THE RED & BLACK
LETTER FROM THE EDITORS I
am the last staff member remaining from the very first The Red & Black issue. And this is my last issue. And for the first time, not a single student at Northeastern will have known a world where The Red & Black did not exist. In a sense, I’ve waited 4.5 years to write those words. But back in 2017-2018, it was hard to imagine for us original 11 full-time staff members that this would ever last, let alone become as big as it has. We now routinely have 40-50 people helping piece together every story, photo, podcast, design, webpage, and social media post for a brand that now prints over 1,200 copies a semester and has over 1,000 Instagram followers. And while those numbers are great, it is not the story here. Every year we have multiple people who join and tell us that they’ve changed their major, got a co-op or job, or even just realized that they found a new passion because of the work they did here. And every time that happens, there is a collective tear of joy shed after realizing that that one time we spent 24 hours in Curry to get everything to the printer on time was, indeed, worth it. But that isn’t the story here either.
It’s you. Our readers. You’re the story. In our very first issue, we said that Northeastern athletics “memories were too often witnessed by too small an audience” and that we wanted to give athletes here a voice to “project the passion that drives them.” And the only way we could even attempt to accomplish that was to work with you, to know that you cared as much as we did. And you did care. So much. Every time I see someone reading a story, or posting about it on their social media, or asking me if they can be in the next issue, or seeing the “wow” expression on their face when they see the cover for the first time, or hearing them talk about how cool their story turned out, or even when they have a complaint… all I can think about is how thankful I am that you care. Not just about us, but about the athletic community here. So I leave you with this last request: please continue to care. There are so many great stories to tell about this place, this community, and about you. And that will never change. Always a Husky, Adam Gostomelsky
STAFF EDITORS IN CHIEF
ADAM GOSTOMELSKY, MADISON NEUNER
NINA ELLERY OLIVEIRA, SAM KLEIN
SOCIAL MEDIA EDITOR
SOCIAL MEDIA TEAM
ANGELA CROMP, NINA ELLERY OLIVEIRA, CHRISTIAN GOMEZ, SAM KLEIN, CARMEN PHILLIPS-ALVAREZ, BECKETT SANDERSON
JOSH CHASKES, ROHAN CHATURVEDI, ADAM DOUCETTE, NINA ELLERY OLIVEIRA, STACH JARAN, HUY NGUYEN, SARAH OLENDER, NICOLE READING
BRIDGET BOST, JOSH CHASKES, JUSTIN CHEN, ADAM DOUCETTE, NOAH FERNANDES, MAK GRAVES, MEREDITH GREAYER, MATT LEVIN, TUMI MOSIAH, HUY NGUYEN, MICHAEL RUBERTO, BECKETT SANDERSON, MALIA WANDERER
JUSTIN CHEN, ERIN SAVAGE
DANNA AMITAI, BRIAN BAE, KATIE BILLMAN, HEATHER CARMINATI, CLAUDIA DECKER, SUVEER GANTA, CHRISTIAN GOMEZ, ROHIT GUPTA, JAMES HOPKINS, MARCO LAM, ZEKE LIBATIQUE, MUHAMMAD MAZIN RAHU, EMILY MYERS, MADISON NEUNER, SARAH OLENDER, SADIE PARKER, AUSTIN SOMAN, BELLA TESTA, BRIANA TORRES, RAYMOND ZHUO
THE HOWL PODCAST
FIND US @NUREDANDBLACK NUREDANDBLACK.COM NUREDANDBLACK@GMAIL.COM
THE RED & BLACK WOULD LIKE TO THANK NORTHEASTERN ATHLETICS FOR THEIR SUPPORT.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
OVER THE WALL
In their return to the diamond, the baseball program has one of the best seasons in their history.
THE VIEW: PLAY-BY-PLAY
The misunderstandings and evolution of what’s really going on in the broadcast booth.
The equestrian club returns to winning form after a two-year hiatus.
PAWS: BEHIND THE MASK
How a team of people drive the spirit of Northeastern’s beloved mascot.
THE BOYLSTON CONNECTION
Hear Northeastern runners past and present explain what it’s like running one of the biggest races in the world.
Northeastern athletes use their summers to hone their skills with new teams across the country.
Northeastern’s club men’s rugby team continues its long history of success.
After a winless season in 2020, the men’s soccer team had their best season in nearly 10 years after a programchanging trip to New Hampshire.
Hear from new athletics director Jim Madigan about his history with Northeastern and what he hopes to accomplish in his new role.
“WE’RE HUNGRY AND WE’RE WINNERS”
Northeastern’s roundnet club, one of the fastest growing clubs on campus, has big ambitions for this spring’s Spikeball National Tournament.
"Should I leave or should I stay?" How do athletes decide when it’s time to turn professional?
5 DAYS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
A LOOK INSIDE THE STABLES
FORGING A NEW LEGACY
With a family full of former Northeastern athletes, Mak Graves is following her destiny while charting her own course.
THE NEW TOP DOG
How a distant dream transformed into the opportunity of a lifetime.
FRONT COVER PHOTOS BY CHRISTIAN GOMEZ AND SADIE PARKER PICTURED: TIMOTHY ENNIN BACK COVER PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN GOMEZ
PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN GOMEZ
OVER THE WALL
2021 CAA C HAM P I O N S
BY MATT LEVIN PHOTOS BY CHRISTIAN GOMEZ AND SADIE PARKER In their return to the diamond, the baseball program has one of the best seasons in their history.
n March 11, 2020, Northeastern baseball beat Hartford 3-1 on a frigid but sunny day for their 10th win in 12 games. The Huskies were rolling. However, their success would be dried up by the CAA’s announcement that all athletics would be postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 virus. “I got a call,” head coach Mike Glavine told The Athletic right after the season got canceled. “I knew it was big trouble.” The news was heartbreaking for the players who had worked so hard to have a successful season. Fortunately, every player received an extra year of eligibility to make up for what COVID-19 had taken from them. Key contributing seniors committed to return to school for another season, sticking it
out as fifth or even sixth year players. When combined with a dominant freshman class in 2021, it appeared as though Northeastern baseball would have one of their most deep and talented teams ever. 2021 was filled with triumph for the Huskies. The team tied the 1991 team with a 20 game win streak in the regular season. They not only tied the program record for season wins (36), but took the record for conference wins in the season (20). To top it off, they captured the programs first ever CAA Championship crown in a historic game against UNCW. The team featured a loaded batting lineup consisting of returning fifth years, second baseman Scott Holzwasser and infielder Ian Fair, redshirt sophomore power hitter outfielder
DANNY CROSSEN IAN FAIR
Jared Dupere, and young breakout stars with freshman infielder Max Viera and redshirt sophomore utility man Danny Crossen. Not only was their lineup loaded, but their pitching rotation was filled with talent, including redshirt freshman Cam Schlittler, redshirt freshman Sebastian Keane, and redshirt senior Kyle Murphy. They had great talent, but they also had great depth – an incredibly useful asset in the COVID era of sports. From the beginning, it was the leadership of the fifth and sixth year players who brought the team together. “[The older players] set the tone from the first fall practice and the meetings leading up to it, all the way through the season,” Glavine said. “That trickled down through all the returning players and, of course, our freshmen, so really all the
credit goes to those fifth and sixth year guys.” Freshman infielder Max Viera agreed. “They really taught me how to be a good baseball player and how to build good habits and be a good teammate.” Pitcher, Cam Schlittler, praised returning sixth year pitcher Kyle Murphy for mentoring him and the other younger pitchers. “He was the guy we looked at if we had questions,” Schlittler said. “Even for the relievers, everyone looked up to him and respected him, and it stayed that way the whole season.” Every player embraced the leadership philosophy in an unprecedented year where strong leadership was needed to keep everyone on the same page. Glavine praised his players’ THE RED & BLACK
preparedness while juggling uncertainty in the offseason. “I think it was all on the players; they were just awesome. All the leadership and everything, they just wanted to get out there and play,” Glavine said. “Obviously, coming off a year with a season being canceled, and then no summer ball, and then so much uncertainty all fall into winter and spring – all the credit really goes to the guys and what they brought to the table, the organization, leadership, and just getting together as much as they could.” In their third game of the season, the Huskies pulled off an impressive 14-11 victory over 17th ranked Wake Forest, led by eight Schlittler strikeouts and a Holzwasser grand slam. This game showed the team’s true potential. However, despite this impressive outing, the Huskies would begin their season slower than expected. Their record of 10-6 by the start of April was not the hot start that they had envisioned. In April, the rust of not playing for a full year fell off and everything started to fall into place. Starting on April 7, the Huskies wouldn’t lose another game until May 15. “We were just unstoppable,” Viera said. “I mean, the pitchers were pitching and we were hitting, playing good defense. I think what separated us during that streak versus other games was we’re all one team; we’re all pushing for each other. Everything was clicking.” Glavine also saw everything begin to click. “We won games in all different ways… stolen bases, power pitching, defense,” he said.
“It’s just like a heavyweight fight, just back and forth,” Glavine said. “Halfway through the game, I think I just sort of, I wouldn’t say relaxed, but I just said,
'YOU KNOW WHAT, THIS IS GONNA COME DOWN TO THE LAST SWING.’ YOU JUST KNEW IT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN NO MATTER WHO TOOK THE LEAD. IT WAS JUST A CRAZY WILD GAME, PROBABLY THE WILDEST BASEBALL GAME I’VE EVER BEEN A PART OF.” With one out and no one on base, Viera walked up to the plate facing UNCW’s CAA pitcher of the year, Landen Roupp. “I was trying to stick to the approach and just be ready for a fastball,” Viera said. “That’s always a dream of mine, playing in the backyard, playing wiffle ball, having those situations and going yard, but I was just trying to stick to the approach.” There was a pitch. There was a swing. And then there was an immediate silence after the loudest clank sound any of these Huskies had ever heard, as the whole stadium waited to see whether the ball would come back down. It didn’t. Viera threw his helmet into the air as he rounded the bases, meeting his teammates at home plate to celebrate his walk-off home run. “I found a pitch I liked, and luckily I was able to handle it,” Viera said.
“I WAS BLACKING OUT GOING AROUND THE BASES. IT’S “ONCE WE ENDED UP HAVING THE LONGEST WIN STREAK IN JUST A CRAZY EXPERIENCE, IT’S JUST SURREAL.” THE COUNTRY, WE JUST STARTED TALKING ABOUT IT EVERY Schlittler was ecstatic to win and see his teammate achieve glory. DAY, ACTUALLY. WE DIDN’T HIDE BEHIND IT. IT WAS SOMETHING WE EMBRACED AND WANTED, AND THE GUYS “IT’S GREAT TO SEE A FRESHMAN WALK IT OFF, AND IT OWNED IT AND DID A GREAT JOB WITH IT.” WAS PROBABLY THE GREATEST STORY EVER. SO The winning streak concluded with an exclamation point in a 26-4 win over the University of Delaware. The 26 runs and the 22-run margin of victory were both Northeastern records. It was clear that Northeastern was the team to beat in the CAA. With a record of 32-9 and a conference record of 20-3, the Huskies earned the number one seed in the tournament, as they attempted to earn their first ever CAA Championship. They were destined to face six-time CAA champion and traditional conference powerhouse UNCW. After splitting the first two games, the stage was set for a winner-take-all championship game at UNCW’s Brooks Field. The game lived up to the hype After a back and forth game, the Huskies were three outs away from a heartbreaking defeat in the bottom of the ninth inning. Then, redshirt sophomore outfielder Ben Malgeri hit the ball deep into center field. The ball hung in the air for what felt like an eternity, before clearing the wall by inches, Malgeri’s fifth and final home run of the CAA Tournament. The game would be decided in extra innings. FALL 2021
AWESOME.” Glavine had nothing but praise for his team. “Our guys just never gave up. They were resilient. They fought. We had to come out of the loser’s bracket and we had to beat those guys twice. We did, and just so much credit to those guys for all their mental and physical toughness.” In what was a record breaking year for Northeastern baseball, the team was one of the nation’s best. They would finish fifth in the NCAA in ERA with 3.23 and fourth in the NCAA in stolen bases with 118. Dupere would finish the year with 21 home runs and 60 runs scored, both the most in a season in Northeastern history. Schlittler finished the season with an ERA of 1.79, the third best ERA in a season in Northeastern history. Holzwasser would finish the year first in program history in runs scored, stolen bases and finished tied for first in walks, all in 217 career games. “There were some ups and downs in the year with injuries and COVID, but we overcame all that,” Viera said. “We won the conference championship, and it was a great time. We all bonded as a team, and it was just a great experience.”
RECORD-BREAKING YEAR 118 STOLEN BASES 3.23 EARNED RUN AVERAGE (ERA)
JA RE D DUPE RE
4TH IN THE NATION 5TH IN THE NATION
21 HOMERUNS & 60 RUNS SCORED BOTH MOST IN PROGRAM HISTORY CAA PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2021
1.79 ERA 3RD BEST IN PROGRAM HISTORY CAA ROOKIE OF THE YEAR 2021
2B S COT T HOLZSWASSE R #28 SS MOST RUNS IN PROGRAM HISTORY (171) MOST STOLEN BASES IN PROGRAM HISTORY (80) SECOND MOST GAMES PLAYED IN PROGRAM HISTORY (217)
CAM SCHLI TTLER
M AX V I ERA
WALK OFF HOMERUN IN CAA CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
THE RED & BLACK
PHOTOS COURTESY OF NORTHEASTERN’S ROUNDNET CLUB
“WE’RE HUNGRY AND WE’RE WINNERS” BY MEREDITH GREAYER Northeastern’s roundnet club, one of the fastest growing clubs on campus, has big ambitions for this spring’s Spikeball National Tournament.
ince its establishment as a club sport in 2017, Northeastern’s roundnet club has rapidly expanded in size and popularity, producing some of the nation’s best collegiate players. Yes, the nation, and yes, roundnet – more commonly known as Spikeball. The backyard game found at high school graduation parties alongside cornhole and cup pong has made its way to the big league, and Northeastern’s club is among the best. Fifth year Alexander Daly has been a member of Northeastern’s roundnet club since its founding in 2017. He’s witnessed the club grow from a mere 20 members to over 150 today. “In my first year there were only a handful of members,” he said. “It was just a group of guys who liked to play Spikeball together and it was very unofficial.” Since then, Daly has seen both the sport and his club flourish. He attributes this growth to the marketing and expansion of Spikeball, the dominant supplier of roundnet’s equipment. The popularity of Northeastern’s roundnet club has coincided with Spikeball’s rapid growth. “In my first year, not everyone knew what Spikeball was and we’d have people coming up to us asking, ‘What is that game? That looks so cool,’” Daly said. “Now pretty much everyone walking by is like, ‘Oh, I know Spikeball. Those guys FALL 2021
are good,’ or, ‘I’ve played that before.’” Daly remembers the club’s beginnings, when recruiting new members and gaining recognition were primary goals. “The first year we wanted as many members as we could. We tried to grow the club and grow the sport.” Now, Daly said, “because we’ve gotten so much interest, we’ve started to pivot more to recruiting players who want to travel to tournaments and compete.” Although the club’s competitive component has ramped up, their roots in casual and friendly play remain fundamental. The club’s leaders want to maintain a welcoming atmosphere, which third year Charles Tipton noticed when he joined the club. “I wasn’t really friends with anyone until this year and they kind of just brought me in,” he said. “I hang out with them a ton and it’s awesome.” Freshman Jackson Bigg appreciates the club’s inviting spirit and was immediately accepted. “The team dynamic is super friendly,” he said. “I’ve become pretty good friends with people who are three or four years older than me. It’s very inclusive and a lot of fun.” This year, the club held tryouts for the first time ever. Tryouts organized the group into an A and B team, or a competitive and casual team. The best 40 players made the A
team, while the rest, about 100 players, are on the B team. Two casual practices each week are held for all members. Practices are unstructured, highlighting roundnet’s social aspect more than its intense, competitive element. A third practice, held weekly for A team players, focuses on drills, strategy, and technique. This is where players prepare for competitions and tournaments. Bigg was looking to be more competitive. He spent the season on the A team and recalled the experience positively, noting how in the short time he has been playing in the club, he’s already significantly improved. “I know I’ve grown a lot since coming here,” Bigg said. “I was playing the game at home a lot differently than I play it now. I only had a couple friends to play with and improve with, and, honestly, none of us knew what we were doing, so to come here and have someone say ‘this is the best way to do it’ has been super helpful.” Fourth year captain Jake Goodnow, one of the team’s star players, also joined with little experience. “When I started at Northeastern in September of 2018, I’d only been playing for two months,” he said. “In my freshman year, I was really able to grow as a player, and by the spring, I was already on the top squad, having only played competitively for seven months.” Teaching is an integral aspect of the club. According to Daly, “at the very start, everyone is bad, because that’s really how Spikeball starts. No one’s coming into college a Spikeball pro.” In fact, many of the club’s best players joined with little roundnet experience. With the club’s growth, the focus has shifted away from club expansion and toward growing new members and developing all-star players. “I love teaching new people, and that’s really one of the reasons why I wanted to become president,” club president and senior Bradley Bares said. “I’ll see people playing and give them tips because there’s a lot of little things you can help players with and, all of a sudden, they become a better player. Seeing their joy in that is wonderful.” Aside from providing instruction to grow new players, the club has established itself as a competitive team, winning four sectional tournaments in a row: fall 2018, spring 2019, fall 2019, and again in fall 2021 after a COVID-driven hiatus in 2020. Based on their successes in sectionals, Daly, the club’s team captain, believes the club’s participation in more competitive tournaments is essential for improving their game.
“WE’VE KIND OF OUTGROWN THE NORTHEAST; WE’RE THE BEST TEAM AROUND AND OTHER TEAMS DON’T TYPICALLY CHALLENGE US HERE. THAT’S WHY WE REALLY MAKE AN EFFORT TO TRAVEL TO OTHER REGIONS AND GET GOOD COMPETITION,” DALY SAID. “It’s easier to improve when you’re against players who are better than you or have different play styles. Playing against
the same Northeastern players all the time is good, but we start to learn each other’s play styles. It’s just very different playing someone you’ve never played before, so we need to get as much experience as we can.” In November, the team headed to Texas and matched up against bigger competition at the South Central Sectional. They came away champions, beating Texas A&M in the semifinal and Baylor University in the final. Baylor places first in national rankings, but Northeastern hopes their recent victory will help them take Baylor’s coveted spot. Nationals is the club’s culminating event, and they have their sights set high this year. Goodnow thinks their club has the potential to place first in the nation this spring. “This year is the first year we have a really strong squad that can compete against top clubs in the country,” he said. “Going into the spring semester and going to nationals, we’ll be disappointed if we don’t find ourselves on the podium. We have high goals for ourselves and we’re working hard, so that’s an achievable goal.” Goodnow, and the rest of Northeastern’s roundnet club, believe they’re capable of proving themselves as the nation’s top players. “Our squad is the strongest it’s ever been. We want to get on the national podium. We want to go out there and prove ourselves. That’s our mission: to prove to other schools that we’re hungry and we’re winners.”
M EM BERS I N 2017
150 M EM BERS I N 2021
THE RED & BLACK
PAWS: BEHIND THE MASK
BY MALIA WANDERER PHOTO BY EMILY MYERS How a team of people drive the spirit of Northeastern’s beloved mascot.
*TO PROTECT THE IDENTITY OF PAWS, ALL NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED*
rms waving in celebration, a large Husky sporting a Northeastern jersey glides across the ice at a hockey game, riling up the crowd – the image of Paws has been a Northeastern staple, embodying the energy of students from its position on the field. As one of a university’s best kept secrets, mascots live a double life, keeping their second identity hidden. According to long-time mascot and Northeastern alumnus Peter, the shared secret among the team helps bring the members together. “You have this bond and this connection that you don’t really get to talk about outside of that, so you just get very close to the group of people,” Peter said. There’s a reason for the mystique behind these mascot double agents. “A big part of why we don’t talk about it is [that] it’s supposed to be a mascot and not a person in a suit, and if you know the name of the person then it kind of takes away from that.” According to mascot coordinator Chris, the strong sense of community within the team kept him coming back for years. “There’s a lot of team camaraderie,” Chris said. “People were just really like, an unspoken rule, yeah, this job kind of sucks – we’re in the big sweaty dog suit, it’s heavy, it smells, but we’re all here to have fun.” Paws is a work-study opportunity that accepts student applications. The most enticing part is the chance to have fun, according to first year mascot Brian. “You get to be a character, and being at these sorts of events I wouldn’t really attend just as myself, but I can go and I can have fun,” Brian said. “You get an opportunity to sort of be silly and carefree, and I enjoy the concept.” Additionally, as a prominent figure in Northeastern athletics, Paws gets the opportunity to travel to tournaments, which Peter said has yielded many unique experiences. “I’ve got to do a lot of really, really cool things,” Peter said. “I’d say probably my favorite memory was in 2019. Our men’s basketball team won the conference championship, and just being able to be on the court for that and be there – it was such an amazing experience.” In addition to conference tournaments, Paws makes appearances at regular sporting events, as well as the everpopular Beanpot. Chris said one of his best memories came from the tournament when he had the job of helping direct the performer portraying Paws. “When the men’s hockey team won the Beanpot, I was handling for the mascot at the time,” Chris said. As a new mascot, Brian said the idea of the job in general is
what has made it so special for him. “[What I look forward to] is just being on campus for different events and having this very tangible connection to the school,” Brian said. “I definitely miss the energy that [high school] football games can bring, but hockey for Northeastern sort of has the same energy … and that’s almost intoxicating” Inside the suit, mascots do their best to portray their interpretation of the Husky while following certain rules, according to Chris. “For the most part, people just tend to stick with the script. We just say don’t be mean, have fun, look like you’re having fun, show energy,” Chris said. “And then people take their interpretations out there… For me, I really love hockey, so for celebrating, I’ll do classic hockey celebrations. For the most part, it’s pretty similar, but everyone has their own little flavor to it.” For Peter, he finds using body language to be an important part of portraying the Husky. “I move around a lot more, I have a lot more energy because we can’t talk and we have the head on,” Peter said. “I express things much more nonverbally, so I use my body and I use hand motions and actions… They express how I’m feeling.” Chris said the experience of portraying Paws helped him explore outside his comfort zone and become more confident. “What I realized is after a couple games, nobody knows it’s me,” Chris said. “So if I do something stupid, if I fall, it’s not me, it’s the dog.”
FRONT PHOTO BY MARCO LAM REAR PHOTO BY BRIANA TORRES
“SO HE’S OUT ON THE ICE SKATING AROUND, AND I’M SITTING THERE ON THE BENCH AT TD GARDEN WATCHING. AND I’M LIKE, ‘HOLY CRAP, I’M HERE, I AM ON THE ICE, EVERYONES UP THERE IN THE RAFTERS AND THE NOSEBLEEDS WATCHING, BUT I’M HERE.’” THE RED & BLACK
MADDOGS BY JUSTIN CHEN
PHOTOS BY SADIE PARKER
Northeastern’s club men’s rugby team continues its long history of success.
hile the varsity teams have been the center of attention in the Northeastern athletics scene, the rugby team has quietly been a staple of club sport success. Blowing out opponents on the regular, the Northeastern club rugby team has developed into one of the top collegiate programs. Founded in the 1980s, the Northeastern rugby club started as an unaffiliated group of students bonding over their passion for the sport, choosing the “MadDog” as their mascot. After becoming an official university club in 1987,
the Maddogs joined the New England Rugby Football Union College Division I (NERFU) and made the playoffs in their first year. After a stint in the East Coast Rugby Conference (ECRC), NU accepted an invitation to the 18-school Liberty Conference in 2017. The Maddogs most recently won the Liberty Championship in 2019, capping off an undefeated season. The club also fields a sevens team in the spring, competing in a couple of invitational tournaments before a Liberty
Conference sevens regular season. Like any collegiate athlete, competition isn’t a Maddog’s only responsibility. “We have practices three times a week and film,” junior blindside flanker Coleman Jackson described. “But we have to try and make our own time for lift and conditioning.” Furthermore, given the physicality of rugby, recovery is crucial. “Unfortunately, there’s little guidance on that,” Jackson explained. “We have to figure out our own plans,
which sometimes holds us back.” Jackson, who played high school rugby, said the biggest adjustment he had to make at the collegiate level was strategizing. “I used to just run as far as I could with the ball and drag kids since I was bigger,” he remembered, “but in college there’s more structure, detail, and discipline” Conversely, senior fly half Matt Urrea and senior loose forward Alex Parciak both joined without prior rugby experience. “I was looking for some competitive sport and intramurals weren’t doing it,” Urrea, who played football in high school, said. He remembered that he tried rugby his freshman year and fell in love with it quickly. “I grew up playing team sports and didn’t want to give it up.” Because of the number of players joining without prior rugby experience, the team has a detailed onboarding process. “A football background gives you a leg up,” Urrea said, “but you also have little idea about rugby itself.” The club has A and B teams that both play conference games in different divisions, and a development team for newcomers to learn and practice with. “We want to let guys know that rugby is super fun,” Parciak, who joined with a football and wrestling background, said. “It might take a year or two [to adjust], and we want to make sure everyone stays engaged and comfortable.” Despite the sport’s growing popularity in the Northeast, rugby and its strategies are still foreign to many newcomers. “In rugby, you still have schemes, sets, and plays,” Parciak explained, “but it’s a lot more free flowing, so when there are opportunities to stray away from the game plan to make something happen, it’s encouraged.” He also noted that rugby doesn’t have the concrete roles and play-by-play game flow that football has. “It definitely took time to develop the IQ, feel, and trust in my decision making.” The most important thing is safety. “Tackling in football and rugby is very different,” Urrea explained. “There’s an emphasis on protecting your head.” Upperclassmen take initiative to teach newcomers how to play the physical part of rugby safely. That said, the Maddogs do not find their success from mere size and strength. Rather, they succeed by taking advantage of their quickness and executing game plans. “We’re not always the biggest team but we compensate for that by being fundamentally sound,” Urrea said. “It’s a mental thing as much as physical.” The team’s on-field dominance cannot be accomplished without the Maddogs’ strong bonds with one another. “A tight-knit community is a good foundation for success,” Jackson emphasized. In normal seasons, the upperclassmen would host gatherings, team meals, and other events that would allow them to connect outside off the field. Collegiate sports require traveling long distances for THE RED & BLACK
games, which is a major catalyst for team bonding. “It is so underrated,” Urrea noted. “Being packed in a van with 15 other guys unintentionally builds chemistry. There’s chirps being thrown around for hours … There’s never another time where we get to interact so closely.” The Maddogs also travel to the West Coast in the spring to play in a couple tournaments to tune up for their sevens season. “There’s nothing like raiding a Chick-fil-A with 50 other guys after an away game,” Urrea concluded with a laugh. The pandemic has rattled the sports community, but the team did their utmost to continue individual training and stay in contact with one another. Parciak praised the coaching staff for helping with communication and continuity. “They scheduled Zoom calls every week throughout the whole pandemic to go over game planning, watch film, and stay in touch,” he recalled. “It always felt like the team was always there.” Furthermore, Parciak said that he and his fellow upperclassmen “felt a sense of responsibility to help the team culture move forward” this past semester. “We had to reestablish team traditions and general culture since there weren’t as many guys that were active [before the pandemic].” Especially when recruiting freshmen, establishing both a welcoming and winning environment is crucial in order to convince them to commit their time to the team. “It’s important to have guys enjoy being around each other outside of rugby,” Urrea said. “You could love rugby but might not love it enough to spend ten hours a week; it’s about making sure guys want to be there for the game and for each other.” Urrea observes this drive quite often, especially in the gym. Though there are rarely team lifts, “you can usually see five or six teammates in Marino on a random day,” he said. Jackson agrees with this sentiment. “A lot of people joined at my high school just to say they played a sport; we lacked consistency and it was a rough ride,” he said, a sharp contrast with his experience at Northeastern. “It’s been hard to rebuild that same level of [pre-pandemic] camaraderie,” he added. “But it’s been getting back to where we were before the shutdown.” During the club sports stoppage, some Maddogs ventured past collegiate rugby to improve their game. Jackson and Parciak both played and trained with the Mystic River Rugby Club, one of the top men’s programs in New England, during parts of the year. Though he only played in a couple sevens games in the summer, Jackson found his time with Mystic River rewarding and said that “it’s great to have the opportunity to play at a higher level; it really helped me progress.” “You’re not only playing against better competition, you’re also playing with better teammates,” Parciak observed. “It was intimidating, but after adjustment it became another opportunity to learn from some really good players and bring back some skills, drills, and perspectives.” The Maddogs have built strong connections with local FALL 2021
men’s clubs over the years and used them as resources to get rugby-centered training, lifting plans, and recovery – something Northeastern doesn’t offer. “These opportunities are pretty important for guys on the team who want to see how far they can take rugby,” Jackson said. Rugby is a staple in the lives of these Maddogs. “My experience at Northeastern is shaped very much by the rugby team,” Jackson said. “It’s one of the biggest reasons I enjoy going here.” Urrea attributed his enjoyment of the club in part to the makeup of the team. “We’re so diverse because of how international rugby is,” he explained. “I have friends from vastly different experiences and backgrounds; that was one of the reasons why I chose Northeastern and I was able to take it a step further through rugby.” The culture and support has also played a part in the experience. Despite the game’s hardships, Parciak credits his teammates and coaches for making his time as a Maddog enjoyable and memorable. “It’s been everything I imagined and a million times more.”
AWARD S NATIONAL COLLEGIATE RUGBY ALLSTARS RHETT DAWSON DHENDUP DORJEE COLEMAN JACKSON ALVARRO BERREGO RYAN CONNOLLY MANNY EDUQUE NICK HUDSON MATT URREA TOMAS CHOUKROUN SAM MOYLE LIBERTY CONFERENCE 2021 ALL-CONFERENCE FIRST TEAM COLEMAN JACKSON ALEX PARCIAK SECOND TEAM MATT URREA ALVARO BORREGO NATIONAL COLLEGIATE RUGBY ALL STAR 10S SAM SAGHERIAN NICK HUDSON ALEX PARCIAK COLEMAN JACKSON ALVARO BORREGO
“MY EXPERIENCE AT NORTHEASTERN IS SHAPED VERY MUCH BY THE RUGBY TEAM. IT’S ONE OF THE BIGGEST REASONS I ENJOY GOING HERE.” - COLEMAN JACKSON
STRIKING GOLD “M
ost people had an Olympic dream when they were little. I really never felt that draw, or that it could be me.” For 2018 Northeastern graduate and former women’s rower Madison Mailey, achieving the highest honor in sports, an Olympic gold medal, was unimaginable. “I didn’t think I was fast enough, or good enough,” Mailey said. After an unsuccessful tryout for the Canadian Junior FALL 2021
BY NOAH FERNANDES PHOTOS BY CHRISTIAN GOMEZ How a distant dream transformed into the opportunity of a lifetime.
National Team, Mailey and her family were disappointed but knew that it was only the beginning of a long journey. Her coach insisted on her potential. “Madison is going to go to the Olympics, it just depends when.” Watching the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro in 2016, Mailey felt as if reaching that level was a distant dream. But as she gained more trust in herself throughout college, that distant dream slowly started to become more of a reality. A
2018 All-American season at Northeastern led to Going into the race, the Canadians were the underdogs. opportunities with the Canadian national team, including Racing on the world’s biggest stage brings many distractions, two U23 World Championships with the women’s eights and which only adds to the nerves, but Mailey put that all aside a silver medal with the senior team. and had one goal in mind. “Winning the silver medal in the 2018 World “OUR ONLY GOAL WAS TO REDEFINE EXCELLENCE. WE DID Championships was a huge moment for me,” she said, NOT SAY WE WANTED A GOLD MEDAL AROUND OUR “because I realized that I had finished second in the whole NECKS BECAUSE WE KNEW IF WE COULD REDEFINE world.” Her success thus far was a constant reassurance. “If I EXCELLENCE IN THE SPORT OF WOMEN’S ROWING, WE could train hard and give it my all, I could go to the COULD END UP WITH THAT MEDAL.” Olympics and become successful. I had to keep reminding myself, ‘Why not me?’” It was not a straight shot to the gold medal. Trying to fend Mailey moved from Boston to Victoria, British Columbia, off a great New Zealand team was quite the task; the Canada in 2018. In doing so, she was moving away from her Canadians finished second to them in the first heat. In the family and friends to train full time. Rowing became her second heat they also finished in second, this time to entire life. Romania, advancing to the championship race, where they “I was consistently trying to prove myself to my teammates got off to a great start. and coaches,” she said. “The training was also different. There “Five strokes in, it felt good. I said, ‘Now this is a gold was more volume. We went from 15 kilometers in the medal stroke,’” Mailey said. “I tried to stay very present on morning and weights in the afternoon at Northeastern to 30 each stroke and not focus on the finish. As we got close, I kilometers in the morning, weights, and then another 20 heard, ‘You’re going to be an Olympic champion in five kilometers in the afternoon.” strokes.’ I tried to make myself think I was in the silver medal The transition to more intense training began to pay off in position by one seat to motivate me to go even harder.” 2019, when she made the four-seat boat for the 2020 Olympic Trials; all three boats from team Canada qualified. PHOTO BY KATIE BILLMAN Despite her helping to qualify the boat for Team Canada, Mailey did not secure herself a spot just yet. Only 14 of the 21 qualifying athletes would compete in Tokyo. After nearly two years, she finally received the call she’d been waiting for. Mailey’s efforts over the past two years hadn’t gone unnoticed. She’d been selected to represent Team Canada at the 2020 Olympics. “I called all of my family and friends, and my coach from Northeastern, Joe Wilhelm,” she said. “I felt fulfilled. I felt that my hard work and dedication, and me missing out on a lot of other things in my life, had paid off.” But COVID-19 had other plans. The emergence of the pandemic in March 2020 caused the Olympic Committee to postpone the Games until 2021, putting Mailey’s dreams on hold. “It was crazy to see the text [saying that] Canada had pulled out from the Olympic Games. How could Canada not send Olympians to the Olympics?” she said. “I laughed because I had made the team just five days before.” But this didn’t discount all of Mailey’s hard work. “It was the dream that kept me going,” she said. “The number of miles and hours and time spent in the weight room and time spent with teammates kept me going. I had to tell myself that I’m going to get stronger and faster and better.” Fast forward to 2021. Many things were different at these Olympics: a two week quarantine, no fans, and limited travel within the Olympic Village. But it did not prevent her from enjoying the Olympic experience. In the Village, Mailey recalled brushing elbows with superstar athletes such as Naomi Osaka, Andy Murray, and Yao Ming, to name a few. THE RED & BLACK
Five strokes later, they crossed the finish line… this time in first. They were Olympic champions. “I could not believe it,” Mailey said. “Who can even dream big enough to go to the Olympics, let alone be an Olympic champion? I was so proud of my teammates. It was not a straight line to that Olympic race. That race was textbook; that is what some would say is a perfect race plan, perfect execution.” Their gold medal was the first for Canadian women’s rowing since 1992. The gold medal team of that year became a household name, and had inspired her to pick up an oar. Now, she would be a household name and inspire others.
PHOTO COURTESY OF NORTHEASTERN ATHLETICS FALL 2021
“I was so proud and fulfilled and honored to be a part of the first gold medal in Canadian women’s rowing in a while.” Typically, Olympic medalists are met at the podium by friends, family, fans, and spectators. Due to COVID-19, the athletes were deprived of the usual victory celebration, but it was special nonetheless.
“IT REMINDS YOU HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO DO THINGS THAT ARE BIGGER THAN YOU. I THINK MORE PEOPLE WOULD DO THINGS FOR OTHERS THAN THEY WOULD DO FOR THEMSELVES. IT MADE ME UNDERSTAND THE GRAVITY OF WHAT I WAS DOING.”
“It was weird walking on the podium and seeing no fans or family, but it reminds you of the huge support you have back home,” Mailey said. Despite coming home with a gold medal around her neck, Mailey is unsure of what the future has for her. After giving 15 years of her life to the sport, she feels there might be a place for her outside of that world. Or maybe she rows again in 2024. But regardless, Mailey can rest assured knowing that somewhere in Canada there is another girl picking up an oar for the first time, inspired in the same way Mailey was by that 1992 team.
THE RED & BLACK
THE VIEW: PLAY-BY-PLAY
BY BECKETT SANDERSON PHOTO BY SARAH OLENDER The misunderstandings and evolution of what’s really going on in the broadcast booth.
ports broadcasting is the dream job of many young adults around the globe. It makes sense; who wouldn’t want to be paid to watch sports during the day, talk about it for a few hours, then go home to relax? But the reality of the industry is a little different than how it’s perceived. The truth of the matter is sports broadcasting is like an iceberg – 90% of the iceberg is unseen underwater, similar to how the majority of the work broadcasters put into their craft often goes unnoticed. Sports media has garnered a reputation as a field that is easier than other forms of media, but the backbone of the industry rests in hours upon hours of work FALL 2021
THE VIEW: PLAY-BY-PLAY
behind the scenes followed by the few moments of the dream job people imagine. Bill Spaulding, a play-by-play commentator for Northeastern’s sports, USA Track & Field, and the NBC Olympics, emphasizes how false that reputation is. “As a commentator, most of your work actually comes before the game in terms of how much you prepare for it,” Spaulding explained. “The game’s the easy part.” Preparation is the key to success and being able to enjoy “the easy part.” “If you show up to a game unprepared, you will be exposed very, very quickly,” Spaulding said. “You
probably put in at least 10 to 15 hours of prep work for the two-hour broadcast.” Fourth-year Mike Puzzanghera, a lead play-by-play commentator with WRBB – Northeastern’s student-run sports radio station – and sports news correspondent with the Boston Globe, echoes this sentiment: “I feel like sometimes people think that their favorite broadcaster just goes to the arena, or goes to the field, and talks, and it’s just a perfect broadcast,” he said. “But behind the scenes they’re preparing really hard trying to find any possible storyline to talk about.” This behind-the-scenes work is reflected in the prep sheets Puzzanghera takes into every Northeastern hockey game he commentates. This 11 by 17-inch sheet of paper is like a geometry cheat sheet (see bottom right). It’s meticulously crafted and contains as much information as it can possibly fit, covering player stats such as height, weight, game statistics, and hometown, as well as team stats such as power play info, league standings, and upcoming schedule. The sheet even contains fun quips no one would think could impact a sports broadcast. For instance, there are lines describing how freshman forward Matt Choupani “cut his hair, but used to have some nice lettuce” and denoting junior forward Riley Hughes as “speedy.” While the hardcore preparation can a lot of times feel fun, it’s not a quick process. Puzzanghera creates prep sheets and memorizes all the information on them for both teams before every game he broadcasts – a task that often takes him 6-8 hours a week.
been more important to be willing and able to adapt. Luckily, this is a shift Northeastern is prepared to take in stride. With streaming service contracts with NESN and FloSports as well as student focused groups like WRBB, all the pieces are in place to absorb this change. “Northeastern has been one of the standard bearers among the early adaptors to the streaming world, producing a lot of broadcasting that other schools are just trying to catch up with,” Spaulding said. “Northeastern, punches above its weight class when it comes to productions for sure.”
“AS A COMMENTATOR, MOST OF YOUR WORK ACTUALLY COMES BEFORE THE GAME IN TERMS OF HOW MUCH YOU PREPARE FOR IT. THE GAME’S THE EASY PART.” However the application of this work for Puzzanghera and many other broadcasters is changing daily. Those looking to follow in their footsteps may find the industry in a far different place now than where it was several years ago. Streaming and individual productions are increasing in popularity and that combined with a shift out of traditional broadcasting roles has new age broadcasters embracing sports media using their own ingenuity and technical prowess. Dr. Jon Lewis, a sports media professor at Northeastern and the sole writer for Sports Media Watch, a website tracking all current sports media news, has paid particular attention to how the industry appears to be evolving. “I think what’s really happened is that doing your own thing is now more of a priority for everybody in the industry. I mean, ESPN isn’t the dream anymore, SportsCenter isn’t the dream anymore,” Lewis said. “There’s a certain level of being able to kind of create your own content, control your own content, and the tools are available now that weren’t available [years ago].” With the sports broadcasting industry embracing new methods of controlling and producing content, it has never THE RED & BLACK
BIG DECISIONS BY ADAM DOUCETTE
PHOTO COURTESY OF NORTHEASTERN ATHLETICS
"Should I leave or should I stay?" How do athletes decide when it’s time to turn professional?
ccomplishing a lifelong dream that’s so close you can almost touch it is not an easy thing to turn away from. Leaving the life you know behind for a new city, new teammates, and new responsibilities can be equally difficult. This is the decision that some of the best college athletes are faced with: Finish your college career, or leave early and turn professional.
SAM JACOBSA K
Compete for three years at Northeastern, win a CAA title, get drafted, and sign the MLB contract he’d been working toward his whole life. That was the plan for Sam Jacobsak when he arrived at Northeastern in 2017. Two and a half years in, it looked like things were going according to plan. But on March 11, 2020, Northeastern baseball’s first home game of the season turned out to be the last game of the year. The next morning, baseball head coach Mike Glavine called the team to Cabot to tell them the remaining 38 games were cancelled due to COVID-19. At a time when the home games were just beginning and scouts were supposed to be watching, Jacobsak’s pivotal third year was over. His decision to leave after the season just became more difficult, but at the forefront of his mind were the guys who didn’t have any decision at all. “It was tough because you’re looking at the fourth and fifth years who might never get to wear a Northeastern uniform again… That was the hardest thing, to look at those guys,” he said.
“IT WILL BE STUCK IN MY HEAD FOREVER, THE ATMOSPHERE IN THAT ROOM.” Not long after that meeting, Northeastern sent students home. Classes were moved online. There was still a month left in the semester, but the year felt over. For the following months, Jacobsak went back and forth in his head countless times trying to decide what to do. The
COMMITS TO NORTHEASTERN MAY 2O16
dream of a CAA championship was yet to be accomplished. But he now had the opportunity to be one step closer to playing professional baseball. In early May, word got out that the MLB was cutting the draft from the normal 40 rounds to only five. The odds of Jacobsak getting drafted – and getting the signing bonus that comes with it — took a huge hit. On June 9, two days before the draft, Jacobsak was at the beach with some friends, trying not to think about it. After all, he had just spent two and a half months sitting at home because of COVID; there had been plenty of time to overthink things. His phone rang. It was Northeastern pitching coach Kevin Cobb. “He almost convinced me, he really almost completely convinced me that day,” Jacobsak said of Cobb encouraging him to come back to school the next year. “It was tough because the whole reason I came to that school was Kevin Cobb and Coach Glavine. My end goal was I wanted to win a CAA title, that was my number one thing.” June 11, 2020: Jacobsak’s 22nd birthday, and the day of the MLB draft. Surrounded by friends, family, and his girlfriend, he watched and waited while he received calls from front offices wishing him a happy birthday and expressing interest in drafting him. The fifth and final round came and went without Jacobsak’s name being called. His decision now boiled down to whether he wanted to sign with a team for $20,000 – the maximum amount allowed by the MLB that year for undrafted players, a one year COVID rule to save teams money. It was a fraction of what players would receive in a normal draft year. “I understood I was going to lose my money,” Jacobsak said. “I lost six figures, a good bit, it sucks. But at the end of the day, the way baseball works is that if you walk in the door one day on the 40-man, you make it all back in that one day.
“SO REALLY, ARE YOU CHASING YOUR DREAMS OR CHASING YOUR MONEY?”
ARRIVES AT NORTHEASTERN JULY 2017
2020 SEASON CANCELLED MARCH 11, 2020
On June 13, two days after the draft – and the day before teams could sign undrafted players – Jacobsak got another call, this time from Glavine. “We talked for an hour and a half, two hours, about the whole thing, what to do, and how bad he wanted me back.” He had been leaning toward signing with a pro team for a while, but a coach, again, almost convinced him to stay. June 14: After a sleepless night, Jacobsak chose dream over money. He had become close with the Phillies’ scout over the previous months, and when Philadelphia came calling, he agreed to a deal. After he signed, he stayed on Cape Cod and worked out; everything was still shut down due to the coronavirus. That fall, he came back to Northeastern to take classes, and then down to Clearwater, Florida at the end of September for instructional league, a place for young players to hone their skills. After trips back to Massachusetts and to California, Jacobsak was called back down to Clearwater to rehab a nagging shoulder injury with the Threshers, Philadelphia’s low-A affiliate. Meanwhile, in Wilmington, North Carolina, the Huskies capped off a dominant season with a CAA championship. It was an experience Jacobsak was supposed to be there for. “I loved to watch the guys win that CAA title the next year. But it sucked not being there,” he said. “I just wanted something to really push me. It’s almost like a wake up call – everyone is good, everyone is unbelievable. [Playing pro] pushes you harder than you’ve ever been pushed before, and I enjoyed it.” After six months of rehab, he finally got back in action in July, but just weeks after his return to the mound, he was one of 24 guys on the team to get COVID. Despite being vaccinated and only 23 years old, it was not an easy experience. “I lost 15 pounds, I had brain fogginess for a while, couldn’t really do anything at all. It was wild.” The shoulder injury he had just rehabbed for months was reaggravated, and after playing through it for most of 2021 instructs in October, it was too much to bear. Jacobsak underwent shoulder cleanup surgery late that month. “I worked seven months as hard as I could every day in the complex at 6 or 7 a.m. to finish the season and go into the next instructional league and really show my stuff so I could get an invite to minicamp next year, and I thought I had a chance.” Despite the frustrating setbacks, Jacobsak has no regrets. “It’s been a wild ride,” he said, “ but I’m confident in my decision.”
MLB DRAFT DAY JUNE 11, 2020
AGREES TO DEAL WITH PHILLIES JUNE 14, 2020
THE RED & BLACK
JO R DA N HA RRIS
In June 2018, just weeks after graduating high school, Jordan Harris sat with his family and two advisors in the stands of the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. As his name was called over the loudspeakers, he stood, hugged his parents, and took his first step toward the NHL. Harris was drafted 71st overall by the Montreal Canadians, and unlike Jacobsak, who signed two days after the draft, Harris had almost three years before he had a real decision to make. The first two of those years were everything he could have hoped for: a combined 45-24-4 record, two Beanpot championship wins, a double overtime Beanpot winning goal against Boston University, and a Hockey East championship. After the 2020 Beanpot win against BU however, the team ended the season losing five of their final six games before the Hockey East tournament was cancelled due to the coronavirus. The third year consisted of a shortened schedule full of last minute postponements and cancellations. Halfway through, Harris had a meeting with Canadians general manager Marc Bergevin and coach Claude Julien. They felt he was ready to play professionally after Northeastern’s season was over. On March 14, 2021 the season ended in a largely empty rink at UMass Amherst in the quarterfinals of the Hockey East tournament. The Minutemen would go on to win the national championship, but their success was little consolation for the Huskies, who ended a tough season with a disappointing 9-9-3 record. Despite the possibility of it being the last game in a Northeastern sweater for Harris, it wasn’t on his mind during the game. The weeks following the loss were a different story. “Every day I woke up for two weeks and had a different thought,” Harris said. Conversations with his parents, advisors, and coaches were helpful, but nobody could make the decision for him. “We chatted quite a bit,” Northeastern head coach Jerry Keefe said. “It was just making sure whatever decision he made was going to be the best thing for him.” Harris also spoke with former Northeastern goaltender Cayden Primeau, who is currently in the Montreal Canadiens organization. Primeau, who left Northeastern for Montreal after his sophomore season, had nothing but good things to say about the organization. A week after the loss to UMass, Harris had a conversation with his advisor, Eric Quinlan, from BMG Hockey, a management and advising company. Quinlan told him that he needed to decide soon. On one hand was an incoming Northeastern team full of talent with the opportunity to end his college career on a high note. On the other was the opportunity to sign the contract he’d been dreaming about for years. “It’s your dream. And it’s one step closer to achieving the highest level of it as a hockey player and something you go to FALL 2021
sleep thinking about for fifteen years,” Harris said of signing an NHL contract. “Every single day you work toward it.” The next morning, with his girlfriend Codie, and teammate Julian Kislin with him in his West Village dorm, he decided he was coming back. He would be playing home games at Matthews Arena for one more year. After calling his dad, Harris called his coaches Jim Madigan and Jerry Keefe. “He just goes about his business and people see how hard he works, and it’s infectious, to be honest with you,” Keefe said of Harris. “I think Jordan definitely made the right decision coming back, being our captain, and leading the way.” There were a lot of elements that factored into his decision, and finishing his degree was certainly one of them. “You hear stories of guys who turn pro and they’re not done with their degree five, six years down the road. Fortunately I didn’t have that many classes left this year, but it was nice to think I would be done. I’ll always have that, I’ll always have a Northeastern degree.” Aside from academics, Harris was excited about the team Northeastern would put on the ice in the winter of 2021. It was a chance to make one more run at accomplishing something special after a year so adversely affected by COVID. “You’re part of a team for three years and all you want to do is help lead your team and win championships as a group and do the best you can.
BEING PART OF THE LEADERSHIP GROUP THIS YEAR, I WANT NOTHING ELSE THAN FOR US TO WIN AND DO WELL. Coming back, that was one of the major things – having a full year and seeing what we can do with it.” Keefe has had a front row seat to see Harris’ chemistry with his teammates since Harris arrived in 2018. “Jordan has 28 best friends in that locker room that mean something to him. I think that’s a big part of it, too.” Money was also something that Harris had to think about. At 21 years old, It’s not easy to wait another year for an NHL contract and a signing bonus. “The thought of making money doing your favorite thing in the world – who’s going to say they don’t want that?” he said. “But I really try to take that out of the equation because money’s money and hopefully it will always be there… I really try to not have that be the deciding factor.” After his decision to come back for one more year, there wasn’t much down time for Harris and his teammates, but that was exactly how he wanted it. About half the team was there for spring workouts in May and June, and they practiced at 7 a.m. five days a week. “Being able to do that as a team and work hard and really seeing how much guys want to be a part of a team and get
better is huge,” he said. “Every team says they have a really good group, but our group this year is really high character, a lot of really good guys, and guys that are team first.” At the end of the day, Jacobsak gave up money to leave school and sign a pro contract. He, like everyone else, got his COVID year of eligibility back from the NCAA. He could have come back for his fourth year and maintained the leverage to sign the bigger non-COVID contract he was initially expecting after that season.
“I WENT BACK AND FORTH IN MY HEAD COUNTLESS TIMES” he said. “Once they cut that thing down to five rounds, that was when I really started talking to Glavine… It was a last minute decision.” Harris, on the other hand, gave up money to come back to school. He had the opportunity to sign the deal he was expecting, but chose to wait.
“EVERY DAY I WOKE UP FOR TWO WEEKS AND HAD A DIFFERENT THOUGHT… I woke up and said, you know what, I think I’m going to stay.” Both watched the teams they hadn’t joined find success. Jacobsak watched the Northeastern baseball team win a CAA championship, while Harris watched the Canadiens make an unlikely run to the Stanley Cup Finals. Neither of them had an easy choice, but they’re both confident in the decisions they made. Regardless of where they end up next, it’s evident that Jacobsak’s resilience and willingness to take a risk, and Harris’ commitment and leadership, will lead to success wherever they go.
DRAFTED 71ST OVERALL BY MONTREAL CANADIANS (2018) TEAM UNSUNG HERO AWARD (2020) HOCKEY EAST SECOND TEAM ALL-STAR (2021) HOBEY BAKER NOMINEE (2021, 2022)
PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN GOMEZ THE RED & BLACK
THE BOYLSTON CONNECTION BY JOSH CHASKES PHOTOS BY CHRISTIAN GOMEZ Hear Northeastern runners past and present explain what it’s like running one of the biggest races in the world.
hen someone mentions the Boston Marathon, it brings to mind a certain image. Thousands of dedicated runners flooding the streets in pursuit of glory, surrounded by thousands more cheering fans. But it wasn’t always like that. In April 1897 a measly 15 participants ran, walked, jogged, and moved themselves through sheer force of will around Massachusetts, following the now-famous course that defines the Marathon, finally reaching the finish line on Boylston Street. On that same street and only one year later, in 1898, the new Evening Institute for Younger Men began holding classes at the Boston YMCA, educating college-aged men in math, science, foreign languages, and a variety of other subjects. After a fire in the building forced the Evening Institute to move to a new location on Huntington Avenue, it became officially recognized by the state as Northeastern University. Fast forward to the much larger Northeastern of today, one that’s filled with elite runners looking for a challenge, and the proximity to that Boylston finish line comes in handy. Northeastern runners have for years been using the Marathon as a way to test themselves, celebrate their achievements, and come together with the city they call home FALL 2021
THE BOYLSTON CONNECTION
during their college years. Both of these Boston entities are now widely recognizable parts of the city, and it just makes sense that they’d still be connected even as they approach their 125th anniversaries. “I remember seeing a couple of guys doing the Boston Marathon, and they were so excited the week of,” said Luke Janik, a 2020 Northeastern graduate and former captain of the club running team. “We were all watching right on Comm. Ave, about half a mile to go… just the thrill of that really got me excited for marathons.” Janik had never tried a marathon before coming to Northeastern, but in spring 2019 he ran the Providence Marathon. He bested the three hour threshold to qualify for Boston, where he finished in 2:34 flat. The current club running captain, senior Brendan Hehir, agrees that seeing his Northeastern teammates tackle the marathon helped kickstart his own enthusiasm for the distance. He mentioned in particular one club running alumnus, Peter Teixeira. “He was just an absolute beast,” Hehir said with a laugh. “I remember watching him do the distance workouts and doing the Boston Marathon. I was just like, ‘This guy doesn’t stop.’”
Now, it’s come full circle, with Hehir captaining the team and inspiring many of the younger runners with his impressive 2:33:08 finish at this year’s event, a finish that placed him 125th overall. No stranger to impressive finishes is 2018 Northeastern graduate and cross country and track alumna Jordan O’Dea, whose aspirations of running the Boston Marathon also grew during her time at the school. O’Dea said there was no teammate in particular that inspired her to run it, but just the atmosphere of the city, the fans, and having this massive event unfold around her each year was enough. “We would go cheer on the Marathon every year when we were there,” she recalled. “I remember watching it before I was even in college, on the TV. Then, going to school in Boston and being able to cheer on people around you and see people run it, it just became something that I wanted to do.” Like Janik and Hehir, O’Dea had never tried a marathon before coming to Northeastern. Unlike them, she didn’t complete her first one until her time as a Northeastern athlete had already come to an end. “Northeastern is a five year school, so you have that fifth year where you’ve finished your eligibility. So you’re still there but you’re not on the team anymore,” O’Dea explained. “So my goal was, after I finished my eligibility, I actually wanted to run Boston.” It turned out she wasn’t too bad at the marathon distance, either. O’Dea’s 2:38:57 personal best finish at the 2019 Baystate Marathon put her past the 2:45 threshold of qualification for the 2020 Olympic trials, which were held in Atlanta just before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic; also at the marathon trials was fellow Husky alumna Kerri Ruffo. O’Dea said her training for that race was mostly similar to how she’d prepare for any other marathon, with a few specific adjustments. “We were trying to go a little faster because of how the previous one went; the training had gone really well… and then again, Atlanta’s course, we knew ahead of time, was going to be hilly, so building in some hills.” The training helped her to a 2:48:24 finish in Atlanta, placing her in the top half of finishers. O’Dea had planned after the trials to continue her training and run Boston a month later, but COVID-19 postponed the race indefinitely. As disappointing as the postponement was for all marathon hopefuls, it also presented a new challenge: maintaining their marathon fitness well over the usual training block length of four to six months, all the while uncertain of when the race would finally be run. “I took a bunch of time off,” Hehir said, “because there were no races coming up. Then once I knew it was going to be September of this year, I put a half marathon on my calendar for May of 2020… and then after that half, I switched gears and started training for the full.” “You can’t just train hard for a year and a half straight, that would kill you,” added Janik, “so each time we thought it was going to happen, same build-up, and each time it didn’t
happen, same break, and then go again. It was definitely pretty draining mentally and physically to have to do that three times, but I think it was worth it in the end.” To someone who’s never run a marathon before, a 26.2mile race can be wildly intimidating, but Hehir’s advice for running or marathon hopefuls boils down to a three-word mantra: “Stick with it.” O’Dea agrees, emphasizing that training for a race of that distance – or any distance, for that matter – is a long process, and it’s much safer to embrace the gradual build than try to fight it. “Slowly build up that mileage because you don’t want to overdo it and get injured, because that’s fun for no one… The fun part is being able to get better and better because you start from the base level of what you’re able to do, and then the more experience you get, the more comfortable you get running longer.” And for her, there’s no better city for that grind than Boston. She finished this year’s marathon in 3:10:25, not her best time but still good enough to rank 418th among female runners, no small feat with nearly 7,500 women crossing that finish line this year.
“THERE’S SO MANY TEAMS THAT PEOPLE CAN JOIN, WHICH I ALSO THINK IS SUPER HELPFUL, JUST HAVING OTHER PEOPLE AROUND YOU DOING THE SAME THING. IT’S HELPFUL TO HAVE THAT COMMUNITY, AND I THINK THAT ASPECT OF BEING IN BOSTON IS REALLY COOL. IT’S A VERY BIG RUNNING CITY AND IT’S NICE TO BE ABLE TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THAT.”
ELEVATION OF BOSTON MARATHON THE RED & BLACK
BY BRIDGET BOST PHOTOS BY CHRISTIAN GOMEZ, SADIE PARKER, AND KATIE BILLMAN After a winless season in 2020, the men’s soccer team had their best season in nearly 10 years after a program-changing trip to New Hampshire.
uring the spring 2021 season, the Northeastern men’s soccer team endured one of the worst seasons in program history, finishing with a 0-5-1 record. The fall 2021 season, however, was starkly different, concluding their season with a record of 11-6-2, the best record in the program since 2012. They scored the most goals in the conference, and the third most in a season in program history. It was the first time the team advanced to the CAA semifinals in 7 years. Individually, four players received All-CAA honors, with an additional three placing on the All-CAA rookie team. After a winless spring, what changed to make the fall so successful? “I mean the most important thing for me personally, was FALL 2021
definitely the team culture, just that everyone seemed way more happy. Being part of the team, everyone seemed way more bought into the mission of what we wanted to do,” senior forward and captain Dan Munch said. “Everyone seemed to believe that we could change.” But how do you change a team’s culture, especially when you have less than 4 months between seasons? For head coach Chris Gbandi, it meant thinking outside the box. Many years ago, Gbandi entered Boston Logan International Airport and stumbled upon a person who would become crucial to this team’s success: life coach and psychotherapist Jeff Levin. Levin describes his role as a person who brings out players’ and teams’ full potential, potential that is being hidden because of small problems. “My job was to catalyze possibility, to bring around that communication, that trust, and that unity,” Levin explained. Gbandi called Levin following the spring 2021 season and they began discussing the problems the team was having.
The main issues that Levin addressed were the overall team culture and players not trusting either the coaches or their own teammates, a possible repercussion from the COVID-19 restrictions, according to senior forward and captain Benni Klingen. “No one was on the same page,” Klingen said. “There was no time to be together to develop a relationship, and there was no personal connection between the team.” Players were not openly communicating with their teammates, on or off the field, and there was an enormous gulf between the players and the coaching staff. Above all, the team was coming off a winless spring. The tension was palpable. Knowing this, Gbandi arranged for Levin to come on the team’s preseason training camp trip to Colby-Sawyer College in New London, New Hampshire. Levin helped the team to work out their differences and openly talk with each other. Munch states that Levin’s biggest role was minimizing the gap
between the players and the coaches. “The main problem was an unwillingness to trust the coach, his tactics, his play style, and his vision of where he wanted the program to be versus where the players felt the program should go,” Munch said. Levin came in for two days and put all the players and coaches in a room so they could talk out their differences and get on the same page through various exercises. The team began openly communicating with each other about the issues they had seen last season. The room was filled with players and coaches who were a mix of frustrated, crushed, wounded, anxious, and desperate to turn the ship around as they conveyed their hardships from the hellish spring season. “There were substantial trust issues in the room between players and coaching staff. There were communication problems that, of course, go hand in hand with trust,” Levin said. “They weren’t getting the results they wanted, so we looked at the reasons for that and hard conversations ended THE RED & BLACK
up being very productive and freeing and at the end of the two days, there had been a lot of emotion, a lot of tears and some anger.
IT WAS LIKE THE PEOPLE IN THE ROOM HAD GONE TO WAR AND HAD WON. THE HUGGING AND THE EMOTION … I MEAN I’VE NEVER SEEN SO MUCH HUGGING IN MY LIFE, IT FELT LIKE THEY WERE COMING BACK FROM WAR. There was just a lot of joy and connection in the room.” It was the release of a buildup from many seasons’ worth of tension that finally allowed the team to rise to their fullest potential. Those two days helped cap off an incredibly successful training camp with the most players ever passing the fitness test. An example, according to both Munch and Klingen, that players were holding each other more accountable than ever. Off the field, Munch, Klingen, and the other team leaders made sure the promises that were made in the team’s two-day intervention with Levin were taken seriously and would come to fruition – reversing the effects of FALL 2021
the COVID-19 restrictions by encouraging better personal relationships within the team through a better atmosphere and spending more time together off the field. “[I was] holding myself to a certain standard, a higher standard than I had in the past, so everyone would follow,” Munch explained. The team came out of the gates fast, soaring to a 7-1-1 start, earning the best start through nine games in program history, with their lone loss coming against a 12th ranked University of New Hampshire team. At one point, the Huskies were ranked third in the country in the RPI and 25th in the TopDrawer Soccer Poll. They also received votes in the United Soccer Coaches Poll. The mentality shift was evident to all. “It was a lot easier for us to connect with [the players] this year,” Gbandi said. “And I think it ultimately helped us be successful.” But Levin didn’t disappear after those five days in New Hampshire. He routinely drove down to Boston, often working with individuals and team units. After a run of
games showed a troubling trend of conceding goals, Levin sat down with the defensive unit and ran through some bonding exercises. Through these sessions, the unit came up with a slogan: the Haitian word “ansanm” – meaning “together” – became the unifying word for the defense. Other exercises included the sophomore class performing the song “This Magic Moment” before the final conference game against James Madison University to calm anxieties and create a positive energy in the group. Players became closer than ever and started stepping up in high pressure moments. Gbandi said they had one key attitude: “I do not want to let my brother down.” Levin’s help was not the only new thing the team implemented during the season. Munch said that the team changed their formation by adding an extra midfielder and going from five defenders to four. There was also a change in the on-field mentality. “There was a group mindset change,” Munch said. “We wanted to score the first goal in the game and push the pace of the play.” Klingen agreed and noted how the improved relationship between the coaches and players translated on the field. “We had a more precise plan of what we wanted to do and we didn’t adapt to [other] teams anymore,” Klingen said. However, to Gbandi, tactics mattered very little in the grand scheme of things. “I think so much of our sport – any sport – is about the culture and stuff off the field as opposed to on the field,” Gbandi said. “I think we finally were able to put that together
and the positive things that have happened on the field for this group, I think what tied a lot to our success, was some of the stuff that they were able to do off the field to connect with each other.” The team’s closeness allowed them to feel that they could win games, as well as recover together if they lost. As a result, the team began dominating in games, ending the regular season with a 7-0 thumping of the College of Charleston, the program’s biggest win since 1999, and a come from behind win on the road against James Madison University to clinch the second overall seed in the CAA. Levin recalled the celebrations in the locker room as an outburst of pure joy.
“IT WAS SOMETHING VERY CONCENTRATED, LIKE THE RAYS OF THE SUN THROUGH A MAGNIFYING GLASS,” LEVIN SAID. “THIS CONCENTRATED VERSION OF JOY, OF BROTHERHOOD, OF CELEBRATION THAT I HAD BEEN AROUND, I DON’T SEE IT VERY OFTEN. IT WAS REALLY SPECIAL.” The season ended after a loss in the conference tournament and barely missing out on an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. However, it was clear that this was a transformational season for a program that had been waiting a long time for one. And it all started two hours north of Huntington Avenue. “We were an entirely different group from the first day of our trip to New Hampshire to the last day,” Munch recalled. “It is crazy how much could change in the five days that we went away.”
THE RED & BLACK
A LOOK INSIDE THE STABLES BY TUMI MOSIAH
PHOTOS BY CHRISTIAN GOMEZ
The equestrian club returns to winning form after a two-year hiatus.
questrian is one of the most unique disciplines in Northeastern’s lively sports scene. The club equestrian team competes in equitation classes – a form of riding where the rider is judged instead of the horse – in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA). As part of Zone 1, Region 2, they travel around Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine during their busy fall show season. All this travelling for back-toback show weekends and grueling weekday lessons at Harmony Horse stables in Littleton, MA – 40 minutes from campus – creates an environment and camaraderie that the team cherishes. FALL 2021
“We leave pretty early at the crack of dawn. We drive together in a van and have a Dunkin’ stop on the way,” Senior and co-captain Caitlin Looney noted. “On the way home after the show, we’re all sleepy and we don’t get back until usually pretty late at night.” Looney has been riding since she was six years old and owns her own horse. However, the style of collegiate competitions means that she must draw a horse she has not ridden before from a hat on show day. While this is an added challenge for the team, they make sure to plan for it the best they can with various different practice sessions. “It’s either you’re really happy or you draw and you’re like
‘Oh no!’” Looney said. “Therefore, at home, we try to practice by riding different types of horses – ponies versus horses, hot horses versus lazy ones.” Once the draw has finished the team looks out for each other on show day, from giving tips on particular rides to helping each other put on their gear – hairnets, shining boots and all. However, the most important part of the post-draw time is walking the course and then warming up on the horse. This way, in the arena, “we can focus on communicating with our horse and putting on a good test for the judges,” Looney said. This telepathic communication with their ride is key. Senior and co-captain Sam Cashton started riding at age 11 and was influenced by her mother who rode horses. Today, she owns her own horse back home with whom she has developed a strong relationship. “Horses are such smart, beautiful animals that pick up on your energy,” Cashton said.
“IT’S DEFINITELY TIME-CONSUMING AND FEELS DAUNTING. BUT BEING WITH THE HORSES IS THE MOST REWARDING THING.” Cashton loves the competition element but never forgets to appreciate stable time with the horses. When they are at show weekends, Looney explains, “What the judges look for in equitation classes is executing movements with ease and control over the horse.” For this
Cashton said, “We do mental prep – we say what we’re excited for, what we’re nervous for. This is important because the horses react to your energy – they feel when you’re calm and the energy transfers.” For the most talented horse-rider combination, seven points are awarded, second place acquires five points and third gets four points. This accumulates into the team’s total points determining the overall winning team for the day. The team works hard with two lessons a week which takes up to four hours out of the day. COVID-19 put a damper on the team’s performance as any time away makes it difficult for both the horses and the riders to get back into the swing of things. Their show in Dartmouth in fall 2021 was the first time in nearly two years that they were back in the ring. But it didn’t take long for the rust to come off, with a win at the Athletic Equestrian League Collegiate Virtual Nationals in spring 2021. The team has continued to achieve standout results this fall, placing second at the Vermont show and finishing third at the New Hampshire show. After pausing for break at the end of November, they’re expected back to shows in March with Nationals being held in April 2022. “We’ve had some new riders who have won some classes which is really exciting because they’ve never shown,” Looney said proudly. “We have a new coach and a new facility and it’s been an adjustment period. [But] we’ve had great performances from everybody and we’re really excited to keep building upon what we’re doing.”
THE RED & BLACK
FORGING A NEW LEGACY BY MAK GRAVES PHOTOS BY CHRISTIAN GOMEZ With a family full of former Northeastern athletes, Mak Graves is following her destiny while charting her own course.
hen it came time to look for colleges in high school, while many might not know where to start, it was almost instinctual for me to go to Northeastern. My Northeastern roots were started by my parents, Sam and Jenny Graves, and my aunt and uncle, Nick and Amy Graves who went here. Growing up, my family was super close and we spent a lot of time together, so I would hear countless stories about their time at Northeastern and how much they loved it. This made Northeastern always a part of my life in a sense. My Northeastern origin story starts with the many family members of mine that went here and played sports here. My dad and uncle are brothers who developed a close relationship with each other through baseball. They both played on the Northeastern baseball team. As my dad and uncle continued to get closer, my aunt and my mom soon became good friends, too. My mom was on the field hockey team and my aunt was on the cheerleading team. Though there were many factors that played a role in my decision making, knowing about the university through my family and their stories heavily contributed to the way that I envisioned myself here. When I asked my parents about some of things they loved about the school and hoped that I’d get to experience one day, it was the student athlete life, the family aspect of being part of a team, the support from the athletic department with my academics, and ultimately feeling like I would receive a great education. I instantly wanted to feel what they had experienced… just maybe not at Northeastern, at least at first. Sports had always been a huge part of my and my family’s life, so when it came time for recruiting and Northeastern became a plausible option, they were very excited. But when I first started looking at schools, my initial thought was that I wanted to veer away from Northeastern and look at places farther away from where I lived. I told my parents that I didn’t want to go to a school where they went because I wanted to create my own story. However, Northeastern continued to draw me in with their co-op program, their incredibly respected nursing program, the city life, and, of course, the field hockey team, which just as a whole felt like the right fit. They had an
awesome field and environment in general. I knew that I wanted to take my playing to the collegiate level and I could see myself playing on their field. I enjoyed coming to clinics as well and loved watching them play afterwards. Seeing that talent and the fast pace, I had so much excitement envisioning myself playing on the field with them. Growing up, I was always curious to hear about my family’s stories about their time at Northeastern, and they always had great things to say about the school. As I would listen to them sharing their stories about the places they got to visit, the experiences they had living in a city environment, being a Husky, and having that student-athlete life, it all sounded so appealing. Even while looking at other schools, every time I went to visit Northeastern I couldn’t help but have that feeling of, “This is where I see myself.” It felt like home. Despite their own biases toward Northeastern, my family made sure not to influence my decision while I was looking at other schools. I felt as though they wanted to make sure that Northeastern was actually the school for me. After sitting on my initial reaction of “no” for a little bit, I couldn’t think of how cool it would be to continue the family chain and go in with a little bit of family history. Not only did Northeastern feel right to be my home, but Boston as a whole felt like my home as I grew up only about 40 mins out of the city. With my family being a part of the student athlete life and myself being a part of that now, I feel as though I am experiencing that family aspect they mentioned before. Especially this past season, our team had such a strong team chemistry on and off the field; that made it so much fun to be a part of. I hope that with the opportunity I have now to continue my academic and athletic career here, I can accomplish some of the things my parents didn’t, such as winning the CAA’s and or making the NCAA tournament. I hope to earn my bachelors in nursing and start my career here in Boston as well. My parents have always been so supportive of me and I have no doubt that that love and support will continue as I start to write my own story and create the life I envisioned for myself here in Boston.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF MAK GRAVES NICK GRAVES JENNY GRAVES
PHOTO BY KATIE BILLMAN THE RED & BLACK
SUMMER BALL BY HUY NGUYEN PHOTOS COURTESY OF KINGS HAMMER FC Northeastern athletes use their summers to hone their skills with new teams across the country.
uring the summer, most students at Northeastern are riding water slides, building sandcastles, and grilling burgers. Others roast under the searing flame of the sun, waking up early to perfect their techniques, improve in strength and speed, and practice with other like-minded individuals. These other students are athletes who participate in summer leagues, sacrificing their hard-earned break to elevate their gameplay in their respective sport. Last summer, men’s soccer sophomore defender Zach Sauer played for Kings Hammer FC in Cincinnati, Ohio in the USL2 league. Sauer aspires to play professionally following his college career, and playing for Kings Hammer allowed him to be seen by coaches and scouts of professional teams. Originally from Connecticut, playing in Cincinnati also gave him a chance to explore a new city in a new region of the country. “I would have had zero reason to go to Cincinnati, so I’m really glad that I chose Kings Hammer because I probably would have never gone to Cincinnati in my life,” Sauer said. “It’s actually a really cool city and I had a good summer there.” Surrounded by people from different cities and cultural backgrounds, Sauer bonded with his teammates through learning new games and exploring Cincinnati. “A lot of the team members were [from other countries], so they would teach me card games,” Sauer recalled. “We FALL 2021
would take the bus to the city almost every day and have fun there. We pretty much live together, so you just get pretty close naturally.” There was one thing that Sauer disliked about Cincinnati, however: and that was Skyline Chili, a local favorite. “There’s this place called Skyline Chili,” he said with a laugh. “They put chili on spaghetti and hot dogs and load it with cheese, and that stuff is so gross.” Meeting players from other teams in their conference, Sauer would grow closer to athletes he would otherwise have never met: followed by facing off against them months later, during the collegiate season. “It’s funny because they had four other guys from JMU ( James Madison University) on Kings Hammer, and we ended up playing them in our conference,” he said. There was one familiar face on the team however – men’s soccer redshirt junior forward Timothy Ennin. Though Ennin recognized the difficulties of moving away from home to play in a summer league, he said the decision was easy for him; especially given his goal to play professionally. “I don’t think it takes a toll,” Ennin said. “I think it’s because I love playing soccer. I feel like I never get tired of it. I guess sometimes it could take a toll on me; halfway through the summers, I’m seeing all my friends party and having fun with their family. But in the end, I know it’s all contributing
to going pro. I gotta put the work in, put the hours in.” in. Crossen’s between-inning contests bonded the different However, this wasn’t Ennin’s first experience playing in a teams of the league together as they participated in summer league. In the summer of 2019, Ennin also played in competitions other than baseball. USL2, for the Treasure Coast Tritons in Florida. It was an “A LOT OF THE TEAMS DO A LOT OF LITTLE QUIRKY experience that Ennin recalled fondly. BETWEEN-INNING CONTESTS,” CROSSEN RECOLLECTED. “They had us staying at a resort in Port St. Lucie,” Ennin said, smiling. “Free smoothies, free drinks. There were three, “WE PLAYED AT PLACES WHERE THEY HAD PIE-EATING four pools. It was right near the water. There were tubing CONTESTS AND DIZZY BAT RACES, WHICH ARE ALL FUN sports, waterskiing. It was pretty big. I can’t lie, that was a TO WATCH AS A PLAYER.” really great experience.” Baseball redshirt junior infielder Danny Crossen has The informality of Colleran’s games allowed the teams to played in summer leagues for the past three years – two years interact with their fans, bringing the two groups closer in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League and one in the New together. England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL). Crossen “There’s trivia, there’s mascots that would bring out a noted the differences between playing in summer leagues and water gun and squirt the other coaches, there’s little kids playing at Northeastern. that would come up and have conversations with us in the “You’re still trying to compete and win,” Crossen said. “But bullpen,” Colleran said, chuckling. “There would be you’re playing people from all over the country, so you’re able dance competitions.” to see how other teams and players go about pregame, When Ennin was in Florida playing for the Tritons, he was practice, and games.” given the role of coaching little kids, teaching them soccer He also recalls the difference in environment when playing and setting up drills; a custom that the summer teams of his in the summer league, where the air is a lot more relaxed league had participated in for generations. For Kings compared to the pressure of the college season Hammer, Ennin and Sauer partook in the soccer pub culture. “It’s more relaxed; guys are there to have some fun but still “Before and after games, our team and our coaches would work on themselves,” he explained. drive to a private room in a local pub in the city called Molly Though he no longer participates in the Futures League, Malone’s,” Sauer said. “They would cater us for pregame and his coaches have left a lasting impact and continue to help postgame food and we’d watch the Euros [UEFA European him improve his techniques. Championship].” “I still keep in touch with the coach from the Futures Though the initial intention of participating in summer League,” Crossen said. “He helped me a lot with my swing, so leagues was to practice their respective sports and pave the whenever I feel like there’s something going wrong, I reach way for their professional careers, what occurred outside of out to him every now and then and ask him for advice. He’s practice would leave a lasting impression on the players. The been really helpful with giving me drills.” athletes explored the cultures of both their teams and their Having played in multiple summer leagues, Crossen’s unfamiliar environments. And while playing in summer favorite part was being able to explore different environments. leagues may only last a few months, the memories made and One of these environments was Mystic, Connecticut, a small the bonds between unlikely teammates and coaches clearly beach town home to the Mystic Schooners. last far longer. “The coolest thing is definitely being able to experience all PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN GOMEZ these little towns that you go around and play baseball at,” Crossen said. Another member of the Futures League is freshman pitcher Dennis Colleran. Colleran, a native of North Attleboro, MA, played for the Worcester Bravehearts to ensure a smoother transition into collegiate baseball. “I had just played my high school season the previous DANNY CROSSEN spring,” Colleran said. “I needed to transition from high school into playing against college athletes.” The Worcester Bravehearts had players from Massachusetts with whom Colleran had played with his entire life, but some were from as far away as Florida. “When you’re with them for so long, you develop a bond and you find similarities,” Colleran recalled. With countless summer leagues to choose from, one aspect of their respective summer leagues that got all the players excited was the unique traditions that each team participated THE RED & BLACK
THE NEW TOP DOG BY MICHAEL RUBERTO PHOTO BY NEWS@NORTHEASTERN Hear from new athletics director Jim Madigan about his history with Northeastern and what he hopes to accomplish in his new role.
hen Jim Madigan put on the Northeastern jersey for his first collegiate hockey game in 1981, nobody could have known that 40 years later, he would still be such an active part of the campus community. Following four years as a player, a variety of administrative positions, and 10 years as the head coach of the men’s hockey team, he’s shown no signs of changing that any time soon. With the departure of former athletics director Jeff Konya over the summer, Madigan was named as Northeastern’s 11th Director of Athletics and Recreation. “[After Konya’s departure] I was notified by some of the senior leadership of the university, just to gauge my interest in the role,” Madigan recounted. “I had been involved in athletics in many different ways here at the university, not just as a head coach … I think members of the university leadership thought that I had some of the skill set that was needed for the position.” Under Madigan, the men’s hockey team enjoyed unprecedented successes. With a career record of 174-13239, he led the team to two Hockey East Championship titles, three appearances in the NCAA tournament, and, of course, a Beanpot three-peat. Despite all that, Madigan was still eager to take on this new challenge. “The hockey program always meant an awful lot to me, and it still does, but I always had a strong following of FALL 2021
THE NEW TOP DOG
support for all the programs as a student-athlete. So for me, it wasn’t so much that I was done with hockey. This is an opportunity for me to make a difference, not just in one sport but in multiple sports, from our athletic varsity teams to our club and recreational programs.” The vacancy Madigan left behind the bench was filled internally by longtime associate head coach Jerry Keefe, a move which gave Madigan the confidence to pursue his new role. “Jerry Keefe, who had been with me for 10 years, was more than ready to take this next step in his career and development as a hockey coach,” Madigan said. “The hockey program was going to be in great hands with Coach Keefe.” This move was a long time coming for Keefe, but the changes came about quickly. “[The promotion was] something that Coach Madigan and myself talked about for a couple years now. When [former athletics director Jeff Konya] decided to leave, Coach Madigan just said, ‘Hey, be ready. This could end up happening quicker than we thought,’” Keefe recalled. Though there may be a new bench boss at Matthews, the foundation set up by Madigan and Keefe over the last decade is still going strong and leading the hockey team to great heights. As Keefe described, “We want to just keep this thing
A PERFECT MATCH
.561 174 - 132 - 39
BEST WINNING PERCENTAGE IN SCHOOL HISTORY
SECOND MOST CAREER WINS IN PROGRAM HISTORY
3 NCAA APPEARANCES
2016, 2018, 2019
HOCKEY EAST CHAMPIONSHIPS 2016 & 2019
2018 2019 2020
PLAYERS DRAFTED INTO THE NHL
PHOTO BY BRIAN BAE THE RED & BLACK
YEARS OF SERVICE 1993-1999
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF PHYSICAL PLANT SERVICES
1981-1985 PLAYER FOR NU HUSKIES
DIRECTOR OF ATHLETIC DEVELOPMENT
ASSOCIATE DEAN AND DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT OF THE COLLEGE OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
PHOTOS COURTESY OF NORTHEASTERN ATHLETICS going. We want to continue to build. Whether you’re an assistant coach or a head coach, you want to build off the success that we had, and Jim obviously had a big piece of that. I don’t look at it as a pressure thing or anything – just more continued success.” Having worked together for so long, Madigan and Keefe have built up a strong bond that will help both of them in their new roles moving forward. Keefe credits Madigan for teaching him about what it takes to be a head coach. “When you’re the head coach, it’s not just about coaching X’s and O’s. It’s about the entire program. And I saw how he was able to do that and get people excited about Northeastern,” he explained. “I’ve learned a ton from Jim. He’s an unbelievable person, and he’s very organized. He’s very detailed.
HE’S A GUY THAT YOU WANT TO WORK FOR BECAUSE OF THE PASSION THAT HE HAS FOR NORTHEASTERN.” That passion for Northeastern is likely to shine through in a big way in Madigan’s new role. Since assuming his new position on June 17, athletics director Madigan has been busy with a wide range of issues and initiatives, both here on Huntington Ave. and across the country as part of the broader NCAA organization. 2021 has brought many FALL 2021
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changes to the college athletics landscape, and as a first-time athletics director, he has had to get up to speed quickly. “I’m touching [many different topics] each and every day. I came into the office and the hot button issue was name, image, and likeness rights, which was a national rollout at the NCAA level, and that became effective July 1. So we want to educate our student-athletes on how they can take advantage of that. In the NCAA, we’re talking about a new constitution … that might look a lot different than the one that’s in existence right now. My day is touching on all that as well as the issues raised here on our own campus.” So what are the issues on campus that the top dog of Northeastern Athletics is responsible for dealing with? From an operational perspective, Madigan is responsible for overseeing many of the department’s fundraising efforts. Though the university provides Northeastern Athletics with a substantial operating budget, the upgrades and initiatives that the department is hoping to accomplish rely in part on
revenue from season tickets, marketing opportunities, and at the helm refuses to be satisfied. private donations. As he explains it, Organizing donations may not seem like the most “YOU CAN NEVER STAY STABLE … IF YOU’RE NEUTRAL, AND glamorous work, but it’s an important part of the changes YOU’RE NOT PROGRESSING, THEN YOU’RE FALLING BEHIND. Madigan hopes to make. “You’re reaching out to our alumni and friends and parents SO HOW CAN WE BE PROACTIVE AND PROVIDE MORE and asking for that support and having them reinvest in our OPPORTUNITIES TO OUR STUDENT-ATHLETES?” programs. That’s important, that’s going to help our teams,” he explained. “We’ve always got to look at facilities and how By working to better the student-athlete experience, we can improve our facilities and make sure our studentMadigan hopes to improve the bond between the students athletes are playing in the best facilities possible. Working and the university, making Huntington Avenue feel more like towards facility enhancements is always important.” a second home rather than just a school. Because as he sees it, When he’s not dealing with the day-to-day operations of these student-athletes’ four-year careers are only just the the department, Madigan has his sights set on the bigger beginning of their Northeastern experience. picture. And for him, there’s no picture bigger than the “Right here with [Northeastern] Athletics, it’s going to be wellbeing of his student-athletes. The Huskies have had a lot a lifetime experience. That’s what we’re building towards. … of success in recent years across many different sports, and if There’s a whole range of opportunities that we want our you ask Madigan, that’s due to the character of the athletes athletic alums to participate in once they leave here, but that Northeastern brings in. will only happen if they have a tremendous student-athlete “We have coaching staffs who go out and attract the best experience during their four or five years.” student-athletes who fit Northeastern. They’re all talented The importance of that lifetime experience is something student-athletes, but you don’t always need to get the most that Madigan strongly emphasizes, and it’s not hard to realize talent; you need to get the best fit for Northeastern,” he just how much those words mean to the man who’s remarked. “We have student-athletes who want to be here, considered himself a proud Husky for 40 years and counting. who work hard each and every day, who are committed and And if you ask him what it is that’s kept him coming back for challenge themselves academically, athletically, and socially, to so long, his answer is simple. be part of the institution and be part of the community and “The community is about the people, right? They’re strive for excellence. When you have top down leadership, tremendous people here at the university. I’ve been fortunate and student-athletes who are committed and challenge to be part of different administrations, and each time, it’s themselves each and every day to be the best they can be, that been the people that have always made the institution very usually is a recipe for success.” successful,” he recounted. “It’s been a very welcoming You can’t have athletics without athletes, so it’s really no institution, where there’s always opportunities for people to wonder that it seems to be Madigan’s mission to improve the grow and develop. People care about each other. They want to student-athlete experience as much as possible. Northeastern help each other out. … There are no barriers to our success, has its share of state-of-the-art facilities, experienced coaches, and when you come to campus everyday, you feel the and world-class supporting staff, but despite all that, the man vibrancy of the students who are here.”
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