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W-Swim: McVeigh-King-Jones Repeat

Eastern trio goes 1-2-3 for second straight year at SJC Pentathlon


Pentathlon results.htm

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. -  Eastern Connecticut State University senior Erin McVeigh (Windsor) repeated her individual title at the Saint Joseph College (CT) Blue Jay Pentathlon and was followed for the second straight year by sophomore Katie King (Barkamsted) and Macaire Jones (Danbury) Saturday at the Bruyette Natatorium.

At right: Erin McVeigh

Of the five 100 yard events, McVeigh won the butterfly (1:05.41) and freestyle (57.87), and was third in the individual medley (1:09.13) in recording the fastest composite time (5:39.56) in the five events for the second straight year. King won the breaststroke (1:11.25) and repeated in second place overall with a composite time of 5:46.28, with Jones taking third overall for the second straight year (5:46.57).

Eastern swimmers dominated by taking the top four and nine of the top 11 places in the pentathlon. First-year junior transfer Shannen Barnard (Niantic) was fourth overall (5:48.78), junior Kayla Smoragiewicz (Norwalk) sixth (5:58.67), first-year sophomore transfer Rebecca Stewart (Niantic) seventh (5:59.54), senior Michelle Schapp (Torrington) ninth (6:01.6),  freshman Jessica Charron (Baltic) tenth (6:03.58) and freshaen Natalie Stepniewski (East Haven) 11th (6:05.04). Schapp, Eastern's recordholder in all three backstroke distances, captured the backstroke in a time of 1:05.34, edging Smoragiewicz by .48 seconds.

McVeigh becomes the third Eastern swimmer to claim the Blue Jay Pentathlon title as many as two times, following Sarah Barber (2006 and 2007) and Amy Arisco (2008 and 2009). Nadine Menard of Eastern captured the 2011 pentathlon championship.

A total of 40 swimmers from four institutions competed in the meet, with 26 entering all five events. Team scores were not calculated.

Eastern hosts Western Connecticut State University Nov. 9 at noon in its home-opener.




W-Swimming: Goals Remain the Same

Despite substantial losses, Warriors aiming high again in 2013-14


At left: Michelle Schapp

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Many of the faces which propelled the Eastern Connecticut State University women's swim team to its highest New England finish ever last year have changed, but the goals remain the same as the Warriors approach their 18th intercollegiate season Saturday at the Saint Joseph (CT) Pentathlon.

Last year, Eastern capped an impressive season with  its highest finish ever (second) at the New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Association (NEISDA) Championships, where 11 individuals combined to earn All-New England honors 42 times.

For the second straight regular season, the Warriors won eight of nine dual meets and matched their highest finish ever (second) at the Little East Conference Championships in early December.


The individual losses from last season were extensive and include 13 of last year's 21 letterwinners who had combined to contribute 18 of those 42 All-New England medals.

At right: Erin McVeigh

However, the cupboard is not bare for 18th-year head coach Maureen Fahey (127-71-2 record) and long-time assistants Amy Golas and Bill Hassell. A strong nucleus  of ten individuals - nine of them letterwinners -- returns and includes senior fourth-year participants Michelle Schapp (Torrington) and Erin McVeigh (Windsor), as well as junior Kayla Smoragiewicz (Norwalk) and sophomores Katie King (Barkhamsted) and Macaire Jones (Danbury).

That quintet will be supported by five additional returnees: senior Vic San Pietro (Stratford), juniors Abby Arisco (Wallingford), Shannon Coleman (Plantsville) and Katie Dulz (Windsor), and sophomore Sarah Froehlich (Woodstock).


Dedication of part-time coaches makes program special 

By Brent Pelella / Sports Information Staff

fahey head300dpicopy.jpgMaureen Fahey (at left) didn't know that when she took the opportunity to start the Eastern swim team in 1996 that she would be walking into a life-changing relationship. Not as just a coach, but as a teacher, friend and mentor to so many student athletes.

Fahey left the incalescent climate of the University of Tampa, where she was a reigning All-America, to come back to her home state of Connecticut at Connecticut College. Four years later she began a program that presented her with two people - her current long-time assistant coaches - who have had such an impact here they still haven't left.

Amy Golas came to Eastern as a swimmer in 1999 and graduated as one of the most celebrated performers in the program's 18-history, "Amy was the best swimmer to go through here, and hopefully a future (Eastern) Hall of Famer," Fahey remarked. "Having her go through that experience, and then wanting to be an assistant afterwards meant the world to me."


At left: Assistant coaches Amy Golas and Bill Hassell.

Their bond has developed over the last ten years along with a resilient notion of trust and companionship. Their third wheel comes in the form of ninth-year head coach Bill Hassell, who graduated from UConn where he was remarkable in his own right. As a former New England champion, "CB" (Coach Bill) brings decades of education as a classroom instructor and swimming expert.

As a staff, these three storied athletes run the pool as one, "We all carry the same amount of responsibility," Golas said. "We trust Maureen's leadership, but she also gives us the utmost freedom to express how we feel."

Incredibly, each member of the coaching staff is employed on only a part-time basis at Eastern. While Hassell has retired from his fulltime duties as a teach and coach, Fahey works fulltime in the private sector in Hartford, and Golas is a fulltime middle school english teacher in Hebron.

With much respect to Fahey, it's hard to consider her the sole head coach and she attests to that as well, "Amy and Bill are just as much head coaches as I am... I just get the blame when negative situations happen,"  she joked.

The dedication they portray to get their unit ready for the season is uncanny. Their preparation requires different aspects to be covered by each individual. Hassell generally covers morning workouts, where as practice the other two usually devises practice plans.

As a result, their teams have escalated their level of devotion and expectations to an elite platform, "To be a part of this program, teaching Coach Fahey's philosophies is a dream come true," remarked Golas. "Every year our team gets better and its so satisfying to see the records on the wall being broken year in and year out."

The dedication of the staff is not lost on the program's current or former swimmers, however.

"All three of the coaches are very commited to us," says current junior Kayla Smoragiewicz. "They're all very dedicated and they all want the best for us. They get super excited when they see us beat our times. They develop such a close connection with us throughout the years, and that's why they love it when they see us coming back every year," she added. "Coach Fahey makes it clear to us from the beginning that she wants to be someone that we can go to, not only for swimming, but for school and in our personal lives. She has a busy schedule, but she still dedicates all of her time to us and makes herself available, which all of us are very grateful for."


"We've gotten a lot closer as a team (recently)," noted Smoragiewicz as she surveys a 2013-14 roster which is devoid of many of last year's marquee names. "We feel like we're going to have a great season. We've been working really hard, and we're excited for (the season-opener).  

In addition to swimming to All-New England honors a total of seven times last year, Schapp holds all three backstroke records, is a member of all five record-setting relays and shared last year's award as Eastern's Individual Sport Athlete-of-the-Year; McVeigh was a six-time All-New England performer in the freestyle and relays last winter, and Smoragiewicz achieved All-New England status as a sophomore five times in the backstroke and relays. 

King attained All-New England distinction five times as a freshman in the breaststroke, individual medley and relays, set two breaststroke records, won the 100 breaststroke at the conference meet and was selected Eastern's Individual Sport Rookie-of-the-Year; and Jones gained All-New England status with the 400 medley relay, and posted the fastest time last year in the 50 free, the second-best mark in the 100 freestyle, and third-best time in the 200 freestyle.

In addition to the returnees, the roster will be bolstered by two transfers among the eight newcomers: junior Shannen Barnard (Niantic) and sophomore Rebecca Stewart (Niantic). Barnard swam two seasons on conference championship teams at Division II Southern Connecticut State University and Stewart spent last year at Keene State College, where she helped the Owls to the Little East and NEISDA championships. Both transfers swim the individual medley. Barnard will also contribute in the breaststroke and Stewart in the distance freestyle.

"The girls that we lost were very good, but we're fortunate for the new girls that we got," said Smoragiewicz. "They all do really well in numerous events and seem to fit in really well. They have been working really hard in practice," she adds. "They're definitely going to be an important addition to the team."

Among the newcomers this season are four true freshmen of whom Smoragiewicz and her teammates are expecting great things.

"All of the freshmen have come in with swimming experience and all of them will contribute in some aspect and will win points for the team," she says.

In all, the Warriors return their top two swimmers from a year ago in the 50 freestyle and 50 backstroke, three of their top four in the 100 and 200 freestyle and 200 butterfly, five of their best six in the 50 butterfly, the top four and five of the top six in the 100 butterfly, and four of their most accomplished six in last year's 100 individual medley.

This year's seniors have experienced only four dual-meet losses in three years: three to Keene State and one to Bridgewater State University.

Without Keene on the regular-season schedule for the first time in 17 seasons, Eastern has set an undefeated season an attainable - albeit difficult - goal, along with a fifth consecutive Top 5 finish in the NEISDA meet in mid-February.

"As a team, we'll be trying for an undefeated (dual meet) season, so we'll see how that goes," states Smoragiewicz. "It's definitely going to be difficult with a (20 percent) smaller roster  than last year, but we still think that we can do it. We'll also be trying to place as high as we can in the New England meet. Last year, we did a really great job with that, and we're trying to do just as well this year."

At last year's Saint Joseph Pentathlon title, McVeigh, King and Jones placed 1-2-3 in the competition, where Eastern swimmers captured eight of the top ten spots. Two weeks after the opener, Eastern hosts Western Connecticut State University in the first of only three home dual meets. The conference championships are slated for December 7 at UMass Dartmouth, and the NEISDA Championships - hosted by the University of Rhode Island Feb. 14-16, close out the season.







Weight Room Renovation Completed

weight room72_7464.jpg

weight_room72x_7440.jpgThe Eastern Connecticut State University Sports Center weight room underwent a facelift this past summer. The room, which is located on the bottom floor of the building and services the entire Eastern community, includes new rubberized flooring, new stereo system, signage, expanded mirror coverage, "Eastern Warrior" platform/power racks, new polyurethane dumbells, kettle bells, barbells, bands, free weights, assisted dip and pull-up machine, two fixed glute/hamstring machines, TRX suspension training packs, medicine balls, leather jump ropes, plyo boxes, bosu balls and jammer machines. Weight room hours are Monday-Thursday 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Eastern Announces Pet Policy


Swimming: Eastern Scholar All-America

swimteam72dpi_0493.jpgFor the third straight year, the Eastern Connecticut State University women's swim team has earned Division III Scholar All-America status from the Collegiate Swimming Coaches' Association of America.With a 3.06 cumulative grade-point average, Eastern was one of 137 programs nationwide to earn a team GPA of at least 3.00 in the spring. The Warriors also gained the award in the fall. This past year, six members of the program earned a spot on the Little East Conference All-Academic Honor Roll and five received an Eastern/E-Club Scholar-Athelte Award.

Nine Are 12/13 Major Award-Winners


Bonnie J. Edmondson Sr. Female SportsPerson-of-Year
Mackenzie MacLeod (Northfield)

Francis E. Geissler Sr. Male SportsPerson-of-Year
Nick Stoop (Crofton, MD)

Female Athlete-of-the-Year
Arielle Cooper (Mystic)

Male Athlete-of-the-Year
Chris Robitaille (Canton)

Individual Sport Athlete-of-the-Year
Lauren Hultzman (Putnam)
Michelle Schapp (Torrington)

Individual Sport Rookie-of-the-Year
Katie King (Barkhamsted)

Female Rookie-of-the-Year
Gia Karahalios (South Windsor)

Male Rookie-of-the-Year
Trachone Preston (Enfield)


awardwinners_72_1663.jpgBONNIE J. EDMONDSON
Named in honor of the Eastern alumnus  and  former track and field All-America and national champion and presented annually to a senior female athlete who displays the values of integrity, sportsmanship, spirit, and dedication to team, academics, and community service. An individual's athletic accomplishments do not  factor into the selection process for this prestigious award.

MACKENZIE MacLEOD    Northfield

macleod_head_award_720071.jpgMacLeod was a four-year member of the soccer program who served as the team's starting goalkeeper this season. Her resume of scholarship, volunteerism and awards was a lengthy one and includes the Holly Zimmerman Memorial Award, University Foundation Scholarship Award, Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society, Outstanding Senior Award in the Physical Education Department, and President of the Health and Physical Education/Sport and Leisure Management Majors Club. She has received an E-Club Outstanding Scholar-Athlete Award the maximum two times and has earned a spot on the Little East Academic Honor Roll the maximum three times. MacLeod became the third member of the women's soccer program to win or share the award in the last three years. Said head women's soccer coach Chris D'Ambrosio: "Mackenzie embodies everything that a coach wants in a student-athlete here at Eastern. She has been a  positive role model for our program due to her outstanding academics, excellent citizenship and positive work ethic both on and off the field, and has been a great friend to her teammates." Last fall, Eastern shared first place in the Little East Conference with a 6-1-0 regular-season record, finishing 9-6-3 overall. MacLeod started 15 of the 16 matches in which she appeared with four full shutouts, a 1.11 goals-against average and a .781 save percentage. She posted full shutouts in her first three starts, then played the first half of a fourth straight shutout in her fourth start, holding opponents off the board for the first 355 minutes, 48 seconds of the season over a span of five matches.

Named in honor of the late athletic director and coach and presented annually to a senior male athlete who displays the values of integrity, sportsmanship, spirit, and dedication to team, academics, and community service. An individual's athletic accomplishments do not factor into the selection process for this prestigious award.

NICK STOOP     Crofton, MD

stoop_tie_award_72_9126.jpgStoop was a three-year member of the lacrosse program after transferring from the Division 1 level. He returned to active competition and was named a team captain this past spring after missing all of 2011 with a back injury. Off the field, he was an Eastern E-Club Outstanding Scholar-Athlete and Little East All-Academic qualifier as a high honors student as an Individualized Major concentrating in Exercise Science, Sports Nutrition, and Biology. He also served as a tutor in the area of exercise science and is a Certified Personal Trainer. Stoop became the third member of the program to win or share the award in the last five years. A close defenseman, Stoop was the only player on the lacrosse team to start all 18 matches this past spring for the Warriors, who won their second straight Little East Conference playoff championship and competed in the NCAA tournament, compiling a 6-1 regular-season LEC record and finishing 10-8 overall. With Stoop in the lineup,  Eastern allowed the least goals (43) in the conference in seven regular-season conference matches. Said head men's lacrosse coach Justin Axel:  "Nick embodies the definition of a student-athlete, and goes beyond the call of duty for his team and teammates. He  has impacted so many people around our program in a positive way, and spends endless hours giving back to the community. It has been a true honor to coach such a student-athlete who has the work ethic, integrity, and spirit of college athletics such as Nick Stoop.''




cooper_head_award_72_9824.jpgThis year marks the fourth straight season that a softball player has received the top vote for the award. This past spring, Cooper become the first third baseman in program history to earn first-team All-America honors when she repeated national honors at that position by the National Fastpitch Coaches' Association (NFCA). A second-team All-America selection at third base as a junior, Cooper becomes the program's first first-team All-America selection at third base in the program's 37-year history and is the first full-time position player to earn first-team honors  since outfielder Leanne Shoop in 1990. A four-year starter at third base, Cooper set numerous season and career records this season en route to first-team NFCA All-New England Region honors for the second straight season and  Little East Conference Player-of-the-Year plaudits. Batting primarily leadoff, Cooper put the finishing touches on a sterling career and brilliant final season. She led Eastern in virtually every offensive category, among them batting (.538), slugging (1.076), total bases (142), on-base percentage (.629), runs (61), hits (71), RBI (43), home runs (16), doubles (13), and walks (34). Her marks for batting, slugging, total bases, on-base percentage, runs, hits and home runs represented program season records, and her final season batting average was 99 points above her previous-season best, set in 2012. After setting the program's current consecutive game hitting streak of 33 as a junior, Cooper hit safely in 26 games this year. After failing to hit safely in one game that stopped her 33-game streak in 2012, Cooper had a hit in each of the team's final four games that year and in the first 26 this year, giving her at least one hit in 63 of 64 games in that stretch. Cooper finished as the program's all-time leader in career batting (.406) and slugging average (.739), on-base percentage (.474), hits (221), runs (176), doubles (40), home runs (40), and total bases (403), was second in games (177), at-bats (545), and assists (310), third in RBI (129), and fourth in walks (68). Her assist total was the highest among fulltime third baseman. Cooper ranked second nationally in Division III in on-base percentage, third in batting and slugging, fourth in home runs and home runs per game, sixth in runs per game and toughest to strike out, and seventh in walks. Cooper fanned twice in 170 plate appearances this season for the Warriors, who  won their fourth straight Little East regular-season title (they were 51-5 in the LEC regular season in Cooper's career) and finish 28-14 overall. The four-year starter appeared in all 177 games in her career, starting all 89 in each of her two All-America seasons and all but two in her career.  She helped the team average 36.5 wins per game and compile an overall record of 146-30-1 (83.0 percent), qualify for three NCAA tournaments, win two regional titles and compete in two national tournaments, capture four Little East Conference regular-season (51-5 record) and three LEC tournament championships.



robitaille_tie_awards_72_2791.jpgA 6-foot-5 inch post player, Robitaille became the first basketball player to win the award in the 14-year history of the award.  This year, Robitaille became the first player from the program in 11 years to earn ECAC New England Division III All-New England honors when he was named as a second-team choice after leading the third-seeded Warriors to their first ECAC championship this past March. A team captain and a first-team All-Little East Conference selection, Robitaille   led the conference in field goal percentage (.573) for the second straight year and was first in the LEC in minutes (33.0), tied for second in rebounding (8.4), tied for fourth in scoring (14.6), tied for fifth in blocks (1.1) and tied for ninth in assists (2.3), all of those marks except field goal percentage representing season-highs in his career.  Robitaille concluded his career with 1,003 points, reaching 1000 points in his final game in a 74-60 road victory over top-seeded Westfield State University in the ECAC title game. A four-year letterwinner, Robitaille led Eastern (22-8) to its first ECAC championship by averaging a double-double (20.0 points/10.3 rebounds) with a .614 shooting in three tournament victories. During the year, Robitaille had 12 double-doubles (27th nationally and the most in the conference), with five of them coming in the final seven games. Robitaille concluded his109-game career with a 9.2 scoring average and 638 rebounds (5.9), 93 blocks and 136 assists and a .573 field goal percentage, ranking among the program's all-time Top 10 in rebounds and blocks and third in field goal percentage. Robitaille and fellow seniors  Joe Ives and Tyler Hundley paced the Warriors to four consecutive 20-win seasons in their careers - the winningest four-year period in the program's 72-year history -- one LEC regular-season and tournament crown, a berth in the 2011/12 NCAA Sweet 16 and to the No. 1 seed in the ECAC tournament in consecutive seasons.


GIA KARAHALIOS   Fr.  South Windsor

karahalios_head_awards_72_0086.jpgKarahalios became the third member of the program in the last four years and fifth in the last eight to share or win this award outright. This past falls' Little East Conference Rookie-of-the-Year and first-team All-LEC pick, the center back started every match and led all Eastern players in minutes per game with an average of 83.0, and was named Little East Rookie-of-the-Week in the fifth week of the season. She was the only freshman to gain first-team All-LEC recognition and was one of only two freshmen among 24 first and second all-conference players. She became the program's fourth LEC Rookie-of-the-Year  and sixth first-team freshman all-conference pick in program history. During the season, opponents averaged only 1.1 goals per match.  In seven regular-season conference matches, Eastern ranked second in goals-against average (0.81), giving up only six in seven matches. Last fall, Eastern shared first place in the Little East Conference with a 6-1-0 regular-season record, finishing 9-6-3 overall.



preston_tie_awards_72_2796.jpgPreston became the third member of the program in the last six years to receive this rookie award. The 5-foot-9 inch left-handed combination guard was named Little East Conference Rookie-of-the-Year and second-team All-Conference this past winter when he helped the Warriors to their first ECAC tournament championship and the No. 2 seed in the Little East Tournament, the club winning 20 games for the fourth straight year (22-8) and 12 of 14 regular-season conference contests. No Little East rookie was recognized on a weekly basis more often than Preston, who was named the conference's weekly outstanding rookie three times over the course of the season. Preston appeared in all but one game, starting (the final) 24 games and averaging 10.8 points with a .459 three-point percentage, team-leading 2.5 assist average and 29.0 minutes per game.   Preston contributed at least one three-point field goal in all but four games in which he appeared (including the final ten) and in a 93-84 overtime LEC home victory over Keene State, posted season-highs of 20 points, six assists and 43 minutes. In the ECAC championship win over No. 1 seed Westfield State, Preston contributed 12 points. He was 6-for-6 from the stripe and 2-for-3 from three-point range in that 74-60 road victory. In all, he ranked second in the conference among freshmen in scoring average, was second overall in three-point field goal percentage , tied for seventh in assists,  and seventh in free throw percentage . He led all Little East rookies in a total of three statistical categories.




Women's Track & Field

hultzman_head_award_72_5958.jpgSet program records indoors and outdoors in the high jump and also set the indoor pentathlon and outdoor heptathlon program records... record-setting high jump mark of 5-5 ¾ outdoors was the third-best among New England Division III competitors during the season and shared 27th place overall in Division III... named All-New England outdoors in the high jump by repeating a
second-place finish in the New England Division III Championships (5-4 ¼) and finishing with a share of third place in the New England Open (5-5)...was fifth in the New England Division III outdoor heptathlon with her program-record 4,028 point that heptathlon, she won the high jump and was second in the long jump... repeated as both Little East Conference and New England Alliance champion in the high jump outdoors with her record-breaking mark of 5-5 ¾... in the ECAC Championships indoors, set program records with 2,885 points in the pentathlon (which earned her an eighth-place finish and All-ECAC honors), and a high jump height of 5-3 ¼   in the high jump pentathlon which earned her a tie for first in that event... also All-LEC and All-NEA indoors with a high jump of 4-11 ¾ which netted her a share of third place and fourth place, respectively... 

MICHELL SCHAPP     Jr.  Torrington
Women's Swimming

schapp_head_award_72_2316.jpgSchapp broke all three backstroke records during the season and swam a leg on three record-breaking relays at the NEISDA Division II-III Championships in February. She led the Warriors by collecting 75 points with a third-place finish and two sixth-place finishes at the NEISDA meet. In that meet, she set program backstroke records at 50 (28.56) and 200 (2:12.06) yards after setting the 100 record of 1:01.45 with a third-place finish among 27 competitors at the Little East Conference Championships in December. During the season, Schapp was named Little East Swimmer-of-the-Week once after winning two backstroke events and competing on two winning relays at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Invitational. In the 100 backstroke, Schapp was undefeated in dual competition, winning that event at the Saint Joseph (CT) Pentathlon when she placed fifth overall among 34 pentathlon participants. A team captain, Michelle was voted team MVP.



KATIE KING    Fr.  Barkamsted
Women's Swimming

kingK_head_award_72_2317.jpgThe third member of the program to win this honor in the three-year history of the award, King  swam to All-New England honors in each of her three individual events and with two relays at the NEISDA Division II-III Championships this past February, and shared third place on the team by collecting 73 points in that meet (only two points behind the Eastern leader). The younger sister of  junior teammate Colleen, King broke the program's 50 (31.10) and 100 (1:08.95) yard breaststroke records in the NEISDA Championships - placing third and seventh, respectively --  and was part of  the record-setting 200 medley relay (1:52.52) - along with her sister -- in that meet. At NEISDA, King also placed seventh in the 100 individual medley in a time of 1:04.13. At the Little East Championships in December, King became the first freshman in eight years to win an individual event when she won the 100  breaststroke, and she was also named All-LEC with the second-place 200 medley relay. King was undefeated during the regular season in the 50 breaststroke and won the 100 breaststroke three times - at the Saint Joseph (CT) Pentathlon in her collegiate debut, the Little East meet and at Roger Williams - and was second in that event at the Massachusetts Dartmouth Invitational. At the Saint Joseph Pentathlon, King was second in a field of 34 only to teammate Erin McVeigh. She won the breaststroke and was second in the IM in that meet.












ECSU's King Sisters:Similar Differences

By Jonathan Mizger/Sports Information Staff

Editor's Note: This question-and-answer with swimming sisters Colleen and Katie King of Barkhamsted is the first  in a four-part series devoted to sibling athletes at Eastern. The second installment is a question-and-answer with lacrosse sisters Kelsea and Amy Burkhardt of Old Saybrook, and the third is with Monroe natives Drew Accomando of the baseball team and sophomore brother Dean of the lacrosse team. The final installment will be a story about the unique situation in the men's lacrosse program, which includes three sets of brothers this year: Drew and Angus Deane, Kevin and Sean Fechtmann, and Mike and Brendan Gillotti.

kingsUSE72dpi_4858.jpgA junior on this past season's swimming team, Colleen King  (at right in photo) is a junior three-year letterwinner who was joined this season by her freshman sister Katie.  Both are high honors students, Colleen majoring in Graphic Design and Katie in Math. While they have somewhat different personalities, they are similar in the respect that they are both devoted to their family, their academics, and their teammates.

Despite nursing a shoulder injury throughout the season, Colleen posted the fastest time on the team this year in the 50 yard butterfly, while Katie set program records in the 50 and 100 breaststroke. Both were All-New England at the NEISDA Championships in February. In the 50 breaststroke at the New England meet,  the two were separated by only .55 seconds and both were also members of the record-setting 200 medley relay which placed third and reaped All-New England honors.

Were you two inseparable growing up?
: I wouldn't say inseparable. We would have our fights every now and then.
Katie: We didn't start getting along until middle school. That's when we start getting closer.

Did you two share a bedroom while growing up?
Yeah,  for what, probably ten years?
Katie: We shared a bedroom (when the family lived) in Winsted, in the condo, until I was ten, so nine or ten years.

What kinds of things do you like to do together?
Katie: Shop, go to the beach, anything. We go to games here together, go eat, anything.
Colleen: If one of us is bored, we'll always call up the other one.

What kind of things do you have in common?
: Our personalities, sense of humor.
Colleen: We both like to do things outdoors.

Did you both compete with each other in a lot of different things?
Well,l I started swimming when I was seven and Kate started two years later, I think, when she was seven, and, in the most part growing up we were in different age groups, so we didn't necessarily race each other until high school.
Katie: We have never raced one-on-one until this year at New England's in the same race, the 50 breast. I got third and Colleen got fifth.

Did that make you angry that she beat you?
No. Everyone always asks me that and it doesn't bother me at all.

In what ways would your parents or friends say you are alike or in what ways would they say you are different?
Katie has more of an attitude than I do, more competitive, more aggressive.
Katie: I'm a lot more driven.
Colleen: Everyone says that I'm nice, that I'm too nice.
Katie: She needs a fire to be lit under her, by somebody else.

When you both were in high school or junior high, did you ever talk about maybe playing sports or at least attending the same college?
Well, we did play the same sports. We both played volleyball in high school, and we swam together for two years, and then Kate stopped swimming for the high school.
Katie: The year she graduated. We never talked about going to the same school, it just kind of happened. I mean, she wanted to come here all along. This wasn't my top choice,  but things just happened the way they did.



At right: At the season-ending awards banquet May 5, Colleen (at left in photo)  received an E-Club Outstanding Scholar-Athlete Award, while Katie was voted Individual Sport Rookie-of-the-Year.

Do you think that your parents wanted the two of you to go to the same college, or did they leave it entirely up to you both?
I don't think they necessarily pushed her to go to the same school as they did me.
Katie: No, not at all.
Colleen: I mean, it was convenient
Katie: I had it in my head that I did not want to go to the same school as Colleen, because I didn't want to follow in her footsteps and be copying her. I didn't want to feel like I had already some friends made for me and stuff because that's the way it happened in high school;  I would just get along with her friends, too. It wasn't ideal in my head at first, but I like it now.

What do you do to each other thats get you angry?
: Taking my stuff, that's probably the number one thing.
Katie: She wears my clothes without asking sometimes, that's pretty much it.

Who is the better all-around athlete?
: Colleen was a three-sport athlete in high school, with something like 11 letters, and I swam for four years, played volleyball for four years, and I did track for a year.
Colleen: She's more focused on swimming, that's her thing. 
Katie: She was better than me in volleyball and track, obviously, but I'm better at swimming, I guess.

Colleen, what do you do better than Katie?
I don't know. I have a more optimistic view on life; she gets more stressed out easily.

Katie, what do you do better than Colleen?
Plan things out probably.  I think about things ahead of time, I swim better, I study harder, and that's about it.

How much contact do you have on an ordinary day at school?
: Kind of depends, like there will be days where we text each other a lot and there are times where we don't hear from each other.
Katie: When we're bored, we text each other. When she's at work, I always know when she is at work I'll have like a hundred texts rolling in. (Editor's Note: In Colleen's best interest, we will not divulge the name of her employer).

Do you have less contact when you are out of season?
Yeah, I mean I don't see her as much, I see her about once a week, rather than every day.



M-Soccer: Goal-A-Thon Saturday

Charity to benefit Be The Match is combined with Team IMPACT

Eshield72dpi.jpgdecasanovashirtIMG951083.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn. - The Eastern Connecticut State University men's soccer team and alumni will sponsor a Goal-a-Thon to benefit the Be The Match National Marrow Donor Program Saturday, April 20 at 9 a.m. at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.

All proceeds from the Goal-a-Thon will benefit the Be The Match program in the name of Eastern soccer senior Jon DeCasanova, who was diagnosed with aplastic anemia this past fall and has spent most of the past eight months in the hospital.

The Goal-a-Thon involves Eastern players and alumni divided into teams of 4-6 and will play timed, small-sided games until a combined total of 100 goals are scored.The minimum sponsorship is 5 cents per goal.

Prior to the Goal-a-Thon,  15-year-old Tyler Belfleur of Canterbury will be outfitted in a team uniform and will join team members during official introductions as part of the Team IMPACT! Program.  In June of 2012, Tyler was involved in an ATV accident and sustained brain injury. Since then, he has advanced from a wheelchair to a walk and now needs only a crutch. Prior to the injury, Tyler was active in soccer and basketball, among other sports.

Team IMPACT is a non-profit organization chartered to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening illnesses. The goal of the organization is to harness the power of teamwork by matching those courageous kids with college athletic teams. Team IMPACT children are "drafted" onto local college athletic teams and to the greatest extent possible, become "official" members of the team for the duration of their treatment, and beyond.

Tyler will be "drafted" by the Eastern soccer team prior to the Goal-a-Thon.

To support the Goal-a-Thon through a financial contribution, contact Eastern head men's soccer coach Greg DeVito at  860-465-4334 or at



Swim: All-Around Success in 2012/13

Warriors excel in and out of the pool and are noted for sportsmanship

swimwrap72_0096.jpgWILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Over the last handful of seasons, the Eastern Connecticut State University women's swim team has continued to raise the  bar on its accomplishments in and out of the pool.

The 2012/13 season was no exception.

After winning eight of nine dual meets in the regular season for the second straight year and attaining a second place finish in the Little East Conference Championships for the fifth straight time, the Warriors attained their highest rating ever (2nd) in the New England Intercollegiate Swimming and Diving Championships in February.

In a true "team" effort, 18 swimmers on the 23-person roster qualified for the NEISDA meet, and 17 individuals contributed points in individual events.

"We've never had that many (qualify) in the three years that I've been here," noted junior tri-captain Marissa Colley (East Haven). "It's really exciting. Because of how hard everyone works, it's a good feeling to know that you've (qualified), that your time is good enough to be recognized. Everyone sets achievable goals in the beginning of the season," added Colley. "We work for four months, and by the end, when we go to New England's, we know that we need to be focused, and we have in our head what time we want to get. And the majority of the time, all the girls get the time that they want."

alllecswim1213_9703_72dpi.jpg In the NEISDA meet, junior Michelle Schapp (Torrington) led the way with 75 points, junior Becky Odgers (Shelton) adding 74, freshman Katie King (Barkhamsted) and junior Erin McVeigh (Windsor) adding 73, Colley 70, junior Jacqueline Tromp (Bohemia,NY) 68, senior Stephanie O'Kelly (Westport) 64, sophomore Kayla Smoragiewicz (Norwalk) 62, sophomore Rachael Thatcher (Newington) 60, and junior Colleen King (Barkamsted) 59.

Eight Eastern individual and relay records were set in the meet. Schapp broke her own records in two backstroke events, Katie King broke two breaststroke records and O'Kelly one, and three relay records were re-written.

In a 21-team field, Eastern individuals were named All-New England a total of 22 times and all five relays earned identical honors as the team recorded program-bests not only with its  second-place finish but with its total of 1,136.5 points. Despite not sponsoring diving - where it could have added upwards of 100 points to its total - Eastern out-pointed all but one team in the competition.

The top eight individuals and first four relays in each events are accorded All-New England honors. Schapp, Odgers and Katie King all swam to regional honors in each of their three individual events, with O'Kelly, McVeigh, Tromp, Colley, Colleen King and Smoragiewicz earning the honor twice.

Additionally, all five relays earned All-New England honors, none of them finishing lower than fourth. Schapp and McVeigh added All-New England accolades with four relays each, Odgers and Smoragiewicz with three, Colley and Katie King with two and Colleen King and freshman Macaire Jones (Danbury) with one each.

In addition to the breaking eight records, a remarkable 42 personal-bests were attained by 17 individuals in the competition. Besting their previous top times in the maximum three events were Colleen King, Katie King, McVeigh, Odgers, O'Kelly, Thatcher, Tromp, and freshmen Heather Avery (Wethersfield) and Courtney Holzer (Cromwell).

For the swimmers, the season is a long and arduous one. It begins with a three-week pre-season in preparation for the season-opener in late October. The first semester includes a season-opening pentathlon and the LEC Championships in early December, and a total of five meets. Soon after the holidays, the team spends a week training intensely in Florida. In addition to running and swimming sessions, the Warriors compete in the Bob Moweson Meet at the Ft. Lauderdale Aquatics Complex. Eastern returns to competition in early January with a six to seven dual meets,  before beginning the two-week "tapering" process which hopefully produces maximum fitness for the NEISDA Championships in mid-Feburary.


At left: Recognized prior to the final regular-season home meets of their careers Feb. 2 were 2012/13 seniors Stephanie O'Kelly (second from left) and Julie Pietrycha (third from left).

"You are mentally and physically tired and know that you are not going to see your best times toward the end of the (regular) season," says Colley. "Then, you start tapering, and once tapering is over, your body's going to be rested and you're going to be strong enough to achieve the times you want (at the NEISDA Championships)."

As has become commonplace under 17-year head coach Maureen Fahey - the NEISDA Coach-of-the-Year in two of the last past five years  (including this season), the swimmers' accomplishments outside the pool and their displays of sportsmanship on the pool deck have kept pace with their achievements  in the pool.

For the fifth semester since the fall of 2008, Eastern qualified as a member of the Scholar All-America Team, which is sponsored each semester by the College Swimming Coaches' Association of America and acknowledges Division III swim programs with a cumulative GPAs of at least 3.00. A total of 114 programs nationwide earned the honor in the fall of 2012, but
Eastern was the only swim program in the LEC to reach the standard, checking in with a cumulative team GPA of 3.13.

"The success that our swimmers have achieved in and out of the pool is a testament to Coach Fahey's commitment toward developing well-rounded student athletes," praises Dr. Jeff Konin, Eastern's director of athletics. "This recognition by the CSCAA reflects our student-athletes' dedication to Eastern's  mission."

As part of the emphasis upon classroom excellence, six individuals - Arisco, Colley, Colleen King, junior Mackenzie Russo (New Milford), Schapp and Thatcher - earned spots on the Little East Conference Academic Honor Roll for having cumulative grade-point averages of at least 3.30 through the fall semester (freshmen are not eligible for the award). The six All-Academic selections equaled the most by any of the ten LEC institutions which sponsor swimming and equaled the most by any of Eastern's six winter programs.

"Coach is always stressing that you have to have good grades," points out Colley. "She'll sit down and have meetings with us to talk about our grades and mid-terms. Even when we're not in season, she still talks to us individually."

At the NEISDA Championships this past Feburary, Eastern was voted to receive the Sportsmanship Award for its enthusiasm and support for not only its own swimmers, but those on competing teams, as well.

A telling moment at the NEISDA meet came when Eastern swimmers vocally lent their support to the University of Saint Joseph (CT) relay team. With all four of their NEISDA qualifiers competing in the relay, the Blue Jays had no swimmers left on the deck to lend encouragement,  "so we cheered for them," said Colley.




 By Jonathan Mizger/Sports Information Staff




The National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) has designated the month of March as National Athletic Training Month.

The theme of the second annual NATA month is Every Body Needs an Athletic Trainer. From the NATA  toolkit, the goal  is "to continue to reach those individuals and organizations that can help make a difference for athletic trainers when it comes to legislation, employment and public health."

At right: Athletic trainer Julie Alexander works recently with baseball catcher Ben Richards, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. (Daniela Marchitto photo)

Promoting the awareness of athletic training to people who do not know what athletic trainers do is a key goal that the NATA looks to achieve. Educating people of the importance of athletic trainers and establishing relationships between student-athletes and athletic trainers are things to consider in promoting the awareness.

Eastern Connecticut State University has athletic trainers who work hard without needing any recognition or high praise. The athletic trainers at Eastern are people who are helpful to the student-athletes and make sure each are cleared to play based on the guidelines on handling a specific injury.

Below (from left): Eastern athletic trainers Julie Alexander, Stevie Clines, Tom Holton, Jarrett Sorge.

alexanderhead72dpi.jpgclines_head_72_0583USE.jpgholton_head72.jpgsorge_722012_0573_USE.jpgAthletic trainer Julie Alexander, who graduated from Eastern with a B.S. in Psychology and went on to earn a M.S. in Athletic Training at Old Dominion University, expressed her feelings on the importance of this month and beyond.

"I think that we will carry out our day-to-day functions the same way we always have," said Alexander. "Any athlete that comes in with an illness or an injury that's athletically-related, we care for the same way regardless of whether it's March, April, May, August or September.  I think this month of March is more to promote the field of athletic training to people who don't understand what it is that we do. A lot of people think athletic trainer, they think personal trainer, a strength coach, and while we do have some function in teaching strength and conditioning and techniques, we're also on the field emergency care, injury evaluation, treatment rehabilitation, returning to play concussion management, the list goes on and on."

Alexander, who was hired at her alma mater this past summer after many years at Division I Sacred Heart University, has been proud of helping out the people she has met in her field.

"After 20 plus years, I can tell you that anytime we have an injured athlete, the best day is the day that they return to their field of play," said Alexander.  "That is probably the most exciting thing about what we do, especially if it's an athlete that's been injured, had surgical interventions, has gone through post surgical rehabilitation in our room; returning to play is those days I look forward to. I enjoy every day but those are the days that are special."

As there are upsides, there are downsides for being an athletic trainer. Athletic trainer Tom Holton, who earned a B.S. in Physical Education from Eastern and an M.S.S. in Sports Medicine from the U.S. Sports Academy, noted that he loves his job but dislikes when he lets the student-athlete know the bad news.

"I love doing my job it's just part of the job you hate saying 'you can't play'," said Holton. "I really wish I could come into work every day and not have to do that.. The reality of the fact is that  there's people we have to hold out and tell them 'you're season's over, you got to have surgery' and deal with the emotions of that athlete and how they're going to handle 'my career is over'."

Holton, a staff member since 1999, noted how being able to get the student-athlete to get back in his or her field of play and watching him or her succeed is one of his proudest moments as an athletic trainer.

Eastern director of athletics  Dr. Jeff Konin, another Eastern alum,  has been an athletic trainer and a physical therapist. Konin mentioned how the importance of athletic trainers is not just for the collegiate level, but for all levels of competition.

"The purpose is to bring awareness to the general public, to bring awareness to the public of the importance of athletic trainers and the injury prevention care of the numerous student-athletes that participate in sports in all levels," said Konin. "At the high school level, less than 50 percent of high schools have an athletic trainer, and when every high school has programs but less than half of them have proper ways to care for the kids, that's why an awareness month is there to inform people of what they should be doing to provide appropriate programs. You wouldn't put them out there if you didn't have the fields, you wouldn't put them out there if you didn't have the coaches and you really shouldn't put them out there if you don't have the appropriate medical care for them."

As the spring season is starting to get into full-swing, so are the athletic trainers at Eastern working hard to make sure every student-athlete is evaluated and cleared to play. The month of March will be busy at Eastern with lacrosse, baseball, softball, and track & field. The Eastern athletic trainers will be the unsung heroes in helping our student-athletes,  not only during national NATA month, but every month of the academic year.

"I have the best job in the world," said Alexander. "In this job, you don't sit behind a desk or do the same thing every day . Every day is different , and you get to work with amazing people who you want to see get better when they get injured.. What's better than that?"

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