Div. III Celebratory Signing Day at The Woodstock AcademyPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 6/13/2019
Participating in Division III athletics next year will be (Rear from left to right) Luke Mathewson (Westfield State baseball); Ethan Holcomb (Keene State Men’s Lacrosse); Sophia McGee (Drew University Fencing); Blake Kollbeck (Utica College Football); Heather Converse (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Women’s Basketball); Hannah Chubbuck (Salve Regina Field Hockey); Emma Strandson (Simmons College Field Hockey); Samantha Mowry (Eastern Connecticut State University Field Hockey).
(Seated from left to right) Kathryn Mason (Massachusetts Maritime Women’s Lacrosse); Arielle Johnson (Springfield College Women’s Lacrosse) and Emma Ciquera (Fairleigh Dickinson Women’s Lacrosse).
12 Seniors participate in Division III Celebratory Signing Day
The thought was the same among the 12 senior student-athletes who took part in the Division III Celebratory Signing Day program at The Woodstock Academy Thursday.
They get to continue to play the sport they love at the next level.
Parents, coaches, teammates and friends all took part in the event which was held inside the dining hall on the North Campus.
Some tears were shed and many thanks given to those who helped the seniors achieve their goal of getting a chance to participate in college athletics.
“Think about how extra hard you worked in practice, how you helped your coach, got good grades, were nice to the freshmen and went the extra mile and were such a distinguished individual that coaches at the college level considered you,” Woodstock Academy Associate Head of School Holly Singleton told the gathering. “While you may think, sometimes, that we celebrate Division I and II athletes with different signings maybe because they get money and maybe they are more special but I have a preference for the Division III athlete. You have to be more dedicated because there is no incentive to do it other than your love for the sport and the camaraderie.”
For Heather Converse, it was a chance to follow in the family tradition.
Converse’s two brothers, Adam and Ian, played Division III college basketball in Worcester, MA. at Clark University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, respectively.
Their sister is going just a bit further away.
Converse will play basketball at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.
“I’m following in their footsteps,” Converse said with a smile. “I really wanted to play basketball but my top priority is academics. I really want to major in engineering so I had a choice between RPI and WPI, both solid schools. It was a pretty tough decision for me but the coach at RPI (John Greene) came to a lot of my games and I just made a good connection with the team and everyone there. I felt really comfortable on campus.”
Sophia McGee didn’t have a chance to compete in interscholastic athletics at Woodstock Academy since the fencing program is just a club activity.
“I have to travel quite far. I train in Providence,” McGee said.
But she did get a different type of experience at The Academy.
She was one of the coaches for the club team.
“It’s really nice because I get to show people what I actually do in my sport and it’s kind of nice to give back to the community, too,” McGee said.
McGee will continue her fencing endeavors at Drew University in Madison, N.J.
“I always like a challenge,” McGee said.
Three members of The Woodstock Academy girls lacrosse team will move on to play the sport at the college level.
Kathryn Mason will compete at Massachusetts Maritime; Arielle Johnson at Springfield College and Emma Ciquera at Fairleigh Dickinson.
“It’s awesome that Katie (Mason) never played lacrosse until she got to Woodstock Academy and it shows that you can be new at something, and put the work in and accomplish great things,” Woodstock Academy girls lacrosse coach Kathleen Johnson said.
Ciquera became the first Centaurs’ girls lacrosse player to receive All-State honors when she was made a second team Class M selection.
Arielle Johnson, Kathleen’s daughter, overcame health issues to become a solid player at attack for Woodstock Academy and will go on to play the sport at her Mom’s alma mater.
Three field hockey players also signed celebratory documents.
Emma Strandson admitted on her first day of practice as a freshman, she didn’t even have an idea as to how to hold the stick.
Now, she will play for Simmons College in Boston.
Hannah Chubbuck will put on the uniform of Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I.
“Chubs, we’re going to miss you in the front field, your sense of humor and how you were always there with a smile and ready to go,” said Woodstock Academy field hockey coach Lauren Gagnon during the event.
Samantha Mowry will play for Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic.
“This senior class of female athletes are some of the strongest that (Woodstock Academy) had in a significant amount of time,” Singleton said.
There were three male student-athletes in attendance.
Ethan Holcomb, The Woodstock Academy senior Male Athlete of the Year, will continue his lacrosse playing days at Keene State University in New Hampshire.
Luke Mathewson will play baseball at Westfield State University.
“I’ve had the pleasure of coaching Luke for three years and he’s a great young man and a great competitor. Whatever he does in life, he’s going to do well because he has worked hard,” Woodstock Academy baseball coach Brian Murphy said.
Blake Kollbeck will be an offensive or defensive lineman on the football team at Utica College in New York.
“I was looking for academics and they have a cyber-security (major) there and I’m really excited to get my bachelor’s there. It’s a new field, a high-demand job and I’m excited to go up there and play,” Kollbeck said.
Kollbeck said, in addition to playing football for the Centaurs, he has taken advantage of the strength and conditioning program offered by coach Brendan Ostaszewski at The Academy.
“It’s extremely important. If you don’t do any offseason training, you come in out-of-shape, football is not going to be fun. If you do that offseason training, you have a head start on everyone else,” Kollbeck said.
Spring Athletic Awards NightPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 6/11/2019
Spring Awards Night brings conclusion to 2018-19 athletic season at The Woodstock Academy
The 2018-19 athletic season at The Woodstock Academy officially came to a close on Monday night at the Loos Center for the Arts on South Campus.
The final event of the year, the Spring Sports awards, honored those who participated in athletics over the last three months of the school year.
Among the highlights of the spring season at Woodstock Academy was two teams bringing home Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament titles.
The girls lacrosse team did so for a first time and the girls golf program won for a sixth time in the nine years that the tournament has been held.
The girls tennis team tied for a regular season ECC Division I title with Stonington.
Other accomplishments of note in the spring included senior Mason Stewart finishing as one of the tri-medalists in the ECC Open boys golf championship.
Senior Emma Ciquera was named Class M second team All-State and also claimed the Most Valuable Player Award in the ECC girls lacrosse tournament championship match.
Junior Marina Monrabal was crowned the fastest female runner in the ECC when she won the 100-meter race at the ECC Championship meet.
The boys lacrosse team qualified for the Class M state tournament for the first time since 2016.
The Special Olympics soccer program traveled to Southern Connecticut State University and received a bronze medal for its efforts.
The second William M. Bertrand golf award was given out during the Spring Sports awards.
The male recipient was junior Grayson Walley.
The award is significant of a golfer who shows uncommon determination and dedication to make the most of his or her ability.
The female recipient was senior Katherine Harrington who was honored with it on Senior Awards Night.
The Coaches' Award is given to athletes who demonstrate a hardworking, unselfish, positive and competitive attitude and in the opinion of the coaching staff is a model for other team members to follow.
Two varsity and one JV coaches award were given for every sport.
Recipients of those awards were as follows:
Varsity coaches’ awards: Mason Stewart and Owen Borski
JV coaches’ award: Eddy Chen
Varsity coaches’ awards: Linda St. Laurent and Kaily LaChappelle
JV coaches’ award: Jillian Marcotte
Special Olympics soccer/Unified Fitness program
Varsity coaches’ awards: Nathan Olson and Emmalee Binette
Girls Track and Field
Varsity coaches’ awards: Marina Monrabal and Linsey Arends
JV coaches’ award: Ainsley Viano
Boys Track and Field
Varsity coaches’ awards: Kenneth Birlin and Lucas Couture
JV coaches’ award: Aiden Lisee
Varsity coaches’ awards: Guerin Favreau and Ethan Holcomb
JV coaches’ award: John Pokorny
Varsity coaches’ awards: Hallie Saracina and Kileigh Gagnon
JV coaches’ award: Aurissa Boardman
Varsity coaches’ awards: Morgan Bassett and Emma Durand
JV coaches’ award: Julia Dearborn
Varsity coaches’ awards: Luigi Boselli and Matt Tiffany
Varsity coaches’ awards: Luke Mathewson and Nathan John
JV coaches’ award: Aiden Russell
Varsity coaches’ awards: Julianna Nuttall and Hannah Burgess
JV coaches’ award: Madison Nichols
The baseball team also was honored by the Eastern Board of Approved Baseball Umpires as it received the Roger LaFrancois Memorial Sportsmanship Award from the group. Girls Lacrosse coach Kathleen Johnson also gave out special awards to departing seniors Emma Ciquera, Ivy Gelhaus and Arielle Johnson for their contributions to the program for the last four years.
Those who won ECC Sportsmanship and Scholar-Athlete Awards this spring were also recognized.
ECC Sportsmanship Award winners:
Boys golf: Jake Starr
Girls golf: Alex Vaida
Boys outdoor track: Noah Pepper
Girls outdoor track: Megan Gohn
Girls lacrosse: Lauren Hovestadt
Boys lacrosse: Zachary Douglas
Girls tennis: Sophia Rakovan
Boys tennis: Luigi Boselli
Baseball: Matt Moffitt
Softball: Julianna Nuttall
ECC Scholar-Athlete Award winners:
Boys golf: Liam McDermott
Girls golf: Katherine Harrington
Boys outdoor track: Nathan Craig
Girls outdoor track: Maddie Grube
Girls lacrosse: Emma Redfield
Boys lacrosse: Gabe Geyer
Girls tennis: Caitlyn Sroczenski
Boys tennis: Aidan Stewart
Baseball: Nathan John
Softball: Hannah Burgess
The team with the best overall grade point average for the spring was the girls tennis team while the girls lacrosse team took home the honor of being the best-dressed team at the event.
Those who received honorable, mention, All-Star or special awards were also recognized for their efforts.
ECC All-Star, honorable mention and special awards:
- ECC 1st team All-Star in girls lacrosse, Most Valuable Player of the ECC tournament championship match and Class M second team All-State athlete: Emma Ciquera
- An ECC All-Star in girls track and field and the winner of the 100-meter in the ECC championship meet: Marina Monrabal.
- One of the three individual winners of the ECC boys open golf tournament and an ECC All-Star: Mason Stewart.
- ECC 1st team Division II Baseball All-Star: Luke Mathewson.
- ECC 1st team Division II Baseball All-Star: Eric Preston.
- ECC 1st team girls tennis singles All-Star: Mari Ruggeri
- ECC 1st team girls tennis doubles All-Star: Caitlyn Sroczenski
- ECC 1st team girls tennis doubles All-Star: Adeline Smith
- ECC 1st team boys tennis singles All-Star: David Fleck
- ECC 1st team boys tennis doubles All-Star: Aidan Stewart
- ECC 1st team boys tennis doubles All-Star: Stefan Chervenkova
- ECC 1st team girls lacrosse All-Star: Ivy Gelhaus
- ECC 1st team girls lacrosse All-Star: Arielle Johnson.
- ECC 1st team girls golf All-Star: Linda St. Laurent
- ECC 1st team girls golf All-Star: Kaily LaChappelle
- ECC 1st team softball All-Star: Hannah Burgess.
- ECC Honorable Mention boys tennis singles: Riley Douglas
- ECC Honorable Mention boys lacrosse: Guerin Favreau
- ECC Honorable Mention baseball: Nathan John
- ECC Honorable Mention softball: Hannah Chubbuck
- ECC Honorable Mention softball: Heather Converse
Senior Awards night held at The Woodstock AcademyPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 6/3/2019
Converse, Gelhaus, Holcomb named Most Outstanding Athletes of 2019 Senior Class
The annual Senior Awards Night was held on Sunday at the Loos Center for the Arts on The Woodstock Academy campus.
Three seniors received the Most Outstanding Senior Athlete Awards.
Ethan Holcomb, who is heading to Keene State where he will be a member of the Men’s lacrosse team, was named the Most Outstanding Male Senior Athlete.
Holcomb was a member of the soccer and lacrosse programs in all four years at Woodstock Academy.
This past season, he led the team to an Eastern Connecticut Conference boys soccer tournament championship with 11 goals and four assists.
He scored the game-winning goal in a 2-1 win over Stonington in the ECC boys soccer semifinal match.
Holcomb went to on to finish with 57 points (28 goals, 29 assists) in the lacrosse season. He helped the team back to the .500 mark at 8-8 for the regular season and also helped it qualify for the state tournament for the first time since 2016.
The Most Outstanding Female Senior Athlete was shared by two deserving individuals; Heather Converse and Ivy Gelhaus.
Both were three-sport, three-season athletes in all four of their years at The Academy.
The two were teammates in the fall on the soccer team.
Converse also played basketball and softball while Gelhaus switched from basketball to indoor track and in the spring played lacrosse.
This past season, Converse scored the game-winning goal with 52 seconds left in regulation in a 1-0 win over Plainfield in the Eastern Connecticut Conference girls soccer tournament championship match.
Converse was also given the Most Memorable Play Award on Sunday for her last-minute heroics in that match.
It was the first goal of the fullback’s high school career, but not her last.
She also scored in the Centaurs’ loss to Daniel Hand in a second round Class L state tournament match.
Converse went on to lead the girls basketball team with a 12.2 point per game average, 209 rebounds and 22 blocks. She was second on the team in assists (35) and steals (40).
The senior started a little slow on the softball field but it was understandable since she hadn’t faced live pitching in a year due to her commitment to the other sports.
She finished well, however, and led the team in runs batted in (25) and triples (4).
She was second on the team in batting average with a .407 mark.
Gelhaus was the sniper on the soccer pitch for the Centaurs.
She attacked opposing defenses who could rarely cope with her speed.
She finished with a team-best 19 goals and added five assists.
On the track, Gelhaus finished fourth in the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I indoor championship meet in the 600 and was also a member of the sprint medley team that also brought home a fourth-place finish.
Gelhaus qualified for the Class L indoor track state championship and barely missed qualifying for the State Open by one second when she put together a personal-best time of 1:46.19 in the 600. It netted her a fifth-place finish in the Class L championship.
Gelhaus was a key reason why the Centaurs beat East Lyme for a first time in the history of the girls lacrosse program at home on April 27.
She scored two goals early in the second half of that game that gave the Centaurs a three-goal lead and they held on for the 5-4 win.
Gelhaus finished with 60 goals and nine assists on the season for Woodstock Academy.
The John Suleski Jr. Memorial golf awards went to Mason Stewart who received the Most Valuable Senior golfer award while Owen Borski earned the Most Improved award.
The Bertrand Golf Award, significant of the golfer who shows uncommon determination and dedication to make the most of his/her ability, was given to Katherine Harrington.
The Cliff Spellman tennis sportsmanship award was given to Matt Tiffany.
The Alfred C. Warren soccer sportsmanship awards, given to senior players who show a true love for the game, went to to Ashleigh Angle and Holcomb.
The Marvin M. Sherman Award given to a senior male athlete who has displayed a high level of sportsmanship, character, desire and determination both on and off the field was won by Eric Preston.
The Evelyn and Arthur Weinmann Award given to the senior athlete who has done the most for the athletic department and has exemplified the spirit of athletics at Woodstock Academy went to Arielle Johnson.
The Hannah Green Memorial Award, named in honor of the former Woodstock Academy athlete who lost a courageous battle with cancer at the age of 23, and given to a senior who has demonstrated sportsmanship, character, desire and determination, went to Sammie Orlowski.
The Centaur award, given to one male and one female athlete, who through their actions, words and deeds truly represents what it means to represent Woodstock Academy as an athlete went to Luke Mathewson and Maddie Grube.
The first-ever Woodstock Academy Athletic Director awards, given to the, sometimes, unsung athletes who don’t always receive the headlines went to Aislin Tracey and Emma Ciquera.
Lydia Taft, who had to sit out most of her junior season in gymnastics due to back issues, received the Comeback Player of the Year award. Taft finished second to teammate Jenna Davidson in the Eastern Connecticut Conference championship and also played a key role in the Centaurs winning both the Class S and State Open gymnastics championships.
Kathleen Johnson, who guided the Centaurs girls lacrosse team to its first-ever win over East Lyme and its first Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament championship was named The Woodstock Academy Boosters Club Coach of the Year.
Emma Ciquera was the female recipient of the Most Outstanding Performance in a game award for her three goal, one assist, Most Valuable Player effort in the ECC girls lacrosse championship win over Stonington.
Tre Mitchell was Ciquera’s male counterpart for his 24-point, 12-rebound effort against Brewster Academy this past season.
There were also two community awards given out at the ceremony.
The Centaur Person of the Year Award, for a second consecutive year, was given to two people.
The award is given to an individual who does not seek attention for their contribution to the Woodstock Academy athletic program but delivers an important contribution.
Assistant athletic director Trent Peters and Theresa Faford, a bus driver for many traveling athletic teams, were honored with the award.
The Centaur Nation Media Award was given to Linda Lemmon, the editor and publisher of the Putnam Town Crier newspaper for her unwavering support of Woodstock Academy athletics.
Senior Unified Sports Award – Lauren Hovestadt
Booster Club Scholarship Award Recipients – Mackenzie Eaton and Eric Preston.
National Federation of State High School Association’s Award of Excellence – Regan Stuyniski and Liam McDermott.
Assistant Coach of the Year – Todd Blodgett (girls basketball).
Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Scholar-Athlete Awards – Heather Converse and Cole Hackett
Connecticut High School Coaches Association Scholar-Athlete Awards – Maddie Grube and Jack Hovestadt.
12-season awards (given to athletes who have participated in a sport in all 12 seasons of their four years at The Woodstock Academy): Aislin Tracey (soccer, basketball, lacrosse); Aria Gianfriddo (cross-country, indoor track, track); Emmalee Binette (Unified soccer, Unified basketball, tennis); Owen Borski (Unified sports, hockey, golf); Lucas Couture (soccer, indoor track, track); Olivia Stanikmas (field hockey, Unified sports, lacrosse); Regan Stuyniski (soccer, ice hockey, lacrosse); Heather Converse (soccer, basketball, softball); Ivy Gelhaus (soccer, basketball, indoor track, lacrosse); Ashleigh Angle (soccer, indoor track, ice hockey, track, lacrosse).
8-season awards (given to athletes who have played eight seasons at The Woodstock Academy):Chase Anderson (soccer, basketball, baseball); Kenneth Birlin (cross-country, indoor track); Hannah Chubbuck (field hockey, softball); Spencer Collins (cross-country, indoor track); Mackenzie Eaton (field hockey, basketball, tennis); McKenna Gagnon (volleyball, Unified sports, lacrosse); Emma Green (volleyball, Unified sports, lacrosse); Maddie Grube (soccer, gymnastics, track); Cole Hackett (soccer, basketball); Ethan Holcomb (soccer, lacrosse); Lauren Hovestadt (soccer, Unified sports, lacrosse); Nathan John (Unified sports, basketball, baseball); Aaron Johnson (soccer, basketball); Jake Marsalisi (soccer, basketball); Luke Mathewson (cross-country, basketball, baseball); Liam McDermott (Unified sports, hockey, lacrosse, golf); Samantha Mowry (field hockey, softball, basketball); Amanda Nowak (soccer, Unified sports, lacrosse); Noah Pepper (cross-country, golf, track); Eric Preston (football, basketball, baseball); Meagan Rainville (soccer, Unified sports, lacrosse); John Rogers (soccer, basketball, track); Andrew Roy (football, wrestling, Unified sports, track); Maria Scandalito (soccer, indoor track, softball); Madison Skellet (field hockey, Unified sports, tennis, softball); Peter Spada (soccer, wrestling, baseball); Emma Strandson (field hockey, ice hockey, softball).
4-year awards (given to athletes who have shown a four-year commitment to one sport): Ethan Adams (basketball); Irene Askitis (soccer); Morgan Bassett (tennis); Hannah Burgess (softball); Bailey Canedy (lacrosse); Isabel Cintron (soccer); Emma Ciquera (lacrosse, ice hockey); Allison Crescimanno (gymnastics); Brooke Deorsey (cheerleading); Rachel Durand (volleyball); Dyson Frank (prep basketball); Madeline Gronski (volleyball); Ethan Haass (lacrosse); Katherine Harrington (golf); Jack Hovestadt (football); Ellie Jellison (volleyball); Regan Kasacek (lacrosse); Blake Kollbeck (football); Ryan LaTour (lacrosse); Natalie Low (volleyball); Robert Maheu (golf); Kathryn Mason (lacrosse); Tre Mitchell (prep basketball); Matt Moffitt (baseball); Lauren Neely (field hockey); Julianna Nuttall (softball); Samantha Orlowski (volleyball); Nathan Price (football); Victoria Staples (field hockey); Lydia Taft (gymnastics); Matt Tiffany (soccer); Abigail Vaida (gymnastics); Geoff Vallone (lacrosse); Hannah Wotton (field hockey).
The spring sports award ceremony will take place on Monday, June 10 at 5:30 p.m. in the Loos Center for the Arts.
Ostaszewski named Connecticut Strength and Conditioning Coach of the YearPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 5/3/2019
Standing in the new strength room at The Woodstock Academy, strength and conditioning coach Brenden Ostaszewski was all smiles on Tuesday.
Just the weekend before, he had learned he had been named the Connecticut High School Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year.
Both The Connecticut state director and the regional director of the National High School Strength Coaches Association had nominated him for the award.
“It’s a great honor,” Ostazewski said. “I couldn’t be here without the help of the (Woodstock Academy) administration, the support that the donors have provided for us for the new strength and conditioning weight room, and the student athletes who come in here and work every day.”
Ostaszewski came aboard at The Academy in the fall of 2017 and has quickly raised the level of fitness for student-athletes from the freshman class through the prep basketball program.
Ostaszewski hails from Philadelphia.
He played basketball for a year at Keystone College, a Division III school in Northeastern Pennsylvania, but realized his true calling was in athletic conditioning. He transferred to Temple University where he studied Exercise in Sports Science and Kinesiology.
He took a job at a Philadelphia Catholic School as a physical education teacher but continued to work with collegiate athletes at Temple and the University of Pennsylvania.
Ostaszewski, through his contacts at the colleges, met a friend of former Woodstock Academy prep basketball coach Tony Bergeron who told him about the need for a strength and conditioning coach at the school.
Ostaszewski packed his bags and came out to the countryside, much to the delight of his Woodstock Academy colleagues.
“He is a total professional,” Woodstock Academy athletic director Sean Saucier said. “He has greatly impacted the student-athletes at the school and it’s nice to see him get recognized. He works hard professionally and personally and it’s nice to see that hard work pay off.”
The National High School Strength Coaches Association hasn’t been in existence for long.
It came together in 2016 as more schools across the country began to realize the need for such training at the high school level.
“It wanted to create more opportunities for strength coaches in the high school setting. Strength coaches are very popular among the professional and collegiate ranks and (the Association) identified a need for them to serve the younger population especially among the high school-aged students,” Ostaszewski said.
Ostaszewski has since been joined by Jeff Higgins at The Academy and the two work with a growing number of student-athletes in the new training facility which opened in November.
“Coach Higgins has helped us a lot and has allowed us to reach more students. The new space is great. We can fit more student-athletes here,” Ostaszewski said.
He said there is always room for more.
He would like to see some of the training equipment offerings expanded because of the larger number of student-athletes utilizing it.
“We have some room for improvement in that area and we’re also researching some new ways with technology to access all the analytical data to track progress. Hopefully, we will be able to step into that realm and provide student-athletes with a better experience,” Ostaszewski said.Comments (0)
The Woodstock Academy names new boys prep basketball head coachPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 4/30/2019
The Woodstock Academy names new boys prep basketball head coach
Excited and humbled is how Jacque Rivera described his emotions after learning that he was the choice to be the next head coach of The Woodstock Academy prep boys basketball program.
Rivera will replace Tony Bergeron at the helm of the Centaurs.
Bergeron stepped aside recently to become an assistant coach with the University of Massachusetts Men’s basketball program.
Rivera has been the head coach of the prep basketball program at the MacDuffie School in Granby, Mass. for the last five years.
He has taken MacDuffie to the New England Prep School Athletic Council AA postseason tournament in three of those seasons.
“We’ve had some really good kids. We have guys heading off to UConn (James Bouknight from the 2018-19 team), Ismael (Massoud) is going to Wake Forest. Omari Spellman (now with the Atlanta Hawks) played for me,” Rivera said. “I don’t keep track of my personal record, I care more about the success of my players.”
The 31-year-old Rivera grew up in the Bronx, N.Y. and played for Bergeron in high school at Wings Academy. He moved on to Elms College in Chicopee, MA. where he earned his bachelor’s degree in social work and his Master’s degree in education. His first head coaching job was at Dean Vocational Technical School in Holyoke, MA.
“He’s an outstanding guy. A very passionate coach and person,” said Woodstock Academy Sean Saucier of Rivera. “I think he will be a great fit here. He’s a community-oriented, family guy. We’re very excited to have him.”
Saucier said Rivera’s close ties to Bergeron will help with the program’s transition.
Rivera understands the task ahead of him, comparing it to the person who will eventually succeed Duke University coach Mike Krzyzewski.
“I’m following a guy who has had 20 years of success and will continue to have success in college. Everywhere he has been, he has been successful. It’s big shoes to fill. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Coach Bergeron who took me under his wing when I was playing for him,” Rivera said. “I think I have some of the same qualities that he has. I’ve learned some things myself along the way. Hopefully, I’m just going to build on the success he had.”
Bergeron guided the Centaurs to a 73-7 record in their first two seasons as a prep program, winning the Power 5 Conference title in both years and earning two invitations to the National Prep Championship tournament at Connecticut College.
“We had the vision of creating a program that was one of the best in the country and provided great opportunity to student-athletes who were involved in getting into college. In the two years that Tony was here, he far exceeded what our expectations were,” Woodstock Academy head of school Chris Sandford said. “While we’re sorry to see him go, we are honored and happy for him and his family that he has accepted this promotion, essentially, to UMass.”
Rivera said Bergeron has already recruited some very good athletes for the Centaurs next season. His job will be to make sure they end up at The Academy in the fall.
“I really believe the guys we have will fit in our community, going to fit in what we’re asking them to do as people and they will do what we ask them to do athletically. I think we have some really good guys who will be excited to be a part of Centaur Nation as a whole and we have some kids that people will be impressed with,” Rivera said.
Rivera will be the head coach of the program and The Woodstock Academy Gold team. Denzel Washington, who has worked as an assistant with the program for its first two years, will be the head coach of The Woodstock Academy Blue team. Washington takes over for Nick DeFeo who left recently to begin a similar prep program at Notre Dame-West Haven High School.Comments (1)
2019 girls track season previewPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 4/28/2019
2019 Preview: Centaurs are young, but have good examples to follow
There is one word that describes the Woodstock Academy girls track and field team to perfection.
The Centaurs had a nice turnout of student-athletes with 40 coming out for the program, but many have never experienced the sport before.
“More than half the roster is freshmen and sophomores and many are first-time track athletes. Several of our junior and seniors are also out for the first time so we’re young,” said girls track and field coach Josh Welch.
But there is a silver lining.
There are a host of athletes who are coming back from indoor track and cross-country to compete in outdoor track.
“Those people have a better foundation and are able to start doing more intense workouts than just starting from ther ground floor,” said senior Aria Gianfriddo.
Welch agreed and added that not only will that experience help when it comes to performance on the track, but will also help the overall attitude of the team.
“I think that group will help establish a challenging and supportive team culture focused on growth for both the individual and the team,” Welch said.
Among that group is junior Julia Theriaque who excelled in the indoor season in the high jump where she qualified for the New England championship after a seventh-place finish in the State Open.
“She played a tremendous leadership role with the team in the winter. She is toying with the idea of competing in the (Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference) Heptathlon competition at the end of the season. That will be exciting to work toward,” Welch said.
Gianfriddo, who did well in the relays, middle distance and hurdle events in the indoor season, will continue to mix it up this spring. She does, however, want to concentrate on a couple of events including one she didn’t get too much work in during indoor.
“I want to focus on the 300-meter hurdles and long jump. I want to try (long jump) again, I used to do it in middle school. I also want to stick with the 800-meter or below because I’m not as good as I should be in distance,” Gianfriddo said with a laugh.
The senior will be one of those competing for a last time in a Woodstock Academy uniform before graduation in June.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Gianfriddo said. “I really like this team, but I’m happy to be moving forward.”
In the meantime, Gianfriddo has also found a new role – mentor.
“Aria is also a great help teaching new athletes the ropes,” Welch said.
In addition to the indoor track team being a source of strength, Welch will also get help from the cross-country squad.
Freshman Linsey Arends, who placed 10th in the State Open cross-country championship in the fall, has set her sights on competing in the mile in the outdoor season.
Distance events will also be covered by senior Shannon D’Alessandro, junior Megan Gohn and sophomore Iris Bazinet.
“This gives most of our cross-country team training this spring, which is also great for the coming fall as well,” Welch said.
Senior Maddie Grube returns to work in the long and triple jumps while freshman Sydney Couture will continue to try and hone the craft of pole vault, something she did over the winter indoors and Welch is looking forward to seeing what she can do with a little more air time this spring.
The Centaurs have moved up to Division I in the Eastern Connecticut Conference this fall.
That means there are only three dual meets to compete in, Fitch, Norwich Free Academy and East Lyme, but more time to train and prepare.
“There is less meets to be able to qualify (for state competition), but it’s good that we get to compete in the new division,” Gianfriddo said.
2019 boys track season previewPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 4/28/2019
2019 Preview: Big turnout, few meets
A plus and a minus.
That’s how Woodstock Academy boys track and field coach Pete Lusa looks at the Centaurs ascension into Division I of the Eastern Connecticut Conference this season.
“We only have three dual meets because there are only four of us (teams in the division) so unless we try to start scheduling some other people in there, we get a lot of training and a little competition which may be a good model for some of these kids to not be going, going, going, and needling an injury,” Lusa said. “Get them trained down and then, trained back up for the next competition.”
Lusa said it also doesn’t concern him that it will be too little in the way of competition as the Centaurs will also intersperse a couple of invitational meets. They will travel to the Ledyard Relays at the end of April and to the Middletown Invitational at the beginning of May.
“Those are a chance for the kids to go against good competition,” Lusa said.
Lusa, in an early practice, was excited about the turnout.
He had to two pages of names that he was trying to muddle through.
“We’ve got some good, strong, returning veterans and some new kids with enthusiasm. They’re not tested yet, but it’s that raw energy and enthusiasm that I like,” he said.
Woodstock Academy finished with a 1-5 overall record and a 1-4 mark in ECC Division II last season.
Gone from that team are weight man Mark Dumas; sprinter and middle distance runner Natanael Colon and hurdler Dan Crème.
But Lusa, in his eighth season of coaching, will have seniors to work with.
Distance runner Kenneth Birlin returns as does Andrew Roy (discus, shotput); Danylo Ntamwemizi (shotput, discus, javelin) and Connor Starr (shotput, discus, javelin).
“It’s sad because this team has become another family for me. I don’t know if I will really be able to say goodbye. I think I’m going to hang around next year and try to help out,” Birlin said.
Nathan Craig (hurdles, long and triple jump); Ben Green (sprints, middle distance); and Thomas Waldon (shotput, discus, javelin) will be the key juniors for the Centaurs.
The sophomores will be well represented with Ethan Aspiras (1,600, 3,200-meter); Tyler Barrett (1,600, 3,200, 800, 400); Eric Phongsa (sprints, hurdles); Jackson Dias (400, 800, 1,600, pole vault); Dylan Ponkala (long jump, high jump, pole vault); Jeremy Romano (shotput, discus, javelin); Noah Salsich (800, 1,600, 3,200) and Adam Schimmelpfennig (sprints, hurdles, pole vault) all expected to contribute.
“It’s a really big team and it’s diverse,” Birlin said. “There are people from every grade. We’re going to have a strong team this year and for the next few years.”
Birlin also realizes that it will not be easy competing against the likes of Norwich Free Academy, East Lyme and Fitch, but he, like Lusa, likes the idea of less dual meets for the most part.
“We’re going to get to train a little more which is good,” Birlin said. “I like it because you can get stronger, but there are less chances to, if you want to run an 800-meter for example, to run it and gauge how do I run it better next time. In practice, you are not just going to be running 800’s, you are going to be doing other workouts.”
The team does have a strong returning group from indoor track and also got a hand from cross-country which is why Lusa feels he has a strong group of distance runners.
“There is a good carry over from indoor and Josh Welch ran a good indoor program so that the athletes have kind of got it engrained, ‘Here’s what the expectations are. Here’s how we act.’ The new kids are kind of looking around and figuring out that this is what we do. It will become a culture and I’m enthused about that,” Lusa said.
Lusa feels the field events should garner some points for the Centaurs and the sprinter/hurdle crew is also pretty deep.
“I think we’re poised to have an excellent season in the ECC and at states, but we will always be going against better opponents. The kids who are looking to advance, will always have people to chase. If we were going against Division IV teams and clobbering them, the kids wouldn’t have to try as hard and they would still be getting the accolades and that’s not good for them either,” Lusa said.
2019 girls golf season previewPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 4/27/2019
2019 Preview: New and returning faces could make for strong season
Golf in the spring is never easy.
The Woodstock Academy Centaurs boys and girls golf teams got their first taste of the outdoors on March 19.
When they will be able to set foot on a golf course is another story.
“It’s spring in New England so we have to deal with what we have,” said Centaurs girls coach Earl Semmelrock standing on the Woodstock Academy Commons watching his team practice shooting balls into a bucket on a blustery and chilly March afternoon.
Snow still lined the ground behind his players.
Fortunately, it wasn’t feet deep and there was a lot of dormant grass to be seen.
“We’re cautiously optimistic that, because there is only a little bit of snow on the ground that we will have an early opening,” Semmelrock said. “Typically our home course (Quinnatisset Country Club) doesn’t open until the middle to end of April. Maybe that can be sped up, but the good news is that most of our matches in April are away from our home course and the courses along the shoreline in East Lyme and Norwich will likely be open. We just may be at a deficit if we don’t get much time on the course.”
The Centaurs girls had a bigger than anticipated turnout.
Semmelrock looked over the Commons and saw 22 girls working on their chipping.
“I’m really excited. I wasn’t expecting this many girls to come out,” senior captain Katherine Harrington said. “We’ve got a lot of returners but some new faces too and some promising new faces. I think we have a really good chance at being a competitive team this year.”
Semmelrock said the turnout, if it continues, may mean the team will have to make cuts, and while that prospect is never looked forward to, it does show an interest in the program.
The Centaurs finished second in the ECC last year with a 6-2 league record, second to Waterford’s 8-0 mark. The Lancers will not field a girls team this season. The Centaurs finished with a 10-7 overall mark.
Gone from that team are Caroline Eaton and Caitlin Cannon.
Harrington is one of the anomalies for Semmelrock who enters his sixth year as head coach of the program – a four-year player.
“Her attendance is impeccable, she strives to get better all the time, and she’s a leader,” Semmelrock said of Harrington.
“It takes a couple of weeks to get in shape,” Harrington said. “Over the winter, I try to get out there and keep my swing together, but it’s going to take a couple of weeks, a little transition, some practice, by the time we get to the course, we’re usually ready to go.”
Harrington said her goal is to win the ECC individual title, get her average to around 50 per nine-hole match and get someone from the team to qualify for state competition.
Off the course, Harrington has other hopes.
“I want to get really close to the team, be a good captain, and get to know all my teammates,” she said.
The Centaurs also return ECC All-Star Kailey LaChappelle.
The sophomore finished third in the ECC championship match last season with a 45 to earn All-Star status.
Juniors Linda St. Laurent, who shot a 50 in the ECC championship, and Avery Jones (54) also return.
Newcomers include Olivia Ott, Ciara MacKinnon, Rachel Roberts, and Maria Santucci.
“We want to win the ECC, which should be attainable, we only lost last year by (5 strokes). I would love to see an individual, if not the whole team, qualify for states. We’ve been knocking on the door for a number of years and just can’t seem to bust it down. Maybe this will be the year,” Semmelrock said.
2019 girls tennis season previewPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 4/27/2019
2019 Preview: Centaurs primed for run
The goal of the Woodstock Academy girls tennis team is easy to say.
“Beat Stonington,” Woodstock Academy sophomore Hannah Darigan said.
That’s not so easy to accomplish.
Many Eastern Connecticut Conference teams try to do that on an annual basis.
Few experience success.
The last time the Bears lost in the ECC was in 2014 when they fell twice to Waterford and once to East Lyme.
Still, veteran coach Ann Rathbone thinks the Centaurs could make something happen this season.
“I think we have a legitimate chance to win the league,” Rathbone said. “We have lots of potential. We’re solid in singles and we just have to figure out the doubles.”
The Centaurs did lose their top singles player, Clara Siegmund, who is now playing at Rhode Island College and experiencing success at the next level.
But Rathbone, who enters her 32nd year at the helm of the girls program, has some solid players returning and Darigan said the team also has a little intangible going for them.
“We have a great group of girls this year, an amazing chemistry, better than ever before and a lot of talent, too,” Darigan said. “I felt at home with the program right from the beginning. The girls have been so welcoming and with the amount of freshman we have this year that is really good.”
Seniors Mari Ruggeri and Morgan Bassett will be atop the singles to start and the Centaurs (15-6 last season) success may be somewhat predicated on theirs.
“They have to step up to being Nos. 1 and 2,” Rathbone said.
Junior Rachel Holden saw some singles activity last year and Rathbone thinks Darigan has the potential to also move up from doubles.
“It’s been a goal of mine for a while,” Darigan said. “I played doubles last year, I loved it, but once you get a taste of singles, there is no going back.”
To make that a possibility, Darigan and some of her teammates have been working in the offseason.
According to the sophomore, it shows.
“A lot of people have improved their game. A lot of people in the offseason were going to outside coaches and there has been a lot of improvement in both power and placement,” Darigan said.
Although she is young, Darigan has quickly learned the importance of honing one’s craft.
“It’s everything,” Darigan said of the offseason work. “Throughout the season, you don’t have much time to practice the little skills that you need improvement on because you’re just trying to win. Offseason is very important.”
Juniors Caitlin Sroczenski, Emma Durand, Izetta Asikainen, Rachel Lambert, Sophia Rakovan and Annabelle Bastura are all in the mix for both singles and doubles play.
Freshmen Adeline Smith and Jacqueline Trudeau have also been nice additions for the Centaurs.
2019 boys tennis season previewPosted by Marc Allard, Sports Information Director on 4/27/2019
2019 Preview: More depth could mean better results
Two of the singles spots on the Woodstock Academy boys tennis team are taken this season.
The rest is up for grabs.
Junior David Fleck argues that, actually, everything is up for grabs.
“It’s tough because we definitely have more competition this year (from within) than last year,” Fleck, the returning No. 1 player, said. “I feel like everybody knows how to play so we will see how it turns out.”
For that reason, while the spots on the team remain largely unsettled, coach Ann Rathbone still has high hopes for the team.
“I think we can improve on our record and we should do well in (Division II of the Eastern Connecticut Conference),” Rathbone said.
Woodstock Academy did lose its No. 2 singles player, Fabian Meiser, to graduation. He is now playing at Manhattanville College.
Meiser posted a 10-8 record individually last season.
“It was very tough to lose him because he was the leader of the team,” Fleck said. “We have to come up with a couple of new leaders this year and fill that in.”
Fleck, who posted a 9-9 record playing at No. 1, said his game has to improve in an area that you will not find on a stat sheet anywhere.
“Mental toughness,” Fleck said. “That’s the most important thing for me. Being a singles player, you have to believe in yourself, and be confident out there. I lacked that last year.”
In addition to Fleck, sophomore Riley Douglas (11-6) also returns to the Centaurs who finished 10-9 as a team last year.
The battles will be waged after that.
“The turnout has been better and so is the depth,” Rathbone, who is in her third year at the helm of the boys’ team, said. “We have more players who know how to play the game and a lot of them have been working on their game in the offseason.”
Seniors Matt Tiffany and Aidan Stewart and sophomores Stefan Chervenkova and Connor Quinn all have a chance to break into the singles ranks.
“I think it’s fun to play singles because everything is on yourself. You can’t really blame anything on anyone else, it’s a good learning experience,” Fleck said.
Senior Luigi Boselli is a newcomer who will likely see time at doubles while freshmen Evan Haskins and Jai Abrams will add depth.
Unlike the girls tennis team, which was elevated to Division I, the boys will remain in ECC Division II. The Centaurs are joined by Stonington, Waterford and Bacon Academy in that division.
“I wouldn’t put it past us,” Fleck said of possibly winning the Division II title. “We are definitely a team to be watched this year.”
In addition to its ECC opponents, the Centaurs will play non-league games against Ellington, Masuk and Suffield.
“I don’t know if the schedule will be as difficult as last year’s, but last year’s schedule helped prepare us for this year,” Rathbone said.