Winter break cut short for basketball team

In the three weeks that the Norwich men’s basketball team has to return to campus early, four days will be spent in Florida participating in a tournament and bringing in the New Year. The rest of the time will be spent cloistered on campus, practicing for up to four hours a day, scrounging to find meals and entertainment.

It’s part of the sacrifice basketball players make to train and improve their skills while others are kicking back on holiday break.

The men’s basketball team will arrive back on campus on Dec. 27, in preparation for their flight to Florida on Dec. 28, said Richard Giroux, 21, a point guard from Colchester, Vt., who is a senior and criminal justice major.

While in Florida, they will participate in the Land of Magic Tournament. The tournament will entail two games, one against Wilkes University from Wilkes-Barre, Pa, and the other against Colby-Sawyer College from New London, N.H.

The last day of final exams for the fall semester is Dec. 19. Classes for the spring semester are set to begin on Jan. 22. Students are able to return back to campus as early as Jan. 20 but the men’s team has a decidedly shorter time away this year.

“It is exciting to come back from break early this year,” said Ryan Booth, 21, who plays forward and is a senior physical education major from Northfield, Vt.. “We get to travel to Florida and it is the team’s first time out of New England since I have been on the team.”

In previous winter breaks, the team has “practiced for roughly a week before playing a game,” said Joseph Bertrand, 21, another forward who is a senior and majors in physical education from Saugus, Mass. In the past, the team also partook in “two, two-hour practices per day” in that week before games are played.

The team will return to campus on Jan. 2, 2018 after completion of the Florida tournament. The athletes will remain on campus and will begin their traditional winter break routine. The goal is to get ready for an intense schedule in the new year.

“Once we arrive back in Vermont, we will practice for a few days before beginning a streak of six games,” said Giroux. “Between playing six games in 14 days and fitting practices inbetween the games, there is little free time left over the break.”

Each player spends their free time differently. Players partake in a wide variety of pastimes, for example “sleeping, spending extra time practicing, lifting, playing video games, or just hanging out with each other,” Bertrand said.

“One of my favorite things to do when we are not practicing or playing over the break is to get to know some of the freshman players on a more personal level,” Booth said. “Since we are always so busy with school or practice, it makes it challenging to really interact with the freshmen.”

The Cadets will host three of the games at home and be on the road for the other three. According to a few of the men’s players, it is best to play away games during winter break because there are “no classes and no worries about academic obligations.”

Basketball is one of the few athletic teams that are in season for both academic semesters, as they begin games in October and continue through the middle of February. Because of this, they are obligated to arrive back on campus before other students and are not able to spend much time at home around the holiday season.

“It is especially hard for people on the team who don’t have easy access to get home,” said Mike Hogervorst, 21, a senior electrical engineering major and men’s basketball center from Leiden, South Holland, Netherlands. “We are all away from home and not able to spend time with friends and family like the other students on campus.”

Being away from home over the winter break makes it “challenging to spend time with friends from home,” Bertrand agreed. Winter break is the longest break during the academic year.

“The break between semesters is typically about a month long,” Giroux said. “This month-long break occurs for most colleges, making it the easiest time to see friends who are away from home for college as well.”

The break between semesters is “the most neutral break where most of my friends are back in town,” Bertrand said. Because the basketball players are not able to spend much time at home, they find ways to make being on campus feel like they are still on break

“Even though we are on campus for most of our winter break, it does not feel normal because there is no homework to do and no one in the buildings,” Booth said. “This is the only time while in season that we can actually just relax and focus on just basketball.”

Still, staying on campus during winter break does have some downsides as well, according to Giroux. As everything on campus is closed, that makes access to food harder than it normally is when school is in session.

“The chow hall is closed until the Sunday before the first day of the spring semester,” Hogervorst said. “A lot of us rely on the students who live off campus as a place we can go to cook meals.”

Getting food is not as “difficult for those who live locally,” Booth said. The players who live locally are able to get meals and snacks from home and bring it back to campus.

“It is easier to prepare individual meals at home and just bring it back to campus,” Giroux said. “Then all that is left for me to do is reheat my meal in the microwave.”

Multi-sport athletes show they’re game

Norwich University student-athletes face multiple hardships during their time on campus as they try to balance their academic and athletic responsibilities. But some choose an even harder path, participating in two sports in an academic year. Although they admit it can be a struggle, these two-sport players have been able to thrive and succeed despite the pressures of this lifestyle.

A few different athletics programs share athletes with one another, both on the men’s side and the women’s side, although the total number of twosport athletes at Norwich on the women’s programs heavily outweigh those on men’s teams.

Norwich athletics goes through three seasons: a fall season, a winter season, and a spring season. About five to eight different teams are underway per season, and a student-athlete can participate on at least one team each season.

Athletically, a major problem for twosport athletes comes when seasons overlap. Head Norwich women’s volleyball coach Ashlynn Nuckols, who currently coaches two two-sport athletes, noted that “when you cross over seasons, you can tell the difference between (people) when it’s just one sport and two sports at that time.”

Seasons can sometimes overlap for just a few days, or for as long as a month. If a student is playing for a team in the fall season and a team for the winter season, or a team in the winter and a team in the spring, issues may gradually arise.

This overlapping period can result in student-athletes either missing practice for one of those teams, or partaking in two practices a day, one for each team.

“The hardest struggle for me was the transfer over from volleyball to basketball,” said Rebecca Finley, an 18-year old freshman psychology and criminal justice double major who plays women’s basketball and volleyball. “Towards the end of volleyball, it was already three weeks into basketball season. I was doing double practices every day, and trying to keep up with all my school work.”

These student-athletes face a handful of challenges throughout the academic year: their academics are at the forefront, but some are also enrolled in the Corps of Cadets.

“The Corps takes up a lot of my time,” Finley said. “It puts on a lot of added stress on you, especially being a freshman going through rookdom.”

Other students, meanwhile, maintain other responsibilities. Teresa Segreti, a 22-year old senior athletic training major from Salisbury Mills, N.Y., who plays women’s hockey and women’s lacrosse, is also a member of the Vermont Guard.

“It’s definitely challenging trying to make it to every practice or game,” Segreti said. “Between drill weekends, school, and balancing two practice schedules, it’s sometimes hard to pick and choose because I can only be in one place at a time.” Like Finley, Segreti also faces the challenge of doing double practices; women’s hockey runs during the winter season, while women’s lacrosse is held during the spring season.

“A disadvantage is the fatigue. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tired,” Segreti said. “Especially on days where I happen to be able to make both lacrosse and hockey practice, and I’m running from one practice to the next.” B o t h coaches and student-athletes have seen an advantage in playing two or more sports in college, however. Firstyear men’s and women’s swimming and diving head coach Jay Schotter said that these athletes “might have ideas of leadership and team morale and how they’ve faced struggles with other teams,” adding that is something he always looks for in these student-athletes.

Nuckols agreed with Schotter, saying that these student-athletes “grew up in these sports, so they understand the team dynamics of each team.”

Another advantage for two-sport athletes is the ability to regularly stay fit and in shape, and, as Schotter pointed out, “they’re able to come in and have the attitude of cross-training.”

“When one season is over, the other starts and they overlap for a month or so,” Segreti agreed“So I’m constantly working different muscle groups and staying conditioned and in shape.”

Ultimately, these student-athletes have shared mixed experiences and results in their time at Norwich University. “I have seen a wide variety. I’ve seen some get overwhelmed, burn out, and quit both sports, while barely maintaining their academic standing,” said Emily Oliver, a 21- year old junior mechanical engineering and pre-med double major from Sagamore Hills, Ohio. “I’ve seen others do extremely well, enjoy their time with their team, and cherish their free time.”

Along with being a double major, Oliver is currently the only three-sport athlete at Norwich University. Oliver was the team captain for the women’s volleyball program this past year, is a starting guard for the women’s basketball team, and is one of the premier pitchers for the softball program.

With being a three-sport athlete, Oliver has undergone some of the same challenges that two-sport athletes have experienced, but to a further extreme. Oliver noted that, although she has been able to form special bonds with three different teams, she may not meet people if they either are not on one of her teams or in one of her classes. Although being a two-sport athlete adds an immense amount of stress onto an already exhausting schedule, those who decide to participate in multiple sports do it for meaningful purposes. “Playing two sports is a choice we make. It would be easy to only play one sport and balance everything, so I believe we have a certain drive and enjoy the challenge,” Segreti said. “I’d like to think we all love athletics and love to compete, so overall our experience is positive.”

Oliver provided key advice to those who play two or more sports, or to those who might be interested in pursuing the hectic lifestyle of a two-sport competitor.

“Prioritize your responsibilities. Academics come before anything, that’s what you’re here to do. Teammates come second, you have a responsibility to them to show up in your fullest form, you spend more time with them than you do with your friends during season,” Oliver said.

Oliver has enjoyed distinct success at Norwich University, despite facing the challenges and hardships of double majoring and extensively playing three different sports. She has been named to the Dean’s List every semester at Norwich.

“Finally, you have a responsibility to yourself,” Oliver said. “Make sure you’re still enjoying what you’re doing, and you have time for yourself.”

World-class female wrestler coaching at NU

When Norwich University hired a new member of the wrestling coaching staff this season, it got someone ranked number two in the country at 63 kilograms.

For Women’s Freestyle Wrestling. That’s right, Norwich’s new wrestling coach is a female, Erin Clodgo, a Richmond, Vt. native, and a Northern Michigan University alum.

She has spent the last 13 years of her life training out of the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Co. Having been a U.S. World Team member since 2007, Clodgo has decided to give coaching a try, and decided to start helping the Norwich University wrestling team.

“It has been awesome having coach Erin around. She really pushes us hard in training, and we’re all pretty dang sore the next day after she comes in. Whenever she says ‘I hope you ate your Wheaties this morning,’ we know it’s going to be a tough day,” said Brendan Desfosses, who wrestles at 157 lbs. and is a 19-year-old sophomore international studies major, from Methuen, Mass.

“Having Erin in the room helping out has been great. Coach Keating has traveled the world competing, and training in Russia, and he has seen a lot of different styles, but not nearly to the same degree as Erin has. She is bringing in a whole new style and background to us,” said Alex Whitney, head wrestling coach for Norwich University.

Assistant coach Connor Keating has spent quite a few years competing at the world level as well, having trained with U.S. and Russian national team members as well as coaches. He comes from a very similar wrestling background as Whitney. They have been teammates in college, thus giving them an extremely similar approach to wrestling, having been under the same coaching staff together.

“Clodgo has had a completely different upbringing in the sport, having been under different coaches. She brings an entirely new set of experiences and approaches to Norwich with her,” Whitney said.

Clodgo bringing in this new set of experiences and backgrounds has been immediately acknowledged and appreciated by the coaches and wrestlers alike.

“Having Coach Erin has been a wonderful learning experience for me. She has helped me open up more as a wrestler, and gave me new ways of hitting certain attacks, that I wasn’t quite getting with either of coaches before,” said Jack Schultz, 157 lbs., a 19-year-old freshman psychology major, from Cedar Grove, N.J. “She helped me a lot with building on my fireman’s carry (a type of leg attack in wrestling), specifically being able to use enough of my opponent’s pressure against him to hit this move quicker and smoother than before.”

Schultz has seen a lot of improvements on the minute details of certain techniques, and attributes this all to Clodgo.

“She is extremely nitpicky about the smallest things, and this has proven to be the difference maker in whether or not I score in my matches,” Schultz said.

Schultz isn’t the only wrestler who appreciates Clodgo’s nitpicking on technique. Senior captain Jonathan Graziane was also subject to Clodgo’s precise teaching on technique.

On Clodgo’s first day helping out the cadets she was training primarily with Graziane. “I had no idea who she was, why she was here, or any of her accolades. I was just told to wrestle with her,” said Jonathan Graziane, who wrestles at 141 lbs. and is a senior and captain. “I didn’t know she was going to be a coach, nobody introduced her, coach Whitney just brought her in to bang heads with us and teach us a little lesson in wrestling,” said Graziane, 22, an environmental science major, from Plattsburg, N.Y.

“Not even five minutes into wrestling with her, she had already corrected my form on my double legs drastically.”

Clodgo has helped build on technique at a rapid pace, according to Whitney. “Normally when we teach a technique, it will take months to see that technique used in a match. I don’t know why, but that has been the way it is in all my years coaching. With coach Erin it has been different. Guys are making these changes in their arsenal a lot more rapidly,” Whitney said.

Graziane and Schultz are just two of quite a few examples of the wrestlers making these quick alterations in adapting their many moves.

“Since coach Erin came in and started helping us, I started attacking more in matches. At the Roger Williams Invitational tournament, I was down by six points in my second match. It was the third and final period, and I needed to push the tempo of the match. What I was trying earlier in the match wasn’t working, so I said screw it,” Graziane said. “I hit two double legs and that lead to me getting back points and I ended up winning the match.”

Graziane attributed that win to Clodgo helping him gain confidence in his double leg takedowns. “My cardio was there well before coach Erin came along. My mental toughness grew through having coach Whitney and coach Keating, but as far as technique goes, I wouldn’t have gone for that specific move before coach Erin came and helped me,” Graziane said.

PJ Testino, a 141 lb wrestler and 20-yearold junior in construction management major from Dingmans Ferry, Pa., Clodgo’s coaching style is an “intensified variation on coach Keating’s style,” Testino said. “Coach Keating is pretty intense and I kind of see coach Whitney as the more laid-back coach, but now it’s like coach K is the happy middle for us.”

“Like coach Keating, she is hard-nosed in her approach. She is fast-paced, and really pushes us harder than we’’e been pushed before. It’s awesome having somebody as decorated as her in here with us day in and day out,” said Testino.

Calling Clodgo a highly decorated wrestler is an understatement. “In 2007 she joined the U.S. Junior World team, and in ‘08, she placed third in the world team trials. In ‘09 alone she took second in the Sunkist Kids International Open, Third in the U.S. World Team Trials, and sixth in the U.S. Nationals,” Whitney said.

“In 2010, she took third in the Hargobind International, second in the Sunkist Kids International Open, third in the Canada Cup, second in the U.S. World Team Trials, and was the U.S. Open champion. That was just in 2010,” Whitney said. “In 2011 she took second in the Pan American Championships, second in the U.S. Open, fourth at the Dave Schultz Memorial International. I can keep going on and on.”

On and on Whitney went. “In 2012, she was second in the U.S. World Team Wrestle-Off, second in the Hari Ram Grand Prix in India, third in the Klippan Lady Open in Sweden, third in the Dave Schultz Memorial International, third in the Ivan Yarygin Memorial in Russia, and third in the U.S. Open. I’ll just skip forward to 2016 and on,” Whitney said. “In 2016, she took fifth in the Open Cup in Russia, second in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, she won the Pan American Olympic Games Qualifier, placed third in the Olympic Test Event in Brazil, and took third in the U.S. Open,” Whitney continued.

In this year alone Clodgo also “won the U.S. Open, and on Nov. 2, 2017, had won the Dave Schultz Memorial International tournament.” Whitney finished up with this: “When USA Wrestling was interviewing her, she had even said she’s been going up to Norwich University in Vermont and helping coach there and wrestling there. It has been an honor to work with them and for me to read that was an amazing thing to hear.”

Clodgo winning the Dave Schultz Memorial International tournament was big news not only for the U.S. women’s national team, and for Clodgo herself, but big news for Norwich as well. Clodgo training with and helping coach Norwich’s team brings on the plethora of experiences she has had, from herself, and the learning experiences from every match. Norwich wrestlers are now able to further their own knowledge through training with Clodgo, and this is hoped to help grow the wrestling program.

It is also very new to the sport of wrestling having a female coach, on the men’s wrestling team. For every wrestler interviewed, only one wrestler has ever experienced a female coach.

Schultz, the New Jersey native, has never had a female coach, but quite a few programs in his area whom he competed against had female coaches.

“I never had a female coach, but in New Jersey there were also enough women in wrestling to constitute having women’s wrestling teams,” Schultz said. “These women’s wrestling teams usually had at least one female coach.”

Whitney has seen females in the wrestling world more often as the sport of wrestling continues to grow. “Coach Keating and myself were down in Florida for the National Wrestling Coaches Association convention in August, and there were a good number of female coaches there. There were definitely more women there than in the past. There were roughly ten female coaches there of the hundreds of coaches in attendance,” Whitney said.

“In this day in wrestling, women’s wrestling is becoming an emerging and growing sport, and it actually just became a Division I sport,” Whitney elaborated.

What is next for Clodgo, and Norwich wrestling? “I really hope she stays around for the long run,” Desfosses said.

Clodgo, while still competing, will still be helping out with coaching and for Norwich, this means having an extremely accomplished World Team member in the wrestling room helping shape the Norwich wrestling program.

Men’s soccer faces ‘heartbreak’ after championship game loss to Saint Joseph

Norwich and Saint Joseph players hug after a tough championship loss in the GNAC finals. Norwich Athletics Photo.

The Norwich University men’s soccer team had great success during this year’s playoffs but once again fell short where it counts, in its final game.
In the GNAC Championship against Saint Joseph’s College of Maine on Nov. 4, the Norwich men lost to the Monks of Saint Joseph, 1-0.
“It was a real heartbreak, we tried our best during preseason and you put so much strength and work, and you fall short and it’s a heartbreaker,” said Alex Arvizo a 22-year old sophomore history major with a minor in political science and Spanish from Albuquerque, N.M.
The feeling after the game was “atrocious,” in the words of some soccer players.
“It was the same kind of scenario last year, we knew that Saint Joseph was going to be tough they didn’t let up a single goal this entire season,” said Matt Mazzola, a 20-year old junior computer security and information assurance major from Ridgefield, Conn.
Saint Joseph’s took home the GNAC crown for the second year in a row, and their fourth title overall (2009, 2011, 2016, 2017). They finished off a truly historic regular and postseason, in which they managed to shut out every opponent they faced.
Still, Norwich had a successful year especially overcoming early rough spots and some injuries. [Read more…]

Men’s rugby team caps perfect regular season, heads to Div. II championships

The Norwich men’s rugby team poses after taking the Div. II regional playoffs.  The team now heads to the                                                                               championships for Div. II.    John Lincourt Photo

The Norwich University Men’s Rugby team has had a perfect regular season, going 8-0, earning them first seed in the Rugby Northeast conference playoffs. Now it’s also perfect in the conference playoffs: The team beat Umass Lowell 36-24 on Saturday Nov. 4, and then took the championship with a thriller over Southern Connecticut State, 35-33, on Sunday.

“I believe that our brotherhood plays a huge role on this team,” said Korbin Wayton, a 22-year old junior accounting and business management major from Southlake, Texas. Wayton’s position is wing and centre. A wing tends to attack and defend up and down the edges of the field. The centre generally possesses a good kicking game and is good at reading the play and directing the attack.

Norwich’s men’s rugby team has had a very dominant season, thanks to the hard work of the athletes. Here’s a quick primer on the sport. A rugby game is a contest between two teams of 15 players, with 30 on the field at the same time, each with their own specific job to do. The game is split into halves of 40 minutes each. [Read more…]

Women’s basketball will face off against Division I UVM in season opener

The Norwich women’s basketball team. Norwich Athletics Photo

For the first time in 19 years, a Norwich University athletics team will play against a Division I program when the NU women’s basketball team tips off against the University of Vermont (UVM) in a nationally televised tilt on Nov. 15, in Burlington, Vt.

The Cadets will battle the UVM Catamounts in a 7 p.m. tilt in the confines of UVM’s Patrick Gymnasium, in a game that will be broadcasted live on ESPN3. The match-up will serve as the women’s basketball team’s season opener, marking the beginning of the 25-game regular season that will last until the end of February 2018.

The Cadets, who have been practicing since Oct. 15, have been eagerly anticipating the contest against the Catamounts. “I think it’s going to be a great challenge,” said senior forward and captain Arianna Harrison, a 21-year old criminal justice major from Vernon, Vt., “It’s really going to show how we are going to be as a team.”

The Catamounts enter the 2017-18 season coming off a 9-20 overall record from last year, including a 6-10 record in the America East (AE) Conference. UVM will have played two games already against Dartmouth University in Hanover, N.H., and Miami University in Coral Gables, Fla., by the time they play the Cadets. [Read more…]

For foreign student-athletes, there are many challenges to overcome

International student-athletes at Norwich University encounter hardships with finances, fitting in, and leaving home, according to N.U. coaches and athletes.

Attending college at Norwich is a “big time and financial commitment for the international student-athletes,” said Adam Pfeifer, Norwich’s head men’s soccer coach. However according to foreign students interviewed, the end product will be worth the all the financial, emotional, and lifestyle changes they are overcoming.

International student-athletes enrolling at Norwich is an increasingly popular trend during the past decade, according to NU coaches. Interviews offer a perspective on the challenges such athletes face and how they overcome them – and also how coaches are trying to adapt to their presence.

“In my 25 years here, having an international student has not occurred very often,” said Paul Booth, Norwich University’s head men’s basketball coach. “Over the last four or five years, we have had several kids that have enrolled from other destinations besides the United States.”
[Read more…]

Women’s hockey skates into the season with high hopes

The Norwich women lined up on the blue line at Kreitzberg Arena.
After a stellar season last winter ended with getting knocked out of the playoffs,
the team hopes to go all the way this year.

The Norwich University women’s ice hockey team is entering its 11th season under head coach Mark Bolding, with hopes to recapture its place at the top of the NEHC conference once again. With a winning record of 23-7-1 that closed out the cadets’ 2016-17 season, they are looking to improve with the advent of the 2017-18 season.“We were a really close group last year. Since we only graduated two seniors, we are fortunate enough to keep that tight bond this year,” said team captain Bryn Labbe, 20, a junior forward from Calgary, Alberta.

The freshman class consists of six players, (one defenseman and five forwards.) The roster will be “abnormally large for a college level hockey team,” Labbe noted, but this is not a bad thing. Numbers are always a plus because numbers mean variety of skills and added depth.

The team has very high hopes this year as the first game is just around the corner. The home opener is approaching quickly as they get ready to host the Lady Hawks of Saint Anselm on Tuesday Oct. 24.

“It really feels like we are working harder than we ever have as a team during pre-season, between workouts and captain’s practices,” said Labbe. “We are going to be more than prepared come game time.” [Read more…]

A military rivalry is reborn at Sabine Field

Players line up and get ready to play for Norwich University vs. US Coast Guard Academy.
Photo by Darwin Carozza

The renewal of a historic rivalry with Coast Guard did not go the way Norwich football hoped, but the team was excited to play another military school. They are already looking forward to revenge next year, players said. The “Little Army-Navy” game “will always be a game we look forward to as they are one of our biggest rivals, and losing to them is hard to take,” said sophomore defensive lineman Ferron Greene.

Leading up to the game, Norwich (0-3) had lost to Castleton in the previous week by a score of 28-14, in the annual Maple Sap Bucket rivalry game. This game however showcased Matthew Chaffee, sophomore quarterback, who saw his first collegiate career action late in the third quarter, where he put up two touchdowns and recorded 148 yards passing. Prior to the “Little Army-Navy” game, Coast Guard (2-1) was coming off a 13-0 shutout win over Nichols College, where its defense only let up 123 yards of total offense, and recorded four interceptions. Coast Guard’s quarterback was off to a quick start this season, passing for 753 yards and four touchdowns.

Norwich has seen some tough opponents early in their season and has had some difficulty overcoming these challenges after a number of key injuries, but were able to build up momentum leading up to the game as they put the previous three games behind them. The excitement was in the air throughout the whole week leading up to the big game. Practices were long and hard, players were determined, and the students’ energy was through the roof.
[Read more…]

Hockey team continued a winning legacy

 

The Norwich University Men’s Ice Hockey Team won big, accomplishing its goal of winning an NCAA Division III National Championship. It is the fourth in school history.

There is no doubt in the minds of Norwich fans that this year’s team is special – but this team was not the first to turn out a championship level performance. Over the course of the program’s history, three other teams have had special seasons and won it all, taking the national title.

At the 6:19 mark of the third period, under the lights of the Utica Memorial Auditorium, Paul Russell scored the most important goal of his career by giving the Norwich Cadets Men’s Ice Hockey team a 3-1 lead over the Trinity College Bantams in the title game of the NCAA Division III Frozen Four. In seconds, the lights flashed red, the train horn sounded, and the building shook with the cheers from the hundreds of Norwich fans in attendance. [Read more…]