Recently in Women's Track and Field Indoor Category
By Matt Sinkewicz / Sports Information Staff
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Move over Robert Downey Jr... There's a new Ironman in town: Eastern Connecticut State University cross country and track and field coach Kathy Manizza is training to compete in next year's World Ironman 70.3 Championship at Mont-Tremblant, Quebec.
This past summer, 59 Ironman competitions were held around the world, and the winners from each age group qualified to compete at Mont-Tremblant, which is located about 80 miles north-west of Montreal in the Laurentian mountains. Manizza qualified by winning her age group (55-60 years old) in an Ironman competition in Gilford, NH on Aug. 18.
An Ironman 70.3 competition consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run. Manizza's time for the qualifying event was five hours, 29 minutes, 54 seconds. To put that time in perspective, the average time for a woman in her age group is about 7 hours. Her incredible performance was over an hour and a half faster than the average competitor.
This type of performance obviously demands a strict training regime. Manizza trains about 15-20 hours per week. She bikes about 180 miles, and runs about 30 miles every week. When asked about her swimming, she admitted to hating it. However she still pushes herself to swim three or four days every week. She has a strict vegan diet, and she does not eat any processed foods. When asked how she stays motivated, she responded, "My husband Ken is a competitor too. I enjoy training with him because he is always pushing me to do my best."
Manizza is in her second stint on the Eastern coaching staff. Born in Hawaii, and a graduate of Cal State Fresno, Manizza coached cross-country and track at Eastern in the mid-1990s before spending 13 seasons at the University of Hartford.
Manizza has been active her entire life. She first became involve in triathlons about 30 years ago. Since that time, she has run in seven marathons, many more half-marathons, and countless 5K and 10K races. She was also a member of the U.S. Canoe and Kayak team, which won the world championship three times.
Manizza is the kind of person that wants to be the best. She does marathons and triathlons because she loves being fit and active, and she truly believes that leading an active lifestyle leads to happiness. Also, she wants to be a role model for her cross country and track teams. She trains hard, and her hard work pays off. She is an inspiration to everyone.
Above: At last Saturday's home cross country meet, junior Kelly Labanara (at far right) led the Warriors at the finish for the second straight race, placing second overall. (Photo by Liam Murphy)
By Brent Pelella / Sports Information Staff
"Your season starts way before the first event."
Every coach in America preaches this statement to their athletes, but it takes a truly inspired individual to follow through. It's a tedious process, but it's hard to deny the improvement it brings.
Kelly Labanara, a junior cross-country runner at Eastern, is a first-hand example of what it takes to be the best. Last season, as a sophomore, she hovered around the 22-minute mark in the 5k and as a result was the 5th best runner on her own team.
Three long summer months and 500 miles of running later and last year's Kelly is a faint shadow lagging behind. In turn, the new Labanara is stealing the show this season. In her first two events, she has finished first on the team both times and a career best 2nd overall in her last race.
To put her astounding summer running totals into perspective, it could be estimated that her efforts would have brought her from Eastern to Philadelphia and back (in case she's looking for an adventure next summer). Nonetheless, listening to her talk about her passion is envious.
"I am so proud of Kelly and what she has accomplished," noted second-year Eastern head coach Kathy Manizza. "Her summer training program set her up for a fantastic season and I know she will continue to improve. She takes running very seriously, but she also enjoys it and that is so important to being a lifelong runner."
Labanara runs until her legs waver, and then shakes it out and continues to trek, "It helps me clear my head," he proclaimed. "I fell in love with running at a young age, and never looked back."
Labanara grew up in nearby Chaplin and graduated from Parish Hill High School, where she ran cross country and track for four years under Richard Gogan. In cross country at Parish Hill, she also showed drastic improvement, earning the program's Most Improved Runner Award as a freshman and sophomore before being named team MVP as a junior and senior. As a junior in track in high school, she received the Coaches' Award, then proceeded to earn team MVP honors in that program as a senior, as well.
In addition to cross country, Labanara is a two-year indoor and outdoor letterwinner with the Eastern track and field programs, running distances from 800 to 3,000 meters.
However, the soft-spoken accounting major is not content with her most recent goals. She plans to get her 5k time under 20 minutes and continue to improve the other aspects of being a leader on the team.
Kelly understands with success comes not only higher expectations, but also more responsibilities, "We have some great senior leaders, but I also know younger girls might start looking up to me with what I've done. I have to continue to lead by example, and also motivate them vocally."
Her development into a forerunner will give her experience in not only athletics, but also situations that will impact her life after college. This is one of the most essential aspects of being on a team. Most athletes experience togetherness and sacrifice, but Kelly is getting one better.
"Kelly is very quiet, but she is leading by example and setting a great standard for the younger girls as well as for potential incoming athletes," said Manizza.
Running will always fill a vast abyss in her life, and her discreet competitive nature will continue to propagate on roads, and trails countrywide. Her immediate plan after college, aside from crunching numbers, is pretty predictable, "I intend on running throughout my life. My first goal after I graduate is to run a marathon. That would be pretty cool."
The 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.
By Brent Pelella
Sports Information Staff
The irony of student-athletics is that in some cases - especially at the Division I level -- the 'athlete' has become much more recognizable than the 'student'. The classroom has turned into a distraction for some, so it's nice to see a needle in the haystack every once in a while.
At left: Lauren Hultzman
Lauren Hultzman is just that.
The senior track & field sensation has performed on and off the field throughout her entire career. Last year, as a junior, she was acknowledged for her achievements both academically and athletically.
The accolade, presented by the National Collegiate Track and Field Association, requires the finalists to be in the top 30 nationally in their event and have a grade-point average of 3.5 or higher. Hultzman is appreciative of this prestigious opportunity, "It's always been a challenge to manage my time. I make a conscious effort to dedicate myself to both sports and academics."
At Eastern, the 5-foot-8 inch Hultzman holds indoor (5-3 1/4) and outdoor (5-5 3/4) program records in the high jump, as well as indoor pentathlon (2885 points) and outdoor (4028) heptathlon program marks.
As a junior in outdoor competition last spring, the Health and Physical Education major won her second straight Little East Conference and New England Alliance outdoor high jump championships and earned All-New England recognition by taking a share of third place in the New England Open (which includes Division I, II and III) and a second in the New England Division III Championships. In the heptathlon last spring, she was fifth in the Division III Championships.
For her achievements, Hultzman shared Eastern's award as the Individual Sport Athlete-of-the-Year last year. Academically, she earned an E-Club Scholar-Athlete Award and qualified for a spot on the Little East Academic Honor Roll both indoor and outdoor.
As a young girl, Hultzman realized how important time management would be as an athlete. She aspired to become a veterinarian, so growing up it was imperative to balance schoolwork and sports. Going into ninth grade, she decided to join the agricultural program at her local high school, which would add to her packed schedule.
In the next four years at Killingly High School, the Putnam native made her mark as an extraordinary high jumper while qualifying for the National Honor Society. Four years later, she has continued to develop and mature. Her track & field coach at Eastern, Kathy Manizza, touched on that topic as well, "Lauren is so close to reaching her goal of qualifying for the nationals (in the high jump), and has been working really hard toward it. On the other hand, she's also been a very good leader for the underclassmen."
Her experience as a captain this season will be another added challenge, but one well worth it, "I'm excited for the next chapter in my life. Right after I graduate I want to start coaching and working with my major, said Hultzman,
As a PE major, it looks as though Lauren will be working within sports for a long time to come. She's exemplified qualities that every athletic institution looks to instill in all their athletes. Manizza expressed what coaching Lauren has meant to her, "She is a great athlete and an even better competitor. She always wants to get better, and it has shown throughout her time here."
The correlation of some athletes' performance on the playing field and in the classroom is disturbingly conflicting, but cases such as Lauren Hultzman show that stability can be obtained on both ends. It comes down to two things, both of which can be highlighted in Lauren's character from just ten minutes talking to her: determination and motivation.
EASTERN CONNECTICUT STATE UNIVERSITY
2012/13 MAJOR ATHLETIC 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)
Arielle Cooper (Mystic)
Chris Robitaille (Canton)
Individual Sport Athlete-of-the-Year
Lauren Hultzman (Putnam)
Michelle Schapp (Torrington)
Individual Sport Rookie-of-the-Year
Katie King (Barkhamsted)
Gia Karahalios (South Windsor)
Trachone Preston (Enfield)
BONNIE J. EDMONDSON
SENIOR FEMALE SPORTSPERSON-OF-THE-YEAR
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 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.
FRANCIS E. GEISSLER
SENIOR MALE SPORTSPERSON-OF-THE-YEAR
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 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.''
ARIELLE COOPER Sr. Mystic
This 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.
CHRIS ROBITAILLE Sr. Canton
A 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 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.
TRACHONE PRESTON Fr. Enfield
Preston 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.
INDIVIDUAL SPORT ATHLETE-OF-THE-YEAR
LAUREN HULTZMAN Jr. Putnam
Women's Track & Field
Set 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 total...in 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
Schapp 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.
INDIVIDUAL SPORT ROOKIE-OF-THE-YEAR
KATIE KING Fr. Barkamsted
The 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.
Charity to benefit Be The Match is combined with Team IMPACT
WILLIMANTIC, 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 email@example.com.
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.
Athletic 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?"
They are eighth in pentathlon and 500 meters, respectively
Hultzman (above), Kruppa (below)
NEW YORK -- Junior Lauren Hultzman (Putnam) and sophomore Dylan Kruppa (Torrington) earned All-ECAC honors at the 2013 ECAC Division III Track & Field Championships this past weekend at the New Balance Track & Field Center in New York City.
On Friday, Hultzman finished eighth in a 12-team field in the pentathlon (fourth among New England competitors) with 2,885 points to break her own program record set at last year's New England Division III Championships by 26 points. In sharing first place in the pentathlon high jump with a height of 5-3 ¼, , Hultzman also broke that program record by one-quarter inch that she had shared with senior Cora Gingras (Portland). She was tied for third in the long jump (16-5 ¼), fifth in the 60 hurdles (10.20), eighth in the shot put (28-5 ½) and ninth in the 800 (2:50.54). Five points separated the seventh and eighth-place finishers.
Hultzman competed in the ECAC meet a year ago, placing in a tie for 11th in the high jump with a mark of 5-0 ½.
Running the 500 for the third time in his career on Saturday, Kruppa was eighth in a field of 20 (third among New England competitors) at 500 meters in a time of 1:06.97, .38 seconds off the program record. The third and eighth-place finishers were separated by .88 seconds.
Competing at the ECAC Championships for the first time in an individual event, Kruppa posted a personal-best time of 1:06.63 in a 16th-place finish at 500 meters at last weekend's New England Open meet.
Members of Saturday's record-setting 4x800 meter relay were (above, from left): Nikki Chambers, Akaya McElveen, Cora Gingras and Katie France. (Photo by Jason Edwards)
Women break 4x800 record for 2nd time this year; Hewett is 9th in 400
BOSTON - The Eastern Connecticut State University women's 4x800 meter relay broke the program record for the second time this year and junior Fredrick Hewett (New London) ran to a ninth-place finish at 400 meters at the New England Open Track & Field Championships Saturday at the Boston University Track and Tennis Center.
In a time of 9:48.40, the women's 4x800 obliterated the record of 10:14.47 that it had set December 8 at Coxe Cage at the Yale University Invitational. Junior Katie France (Portland) and sophomore Nikki Chambers (East Hampton) competed on both record-setting relays this year and were joined Saturday by senior Cora Gingras (Portland) and junior Akaya McElveen (New Haven).
Saturday, Hewett bettered his personal record that he had set a year ago at the Open with a time of 49.39 (1.19 seconds off program record) that left him just .35 seconds from reaching the finals. In a field of 31 competitors, Hewett was the first first Division III runner across the finish line.
In his first time competing in an individual event at the Open, sophomore Dylan Kruppa (Torrington) set a personal record with a time of 1:06.63 in the 500 that gave him a 16th-place finish in a field of 30. Running the event for only the second time, Kruppa was just .04 seconds off the program record set in the Open six years ago.
The Eastern men's 4x400 relay was timed in 3:23.95, good enough for 22nd place in a field of 27. Running the relay were Hewett, Kruppa, sophomore D'Vonte Chambers (West Haven) and freshman John Boisette (East Hartford).
Kruppa, Hewett and both relays qualified for this coming weekend's ECAC Division III Championships at the New Balance Track & Field Center in New York City.