Home of the Brave(s): Atlanta wins its first World Series Championship in 26 years.

The MLB season is over, and the Atlanta Braves have taken the 2021 World Series Championship. They defeated powerhouse Houston Astros in six games to claim the title.

The MLB postseason had a lot more to offer than just the World Series, though. A handful of wild card games and divisional thrillers packed the playoffs with some must-see games.

In the American League Wild Card game, the Boston Red Sox defeated the New York Yankees 6–2. Key play from Xander Bogaerts, Kyle Schwarber, and Nathan Eovaldi contributed to the Sox’s playoff entry.

For the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers secured yet another year in the playoffs with a 3–1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. Chris Taylor hit a two-run home run to propel the Dodgers to a walk-off victory.

Boston then faced their AL East rival Tampa Bay Rays. Christian Vázquez hit a walk-off home run in Game 3, and Kiké Hernandez hit a walk-off sacrifice fly in Game 4 to bring the Red Sox to clinch the series in four games.

In the NL West final, the Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants in five nail-biting games to advance to the NL Championship Series. Cody Bellinger, who struggled in the regular season for LA, came up with the game-winning hit to advance the Dodgers further into the postseason.

In four games, the Astros started their journey to the World Series with a dominating AL West series win over the Chicago White Sox. Boston looked like the dominant team up 2–1 in the series, but the Astros struck back, winning the next three games ending the series at Fenway.

The Braves made their way to the World Series beating the Brewers in four games. Then, in the NL Conference Championship, the Braves posted two walk-off wins at home ending the Dodgers playoff hopes.

The World Series spanned six games. The Braves took Game 1 with a score of 6–2. Jorge Soler had a home run and two RBIs to lead the team. Pitcher Charlie Morton threw 16 pitches on a broken leg but still recorded three strikeouts and only conceded one hit.

The Astros battled back in Game 2, though, winning 7–2. Jose Altuve had a home run, and RBI and Jose Urquidy posted seven strikeouts.

Both Game 3 and 4 were tight. The Braves won by a narrow margin of 2–0 with excellent pitching. Atlanta took Game 4 3–2, only need one more win. The Astros weren’t done yet. Dominating Game 5, 9–5. Martin Maldonado, Yuli Gurriel and Carlos Correa combined for six RBIs to keep Houston in the series.

However, the Braves were determined to end the series their way, and they did just that. A stunning 7–0 victory secured Atlanta’s World Series trophy. For the first time in 26 years, the Braves took home the championship, pleasing fans of the team and making history.

The MLB season has come to a close. Spring Training is around the corner and moves will be made. Will the Braves still be atop or is there another threat incoming?

Sources: BleacherReport, CBS Boston, ESPN, True Blue LA

Players Tribute: Eli Manning: A fan shares his thoughts on his favorite retired quarterback.

Eli Manning, the former New York Giant, and two-time Super Bowl champion and MVP, is hosting the “Manningcast” with his older brother Peyton. Eli was a staple of the NFL during his career and was the main reason I ever watched the New York Giants. 

For sixteen seasons, Eli Manning was a New York Giant. He showed up and never missed a snap until 2017, something that will be touched upon later. Let’s face it; He was never the best quarterback in the NFL. Throwing game-losing interceptions, took sacks, overthrew receivers, and gave us meme-worthy faces after said moments. 

Despite all of this, he also gave New York Giants fans two Super Bowl victories. First was the “Helmet Catch,”. The second Super Bowl victory also came against the Patriots, and the sideline throw to Mario Manningham is one of the most fabulous throws in NFL history. 

The day Eli Manning was benched for Geno Smith was on that led to many tears. Indeed, other Giants fans felt the same way. Manning never complained; he never played the blame game and threw his slacking teammates under the bus even though he had every right to criticize. It sounds cliché, but Manning was truly the face of the New York Giants. So now, we are left with Daniel Jones, who is like a clone of Manning in terms of dialect and facial expressions, but unfortunately cannot repeat the same level of success that Manning had in his first few years starting. 

The New York Giants have not been quite the same since Eli Manning retired. They went 6-10 last year in their first year with Daniel Jones as the team’s sole leader and are currently going through a rough season where they began 1-5. So it is more of the same, but the best part of Manning retiring has been seeing him outside of the field. The New York Giants have given Eli “The Eli Manning Show,” a YouTube show. At the same time, ESPN has also allowed Eli to travel around for “Eli’s Places,” going to various colleges across the country on top of the popular “Manningcast” with his brother Peyton. The Eli you see on Monday Nights on a telecast with his older brother is a far cry from the Eli you saw standing at the podium after every game as a player. For one, he is actually smiling and cracking jokes — something you did not see much of in the tail end of his New York Giants career — and it is just great to see him look happy. I miss seeing number 10 out on the field every Sunday for the New York Giants, but it is evident that he is in a much better place and enjoying himself.  

Sources: Pro Football Reference, YouTube

Coach’s Corner: A moment with the Eastern’s Men’s Basketball Coach.

Coach Dan Pruessner is the head coach for Eastern’s basketball team. During Pruessner’s time in college, he played for Northlands International University. He then went to the United States Sports Academy to obtain a masters degree in Sports Science.

Before he joined Eastern University, Pruessner spent fifteen years coaching for schools across the country. He spent eight of those years coaching at Florida Christian School in Miami. He achieved more district championships than any other coach in the school’s 45-year history. Later spent four of the fifteen years coaching Freedom Christian Academy in Fayetteville, N.C. Being named the Coastal Plains Independent Conference Coach of the Year, taking the school team to NCISA Final Four, and developing over fifteen players that obtained NCAA scholarship offers. After this, he joined the Eastern’s basketball team in 2018 as an assistant coach.

In 2019, Pruessner was promoted to head coach. Since then, they have faced some challenges, most of which involve the covid pandemic. In our 2020-2021 season, the team was only able to play up to eight games throughout the season. Some of these games were missed due to players contracting the virus themselves. Now that the pandemic has died down, the coach has big plans for the team’s upcoming season.

Pruessner plans on changing the team’s identity by making a faster tempo team, planning to make them score higher on their division’s ranks. Pruessner also intends to develop the team’s defense further. When asked about what teams he was nervous about playing, Pruessner responded, “The best teams are York, Alvernia, Albright, and Lebanon Valley.” 

I wondered why he wanted to coach at a collegiate level. Pruessner responded with, “Even at D3 level, the players have so much passion, and it’s amazing to teach the game.”. His wife’s family was also from this area which impacted his decision to coach Eastern’s Basketball team rather than take up the other offers he had. With the new season underway, the Eastern community can hold their heads up high as their Eagles soar through the ranks. With Coach Dan Pruessner’s game plan and the recruits, this looks like an up-and-coming season.

Eastern University Fall Sports: A wrap up to a great season for Eastern’s Fall sports teams.

Eastern University Fall teams experienced their first year in the MAC Commonwealth Conference. Field Hockey, Men’s and Women’s Soccer, and Women’s Volleyball entered this year with high expectations, as they wanted to make their mark in the new league. 

First Field Hockey had an unfortunate and challenging season, finishing 3-15 and 1-7 in the conference. A big reason is the tough competition against the conference. Facing first place Messiah (16-2, 8-0), York (14-5, 7-1), and Widener (14-5, 5-3). Including non-conference games in Stevens Institute of Technology (15-4, 6-1), TCNJ (11-5, 4-2), and Haverford (13-5, 6-4). 

However, arguably the best win of the year was against Hood College. A hard-fought battle entering into overtime tied 1-1. An attack from Eastern’s Lily White scored the winning goal 2-1. It was a sight to see as it was our first win in the new conference. Regardless of the year, our field hockey team is ready for the challenge next season.

Women’s Soccer had both a great season and a disappointing outcome. They finished (7-8-3), winning six of their games at home. Two of which completely dominated their opponents, beating Gwynedd Mercy 9-1 and Lancaster Bible 6-0. Unfortunately, while doing great home, on the road was a different story as they lost seven on the road, four of them against in-conference teams. Thus, sadly, missing the playoffs while only scoring five points in the seeding race. 

While the team didn’t go far, it was still enjoyable to watch them play at home. The constant attack from our strikers made one feel as if the ball was always going in the net. I can’t wait to see what they bring next year as they have a bright future ahead.

Men’s Soccer had a great season as well but just missed the playoffs. They were starting the season with a six-game winning streak. But the second half of the season proved to be difficult as they faced the conference. Especially against nationally-ranked Messiah (16-1-2), they barely lost 3-2 in double overtime. However, the team finished (10-5-2), winning their last two games wonderfully against Widener and Albright.

Everyone on the team played great, some even winning “player of the week.” From offense to defense to goalkeeping, each play was fascinating to watch. Goal celebrations made crowds go crazy. I’m glad I watched their exciting season.

Finally, the Women’s Volleyball team went all out. They dominated their schedule with a (24-5, 7-1) record, making the first seed playoffs. What can you not expect from volleyball? Mark Birtwistle has won 22 out of the last 24 seasons in the program. Great defensive play, perfect setting, booming kills, and nasty serves; this team was crazy to watch. 

Game 1 of the MAC Commonwealth tournament hosted fourth-placed Messiah (20-9, 6-2). The Nest had the crowd wearing all white. Eastern managed to win the first two sets easily. However, they were in this position against Messiah as they suffered their first in-conference loss in five sets. Messiah won the following two sets to drive Eastern in shock, but we prevailed as we won the fifth set 14-16. Luckily Eastern had a couple of days to prepare for their championship matchup against second-place defending MAC Commonwealth champion Stevenson.

This game had back and forth action where both teams slowly took sets. Eastern found themselves down 2-1 entering the fourth set changing gears. They won 25-12, with momentum on their side in the fifth set, winning 15-13 and the championship. I would like to congratulate them for their hard work this season.

As for the Field Hockey and Women’s and Men’s Soccer teams, I would like to congratulate them and their seniors on finishing their careers as Eagles. It was an honor watching you all play.

Sources: MAC Commonwealth, Eastern Athletics, and NCAA

Favorite Sports Moment: An Eastern student reminisce’s on her swimming career.

From the age of nine through high school, I swam competitively. I trained on my local club team, the YMCA team, and competed for my high school team.  I had a love-hate relationship with the sport. However, swimming has brought me so much joy throughout my life by giving me friendships, teaching me to push myself beyond my limits, and giving me opportunities to be a leader.  

However, it has also brought me a significant amount of pain.  From early morning practices that forced me out of bed at 4:30 a.m. to feeling like my shoulders were going to fall off after an intense workout, swimming has given me a run for my money. Throughout my swimming career, I have cried, I have screamed my head off for teammates, and I have almost blacked out in the middle of breath control sets. 

The sport that I grew up with has been what has shaped me into who I am today.  When I think about some of my favorite memories, one particular memory stands out to me. 

To set the scene, I was a sophomore in high school.  It was the end of the season, and I was getting ready to finish the season by swimming at the championship meet.  The last event of the meet was the four by 100 freestyle relay, and I was on my team’s relay. We were in the final heat of the event. 

After we watched the other heats before us, my relay approached the blocks. Finally, we got ourselves in order: Noel, me, Bailey, and Maddie.  We had trained the whole season for this moment.  The starter blew his whistle, and Noel stepped up to the block.  As soon as the horn went off, Noel exploded off the block.  She took the lead almost immediately and gained a significant amount of distance between our relay and the rest of our competitors. 

As she finished her final lap, I stood on the block and waited for her return.  As soon as her hand touched the wall, I launched myself into the pool.  I remember I had never moved so fast through the water.  I think I took one breath per lap, which means I only breathed four times while swimming 100 yards. Moving through the water, I continued to build on the distance Noel had established.  Approaching my final lap, I pushed myself to the point that I almost blacked out as my hand droved into the wall. 

Bailey and Maddie followed up behind and built on the lead our relay had created. Then, as Maddie, the last swimmer touched the wall, my coach began screaming with enthusiasm.  My relay had won the entire championship meet.  But that is not the end of the story.  

Our relay team had swam so fast that we beat our high school’s twenty-year-old record.  In fact, we demolished it! So, not only did my relay team win the championship, but we also became record holders.  And that is my favorite sports moment when three of my teammates and I swam as hard as we could to take the championship title and get our names into the record book.

The NBA’s 2021 Return: A look around the NBA’s tipoff and star troubles.

The NBA has been in a weird limbo since the COVID-19 pandemic began; at one time, they were in “the bubble,” and then last season opened in December and had the Finals in July. We are now in the third season of the pandemic, and it feels as though the NBA is attempting to get back to a sense of normalcy. 

The big matchup of the tipoff night was the Los Angeles Lakers against the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors pulled it off 121-114, Steph Curry had a triple-double with 21/10/10 despite shooting only 5/21 from the floor. Unfortunately, Lebron’s 34-point day wasn’t good enough to overcome the team he currently has a 1-3 record against in the NBA Finals. The Lakers will have to wait until February 12 to get their revenge. Nevertheless, the win was crucial for the Warriors. Who is coming off of a 39-33 season in which they lost in the play-in bracket. It was their first time watching the playoffs from their couches in eight years. 

In the Eastern conference, the Milwaukee Bucks blew out the Brooklyn Nets 127-104 on the opening tipoff night. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 32 and added 14 rebounds. Nets forward Kevin Durant also finished with a comparable 32 points and 11 rebounds, but that was not enough to escape a blowout from the Bucks. 

Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green, the top two picks in this year’s NBA Draft. Both had  disappointing starts to their career. Cunningham was ruled out and did not participate in the season opener. At the same time, Green, selected by the Houston Rockets with the second overall pick, began his NBA career with 9 points and 4 rebounds in and 4 assists against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Luckily for the two of them, the NBA season is a marathon, not a sprint, so expect the two rookies to find their groove sooner than later. 

The Brooklyn Nets looked like they could use Kyrie Irving in their first game, as he is sitting out due to not wanting to get the vaccine. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, the 76ers deal with one of their stars, Ben Simmons, wanting out. From playoffs to work ethic, Simmons time with the 76ers has been rough. So a trade does feel inevitable but finding suitors has proven to be somewhat difficult. 

Even if the wait was shorter than usual, it is great to have the NBA back already. A new season means new rookies, veterans on new teams, and there is a long way to go before a playoff picture becomes clear. 

Basketball Reference, ESPN, NBA.com, NBC Sports

 

Julia’s Grace: A foundation joins Eastern to watch Women’s and Mens’s Soccer games.

The Julia Grace Foundation is a nonprofit organization that symbolizes the braveness of an eight-year-old Julia Grace Eveland. While having a Wilm’s Tumor, a form of childhood kidney cancer, she helped others during her treatment. 

She donated her birthday gifts to the oncology clinic, and from there, asked school fundraisers to enable doctors to find a cure for childhood cancer. Sadly, Julia passed away in September 2013. However, she is known to many as someone who put other’s first, and this foundation still follows her goal to make other’s feel happy through tough times.

On October 16, Enactus and the Eastern’s Athletic Department hosted Julia’s Grace Day during the Women’s and Men’s soccer games against Messiah. As a result, the Julia’s Grace Foundation could sell t-shirts and spread awareness of its mission to fans during halftime. Being there and hearing about their mission meant a lot as it focuses on childhood cancer. 

Childhood cancer is a common issue in today’s world, causing a struggle within families to bear news of their children having cancer. Julia Grace wants to make life normal for those in need and provide “hugs” to those during the process. 

Seeing the athletes and coaches wear Julia’s shirts connected us. We might have lost the games, but it was a sight to see as this moment bigger than sports.

Suppose you’re interested in donating or buying merchandise to the foundation look at the top of the page on their website juliasgracefoundation.org. With their click donate button, you can choose to either donate once, monthly, quarterly, or annually. Merchandise is next to their donations, so feel free to buy a shirt to support the cause. Lastly, if you want to follow their Facebook “Julia’s Grace Foundation” to view their movements. 

Sources: juliasgracefoundation.org, Julia’s Grace Foundation Facebook

 

The WNBA Season Wraps Up: A look into how WNBA season crowned a new champion with record-breaking statistics.

The WBNA season has finally concluded, and the season had a lot of great points to cover. For those who may not know, the Chicago Sky are the 2021 WNBA champions after a marvelous 80-74, game four victory over the Phoenix Mercury. 

Kahleah Copper was named the Finals MVP, averaging 17 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.3 steals in the finals series. The Sky had significant contributions from All-stars Candace Parker and Courtney Vandersloot. Parker recently joined the Chicago Sky in the offseason with dreams of winning a championship for her hometown team. In her 13 seasons with the Los Angeles Sparks, won a championship and was a 2x MVP. 

The Phoenix Mercury were a particular team in the WNBA due to the heavy firepower on their team. In the offseason, they made an upgrade to their guard position by picking up Skylar Diggins-Smith. This acquisition adds to their team consisting of the recently named “GOAT” Diana Taurasi and the dominant center, Brittany Griner. 

The WNBA postseason was filled with shock as the top two teams were eliminated in the playoffs. The Las Vegas Aces and the Seattle Storm had troubles. The Storm have been a tough team as of late due to their superstar Breanna Stewart, alongside the legendary Sue Bird. After the birth of her daughter, Breanna Stewart took time off to support her wife and child.

This impacted the Storm as they lost their best player moving into the postseason. The Aces had a great season, finishing second in the league. The postseason was looking very bright for the Aces after being swept in the finals the previous year. Although they came up short this year, they have a young star in A’ja Wilson alongside an upcoming star in their rookie guard Jackie Young. 

The Connecticut Sun was another team that fell short in the postseason. They finished the regular season with the best record in the WNBA. However, the team faced a disappointing first-round exit against Chicago Sky.

Throughout the playoffs, viewership for the WNBA has risen 51%, averaging 306,000 across multiple networks. Game 1 of the WNBA finals was the most viewed finals since 2017, peaking at 547,000 and averaging 476,000 viewers. Game 2 of the WNBA finals reached a peak of 1 million viewers with an average of 789,000 viewers. 

In addition, Instagram pages like HighlightHer, WSlam, and WNBA have grown over the year with viral posts of women’s highlights; this boosted social media engagement for the WNBA. The future is bright for the WNBA as popularity is growing.

Sources: WNBA, ESPN, CNBC, The Athletic, WSlam (Instagram), HighlightHer (Instagram)

 

From Player to Coach: Nine Holes, Nine Questions with Eastern Women’s Golf Coach Bridget McLaughlin.

Eastern University Women’s Golf has been through a whirlwind. We started the season with five players, cut to three by our first tournament. We didn’t even have a head coach.

One of two problems was solved on Wednesday, Sept. 15. Bridget McLaughlin, Assistant Pro at St. Davids Golf Club, accepted a position as the head coach of EU Women’s Golf. McLaughlin joined the team with much excitement and anticipation.

I spoke with McLaughlin that fit perfectly in our player-coach relationship and practice schedule. During practice on the front nine holes of St. Davids golf club, I asked McLaughlin a question on each of the nine holes we played. Nine holes, nine questions.

Hole One: If you could play a round of golf with any professional in the game, who would it be and why?

“I would say Nelly Korda. She’s the number one professional on the LPGA Tour. She’s super consistent, it’s cool to see her process, and she stays really level-headed.”

Hole Two: What is your favorite club in your bag?

“Seven-iron. I’m pretty confident with it, I know it’s going to be solid most of the time, and I use it for a lot of approaches into the green.”

Hole Three: How do you approach providing solutions to players with mental and physical game struggles?

McLaughlin says that alleviating physical struggles are often a bit easier than alleviating mental ones. “Every player is a unique individual that reacts and responds to different situations in different ways.”

Hole Four: What are your favorite pre or post-tournament snacks/meals?

“During golf, Clif bars and Gatorade Zero, and post-round I love a good hot dog or a burger.”

Hole Five: Do you have any superstitions? If so, what are they?

Blisters are a golfer’s worst nightmare. “I don’t have any superstitions, but I have to wear nice Bombas socks. Otherwise, I get blisters, and it makes the rest of the day really uncomfortable.”

Hole Six: How has golf become such a big part of your life?

After being burnt out from ice hockey and softball growing up, McLaughlin decided to play golf in college. After finding a love for golf and graduating from McDaniel College with a degree in Business Administration, she found a place in golf retail and then in PGA leadership.

Hole Seven: If you could have a dinner party with three other people, who would they be and why?

“I’m going to go a little corny and say, my wife, my mom, and my sister,” McLaughlin answered.

Hole Eight: What is one timeless piece of advice you can give to any golfer?

“No one cares how bad at golf you are,” she said. She reminds players to focus on their own games because everyone is likely doing that already.

Hole Nine: What is one timeless piece of advice you can give to any athlete?

“Have fun. You will probably not have everything figured out until the sport you’re playing doesn’t matter, so just enjoy it.”

New Gym Hours: A look at some student’s takes on the updates in the fitness center.

The new gym hours at Eastern University have sparked some frustration among the student body. The gym is open to athletes from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Monday to Friday and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on weekends and open to all non-athlete students from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.

“It disappoints me that the gym isn’t open anymore in the morning. It is the perfect way to start a productive day,” EU student, Myles Allen says. Myles is not alone in this sentiment; many other students also feel this way. To many students who are not a part of sports teams, this is seen as an inconvenience; not being able to work out until later in the afternoon disrupts the day’s agenda for many students. While not one that sparks any intense emotion, the reasonable point of the expense of tuition for the average student usually is mentioned during these conversations, with many claiming that Eastern charges too much to not allow the gym to be used by the rest of the student body during the early hours of the day.

However, many students still feel as though these hours are better compared to the gym situation last year had to offer. In order to go to the gym, a student first had to reserve a time for his or herself to go, and even then, a student could only stay for 50 minutes at a time. Due to this change, students felt disincentivized to go to the gym, feeling that there were too many constraints put on gym attendance. Despite the inconveniences of last semester and the odd gym hours that this semester has to offer, the gym hours still are able to give more of an incentive to go than last semester.

Despite the inconvenience of not being able to go in the earlier hours in the day, students are still more happy with the odd hours that the gym has to offer this semester than the reservation of the last. The gym is a place that many students feel as though should not be restricted due to athlete’s routine workouts, although many sympathize with the sentiment of allowing the athletes to have full access to the gym at specific times during the day. In either case, students are ultimately disappointed with their lack of opportunity to work out at the gym during the earlier hours of the day but are happy to finally not have to reserve a time slot to be able to go to the gym.