Category Archives: Sports

The Olympics: Something More Than Sports

By Matt Aveni

Every summer sports fans across the nation are engaged in baseball pennant races; whether it is Red Sox verse the Yankees, Rangers verse the Angels, Dodgers verse the Giants or even the Mets faltering after the trade deadline.

If the baseball pennant races are not intriguing, football is around the corner with the New York Jets stealing the show from the defending Super Bowl Champions the New York Giants, and the Green Bay Packers MVP,  Aaron Rodgers.

However, this summer was unlike most; the 2012 Olympic Games in London brought excitement to many Americans, whether they are sports fans or not.  There is something about the Olympics that makes everyone watch. It might be Michael Phelps chasing history, and  finding a new rival in fellow American, Ryan Lochte. Still, Phelps accomplished every man or woman’s dream of being the all-time Olympic medals leader with twenty-two medals, eighteen of which are gold.

USA’s men’s and women’s basketball team stole the show with not only beating the other teams, but stamping their names as two of the best basketball teams in Olympic history.  They are stars not only in America, but worldwide.  Everyone knows the names of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and Diana Taurasi, but it is what these Olympians did off the court that made them true Americans.  These athletes would not only go watch, but they would encourage and cheer as their fellow Americans compete in events.

Gabby Douglas is one American gold Medalist who is arguably the best gymnast of her generation.  She still does not have her driver’s license, but she brought home the gold in both individual and team all-around competitions.  Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings are another pair and together they won their third straight gold medal in beach volleyball, and it might be their last run together in their sport.

No one can forget Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt winning the men’s 100 meter and 200 meter races still maintaining his status as the world’s fastest man. Also, Oscar Pistorius from South Africa who became the first double amputee to race in the Olympics.

The stories of the 2012 Olympic Games can go on, but what is it that makes many Americans stay up to watch these athletes compete on a world wide scale?

Could it be that 10,000 of the world’s greatest athletes compete in a seventeen day haul to be crowned in London as the best in their sport, or even the fact that many of the athletes struggle to pay rent and live off of the endorsements and donations they receive just to live every child’s dream and compete?  It might be fighting for your country, family, and  you pride that makes you  put it all out on the line in front of the whole world.

There is one thing that everyone could agree with, the Olympics is one of the most exciting seventeen days in sports; it makes the not so everyday stars have their moment of glory where not a single thing can bring them down. The fight, struggle, and work ethic make the Olympics everything it is and every four years the world watches with pride for their country.

CCSU Blue Devils Football Looks For Good Start

By Matt Aveni

The Central Connecticut Blue Devils seek to have a comeback season after finishing their 2011 campaign with just a (4-7) record and a (3-5) record in the division.  The Blue Devils finished their season with two division wins verse Robert Morris and Bryant, and hope to carry some of that end of the season momentum in with them this season.

Head Coach Jeff McInerney was all smiles coming off of their last practice in full pads Thursday night.  The team played a controlled scrimmage going over plays and schemes that they want to implement in their season opener at Stony Brook September 1.

“We have a tough start to the season playing against three FCC teams that made it to the playoffs and won some games, but we are ready for the challenge,” said McInerney.

Although many of the teams offseason questions were answered, the biggest question still remains: Who will be the CCSU Blue Devils starting quarterback?

The three players fighting for the starting job are the Blue and White Spring game MVP, Andrew Clements, Senior Captain Jake White and transfer student from Tulane, Nick SanGiacomo.  Coach McInerney will not name his quarterback for the season opener until the Friday leading up to the game.

In his eighth season with the Blue Devils, Coach McInerney still has the same season goa: to win the schools fifth NEC division title.

“Our one goal is to win the division, it is going to be hard but we want to get better each week,” said McInerney.

The Blue Devils are picked to finish fourth in the NEC behind Albany, Duquesne and Bryant.  The preseason picks mean little to nothing for the team according to McInerney.

“The NEC division is great, no team is easy to beat, every week is a test and that is why we play the game,” explained McInerney.

Last season the Blue Devils were picked to be the preseason number one, but they could not accomplish their ultimate goal.  Albany has been the only team to be picked preseason number one and still come out with the division title.

The defensive side of the ball looked fast and strong and Coach McInerney said he believes he has a pretty strong defense.  However, his three big play makers on offense led by Senior Captain wide receiver, Denzell Jones, are the real threats that will keep putting pressure on the opposing teams.

“Deven Baker, Nick Bacarella, and Denzell Jones showed up to camp looking real good and should make a strong impact on our team this year,” said McInerney.

The outlook on the season for the CCSU Blue Devils is strong.  Coach McInerney says he loves his team and loves this school and he hopes to carry on his winning tradition hear at Central.

“There are no expectations for this year, we hope to be competitive in our first three games verse FCC opponents and be ready to play against the teams in our division,” McInerney said.

When asked how feels about this season Coach Mcnerney had one thing to say: “I feel really good about this team and we can make an impact in this division.”

Blue Devils Come Back With A Kick

By Danny Contreras

CCSU students can look forward to a season of vengeance with the women’s soccer team.

Last year’s team saw many of its more experienced players leave. Coach D’Arcy, however, said she created a defense-midfield-attack diamond that terrorized all teams around the conference.

The most balanced teams in recent years, the women’s Blue Devils, named two new co-captains in goalkeeper Nikola Deiter, and the versatile Jewel Robinson. Deiter, a native of Australia, started in all 17 games last season after joining the Blue Devils as a freshman over two years ago. She averaged approximately .80 saves a game, and racked up 99 of them throughout the season. However, her clean sheets only totaled two. Robinson on the other hand, recently received All-New England accolades and scored two goals as a center half. With twenty shots, and ten on goal, she is by far the most audacious player in the team, who never forgets her overall duty to defend the lady Blue Devils.

In addition to the new captains, the backline will feature junior Rachel Cerrone, a diminutive defender from New York who started 15 games and assisted twice. Ashlee Barrow, a veteran recruited from University of South Carolina upstart will seek to cement her position as a full-back following a disappointing three starts for the quick-paced player. Defenders win championships and this is their chance to prove it now that they have a lot of experience under their belt.

A different midfield will be seen this year as many of its players are relatively newcomers. D’Arcy who emphasizes quick paced, possession football, will count on team main-stay Cara Cavallari to control the midfield as a central midfielder. The senior started all 17 games last season assisting in at least one goal. However, she will be backed up by Allison Kelley, the Rhode Island native performed CCSU’s motor, getting herself involved in most goals last year, and winning possession for Central. Additionally, Michal Been has been recruited from Israel—a new freshman prospect, standing the tallest on the midfield at 5’5”, who will have the chance to prove her skill over the season.

Finally, what wins teams matches: the forwards. Coach D’Arcy has replenished his attack adding two new freshmen in Delaney Lancor and Alysa Christo, two New England natives from Connecticut and Massachusetts. But all eyes will be on Rosie Maguire winner of the NEC Rookie of the Year Award. The Irish forward netted five times last season and provided three assists. On the wings, Julie Lavoie and Kerriann Welch will support Maguire. Lavoie netted scored twice, netting the winning goal against Providence and assisting on three goals. Welch on the other hand started all her games in her debut season, and scored 3 goals and three assists. She red shirted the 2011 season.

The season will be an explosive one which features exhibition matches against Boston University (which the team lost 0-3), University of Connecticut and Yale University. The NEC season starts off at home against NEC championship semi-finalists Monmouth on Sept 21, before they head into their first local derby away against Quinnipiac only two days later. Quinnipiac will seek revenge against the Blue Devils following an embarrassing loss to Central in which the Blue Devils put 4 goals past them.

CCSU will face Ivy Leagues Harvard on Sept 26 before taking on Bryant four days afterwards. Both the Blue Devils and the Bulldogs will seek to improve on last year’s performance after they only managed a draw.

CCSU will travel to Robert Morris on October 7 to redeem their astonishing 3-1 loss at home last year. Finally, the biggest game of the season will see them face last year’s winners LIU Brooklyn away on October 26. The number 1 seed will seek a repeat of last year’s win over the Blue Devils by a goal to nil. The season will finish with FDU and Sacred Heart visiting CCSU on October 26 and 28. Last year, FDU defeated CCSU 2-0 while Sacred Heart could only salvage a draw.

With a tight defense, a packed midfield and a lethal attack force, the lady Blue Devils have high expectations to fill. Following a disappointing 2011 campaign, only months after a semi-final berth in 2010, this team will seek to redeem themselves. LIUB will prove to be their biggest test, while Yale, Harvard and should provide Coach D’Arcy with early and middle of the season testing grounds for his players. A top finish should be expected—however, a top four and semi-final berth while in the realm of possibility, will be hard to achieve, but this team has proved time and time again that they have it in them.

Joe Arnone: A True Blue Devil

By Brittany Burke

Joe’s Arnone’s game day delivery is one that CCSU sports fans have recognized for 50 years.

Arnone doesn’t have the name recognition of a Bob Sheppard or a Vin Scully; he’s just as ingrained in his surrounding sports culture  – and has to be one of the best-kept secrets in the Northeast, if not the country.

“Nothing lasts forever but I’m not thinking along those lines,” Arnone said after a recent basketball game where he was honored for his service. “It’s been a great ride and I’ve enjoyed it.”

Some people graduate from college with no intentions of going back, but that wasn’t the case for Joe. He not only went back to CCSU, he never left, and Arnone makes no apologies for his hometown style.

“I’ve got to watch myself though because I’m not a very good spectator,” he said. “A matter of fact sometimes on the microphone I forget where I am and how I’m supposed to be neutral. I live and die with each victory and each defeat.”

There is only one voice that can be heard above the cheering of the crowds.  There is one voice that goes above the cracking of a bat around the newly renovated baseball field, the methodic bouncing of a basketball atop the gym’s polished floors, and through the clanking of football pads on Arute Field.

That is the voice synonymous with CCSU athletics. That booming voice heard rolling through all of the CCSU campus on any given game belongs to 80-year old, resident Blue Devil and long-time public address announcer, Joe Arnone.

Joe’s game day delivery is something that has become engrained in the culture of Blue Devil sports.

“I’ve been working with Joe since the fall of 2002 when I left Hartford and came to CCSU,”  said CCSU Sports Information Director, Tom Pincince. Working with Joe is great.  You won’t find someone out there who has a greater love for Central.”

Dressed to call CCSU’s baseball game against UMass in gray sweatpants, a blue Central Connecticut hoodie, a tan hat with a sewn CC on the front and matching silver and blue Nikes, it’s clear that despite having to be neutral, what team Arnone’s allegiance truly lies.

Since his days as a night school student when the university was just a teacher’s college, and with all his time spent on campus, Arnone says he has no intention of leaving.

CCSU gave Joe a chance for a better life, an option other than a run of the mill blue collar worker.

Originally from a coal mining town in western Pennsylvania, it seemed that once he graduated high school his life would be mapped out for him. He would follow in the footsteps of his father and spend his days working below the ground as a coal miner.

“I grew up in a coal mining town and I knew I was headed to the coal mines just like my father and my brothers before me and I worked in a coal mine for three months. When I graduated from high school in May I worked for three months and I remember coming home one day and telling my father there had to be something better then emulating a mole for eight hours and then emerging into the daylight; that’s when I joined the Marine Corps,” Joe said.

Three months after his graduation Joe decided he’d had enough and enlisted with two other friends. The Marine Corps took him away from Pennsylvania and planted him in Korea for 18 months, but it also brought him closer to his future wife.

While overseas he met a fellow Marine. She was from New Britain, and their friendship eventually turned into more. It was their marriage that brought Joe to New Britain.

“I went back to Pennsylvania to visit my parents a few times over the years before they passed away but I never went back in permanent fashion. I’ve been in Connecticut since 1955,” he said.

Being the school’s number one public address announcer wasn’t Joe’s first encounter with CCSU, it wasn’t even his first job. During his time as a night school student at CCSU, he was accepted into the daytime program. By the time he was finished with his teaching degree and had a job lined up in the Farmington school system, he was also father and husband.

During the day he’d spend his time teaching physics, a passion that is still evident in his explanations of why the baseball field’s press box isn’t aerodynamically sound, and in the afternoon he’d travel back to the CCSU campus to work in the athletics department.

Whether it was running around writing press releases on a type writer to send out to local newspapers, working as an adjunct professor, teaching baseball umpiring, serving as a Blue Devil coach, or doing what he’s best known for, it’s clear that Blue Devil pride runs through his veins. It’s something that despite all of these years he just can’t seem to shake.

“I went to school one full year at night and made good grades, I worked hard,” said Arnone.  “I was working all the time and I was married. I got married in 1955 and our first kid came along in ‘56 a year later, the second one in ’58. So I worked my way through this place I’m proud to say and it’s an important part of my life and I’d like to give back.”

Giving back is just what he’s been doing for the past 50 years. After fully taking over as public address announcer in 1962, Joe has been getting paid a stipend, but he doesn’t keep it. Instead he donates the money he gets paid, plus some, back to the school.

“What most people don’t know about Joe is that every penny he makes working as the PA announcer at various sports goes right back to CCSU.  He is a loyal supporter and the most loyal person you will ever meet,” said Pincince.

“It keeps me young, it keeps me going,” said Joe. “I receive a stipend for my work but I give it all back to a scholarship fund. I don’t take any money, in fact, I put more in than they pay me but it’s been a love affair, a real love affair.”

All of his efforts were honored last year by Pincince, during a men’s basketball game. The acknowledgement of all his time behind the microphone elicited a drowning round of applause by the fans, coaches, athletes and administration.

“[Tom] totally caught me off guard that’s for sure. I was a little surprised. I said at the time because I had to say a few words, it just proves if you hang around long enough you get noticed,” said Joe.

Even after all these years and all the time he spent as a student and student athlete, a coach and a professor, he still can’t imagine letting go of his position with the school.

“Nothing lasts forever and I understand that and there will be a time when I won’t be able to do it physically and or mentally and I’ll have to let it go, but I’m not thinking along those lines. I’m sure the day will come; I just hope it’s pretty far down the road. It’s been a great ride and I’ve enjoyed it.”

Joe will be back this year, his voice ringing above all else, narrating the Blue Devils’ 2012-2013 season.

CCSU Men’s Soccer Banned From 2012 Postseason

By Brittany Burke

It’s been recently decided that the Central Connecticut men’s soccer team will not be eligible to participate in the 2012 post-season due to a low academic progress rating (APR).

The Blue Devils soccer team has a combine APR score of 899 at the end of the 2010-2011 season, but to qualify the team must pass with a 900 at the end of four years, putting CCSU just one point shy of the required mark. Appeals have been made, but the NCAA on Academic Performance has denied the appeal requests.

“We accept the decision and will continue to make it a priority to meet all of the APR requirements as set forth by the NCAA,” said Paul Schlickmann, CCSU’s Athletic Director, in the athletic department’s press release.

The APR rating done by the NCAA each term and is used as an indicator for student athlete graduation rates amongst the Division I schools.

According to the press release, the soccer team’s score wouldn’t have kept them from the post season, but last year the NCAA took a vote and decided to ban schools from the post season that didn’t make the qualifying scores. Prior to 2011 the Blue Devils would have been given what the NCAA calls a historical penalty, which results in simple warning as well as an Academic Performance Plan from the team.

“We have implemented a specific plan of improvement for the men’s soccer program which has initially proven to be successful,” Schlickmann said.  “We have informed the team of the NCAA’s decision and laid out a course of action for their continued academic and competitive success.”

Though an academic plan has been put into effect, the soccer team’s overall GPA isn’t necessarily low. For the last two semesters the team has averaged a strong 3.0 GPA, while over the four-year qualifying period the team average has been slightly higher at a 3.10.

“Our recent performance in the classroom has been very strong, as our team grade point average continues to show,” Schlickmann said in the press release.  “The academic success of our student-athletes and adherence to NCAA APR standards is, and always has been, an institutional and departmental priority for Central.  Our primary strategic objective is the educational experience of our student-athletes.  That is paramount to everything we do.”

While the team GPA remains high enough, CCSU’s soccer team is known for having multiple student-athletes from overseas, which adds to the program’s high transfer rate. The high amount of transfers from the team tallies up points against CCSU and adds to the loss of eligibility points in the NCAA.

Even though the Blue Devils will be forced to sit out post-season play including any run at the Northeast Conference Championship, they will still start regular season play next fall.