Eastern athletics helping a country in need

After a devastating earthquake hit Haiti in January and the world saw the enormous amount of need that exists in the country, people everywhere longed for ways to reach out and help.
Now, four months later, groups everywhere are coming up with creative ways to raise funds to support the country.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association founded the NCAA Haitian Humanitarian Relief, and each of its three divisions donated $100,000 to the aid organization. Following its establishment, the NCAA asked  the schools within each division to work together to match the amount donated by their respective divisions through fundraisers.

Eastern’s Student Athlete Advisory Council, a group made up of representatives from each athletic team, took on the NCAA’s challenge and will be holding a 30-hour famine on April 24 to 25.


The event, “Going Hungry for Haiti,” was designed to not only attract sponsors, but also help students get a small taste of what many Haitians experienced after the earthquake, when food and water were especially scarce.


“It’s not so much the fact that we’re doing it for money, but we’re going to be in thought about it a lot,” first-year Heather Kauffman, who is helping to organize the event, said. “It’s a mind-opener and just a reminder of it too.”

Junior Danielle Danser spearheaded the formation of the event and organized a full schedule of activities for all participants.
The fast is slated to begin at 10:30 a.m. on April 24 and end at 4:30 p.m. on April 25 with the Athletic Awards Banquet.
The event schedule includes a movie in the Main Gym at 5 p.m. on April 24 and a 2 p.m. kickball game and water-chugging contest on the turf the following day. The last hour of fasting will include a time for worship and devotions.
While the event is hosted by the athletics department, all students and faculty are invited to join in the fundraiser to help restore Haiti.
In addition to the 30-hour-long fast, SAAC will also be selling t-shirts to raise money at several home games.

To participate in “Going Hungry for Haiti” and start collecting sponsors, contact Danser, ddanser@eastern.edu or Kauffman, hkauffma@eastern.edu.


Spring’s here: Bring on the baseball

If you want to watch some of the best baseball players in the world perform, there isn’t a bigger stage than the Major League.

Every team wants to make it to the October playoffs but the journey there is always a long one.

A team must play more than 162 games before October, but it deal with the unavoidable wear and tear of the sport and focus on its main goal: Winning the World Series.

In the American League East, one of baseball’s toughest divisions, the New York Yankees will once again be favorites to win the division.

The Yankees are still loaded offensively after winning last season’s World Series and have one of the best pitchers in baseball, C. C. Sabaitha.

The Red Sox will give them a run for their money, as will the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Red Sox have a loaded pitching staff, but there are still questions regarding the health of the pitchers. Boston also produces one of the best offenses in baseball and don’t count the Rays out—they can turn some heads with the young talent they possess.

But the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers will most likely control the AL Central Division. The White Sox also pose a possible threat to sneak the division title from the Tigers and Twins.

The AL Central is the division to watch because it is home to the past four batting champions. The Minnesota Twins’ Joe Mauer earned the title three times and the Detroit Tigers’ Maglio Ordonez won it once.

Mauer is fresh off a huge contract extension and continues his consistency behind the plate.

Some tough teams are participating in the AL West. The Seattle Mariners have a good chance at taking this division and running away with it.

Outfielder Ichiro Suzuki powers the offense with very good numbers and has done so every season he has played in the league.

Suzuki now has second baseman Chone Figgins to compliment him in the lineup. Seattle also added former all-star pitcher Cliff Lee to the pitching rotation. If the Mariners can keep their top players healthy, they just might run away with the division.

The Philadelphia Phillies are favored in the National League East division. The Phillies picked up arguably one of the best pitchers in baseball, Roy Halladay this summer.

Halladay was a 17-game winner in one of the toughest divisions in baseball. He’s never before pitched in a post-season game, but this will likely change soon.

The Braves may also surprise fans this season. They have some big names: Veteran Chipper Jones and rookie sensation Jason Heyward.

Don’t be surprised if Atlanta gives the Phillies a run for their money.

The Cardinals are the favorite in the NL Central. They feature first baseman Albert Pujols, who has the potential to be a Triple Crown winner this season.

To win a Triple Crown, a player must be the league leader in RBI’s, home runs and batting average. With Pujols leading the offense, the Cardinals will be the NL Central champs.

The Dodgers will likely contend for the division title in the NL West. They have excellent pitching, after leading the National League in ERA last season.

The team didn’t make any moves in the off-season, which would have been unnecessary anyway. If they are doing well by the All-Star break, they will have a clean shot at the NL West.


Eastern athletics helping a country in need

The Exiles is not your average Ultimate Frisbee team.

In fact, Eastern’s resident frisbee players will be taking their game to the next level on April 17 to raise money for Haiti in a tournament at LaSalle University.

All funds raised through the tournament, “Hucks for Haiti,” will be donated to a Catholic Haiti fund. LaSalle came up with the idea for the tournament in February, and the Exiles have been involved ever since.

“I sent everyone an e-mail about it—said it was first-come, first-serve—and the response was pretty quick,” said junior David Wadleigh, president of the Exiles. “Everyone’s really excited about it.”

Eight teams, with six players each, will compete in the tournament and all of the teams have to pay a $100 entry fee.

Play will be organized round-robin style, and the team that wins the most games will win a prize.

“The prize is usually a really big candy bar or something,” Wadleigh said.

Eleven or twelve Eastern students are going to participate in the tournament, which is mixed to allow both girls and guys to compete together, something that Wadleigh was looking for.

“It’s going to be fun and more laid-back than most tournaments,” Wadleigh said. “It’s at the end of the semester, and I think everyone is ready for a fun time.”

Sophomore Diana Burke, who is also going on the trip, agreed.
“It’s going to be with smaller teams and more intimate, which will be nice,” she said.

The focus of the tournament is less on competition and more on helping those less fortunate.

“At least in some small way we’re helping, and we’re having fun at the same time,” first-year Jeff Russell said.


Spring Sports Preview

Head Coach: Matt Midkiff (2nd season)
Last Year’s Record: 3-29 (0-16 MAC)
Key Wins: Neumann and Wesley College
Must-See Games: DeSales, Manhattanville and Immaculata University
Key Returnees: Sophomore Scott Renauro and senior Ramon Reyes
For Spring Break: Traveling to Myrtle Beach, S.C. to play in five to six varsity games and several JV games. They will also complete a service project and visit The Ripken Experience
Outlook: Midkiff is not one to give up easily, and neither is the baseball team. After adding 10 new players for a full roster of 25, the team is poised to rise above last year’s challenges and do infinitely better.
Although their season last year wasn’t so hot, baseball still went away with a few wins, including a tough come-from-behind win against Neumann. With strong, constant players like sophomore Scott Renauro and senior Ramon Reyes backing up the team, Midkiff sees that this year will be different.
“There’s a change in attitude with the new guys,” Midkiff said. “We’ve increased our talent immensely.”
But as Midkiff always says, it is all about process, not results. “If we go through the right process,” he said, “then we should get the results we want.”

Men’s Tennis

Head Coach: Mark Spangler (3rd season)
Last Year’s Record: 6-7 (4-3 MAC), Lost in semifinal round to Wilkes
Key Wins: DeSales, Misericordia, FDU-Florham and Alvernia
Must-See Games: Cabrini, Messiah, Manhattanville, King’s and Wilkes
Key Returnees: Seniors Jordan Gates, Josh Hall and Dan Wilson and sophomore Bryan Arnett
For Spring Break: Going to Hilton Head, S.C. to practice twice a day, play against Lebanon Valley and have fun.
Outlook: If the men’s tennis team’s current record is any indication, the team should succeed this season.
With three senior captains, two sophomores and two first-years, Spangler is confident that his team will do well.
 “I expect them to be even better than last year,” he said. “The guys are focused and I’m pretty optimistic.”
 Last season almost took a drastic turn when the team lost a devastating away match against King’s. However, they managed to turn things around with four straight wins to qualify for the championships.
And they will get a shot for revenge with a home match against King’s on Apr. 16.


Head Coach: Mark Birtwistle (4th season)
Last Year’s Record: 4th of 9 in Freedom Conference Championships
Key Wins: Island Green at the University of the Sciences–broke a school record with a score of 313, with three golfers scoring in the 70s
Must-See Tournaments: Lebanon Valley, Widener and Franklin and Marshall
Key Returnees: Junior Josh Reid and sophomore Jarred Heuer
For Spring Break: Heading back down to Outer Banks, N.C.
Outlook: For a man with a seven-man golf team–five of them first-years–Birtwistle is pretty confident. But he has a right to be: his team, although going through a transition year, should be performing well this upcoming season.
 Last year, golf saw soaring heights and crushing lows, going from top to bottom then back again. Their ultimate height was early in the season at their second tournament where they set a new school record with a team score of 313.  Although they struggled halfway through the 2009 season, they rebounded just enough to snag fourth place in the MAC Championships.

 Men’s Lacrosse
Head Coach: Brandon Childs (2nd season)
Last Year’s Record: 8-9
Key wins: Messiah and Manhattanville
Must see games: Widener, Messiah and Manhattanville
Key Returnees: Senior Michael Hofmeister, sophomore Matt Wagner, and junior Matt Mandia
For Spring Break: The team is traveling to Virginia. First they will be playing Randolph College, from Lynchburg, Va. Then a second game will be played against Gilford College, from Greensboro, N.C.
Outlook: Eastern men’s lacrosse team has 11 returning players and 22 newcomers.           “There is no doubt we are talented enough,” Childs said. “It’s about how we handle adjusting to the speed of college lacrosse.”
 As a team they have collectively set the goal of winning the MAC conference championship. They plan on reaching their goal by being, “better than the day before” Childs said, a mantra the team has adopted.

Women’s Lacrosse

Head Coach: Camrin Azzarano (3rd season)
Last Years Record: 11-7
Key Wins: Montclair State University and Haverford College
Must-See Games: Messiah, The College of New Jersey and Rowan University.
Key Returnees: Juniors Grace Griffith and Samantha Fretz and seniors Sarah Hager and Krystal Cairns.
Outlook: The women’s lacrosse team will have a  tough non-league game to kick off their season when they face off with The College of New Jersey. Junior Grace Griffith will look to lead the offense after recording 56 goals and 12 assists last season.


Head Coach: Brittany Stroop(1st season)
Last Year’s Record: 10-16
Key Wins: Manhattanville College, King’s College, and DeSales University
Must-See Games: DeSales
Key Returnees:
Sophomores Maggie McGowan, Jaclyn Gangemi, Samantha Terenzoni, Juniors Kate Phelan and Amy Bellows
For Spring Break:
The team is going to Cocoa Beach, Florida to play in a week-long tournament.
Outlook: After a challenging 2009 season and the ongoing transition after former head coach Mark Ambler’s death, the softball team hopes to make a statement early in the MAC. The team will get a jump start to the season with ten games in Florida during Spring Break.
Sophomore pitcher and shortstop Maggie McGowan, who lead the team in both wins and batting average last season, will be a key performer for the  team offensively and defensively.

SIFE helps children shoot for success

There was one cheerleader at the final home basketball games that stood out above the rest of the squad. It didn’t hurt that this individual was a foot taller than the rest and covered in spots.

As part of a fundraiser organized by Students in Free Enterprise, the Chick-fil-A mascot, a depressed cow who begs people to “Eat Mor Chikin” took over the Eastern Eagle’s duties on Feb. 20, grabbing a set of pom poms and rooting for the maroon and white.

While the new face was refreshing to the crowd, the reason the cow showed up was what really mattered. SIFE, who has been working at Blankenburg Elementary School in West Philadelphia every week with a group of select fifth and sixth graders, coordinated a fundraiser  to raise money for a scholarship fund designed for the students when they attend college.

The event, “Blankenburg shoots for success,” featured a chance to sink a half court shot to win a flat screen TV and Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches in the concession stand. When those who attempted to hit the half court shot all missed, the TV was raffled off and won by first-year David Smith.

Several Blankenburg students came to the game to work in the concession stand and help run the half court shot contest. The event served as a perfect real-life experience for the students to see the business concepts they have learned being carried out.

There’s no place like home for the playoffs

The men’s basketball team is in the MAC Freedom Conference playoffs for the second consecutive year.

With the regular season completed, the Eagles now have a daunting task ahead of them as they face Misericordia on Feb. 24 in semifinal action.

Misericordia defeated Eastern 61-44 two weeks ago, but this time the match is on the Eagles’ home court.

The team has not lost a home conference game all season, completing its perfect conference home record with a win over Delaware Valley on Feb. 20, which also secured home court advantage for the semifinal game.

“Hosting a home game is exactly what we wanted,” sophomore guard Martin Soaries said.  “It is huge being in front of your home crowd. It is good to know all the work we put in paid off.”

Lately, the team has been working hard, as Eastern has gone 6-4 in its last 10 games.
“We are locked in and focused on what we want,” Soaries said. “Our leaders on our team have stepped up. We brought it together because we’ve been through so much together. We just want to go out and get wins.”

First-year starters Kyle Malloy and Alex Nelson’s athleticism have created match up problems for the Eagles’ opponents.

On the wing, Soaries and junior Derek Wright are called on to provide veteran leadership.
The general of the offense, senior point guard Chris Myers, is the only four-year member on the team and is responsible for fueling the offense.

“It is hard for a team to match up with us all around,” Soaries said. “I don’t think any team has the depth that we do. I think, overall, we have the best team out of the four teams that are left.”

The team’s bench has been progressing, which makes the Eagles a tougher opponent. Misericordia will have to bring its best game to the gym.

“We are excited for this match-up,” Myers said. “We look forward to taking care of business. You have to do your thing. You have some butterflies before the game, but once the ball is tipped off we will be ready.”

The question for Eastern fans is: are you ready?

Basketball squads shoot for success in second half of season

The women’s basketball team is anything but weak-willed. Now more than halfway through the 2009-10 season, the positive spirit of Head Coach Katie Levis is still keeping expectations high for the team and for the school as a whole.

Having experienced both defeat and “good wins,” Levis is more than excited to see her team perform better in the remaining three weeks of the season. She stressed the importance of staying a step ahead.

“Like we have worked hard and improved, the other teams have also improved,” Levis said, demanding her girls to make a steady commitment to do well.

The team includes of only two upperclassmen, leaving the majority of the positions filled by young players who are inexperienced in college-level basketball. Nevertheless, Levis is optimistic that the girls will offer a lot to the team.

However, Levis said, the team’s biggest weakness is not its inexperience, but its inconsistent performance as a whole.

“We do not perform well all the time, which is why we don’t know how everything is going to come out,” she said.

For Levis, the biggest challenge as a coach is, “trying to take all the pieces and creating a team unit to work together.”

The team is working hard to tackle this obstacle of inconsistency. Their effort and focus on consistent play as a team has become their biggest strength, Levis said.

In addition to being energetic, the determined players have been putting in a lot of effort to do their best, despite the tough competitions.

 “The goal is to go with the expectation that we can win and the understanding that we need to play well,” Levis said.