Red & Black Fall 2020

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LETTER FROM THE EDITORS When we started the Red & Black, I knew we’d be able to put out one magazine, maybe two. Then myself and Jake Sauberman, our other founding editor-in-chief, would be too busy with classes, co-ops, getting ready to graduate and all that other real world stuff that would pull us away from games at Matthews Arena and all-night production meetings wherever there was a free classroom, and there’d be no future and no one to succeed either of us or the group of our friends that we forced to do this with us. Now, I’m only afraid because the people who are here to keep this going are even more talented, dedicated, and persevering than us. We found Adam at a meeting for a different club, before the Red & Black was anything besides an idea we came up with in the middle of the night on the couch in the lobby of Stetson East. I don’t know what he really thought of our idea, but when I – a total stranger – messaged him and invited him to get in on the project, he said yes. Now, he’s one of my closest friends and an incredibly capable editor-in-chief, who has led this magazine through a staff overhaul, a total revamp of our creative process, and set us up for success for so many years to come—all in the middle of a pandemic. I’m writing this letter because I have to say goodbye somehow, but this issue is all him, and I can’t wait for you all to hear from him in the future.

Madison Neuner, our incoming editor in chief, joined us as a freshman last year. She was a little unsure of how she wanted to help out, but she dove headfirst into everything, writing stories, proposing amazing ideas, working with studentathletes to help them tell their own stories, and taking photos. Her dedication and drive to get better inspires me and I know that this magazine is in amazing hands with her helping to run the show. There’s so many others that have helped turn the Red & Black into what it is – which is way more than the magazine we set out to create three years ago. Now, we have a major social media presence, videos, a podcast, and we’ve been on NESN. It’s a dream, and I owe it all to the other people in this organization. None of this would be possible without any member of this staff, past present and future. This was supposed to be a goodbye to the project and the people that made my 4.5 years at Northeastern worth it, but I’m not sad about leaving. I’m so excited to watch Northeastern Athletics and the Red & Black continue to succeed, even if it’s from the hard plastic chairs at Matthews and not the press box, and from the alumni mailing list and not the pages of this magazine. Go Huskies, Jenna Ciccotelli

STAFF EDITORS IN CHIEF

STUDENT-ATHLETE LIAISON

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

JENNA CICCOTELLI, ADAM GOSTOMELSKY

MADISON NEUNER

PHOTO DIRECTOR

WEB EDITOR

CHRISTIAN GOMEZ

BRIAN SHIM

DESIGN DIRECTOR

SOCIAL MEDIA TEAM

COURTNEY LAPOINTE

JUSTIN CHEN, ERIN SAVAGE

PODCAST DIRECTOR

DESIGN TEAM

JOSH CHASKES, ROHAN CHATURVEDI, JUSTIN CHEN, SARA COREY, ADAM DOUCETTE, NOAH FERNANDES, BECCA GADDY, OLIVIA GOLDENBERG, CHRISTIAN GOMEZ, KHAILAH N-R GRIFFIN, ADAMA KABA, ELIZABETH KLEMM, MATT LEVIN, HUY NGUYEN, LUKE NOVAK, SARAH OLENDER, SAMMI PAK, NICOLE READING, MICHAEL RUBERTO, BRIAN SHIM

STACH JARAN

NINA ELLERY, SAM KLEIN, JOEY SOLA-SOLE, COURTNEY LAPOINTE

VIDEO DIRECTOR TYLER DOLPH

SOCIAL MEDIA EDITOR ERIN SAVAGE

PODCAST TEAM JOSH CHASKES, ROHAN CHATURVEDI, ADAM DOUCETTE, STACH JARAN, AUDREY LEE, HUY NGUYEN, SARAH OLENDER, NICOLE READING

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS TYLER DOLPH, CHRISITAN GOMEZ, REINE LEDERER, MADISON NEUNER, SARAH OLENDER, SARAH SCHLESINGER

FACULTY ADVISOR CHUCK FOUNTAIN

THE HOWL PODCAST The Red & Black would like to thank Northeastern Athletics for their support.

FIND US @NUREDANDBLACK NUREDANDBLACK.COM NUREDANDBLACK@GMAIL.COM

APPLE PODCASTS

SPOTIFY


TABLE OF CONTENTS 02

A FONTAINE FABLE

04

HOW WE HELPED

06

ALL IN THE NUMBERS

08

THE NEXT LEVEL

10

MY STORY MATTERS COLLECTION

16

THE CHANGE WE SEEK

20

THANK YOU, JANET

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REMEMBERING REGGIE

Meet the brother-sister hockey duo leaving their mark in Matthews: Skylar and Gunnar Fontaine.

The huskies who answered the call for help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is power and history within a number, so how do some of our athletes choose theirs?

First season success launches Northeastern Esports into a new era.

Four athletes. Four stories. On identities, perspectives, and experiences.

Athletes and administration respond to the racial justice movement.

A profile on Janet Swanson, a legend of Northeastern Athletics.

A look back at one of Northeastern’s greatest athletes ever, whose life was tragically cut short.

24

THE BODY IN THE MIRROR

26

THE SWISS ARMY KNIVES

30

TIME ON THEIR HANDS

32

DIY PROJECT QUARANTINE

34

THE SIX-YEAR PLAN

36

THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS

40

LIFE IN THE BUBBLE

42

THE HIDDEN ATHLETES AMONG US

Rowing’s Olivia Goldenberg’s personal story on her experience as an athlete with an eating disorder.

Although there is little recognition, student managers are vital to their team’s successes.

Several student-athletes learn new hobbies to cope with their newfound downtime.

No gyms? No problem. Several student-athletes get creative in building their own training environments.

A profile on baseball’s Kyle Murphy’s six-year Northeastern journey.

What makes a great locker room according to Northeastern coaches and student-athletes.

A look inside the NHL bubble from the perspective of Northeastern alumni.

With no sports, the Northeastern Reddit community creates their own — campus speedruns.

PHOTO BY REINE LEDERER FRONT COVER PHOTOS BY TYLER DOLPH BACK COVER PHOTOS BY SARAH OLENDER AND NEWS AT NORTHEASTERN


A FONTAINE FABLE BY NICOLE READING

Meet the brother-sister hockey duo leaving their mark in Matthews: Skylar and Gunnar Fontaine.

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ragged net between the pipes and an overturned bucket of pucks close by is the backyard scene most hockey players would describe as the lasting image of their childhood. For women’s hockey senior defenseman Skylar and men’s hockey freshman forward Gunnarwolfe “Gunnar” Fontaine, it was no different, and served as the source of some of their best memories growing up in Rhode Island. “We were always outside shooting pucks,” Gunnar said. The bond that was created has endured long after the days of youth hockey ended, and as Gunnar put it: “No matter how far apart we were we always had each other.” Serving as each other’s source of motivation ever since they could hold a stick, competition has become synonymous with the sibling duo. On and off the ice, the pair always had each other to strive for. “We had a little chart in our dining room to keep track of how many goals we all had, and every time we came back from a game, if you scored a goal you always had to add a sticker under your name,” Gunnar said. As Skylar laughed at the distant memory, she added, “We were competitive because we wanted to make each other better, and we knew that pushing one another would get us each to where we wanted to be in our hockey careers,” she said. “I honestly don’t think I would be as good of a hockey player or where I am today without my siblings always pushing me.” The family’s eldest sister, Alex Tancrell-Fontaine, played hockey at Union College and set the stage for her two younger siblings to follow in her footsteps. “We were always at the rink watching Alex,” Skylar said. Gunnar added, “It was inevitable that Sky and I were going to pick up a stick and give it a shot.” Skylar and Gunnar’s mom, Deb, raised her kids to compete. Through a childhood that for most elite skaters is riddled with sacrifice and adversity, having ambitious hockey dreams is no easy road. The Fontaine siblings were no exception to this. Referencing their hard work and willpower in trying times, Deb recalled, “I always told them to work harder than everyone else and leave their heart out on the ice.” Both Gunnar and Skylar followed their mom’s advice precisely. The two have battled their way through scoring droughts, quick judgements from scouts, and hard times, to one of the most renowned hockey institutions in the country. Mom would always tell them, “You might not be the best or the biggest one on the ice, but you can have the biggest heart.” And they have shown just that. The two embraced a style of play that exudes an eternal love for the game and a never-

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MEN’S & WOMEN’S HOCKEY

ending competitive drive to win, which is now going to be on full display every time the puck drops at Matthews Arena. Skylar has built an incredible reputation as a star defenseman here at Northeastern. The name Fontaine continues to echo throughout Matthews Arena as part of her relentless campaign that has helped the women’s team to three Hockey East championships, three NCAA Tournament


appearances, and a Beanpot Championship. And her time as a Husky isn’t over yet. Can the new Fontaine in town live up to his older sister’s legendary presence? Although Mom would’ve “loved to see them both in number 22,” Gunnarwolfe dons the number 11 jersey, half

“The guys will tease me, ‘Don’t let her have more points than you,’ and even Coach Madigan chimes in every once in a while, saying, ‘You know Skylar is an All-American here,’” Gunnar said with a smirk. Deb even jokingly noted the banter during both Skylar and Gunnar’s recruitment process, saying, “Everyone would joke

“NO MATTER HOW FAR APART WE WERE WE ALWAYS HAD EACH OTHER.” that of his sister’s number 22, for the men’s team. Time will tell what the Fontaine legacy consists of at Northeastern, but for now the fun is just beginning. The sibling competition is in full swing. If anything, it’s reached a new level as it is no longer just a family affair, but has permeated the men’s and women’s locker rooms as well as the two coaching staffs.

TOP LEFT PHOTO BY SARAH OLENDER OTHER PHOTOS COURTESY OF NORTHEASTERN ATHLETICS

in conversations, ‘You take Skylar, you’re gonna have to take Gunnar.’” But it’s all in good fun, and quite frankly, the siblings are just happy to be in the same zip code as each other for more than a two-week window. Skylar graduated from East Greenwich High School in 2017, a standout on the boy’s hockey team, and ever since then she has been here in Boston playing for the Huskies. Gunnar left home in the same year for Lawrence Academy, a prep school in Massachusetts, where he was both a hockey and lacrosse star. In 2018, he then proceeded to join the USHL, the top junior ice hockey league in the U.S., playing for the Chicago Steel. Aside from the occasional holiday, the two have not been geographically close for over three years. “I am so so excited to have G here,” Skylar said, dropping a loving nickname, “Because I haven’t gotten to see him play in so so long, with us both on our different paths.” The Fontaines call hockey a “family affair,” and for both Skylar and Gunnar, family always comes first. “Growing up, I looked up to both of my sisters as they went Division I before me; it was really inspiring,” Gunnar said. “Sky is a passionate leader who cares about her teammates on and off the ice. She wants to be the person everyone is looking to. I know I have looked up to her my whole life.” The pair mess with one another and laugh when the other fumbles a word as all siblings would, but when it comes down to it, they are each other’s number one fans. Skylar raves about her little brother as, “An incredible hockey player with speed, skill, and knowledge. ... He wants to be the best.” Gunnar was caught blushing at this statement. Despite the strict guidelines and inevitably weird season on the horizon, the pair is here to leave their mark. With an NHL draft selection for Gunnar, and the possibility of this being Skylar’s last go in a Northeastern sweater, the two are armed with a certain focus and swagger. The Fontaines are ready to have some fun! Men’s hockey head coach Jim Madigan put it best when speaking for Northeastern Hockey as a whole: “We are all just ready to get out and compete,” he said. “This year especially, with last season being abruptly cut short, there is a special drive to get things going.” As for the new brother-sister Husky hockey duo, they are itching for that puck to drop. Two teams. One mission. Two jerseys. One name. Fontaine. THE RED & BLACK 03


HOW WE HELPED BY BECCA GADDY

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic several current and former huskies answer the call to help their communities.

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hen the coronavirus pandemic began to grow at a concerning rate in March, Northeastern University announced that they were sending all students home and the rest of the semester would continue virtually. Students were forced to quickly pack up and leave the rest of the spring semester behind. While many students were forced to adjust to remote classes and work, Lilli Patterson (pictured below middle), junior nursing major and field hockey midfielder, did the exact opposite. During the Spring 2020 semester, Patterson was on co-op as an emergency service assistant at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. When the pandemic hit, she soon realized that she was about to have an entirely different co-op experience than expected.

“Our nurse director strongly encouraged that all of the co-ops stay on because they definitely needed help and working during this pandemic would be a very good experience for us,” Patterson said. “All of us decided to continue our co-ops and it became a group effort.” Patterson was one of the many Northeastern student-athletes and alumni that dedicated their time to help during the pandemic. Only two days after Northeastern sent students home, Hannah Rosenblatt, women’s soccer volunteer assistant coach and former player, decided to create a mask making initiative that started out with just her and her siblings but gained enormous attention overnight. “My dad is a trauma surgeon, and he

PHOTO COURTESY OF LILLI PATTERSON

FALL 2020

PHOTOS COURTESY OF HANNAH ROSENBLATT

HOW WE HELPED

came home from work and was like, ‘We need masks,’ Rosenblatt said. “I kind of thought he was joking, but then he told us to get online and find people to sew us some masks.” Rosenblatt and her siblings decided to reach out to people on a variety of social media platforms and share a Google form for anyone who was interested. Within three hours, they had hundreds of emails and they suddenly realized how big this was going to be. After 12 hours, they had over 3,000 responses. Making masks became a trend during the pandemic and Glen Giovanucci, former men’s hockey captain and assistant coach, utilized his company’s resources in hope that they could produce and distribute masks as they were becoming scarce. As CEO, Giovanucci made the decision to transform his company, G-Form, a protective gear distributor for sports, athletes, outdoor enthusiasts and military/tactical personnel into a producer of masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for first responders and hospital staff. “We had to figure out how to get these resources out to nurses, doctors, and first responders,” Giovanucci said. For Giovanucci, while the company’s new business was originally established for economic reasons, it became clear that the emotional components were more important. “The process of producing and distributing PPE material definitely had emotional components because these


HANNAH ROSENBLATT MADE OVER 5,000 MASKS IN TOTAL.

people didn’t have enough resources. They had blisters on their faces from working all night and day so we had to figure out a way to support them,” Giovanucci said. Through the transformation of G-Form, Giovanucci was able to successfully find a way to provide

G-FORM HAS MADE OVER ONE MILLION FACE SHIELDS. adequate resources for those working on the frontline. “I definitely feel that we were able to help because resources like face shields and masks were becoming scarce,” he said. Similarly to Giovanucci, Rosenblatt’s goal was to fill the immediate need for masks. They soon realized how many places were desperate for masks. “Whether it was hospitals, homeless shelters, or even grocery stores, people were desperate to stay safe and we were able to provide this safety net,” Rosenblatt said. As weeks passed and the coronavirus continued to spread at an alarmingly fast pace, people quickly began to understand that it wasn’t going away anytime soon. As the atmosphere of the country grew darker, the willingness of communities and people to come together to help and support others served as a ray of positivity. “Nobody knew the coronavirus was going to be this big, and it has had a

really horrible effect on every aspect of life,” Rosenblatt said. “However, one positive that came out of it is the appreciation that people have for healthcare workers.” For Patterson, the entire experience of working at Brigham and Women’s had an immense effect on her, but the interactions with patients and families were the most influential. “In the beginning, we would be working in the front where they swabbed everyone and we would have to watch family members drop off the patient and instantly say goodbye,” Patterson said. “During small talk, it became even harder because sometimes the patients were so upset they were in tears.” Although Brigham and Women’s is located in Boston, Patterson would meet patients from all over New England. “It’s crazy to think so many people are coming from so far away and they have to spend the most stressful time of their life completely alone,” Patterson said. For Patterson and her coworkers, the key to helping their patients was staying positive, especially during a time with so much uncertainty. “That’s the most you can do. If they know that you’re stressed, then that’s not going to make them feel any better,” Patterson said. Even as a co-op, Patterson was able to experience how healthcare workers have gone above and beyond during this difficult time. Regardless if they are aware of it

or not, Patterson, Rosenblatt and Giovanucci’s participation in the pandemic intertwine with each other. The efforts of these Northeastern athletes, whether it was making masks, producing and distributing resources, or working on the front lines, each had a similar goal to help struggling communities during an uncertain time. However, they began to understand that it wasn’t just a co-op or about making masks. Instead, it became a way to rally around the variety of people whose lives were turned upside down due to the virus. “I continue to feel frustration because you have so many people who aren’t obeying the rules, social distancing or wearing a mask. It’s honestly so aggravating because of everything that healthcare workers have done and how people have put their lives on the line. Time has almost stopped because everyone’s life has been turned upside down and you still have people who refuse to take the virus seriously,” Patterson said. While the virus itself has been a main concern, the people who have dedicated their time to fight it are just as important. Rosenblatt and Giovanucci realized this and their contributions aided the efforts of frontline workers like Patterson. “The hospital workers were treating people who were helpless,” Rosenblatt said, “but at the same time they [themselves] were helpless because they didn’t have the resources to be safe.” THE RED & BLACK 05


ALL IN THE NUMBERS BY JOSH CHASKES PHOTO BY TYLER DOPLH

FALL 2020

There is power and history within a number, so how do some of our athletes choose theirs?

ALL IN THE NUMBERS


C

hicago Bulls, number 23. New England Patriots, number 12. FC Barcelona, number 10. They are so much more than shirts with numbers on the back. They evoke images of not just jerseys but people, places, and iconic moments that many sports fans will never forget. That’s the power of a number. It can define an athlete throughout their entire career, and possibly even after retirement. However, the reasons behind the jersey numbers we see vary. In soccer, the numbers have positional significance. A playmaking winger or midfielder fulfills the number ten role while a clinical, goal scoring striker might be described as a true number nine. Northeastern men’s

SYDNEY RUSNOCK

UPPER RIGHT PHOTO COURTESY OF NORTHEASTERN ATHLETICS

soccer’s number nine and last season’s leading scorer, redshirt sophomore Timothy Ennin, believes he fits the bill, while adding some other attributes. “I guess I have a mix of the number nine role, with holding up and making runs in behind, and then taking guys 1-v-1 on the wing,” Ennin said, “so it makes up both those roles, nine and then seven or eleven.” Some players stick with the same jersey number all their lives, but Ennin only received the number nine upon coming to Northeastern. He doesn’t have a personal connection to it, but it can still be a motivating factor. “I guess it comes with a purpose,” he said, “Knowing that I have that number on the back, I get the drive to keep getting better… I’ve got to keep improving to help the team out.” Senior defender and teammate Adama Kaba doesn’t represent the position his number eight jersey normally stands for, generally that of an industrious box-to-box midfielder. He now plays as a right back, usually

represented by the number two, and while he may have the skillset to play the number eight role, he’s happy with his current position. “I wasn’t scoring as much in college so coming back to defense was a new position for me,” he said, “but I think it was good because of what I have in terms of my abilities.” Kaba knows that jersey number and position, while they can overlap, don’t need to be joined at the hip as they may have been half a century ago. Sometimes, what leads a player to a number might be just a cosmic coincidence. Freshman field hockey goalkeeper Sydney Rusnock has worn the number seven throughout her life, as it seems to be inexplicably tied to her. “Since I was born that was always kind of a lucky number for me.” Rusnock said.

“I WAS BORN ON JANUARY 7th, IN ROOM 7, AT 7:07, AND I WAS 7 POUNDS 7 OUNCES,” Fittingly, she’s had the number since 7th grade, as that was the age when teams started allowing their players to pick numbers. The number became a kind of on-field identity for her, and she still has her high school number seven jersey. However, when coming to Northeastern, the number wasn’t available. How did Rusnock respond? She decided to wear it twice. “2 to about 30 are reserved for the field players, so… 7 was actually available, but one of the other freshmen in my class who’s a field player got that number,” Rusnock said, “I was like, ‘Ok then, why not just be 77?’” And so the story continues. Most sports are team-oriented, but numbers help athletes carve out and retain their own identity within a team. They’re a small form of self-expression within the universal team uniform. By making a number their own, athletes can both blend in and set themselves apart, and possibly even become legends, adding their own jersey to all the iconic ones that came before. THE RED & BLACK 07


THE NEXT LEVEL BY BRIAN SHIM

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Following outstanding success in its inaugural varsity campaign, Northeastern Esports prepares to join the Esports Collegiate.

s a club team, Northeastern Esports had spent years making its mark as the top esports competitor in the Northeast, besting regional rivals in local club tournaments and bringing laurels home to Huntington Avenue across almost all of its titles. In its inaugural campaign as the first Division I varsity esports program in New England, the Esports teams made a strong statement at the national level, with each of the four active Division I teams – Hearthstone, League of Legends, Overwatch, and Rocket League – boasting season-long win percentages greater than .600. And in 2021, the newly minted varsity team will take another groundbreaking step towards solidifying the Huskies as a household name in competitive gaming after being unanimously approved to become the first official non-founding member of the Esports Collegiate Conference (ESC). ESC – an independent esports initiative created earlier this year by the 12 institutional members of the Mid-American Conference – provides vital infrastructure in the developing collegiate esports scene, aligning Northeastern with elite institutions across the nation. Through ESC, Northeastern will compete for conference championships in each title, with

FALL 2020

ESPORTS

the potential of winning automatic berths to prestigious national tournaments. “Joining a conference like this is a huge forestep for Northeastern Esports. It creates more structure, competitive scheduling, relationships with pinnacle esports institutions,” Nick Avery, Associate Director of Esports said. “Initiatives like ESC are going to be what progress esports and allow it to continue molding into a more traditional and legitimate athletics model.” Aside from bringing forward a grounding framework, Northeastern’s collaboration with ESC will also serve an important role in developing the business behind the infant program. “The continued brand exposure will be critical in growing our name. Sponsorship, corporate collaborations, investment into the program – these are all administrative aspects that we need to keep on the forefront of our minds when deciding where to steer our program,” Esports Coordinator Tyler Levesque said. As the esports program continues to grow, Avery and Levesque both hope to see sweeping developments in the future. “We’re gonna be focusing on national trends within the industry, conference trends, and looking at

how we keep engagement growing,” Avery said. “In the long run, we really want to be thinking about how we can bring Northeastern Esports to the big stage and host events and championship games at Matthews Arena.” Indeed, the leaps that the program has made in recent history have put Northeastern University on the map as a consistent threat in the collegiate esports arena. In 2017, after advancing through qualifying rounds in the Eastern Conference of the inaugural Collegiate Rocket League (CRL)


PHOTO COURTESY OF NORTHEASTERN ATHLETICS

Multiplayer online battle arena game where players strategize using over 140 different champions.

31-17 (.646) 27-14 (.659)

Team-based hybrid of arcade style soccer and remote control car driving.

13-5 (.722)

Turn-based card game between two opponents, where selected heroes use unique powers.

NU Record

Complex team-based shooter where players select from a roster of heroes each with distinctive abilities.

20-6 (.769)

campaign hosted by Psyonix and Tespa, the competitive club Rocket League roster swept their conference opponents in the regular season with an undefeated 7-0 record, before besting Ohio State in the grand finals. Beyond CRL, the Rocket League team has been on the ground semester after semester working to legitimize the Huskies as a competitive threat in collegiate esports. “We’ve played in anything and everything, really. Anything that we can get ourselves into, we’ve pushed to compete and perform the best

that we can. And after being a part of all of that, there really aren’t any schools in the region that stand out to us as rivals,” Rocket League junior Ollie Regan said. However, Rocket League isn’t the only team that has experienced success before achieving varsity status, with the talent behind the League of Legends team also helping to secure Northeastern’s throne as the premier competitor in New England. “Prior to coming to ESC, we’ve been primarily involved in the League of Legends East Conference held by Riot Games for collegiate competitors,” Jack Weng, League of Legends senior and Top Laner, said. “We’ve also competed in local and regional tournaments that feature top teams from Massachusetts and the Northeast.” According to junior Mid Laner Jon Gold, it became clear very quickly through these tournaments that the Huskies’ competitive hunger would not be satisfied through the local stage. “We’ve shown in the last year that we kind of outclass everyone else that we’ve competed against in the Northeast – it’s been pretty easy stuff.” Weng wholeheartedly agreed: “After playing in everything, we can definitely say that we’re the best here in the Northeast. And, ever since we started competing with

ESC, we’ve come up on top of all the other teams in the conference. We’ve basically been running the tables.” A lot of this progress comes from the hard work of dedicated coaching staff, who work week in and week out to maintain consistent scheduling, targeted practice, and Video on Demand reviews to keep the chains moving. “Between matches and practice, we spend a good deal of time each week on actual gameplay, and we try to review as much key film as possible between matches to objectively analyze where we need to improve,” Christopher Bravo, League of Legends head coach, explained. “We use a kind of rinseand-repeat process – play, study, repeat – to build up and accumulate improvements day by day.” Despite a history of national success and outstanding marks in its inaugural varsity venture, many within the program believe they are just scratching the surface of their potential. “We’re just a program in our infancy, really,” Gold said. “As the school starts to get more involved, our level of activity increases, and we hammer out more structure and scheduling, I 100 percent believe that Northeastern will become a huge household name in competitive gaming nationwide, and inspire other schools to follow our lead onto the esports stage.” THE RED & BLACK 09


MIDDLE LEFT PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN GOMEZ, OTHER PHOTOS COURTESY OF NORTHEASTERN ATHLETICS


THE RED & BLACK PARTNERED WITH FOUR NORTHEASTERN STUDENT-ATHLETES TO HELP TELL THE STORIES OF THEIR IDENTITIES, PERSPECTIVES, AND EXPERIENCES. EACH STORY IS A DEEPLY PERSONAL ACCOUNT WRITTEN BY THE ATHLETE THEMSELVES.


ON THE PATH TO ALLAH PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN GOMEZ BY ADAMA KABA

Adama Kaba’s spiritual journey.

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n the summer of 2018, I chose to convert to Islam. While this thought of converting had been on my mind since high school, as I had always felt a connection with Islam with my Dad’s side of the family all practicing Islam, I never had the discipline and courage to actually pursue the religion myself. I also went to a Roman Catholic high school at St. Sebastian’s. While I enjoyed being a student there, I always felt spiritually disconnected. Islam was the part of my identity that I had been neglecting for a long time, and after arriving at Northeastern, with more freedom in college, I could finally take the religion more seriously. Converting from Roman Catholicism to Islam gave me more of a connection with God than I had ever had before. Conversion to Islam, however, was not easy, with so many difficult stereotypes and labels that suddenly became attached to me. It made me feel awkward telling people I was Muslim, because I knew it made them feel a certain way. Shocked. Nervousness. A general uncomfortability with the religion. Even prayer, what was once so easy, had become so difficult. It was very awkward to pray, and I had to summon up large amounts of courage to pray in front of people like my new teammates or even my own mother, who is still a practicing Roman Catholic. Not only was it awkward, but it was hard. I had to pray five times a day. There were awkward times for prayer, with some as early as 3am – “Fajr” – and others as late as 10pm – “Isha.” And I was praying in Arabic – a completely foreign language to me. With all these new rituals and practices I had to learn, I

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THE MY STORY MATTERS COLLECTION

could not just learn by myself, but I needed other sources of knowledge and perspectives to better my insight within Islam. While religion is often a journey of self-discovery, my former teammates Moustapha and Aiman helped immensely in my transition. I would ask questions, we would read the Quran together, and we would frequently go to the Mosque together. I was nervous because I did not want to let them down. Moustapha and Aiman helped in terms of shaping my ideas and the core principles of Islam, but it was ultimately up to myself to take ownership. A very important principle they taught me was that in anything, you will never be perfect, but your goal is to try and learn from your mistakes and increase your knowledge within the religion. The more I learned from them and on my own, the closer we got together. Friends later turned into brothers that I could ask anything about because of the new religious connection we had developed. As I got more comfortable expressing myself as an African American Muslim, I started to truly identify with a religion that I could be very proud of what I prayed and believed in. Islam gave me an identity I could be comfortable with, opening up new levels of friendships I never thought I’d have before. Moustapha and Aiman ultimately helped strengthened my identity as a Muslim and our relationship. Even though I am always learning daily, I am proud of what I have accomplished transitioning to Islam. And, just like Moustapha and Aiman, I am proud of being an African American Muslim looking to encourage my fellow Muslim athlete brothers and sisters to be proud of their religion.


RUNNING OUT IN THE OPEN

BY LUKE NOVAK

Luke Novak’s story of coming out and paying it forward.

PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN GOMEZ

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ntering my sophomore year of college, I had things figured out. I was coming off a year of personal bests on the track and was poised to make my way into the seven-man cross country “A” team. On top of my on-track accomplishments I had finally made friends, and if I was lucky enough I might even find myself a girlfriend. A semester later, I found myself sidelined by injury and dating my best friend – another man. There’s never a good time to have a “gay crisis” but dealing with an upheaval of my personal identity meant fighting a two-front war for my sanity. My concerns around this new revelation were not totally unfounded. Historically, the culture of athletics has not taken kindly to men who don’t fit the traditional mold of masculinity. “Locker room talk” can be peppered with homophobic slurs and jokes. That cultural archetype held especially true at my high school, and its presence in sports makes it difficult for queer people to be honest with teammates and competitors about their identities. In the moment, I felt like someone discovering my sexuality would endanger the close relationship between me and my teammates. Fortunately I was not alone at Northeastern as I might have been elsewhere. I had teammates who were also queer, and their presence was vital to my success in growing comfortable with my identity. I interacted with them and took note of how my other teammates treated their

identities. In doing so I learned that my fears had been totally unfounded - nobody was going to change anything upon learning that I wasn’t straight. As I learned, I relinquished my fears of not being accepted. A year and a half later I was comfortably out to my friends and teammates, in the middle of a hard summer of training gearing up for my senior year cross country season. Since my sophomore year, all my LBGTQ+ teammates graduated, leaving me the sole representative on the team. After reflecting for a while on that fact, I determined it was important for me to be visibly queer as an athlete, just like my teammates in years prior. If someone else like me joined the team, my presence would be as important as my teammates’ were to me. Being “visible” doesn’t require a big gesture. Sometimes it can be as simple as racing in a pair of socks adorned with the LGBTQ+ pride flag - how I chose to express my identity publicly. Gestures like mine are small, but having come to terms with my identity, I know that even small gestures matter a lot to other runners that might be uncertain about how the running community will perceive them. Even in 2020, gay and bisexual men remain grossly underrepresented groups in sports, and only way that can be solved is by fostering a culture welcoming to LGBTQ+ people at all levels. I had teammates there to help me work to become comfortable being a bisexual athlete. It’s my hope that I can do the same for somebody else, helping to build that culture. THE RED & BLACK 13


THE ROOTS OF CHANGE BY KHAILAH N-R GRIFFIN

Khailah N-R Griffin challenges everyone to help create a better world.

PHOTO BY MADISON NEUNER

“Y

ou realize you only got this because you’re a Black woman?” “You’re pretty, not loud… not like the rest of them.” “That hair is unprofessional.” There’s two sides of the coin. You can either only imagine what this feels like, or this is a realistic world that you live in. Growing up, I saw the world and all the different cultures it has to offer pretty consistently from a young age. Being in an Air Force family I experienced cultures in places as different as Colorado, Georgia, Guam, Virginia, Japan, and more. Seeing the world outside of me and my family instituted a certain level of appreciation for other cultures and their differences, and I was better equipped for the life that would come ahead. This also however shielded me from an ignorant world that I would soon come face to face with and ultimately stand up to. After the tragic racial/social events and justice protests that followed this summer I sat down, reflected, and thought about the behaviors of the people in our society. The questions my younger self thought of when I first faced the realities that those prior utopian expectations didn’t match, came racing through my head. “Why is there inequality and injustice? Why is there so much division and difficulty eradicating it? And most importantly, “what can I do that will actually make a change?” The Black experience – and the Black woman experience even more so – can come with an unfortunate series of various invalid negative stereotypes and challenges, that oftentimes I face without even realizing it. There have been moments where I felt broken, hands tied, and numb to not only the horrific events, but the day to day struggles of people who identify as Black. “You talk like a white person.” ... to think speaking properly equates to whiteness, to insinuate that my skin color would be the sole reason behind any success or accolade and not my actual achievements, to state that being “pretty” and Black is unusual, to call out a person’s natural hair as a sign of unprofessionalism. This is the unacceptable consequence of

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THE MY STORY MATTERS COLLECTION

a society built off the roots of prejudice and racism. To watch a country that espouses “justice for all” desensitize murder on our televisions, social media, and through word of mouth... it angered me, but it also empowered me. The moment I saw a child no older than five years old look at me to mimic the words I spoke as I chanted the names of the innocent lives lost, the moment when I witnessed a family join me in raising their hands to the sky during a protest, I realized two things: the world is watching and I can make a difference. Being a student-athlete has given me a strong support system and platform to use my voice. Several student-athletes and I came together to create the Northeastern University Black Athletic Caucus (NUBAC) with the mission to “represent the voice, while simultaneously bringing exposure to, the Black Athletic Community at Northeastern University.” With NUBAC, we are able to hold our institutions accountable, provide a safe space, and to make things uncomfortable until they are right. We as human beings have to do better and this has to be personal for every single one of us. We need to create a world in which we understand one another and live through the lens of right vs. wrong rather than “political” beliefs. We as a country have to take accountability for and change the roots of racially embedded fabrics that still affect the very systems that are supposed to improve our lives each and every day. Until every single soul personally feels enraged by the agony of injustice, we will have a long way to go. Athletics is one community I utilize to make change but I, like many of you, belong to a multitude of communities/ organizations. In each and every space I make sure my voice is heard whether it be in academia, a professional space, or in my social life. As we continue on the progression for a better tomorrow, I challenge you to look into yourself and be that change in your family, in your circle of friends, and in your institutions. Be empowered to create the world that I grew up envisioning – a blend of all cultures, and having an appreciation for all our differences. We have one life, what’s holding you back from making it anything but extraordinary for yourself, for your community, for all people of the world? Change starts at home, it starts with you, and it surely starts with me.


“W

hat are you?” This is a question I have become so accustomed to hearing. The answer, “half Korean and half white,” has always seemed to be somewhat of an enigma for people. Growing up, other kids often would ask if I was adopted after only seeing my white mother at school functions. It quickly became apparent to me that being multiracial was different and, therefore, confusing. However, despite the stark physical differences separating me from white culture, on the occasions where I am around Koreans, it is clear I don’t quite fit in either – I cannot understand or speak a lick of Korean, and I am no pro with chopsticks. There always seemed to be a glooming sense of disconnection that evolved into a constant struggle to find a balance between being “too white” or “too Asian.” While I didn’t talk about it much, there was always a sense of guilt that accompanied these feelings, as if I was disrespecting my roots. I was trying so hard to condense two vital parts of who I am into a single category, both only able to occupy half. My grandfather once illustrated this while holding a single pencil in his hands. With ease, he snapped the thin yellow stick right in two. Within seconds he picked up four more pencils and assertively pulled down on each end. But they did not get served with the same fate as the one prior – the four pencils would not budge. I tried so hard to minimize each side to fit perfectly, rather than appreciating the two vibrant cultures that have shaped my being. Not only was it okay to hold more than one pencil,

but it’s the only way to live. With the addition of each new one comes the opportunity for more value and strength. I am the granddaughter of two immigrants from South Korea who sacrificed everything so their four children could be granted opportunities in America, but I am also the granddaughter of an Italian-Armenian couple who fell in love on a beach on the Jersey Shore. I am the girl who bows when greeting my Korean relatives, but I am also the girl who kisses each cheek when greeting my Italian relatives. I am the girl who looks forward to the traditional Korean soup every year on Korean New Year’s Day, but I am also the girl who never fails to count down the days until the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. When both sides are combined, I am my whole self. That box labeled “other.” An ethnic anomaly. And that is invaluable. After all, the more pencils you hold, the harder it is to break.

THE BOX LABELED “OTHER” BY SAMMI PAK

Sammi Pak’s story of learning to accept and love all parts of her identity.

PHOTO COURTESY OF NORTHEASTERN ATHLETICS

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PHOTO COURTESY OF KENDALL CURRENCE

PHOTO BY SARAH OLENDER

THE CHANGE WE SEEK BY ADAM DOUCETTE & MICHAEL RUBERTO

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How NU Athletes and Coaches have reacted to the racial justice movement and how it compares to other NCAA institutions.

ortheastern is home to students from over 140 countries around the world, creating a campus where they can meet and learn from people with many different backgrounds and experiences. With the Black Lives Matter movement taking the spotlight this past year and political polarization at an alltime high, it’s becoming increasingly important to be able to learn from and empathize with people from all walks of life. Although there is still room to improve, many athletes, coaches, and administrators are at the forefront of pushing Northeastern forward. Mide Oriyomi, women’s basketball sophomore forward, currently serves as the president of the NU Black Athlete Caucus (NUBAC). As she describes it, “Our goal is just to bring exposure to the Black athletic community at Northeastern. We want to educate. We want to have community building and outreach opportunities and advocate for Black athletes and also create a space for Black athletes to come express their issues.” Despite being a new group, NUBAC has already

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brought about change. The first large initiative the group pushed for was for Northeastern Athletics to suspend all activities on election day in order to make it easier for those involved to vote, as well as to raise awareness for the importance of voting. “That’s what we decided is the most impactful thing to do right now, to make sure everyone’s voting. Not just Black athletes, but all students, all s,” Oriyomi explained. “That’s what we control, but we want all students overall voting because I think right now, that’s the next big step that we need as a nation.” Outside of NUBAC, many athletes at Northeastern are trying to continue the momentum that the Black Lives NCAA DI STUDENTMatter movement brought ATHLETES ARE BLACK about in the spring. One of those athletes is Jordan Harris, men’s hockey junior defenseman and Vice President of Workshop for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).

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“It’s a time where I feel like people have to educate themselves about the different matters at hand,” Harris said. “It’s definitely important for everyone to kind of know this situation, here’s why African American people are so upset, and why Black Lives Matter is such a big deal.” Both Harris and his sophomore teammate, Jayden Struble, are biracial in a sport that is predominantly white. According to a 2018 USA Today report, the NHL is an overwhelming 97% white. “I just think, diversity wise, just having more African American players interacting with a mostly white community, that’d be great for the sport,” Harris said. Both players know there is more work to do, but are grateful for the support they have been shown. “I think we’re pretty lucky in the fact that most of our lives revolve around hockey and being here at the rink. And I know us as a team, we’re all really close,” Harris said. “And the coaches have been super supportive of us and anything we want to do.”

comfortable enough with it yet, because I still sense within my team that people are uncomfortable with the issue and don’t really want to necessarily discuss it,” Davis said. On the other end of the spectrum is the men’s basketball team. With athletes from across the United States, as well as parts of Canada, Africa, and Europe, diversity is much more than skin deep for this pack of Huskies. Redshirt junior forward Jason Strong discussed how this affects the group. “Ultimately, [diversity] just makes the team better because everyone has a different perspective on things … At first, it could be kind of like a wall when you try to get to know people, but once you’re able to really get to know your diverse team, you’re able to come together much, much stronger because you guys all have different experiences and different ways of saying things. So I think it can be very, very helpful as a team.”

“IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT PLACING WOMEN BACK IN ATHLETICS; IT’S ABOUT EMPOWERING THESE YOUNG WOMEN TO DO WHATEVER THEY WANT TO DO NEXT. I DO THINK THERE NEEDS TO BE A BIT MORE REPRESENTATION ON THE FEMALE SIDE, BUT THAT JUST TELLS ME THAT I NEED TO MENTOR.” - LENIKA VAZQUEZ, VOLLEYBALL HEAD COACH Despite the support that they have been shown, both Harris and Struble are concerned that the momentum gained will soon fade away. Struble says that he still gets called the N-word, and still hears comments like “stick to basketball.” “I don’t think it’s going anywhere,” Struble said of the conversations regarding race, “but I think we could work harder at keeping it going.” Harris agrees, explaining how they haven’t talked about it as a team lately. “I definitely think it would be great if we could do community service in predominantly Black neighborhoods or talk to some kids, a minority, about hockey and stuff like that. I think that’d be something we could do as a team and something I’d like to get going for our team.” Another predominantly white team at Northeastern is baseball. Redshirt sophomore pitcher Nick Davis is one of the only minority players on the roster, and sometimes feels like an outlier. “I’ve never felt, personally on the team, that I’ve had a great support system being a Black athlete and person,” Davis said. “As humans, we’re tribal. We like to see people like ourselves, and not having someone that looks like me hasn’t always been easy for me, especially here.” Davis is grateful for his coaches and teammates, and makes it clear that he’s not trying to place blame on anyone. But he knows there are things that could be done better. “I think it’s great that the coaches and overall staff are willing to discuss it. But I don’t think that people are

Having a diverse team can help athletes who might otherwise feel like an outsider. Adama Kaba, men’s soccer senior defender, recently converted from Catholicism to Islam, and connecting with other players on the team who were also Muslim helped bring them closer together. “Specifically on Northeastern, there are people from a bunch of areas around the world who practice different religions,” said Kaba, “but I think the most important thing is that we gather as a collective group and share one common goal of winning.” The importance of diversity on athletic teams is clear, but equally as important is diversity among coaches and other leaders. Take, for instance, men’s basketball assistant coach Manny Adako, who returned to his alma mater to coach his former team after a seven-year professional career. “I think being a coach is just another word for ‘teacher.’ Especially at our level,” Adako said. “I think [coaching] is

“AT FIRST, IT COULD BE KIND OF LIKE A WALL WHEN YOU TRY TO GET TO KNOW PEOPLE, BUT ONCE YOU’RE ABLE TO REALLY GET TO KNOW YOUR DIVERSE TEAM, YOU’RE ABLE TO COME TOGETHER MUCH, MUCH STRONGER...” - JASON STRONG, MEN’S BASKETBALL THE RED & BLACK 17


just a perfect mix of helping them achieve their goals and also teaching them life lessons to support them.” That sentiment seems to be shared by many of Adako’s fellow Northeastern coaches. It isn’t lost on any of them how important their roles as developers are, both for aspiring athletes and for impressionable young adults.

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NCAA DI HEAD COACHES ARE WHITE

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And yet, for as important as that job is, it is not entrusted equally. Across all of NCAA Division I athletics, a staggering 80% of head coaches are white, and 76% are males. Though there’s no question that most, if not all, of the coaches in these positions are very well qualified for their jobs, it seems apparent that with so much homogeneity at the highest level of coaching, some aspects of that mentorship get lost.

position as well,” Gbandi said. “And I think that helped me, so if we can have more minority coaches, that would just open doors for players to then take that next step to try to be a head coach.” The idea of having a role model who looks like you is something many athletes have discussed, and it goes to show the positive effect that can come from putting players and coaches from diverse backgrounds in the spotlight. “I remember watching a recent World Cup and seeing Crystal Dunn play, and I just thought, ‘Wow, this is a very successful Black woman playing soccer, playing the sport I play. If she can do it, I can do it,’” Chelsea Domond, women’s soccer senior forward, said. “She definitely inspired me in that way.” While only 24% of head coaches across all of NCAA Division I athletics are female, the gender gap narrows for women’s volleyball. Still, for a sport where all of the studentathletes are female, only 47% of their coaches are women. For volleyball head coach Lenika Vazquez the lack of women in her position is something that drives her to inspire her athletes, both in the world of sports and beyond.

“I THINK FOR YOUNG BLACK WOMEN, THEY DON’T SEE A LOT OF US. SO JUST TO BE ABLE TO BE IN A POSITION WHERE THEY CAN SEE LIKE ‘I CAN DO THIS.’ … THEY SEE THEMSELVES IN ME, SO I WANT THEM TO ALWAYS UNDERSTAND THEY ALWAYS HAVE SOMEBODY THEY CAN COME TO. I CAN GET THEM BECAUSE I’VE BEEN IN THEIR SHOES BEFORE.” - D’NAY DANIELS, WOMEN’S BASKETBALL ASSISTANT COACH As Adako put it, “At our level, you get kids coming from all over the world, all over the country, from different backgrounds. Being young adults coming into unfamiliar territory … they’re still finding themselves. They continue to need mentors, and I think being able to be mentored by someone that looks like you, and you can relate to, and can speak your language, and may have walked the same shoes you walked in, I think that’s important.” Aside from being one of only 11 Black head coaches in Division I men’s soccer, Chris Gbandi also brings the international perspective to the men’s soccer team. Gbandi was born in Liberia and moved to Houston, Texas, at age 10. He played college soccer at UConn before being drafted first overall into Major League Soccer in 2002. With multiple international students currently on the Northeastern roster, as well as many Black students, Gbandi’s ability to relate is important. Gbandi makes a point to mention that the reason he is here is because of his mentor, Tony Johnson. Johnson set the goal scoring record at the University of North Carolina and gave Gbandi an African American mentor to look up to. “Just having him coach me as a youth and see him being in that position, just looking at somebody that looks like me … I think it made me understand and see myself in that FALL 2020

THE CHANGE WE SEEK

“As a coach, if I do have players that want to coach, I will always try to help position them and make sure they have the network that they need to continue. But I have to admit that that’s something I want to do even outside of sports,” Vazquez said. “It’s not just about placing women back in athletics; it’s about empowering these young women to do whatever they want to do next. I do think there needs to be a bit more representation on the female side, but that just tells me that I need to mentor.”

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NCAA DI HEAD COACHES ARE MALE

STUDENT-ATHLETES

D’Nay Daniels, an assistant coach for women’s basketball who had a very successful playing career of her own at the University of Central Florida, echoes these sentiments. “I think for young Black women, they don’t see a lot of us. So just to be able to be in a position where they can see like ‘I can do this.’ … They see themselves in me, so I want them to always understand they always have somebody they can come


to. I can get them because I’ve been in their shoes before.” From players to coaches, the Huskies have made it clear that diversity must be a priority for Northeastern Athletics. How has the administration responded? Athletic director Jeff Konya discussed some of the conversations he’s had with his student-athletes over the past few months. “We had a town hall ... and we really listened to our student-athletes,” Konya said. “They wanted to have change for the betterment of not only our community, but the NCAA DI ATHLETIC society.” DIRECTORS ARE WHITE broader As Konya sees it, the steps that the athletic department has taken this summer are a strong start to an ongoing solution. “We created the Black Athlete Caucus to have more direct conversations with our leadership in athletics that were committed to the local communities in which we serve... We’ve allowed our athletes to express themselves on their uniforms. ... It’s a constant conversation. And it’s something that we need to put right front and center of everything that we do.”

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Konya further elaborated on the role he hopes NUBAC and SAAC continue to take in shaping the culture of the athletics department, as well as the campus as a whole. “I think of [NUBAC] as the board that the athletic operation needs to report to and obviously hear the perspective that they have. Their leadership has been front and center,” Konya said. And while recent moves like the voting initiative and the athletics department allowing athletes to put messaging on their uniforms to draw attention to social causes may be great steps in the right direction, it is abundantly clear that there is still more work to be done. As long as there is this lack of representation, and these instances of discrimination, complacency should not and cannot be an option. Northeastern University has always been an institution with experiential learning at its core, and it is clear that the most important experiences we have to learn from are those of our fellow Huskies – our mentors, our teammates, our friends. Diversity, be it race, gender, country of origin, religion, or anything else that makes us unique, is at the core of any successful community. Northeastern Athletics is no different.

PHOTO COURTESY OF MAYOWA OSUNSAMI HEADSHOTS COURTESY OF NORTHEASTERN ATHLETICS

STATISTICAL SOURCE: NCAA DEMOGRAPHICS DATABASE, SCAN TO FIND OUT MORE

THE RED & BLACK 19


BY SARA COREY

PHOTO BY SARA COREY

The story of Janet Swanson, alumna, founder of the women’s rowing program, legendary head coach of the swimming program and one of the most influential figures in Northeastern history.

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anet Swanson (pictured middle), a recreational therapy student from Philadelphia, was studying on the steps of what was then Dodge Library when a couple of girls approached her and asked if she would help them start a women’s rowing program at Northeastern University. She already was a full-time student, a teaching assistant, and a four-sport athlete. She swam and played field hockey, tennis, and lacrosse. “I was already very busy, but I looked at them and said, ‘Why not?’” The three women set out to collect the required 200 signatures of support. They got 400. 80 women showed up to the first practice, and Swanson became Northeastern’s founding coach as a graduate student herself. Over time, the number of team members settled to 30 women. These dedicated women learned to row in an antique barge and practiced in the tanks in the basement of the Cabot Athletic Center at four in the morning. To be an official varsity team, however, these women had to prove that they could compete. On a cold, snowy Boston day, 15 women showed up at Riverside Boathouse along the Charles River ready to race against Boston University and MIT. Unfortunately, one of BU’s rowers had broken her leg, so they only had seven rowers and no spares. Without a full boat, the race would not go on. Swanson sent one of her rowers to row for the Terriers so her crew could race. FALL 2020

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In the middle of that snowstorm in 1976, Northeastern women’s rowing earned official varsity status. When Swanson founded the program, she started from scratch. She did not receive funding or assistance from the administration; she was on her own. “I had a team, but no boat and no oars. So I had to ask for help from anyone who could.” She was fairly new to the sport herself – she was a swimmer with the Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia before she picked up an oar. The first time she ever rowed was at the suggestion of her coach, Mary Freeman Kelly, an Olympic swimmer and wife of Olympic rower Jack Kelly, Jr. The 1964 Olympic gold medalists of the men’s eight were her coaches. With every stroke on the Schuylkill River, Swanson developed a passion for the sport that guided her to make the Northeastern program a reality. She approached the men’s rowing coach, Ernie Arlett, for help, but since he was still establishing his own program, he said he could not help her. Swanson respected his decision and reached out to Jack Kelly in Philadelphia. “Jack sent me a boat, but no oars! So I figured I had to ask other coaches in Boston.” Swanson was still searching for a set of oars when Arlett told her that her team had left trash on the dock. She looked at him puzzled, but proceeded to check on the situation There were eight oars on the dock. Swanson remarked that “Arlett was always supportive in the background.”


THE JANET SWANSON EFFECT

CREATED WOMEN’S ROWING PROGRAM HELPED ELEVATE THE SWIM PROGRAM TO VARSITY STATUS FIRST PERSON TO GIVE SIX-FIGURE DONATION TO WOMEN’S ATHLETICS

She continued to coach women’s rowing concurrently with both the men’s and women’s swim teams before exclusively coaching the swim teams at Northeastern full-time. She elevated the swim team to varsity status in 1976. Both swim teams practiced at the same time and traveled together. Eventually, she was awarded recruitment money so she could better establish the team, which became nationally competitive and earned her three Coach of the Year honors. In 1991, a recession forced Northeastern to downsize. For the women’s athletic department, a full-time coach had to be let go. Swanson looked around the women’s athletic office. The basketball team needed a coach to be competitive at the national scale. The field hockey team was only beginning to gain its footing as a varsity sport. Swanson’s swim team was fully established and had seen both athletic and academic success. She had done her job. After calling Northeastern home for 23 years, Swanson retired to save the other budding women’s athletic programs. She sacrificed a job she loved for the greater mission of women’s athletics. In 1994, Swanson was inducted into the Northeastern Hall of Fame. Women’s sports experienced a dramatic evolution, and Swanson was there every step of the way. She watched as the athletic department shifted with the passing of Title IX. The rowing team grew from having to borrow a shell and oars and racing local crews, to a nationally recognized program with its own fleet, including an eight named the “Janet S. Swanson,” and competing annually at the NCAA Championships. She has watched as Northeastern swimmers earned hardware at conference championships and bids to the NCAAs. “It’s truly amazing,” says Swanson. From the time she began at Northeastern to now, the athletic department’s athletic and academic opportunities for women have expanded for the better. To the female student-athletes, Swanson urges them to “fight for what they deserve and stand

up for their rights and opportunities.” Trailblazers like Swanson paved the way for women’s athletics, and it’s imperative that those efforts are not taken for granted. Swanson has been one of the greatest supporters of Northeastern Athletics. Not only has she hosted the baseball and women’s rowing teams at her home in Florida, but she has also provided financial support. In 2012, she was the first person to give a six-figure donation to women’s athletics at Northeastern. Since then, she has continued to support women’s athletics, particularly rowing and swimming. To her, it’s simple. She loved her time as a student-athlete at Northeastern and wants to provide that same experience to current and future student-athletes. Additionally, while earning her degrees, she earned a small athletic scholarship. She believed she owed something to the university, and it was her responsibility to pay it forward to the future generations of Northeastern athletes. Her selflessness, dedication, and caring nature have been integral in shaping the department. To other alums, Swanson, Class of ‘74, urges them to “get involved, attend games, and get to know the athletes. It is important for the athletes to know the history and be appreciative of early struggles – to understand where [the teams] have come from. They have to support the programs that they worked to build.” Success on the ice, on the field, and on the water is not possible without people like Janet Swanson. Every facility, every training session, and every piece of gear and equipment would not be possible without the incredible support from alumni and friends of Northeastern Athletics. It is their generosity that wins games and races. It is their passion for the mission of Northeastern Athletics that shapes studentathletes to be the next generation of leaders and thoughtful thinkers, ready to pay forward the lessons they learned at Northeastern University.

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BY MATT LEVIN

“For those of you who may not have known Reggie personally, let me try to explain to you why he is our hero, our role model at this university and across the city. With that accuracy, that first step, that silken jump shot, he was Superman on the basketball court and Clark Kent off it.” - Former Northeastern president John A. Curry in his eulogy to Reggie Lewis at his funeral in 1993

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n August 2, 1993, thousands of people packed into Matthews Arena, with a three-page list of approved media members there to report – from the Boston Globe to Sports Illustrated. But they weren’t there to take in a Northeastern basketball game. They were there to say goodbye to one of the school’s – and game’s – greatest. On July 27, 1993, while playing pickup basketball at Brandeis University, Lewis, then a member of the Boston Celtics, suffered a sudden cardiac death from a preexisting heart condition, which was diagnosed when he had collapsed during a Celtics playoff game just two months earlier. Reggie Lewis, a shooting guard, was responsible for the best stretch in Northeastern University’s men’s basketball team’s history. In his four-year career at Northeastern, from 19831987, Lewis averaged 22.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. He helped carry Northeastern to four straight America East (then known as the North Atlantic Conference) titles as well as four straight NCAA Tournament appearances, after never

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starting a game for his nationally-ranked high school team in Baltimore. Curry said that Lewis was “Northeastern’s best athlete ever,” while current men’s basketball head coach, Bill Coen, echoed the same thought. Lewis is to him “without a doubt the greatest player that’s ever played in Northeastern history. You go back and look at what he was able to do, not only as an individual player, but what his team accomplished during his era.” Lewis is all over Northeastern’s men’s basketball record book. He is most notably the school’s all-time leading scorer, with 2,709 career points – 419 more than second on the list J.J. Barea. Lewis is also first in career field goals made and free throws made and third in rebounds, steals, and blocks. Lewis is the only Husky ever to get drafted in the first round of the NBA draft, where he was taken 22nd overall by the Boston Celtics. With the Celtics, Lewis would later be named team captain and make the 1992 NBA All-Star team. “People from all over came to see him play. We were the


best team in New England,” Jim Calhoun, former Northeastern head coach and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member, said. “The crowd was great. People came early to Matthews Arena and it filled up.” Calhoun also recalled one game where the Huskies were playing in the Cabot Center and the crowd literally “broke the doors down” to watch Lewis play. “Reggie had the best first step in basketball. He had an incredible ability to go by people and score the basketball,” Calhoun said. “He loved the gym and wanted to be good. I had to kick him out of the gym every single night after practice.”

“[LEWIS] WAS LIKE A SON TO ME. HIS DEATH WAS LIKE LOSING A MEMBER OF MY FAMILY.” -JIM CALHOUN Karl Fogel, then Northeastern’s assistant basketball coach, played a key part in recruiting Lewis to Northeastern, and said that Lewis was “a great player and a better person,” a sentiment echoed by the many people that know him. Calhoun compared Lewis’ personality to his former player at UConn, and current Boston Celtic, Kemba Walker. “He always had a joyful smile on the court and sometimes a bigger one off the court,” Calhoun said. “When you saw him, there was nothing about him that wasn’t welcoming.” What made Lewis so beloved in Boston was not just his talent on the court but his commitment to helping the community. Lewis helped Boston in numerous ways, but one of the things he was most known for was passing out over a thousand turkeys on Thanksgiving annually to the Boston community. When Coen thinks about Lewis, he thinks “about how much he meant to the city of Boston, and how much he did in terms of community service,” he said. “I mean, the outpouring at the time of his death was just remarkable. You could see just how many lives was he able to touch and how many people was he able to impact. Most of it was in a non-basketball way.” Northeastern gifted Lewis an honorary degree in Doctor of Humanities, saying in the degree, “With gentleness and grace, Reggie Lewis touched all our lives. We cheered as he boosted the Huskies and Celtics to victory. We smiled when we watched him surrounded by admiring young faces at the numerous youth organizations to which he selflessly donated his time.” Lewis is the only men’s basketball player to have their number retired in Northeastern school history. Lewis’ number 35 hangs not only in both Matthews Arena and Solomon Court in Cabot, but also the TD Garden, ensuring his place in Boston sports history will never be forgotten.

LEFT PHOTO BY SARAH OLENDER OTHER PHOTOS COURTESY OF NORTHEASTERN ATHLETICS

THE RED & BLACK 23


THE BODY IN THE

MIRROR BY OLIVIA GOLDENBERG

Getting caught in the dangerous cultural juxtaposition between female athlete body and beauty standards.

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rowing up, I didn’t watch much TV. The TV I did watch was carefully monitored by my parents. I didn’t watch Disney princesses, or SpongeBob; I watched the tapes of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games rowing highlights, the Nutcracker, and Miracle on Ice. As I grew older, I started to watch movies and shows, read magazines, and be exposed to more and more media. The women I saw portrayed were often skinny, tall, and not exactly the athlete type. I was an ice hockey player and a rower. My hockey program at Milton Academy had me lifting two to three times a week and skating five to seven times a week. I was expected to be strong and fit. I gained about 8 pounds my first varsity hockey season. I was lifting for the first time in my life and having to eat more to keep up with all the skating. The weight gain made sense. Then I spent the spring rowing and gained more muscle, then even FALL 2020

WOMEN’S ROWING

more during an intense summer of hockey training. I started to look different. My entire body was gaining visible muscle, and as a result the size of my arms and thighs started to change. I was no longer the string bean I had been all my life. I didn’t really have a problem with this at first, though; in fact, I didn’t even notice. Sophomore year of high school, I was introduced to lightweight rowing. I remember one day being randomly told to hop on the scale to have my weight recorded. The next day I was informed I would be racing not only in my usual open weight boat, but in a lightweight boat as well. I didn’t quite understand what that meant, but I quickly learned it meant I had to be under 130 pounds to compete. That wasn’t an issue for me at the time, as I was hovering around 122-123, so I went along with my life, raced in the boat, and ended up doing really well. Then the season was over, and I returned to ice hockey for the


winter, still completely oblivious to the idea of body image dissatisfaction or eating disorders. Over that winter I gained about five pounds lifting and returned to rowing in the spring weighing closer to 128. When it was announced I would be spending my time that spring racing lightweight, I was again unphased, as I was still under 130. I didn’t see an issue. Others around me who were closer to or over 130 started to engage in behaviors such as restricting, and more and more often the conversation became focused on how hungry they were, or how anxious they were about weigh-ins. Without realizing it, I began to buy in. I began to think obsessively about my food, and my hunger, and how much I weighed. I worried about weighins and dropped my weight intentionally to make sure I was nowhere near 130 so I wouldn’t have to worry. I began to adopt the traits of those around me who I saw as my superiors due to their age and experience. As this was happening, I began to pay more attention to how my body looked, and quickly realized I didn’t fit the typical beauty standard. My shoulders looked too broad in most “cute” dresses and shirts. My thighs were not tiny and uniform. I had muscular arms that didn’t fit the slender t-shirt sleeves of my peers. I began to feel that I had to lose weight, that I had to be smaller, to fit in. One half of me had the burning desire for speed, strength and fitness, while the other half cared only for the number on the scale and the picture in the mirror. As an athlete, I wanted nothing more than to be able

to ignore that second half. I felt stupid doing anything that didn’t help my athletic self, and starving myself to fit an unrealistic beauty standard wasn’t helpful. I was afraid to come forward because I felt my desires to be an elite athlete would be questioned if I admitted to not always being able to win that battle between eating and bettering myself athletically, or restricting my food intake and unintentionally harming my athletic ability. So I didn’t say anything. And I didn’t do anything, or get any help. In my senior winter I developed what is called female athlete triad, a form of extreme overtraining where your body begins to shut down different systems in response to not being nourished enough while being overworked physically. The first system to go is often your energy availability, then your menstrual cycle, and finally your bone health. My systems were depleted. I had to take over two months off to recover enough to train again, but still to this day am dealing with the effects. I have not had a regular period since 10th grade, and my bone health has been affected such that the density of my bones is below the healthy levels of a normal person my age. There are still times when I lose energy and have to scale back my training. I may be in recovery for the next one, five, 10 years. I really do not know. Could this have been avoided? I believe so. If there was not such a secretive culture among female athletes about eating disorders, and if more strong, muscular women were portrayed in the media, perhaps I never would have gotten to that point.

Perhaps if I had seen strong women in the movies and on TV being portrayed as the beautiful, desirable ones, then I wouldn’t have thought my own body needed to be changed, shrunken, to be desirable and acceptable.

FEMALE ATHLETE TRIAD ENERGY

AFFECTS

BONE HEALTH MENSTRUAL CYCLE

5-8%

of women have an eating disorder

10-20%

of women in sports have an eating disorder

Source: 2018 NCAA Report Perhaps if eating disorders in general, but especially among female athletes, were not so taboo, I would have spoken up sooner, and gotten help earlier. I do not fault my sport, or any sport, for the prevalence of eating disorders among female athletes. In fact, I do not fault anyone. I see this as a cultural fault. We need to work as a culture to change the messaging around not only what a beautiful, strong and powerful body is, but also how we talk about our own discomfort and insecurities with the body we have. If we can do that, we can build a more inclusive and open culture within women’s sports. THE RED & BLACK 25


THE SWISS ARMY KNIVES BY ELIZABETH KLEMM

Although there is little recognition, student managers are vital to their team’s successes.

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ith Northeastern’s varsity athletes back on the courts and fields, and coaches strategizing new plays, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done behind the scenes. That’s where student managers come in. The baseball and men’s and women’s basketball teams currently utilize student managers. These students, who mostly played sports throughout their high school career, dedicate hours upon hours to the teams they serve, completing any task a coach or player needs. “We’re kind of a Swiss Army knife for the team. [We] have a lot of different responsibilities that we got to take care of,” said Tim Ryan, one of two head managers for men’s basketball. Those responsibilities range from making sure water bottles are filled and laundry is done to helping coaches develop practice plans, setting up film, and collecting data. The students, who are unpaid volunteers like all student managers across the country, feel that the process to become a student manager was not a difficult one. “You reach out, you get interviewed, and then, for the most part, unless you really bomb your interview, you’re probably going to become a manager,” said Patrick Isberg, the other

FALL 2020

PHOTO BY SARAH OLENDER

THE SWISS ARMY KNIVES

head manager for men’s basketball. Chloe Gosselin and Jarred Martin, who are both student managers for baseball, have had to become very familiar with many of the data collection tools, such as Rapsodo and Synergy, which are commonly used to analyze both the Huskies and opposing teams’ players. Last year, Gosselin was able to use this technology to look at opposing teams’ pitchers and to chart their pitch tendencies so team members could have a better idea of what types of pitches would be coming their way in different situations. She was also able to film Northeastern’s athletes and use Rapsodo to show them the spin, velocity, and other characteristics of their pitches, as well as exit velocities, trajectories, and launch angles on hits. “I’m helping them with data collection and being able to have more information readily available to help them improve as a team,” Gosselin said. Martin particularly enjoys charting in-team scrimmage games right behind home plate. “I was tracking where exactly the ball was pitched and whether it’s a fastball, curveball and just the location of it,” Martin said.


Martin particularly enjoys charting in-team scrimmage games right behind home plate. “I was tracking where exactly the ball was pitched and whether it’s a fastball, curveball and just the location of it,” Martin said. Gosselin hopes to have a career in the baseball industry, and believes that being a student manager on a Division I team will help her get there. Through this position, she said she has the opportunity to use the same technology that MLB teams are using and to network with scouts who come to intrasquad scrimmages and scout days. “I want to start off maybe doing something relating to statistics and data analytics, and then hopefully eventually move my way more into kind of personnel and team management and rosters, things like that,” Gosselin said. “And maybe end up somewhere in management, but that would be the ultimate goal, which is a lofty goal.” While the baseball industry is still heavily male dominated, Gosselin would not be the first female in MLB management. Head baseball coach Mike Glavine believes that the experiences Gosselin will gain as a student manager will help her break into the industry. “I think all of those things are really going to help her as she progresses through baseball and she wants to get involved on that side. And I definitely think this is a nice little stepping stone for her,” Glavine said. Martin, a finance major, would also love to stay involved with sports, with a goal of working on the financial side. “I really do believe if they want a future in baseball they have one,” Glavine said. “I think they’re very well

rounded, and like I said, have a passion for the game and an understanding of it, and also know the nuances and definitely are invested in our team and our success.” Martin and Gosselin are not alone. Men’s basketball head managers Ryan and Isberg also plan to stay involved with sports after they graduate. “I really do believe if they want a future in baseball they have one,” Glavine said. “I think they’re very well rounded, and like I said, have a passion for the game and an understanding of it, and also know the nuances and definitely are invested in our team and our success.” Martin and Gosselin are not alone. Men’s basketball head managers Ryan and Isberg also plan to stay involved with sports after they graduate. Ryan, who played ice hockey until three concussions ended his career during his senior year of high school, currently referees junior college hockey in addition to managing the basketball team. “I’m still involved in hockey and I definitely, when I become a real adult, want to get back into coaching hockey,” he said. Ryan believes one of the most valuable things he has learned from working so closely with head basketball coach Bill Coen is that coaching is not necessarily sport specific. “The skills that you bring into leading a team are transferable between different sports,” Ryan said. “And being able to learn and understand the ins and outs of coaching young athletes, who are developing not just as athletes but as people too, it’s been really, really interesting to watch his leadership style and be able to take notes and draw from that.”

IN NOVEMBER 2020, THE MIAMI MARLINS HIRED KIM NG AS THEIR GENERAL MANAGER, MAKING HER THE FIRST FEMALE GM IN MLB HISTORY. AMERICAN LEAGUE OFFICE, DIRECTOR OF WAIVERS AND RECORDS

KIM NG CAREER TRAJECTORY

1990-1996

1997

CHICAGO WHITE SOX FRONT OFFICE

KIM NG FUN FACTS

LOS ANGELES DODGERS VP & ASSISTANT GM

1998-2001 NEW YORK YANKEES ASSISTANT GM

2002-2011

2011-2020 MLB SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF BASEBALL OPERATIONS

FIRST WOMAN TO SERVE AS GENERAL MANAGER OF A TEAM IN THE BIG FOUR (NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB) LEAGUES IN NORTH AMERICA. FIRST PERSON OF EAST ASIAN (ASIAN AMERICAN) DESCENT TO SERVE AS GENERAL MANAGER OF AN MLB TEAM. IN 2015, FORBES RANKED NG #13 ON ITS LIST OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL MINORITIES IN SPORTS AND #5 ON ITS LIST OF THE MOST POWERFUL WOMEN IN SPORTS.

THE RED & BLACK 27


PHOTO BY SARAH OLENDER Isberg, who played basketball through high school, plans to remain in the sport post-graduation. He would like to either coach high school basketball and use his business major, or coach college basketball full time, depending on where life takes him. In his position as a student manager, Isberg has worked extensively with video clips for the team. “I’ve considered myself basically an assistant video coordinator in terms of how much I interact with the coach, the film and stuff like that,” Isberg said. He has also been able to use his role to network when applying for co-ops. “I was applying to co-ops last semester and one of the coaches had a former player who was working at one of the places I was applying to, and he helped me connect with him and talk to him, which was really nice,” Isberg said. “So I think just the relationships you build there are kind of irreplaceable if you use them right.” The relationships Isberg and Ryan have formed through managing the basketball team extend past those formed with coaches. Junior forward Jason Strong, who is also one of Isberg’s roommates, says that he thinks of both Isberg and Ryan as members of the team. “I don’t look at it as like a manager relation,” Strong said. “It’s like they’re part of the team.” Isberg said that the networking and career aspects are a huge benefit of becoming a student manager, but he also believes that the memories he has made are once-in-a-lifetime experiences. “My favorite things are definitely the traveling and just learning from everybody. The stories you hear or the things you get to see or learn about are irreplaceable. I’ll never have opportunities like this outside of Northeastern for sure.” Traveling across the country also stands out for women’s basketball team manager Ana Ozuna. Last year, the team FALL 2020

THE SWISS ARMY KNIVES

traveled to Oregon to play the top ranked team in the country. “You’re playing probably one of the best teams in the U.S., when it came to college, and it was really cool to experience that court side,” Ozuna said. “You’re seeing the game up close, getting to experience a different style of game, while also doing the job.” You won’t find Ozuna, Ryan, Isberg, Gosselin, Martin, or any of the other student managers listed on any rosters, but that doesn’t mean their work goes unnoticed or unappreciated. For women’s basketball, Ozuna keeps the team organized and on task. Junior guard Katie May believes that Ozuna has the ability to make sure everybody’s in game needs are met and to keep the team focused. “[Ana is] always very on top of things and a very organized person so I feel like the coaches appreciate that as well, but we definitely appreciate that,” May said. “We can definitely be a scatterbrained team, and I feel like she pulls us together and makes sure we’re always on top of things.” Glavine echoes that statement. “They are sort of the unsung heroes,” Glavine said. “They don’t get any credit or anything, but I know every day when they get off the bus or when they show up that we’re always like ‘Oh, Chloe and Jarred are here, that’s great!’” In Isberg’s eyes, being that unsung hero is imperative to the job. It’s what makes a good manager great. “Not caring about getting recognized, that’s one of the biggest things as a manager. You do a lot of things that nobody really sees, nobody notices and it goes unrecognized,” Isberg said. “But you have to know at the end of the day, everyone really appreciates what you do, and you’ll get those moments here and there that you do get recognized and it feels great.”


SEVERAL STUDENT MANAGERS HAVE GONE ON TO BECOME SUCCESSFUL IN THE COACHING INDUSTRY, INCLUDING: BUZZ WILLIAMS, MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH AT TEXAS A&M - STUDENT MANAGER AT NAVARRO (TEXAS) JUNIOR COLLEGE 1990 - CAREER RECORD, 13 SEASONS, 269-169

SCOTT DREW, MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH AT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY - STUDENT MANAGER AT BUTLER UNIVERSITY 1991 - CAREER RECORD, 18 SEASONS, 364-224

CHRIS BEARD, MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH AT TEXAS TECH - STUDENT MANAGER AT TEXAS 1995 - CAREER RECORD, 10 SEASONS, 265-84

JOE PASTERNACK, MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH AT UCSB - STUDENT MANAGER AT INDIANA UNIVERSITY 1999 - CAREER RECORD, 6 SEASONS, 104-83

JAMES WHITFORD, MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH AT BALL STATE UNIVERSITY - STUDENT MANAGER AT WISCONSIN UNIVERSITY 1991 - CAREER RECORD, 7 SEASONS 107-118

THE RED & BLACK 29


TIME ON THEIR HANDS BY MICHAEL RUBERTO

With more free time on their hands, many Huskies use it to take up new hobbies.

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PHOTOS BY LIAM LANDAU

FALL 2020

TIME ON THEIR HANDS

eaching Division I collegiate athletics is not just a measure of skill, but of dedication and willpower. Many athletes have trained since they were young children, spending countless hours every week at the gym or on the field in pursuit of excellence. But when COVID-19 shut down much of the world this year, those athletes were forced to stay home. Now, with so much extra free time on their hands, many Huskies have found themselves trying to pass the time by learning new skills and pursuing hobbies. Take, for instance, the men’s soccer team, where a few athletes joined together at the start of lockdown to start a book club. “We decided to start a book club because we knew we would have more time in the summer, because we weren’t sure when our season would start,” senior defender Adama Kaba explained. “We tried to take the opportunity to educate ourselves and find more resources out there.” Despite the physical distance, they were able to stay close and grow as both teammates and students by reading a new book every month. As freshman defender Michael Montanaro put it: “There were a lot of self-improvement books, but we tried to pick different types of self improvement books. We wanted to try and mix it up and read as many as we could.”


From

Good

to Great to

Unstoppable

tim s. grover

lchem

ist

Relentless:

Good to Great

Jim Collins

“I’m very passionate about singing as well as dancing, and I thought this would be a good time to really focus on honing my skills and not letting myself get into a rut just because I was stuck at home,” Kriedeman-Hubbard said. “So I decided to pick up something to devote my time to.” Deciding to teach herself a new instrument was an easy decision for the dancer, as she used to play the piano and the viola. But when Kriedeman-Hubbard became more committed to dancing, it became harder and harder for her to find the time to continue playing. As dance studios across Massachusetts closed due to the pandemic, she began to find the time to take on a new challenge. “A ukulele is very different from a viola, so learning the different strings and the different chords was difficult,” Kriedeman-Hubbard explained. “Also, I was just very out of practice, so it was hard to figure out how to strum or pluck again.” Once she started to get the hang of the instrument, she was able to hit the ground running and teach herself new songs. Her favorite? She immediately answered with “Accidentally in Love” by Counting Crows. From book clubs to cooking to ukulele, Huskies from all different sports have been taking full advantage of their newfound free time. While they may not have been able to improve their times and personal bests on the track or in the gym, they’ve certainly made the most of this unique opportunity. “We wanted to ... improve each other,” Montanaro summarized. “At school, on the soccer field, and as leaders.”

The A

“Most of the books we read weren’t athletic specific, but more mental specific,” Kaba said. “One of the books we read … was more business oriented. It talked about specific examples of businesses going from good to great and how the business leaders thought within those organizations [Good to Great by Jim Collins].” As for which book was the best, the group had varying answers. While Kaba enjoyed Tim Grover’s Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable, Montanaro preferred the fictional title The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, a story of a shepherd “who wanted to chase a dream that he had. It was about omens and finding your path and not just being fine with where you are,” Montanaro said. While some Huskies have been spending time in the library, others have looked to the kitchen, teaching themselves how to cook for themselves and their roommates. For some, like sophomore track and field athlete Liam Landau, the reason is simple. “It’s just nice to taste good food without having to pay that premium price,” he explained. “There’s no better feeling than a full stomach, so why not just make my own food instead of paying 50 dollars somewhere?” For Landau, cooking is a fun way to express his creativity, and while he cooks a wide variety of meals, he particularly enjoys trying his hand at making dessert. “The best dish I’ve made so far was a panna cotta with my own raspberry sauce on top. I’ve only made one batch of it, but it was easily the tastiest thing I’ve made,” Landau said. “It looks appealing, it’s great, and it’s pretty easy.” As Landau explained, while eating a delicious homemade meal is satisfying – it’s a rewarding feeling to prepare an intricate dish without being a professional chef – cooking, much like a book club, also provides a way to bring friends and teammates closer together. “Usually if anyone cooks in our apartment, we eat together and make a large meal,” he said. “It’s a really good bonding experience for us.” Other athletes, such as Northeastern dance team sophomore Olivia Kriedeman-Hubbard, have spent their time since the lockdowns began teaching themselves how to play a new instrument. Kriedeman-Hubbard, who picked up the ukulele over the summer, cited her newfound free time as a major reason for her new hobby.


DIY PROJECT QUARANTINE

BY HUY NGUYEN

With access to gyms and team trainings gone, athletes get creative in building their own training environments.

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hen Corey DiLoreto, redshirt sophomore and 2019-2020 CAA All-Rookie baseball infielder, was sent home due to COVID-19, he had started every game for a team that had a hot 10-5 start. “We started off really really good,” DiLoreto reminisced. “And we had just started getting rolling around the time that the season ended up being canceled. It was pretty crushing.” With the gyms closed and in-person practices canceled, every dedicated collegiate athlete scrambled to maintain and improve their athletic skills over quarantine in every way they could. But without the professionals, tools, and fields or rinks by their side, it became difficult for some athletes to succeed at the same level as when they were at school. This meant that several athletes had to get creative to find ways to improve. While DiLoreto’s basement was already equipped with a power rack, it wasn’t enough, as he was still forced to improvise on some of the workouts. Although a power

FALL 2020

DIY PROJECT QUARANTINE

rack can go far with compound “I had all the tools to get stronger lifts, there are some exercises and faster,” Meehan said. “But I that are imperative for improving didn’t have the skills stuff, and all upper body strength, like a pullthe turf fields were closed. And my up. And for that, DiLoreto got to ultimate goal is to be the best field woodworking. hockey player I can be.” “I made a makeshift chin-up bar For the rest of the team, Zoom off of a doorframe. We got a couple practices were put on hold in the of pieces of wood and the elements beginning of the pandemic, with of the walls to make that work,” the coaches prioritizing mental DiLoreto said. health and organization before For Alli Meehan, sophomore jumping into the practice. So as a and 2019-2020 CAA All-Rookie hungry athlete striving to improve, field hockey forward, her practice Meehan had to try everything. continues far away from Northeastern, “WE WORKED ON MEASURING, ASSEMBLING, as she decided to stay at home for AND PAINTING THE NET FOR DAYS AND the fall semester. WEEKS. AND WHEN IT WAS COMPLETE, I Like DiLoreto, she also started out the HAD A REAL-SIZED FIELD HOCKEY NET AND pandemic with a PLENTY OF TURF TO PLAY ON IN MY DRIVEWAY home gym, but pure strength work wasn’t TO TRAIN AND REFINE MY SKILLS.” enough for Meehan. - ALLI MEEHAN, FIELD HOCKEY FORWARD While she needed a ball and stick in her hand, she ran into problems when “At the beginning of quarantine, she needed to practice her stick, I actually tried to sneak onto the defensive and shooting skills. Northeastern turf with a ball of


bags by myself.” Meehan laughed. “I got kicked off every time I went.” So she went for the next best thing, which was to build the field herself. “I started by finding a five-byfive piece of turf that I borrowed from my neighbors, and my old, rusty, broken down ice hockey net from when I was a kid,” said Meehan. But that still wasn’t enough for Meehan. She wasn’t ready to stop at 25 square feet. “Me and my mom drove to Home Depot and bought enough yards of turf to turn my driveway into a mini field,” Meehan said. “We looked up the exact measurements and bought all the supplies needed to make a regulation size field hockey net, which is 12 feet high and seven yards wide. Me and my dad aren’t builders by any stretch, so we worked on measuring, assembling, and painting the net for days and weeks. And when it was complete, I had a real-sized field hockey net and plenty of turf to play on in my driveway to train and refine my skills.” With an entire mini field to herself, Meehan was finally able to hone her skills on her own. But not everyone had the chance to build a field. Athen Ardila, senior and All-CAA First Team volleyball outside hitter, couldn’t build an entire volleyball court, but with a team leading 265 kills last fall, she decided something needed to be done to keep her hitting as effective as possible. “I don’t think any of us at Northeastern, or at the D1 level, has ever had that much time away from your team or even being on the court,” Ardila said.

The volleyball team continued to stay in contact, with Zoom practices and virtual presentations going over defensive and offensive systems. As a team, they stayed in contact over the summer to provide moral support and build camaraderie. The one thing that was missing was a secure way for Ardila to practice her ball skills. There weren’t any contraptions her or her dad could find online, until Ardila browsed Instagram and found what she was looking for. “I saw one on Instagram; it was just like a wood board that someone was using against the wall. I was like, ‘Oh, this is perfect!’” Her dad, Fabian Ardila, an assistant volleyball coach at Babson College, decided to build the contraption himself, using PVC pipes and netting. It was a board with netting that would deflect any ball it made contact with. “When I would hit the ball into it, it would come back to me in different directions and with different power. It helped me to get in some swings when we didn’t have access to any gyms, trainers, or courts,” Ardila said. The contraption would help her

work on contact points and difficult passes, helping her improve her reaction time and precision. It helped her stay in “volleyball shape,” as she was no longer deprived of touching the ball over quarantine. These three athletes, despite playing wildly different sports, were able to create environments that allowed them to practice at home, even without access to the premium equipment provided by Northeastern. And though they got the chance to practice their skills in creative ways, their motivation and discipline was what pushed them to practice to become the best players in their respective sports in a time when their lives were scattered by COVID-19. “I think the hardest thing for athletes during this time wasn’t the workouts and the skill work itself, but it was the struggle to find the why, why should we continue doing things when we don’t know when there’s going to be the season next,” Meehan said. “My personal motivation is what kept me going, towards the endgame, which is ultimately the season and being the best player I can be.”

PHOTOS BY ALLI MEEHAN THE RED & BLACK 33


THE SIX-YEAR PLAN BY JUSTIN CHEN

Kyle Murphy’s six-year Northeastern journey.

T

he typical college athlete gets five years to complete four athletic seasons. But for pitcher Kyle Murphy – with one major surgery and one world altering pandemic in his past – 2021 will be his sixth in the Northeastern red and black. Having been in the program for so long, Murphy brings a lot to the table, both on and off the field. Growing up in Billerica, MA, Murphy was surrounded by a family of athletes. His parents both competed in varsity sports at Bentley University; his dad, Shaun, played basketball and his mom, Suzanne, played volleyball. Murphy said he and his three brothers, who all are or were in Division I programs, were exposed to athletics at a young age and “competed with each other doing everything, whether it is wiffleball in the backyard, basketball, or mini-hockey in the living room.” Murphy also recalled how many of his neighbors were into athletics; there was often a game going on. These competitions helped him develop a winning mentality and a will to compete at a young age. Coincidentally, Billerica was also the home of Mike Glavine, the Northeastern head coach, and his brother Tom, who pitched 22 years with the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets. “The Glavine name is pretty big… the road leading into [Billerica Memorial High School] is ‘Tom Glavine Way’ and when you say the name ‘Glavine,’ most people know who you are talking about,” Murphy said. “The Glavine brothers had very successful high school careers, college careers, and both played in the big leagues at some point.” Murphy would first meet his now head coach in elementary school, taking hitting lessons from the former NU standout. “I used to give him hitting lessons when I wasn’t coaching at the time,” Glavine explained. “I knew the Murphy family had talent… they’re a big name in our hometown.” As Murphy grew older, he went from being a regular high schooler to a Division 1 recruit. “Being from the same hometown definitely helped because I knew who he was and knew how good he was,” Glavine recalled. Murphy first visited Northeastern when his older brother,

FALL 2020

BASEBALL

PHOTO COURTESY OF NORTHEASTERN ATHLETICS


Chris, was going through the process. “When he went on tours I would come and get a feel for what [the schools] were like,” Murphy said. It was during this time that he reconnected with Glavine; the next year, he received an offer to compete for Northeastern. Noting his longtime relationship with Glavine, Murphy said “that was one of the biggest factors in deciding to come here.” Murphy was set to start his college career in 2016 as a freshman for the Huskies, but he would lose his first college season before he stepped foot on campus. “I was at the game. He tore his elbow and didn’t finish his high school season on the mound,” Glavine recalled. Murphy had to undergo Tommy John surgery (TJS), a reconstruction of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), to replace a torn ligament in the elbow with another tendon from somewhere else in the body, like the hamstring or opposite elbow. This injury is, unfortunately, common for pitchers and “as much as it is physically draining, it is mentally draining [since] it is a very slow process,” Murphy recalled. Instead of on the mound, Murphy spent what would have been his freshman season in rehab. Coming back from TJS is a 14-to-16 month process, and made Murphy feel like he had never thrown a baseball in his life during the beginning of his rehab. The grueling recovery makes having a great support system all the more vital, which luckily Murphy had. “Having that support group around [me] was the biggest thing,” he said. “The training staff was awesome and my roommate Ryan Solomon helped me keep positive.” While he was not able to do much physically, Murphy spent this time building up his mental toughness and improving his intangibles. “He was hanging around our older pitchers at that time and was learning and growing and getting stronger,” Glavine said. “And he’s able to pass that [experience] along to some of our [younger] pitchers who have been injured (like redshirt freshmen Matt Downing and James Quinlivan, who both sat out the 2020 season recovering from TJS).” Murphy made his college debut in 2017 as a starter and struggled a bit, but thrived after a move to the bullpen. This is something Glavine has been doing with his pitchers to allow them to adjust to the college level. And because of this, he was used as a swingman in his first three seasons, both starting and pitching in relief, and even getting closing experience. “He showed the ability to strike guys out and that’s important in the bullpen,” Glavine said of his pitcher. “And

LED CAA WITH

12.5

STRIKEOUTS PER NINE INNINGS

that’s one of the reasons we used him [in that role].” Murphy embraced that role and worked hard to be versatile. “There are going to be different situations but it’s always the same game,” he said. “You’re trying to make your best pitches and put your team in a good spot.” This allowed Glavine to give the ball to Murphy in any situation and know he would be able to get the team out of a jam with his ability to strike hitters out, or go five or six innings in a start. Going into the 2020 season, Murphy was named Northeastern’s Friday starter and tasked with getting game one in every series the Huskies played.

“NORTHEASTERN IS JUST THE PLACE I WANTED TO BE. I’M COMFORTABLE HERE, I LOVE IT HERE, AND GETTING A YEAR BACK WAS AWESOME.” - KYLE MURPHY “It was such a cool feeling to know you were being named the Friday starter,” Murphy said. “You go out there putting your team in a place to win and to set the tone for the weekend.” Glavine said that this decision was a “natural fit.” Not only did Murphy have the tools to take this role, but the team needed his veteran presence on the mound. By now, Murphy had also added a slider to his repertoire, previously relying heavily on his fastball, curveball, and changeup. He emphasized the importance of this fourth pitch, which allowed him to give hitters another look if he had to go through the lineup a few times, and credits assistant coach Kevin Cobb for helping take his slider “to the next level.” Despite struggling on opening night against Alabama, Murphy ended the shortened season with a 3.00 ERA and a CAA-leading 12.50 strikeouts per nine innings. After being granted an extra year of eligibility, Murphy had the opportunity to run it back another year with the Huskies, while also working on his sports leadership master’s degree. “Northeastern is just the place I wanted to be,” he said. “I’m comfortable here, I love it here, and getting a year back was awesome.” Murphy picked up right where he left off, leading the pitching staff in strikeouts during fall scrimmages. Going into 2021, Glavine says that he has high expectations for the sixth-year senior, expecting him to be a “dominant and competitive but calming force for our team,” as Murphy hopes to get one last trip to a College World Series regional.

.188

OPPONENTS’ BATTING AVERAGE

68

NORTHEASTERN CAREER APPEARANCES

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THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS

BY ROHAN CHATURVEDI

FALL 2020

PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN GOMEZ

THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS

“C

ulture” is the ultimate buzzword, it can create dynasties or cripple and break up talented teams. Locker room culture is crucial in how a team blends and develops. Getting a perfect balance is something every coach and captain strives for. But this begs the question, what exactly makes a great locker room? Here is what coaches and players from a variety of sports at Northeastern University had to say.


WHAT MAKES A GREAT LOCKER ROOM? “A team-first attitude. If you’re setting out to cook a great meal, you start out with the very best ingredients. So, in the recruiting process we try to identify the highest character guys that we can, and those are guys that are going to do the right thing, even if it’s the hardest path.” - Bill Coen, Men’s Basketball Head Coach “I think it comes from the leadership. From my freshman year to now, every year the captains have always demonstrated the right way to do things and they’ve always made the freshman feel really comfortable and part of the team. I think that’s why our team has been so successful over the past few years. Guys make them feel part of the team and then they feel comfortable and can play their game. Then, it translates over to success on the ice.” - Grant Jozefek, Men’s Hockey Redshirt Senior #15 “It’s two things. It’s the quality of people in the locker room but also the leadership. It’s so important to maintain that culture that we have which is very inclusive, but also a culture where they all want to win. They all want to get better. They’re very intrinsically motivated.” - Nick Carpenito, Women’s Hockey Associate Head Coach “I think it’s actually holding everybody accountable. Then also, I think the biggest thing for me is just the growth mindset. What I mean by that is each day, come in and try to get better, that I’m not good enough right now, I can always improve. I think as a coach you dream of that, because, you know what, ultimately talent can only take you so far right?” - Chris Gbandi, Men’s Soccer Head Coach

IN THE WORLD OF COVID-19, WHAT IS YOUR LOCKER ROOM LIKE THIS YEAR? “It’s a little bit more difficult. The reason being, we were two weeks late in starting because of [Northeastern’s] return to play policies, because of COVID. Then also, we’re spread out into three different locker rooms. So, it’s a little bit more difficult. What we’ve done for the most part is spread out our leadership group, so we have older guys and our leaders in those three locker rooms. I feel the culture is good, but we haven’t played any games yet, so we haven’t faced any adversity.” - Jim Madigan, Men’s Hockey Head Coach

“It’s pretty incredible. But the reason I think it’s incredible what our leaders are doing this year is because they’re navigating brand new territory, and they’re doing a really great job of it. Like they were going to have a movie night in Matthews Arena, where they can socially distance and watch a movie on the jumbotron. So, you know, it’s about finding different ways to come together as a team in an environment where it’s very difficult to do.” - Nick Carpenito, Women’s Hockey Associate Head Coach “I’d probably say united. Everybody’s on the same page, we don’t leave anybody behind or make anybody feel excluded or stand out from the group.” - Grant Jozefek, Men’s Hockey Redshirt Senior #15 “We’re actually not allowed to use the locker room this year, so it’s been a little bit different because usually it’s a place to gather and talk about practice and whatever. So not having that space to be with the whole team, it’s a little different. But we honestly just get to the pool deck early and have the same talks, so it’s kind of just transferred locations.” - Cloe Bedard-Khalid, Women’s Swimming & Diving Senior

WHO ARE THE BIGGEST CHARACTERS IN YOUR LOCKER ROOM? “I’d say from our team this year, Zach Solow. He’s a really fun guy to be around and he’s loud and outgoing. He’s very personable and goes out of his way to make you feel included. In previous years, Ryan Shea; he was in my class when I was a freshman. They did things the right way.” - Grant Jozefek, Men’s Hockey Redshirt Senior #15 “Probably the most noticeable personality is Tyson [Walker], he’s a very fun-hearted person, he’s always laughing and telling jokes and stuff. I think Vito [Cabrilo] is very blunt and just says it how it is which is pretty funny sometimes. Greg [Eboigbodin] is a big personality as well, he’s a really fun guy, always dancing and listening to music.” - Connor Braun, Men’s Basketball Redshirt Freshman #32

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SOME COACHES PREFER THEIR TEAMS TO BE MORE FOCUSED, SOME LOVE HAVING AN ACTIVE LOCKER ROOM. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERENCE ON HOW YOU LIKE YOUR LOCKER ROOM TO BE? “Yeah, so you’re going to hear a lot from me about culture. We have a great team culture, but to get it, you have to have players who are coming in with character. Culture doesn’t just happen, it is based on your players caring for each other, wanting to always put the team first and foremost, and being happy for your teammate’s success just as much as your own. For me, it doesn’t matter if it’s loud, quiet or in between.” - Jim Madigan, Men’s Hockey Head Coach “I think you need a blend. At least it’s been my experience, you win with serious-minded, tough individuals. You know, even the very best athletes fail at an extremely high rate. If you think of the best baseball hitter, seven out of ten times, he’s going to make an out, and you can have a great three-point shooter shooting 40%. So, you actually experience more failure than you do success, so you need a certain mindset and a certain perseverance in order to keep trying and keep getting better and keep believing in yourself and your teammates. At the same time, it has to be fun. In order to keep your passion and energy at a high level, there has to be some levity, some humor and self-deprecation to weather those failures. If you’re all serious you won’t be able to process it the way you need to process it.” - Bill Coen, Men’s Basketball Head Coach “I think it depends. When you’re talking about before games, you probably want a little more focused, quiet, everybody in their own zone listening to whatever music they would like to listen to. I think during the week, you want to make sure guys are working hard but also aren’t coming into the locker room with their head down and in their own corner.” - Chris Gbandi, Men’s Soccer Head Coach

WHAT’S THE ATMOSPHERE IN THE LOCKER ROOM LIKE BEFORE A COMPETITION? LOUD AND ENERGETIC? QUIET AND FOCUSED? “I definitely think we have a mixture of both which makes it such a good environment because everyone prepares differently. But then, we have a team speaker that plays pump-up music and FALL 2020

THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS

everyone gets hyped together, so it’s a personal preference but we definitely get hyped and it’s not a quiet environment.” - Emma Jurusik, Women’s Hockey Junior #9 “I think for the most part we’re all pretty loud and vocal. But there are people both ways, there are some who are loud and just want to talk, and there are others who would rather stay focused and visualize their races. It’s a combination but overall I would say the team is more loud and energetic.” - Cloe Bedard-Khalid, Women’s Swimming & Diving Senior “I like the louder atmospheres personally. I like cheering on everyone else and also getting up and having everyone be so supportive. It helps me not think about what’s going on and I can just go off the blocks and swim as hard as I can. It’s a really cool environment to be in.” - Kristi Kirchoff, Women’s Swimming and Diving Senior

WHAT’S ONE THING ABOUT YOUR TEAM THAT MAKES IT A GREAT LOCKER ROOM CULTURE? “Yeah, my roommate’s from Croatia and I’m from Arizona, so we’re from opposite sides of the world. But that’s the same for a lot of guys, but basketball unites us, and you know we’re all brothers and best friends.” - Connor Braun, Men’s Basketball Redshirt Freshman #32 “I would honestly say it’s like a family. We always look up to [coaches] Lauren [Colby], Roy [Coates] and Ryan [Rich] and how awesome they are. They really make it an environment that’s so supportive and encouraging, and we’re all super close as a team. I know a lot of schools or teams can’t really say that.” - Kristi Kirchoff, Women’s Swimming and Diving Senior

WHAT DID YOUR TEAM DO TO STAY IN TOUCH THROUGH COVID? “I run the TikTok, so I’d reach out to the team and we would do some of the TikTok trends, so there are some compilations of our team and that was good. Everyone reached out and we were able to feel like we were doing something together.” - Emma Jurusik, Women’s Hockey Junior #9

ALL HEADSHOTS COURTESY OF NORTHEASTERN ATHLETICS


After talking to athletes and coaches across four different sports, it’s clear that having accountability, a drive to work hard and support one another are the real fundamentals of having a truly great locker room – whether the locker room is one tiny area, spread out across three rooms, or on a pool deck. With the world how it is today, the teams have seen a threat to how they bond together, but it only seems appropriate that, as they do in their respective sports, they’ve risen to adversity and kept their locker rooms tight knit and united, and ready for competition to return.

“IT’S TWO THINGS. IT’S THE QUALITY OF PEOPLE IN THE LOCKER ROOM BUT ALSO THE LEADERSHIP.” - NICK CARPENITO, WOMEN’S HOCKEY ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH

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LIFE IN THE BUBBLE BY SARAH OLENDER

A look inside the NHL bubble from the perspective of Northeastern alumni.

I

n late June, Matt Benning, defenseman for the Nashville Predators and a Northeastern alumnus, had a son. A few weeks later, he left his newborn and entered the National Hockey League bubble, which could have potentially kept him from seeing his son for over two months. “For me, it was a tease,” Benning said. He lives in Edmonton, Canada, and even though he was a few minutes away from his family, he struggled with homesickness. “At the time I had a three-four-week-old son and I couldn’t go home to see him even though he was 10 minutes down the road.” Leaving family is always tough, but leaving in the middle of a pandemic to enter an isolated bubble is uncharted territory. “It’s definitely hard, there’s guys in tough situations,” Benning said. “There are a few guys who had kids. No matter what age, it’s tough to leave your kids because family means everything to many players.” But most players didn’t want to turn down the opportunity to fight for the Stanley Cup, an opportunity that many had thought would be taken away due to COVID-19. “It’s the most exciting time of the year,” Benning said. “We knew we weren’t going to be there for four to five months.” Despite the chaos of adapting to COVID-19, the NHL managed to create a safe, COVID-free bubble for the Stanley Cup playoffs in two Canadian cities: Edmonton and Toronto. Each team, including the players and staff, were assigned a floor in a hotel so that the teams could isolate together. Two of the most successful isolated professional sports bubbles were the NBA and the NHL, which both hosted Northeastern athletics alumni. Dylan Sikura, who was playing for the Chicago Blackhawks last season and is now a left wing for the Vegas Golden Knights, also wanted to be with family during this time. He originally left the U.S. to go back with his family in Canada. “There are silver linings,” Sikura said. “It brought me a lot closer to the older guys.” Unlike the normal NHL season, where players return to their own homes with their families after a day at the rink, players in the bubble could only return to their hotels each night after games and practices. Since no one outside of the bubbles was allowed in, and vice versa, there were more opportunities for players to socialize with players on opposing teams and within their own teams.

FALL 2020

LIFE IN THE BUBBLE


“THE FANS JUST BRING SOMETHING EXTRA, ESPECIALLY IN THE PLAYOFFS BECAUSE EVERYONE’S CHEERING AND IT GETS THE ADRENALINE GOING. THAT’S WHAT THE FUN PART OF HOCKEY IS. IT MAKES IT FUN.” - MATT BENNING

PHOTOS COURTESY OF NORTHEASTERN ATHLETICS, CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS & EDMONTON OILERS

Sikura, who played with Vancouver Canuck forward Adam Gaudette at Northeastern, felt lucky that he had the opportunity to reconnect with his former teammate. To Sikura and Benning, being in the bubble was like a hockey tournament. They travelled from the hotel to the rink and back, and when they weren’t playing, they got to hang out with their teammates and friends from opposing teams. There were other activities the players could do. According to Sikura, there were video games, ping pong, golf and more. “They definitely took care of us,” Benning said in agreement. He added, “I would’ve done it again. I thought it was really well done.” The NHL and the NBA both found success with zero positive COVID cases in either bubble. The NBA bubble was located in Walt Disney World, just outside of Orlando, Florida. They provided a “campus” for athletes to play, practice, eat and participate in regular activities, and the athletes were tested regularly. On top of having to adjust to a new type of environment, in order to keep a true bubble of isolation, fans were not allowed in the arena to watch games. In the NHL, the stadium was covered to hide the absence of fans, and in the NBA screens were put up around the stadium where fans could buy a virtual seat and their faces would be broadcasted on a virtual seat in the stadium. In all sports, especially ones that aren’t hosting fans yet, fake crowd-cheering noises were played whenever goals were scored. In the NBA, recordings of fans shouting, “Defense!” were also played to emulate the energy of a game with a present audience. Especially in the playoffs, where the fans are stereotypically the most rowdy and energized, Benning admits that the absence of fans was noticeable and weird. “Every game is do or die and the fans just bring something extra,” he said. Benning also added that he “prefer[s] the crowd, especially in the playoffs because everyone’s cheering and it gets the adrenaline going. That’s what the fun part of hockey is. It makes it fun.” With the bubble environment over and the new NHL and NBA seasons starting without a bubble, but still without fans, the only certainty these alumni have is that the unprecedented times seem set to continue.

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THE HIDDEN ATHLETES AMONG US BY CHRISTIAN GOMEZ

MATTHEWS ARENA BRIDGE

COLOMBUS GARAGE BRIDGE

With official sports cancelled, the Northeastern Reddit community creates their own — campus speedruns.

ISEC BRIDGE

N

RUGGLES

FALL 2020

THE HIDDEN ATHLETES AMONG US

ortheastern’s humble Boston campus has a tradition of being home to some of the best athletes in the world. Who could forget those like Adam Gaudette, a Hobey Baker Award winner and hattrick hero in the 2018 Beanpot finals, or Alina Müller, who won a bronze medal at the age of 15 with the Swiss National Ice Hockey Team at the 2014 Olympics in Russia? When the COVID-19 pandemic tragically stopped all varsity sports from proceeding, the stage was set for an entirely new breed of athletes to take their place. Of course, we’re talking about the Northeastern Speedrunners. From the Northeastern subreddit, these action-hungry competitors rose to fame seemingly overnight after one redditor, who goes by the name of neuspeedruns, posted a homemade video of a three minute and nine second sprint from the West Village dorms to our classic campus grocer, Wollaston’s, and back. An instant hit with Northeastern’s subreddit, the video reached a record number of upvotes, and would bring together a community of hidden athletes from all corners of campus.


But first, these silent sprinters needed something to fight for. While the varsity athletes focused on winning the Beanpot or reaching the NCAA March Madness Tournament, these campus heroes would set their sights on something else, something bigger – the official NEU Speed Runs leaderboards. Inspired by the original speedrun and with big ideas for the future of the speedrunning community, redditor AcademicGood6 decided that this budding group of likeminded runners should have a centralized hub where all future speedruns could be posted and viewed amongst themselves as well as the entire Northeastern community. “I thought it would be cool to throw together some sort of website and Discord to go with [the Reddit submissions] to build more of a community.” The second-year computer science and computer engineering student already had some experience building websites, so creating the official NEU Speed Runs website was no issue for them. With the official website and Discord server in place, the speedrunners set their sights on creating smarter and faster ways to navigate a multitude of iconic campus locations. Among all the different runs, the most popular became the “Four Bridges Speedrun.” This run utilizes all four on-campus bridges that cross over MBTA train tracks: Ruggles, ISEC Bridge, Columbus Garage Bridge, and the Matthews Arena Bridge. The only rule is that the timer starts at the stairs at the starting bridge and ends at the stairs of the fourth and final bridge. There is no route that must be taken – that is left to the athletes themselves. In total, six competitors have tried their luck at topping the leaderboard for this specific run. redditor the_gingiraffe, who holds the title for the second-most upvoted speedrun video on the Northeastern subreddit, was able to accomplish the feat in an honorable five minutes and thirteen seconds. For the_gingiraffe, a cross country and track athlete in high

school who was looking to find some action during lockdown, this challenge seemed like the perfect fit. “I remember the first video that came out on Reddit and me and my friends were all talking about it, and I just thought that it was something that I could do,” the_gingiraffe said. “Once the website was built it was kind of like, ‘Okay, this is a real thing I can do now’ and I kind of went and did it.” The challenge is equally a test of wit as well as strength. With no official route, there are many paths that could be taken which would allow the speedrunners to shave off valuable seconds, which is exactly what other challengers have done to knock the_gingiraffe off the top of the leaderboard. But having their times bested by others in the community hasn’t stopped them from coming up with new ideas for future speedruns in hopes of regaining the top position on the leaderboard. “I’ve been thinking of a move that could totally break the run if I could pull it off … It would be a pretty hard time to beat,” the_gingiraffe said. For competitive reasons, the move in question is being kept a secret. Even for those who may not have been cross country or track athletes, there are still ways to get involved. New ideas for runs that focus less on the athlete’s personal fitness and more on individual strategy (and a bit of luck) have been created to allow anyone to find a place on the speedrunning leaderboards. Such runs include the “ResMail” speedrun, which times competitors during the process of picking up on-campus mail, as well as the “Cabot Testing Center (COVID Test) Speedrun,” which times individuals’ ability to quickly (and safely) finish the entire COVID testing routine. In a world where “real” sports have stopped, the Speedrunners of Northeastern show that no matter what is happening in the world, the spirit of competition and sport are always there to be found. You just need to know where to look.

TOTAL DISTANCE

RECORD TIME

0.67 03:54.85 USER

TIME DATE

1. louderlotto 2. Spicy 3. Clova 4. Arridon 5. Kings_of_West_Willis 6. the_gingiraffe

03:54.85 04:08.33 04:37.00 04:44.40 04:51.67 05:13.26

Sept 22nd Sept 24th Sept 24th Sept 22nd Sept 21st Sept 21st

TOTAL STEPS CLIMBED

STATEMENT THE CHALLENGE IS EQUALLY A TEST OF WIT AS WELL AS STRENGTH THE RED & BLACK 43