All posts by Kimberly Pena

A March for Unity

Aleah Epps: The Silent Leader of the Blue Devils

by Kimberly Pena

As Aleah Epps strides through her last season as a Blue Devil guard, she only wants to be remembered as one thing from her career here at Central Connecticut State University, a leader.

“Everyone listens to me,” said Epps. “I am not really loud, I am not the type to get in your face or anything. I will calmly come to you and say, hey that wasn’t a good shot, but you know what we are going to keep pushing you and working with you.”

That type of attitude has certainly worked with her teammates as they look up to her as a role model and as someone who will push each player in the team in being the best they can be.

“We definitely turn to Aleah as our leader,” said sophomore teammate Andi Lydon. “She does a good job of finding our teammates on the floor. The good thing about Aleah is that she knows everyone’s strengths. If you are a shooter, she knows where to look for you. If you get to the basket she looks for you cutting. I think that’s what makes her so good is that she knows her teammates and knows when to get us the ball.”

Epps says she knows team chemistry is what is most important and it has been something that she holds strongly since the beginning of her playing hoops.

Epps a native from Bowie, Maryland played as a regular starter for the basketball team at Archbishop Spalding High School. She says although experiencing success with her old team, it made her adjustment to Central Connecticut State University a very low moment in her career as she faced limited playing time.

“Coming from a team where I was starting and we just won a championship back-to-back, I think that was hard for me,” said Epps. “I had to adjust and just know my place, know my role and when I was called upon I’ll be able to go out there and do my thing.”

However, she said that growth and change of role allowed herself to enjoy basketball more and grow character not only as a player, but as an individual.

“It (basketball) is the foundation of everything, just trying to use it to get where I want to be,” said Epps. “But at the same time it put me where I am supposed to be. I never knew that. In high school, I didn’t take it that serious, but after college, I feel like it is everything and that makes a big difference.”

In her final year as a Blue Devil, Epps has averaged 12 points per game and has an 82% free-throw success rate, both categories highest among her teammates. But, she knows personal statistics is not what matters, it is getting the team into the championships. A goal she has set for herself since coming to Central.

“I know I want to get to the championships. I think we have the potential,” said Epps. “We put in the work every day, we have the talent.”

She understands that she will not be returning to the court next year with her teammates and that is why she wants to make sure her presence is not forgotten. Although the team without Epps may be scary for some of her teammates, they are all aware that day will come.

“I definitely think it is going to be a transition because she’s our main ball handler and our facilitator,” said Lydon. “She is going to be big shoes to fill.”

However, the team has no need to worry about that now as they still have Epps for the remaining eight games of the regular season and maybe even longer if they make a run in the tournaments.

Epps just wants to continue to play her game and lead her team to championships galore as the final hurrah of the Aleah Epps story.

Blue Devils Don’t Reach Lucky Seven

by Kimberly Pena

The lady Blue Devils hot streak came to an end with a crushing 87-81 loss to St. Francis University, snapping their six-game winning streak. The lost tainted Central Connecticut’s perfect North East Conference play record to 6-1. The Blue Devils’ season record now stands at 7-11.

The Blue Devils started the game on a hot start with a 9-2 run. Sophomore Kiana Patterson was in part responsible for the first good quarter as she scored 12 points and was 5-of-6 shooting, which included 2 three-pointers. The Blue Devils ended the quarter with a 26-20 lead after the Red Flash scored 9 straight points in the last three minutes of the first quarter. All points came from NEC’s scoring leader Jessica Kovatch.

The momentum would remain with the Red Flash as they began the second quarter on a 17-2 run.  About seven minutes into the second quarter, the Red Flash would take its first lead of the game from a three-pointer by Mya Wynn.

The Blue Devils did not help their own cause as they turned over the ball 12 times. Sophomore Andi Lydon tried to  give life back to the Blue Devils with a bank-shot which ended a five-minute scoring drought and cutting the lead to 39-30 with 4:38 to go.

Freshman Taylor Goode came off the bench to continue to bring the sparks of life to Central. She connected with Patterson for back-to-back transition shots in the final minutes before the half to bring down the lead 45-40.  Kovatch ended the first quarter with 22 points.

The Blue Devils opened up the second half with another hot run of their own, going 10-5. This included 5 straight shots from Lydon to help Central regain the lead 50-49. But the Red Flash found their groove once again to head into the fourth quarter with a 68-67 lead over Central.

With a little over seven minutes into the final quarter, freshman Ashley Chin connected to Lydon for a three-pointer, Lydon’s fourth three-pointer of the quarter of the game. But the red-hot Kovatch scored 3 consecutive shots to give SFU an 8-point lead with less than five minutes left in the quarter.

With less than two minutes in the game and the streak on the line, Lydon scored a jump shot to make it a one possession game, and dropped in 2 free throws, making the score 82-81. But Kovatch would not allow it as she scored her ninth three-pointer of the game to end the ladies’ winning streak.

Kovatch finished the game with a whopping 45 points, a career high. Lydon also finished the game with a career high 29 points and had 14 rebounds. Central’s own Giocelis Reynoso finished the game with 20 rebounds and added 5 blocked shots and Aleah Epps led with 6 assists.

Central shot 30-for-75 from the field compared to SFU who made 33-of-83 of its attempts. The Blue Devils out-rebounded SFU 59-41 and had more assists, 16-14. But the Blue Devils turned over the ball 21 times compared to Red Flash who turned over the ball 10 times.

The Blue Devils look to go on another win streak when they face Bryant University on their home turf Saturday, Jan. 28 at 1 p.m.

The Curse Is Over!


by Kimberly Pena

One of the greatest post seasons that this generation will ever see has come to an end and the conclusion was nothing short of incredible. The Chicago Cubs ended America’s longest championship drought with their first World Series win in 108 years. They ended their magical season in dramatic fashion by roaring back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Cleveland Indians in a nerve-wracking Game Seven.

“Game Seven,” for many sports fans, is one of the most anticipated and greatest words ever spoken in sports. All hands are on deck and every rule in the book is off the table. Both managers will do everything in their power to assure victory, even if it means that they have to make bizarre decisions that they would never make in the regular season. That is how pivotal Game Seven is: winner takes all.

Game Seven was filled with that and more. The game began with a bang as Dexter Fowler became the first player in MLB history to hit a lead-off home run to begin a Game Seven. Later on the game, Cubs manager Joe Maddon made a questionable move in the fifth inning when he removed pitcher Kyle Hendricks from the game after a harmless two-out walk. Prior to the walk, Hendricks was absolutely dominating the Indian’s offense and had an 5-1 cushion. With the new pitcher in, John Lester was a bit erratic and threw a wild pitch, which led to two runs across the board. One of those runners got on from an infield hit against Lester, cutting the lead to 5-3.

The Cubs would eventually get one of those runs back by a home run from the veteran catcher David Ross. The game was really beginning at that point. In the eighth inning, with two outs and a runner on base, Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman came in the game to get the final out of the inning. However, an obvious fatigue, Chapman was not able to get the job done as he allowed a dramatic game tying two-run home run from the bat of Indians’s outfielder Rajai Davis, tying the game 6-6.

The game remained tied heading into the 10th inning. But before the inning began, there was a 17-minute rain delay, allowing the Cubs to recompose themselves after the momentum swung to the side of the Indians. During the delay, Jason Heyward gave a pep-talk to the Cubs, reminding them of who they are.

“I had to let them know that we had 103 wins because we had overcome every bit of adversity that we’ve had thrown at us to this point,” said Heyward to reporters. “We needed 114 wins, and I told them, everybody in this room could go out and get this 114th. It was a venting thing for me, letting these guys know to keep that fire.”

His talk did seem to resonate as the team would take a 7-6 lead in the top of the 10th from the bat of the eventual World Series MVP Ben Zobrist. Miguel Montero would tack on an insurance run and the eventual game-winning run.

With one out away from World Series galore, Mike Montgomery pitching with a one-run lead allowed a weak ground ball to third baseman Kris Bryant, who threw across the infield to first baseman Anthony Rizzo, sealing the team’s first ever World Series championship in over a century. Something that 108 different Cubs’s teams were not able to accomplish, this 2016 group was able to do. The city of Chicago jolted of excitement and had the party of a century, uniting the city once again.

“Just blow for blow, everybody playing their heart out,” said MVP Zobrist. “The Indians never gave up either, and I can’t believe we’re finally standing, after 108 years, finally able to hoist the trophy.”

The series was highlighted by bullpen dominance and sub par hitting with runners in scoring position. Both teams depended heavily on their bullpens as neither team’s starter were able to pitch past the sixth inning. Left handed pitcher Andrew Miller was Cleveland’s secret weapon; meanwhile, flame thrower Aroldis Chapman was the Cubs.  Both pitchers threw a combination of 15 and 1/3 of an inning with each pitcher throwing seven and 2/3 of an inning.

The organization is hoping with this monkey off their back, the team can hold up to this caliber of excellence and potentially create a dynasty. With the youth and strong talent that the team has, it is not something too big to dream of for the Chicago hopefuls. With the World Series loss, the Cleveland Indians became the new team with the longest drought without a World Series championship (68 years).

With their present looking just perfect, the Chicago Cubs cannot look anywhere but up. The curse is over, the drought is done with and the Chicago Cubs are the World Series Champions.

New Baseball Team May not Actually Help The New Britain Economy


by Kimberly Pena 

NEW BRITAIN- Mayor Erin Stewart is hoping with the new baseball team in town, it will revitalize the city once again. However, economical experts seem to believe the New Britain Bees will not cause an economic boom as hoped for.

Donn M. Johnson, a Interim Chair of Economics and a professor of Sports Economics at Quinnipiac University, suggests that bringing a new team to a town does little to none economical improvement.

According to Johnson, if the people who are going to the games are largely local then it is just arranging the way town citizens use their money. For example, the eight dollars used to buy a game ticket could instead be used to buy a small pizza from a local business owner. The only thing being changed is where the eight dollars are being spent.

“Benefits are going largely to owners, not really to the community,” said Johnson. “Not much will change within the town.”

If those attending the games are out of town, then it probably could lead to some potential change to the New Britain economy. However, minor league teams affiliated with Major League baseball usually do not attract many out of town citizens to the games, so for the situation to be any different for an Atlantic League Baseball team, who are not associated with Major League baseball, seems unlikely, said Johnson.

Mayor Erin Stewart seems to think otherwise. She believes bringing in the new team would continue on New Britain’s strong legacy of baseball.

“Every year, minor league baseball draws hundreds of thousands of residents, families, and visitors to the games at New Britain stadium,” said Stewart. “I wanted to make sure that tradition continues.”

The moves came after the Yard Goats, formerly known as the Rock Cats, announced on June 2014 that they would be relocating themselves to Hartford. The team left behind unpaid utility bills of up to $150,000.

According to the Hartford Courant, the team has not reimbursed the town for the gas, electricity, water and sewer bills it used up in its final season in New Britain. The bills due are as followed: $80,582.62 to Eversource, $47,907.37 to TransCanada, $8,635.85 to Connecticut Natural Gas and $12,245.37 for water and sewer use.

Yard Goats officials said they will keep their end of the deal and pay the bills out in the upcoming four months.

With the Rock Cats already behind her, Stewart plans to use the Bees as a way to fill the void that the Rock Cats left.

The lease that the town negotiated with the team officials was approved just last year. The organization will pay $150,000 a year in rent, pay all the electricity and utility bills and the team will receive all the parking revenue.

Under the terms, the team is guaranteed to stay in their new home for the next 20 years.

The agreement comes with great pleasure to New Britain Bees General Manager, Patrick Day, who was named team GM just last December. He appreciates the baseball history that New Britain offers and believes that the Bees are a perfect fit.

“Its history that New Britain has had, its always been a successful market,” said Day.
Day also said the team currently has 12 full-time employees in the front office and when the summers comes along, up to 200 part-time workers could be employed.

However, according to Johnson, these are not the type of jobs one would like to have for their town to improve the economy. He says usually those who take on those part-time jobs are young people and students who know it is not a lifetime employment and are willing to be paid minimum wage.

“No one is getting rich from this,” said Johnson.

But team officials are happy the way the town citizens have responded and are looking forward to the beginning of this new journey.

The team is already off to a positive start in ticket sales, as they have sold close to 500 full season tickets, says Day. A full season ticket is worth $500 and a single game ticket is worth eight dollars. Parking costs five dollars.

For further information, email, call 860-826-BEES (2337), or visit