Danny Triplett gives the NFL a shot

DannyMaking it to the National Football League is something that many young boys dream about from a young age, while throwing the ball around with dad and wearing their favorite jersey every Sunday sitting around the television.

When they grow up they may continue to play football even to a college level, but often times this is the end of the line. They may play in community leagues or go on to coach their son’s team, however making it to the NFL is rarely realistic.

“I actually decided I hated football after I passed out from asthma doing drills for my Pop Warner team in the second grade,” said Danny Triplett, a 24 year-old football running back, and criminal justice major from Haverhill Mass. “I quit the next day, but a week later the challenge of the sport drew me back in.” <!–more–>

But on March 30th, Triplett, a senior, was in Baltimore, Md., taking part in the regional NFL combine with Baltimore Ravens. Players can sign up for the program to show their potential, if they feel they have any and were not selected for the NFL National Scouting Combine. While at these events, players are trained and reviewed by professional scouts.

According to nflregionalcombines.com, any player may apply and register for the combine, if they meet the requirements and can “perform at a high skill level.” At any time during the combine, the NFL holds the right to turn away any player they feel is “unqualified or unfit to compete.”

Triplett found out about the combine from a scout at an event he participated in over a year ago. “He said I had potential, but needed to tune up my skills, and that I should try for a regional combine,” Triplett said. “ From there I transformed my perspective of hard work, and after a year and three months later of relentless training, I participated in the Baltimore combine.”

Mark Murnyack, the head football coach here at Norwich University, remembers Triplett’s arrival as running back recruit his freshman year. “When he got here he worked extremely hard,” Murnyack said. “I think one of the things that had impressed us physically was his size.”

Teammate Louis Delgado, a 24 year-old senior from Stone Ridge, N.Y., agrees that Triplett’s physical size and strength are important. But he says recent adjustments to his mind-set have also been beneficial in his progress. “He’s strong as an ox,” Delgado said, “but even better than that, he’s willing to put in the hours it takes to be a standout.”

Delgado goes onto say that lately Triplett has become more of “a student of the game” and this has helped him in Delgado’s opinion, because he believes that the more effort you put into learning something, you get that much more out of it.

Muryack definitely agrees that he has seen Triplett learn and grow into the player he is now over the past four years. “There are certain characteristics that I will always remember Danny for,” Murnyack said. “He is tough, hardworking, and his never-give-up attitude are unforgettable.”

Triplett said his hard work ethic is “fueled by doubt.” His peers telling he couldn’t play football only made him “strive to put it in their face,” and from there he wanted to prove to his teammates and coaches he was good enough as well; he wanted everyone’s respect. “Next I was told I was good enough to play college ball, but not for Division I or Division II schools because they didn’t want a kid who was getting in trouble and arrested,” said Triplett. “I didn’t want to be known for my mistakes so I stopped hanging out with the wrong crowd and worked on rebuilding myself, on and off the field.”

Senior Nicholas Pulaski, 22, a teammate from Stratford, Conn., admits that Triplett did face some adversity while trying to reach his goals. “No one really thought he would make it,” Pulaski said. “He had a lot of haters, but he had a lot of supporters too, but he proved everyone wrong, and that he could go above and beyond.”

According to lockerreport.com, Triplett displayed great ability, good speed and power. Most impressive was his ability to catch the ball and how “fundamentally sound” his techniques were.

Murnyack said he was particularly proud of the comment on Triplett’s ball-catching abilities, which the coach noted was a struggle for him when he first arrived.

For his part, while Triplett performed well at the combine, he attributes that to his experiences here at NU. “Coach really pushed me and helped me better myself on and off the field,” Triplett said. “ He inspired me and gave me the confidence I needed to pursue a goal as big as pursuing a career in the NFL.”

Spring sports teams post some good records, but fall short in playoffs

 

The end of the spring semester is always an extraordinarily stressful time for Norwich students. With finals exams, extracurricular activities, and sunny weather, it is certainly a challenge to finish out the school year.

However for student-athletes, this time of year is especially daunting due to the end of the spring sports seasons, and the GNAC (Great Northeast Athletic Conference) playoffs. Here’s a rundown on how the teams have fared. [Read more...]

On baseball team, underclassmen are stepping up to the plate

Norwich Baseball opened its season over spring break in Vero Beach, Fla., with aspirations of improving from last year’s Cinderella run to the GNAC (Great Northeast Athletic Conference) playoffs, for the first time since 2010.

Last season marked a huge step in the right direction for the Cadets, as the previous two seasons (2011 and 2012) combined for a mere 6 wins. In the 2013 season, the Cadets finished with an overall record of 9-20, and a conference record of 7-9.

Strong senior leadership from players like Dustin Shimkus and a strong freshman class are two major reasons why the Cadets had an improved performance last season.

However, the largest reason many cite for the increased success was the addition of former Northfield High School coach Frank Pecora. [Read more...]

Long winter, big snows force spring athletes indoors, delaying practice, season

Snow around Sabine field tells the story - spring sports have had a slow start thanks to the cool, snowy spring.

Snow around Sabine field tells the story – spring sports have had a slow start thanks to the cool, snowy spring.

When winter decides it wants to hang around for a few more weeks, it is generally met with distaste, especially in Vermont, where the winters are already brutal and frigid. However, no group has to deal with this problem more than spring season athletes.

It is not an easy thing to be a softball, baseball, or lacrosse player for Norwich. The idea of a home-field advantage, a key aspect of any organized sport, is severely compromised year after year because of the weather.

Most years, the winter season in central Vermont is long, but this year seems particularly excessive, with snow lasting well into April. [Read more...]

Wrestling Coach Alex Whitney is turning to ‘The Cadet Way’ to revamp program

A Norwich wrestler goes for a pin in a match this winter.

A Norwich wrestler goes for a pin in a match this winter.

The Norwich University Wrestling team has overcome great obstacles over the last decade. From 10 years of decline, to nearly having the program canceled as a whole, the team is making a comeback.

This past 2013-2014 season has shown the first glimmering signals of hope of what the program once was, and can be again. Clear signals of a change in culture, and an improved 5-7 record and individual honors mark the changes. [Read more...]

For Norwich grapplers, improvements go hand in hand with dedication

“When you speak about wrestling, people usually speak about the physical aspect of the sport, because of words like takedowns, clinch fighting, and pins usually revolve around the sport,” said Norwich head coach, Alex Whitney.

To the coaching staff and the 33 players on the Norwich wrestling team, wrestling is more than just a physical sport. “It is lifestyle filled with structure, tradition and guidance. Wrestling is a brotherhood for the strong and unique. It’s a sport that gives a lot of people purpose,“ added Coach Whitney. [Read more...]

Women’s hoops team has a breakout season

Aliah Curry, in white, broke the all-time scoring record though she is only a junior. The Lady Cadets had a great run, making to the GNAC finals and ended the year 15-13 with wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals before losing to St. Josephs for the title.

Aliah Curry, in white, broke the all-time scoring record though she is only a junior. The Lady Cadets had a great run, making to the GNAC finals and ended the year 15-13 with wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals before losing to St. Josephs for the title.

The Norwich University Women’s basketball team had a remarkable season, showing great improvement from the 2012-2013 campaign.

This year’s team captains are senior guard Kristin Brown, from Williamstown, Vt., and junior guard Aliah Curry from Windsor, Mass. The two have led the Cadets to the GNAC (Great Northeast Athletic Conference) Finals.

Kelsey Lotti, a junior guard from South Yarmouth, Mass., said goals were set high, and from the start of the season the team’s aim was to win the GNAC. “I had a lot of high expectations for this year’s team. We came into the season with a very strong core of upperclassman from last year and an extremely solid freshman class to accompany us. With this I had my eyes set on one goal, winning the GNAC. We have everything it takes to be the Number One team in our conference,” said Lotti. [Read more...]

Overcoming odds, injured hockey player Liz Gemmiti returns to the ice

As her skate touched the ice, she anticipated hearing the familiar sound of her blade slicing through the frozen surface. She took a lap around the rink, cautious not to fall.

Liz Gemmiti had been told one month before her February comeback that her competitive hockey career was over, after being struck by a car Dec. 14 while walking home with her roommate and teammate Madison Gallagher.

However, by February she was doing laps around the Kreitzberg Arena preparing for her debut at the Norwich Women’s Hockey’s (NUWH) team’s senior game, a game she hoped to be playing in, but would be recognized alongside the other seniors regardless. [Read more...]

NU club hockey gains campus-wide support through student-created Facebook site

How did the “Harmon Drive Hooligans” become a Norwich University Facebook site tied to the club hockey team?

Blame Zachary Standeford, a 20-year-old psychology major from Plainfield, Conn. for the catchy name, which originated from watching Green Street Hooligans with “the boys” one night, he said.

Little did he know the huge impact that the Facebook group he created “just for fun” would have on the student population at Norwich University – and the team, which would go on to become the regular season champions and then win the club championship in the playoffs.

Standeford first created the Facebook group a few weeks before the season started for the Norwich club hockey team. At the time, he was unaware that the Facebook group would play a role in inspiring the team to win the “ship” this season according to center Ben Cohen.

Standeford first attended club hockey games as a sophomore after his friends told him about “the fights and how rowdy the games get,” he said. “Word of mouth travelled about the club team throughout the student population and more and more fans started coming to the games.”

The increasing amount of fans at games led to the idea of creating a Facebook group to unite fans. “If there is gonna be a fan base might as well as make a group and put a label on it.”

As the amount of people joining the Facebook group increased so did the number of fans in attendance at games, which in return caused the “clubbies” to play better, explained Standeford.

First-year head coach Bruce Baroffio, a resident of Northfield, agreed with this in a discussion prior to the playoffs this past weekend at Conway arena in Nashua, N.H. Going into the playoffs, he knew his team had the capability to “win it all,” however he didn’t want to “curse” the team by making such a bold statement.

The first playoff game was against Springfield College, which the Cadets tied 1-1 during regular season play, said Ryan Clavette, a 19-year-old sophomore criminal justice major from Medford, Mass.

Unlike in the regular season, Springfield College posed no threat to the Cadets. The Cadets blew out the Pride with a 9-2 score.

The next opponent in the championship game was UMass Lowell, also known as “the pride of Lowell,” according to Conor Murphy, a 21-year-old junior criminal justice major from Westwood, Mass.

During the regular season both teams struggled against each other: The Cadets won the first game, 5-2, and lost the second, 5-1.

To get into the championship game, “the pride of Lowell” overcame an early 3-0 deficit against Daniel Webster College and finished the game with seven unanswered goals for a 7-3 win.

The championship game was unlike any other game this season, explained Ben Cohen, a 22-year-old senior criminal justice major from Barnstable, Mass. “Unlike the typically night games we have, the bus actually left at seven in the morning for a 11 o’clock game,” he said. This took some adjusting to get used to playing so early rather than at night, which he and his teammates are used to doing, he said.

Zach Michael, a 20-year-old sophomore mathematics major from Northampton, Pa., admitted that many players were nervous going into the game, as it was the first championship many players had played in a very long time.

However he said that didn’t change the mentality of the game, noting “there was a lot of hype going into it, everybody was amped and ready to go.”

Unfortunately, the earliness and the distance of the game did affect the number of fans at game though, he said. Numerous players noticed how quiet the rink was compared to playing at Krietzburg Arena, according to Clavette. “It was a lot different than playing at home, where the fans are very vocal at our games.”

In order to provide better support for future games, Standeford is trying to unite fans through the Facebook group to car pool or even take a bus to games. While he is early in the process of doing he’s very hopeful to make this happen in the future.

Despite the shortage of fans, the Cadets went on to win 6-2, marking a year for the books as they won the regular season championship and the playoff championship in their first year of ever making post-season play.

Winning the championship game meant a lot to every player on the team, for their own individual reasons. For some it meant being the best of the best, for others it was icing on the cake after a long four years of getting the team organized and established.

For Michaels, it meant a lot to “lace them up for a big win” especially after missing the playoffs by one game last season. “To finally win something was a big deal, it meant a lot to us, to the team and the fans for their support, a great achievement.”

Murphy said he loved how the playoffs were a bonding experience for the team. “It meant the world, I actually think this came before commissioning,” he said.

David Sugrue, a 20-year-old junior criminal justice major from Wilmington, Mass., was excited to “top off the season with a win” for his family and girlfriend who were in attendance at the game.

For senior Ben Cohen, the championship win meant a lot more. Throughout his four years of playing club hockey he has been through it all, including his freshman year where they won just one game.

Over the years he has seen the team mature as more and more fans started attending the games. “The impact of the “Harmon Drive Hooligans” has been huge for us.”

“To win the championship after four years of ups and downs is just an indescribable feeling and I am so proud to be part of it,” he said.

Matt Sullivan, a 19-year-old sophomore athletic training major Baldwin, N.Y. is extremely thankful for this season and for the fans. “The fans mean everything to us, we love having everybody come out to games and get loud for us,” he said.

As the weeks have passed by, winning the championship has still not kicked in for Clavette. “It’s surreal, even now I can’t believe it,” he said.

Members of the team say the club hockey team doesn’t win games just for individual glory. “Any time you win a championship, no matter what league, it’s a great feeling, cause you do it for the person next to you, not for yourself.”

This attitude is what helps attract fans to the games, said Martin Palermo, a 20-year-old junior psychology major from West Palm Beach, Fla. “It’s just an awesome experience going to the games and seeing them win.”

Jerome Petrocelli, a 21-year-old senior athletic training major from Long Island, N.Y., enjoys the atmosphere. “It’s just an overall fun time to go watch some puck with your friends,” he said.

Standeford believes that “club hockey games are not as hyped up as they should be” but is very hopeful that the “Harmon Street Hooligans” will start to attract more and more fans, such as Palermo and Petrocelli.

Regimental ‘march downs’ spur on sports teams, but also stir debate

The Corps marches down for a Norwich football game, a long tradition.

The Corps marches down for a Norwich football game, a long tradition.

Camouflage uniforms packed the stands. Cheers rattled the rafters of the rink as Norwich University Women’s Hockey team member Kayla Parsons took the ice with her team.

She had never experienced a crowd like this in her nearly four years of playing. Being in the Corps of Cadets, Parsons had participated in “march downs” so many times before, but now, experiencing it for herself as an athlete receiving the Corps’ support, “was one of the coolest things since being here.” [Read more...]