Report by researchers finds serious flaws in hockey helmets

Norwich hockey players put a lot of faith in their helmets to protect against concussions. A report from Virginia Tech scored most helmets poorly on accomplishing that job.

Norwich hockey players put a lot of faith in their helmets to protect against concussions. A report from Virginia Tech scored most helmets poorly on accomplishing that job. Photo by Darwin Carozza

 According to a recent independent study conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech, more than a quarter of all hockey helmets on the market are considered unsafe. 

In 2011, Virginia Tech did a similar study on football helmets. The ratings were shocking and caused the companies to do an overhaul on their products to make them safer, while one company even went out of business. 

“After looking at this study, it is kind of scary and eye-opening to know that a lot of teams I have played for in the past and even including this team, issue helmets with a zero-star rating,” said Tyler Piacentini, a forward on the team and a senior communication major from South Weymouth, Mass.

At Virginia Tech, the helmets were tested on a five-star rating, five being the highest and safest and one being the lowest. Of the 32 helmets that are available for purchase, nine failed to earn a single star. The highest-rated helmet available was a helmet made by Warrior Hockey which earned three stars, while the rest either earned one or two stars. Before the test just one helmet received five stars; soon after the results came out, 12 redesigned helmets were given a grade of five stars. 

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Australian Defense Force battles women’s Norwich rugby

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An Australian team member cuts back to avoid three Norwich women’s rugby players.

The Norwich University Women’s Rugby team found it was not easy to play the unstoppable Australian Defense Forces (ADF) team. The Australians won a match by a landslide, 54-5, due to their unbeatable tactics and fast-paced play during the Oct. 7 match on the Dog River Pitch. But for the Norwich women’s team, it was a great experience to go up against the physically fast and tough military team.

Rugby has been quite a popular sport at Norwich, on both the men and women’s side. The chance to play female military personnel all the way from Australia was a significant opportunity coordinated in a joint effort between Thy Yang, the assistant vice president for international education, and Austin Hall, Norwich University Women’s rugby coach.

“The Australian Defense Force first contacted me last summer about getting this organized,” said Hall. “This game was in the works for a while, but picked up speed quite fast.” [Read more…]

Men’s rugby off to great start in revised conference

The Norwich University men’s rugby team is facing a new opponent and missing old foes after changes were made to the conference it plays in this year. So far it is off to a great start, going 7-0 in an undefeated season. The rugby team gained that status with a convincing 39-12 victory over NECRC rival University of Vermont.

The Cadets’ victory clinched the NECRC 2016 Conference Championship and gives them an automatic bid to the USA Division II Collegiate Rugby National Sweet Sixteen.

“Norwich has competed in the New England Rugby Collegiate Conference (NECRC) for several seasons,” said Tanner Acebo, the Athletic Communications Department multimedia specialist. But the men’s rugby team had a change in their conference leading two teams to leave the conference: Boston University and Coast Guard Academy. After playing in a different division, the East Coast Rugby Conference (ECRC) for a while, “Middlebury College has come back to the [NECRC]” Acebo said.

“Middlebury will be joined by the University of Vermont, the University of Rhode Island, the University of New Hampshire and Norwich University in the NECRC. “In a way, our conference got stronger; [however,] losing Coast Guard was a loss because they were our only real military team that we faced in the season” said Taualupe Tau, a junior communication major. Said Bob Weggler, the Norwich rugby coach, “It’s just something [Coast Guard] needed to do as a school.”

The Middlebury rugby team made the decision to come to NECRC by a blind vote that involved the entire team and coaching staff and with the majority voting to move conferences, according to a press release from the Middlebury College Rugby Club’s website. “We believe this new direction will help to stabilize the trajectory of the club after a lengthy period of coaching instability and provide all members with a rewarding experience,” the statement from the club said.

As a result of the move, Norwich finally will get an in-state rivalry. “We still play some of the same teams such as University of Vermont, University of New Hampshire and University of Rhode Island,” Acebo said. The new conference structure will allow Norwich to play each school in the conference twice, meaning each team will play once at home and once on the opposing school’s pitch. The winner of the NECRC moves onto the USA Fall Rugby National Championship.

This year’s senior captains are senior pack leader James Rowan from Fairfax, Va., senior Eric Pierone from Rotterdam, N.Y., senior flanker Richard Berlandy from Farmington, Conn., senior hooker Matt Rambin from Fairfax, Va., and junior Tom St. Pierre from Warwick, R.I. The team has returned 26 players from that squad while bringing in eight newcomers. Norwich is one of the few men’s rugby teams that has achieved varsity status, while some schools are still at the club level, such as Middlebury.

According to the Norwich University athletics website, Weggler cited some key freshmen that might crack the lineup early. “Freshman Keyon McCloud-Holman, Philadelphia, Pa., at prop, earned our man of the match honors in our scrimmage against Colgate, so he will factor in early. “However, for many of the other players, it is a big jump going from the high school level to the college level so they might need a little more time to adjust to the style of play.” he added.

“Morale has come up a little bit just because it does make things easier and with the weeks off it means we won’t have players missing due to the Army ROTC Field Training Exercise … We are just taking it day by day. We dropped two teams and gained one team,” said team member Jacob McMullen. a junior. Tau felt the changes will mean better competiton, “with Middlebury College coming from a Division I down to a Division II conference, they will be a challenge and give us a run for our money; everyone wants to win [so] no one is really down with the two teams leaving and Middlebury coming in.”

Gordon Winget, a senior wing and full-back on “B” side, said “with the changes in the conference it will be a lot harder, with Coast Guard gone we have to focus more on another team like URI … The team will have to focus and concentrate more, the team is coming in with the mindset of every day we have to push ourselves harder than the last day.”

Even though the conference has had some adjustments made to it, the Norwich men’s team has not changed their playing style. “Every game is a new game and every week is a new week that’s what we need to look toward. Our goal is to win the conference, so that’s what we remind ourselves every day at practice and game,” Winget said.

At 7-0, it looks as if that goal is in sight.

New soccer coach Adam Pfeifer hopes to continue team’s success

Pfeifer_copyAfter 10 years under the same coach, men’s soccer is under new leadership with coach Adam Pfeifer.

The announcement of his hiring by Norwich University Director of Athletics Tony Mariano on March 11 comes several months after coach Kyle Dezotell departed for Manhattanville in January.

Pfeifer will become the 10th head coach in program history, following Dezotell’s 10-year reign. “I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to lead the Norwich men’s soccer program,” said Pfeifer. “Very few coaches have the privilege to take over a program that has such a solid foundation; I am grateful to coach Dezotell and his staff for the work they have done.”

Pfeifer comes to Norwich after serving two years as assistant coach for Middlebury College under legendary head coach David Saward. He also served as the associate head coach at Northeastern University for eight seasons prior to being an assistant with Middlebury College.

“I want to thank Tony Mariano and the entire athletic department staff for believing in me and giving me this great opportunity,” said Pfeifer. “I also want to thank the coaches that have given me opportunities in college soccer, Brian Ainscough, Dave Saward, and my college coach Ed Kelly. They have all played a major role in cultivating my love for the game and helping me develop as a person and a coach.” [Read more…]

Shaw Outdoor Center hopes disc golf course catches on with students

Finding a niche is a tough task for most college students throughout their four years, especially freshman year. Without an activity like a sports team, the first weeks or even months can be a trying time figuring out where they belong.

Staying physically active is no easy task for college students either with all of the responsibilities of class, homework, and other extracurricular activities that take up time. For Colin O’Neil, the manager of Norwich’s Shaw Outdoor Center, fusing those two problems together into one easy solution is an important aspect of the Shaw Center.

The Shaw Center, located at the bottom of Paine Mountain, built a new disc golf course in the fall of 2015 that it is promoting this spring to students, said O’Neil.

“It took a few days of walking, and plotting the general layout and to then create an actionable plan for 18 holes,” O’Neil said. “I designed and managed the creation of a nearby disc golf course. I also have helped with planning, layout, and safety of five other courses in Vermont and New York.”

Disc golf evolved in the early 1960s when participants threw Frisbees at trees as targets. In today’s modern game, players throw the discs into “holes – 18 baskets that have chains connected to them – hence the golf connection.

“Disc golf has been the fastest growing sport in the USA for at least six years, and given that there are around 4,000 public courses in the US, there will be a demand for the sport from future Norwich students,” O’Neil said. “It’s a great lifetime sport that’s fun exercise, which I want to introduce to the Norwich community.” [Read more…]

Norwich club hockey team is now undefeated two years running

With an overall record of 41-7-1 the last three years, the Norwich men’s club ice hockey team has gone undefeated in its conference for the second year in a row. The club program, for the last three straight years, has won both the regular season and conference championships.

Finishing this season with a record of 18-0-0, there is no question that Norwich’s club hockey team has built a legitimate name for the program since the team was first put together in 2009.

The team’s secret to success lies within the strong bond between the players, according to head coach Bruce Baroffio Jr. With only three civilian students on the team, the tight bond that is built between all the players in the Corps of Cadets has shown to carry over on the ice.

Baroffio has been the head coach for the last three seasons. Barrofio was the assistant coach for the two years prior to being named the head coach. He credits bringing new structure to the program for the success. “Since implementing a systems approach for the team style of play, we have seen drastic improvements to the team’s success,” said Baroffio. [Read more…]

Big Man On Campus: Mike Hogervorst of Holland easily towers over fellow students

At 6 feet, 11 inches, Mike Hogervorst, #34, towers over everyone else on the court. He's the tallest guy on campus.

At 6 feet, 11 inches, Mike Hogervorst, #34, towers over everyone else on the court. He’s the tallest guy on campus. Photo by Mark Collier.

Mike Hogervorst stands at a towering six feet and 11 inches and wears a size 15 shoe. He’s from the Netherlands and he’s currently attending Norwich and plays basketball on the Norwich men’s team.

Hogervorst’s daily schedule isn’t much different from any other Norwich student. He attends classes and attempts to sneak in a nap or two, but unlike other students Hogervorst ducks his head under an occasional doorway or two and sleeps on a bed that happens to be shorter than he is.

Hogervorst, a 20-year-old sophomore majoring in electrical engineering, is clearly the tallest student on campus. That helps when it comes to basketball. He plays center position on the Norwich University team and has scored over 300 points during the season and pulled down, not surprisingly, 132 rebounds – the most on the team. [Read more…]

Not your usual spring break: Norwich men’s rugby faces tough tournament in Bermuda

Five players were honored by the New England Collegiate Rugby Conference this spring. Junior #8 Eric Pierce , junior fly half Keegan Frick and sophomore scrum half Tom St. Pierre were all named to the All-Conference team. Pierone, fellow junior Matthew Rambin and sophomore Pasquale Cassese were also named to the NECRC All-Academic team which requires sophomore standing and a 3.25 GPA or higher.

Five players were honored by the New England Collegiate Rugby Conference this spring. Junior #8 Eric Pierce , junior fly half Keegan Frick and sophomore scrum half Tom St. Pierre were all named to the All-Conference team.
Pierone, fellow junior Matthew Rambin and sophomore Pasquale Cassese were also named to the NECRC All-Academic team which requires sophomore standing and a 3.25 GPA or higher.

Each year during spring break, a few Norwich sports teams get the chance to travel and compete outside of Vermont. Of those teams, the university’s Men’s Rugby program is one of the only ones to compete internationally on a consistent basis.

“Playing outside the U.S. definitely gives us the ability to really test our skills,” said left side second row James Rowan, a 20-year-old junior construction management major from Fairfax, Va. “We are able to see different styles of rugby used by other countries.”

For the last 20 years, the Cadets have been participating in an annual match against the men’s team from Bishop’s University, a school in Sherbrooke, Quebec. The sides balance the travel between one another, rotating visits each year. The game has become a solidified tradition – held at the end of fall training camp as a kickoff to the regular season.

“The Bishop’s game is probably one of our most fun and friendly matches; they’re a good group of guys,” said second row right side Jack England, a 21-year-old senior criminal justice major from Weymouth, Mass. “It’s also a wakeup call for our team so we know what to expect and what we can work on for the rest of the year.” [Read more…]

Norwich soccer coach Kyle Dezotell left a historic legacy, and his players will miss him

Norwich Soccer Coach Kyle Dezotell, who stepped down after ten very successful years.

Norwich Soccer Coach Kyle Dezotell, who stepped down after ten very successful years.

“Ten years is a long time to be in a college coaching job in this day and age, and I am incredibly proud of the consistent excellence that our program established over that time period.” – Soccer Coach Kyle Dezotell

After a decade as head coach, Norwich University has said goodbye to Kyle Dezotell, who has the most wins as coach in Norwich men’s soccer history.

He compiled a 131-63-18 record and took over the head coach position when he was only 24-years-old.

Dezotell is stepping down as head coach at NU to take up another challenge at Manhattenville College men’s soccer program, where he will also be the Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance. He also held that position at Norwich since 2013.

“It will be hard to find a replacement for such a great coach like Kyle,” said Anthony Mariano, the Athletic Director at Norwich University. [Read more…]

Airsoft Club gets go-ahead from Norwich to offer military mock combat game

After several failed attempts by students at Norwich University to form an Airsoft Club, or Airsoft Division as they are also known, recent efforts have finally succeeded, thanks to improved planning and presentation.

“The Airsoft Club did a terrific job preparing their presentation (this year). They learned over the course of their last few attempts the issues that we (the safety committee) were worried about,” said Dave Magida, Norwich’s chief administrative officer as well as the chair of the safety committee.

Before a club can start at Norwich, there is a process it must go through to become university sanctioned. One step in that process is getting approved by the safety committee. [Read more…]