Category Archives: Sports

Professional sports acknowledge BLM protests

Olivia Mittak

Sports Editor

TW: Violence, Racial Injustice

A recent wave of strikes and protests throughout several major sports leagues in the United States is just the latest in a series of events in response to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

On August 23, 2020, Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back in  front of his children during an attempted arrest by police. In response, the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks became the first of many sports teams to refuse to participate in upcoming games. Players walked off of the court on Wednesday, refusing to play their fifth game of the Eastern Conference first-round series against the Orlando Magic. Magic players soon followed their opponents in protest. These protests forced the NBA to halt its entire playoff schedule. Further NBA teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, soon followed, as did WNBA, MLB and MLS teams. These protests are added to a long history of protest movements in professional American sports leagues. Currently, this onset of protests marks the largest single cancellation of games in NBA history.

The event marks a significant point in the BLM movement, which has been ongoing with increased intensity since the killing of George Floyd by police in May. Organized professional sports leagues stand as a major pillar in American culture and economics; without them, further pressure is placed on those in power to take initiative. It is important to recognize that what is occurring here is not a
boycott, as many major news outlets have been calling it. Rather, it is a strike; a direct refusal by employees of a company or organization, in this case the respective sports leagues, to participate in their assigned work. Players have stated that their intent is to bring about change, stating that sports should not be the primary focus at the moment in light of rampant social injustice. There is
a sentiment among players that their loyalty should first be to their race, an understandable attitude considering the intensity of racial discrimination occurring in the United States. Even if considerable
progress is not made as a result of these strikes, players can feel as if they are part of a larger movement.

While many have been speaking out in favor of the strikes, others have expressed concern that these protests may further the divide between Americans and sports celebrities, the latter of whom are considered by some to be too out of touch with the general population to have a say in social matters. An existing concern amongst some is that these protests may serve as another nail in the coffin for sports leagues that are already financially weakened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Without revenue from these cancelled games to rely on, many fans and critics alike are questioning if American sports leagues can continue to weather the storm.

Wooster appoints new Director of Athletics and Physical Education

Angad Singh

Sports Editor

 

Amy Heasley Williams was named the new Director of Physical Education at Wooster on May 15, 2020. Williams, who was the
Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator at
Kenyon College previously, was appointed after the conclusion of a
national search. Her first day with the College of Wooster was July 15, 2020.

“This is an interesting year to move into any role in the educational sector, and particularly at a residential institution. The athletic staff has been welcoming and helpful as I navigate getting to know the campus and the people here at Wooster,” Williams stated. Further praising the warm Wooster environment, she added, “What I’ve
found across campus are colleagues who are passionate, driven and
hopeful. It’s plainly evident that people are fond of The College and
our surrounding community.”

Williams hopes to be impactful during her time at Wooster. Considering her ample experience in collegiate athletics, Williams
said, “Wooster has a fine athletic tradition, respected among our
peers in the North Coast Athletic Conference and NCAA Division-III. Engaging our entire community (students, faculty, staff, alumni,
friends) is an important aspect of our success and what frames the experience for our students and provides lasting memories. Building on these relationships is a major focus of my work as we move forward.” She adds, “I believe wholeheartedly in the small college residential experience. The opportunity to build partnerships and collaborate across campus, to celebrate the good works of our students (and faculty and staff) in all parts of their lives (not just
athletics), and the deep connection to a meaningful mission. In these
ways, Kenyon and Wooster are very similar. Wooster’s emphasis on the independent study is a distinctive feature that sets it apart from other small colleges.” On being asked what has been her favorite part of Wooster so far, Williams stated, “I really appreciate sharing ideas and Wooster both welcomes and celebrates dialogue. To me, that’s a key element in understanding, learning and growth. I can gain so much by observing, listening, and participating across the college, not just within the athletic department. I am grateful to be invited into the many different worlds at Wooster.”

Already having spent a couple of months in Wooster, she was asked what so far has been her most challenging aspect of her job apart
from the pandemic. She stated, “To put it simply, the toughest challenge was meeting the staff as a whole in a first meeting in which
the announcement was shared that we were not going to compete  semester. Since then, as a staff, we have been re-imagining the way that we engage with our students – both in a recreational space and also in our varsity programming. She further adds; “This is hard for coaches because we are so conditioned toward preparing for competition, and we’ve had to slow down and get back to the basics. It’s been an incredible reminder of the foundation of sport and the interaction of mind-body-spirit, which will serve us well today, tomorrow and further in the future.”  Speaking on a personal note, she continues, “It’s a unique challenge to build relationships and partnerships remotely. My experiences in these first 6 weeks here at Wooster have really emphasized (or reemphasized) the value of personal connection.  I so appreciate the opportunity to
engage through time spent together and the impact of healthy debate and conversation.” On being asked how she was inspired to become involved in  collegiate athletics, Williams adds; “As a former collegiate athlete, I was fortunate to experience incredible success. Sport can teach not only skill, but also patience, resilience, teamwork and humility. Through sport, I also learned about culture and respect, how to lead, and perhaps as importantly, how to follow. Sport offers many ways to celebrate and challenges to overcome. I’ve been blessed by many role models who have pushed me to expand my boundaries — from family members to coaches to teammates to competitors. To have the opportunity to pay it forward is my biggest blessing.

Spring athletes struggle with loss of season

Chloe Burdette

Managing Editor

As the College of Wooster Class of 2020 had their last in-person class on March 6, the Friday before spring break, the hardworking seniors were unaware that this would be their last class on the College’s campus, ever. Due to the ramifications of COVID-19, a virus that has turned into a global pandemic, almost all colleges in the United States had no choice but to shut their doors for the rest of the spring semester. On Tuesday, March 27, President Sarah Bolton sent a campus-wide email stating that the College would finish the semester online and students would not return. 

In particular, the College’s spring athletes were faced with the unimaginable — their season had come to a sudden end. For senior athletes, they had stepped on the field, court or track as a Fighting Scot for the last time, without any kind of warning. Many athletes heard the heartbreaking news on their spring break trips with their teams, making the news even more gut-wrenching. 

When I found about my season ending far ahead of our normal schedule, I was in Hilton Head Island, S.C. with the rest of my team on our annual spring trip,” women’s golf player Emily Stoehr ’20 said. “I was devastated to see my collegiate career end so suddenly …  it hurts especially as a senior, as these last moments of college are so profound.” 

Wooster track and field senior Miki Rae ’20 was dumbfounded when he heard the news on his team’s trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C. “Several schools in our conference started pulling their sports teams out of competitions for the rest of the season, and since it was so early on in the pandemic, many of us thought administrations were blowing the situation out of proportion,” Rae said. “But as time passed, news started rolling out, more schools started pulling their athletes out of competitions for the year, it became clear that it was becoming a really serious crisis.”

 Waverly Hart ’20 said that losing her track season so abruptly was more heartbreaking than missing out on all other Wooster senior-based activities. “I think the worst part was not realizing that the last race I ran in was indeed my last race ever,” Hart said. “I’m really going to miss the running community and family that my team is.”

The Wooster baseball team knew their time playing together was limited, so they focused on enjoying each other’s company as much as they could on their trip. “Honestly, it’s been tough dealing with it,” Harry Whitwer-Dukes ’20 stated. “Obviously we didn’t want to go out like that and I think we are all sad that we’ll never get to play together again, but at the end of the day, I think we all tried to enjoy each other as much as possible.”

Although their time at The College of Wooster was cut short, athletes do not fault the school for the actions they took to prevent the spread of the disease. “I thought the school handled the situation as best as they could,” Witwer-Dukes added. “As a senior, it really felt like they were compassionate toward us about the whole situation as it was obviously a very tough spot for everyone.” Stoehr agreed, adding that students will need to be there for one another during these times of uncertainty. “This is new territory for everyone and there are no previous experiences to base mandates off of in this country, so we have to do our best to trust what’s been asked of us and hope that it pays off,” she said. “Wooster is such a strong community and I think we need to stick together as one in this trying time.”

As athletes mourn the loss of their seasons, they have had the opportunity to learn valuable lessons through these chaotic times. “I hope that we all recognize the impact we have on each other, regardless of if we personally know each other,” Stoehr said. Rae added, “One thing that we can definitely take from it is that we can’t take any of our relationships or our privileges for granted. Be intentional in the love and appreciation you show for others– especially now– but also take care of yourselves.”

As for Hart, she knows one thing — “right now, I’m just happy my family and friends are healthy and safe. If they stay healthy, I can get through anything.”

Steve Moore finishes last regular season game

Chloe Burdette

Managing Editor

Saturday, Feb. 23 marked a monumental moment for not just Head Men’s Basketball Coach Steve Moore, but for the entire College of Wooster community — Moore coached his last regular-season home game in Timken Gymnasium. With a full house of students, community members and Moore’s past players there to watch, the Fight- ing Scots fought hard into overtime (OT) against the DePauw Tigers and lost by a mere point. Nevertheless, the loss did not alter the gratitude served up by fans for Moore and the team after the final buzzer.

Going into the game, the Scots knew that this game was historic for Moore, but Moore told the team to treat it like any other home game. “Coach stressed to us not to make that game or day about him,” Keonn Scott ’21 said. “He wanted to make everyone feel that it was their day and that he would be absolutely nothing if it weren’t for the players,” said Scott.

From the tip-off to the end of OT, the Tigers and the Scots were neck-and-neck for the entire game. A late three-pointer by DePauw’s Aaron Shank ’21 in the few final seconds of OT silenced the Scots for an 88-87 victory.

“We fought till the end, and sometimes, that’s just simply not enough,” Danyon Hempy ’20 said, who scored an astronomical 40. points in the game against DePauw. “DePauw played a very solid game; we just didn’t get it done on the defensive end in that game and it cost us.”

Blake Southerland ’20 agreed, adding that DePauw had more energy towards the end of the game. “We just needed to have the same intensity for the entire game, and we needed to get more stops. Regardless, it was a hard-fought game for both teams.”

Moore mentioned the Scots’ struggle with defending the Tigers’ three-point shots as an obstacle. “We played well enough offensively to win the game, especially in the second half,” Moore said. “Our players did a great job coming from behind and getting the game to over- time … However, we struggled all game long in defending the three- point shots of DePauw as they made 18 three-point field goals; including the game-winner with three seconds left.”

Upon the completion of the game, a ceremony dedicated to Moore’s illustrious coaching career began with President Sarah Bolton giving thanks to Moore and highlighting his many remarkable moments at the College. Then, eyes were directed to the video board as graduated Fighting Scots basket- ball players thanked Moore for his dedication to the Wooster basket- ball program.

Moore was overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness of the ceremony.

“When I looked at the group of men standing before me, I thought, ‘how very blessed and fortunate I have been to have had the oppor- tunity to coach and develop special relationships with them.’ I thought of Lou Gehrig’s famous speech in Yankee Stadium when he said he was the luckiest man alive.”

Although difficult to say in only a few words, current players con- veyed their appreciation to their be- loved coach. “Coach Moore means everything to me,” Scott said. “If it wasn’t for him believing in my abilities, I wouldn’t be a part of this pro- gram. He just cares so much about each and every guy and is more concerned with us becoming better people rather than just better bas- ketball players.”

Hempy, who also played his last regular-season home game in Tim- ken Gymnasium, couldn’t put into words how Wooster basketball had an impact on him for the past four years. “I could say so many things to Coach. I would just thank him for taking a chance on me. My time at Wooster has been incredible and I would have never had the opportu- nity if it wasn’t for him and Coach Cline.”

As for Southerland, Wooster basketball and Moore have shaped him into who he is today. “I just hope Coach knows how grateful I am to have been a part of this team for the past four years, and what a great ex- perience it has been for me,” he said. “I would like to just encourage him on what a great job he has done inspiring us and teaching us what it means to compete and how to be a good man off the court.”

Trenton Tipton ’20 added, “There are many things I could say, but we still have a chance to play a lot of basketball, so I am focused on winning the game against Allegheny and live to fight another day.”

Moore is beyond grateful for the teams he has coached and the College of Wooster community.

“I want to say to everyone in the Wooster Basketball Family that the program will continue to be very special and successful in all ways with Coach Cline as the Head Coach. He is as responsible as anyone for Wooster Basketball being what it is.” He also added, “Simply, thank you. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to coach at a tremendous institution for 33 years and to be associated with so many special people.

Track and field find motivation before Conference

Angad Singh

Sports Editor

The Fighting Scots men’s and women’s track and field teams gained momentum in terms of practice and confidence before the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) championship. The Scots participated in the tri-meet on Feb. 21 held at Kenyon College. Between both they logged a dozen first-place finishes.

The men’s team bagged six first-place wins, with William McMichael ’22 further lowering his season-best time in the 400 meters to clock-out the event in 51.48 seconds, helping in finishing first out of 12 competitors. Feeling confident for his performance ahead McMichael stated, “I think my performance will help improve my results at the conference.” He further continued, “it was my fastest 400m time this year and there was little competition. With the intensity of the competition at the conference, I believe I have the ability to win the 400m again this year.”

Teammate Aedan Pettit ’20 came in first for the one mile run clocking a time of 4:25.01, beating out 13 other competitors in the events good enough for him to win the NCAC Player of the Week. When asked how his performance over the weekend will help impact his results in the Conference meet, Pettit stays humble and states, “This result gives us a lot of confidence heading into this weekend’s conference meet at Denison. I think it sets us up for positive results across the board.”

Pettit, along with McMichael and teammates Matt Olszewski ’21 and Joe Shilts ’22, helped in an- choring the win in the 4×400 meter relay, with a time of 3:34.33. But it was not only runners that logged the wins for the Scots. Connor Greene’s ’21 weight throw at 12.5 meters reaffirmed the team’s winning ways along with Richie Pajak ’22 ’s clearing the bar at 1.8 meters in the men’s high jump.

When it came to the wins, the women had some amazing performances with six first-place finishes as well, Marian Overfield ’22 clocked her stellar performance with a time of 11:23.13 in the 3000 meters, finishing first just ahead of Emma Busch ’21, who came in second. Coming off her win, Overfield said, “I had a season PR, like many of my teammates.” She continued, “I really think that this weekend at Denison, the Conference championships, will have great results as well and I’m hoping to run an overall PR on both Friday and Saturday.”

Teammate Morgan Kromer ’22 jumped her season-best mark of 3.2 meters clearing her for first in the women’s pole vault. When asked about her performance Kromer stated, “I think the skills and techniques we are learning in practice are showing up in our performances, specifically in the pole vaulting crew, which is where I spend the most time.” She continued, “I personally increased my vault by a foot from the week before, which is a lot in the pole- vaulting world. I jumped at, but did not clear my lifetime record, so I am excited to see where I can get the rest of the season. Across the team, we set a lot of season records, some personal records and even came close to a few school records.”

Dominating in the field events was Christine Weber ’21 who cleaned up the competition by taking first in the weight throw (11 meters) and shot put 11 me- ters). Choosing humility, she said, “I definitely think that I can be throwing farther, but I think that’s every track athlete’s perspective on their events.” She continued, “it should be a really good conference for the women all around though, and I’m super excited!”

Overall, the Scot’s promising performance in this non-scoring meet gives them great momentum going into this weekend’s conference  tournament.

Women’s tennis defeat powerhouse Kalamazoo

Matt Olszewski

Senior Sports Writer

The College of Wooster women’s tennis team defeated the Hornets of Kalamazoo College 5-4 on Saturday Feb. 22 in Kalamazoo, Mich. The Scots climbed to a 4-2 over- all record this season with the win and rebounded from two tough losses against John Carroll University and DePauw University the weekend before. Kathryn Materick ’23 described how their most recent match against Kalamazoo compared.

“Our matches against John Carroll and DePauw did not show the strength of our team. Between nerves, frustration and poor doubles communication, we ended up losing two matches that we at least should have played better in. However, as this weekend’s match shows, we are making improvements and are working towards showing our full strength as a team,” she said.

The Fighting Scots started off by winning five of the first seven matches — enough to decide the match in their favor before the number five and six singles matches even began. In doubles, the number one pair of Ishika Gupta ’23 and Joy Li ’20 lost 8-3; how- ever, Wooster won the other two doubles matches. When asked about what her team has been working on in practice, Li emphasized doubles practice. “For the past week, we’ve been working on adding variations and formations in our doubles. I think it worked really well this past weekend since the variety creates different paces that disturb our opponents’ match-play rhythm,” she said. Shannon Sertz ’20 stated, “We have been focusing a lot on becoming more aggressive doubles players … our communication and net play were key.” She and Laura Haley ’21 emerged victorious 8-4 in the second flight while Materick and Abby Kushner Benson ’23 won 8-3 in the third flight to give the Scots a 2-1 lead heading into singles matches.

Li bounced back in the number one spot, as she defeated her opponent 6-2, 6-4. “Compared to previous matches, I feel that I believe in myself more. By focusing only on myself instead of my opponent’s performance, I can better execute every ball,” said Li.

Gupta won her match in the second slot 6-3, 6-4, and Sertz at number three, after losing the first set 1-6, won the next two sets 6-2 and 6-4 to claim the victory. Sertz, like Li, was asked what she thought she did well individually. “I was able to regroup after my first singles set and execute my initial strategy better. My opponent was fairly consistent, so I took a lot of balls on the rise and gave myself a greater margin for error, focusing on being the player to get the last ball in the court,” she remarked.

At number four, five and six Kalamazoo claimed victory. Materick played number four, Haley five and Kushner Benson six.

Haley says to prepare for the upcoming matches the players will focus on their personal strategies. “We will start to break down each of our games and work on our individual strategy because I think there is room for improvement in singles. We will also continue to work on doubles strategies and play a ton of points to get match ready,” she said.

The Scots will spend the majority of spring break in Hilton Head, S.C. and play some matches against out-of-conference schools. Haley described what the trip is like and what it means to her.

“As always, it’s a great bonding experience and allows us to get plenty of matches in before more conference play when we return,” she said