who owns a 3.57 GPA as she enters her senior year, is also a standout on the basketball court and when not competing in athletics, she volunteers locally on behalf of a food pantry, youth basketball camps and the U.S. Marine Corp Toys for Tots Foundation.
icawber Etienne, a 6-10 a junior center at Suffield Academy was the guy leading the fast break to the ballot box under the category of Connecticut boys basketball this season as he tossed in an average of 15 points a game and hauled in an average of 13 rebounds per game. Etienne, who also averaged four blocked shots and two assists per outing, earned All-NEPSAC laurels and heads into his senior season ranked as the country’s No. 59 recruit and the No. 11 center in the Class of 2021 by 247 Sports. “Mac is a really, really talented player,” said Shavar Bernier, the head coach at Taft School. “A high-major kid who looks and plays the part and he’s really grown in terms of his skill set over the last couple of years.” Etienne maintains a B average at Suffield and donates his time as a peer tutor and also volunteers at youth basketball clinics.
llie Palmieri, a junior forward/guard at Greens Farms Academy in Westport was voted Connecticut’s top female basketball player after leading her squad to a 22-3 record. The 5-10 junior did that by averaging 24.2 points per game, as well as 8.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 3.9 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. She was a CHSCA All-State selection and was voted MVP of the Kingswood Oxford Tournament. “When you watch Allie play, what’s most impressive is how composed she is on every possession and how she knows exactly when to take over or when to pass,” said Kwame Burwell, an assistant coach at Notre Dame Catholic High School in Fairfield. “In my view, I would rank her as the best player in the state right now.” Palmieri has a 3.99 GPA heading into her senior year and will attend Boston College next year on scholarship
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to play basketball. She volunteers locally as a math tutor at Bridgeport’s Classical Studies Magnet Academy and also donates her time on behalf of the Nichols Improvement Association’s Jingle Bell Run and as a coach with the InSports Skills Basketball Clinic.
ammed Bawa was the Nutmeg State’s top vote getter in boys soccer after the crafty midfielder registered 26 points off 21 goals and five assists while leading Taft School to a 16-2-1 record and a berth in the NEPSAC Class A Tournament semifinals. Bawa, who closed out his career at Taft by clearing the century mark with 107 points on 72 goals and 35 assists, was named the New England Prep Soccer Journal Midfielder of the Year and participated in the High School All-American Game in December. “Bawa is just an absurdly talented player,” said Charlie Bour, the head soccer coach at Berkshire School. “He is so athletic and so dominant.” The University of North Carolina bound standout maintained a B+ average in the classroom and the graduate of the Right To Dream Academy in Ghana, organized a soccer tournament in his neighborhood in Ghana that raised more than $6,000 for the needy. Locally, Bawa volunteered as a youth cocker coach.
aula Hernandez led the voting in volleyball, as the Woodstock Academy senior helped lead her team to a 19-6 record and all the way to the Class L semifinals. The outside hitter did so by chalking up 500 kills, 622 digs and 66 service aces on the season. For her lofty accomplishments, Hernandez was named First Team All-State for the third consecutive season, First Team AllEastern Connecticut Conference and was selected the GameTimeCT Player of the Year. “Paula Hernandez is an outstanding player,” said Steve Banks, the head coach at Fitch High School. “She has the complete package of volleyball skills and she’s a tough competitor. She reads the court better than any high school player that I’ve seen.”
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Hernandez, who maintained an A average, has yet to make a decision as to where she will be taking her talents to on the collegiate level. Locally, she volunteered on behalf of a community cleanup initiative and youth volleyball programs.
argo Appleton led the pack in voting for Rhode Island’s top female cross-country runner because she led the pack at the New England Prep School Track Association Div. III Championships for a second straight year. This fall, the junior speedster was clocked in a time of 16:36, hitting the tape 2:48 ahead of the second-place finisher, as she sparked Portsmouth Abbey to a 10thplace finish team finish. Appleton would later go on to place sixth at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional Championships, then finished 22nd at the National Foot Locker Cross Country Championships. Margot is the strongest runner I’ve ever seen in the Eastern Independent League,” said Moriah Musto, the head coach at the Winsor School. Appleton will enter her senior year at the Abbey with an A average. She also volunteers locally on behalf of multiple community service initiatives through her church.
egan Bodziony, a senior at St. Andrew’s School, led this little state in a big way as the 5-10 guard sparked the Saints to a 19-9 record and a run to the NEPSAC AA Tournament. She earned the attention by averaging 11.1 points per game as well as 5.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.0 steals. Bodziony earned NEPSAC Class A All-New England honors as a junior after missing her entire sophomore season with a knee injury. Despite the lost time, she still has registered 1,361 points prior to heading into this winter’s postseason play.
“Megan is an excellent playmaker and shot maker,” said Alex Gallagher, the head girls basketball coach at Noble & Greenough. “She can both distribute the ball and score at a high level, and is a very hard-nosed defender who has no back-down at all.” Bodziony, who has a scholarship to play basketball at Fordham University in the fall, posted an unweighted 4.09 GPA in the classroom. She also served as a student ambassador at St. Andrew’s and also volunteered locally as a youth basketball coach.
ophia Gorriaran of the Moses Brown School, got her career off to a fast start, as the freshman track standout set Rhode Island records in the 500and 800-meter runs during the 2020 indoor season. Gorriaran was the state’s top-ranked runner this winter in the 200-, 300-, 500-, 600-, 800-, 1,000-and 1,500-meter races and owned Top 50 national rankings at every distance from the 500 to the mile. While running for her Providence Cobras club team this spring, Gorriaran shattered the state record in the 800 by more than five seconds with a time of 2:03.36, which ranked as the nation’s 32nd fastest time in history among prep competitors. Her 2:03.98 in the 800 at the Boston University Last Chance Meet in February set a national freshman record. “Sophia is dedicated … she works hard at virtually every workout,” said Jon Barnes, an assistant coach at Barrington High School. “She is an intelligent racer and knows what she can do and when to do it. And she is competitive. She is never shy about going against the best or shooting for a time goal.” Heading into her sophomore year this fall, Gorriaran owns a 3.79 GPA and volunteers locally at an urban elementary school as a youth track coach.
The NEPSAC SPECIAL NEWS is sponsored by SportsGrub. SportsGrub provides athletic teams with nutritional meals delivered directly to their event. We provide a diverse menu that athletes can order from directly in our app. Don’t just play to win, plan to win with healthy and delicious meals from SportsGrub. Contact us for more information at www. sportsgrub.com
SUDDEN CARDIAC ARREST IS THE #1 KILLER OF STUDENT ATHLETES.
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Boston Pride’s NWHL Title Banners Join City’s Other Champions in Logan Airport Display NEPSAC athletes and coaches among the honorees by NWHL Media
OSTON – The Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) have taken their place among the city’s championship teams with two banners now on display at Boston Logan International Airport. Two banners commemorating the Pride’s Isobel Cup championship in 2016 and regular-season titles in 2019–20 were formally unveiled in conjunction with the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport). As a precautionary measure during the COVID-19 pandemic, video of the event will be available for viewing on the social media platforms of Massport, the Pride, and the NWHL.
my teammates, our coaches and the staffs from the 2016 Isobel Cup champions and the 2019–20 champs, we are proud to have earned this honor and to take our place with Boston’s best.” The Pride banners are the 40th and 41st banners to hang in the Celebration of Championship Exhibit inside Logan Airport’s Terminal C, joining those won by the Bruins, Celtics, Patriots, and Red Sox. The exhibit was first unveiled in 2013. In 2016, the Pride won the Isobel Cup in the inaugural season of the NWHL. Last season, the Pride were 23–1 in capturing the league’s regular-season championship. The team advanced to the Isobel Cup Final, but the game was canceled in keeping with public health guidelines during the pandemic. “Massport is proud to welcome the Boston Pride, the first women’s professional sports team to join our Celebration of Champions exhibit,” said Denise Ridge, Massport’s Deputy Director of Aviation Customer Service. “These pro athletes are not just stars on ice, but they also play important roles in their respective communities. We hope the passengers who see the Boston Pride banners will leave the airport feeling inspired by the team’s hard work and tenacity.”
we are proud to have earned this honor and to take our place with Boston’s best “The Boston Pride are appreciative of the invitation of Massport to include our two NWHL championship teams with the rest of the city’s sports legends,” said Pride President Hayley Moore, who was also general manager of the team in 2016. Added Pride forward Jillian Dempsey, a member of both title teams and captain of the 2019–20 squad: “On behalf of all of
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Photos courtesy Boston Pride/NWHL. Story originally appeared on pride.nwhl.zone. Reprinted with permission.
THE BOSTON PRIDE ISOBEL CUP TEAM PLAYERS: Kacey Bellamy (Berkshire School), Blake Bolden, Corinne Buie, Kelly Cooke (Noble and Greenough School), Brianna Decker, Jillian Dempsey (The Rivers School), Emily Field (Lawrence Academy), Kelsie Fralick (Cushing Academy), Alyssa Gagliardi, Marissa Gedman (Noble and Greenough School), Cherie Henderson (Brooks School), Zoe Hickel, Hilary Knight (Choate Rosemary Hall), Denna Laing (Noble and Greenough School), Rachel Llanes, Gigi Marvin, Meagan Mangene, Brittany Ott, Amanda Pelkey, Casey Pickett (St. Mark’s School), Lauren Slebodnick (Cushing Academy), Jordan Smelker. STAFF: General Manager Hayley Moore (Cushing Academy), Head Coach Bobby Jay (Canterbury School), Assistant Coach Lauren McAuliffe, Assistant Coach Dave Jensen (Belmont Hill School and Lawrence Academy)
THE BOSTON PRIDE 2019–2020 REGULAR SEASON CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM
The Boston Pride championship banners at Boston Logan International Airport. From left to right: Jillian Dempsey, team captain; Denise Ridge, Deputy Director of Aviation Customer Service; Hayley Moore, Team President. Photo courtesy Boston Pride
PLAYERS: Lexi Bender, McKenna Brand, Jillian Dempsey (The Rivers School), Emily Fluke (Loomis Chaffee School), Kaleigh Fratkin, Victoria Hanson (Lawrence Academy), Jordan Juron, Lauren Kelly (The Winchendon School), Lexie Laing(Noble and Greenough), Briana Mastel (Choate Rosemary Hall), Mary Parker (Noble and Greenough), Christina Putigna, Marisa Raspa, Whitney Renn, Jenn Rheault (St. Paul’s School), Lovisa Selander, Mallory Souliotis (Noble and Greenough), Tori Sullivan, Carlee Toews, Alyssa Wohlfeiler.
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Creativity and Patience:
Recruiting in the Covid Era THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE GREENWICH SENTINEL
by Liz Dennison, Director of Athletics, and Aly Costigan, Assistant Director of Athletics for Leadership Programming
CHRIS POPE FOR SACRED HEART GREENWICH
he COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all areas of our lives, including for high school and college student-athletes and athletic programs around the country. The suspension of and/or changes to athletics at every level has disrupted not only training cycles and competitive experiences for athletes everywhere but also the typical collegiate recruiting process and timeline for high school athletes with aspirations to compete at the next level. Under normal circumstances, college coaches around the country would be traveling to see prospective recruits in person and planning for them to visit college campuses in person this summer and fall. The NCAA suspension of all in-person recruiting for D1 sports started this past spring at the onset of the pandemic and was extended through January 1st, 2021. However, between video conferencing, phone calls, texts, and mail, collegiate coaches have gotten creative about keeping in touch with and evaluating recruits from afar within the context of NCAA rules. High school student-athletes can continue to get creative with their side of the recruiting process, and athletic training, as well. While the typical advice of visiting campuses and attending tournaments and camps may not be feasible at this time, there are other things student-athletes can do to stay engaged in the process and best set themselves up for success not only in the recruiting process itself but once they begin their careers as a collegiate student-athlete, which is the most important thing.
athletic profile. College recruiters are savvy and do their own research; focus on substantial updates and real information, not flashy social media posts that don’t give the recruiters the information they need to make decisions. It is also important to stay connected with your club and high school coaches, as they have good connections with the college coaches themselves. Continuously look for changing information and get advice and help as things evolve. Students should take control of their own recruiting processes and be proactive in reaching out to coaches and maintaining connections with those schools near the top of their list. For those just starting the process, creating a list to work from is crucial. The amount of information that can be found online is tremendous, but it takes time and organization to formulate these lists, consider what is important to you in the process, and then begin the process of reaching out to coaches to learn more. Having a plan and timeline for these steps make this easier and more manageable. It is a goal for us at Sacred Heart Greenwich to provide this type of support and information to our student-
focus on what you can control instead of what you cannot With limited in-person interaction, it is important for student-athletes to ensure their online recruiting profiles are robust and up to date with academic and athletic updates, including film (not just of games, but of skills and practices), times, and other relevant information specific to their sport and
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SACRED HEART GREENWICH
athletes so they understand what the recruiting process and timeline looks like, and are prepared to move through the process within that framework. For those student-athletes with aspirations of playing their sport at the next level, it is important to focus on what you can control instead of what you cannot and to consider how you will respond to the new and changing landscape. One thing that student-athletes can control is their personal commitment to fitness and keeping up with their skill work whether that looks like training at home on your own, with a small group, or with your club or high school team within state guidelines. The commitment to one’s personal development will not only pay off when athletics starts up again in earnest at all levels, but it also demonstrates commitment to your sport and allows you to showcase personal progress in conversations with collegiate coaches. Through the ever-changing circumstances with this pandemic, it is important for students to remind themselves to stay calm and patient. Remember the reasons you play the sport you play in the first place, as that is the most important part. Get creative with your training and find ways to stay sharp in your specific sport during this time. We don’t know what the future may hold, but we can control what we do at this time so when the time does come we are ready to go. While the recruiting experience for the Classes of 2021, 2022, and 2023 may look different than most years, it can still be a positive experience that results in each student finding the right academic and athletic experience for them.
NESTMA members get more.
Sports turf professionals from across New England join NESTMA for meaningful networking, relevant education, and career building resources.
Be a part of NESTMA.
Liz Dennison is Director of Athletics at Sacred Heart Greenwich.
Don’t forget to use #nepsac in your social media posts!
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REVIVE RECRUIT REBRAND
Transform Your Athletic Facility • Wall Murals & Wallcoverings • Signs & Displays (Custom Dimensional, Illuminated)
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LOOMIS CHAFFEE SCHOOL | WINDSOR, CONNECTICUT
Design Thinking Class Advises Basketball Nonprofit
tudents in Loomis Chaffee’s Design Thinking for the Common Good course worked with a UConn women’s basketball player this spring to help her expand the reach of her nonprofit organization, Women and Kids Empowerment (WAKE). The seven students, all seniors, presented their final recommendations on May 18 during a Zoom online conference call with the organization’s founder, Batouly Camara. Ms. Camara, a forward on the Huskies basketball team, started WAKE to help girls and young women in her home country of Guinea in West Africa gain access to education and connect to broader opportunities through basketball clinics and workshops. “In places where limited resources often mean limited dreams, I see sport as freedom to empower young girls to attend school, gain physical literacy, and build community,” Ms. Camara said as she proposed her challenge to the class at the start of spring term. The challenge for the Loomis students was to find innovative ways that WAKE could continue to expand its visibility and build an online audience as it prepares to launch a youth basketball program and other initiatives while stay-at-home restrictions are in place due the COVID-19 crisis. According to Ms. Camara, WAKE had planned to raise funds this spring and summer for the launch of a basketball academy in Guinea through a celebrity basketball game, a gala event, and a charity tournament, but the pandemic halted all public gatherings. In response to the crisis restrictions, WAKE organizers postponed the public events and moved to raise awareness and support for its programs from a safe distance. Ms. Camara sought the Loomis students’ help in generating ideas to continue the organization’s momentum and expand its visibility with its target audience, especially young women and girls. The seniors in Design Thinking for the Common Good originally had enrolled in the Innovation Trimester, a signature program of the school’s Pearse Hub for Innovation (PHI) that immerses students in design-thinking projects for the spring term. With the closure of Loomis Chaffee’s campus due to COVID-19, this spring’s Innovation Trimester was modified for a distance-learning environment. The students, working in two teams, took on Ms. Camara’s challenge with direction from PHI faculty Jen Solomon and Tim Helfrich. Both teams identified social media as a useful tool in helping WAKE expand its visibility and promote its programs because it is used widely and shared by young people and people interested in sports and social justice content, which represent large swaths of WAKE’s target demographics. The students also favored social media because it allows for personal communication across distances, is inexpensive, and is easy to use.
WAKE founder Batouly Camara, UConn Huskies basketball player.
In the May 18 presentation, the team of Sam DeNey, Nikita Stepanov, and Caroline Thompson presented their ideas for helping WAKE to become “the face of women’s sports” and for their social media accounts to become “a hub for women’s athletics, empowerment and growth.” They shared data from their research that showed ways other sports-centered organizations are growing their social media audiences during the pandemic through the use of targeted content. They pointed to the growth of followers on the Instagram account for Goaliesmith Lacrosse, which has developed engagement content focused on training and promoting the sport online during the COVID crisis. The team of students suggested WAKE could model this approach and create social media content, with the hashtag #WAKEUP, that might include online skills videos, healthy lifestyle advice, WAKE-branded sporting merchandise sales, and podcasts focused on young women in basketball. The second team’s proposal, presented by Tess Carty, Theo Hallal, Makayla MacPherson, and Alex Zunino, built on detailed data that the team had gathered from several respected market research sources. The data supported the use of social media to reach WAKE’s target young female audience. “We propose that WAKE be a source of light in the shadow of the pandemic,” Makayla said during the team’s presentation. The proposed approach would focus on offering girls and young women hope and encouragement, especially during the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, through social media engagement and the creation of an online community. The team suggested creating online engagement activities such as a dribbling skills video challenge, tracking and responding to followers’ engagement, and continuing to develop content based on what viewers like to see. Additionally, the students
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Loomis students and teachers met with Ms. Camara via Zoom as they worked on the project.
advised encouraging followers’ online interactions and sharing by responding to their inquiries, and through the use of hashtags, quizzes, and tagging. “When can I hire both teams?” Ms. Camara asked with approving humor after the teams finished their presentations. Their ideas surpassed her expectations, she said, and she appreciated the teams’ enthusiastic and thoughtful approaches to the challenge. “The presentations truly provided some insightful, innovative, and significant marketing strategies to take Women and Kids Empowerment to the next level,” Ms. Camara affirmed.
Jen and Tim were impressed with the students’ willingness to take on the design thinking exercise and to work conscientiously on the project despite having to collaborate with each other across distances and time zones in their senior spring. Tim characterized the COVID-19 crisis as a “design thinking challenge for the whole world right now.” He said the skills that the students learned this spring will help them become effective problem-solvers in the wake of the pandemic and during other future disruptions.
Many thanks to BSN Sports for hosting and supporting our online webinars this year.
28 | NEPSAC News | Fall 2020
THE MARVELWOOD SCHOOL | KENT, CONNECTICUT
Behind the Mind: Stories of Hope
by Zach Maizel ’04, Institutional Advancement Associate
evin Meiselman ’16 graduated from Quinnipiac University in May with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Public Relations. While attending Quinnipiac, Kevin’s journey in the Journalism program took him through the normal college course track, but it was an Art of the Podcast course in the Communications department and a sports talk radio show on the University’s radio station that really started the ball rolling towards a successful career within the evergrowing podcast world. In January 2019, after many podcasts regarding his beloved New York Rangers, Kevin delved into a more serious and important subject matter, mental health. With his confidence from hours on the air with the radio station and an understanding of podcast content, Kevin produced “Behind The Mind,” a show which features guests from all walks of life who have experienced mental health struggles such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and more, as he states in his opening monologue of the show. “If you’re in a tough place right now, hopefully, these stories give you some hope that you can overcome whatever is in your way and give you some tools to help manage those tough times,” Kevin discusses in his introduction. To date, Kevin has produced 16 episodes of “Behind The Mind” and has featured Quinnipiac University students and professors, former NBA, NHL, and NFL players, nationally recognized professional mental health speakers, advocates, and authors, as well as two members of the Marvelwood community. In episode 3, Kevin talks with former Director of Learning Support, Dr. Liz Radday, who is now the Research Specialist at Skills21 at EdAdvance. He also talked with his former classmate, close friend, alum, and now professional basketball player for Hapoel Zefat Galil, Charlie Reznikoff ’15 in episode 14. Kevin reflected on the influence that Marvelwood culture had on his continued success and motivation to help others with issues he has faced: Marvelwood is forever linked to my mental health journey because all of my progress started there. To say that many faculty members had a life-altering impact on me would be an understatement. I recall having difficult days in college and getting by it by thinking about conversations I had with the teachers I viewed as mentors. Reflecting on what I learned at Marvelwood has always kept me on track. I was challenged in so many ways at Marvelwood, and I grew up so much because of it. The most amazing thing about my time there is that so many students were fighting their own internal battles and it allowed for a strong, emotionally intelligent, and understanding community. I tried to emulate that sense of community at Quinnipiac University, by normalizing the topic of mental health among the various groups I was involved in. That includes my fraternity, student media organizations and the people I lived with. Because of my openness at Quinnipiac, many students shared their mental health journeys with me, including guys in my fraternity. I thought that was so important because you don’t
always hear guys talk about mental health. I tried to break that stigma as much as I could, and I know that others benefited because of it. Along with his important and influential podcast, Kevin is now working with the JED Foundation, a leading mental health nonprofit with a mission to protect emotional health and prevent suicide by empowering teens and young adults with the skills and support to grow into healthy, thriving adults. Working remotely due to the ongoing pandemic, Kevin will be helping with various media related projects and will be contributing articles to the foundation’s website. Working for JED and continuing his podcast are some of the short term goals Kevin sees for himself; “Long term, my goal is to write my own book and speak publicly about mental health and my journey, at grad schools and colleges throughout the country. I have been networking and getting in touch with people who do that for a living and I am learning how to turn my dream into a reality. I truly believe I can conquer my dreams and create a life that I love as long as I continue to put in the hard work.” Kevin’s work in the area of mental health has helped him find his true calling and gives him and the Marvelwood community a tremendous amount of pride in the excellent work he has done and continues to do. With so many children and adults around the world struggling with mental health, the work of Kevin and others involved in assisting with the fight and telling their stories, helps more and more people to begin to address their specific issues and hopefully find relief and tools to overcome whatever is in their path. With proper support and people to talk with, everything becomes easier and helps build confidence to overcome and succeed. Kevin echoed those sentiments: “If it weren’t for the students and teachers I felt closest with at Marvelwood, I’m really not sure I’d be the calm, confident, goal-driven person I am today.” “Behind The Mind” is available on all podcast platforms.
NEPSAC News | Fall 2020 | 29
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CARDIGAN MOUNTAIN SCHOOL | CANAAN, NEW HAMPSHIRE
Cougars Continue Support of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center
or the 23rd year in a row, the Cardigan community participated in the Prouty, “an athletic event that raises funds to benefit Dartmouth and Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center.” Not even a pandemic could stop 31 Cougars from joining together virtually for this important cause, raising $5,003.16. And because it was virtual, it wasn’t just folks in the Upper Valley who got involved. “I don’t know if I can say I did the Prouty as much as I survived it,” says former faculty Jim Truslow, recalling his first ride in 1997. “What I can say is that we laughed a lot.” That first year, there were four riders; Mr. Truslow was joined by former Director of Admission Carl Lovejoy P’99,’04,’07, former faculty and hockey coach Andy Noel P’19, and English teacher Al Gray H’13, P’14,’16. “These guys were my mentors and taught me so much as a new teacher at Cardigan,” says Mr. Truslow. “If any of them had asked me to jump off a bridge, I would have. So when they started talking about entering the Prouty, I said yes.” Mr. Truslow’s bike was a rusty hand-me-down with a wobbly rear wheel, but with a great deal of help from his friends that he made the 100-mile ride. Cardigan’s Prouty team continues to be made up of families—faculty and staff and alumni and students—joining together to raise funds for cancer research and patient support, never forgetting the personal impact that cancer has had on the lives of the people in our community. Despite the ongoing pandemic, these humble humans have continued their work, helping out where they can. The group rallied again the next year and for several more years after that, until their careers led them to different schools and life circumstances made it more difficult for them to get together. Mr. Truslow has continued to contribute to the Prouty, however, donating in honor of Mr. Noel, who passed away in 2015 from cancer. Then, this spring, Mr. Truslow got back on his bike to actually ride the Prouty. From his home in New Jersey, where he works for The Peddie School as their director of external programs, he has taken advantage of the pandemic’s social distancing guidelines to get in shape. When the Prouty went virtual and invited participants to “bike, walk, row (if you can), golf (if possible) or do any other event you’d like from the comfort of your home or the safety of the outdoors,” Mr. Truslow was excited to participate.
“I had actually hoped to do the physical Prouty this year anyway,” he says. “Now there’s some talk that we might do the Ultimate Prouty next year,” a 200-mile ride completed over two days. Math teacher Kyla Joslin was also around for the Prouty this year. She was supposed to be in Hawaii working as a residential administrator at ‘Iolani School, but when its summer program offered online courses only due to Covid-19, Ms. Joslin went to work for her cousins instead, scooping ice cream at Fore-U in West Lebanon, NH. “It’s my first summer not working as a lifeguard,” says Ms. Joslin, who has also worked Summer Session at Cardigan, “so working at Fore-U has been a good way to keep structure in my life. It’s also been great working with my family and interacting with the local community.” Her job has also helped her raise funds for the Prouty. “I was just going to donate my tips to the Prouty for two weeks,” says Ms. Joslin. “But when I found out that my uncle is again fighting cancer, I decided to just keep going.” With help from the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation, who matched her donations dollar for dollar, Ms. Joslin raised the most money for the Cardigan team with over $700. Ms. Joslin also donated some of her ice cream tips to the New Hampshire Teen Institute, an organization whose mission it is “to empower teens to lead healthy lifestyles and create stronger communities through community-focused prevention and leadership workshops.” Cardigan’s Prouty team continues to be made up of families— faculty and staff and alumni and students—joining together to raise funds for cancer research and patient support, never forgetting the personal impact that cancer has had on the lives of the people in our community. Despite the ongoing pandemic, these humble humans have continued their work, helping out where they can.
NEPSAC News | Fall 2020 | 31
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT MARIANAPOLIS PREPARATORY SCHOOL | THOMPSON, CONNECTICUT
Senior Sydney Masciarelli Breaks World Record
The challenge of balancing basketball and running throughout my athletic career is what inspired me to break the record 32 | NEPSAC News | Fall 2020
OVID-19 hasn’t slowed down senior Sydney Masciarelli. The three-season athlete is spending her summer training on new trails, pushing herself before the upcoming cross country season. She’s also keeping an eye on record-breaking accomplishments. In addition to being a basketball standout, scoring her 1,000th point in her junior season, Sydney is a national champion in both cross country and track and field. In 2018, she was crowned the Foot Locker Cross Country Champion, coming in 7th place at the race in 2019. She also won two titles at the New Balance Track & Field Nationals in 2019. She is a three-time Gatorade Connecticut Player of the Year (2018 & 2019 Gatorade Connecticut Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year and 2019 Gatorade Connecticut Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year). So, with a bit of extra downtime this summer, Sydney found a new hybrid challenge to conquer during training. She learned that just a few weeks ago, Lauren Johnson set the female world record for the fastest mile while dribbling a basketball with a time of 5:16.36. Ready to compete, Sydney decided to give the record a shot herself. “The challenge of balancing basketball and running throughout my athletic career is what inspired me to break the record,” Sydney said. “I wanted to have fun by combining two things that I love to do that have shaped me into who I am today.” Sydney’s attempt to break the world record was an instant success. She finished with a time of 5:08.57. You can watch the full video here. Looking forward to the start of cross country, Sydney has a positive outlook: “My goal this upcoming season is to improve my times on all of the cross country courses that I am able to run...If Footlocker Nationals doesn’t get canceled, I would love to get back there again because that race is so much fun and would be an amazing ending to my senior cross country season.”
FOR LOVE OF THE GAME, WE ARE PROUD TO SUPPORT THE NEPSAC
NEPSAC News | Fall 2020 | 33
34 | NEPSAC News | Fall 2020
BELMONT HILL SCHOOL | BELMONT, MASSACHUSETTS
John Broderick of Belmont Hill Wins Playoff at New England Amateur
ABOUT THE NEW ENGLAND AMATEUR Held since 1926, the New England Amateur brings together players from six New England area states — Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. The event host rotates between each of the six represented states. The tournament has been won by notable PGA Tour players such as JJ Henry (1998), Tim Petrovic (1986), Billy Andrade (1983), and Brad Faxon (1980, 1981). Entries are open to amateur golfers who hold membership in a club belonging to one of the six New England State Golf Associations and have an up-to-date USGA/GHIN Handicap Index not exceeding 6.4.
DAVID COLT FOR THE NEW ENGLAND GOLF ASSOCIATION
ick Maccario has played some of the best golf of his career over the last two weeks, but fallen just short of securing major titles both times. At the Massachusetts Amateur last week, (a match play event) Maccario, 28, knocked off three past champions including Matt Parziale on his way to the final match at The Kittansett Club. Despite playing the last 12 holes in 3-under — “throwing the book at him,” as he said at the time — Maccario lost the Mass. Am final to Matt Organisak on the 36th hole. Today at Concord Country Club, Maccario — who won last year’s Mass. Mid-Am by a whopping 15 shots — posted his second straight 67 to grab the clubhouse lead, only to watch as 36-hole leader John Broderick was still on the course one shot behind with two to play. Broderick, after opening with the same score as Maccario (a 2-over 72), bounced back to post the low round of the tournament on Wednesday, a 65. During that magical round, the 16-year-old from Wellesley carded seven birdies, including four out of five from Hole Nos. 13-17 to take two stroke leading into today’s final round, which was scheduled to be a full 36-holes. After winning in extra holes, the young Broderick may have handed Maccario his second straight defeat, but nobody will argue that the Merrimack Valley resident is one of the elite players in the state. As for Broderick, he no doubt has collegiate golf in his future. “It was unbelievable and crazy,” said Broderick, a junior at Belmont Hill School in an interview with the Mass. Golf Association. “It really shows that I’m at that level now,” he continued. “ I really improved so much in the last year. At the start of the year, I wasn’t really playing my best. I played the GolfWeek Junior Open last week and I really found something in my swing. Coming into this tournament, I felt really great. It really shows I can play with these guys and I can beat these guys.”
Tournament Notes The New England Amateur, which rotates each year to one of the six states in New England, was played this year at the historic Donald Ross-designed Concord Country Club. The course is located in the same town where the “shot heard round the world” was fired to start the Revolutionary War in 1775. The club’s first nine holes designed by Ross opened for play in 1913, while the club itself dates back to 1895. Mature trees, and fescue-lined fairways give the course a distinctive look, while typically difficult Donald Ross greens make for some interesting pin placements and diabolical putts. The New England Amateur winner gets their name on the Harry B. McCracken Jr. trophy, and this is the first time the tournament has been played since the legendary golf administrator passed in 2019. For 50 years — more than half of his adult life — the Massachusetts native was a dedicated volunteer to the Massachusetts Golf Association, New England Golf Association and the USGA. McCracken, the 2007 recipient of the USGA’s Joe Dey Award for meritorious service to the game, was a fixture for years at the New England Amateur.
NEPSAC News | Fall 2020 | 35
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36 | NEPSAC News | Fall 2020
COACH SPOTLIGHT SOUTH KENT SCHOOL | SOUTH KENT, CONNECTICUT
South Kent Head Coach Owen Finberg Reaches 300 Career Wins
MIKE GRIDLEY/NEW ENGLAND SOCCER JOURNAL
by Jonathan Sigal, New England Soccer Journal
South Kent coach Owen Finberg offers words of encouragement after the 2017 NEPSAC Class B soccer final.
s we all look for silver linings during the COVID-19 pandemic, South Kent head coach Owen Finberg is fortunate to have a couple. One is the birth of his third child, a boy, on Cinco de Mayo, joining a 4-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. “There will be another one on the sidelines before too long,” Finberg said with a laugh. There have been highlights on the field, too, even if the public-health situation means the reigning NEPSAC Class B champions can’t formally defend their title. Back on Sept. 26, Finberg recorded his 300th career win in prep school soccer, a total that spans time at West Nottingham Academy in Maryland and South Kent, having joined the latter in 2004. The total’s now at 302 after a weekend series against Hoosac, and odds are it’ll grow throughout the fall as South Kent faces the likes of Kiski, High Mowing and Northwood –
other prep programs – in the coming weeks. The Cardinals have also played intra-squad scrimmages and are competing against MLS NEXT clubs, with Oakwood on the docket this weekend. Finberg said they’re lining up the Revolution Academy for Nov. 17, and are working on penciling in the Boston Bolts and New York Soccer Club. It’s a creative schedule during a most-unusual fall, though Finberg took time to reflect on the milestone. Two-hundred sixty of his wins have come at South Kent, while 42 occurred at West Nottingham. Named as National Coach of the Year by the United Soccer Coaches in 2015, he’s also been named New England Coach of the Year three times. “My reflection is mostly on the players and support staff and coaches who have allowed us to have the success we’ve had – and I’ve been so fortunate to be a part of it,” Finberg said. “The tradition of the teams and, quite frankly, of excellence year after
NEPSAC News | Fall 2020 | 37
year during my time here has been remarkable and it’s really been a testament to the hard work that goes into everything on a daily basis.” During Finberg’s 17 years at South Kent, the alumni list includes Bermuda national team midfielder Reggie Lambe, former Loyola defender Mickey Watson and Virginia Tech sophomore forward Alex Adjetey. The full collection could fill an entire story, though it’s an impressive group that’s boosted by 100 percent college placement in 12 consecutive years. Asked what’s fueled South Kent’s success, Finberg highlights their pillars of development, excellence and class. The Cardinals have won nine NEPSAC titles and four national titles during his time at the helm. They went 19-0 last year, handily defeating Nobles in the championship match. “For us, development means improving each day in whatever you’re undertaking,” Finberg said. “Excellence is giving your best effort in everything that you do, and class is your personal integrity and the respect that you show to people and places. “Those core values really shape every part of our program and we’re specific with what they mean in certain situations and how we interact in those environments. They’ve laid the foundation for our success and are ones I’ve seen guys take with them and use in the various paths when they move on from the Hillside.” Given each accomplishment, it’s fair to wonder why Finberg has stayed at South Kent for nearly two decades. He confirmed that opportunities at top Division I programs and other prep
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schools have come up, but he’s been drawn to the “special community” at South Kent. Specifically, Finberg said it’s the chance to work with freshmen through post-graduates, leading them on and off field during formative years. With recruiting, coaching and off-field duties, running a NEPSAC program is no walk in the park, either. “For me, the ability to work with players in this age group and at this stage of their development is one I feel called to,” Finberg said. “It allows me the opportunity to mentor them in a much more holistic fashion rather than just being their coach. “It’s helping them grow as individuals and make the most out of their passion for the game. It’s by teaching them and ingraining the values and lessons that carry from the field into all areas of their lives. That’s not necessarily as easy to do as player’s get older or enter a different environment where they’re not living on a boarding school campus.” Those pillars continue into 2020, even if midfielder Joshua Bolma (Maryland commit), forward Jai Bean (Duke commit) and defender Mohammed Seidu – three prominent seniors from last year’s team – can’t formally defend their NEPSAC title. They have ample experience, as do those like goalkeeper Blake Franzen (Liberty commit) and midfielders Eujin Chae (Middlebury commit) and Sean Mulvihill (Air Force commit). Finberg said it would’ve been nice to vie for more trophies, but he feels their program extends beyond chasing silverware on a NEPSAC championship Sunday in mid-November. “At the end of the day, you don’t play for those things,” Finberg said. “They’re a byproduct of what you’re able to do on the field and the way you perform. We try to focus on the process rather than the result. If we’re taking it one day at a time and living to those core values and getting better, giving our best and doing it in a way we know is right, then we’re going to have a successful year anyways.” It’s a measured tone from a coach who feasibly could hit 350 career wins in a few years, and eventually 300 total at just South Kent. He’s itching to get back out there, but also knows some things are bigger than soccer. “For me, as a competitor and coach, the wins and championships are important, but I coach for what I view are much more important reasons,” Finberg said. “That’s the development of young men, the relationships and the experiences, both in their careers and lives as they move on from South Kent. That’s by far the most rewarding part of the job.”
Jonathan Sigal is the Director of Content for New England Soccer Journal, overseeing all print and digital efforts. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ JonathanSigal.
THRIFT ~ HONESTY ~ PRIDE
38 | NEPSAC News | Fall 2020
COACH SPOTLIGHT GREENS FARMS ACADEMY | WESTPORT, CONNECTICUT
Former GFA girls soccer coach Freya Coombe rises to the professional ranks
he road to the top is filled with many twists and turns — and even a few stops. For Freya Coombe, the first-year head coach of the Sky Blue Football Club in the National Women’s Soccer League, one of those stops just happened to be at Greens Farms Academy. Coombe was the GFA girls varsity soccer coach in 2017. She admits she wishes she had a longer run as the Dragons leader on the pitch, but destiny sent her down a different path. “I really enjoyed my time at GFA and I was really sad to leave,” Coombe said after a recent Sky Blue practice. “I just couldn’t do the job I needed to do splitting my time between my job in New York and GFA. But I loved having that opportunity.” Coombe arrived at GFA while working at the Connecticutbased Everton America Football Club. She joined the staff of the New York Football Club, and while that move took her away from GFA, it provided a springboard to the future. While working to better herself as a coach, Coombe visited the Sky Blue Football Club to watch a practice. “They had just fired their coaching staff and were a bit shorthanded,” Coombe said. “I ended up making a few pointers and helping out with something and they reached out and asked me to help coach another session.” Within days of her trip to “observe” a practice, Coombe found herself on a plane to Portland, Oregon to help coach the Sky Blue in their match against the Portland Thorns. “It was crazy,” Coombe said. “I came in to observe and by Saturday, I’m coaching in front of 19,000 people. It’s a bit of a difference. It was incredible to be in that atmosphere.” Coombe had to return to her job in New York, though and left the Sky Blue for the real world again. “I had to go back for our summer camps and help five-yearolds go to the bathroom,” she said jokingly. Until her new world came calling again. The Sky Blue general manager called Coombe and asked her to return to the organization, based out Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Soon after, Coombe was named head coach. “We are thrilled to continue the work we began with Freya this past season as this club continues to progress and push forward,” Sky Blue General Manager Alyse LaHue said in a press release after Coombe was named coach. “She is the embodiment of the culture we’re striving to develop, and I’m excited to have her back as we build a new future for Sky Blue.” Three years ago, Coombe was coaching this year’s GFA seniors when they were freshmen. Sofia Segalla, a senior co-captain for the Dragons, actually started playing for Coombe when she was ten-years-old with Everton, soon after the coach arrived in the United States from her native England.
“I feel like I kind of went up the ranks with her,” said Segalla, noting that she and Coombe also arrived at GFA the same fall. “And to know she’s coaching some of the best soccer players in the world is pretty crazy. She’s always been a huge inspiration for me, not just as a coach.” Annika White, a senior co-captain credits Coombe with reigniting her love for soccer. “This sounds kind of sappy, but she’s the coach who made me fall back in love with the game,” White said. “I was going to quit before I had her, and she really built my confidence back up.” Now, she’s coaching Team USA soccer legends like Carly Lloyd and Mallory Pugh, amongst many other top female players in the country. “It’s pretty crazy to be telling (Carli Lloyd) what to do,” Coombe said with a laugh. “But really you’re not telling them what to do. It’s more of a co-op work environment. They get to have a lot of input in it. But the level of detail and speed of the game is so much faster and the complexity of the tactics is a lot, but it’s really fun. Coombe, who also had coached high school soccer at Wilton, had often seen herself maybe someday becoming a college coach. The professional game was never a goal for her, at least not until she got closer to it. “It’s been crazy, to be fair,” Coombe admitted. “It was really unexpected to come here. It happened in just a couple of weeks and that’s not everybody’s story. I was fortunate and it was all about timing.” Everybody has a unique road — and a unique story — to get to the top. Freya Coombe’s just happened to include a special year here at GFA. And the Dragons have never forgotten her.
NEPSAC News | Fall 2020 | 39
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40 | NEPSAC News | Fall 2020
FACILITY SPOTLIGHT THE WILLIAMS SCHOOL | NEW LONDON, CONNECTICUT
New Turf Field Provides Push Forward for The Williams School’s Athletic Program by Rachel Hutchins, Communications Associate
reating a renewed sense of commitment to the athletic program at The Williams School, the new state-of-theart turf field at Williams’ Athletic Complex provides a superior playing experience for their scholar athletes, and auxiliary improvements like new seating provide a more comfortable experience for parents and fans. As an independent college preparatory day school with a current enrollment of 210 students, Williams has a tight-knit community where students are encouraged to pursue their passions. Guided by core values of Scholarship, Character, and Community, Williams is committed to providing Academic Excellence in a new era by offering athletic opportunities to scholar-athletes through the COVID-19 pandemic. As many leagues have suspended play, Williams has held intrasquad practices for its fall sports teams, soccer and cross country. Without the impending pressure of competition, students new to a sport are developing their talents while more competitive athletes are gaining appropriate training. Williams chose a combination of local and national contractors and providers to complete the turf project. Whiting Turner, of Baltimore, Maryland, led the project installing a Field Turf brand playing surface, the same used at Gillette Stadium by the New England Patriots. A Williams parent and trustee, Dwayne Xenelis, and his construction firm Xenelis Inc. provided the exceptional work of clearing trees and building a terraced
stone seating area. The combination of dedicated professionals and trusted experts created an accelerated construction process to open the field this fall. Williams’ Athletic Complex is located less than five minutes from the School’s main campus located at Connecticut College. Other accommodations and facilities at the 40-acre complex include many miles of running trails, an outdoor classroom/ pavilion, and two additional grass fields for soccer or lacrosse. Williams is excited to welcome new partnerships with Shoreline Sharks Lacrosse and Southeast Soccer Club to provide dedicated players use of the new turf field and the Complex for practices, tournaments, and tryouts. “Connecting with and providing a service to local sports organizations is important to the mission of our school,” states Williams Athletic Director Kevin Steuer, “We look forward to building more partnerships as we move forward.”. “I believe wholeheartedly that athletics are a key component in enriching students’ experiences. During my six years at Williams, participating in athletics was an incredible opportunity for me to learn, build camaraderie, and connect with my community,” says Amy Loiaconon van der Velde ’85, trustee and Turf Campaign Chair, “The time I spent in a Williams athletic uniform was just as impactful as the time I spent in a Williams classroom. There is no doubt in my mind that a new state of the art Turf Field will enhance the Williams experience and will contribute greatly to the success of the School moving forward.”
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42 | NEPSAC News | Fall 2020
NEPSAC News | Fall 2020 | 43
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