In 2009/10, program set the Little East standard for comprehensive success
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - In 2009/10, no institution in the Little East Conference displayed better balance between athletic and academic performance and sportsmanship than Eastern Connecticut State University.
Eastern, a member of the conference's Original Six in 1986, was the only conference team this year to be rated in the upper tier of the eight-team conference when it came to measuring three important attributes: athletic prosperity, academic achievement, and sportsmanship.
No conference institution was voted as the winner of the team Sportsmanship Award more times than Eastern, which shared the conference lead by winning a total of four times. In the race for the Commissioner's Cup -- which measures an institution's overall performance in the 19 sports sponsored by the Little East Conference - Eastern placed second overall. Academically, 64 Eastern student-athletes were named to either the fall, winter or spring LEC All-Academic Team - a total which placed it just one selection behind the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and the University of Southern Maine, which shared second place in the listing.
Good sports every season
In the inaugural year of the award, at least one Eastern program in each playing season was voted to be the most sporting: men's soccer and field hockey in the fall, men's basketball in the winter and women's outdoor track and field in the spring. The men's soccer program averaged only one yellow card - and no red cards -- every three games for a total of seven in 22 matches. That caution total was half as many as its nearest LEC competitor and 34 less than the conference leader. The men's soccer team combined sportsmanship with the ultimate athletic success, winning its second LEC tournament crown in three years under three-year head coach Greg DeVito. The field hockey program was under the direction of fourth-year head coach Christine Hutchison, the men's basketball team under eighth-year head coach Bill Geitner and women's outdoor track and field team under ninth-year head coach Frank Poulin.
Team successes made for Cup contention
As an overall program, Eastern matched its second-place finish in the Commissioner's Cup standings for the fourth straight year, posting a Top Three finish for the eighth time in the ten-year history of the award. For sports in which the conference conducts regular-season play, point totals are determined by the order of finish in the final regular-season standings, with bonus points awarded to the champion of the ensuing post-season conference championship tournament. For sports that do not conduct regular-season competition (cross country, track and swimming), points are awarded based on the order of finish in the conference championship meet.
Of the ten Eastern programs which compete in LEC regular-season competition, eight finished with a share of second place or better, with the softball program winning the outright regular-season LEC title and women's lacrosse, baseball and men's soccer earning a share of the regular-season crown. In addition to the regular-season champions and co-champions, the women's soccer and men's lacrosse programs placed second in the regular season and men's and women's basketball finished with a share of second place. Softball, men's soccer and women's soccer added valuable points by combining for 28 bonus points as LEC post-season tournament champions.
Despite accumulating 18 points in soccer (becoming only the second LEC institution to win the men's and women's LEC playoff titles in the same year), Eastern was only ranked fourth in the Commissioner's Cup rating heading into the winter. The Warriors improved their lot by placing second in five winter sports, then engineered a spring rush in which all four Eastern programs placed first or second in the regular season. The result was an overall second-place finish for 2009/10.
Academically, sixty-four made grade
Twenty-five Eastern student-athletes earned a spot on the fall LEC All-Academic Team, 18 on the winter squad and 21 on the spring list. Sixteen of Eastern's 17 intercollegiate programs were represented with at least one selection on the inaugural team during the year. Student-athletes having attained sophomore academic and athletic status with overall grade-point averages of 3.30 were recognized with all-academic team distinction.
Four Eastern cross country and indoor and outdoor letterwinners achieved all-academic status in all three seasons: senior Alexis Cavanaugh (Cheshire), juniors Amanda Ericson (Bolton) and Ashlee James (Franklin) and sophomore Ryan Hughes (Cheshire). Ten additional student-athletes were two-season recipients: seniors Erika Barber (Portland), Sandra Brautigam (Scotland), Kim Church (Farmington), Maxim Fantl (West Hartford), juniors Lauren Hickey (Southwick, MA) and Becky Knapp (Naugatuck), and sophomores Kristianna Ibsen (Shelton), Bryan Jorge (Bristol), Nick Pates (East Haven), and Megan Wallace (Trumbull). Barber, Brautigam, Pates and Wallace all competed in indoor and outdoor track, Knapp in cross country and indoor track, Jorge in cross country and outdoor track, Ibsen in volleyball and indoor track, Church in soccer and softball, Fantl in soccer and lacrosse, and Hickey in soccer and basketball.