ATHLETIC AWARDS BANQUET SPEECH

NOTE: For the first time in the history of the Wheaton Athletic Awards Banquet last night (Apr. 28, 2014), the ceremony ended with a speech from a student-athlete describing what it means to be a Wheaton student-athlete. Women's basketball senior forward Sarah Fitzgerald was lucky enough to be chosen for this special moment. Here is Fitzy's speech:

Allow me to begin my spiel by leaving you all with some words; pride, attitude, dedication and family. These four words to me encompass what it means to be a student-athlete at Wheaton College. From the moment I stepped foot on the Wheaton campus as a prospective student to this moment here speaking to you all at this podium, I’ve learned just what each of these four words truly mean.

I grew up in a small town in southern Maine where high school sports were everything and everyone knew your name as well as your game stats from the night before. Now that may sound cliché and possibly even boring, but it’s how I was raised and it’s within my high school basketball program that I first developed a meaning for the word pride. Here at Wheaton pride is so much bigger than just your own sport. At Wheaton, pride is driving to MIT to watch Men’s and Women’s soccer compete in the NEWMAC tournament, pride is “Glory Days” playing at Sidell after the baseball team wins another double header, pride is Women’s Lacrosse attending a Women’s Basketball game instead of practicing, pride is 200+ bodies in Emerson Gymnasium on their feet as Will Bayliss takes the final free throws of his career, pride is what I feel when I put on a jersey with “Wheaton” printed on the front.

With this pride comes the obligation to carry yourself in a way that positively reflects your team and your institution. At Wheaton I’ve met some very classy athletes. Have you ever heard Kenzie Kuhn brag about her 4.0 GPA, have you ever felt down about a tough loss only to have your spirits lifted as you pass by a fellow athlete who shares their condolences? In my four years here I see positive attitudes and actions being performed by athlete’s day in and day out. I’ve watched my own teammates stand on their feet for six hours or more volunteering as referees without a single complaint. I’ve seen the Men’s Soccer team travel mid-week to welcome home their manager after he endured a major surgery, and I’ve met countless athletes from all types of teams who offer their beds, couches and floors up when upper campus gets too rowdy the night before a big game. There is a great deal of respect that comes with being a student-athlete at Wheaton and this respect is only treasured more when we all carry ourselves with positive attitudes.

Another aspect of attitude that is particularly important especially as an athlete, is the determination required to balance school, athletics and being a college student in general. It’s difficult to get up for a 6am practice when you just want a full night’s sleep before a big exam. It’s also difficult to be far from home trying to balance all of these things as an independent person. However, at Wheaton, determination is a common, solid trait found within the student-athletes. Do you know how hard it is to go to a full day of class after a 2hr practice first thing in the morning? I’m sure any athlete here could tell you it’s difficult, but with determination, you learn that it is just part of the grind, and you get up and do it anyways. Determination can be seen on the field on the court in the pool and on the track as well. Shante Little doesn’t get up and break national records every day because it’s easy, she does it because she’s determined to be the best. Winning a conference title doesn’t happen because a team got lucky; determination powered each athlete through grueling practices and seemingly never ending competitions to reach the top. At Wheaton you earn the right to wear the blue and white because you wake up every day determined to become better within your sport and within the classroom. My peers here have accomplished some pretty incredible things with their determination.

I promise that I won’t carry on much longer and with that I’d just like to talk about my final word, which is family. Most of you may not know this but I come from a large scattered family which oftentimes makes it hard to find support when things get difficult. Throughout my four years, I found myself leaning more and more on not only my teammates but also my coaches and sometimes peers from other teams. Wheaton is my second home, and basketball is my second family, a family that I wouldn’t have survived college without. These girls have dragged me out of bed to make a lift on time, run extra sprints on days when my asthma keeps me behind the pack, put up extra shots when I find myself in a slump, taken notes for me in class when I for some reason don’t make it myself, brought food and sustenance to my room when I’m too sick to get out of bed myself and Coach has always been the rock that sends me an inspiring quote or just the right encouragement on the days that I seem to fall short. To some of you, this may all seem silly. I know that I don’t speak for everyone when I say that my four years here have been incredible but I hope that some of you, the class of 2014 especially, can relate to some of the memories I’ve talked about here tonight. I wouldn’t trade my experience here or the people I’ve met for anything in the world, and I’m honored to have been chosen from a pool of truly fantastic candidates to speak on behalf of my class. I just want to close by saying I’m filled with pride to have played for four years here alongside all of you, and I wish you all happiness and success in your future endeavors! Have a great night everyone, and thank you again for giving me the chance to speak.  

THANKS, AGAIN!

Hey there loyal followers, welcome back to a long overdue blog! Forgive me in advance for potentially getting a little teary, and let me just lead with saying that this was the best team and the best season I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of, including the love and support from the fans, so if I forget to mention anyone specifically, just know that you ALL mean so much! Here goes nothin’!

I think the last time we talked Sticker and I were prepping ourselves mentally for our Senior Night and for a chance to see how far we could go in the playoffs. Senior night was wonderful, except of course the loss to Wellesley, but all other parts were great. Thank you to all of my family members who made it to the game, thank you –from Sticker and I, to our younger teammates and their families, thank you to our Coaching staff, Coach especially, thank you to all of the baseball players –specifically Ryan Grant for two great years announcing our games, thank you to the game management workers, the lyon, alumni, the women’s lacrosse team, and all of the faculty, staff, and various other members of the Wheaton community who came out and supported our team this season and supported Sticker and I for our four years here as student-athletes. It’s truly a blessing to have been part of such a wonderful, loving program full of people, memories and games I will honestly never forget! Wheaton is an incredible place and I wouldn’t trade my experiences here for the world.

My little brother Camden & I and my dad, sister Kelsey, brother Camden, and Mom on Senior Night.

 

3/6 of the McClelland Family! The fatheads that LP's mom had made for Senior Night.

 

Sticker and I with President Crutcher, thank you for coming
and supporting us!


Following Senior Night we had a day off to regroup before our playoff run. On Saturday morning we had a friendly alumni scrimmage against some of the greats. It was so much fun, and also so special to be a part of a program with so much tradition and pride attached to it, I’m glad we’re able to do things like this! Sunday we had off as well and on Monday we worked with Sarge to make sure we reached our peak potential to take on MIT again at home in the first round of the playoffs. It was one of the most exciting and rewarding games I’ve ever played in and I’d like to thank my teammates for playing their hearts out on a night that Stick and I thought may be our last on the Emerson Gymnasium floor. It was a really great time!

After MIT Wednesday, we worked with Sarge and Serge (our male practice player) to prepare for a game against a hot Springfield team at Ainsworth Gymnasium in Northampton, MA. Unfortunately we couldn’t keep up with Springfield, and that combined with their ability to seemingly not miss a shot the entire second half, left us with a loss and our chances for the NEWMAC title shattered. Hats off to Springfield, they played an incredible game. After the game it was nice to see all of our fans who traveled from far-away lands just to show us their support, it’s times like those where we need it especially. Thank you to everyone who traveled to Northampton to watch us play, and thank you to Sarge and Serge for helping us all season long and making us better players, we know how much of a commitment it is to be a part of a team like this so we really appreciate your time and effort! Following the loss we had a great team meal with our athletic director John Sutyak at Viva Fresh Pasta which was a delicious and enjoyable time, thank you Suty for joining us!

Sunday after the game I had a lot of homework and laundry and thank-you notes to catch up on, so I spent our off day hibernating in my dorm room and trying to get my things together for the following week. Monday we woke up in the hopes of getting into the ECAC tournament, which thankfully we were picked as the #3 seed set to face Framingham State University Wednesday night at home. We weren’t victorious and faced the end of our season with broken hearts and tears in our eyes. It was a game we could have won, but we couldn’t find the pieces to pull it together in the end. Although our season didn’t end the way we all wanted it to, there were some huge pieces that made it such a great year, and I can happily say that I’m going out of the program much better than when I came in.

Congratulations to Coach and Kiley for their NEWMAC honors this season, you guys truly deserve it, and it’s an honor to have been a part of your journey! Also, Brick, a huge congratulations on scoring your 1,000th point, I can’t express adequately what it has meant to me to be able to play alongside such a competitive, compassionate athlete. You’ve made me so much better and I know you may think that others don’t realize it, but our team would be nowhere near the lengths it achieved this season without your leadership and love of the game. Thank you for a great three years. LP, you’ve been the best captain and friend ever and I don’t want to get too teary or mushy here, but you know I wouldn’t have made it four years without you. Your basketball I.Q. and patience is unmatched, I can’t wait to see what you’ll do next year. You’ll be fine without Sticker and I, I promise! Kenz, you’re the hardest working girl I know and I hope you never lose that no matter what happens because it makes you such a great teammate. Kirt, I’m so happy you decided last year; you bring a silent fire to the court that has always inspired me to work harder. Becca, Emily, Kiley and Lyss, you four are a HUGE addition to the program here; just know that if you always stick together, you can make it through anything on and off the court, trust me, Sticker and I would know! Freshies, it was a pleasure teaching you three the ways of Wheaton basketball and I know if you guys continue to give it your all, your next three years here will be amazing. Also, listen to the older girls, I promise they know what they’re talking about -no matter how aggressively Becca directs you. Sticker, from 8 to 2, only the strong survive. I love you all, thank you for the most incredible and unforgettable season of my entire life, stick to the true team motto and you’ll be even more successful in the future.

Coach, thank you for drawing me here to Wheaton, it’s exactly the community I wanted to become a part of and you made all of that possible. You’ve taught me so much more than just the skills to be a great basketball player and I’m so thankful to have had you around during these crucial years of my life. Thank you for letting me do the blog this year, for sticking with me over the last four years even though I know my soft nature makes me seem uncompetitive and for encouraging me every day to be better. I’ll keep the lessons you’ve taught with me for the rest of my life and that’s just something you can’t simply say thank you for. I’ll miss hanging out in your office and reminding you to eat. Best senior year ever!

Coach and I sharing a laugh before the Senior Night ceremonies.

 

Love you all!


Finally, one last thank you to those of you who read my blog! It’s a big task to take on and it’s a wonderful feeling knowing people actually enjoying reading it! A special thank you to Professor Dyer who is undoubtedly our number one fan, I’ll miss writing for all of you, but thank you for encouraging me to become so passionate about it this year!

 

THANK YOU!

Hello hoop fans! I hope I can take a second out of your day to first of all thank everyone who came out and supported us during our home-court victory at Emerson gymnasium last night, it’s the first home conference playoff win in Emerson since 2010! Next step is our second round game at Ainsworth gymnasium in Northampton, Mass. against a strong Springfield squad, 3pm BE THERE!

WHITEOUT

Happy snowy days my loyal followers and welcome back to the blog!

A lot has happened since we last talked and hopefully I can fit it all in on this post without writing too much. First, we faced Coast Guard in our own Emerson Gymnasium on the night of our Play4Kay game. A hard fought first half helped us pull out a win at the end of the second –with lots of help from Kiley and Abbie hitting free-throws down the stretch to grant us the right to say we swept Coast Guard! This game was supposed to be on Wednesday, but a snowstorm and some cancelled classes pushed us forward and we played instead on Thursday. Our Play4Kay game was also one where all of the female senior athletes at Wheaton were recognized for their hard work and dedication as women in sports. We all were presented with flowers and certificates congratulating us on such a huge accomplishment. Congrats to all of my fellow senior, female athletes! You girls are great!

Because of the rescheduling, we were only left with one day to prepare for WPI at WPI, which is a gym our team always seems to struggle in. Talk about a grind. This game was very close the whole time and in the end it was our composure, togetherness –and again some clutch free throws from Kiley, Abbie, Becca and Laura –that helped us seal the deal and sweep WPI. But like I said, it was not an easy win.

After WPI we had a day off to recuperate and rest mentally as well as physically before starting another week of NEWMAC play. Wednesday we faced MIT, which as you all know was the team who handed us our first loss of the season this year. Playing a man down –Alyssa suffered a knee injury in the WPI game, and we’re still waiting to hear what exactly it is, send good vibes and positive energy her way- in another gym we always struggle with, we fought back and forth with MIT for 40 full minutes. We had a difficult time rebounding and gave up some hustle plays that we could have won, but in the end we were victorious. We had a lot of fans in Boston that night cheering us on, family, extended family and even some alumnae/i and such support is always greatly appreciated and welcomed during tough games like MIT. (Also, thank you to all of the fans who provided us with some Valentine’s day goodies, those are always appreciated too :)

Thursday and Friday we began preparing for a very athletic Babson squad on Saturday. We missed Sarge this week but still completed our lifts and some workouts to keep up our conditioning and strength. On Friday we met for film before practice and much to Coach’s surprise, we got her a “Valogram” for Valentine’s Day –for those of you who aren’t familiar, a “Valogram” is something that one of the female singing groups on campus, the Wheatones offer during the week of Valentine’s day where you can choose a song for them to serenade a loved one with- and invited the athletic staff to sit in and listen as we giggled while the Wheatones sang “I Believe in Miracles (You Sexy Thing)” to coach. It was pretty funny, but she seemed to like it!

After that we had a great focused and intense practice in the hopes of defeating Babson. Unfortunately, we couldn’t hold the lead we had during the first half of the game, and the quick guards of the Babson team came out on top and much like we’ve been doing, hit some key foul shots to secure their lead at the end of the game. It was a tough loss to swallow because I know that we have the tools this year to finally beat them, but somehow we came up short. Stick and I would have liked to beat them at least once in our time here, but unless we face them in the playoffs, it’s something we won’t have.

Today I’m in the library with Becca, Kiley and some of my girlfriends from the women’s soccer team working on some homework and studying for tests this upcoming week. I’m keeping myself very busy because I’m so nervous for Senior Night which is Wednesday at 7 o’clock! I’m excited to see my family and to hopefully beat a tough Wellesley lineup, but I don’t want it to be our last home game. Sticker and I are in denial about the ends of our careers here at Wheaton, and it has by far been the best senior year ever, but each passing game brings us closer to the end. Please come out and support us if you can! And if you recall from Coach hijacking my blog last week, if you’re in the gym early enough, you’ll get a free t-shirt for our WHITEOUT! Thank you all for reading, and hope that for those of you in the New England area, you’re not too buried in snow! Until we meet again!

A beautiful snowy tree outside Haas after our Babson
game last Saturday!

 

LP and our ever-growing canine companion, Tucker!

 

Come support Stick and I on Wednesday for Senior Night, please
wear WHITE!

 

SENIOR NIGHT

Hello Fitzy’s Faithful Followers! This is Coach Hodgdon and I have taken over her blog with a special purpose. Senior Night is this Wednesday night, February 19th! Fitzy and Lauren McClelland have been with us for four terrific years and we want to celebrate all they have done for Wheaton and our basketball program. Game starts at 7 PM and we will try to “White Out “ the gymnasium for Senior Night. We will also have 100 free special edition t-shirts to give out to all students/faculty or staff who attend the game!

Below is a picture of Fitz and Stick from freshmen year... Come support them Wednesday at 7 PM!

(Sarah Fitzgerald (Fitzy) and Lauren McClelland (Stick) pose for a photo)

Also here is a promotional rap we made for the game Wednesday: SENIOR NIGHT RAP

BEING A STUDENT-ATHLETE

Happy February everyone! Welcome back to my busy blog and life here at Wheaton!

Last time, I left you as we were preparing for a game against Mt. Holyoke, and what was supposed to be our first day of the second semester of classes. Luckily for us, we had a snow day the first day back, AND we still got to play our game against Mt. Holyoke. And it was a rough game… Mt. Holyoke was prepared to challenge us the entire time and after being down 12 at the half, we had to fight hard to get our win at the end. I went back to my dorm that night and thanked my lucky stars that I have the competitive, hard-working teammates that I do!

Thursday we started our first official day of spring 2014 classes, something that is both scary and exciting for Sticker and I! I know she’s preparing herself for the hardest semester ever, similar to the one I had in the fall. This semester I’m taking four courses, Health & Medicine, Human Sexuality, Religion and Sexuality and Families in Transition… four courses I’m really excited about. Another thing I’m really excited about is that the Friday following our first day of classes, my senior seminar classmates and I turned in our completed theses! Talk about scary…

Friday we prepped for a tough Smith team on Saturday, a battle we knew would be a grind until the very last second. And that it was. After a few games where it felt like a little bit of our Wheaton “true team” mentality was a somewhat lost, I felt it coming back while we battled with Smith at home, alongside  a great crowd on Saturday, a battle that we could not win. Lots of foul shots at the end, and some Smith players who really showed up to play, it was a hard loss to a great squad. After our four point loss, we watched our men’s team take on an incredible W.P.I. men’s team, and it was a GREAT game! Our men we’re up at halftime and they held on as long as they could, but in the end W.P.I. was victorious. My little brother Andrew surprised me with his best friend Mike and they took me out to dinner afterward! It was nice to see some family after a tough loss.

Sunday we were off and Becca and I reorganized our rooms and got some homework done for the next week. On Monday, we started off our first full week of classes, and what I think must have been the busiest week of my life. Starting new courses is hectic and confusing, but add into that the presentation of my thesis, a presentation dinner, practice every day, and two games! We prepped with Sarge on Monday and Tuesday for a game Wednesday at Emerson, which was a great team win. The presentation of my thesis was on Wednesday afternoon right before the bus to Emerson and I’d just like to take the time here to give all of my senior seminar classmates a HUGE shout-out for finally being finished, and going out in style with some great performances, a never-ending thank-you to Professor Yllo for sticking with all of us, even on the days when she wished she were curled up on her couch without any crazy students to worry about and  a thank you to all of my teammates, humans, best friends,  Coach and Shawn for listening to me practice and for attending my presentation, it means a lot to have you all!

Thursday I had three classes, a dinner honoring all of the Sociology and Anthropology students (Congrats PC!) for completing our theses, and practice before I could finally pass out early from exhaustion of a long and stressful week. Friday we had an afternoon practice to get ready for Clark on Saturday at home, which I can honestly say was one of the most enjoyable games I’ve ever watched and played in. For Stick, LP and I, it was the first time ever sweeping Clark, and I know I speak for Sticker too when I say thank you so much to the team for being able to give that to us, especially in such a fun way. To top it off, Nancy Pierce and all of the other parents on the team coordinated a pot-luck for all of us. The food was DELICIOUS and it was wonderful to see my extended basketball family. Thank you to Nancy and everyone else for putting it together and giving us such a great afternoon!

After all of our parents left and we had all settled down from such a fun win, we all headed over to the field house at Haas for the “Big Event” which is the most exciting part of Sober Weekend – a weekend where the WAM’s plan events each night to encourage alcohol awareness by providing food and other fun activities as alternatives to drinking here on campus. We rode around on oversized tricycles, played mega games of Jenga, ate cotton candy, listened to Disney Pandora radio and played with big basketballs. It was so much fun! Thank you to the Wheaton Athletic Mentors – including our very own Kiley and Kenzie, especially – for putting on such a fun night!

This week is another big week, one of the most important and exciting events being our "Play 4 Kay" game on Wednesday at home against USCGA! We’ll be wearing pink socks and the coaches will be decked out in pink gear promoting donations for scientific research to fight the battle against women’s cancers in honor of Kay Yow, former North Carolina State University head women’s basketball coach, who was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987, and passed away on January 24, 2009. If you’re interested in joining the fight or making a personal donation on our personal page, please click on the link here, we’re only $275 away from our goal!!: http://www.play4kay.org/faf/search/searchTeamPart.asp?ievent=1081067&team=5722623

We hope to see you out supporting us this week as USCGA will be a huge game for the NEWMAC, and an important one for our involvement with the Play 4 Kay cause. I hope you all enjoyed this week’s blog, the pictures and I hope you can all help us with Play 4 Kay! Just five NEWMAC games left, we need your help!

P.S. I missed it last blog, but I also wanted to say thank you to the Ferrari’s for traveling all the way to school on a Monday night and making the most spectacular pasta dinner I’ve ever had the pleasure of consuming! The food and the leftovers are beyond appreciated, thank you so much! (Coach admitted the pasta sauce was the best she’s ever had…) 

All the girls in Keefe eating Mrs. Ferrari's meal. A picture of my multiple servings.

 

My brother Andrew and I getting a snack
at the Loft! 

 

All the girls in my senior seminar class at our final dinner
alongside the wonderful professor Yllo! 
Mollie Lane and I posing for a 
photo! 

 

Having way too much fun at the Big Event!  

 

FINDING PERSPECTIVE

Hello everyone! I suppose instead of apologizing for posting so late, again, I think I’ll just say this is how my crazy life as a senior at Wheaton works, and that I’ll post when I can and hopefully you’ll all be able to bear with me. I’ve got a lot to talk about, get ready!

So last time we talked we were fresh off a win against a tough Coast Guard squad. The next day we had practice and everyone was sore from working so hard, but we managed to get through our arm circuit and through a few full court drills before the day was up and we could visit the training room to get treatment. Monday we had another quick but productive practice to prepare for WPI on Tuesday. Before our game Tuesday, we all got together and headed out to Franklin for some candlepin bowling. I’d love to tell you that we’re all great bowlers and that all the teams were evenly matched, but let’s just say –with the exception of Kirt– that we should probably stick to our day jobs.

After a tough 40 minutes with a WPI squad that wouldn’t quit, we came out on top with another win! Wednesday we prepared for MIT, a team that always gives us a hard time, and unfortunately despite our preparation we did not come out victorious Thursday night. MIT fought hard until the last second, and I tip my hat off to them as MIT took home a victory leaving us with our first loss of the season.

Friday we tried to get back into our groove in preparation for Babson on Saturday, a team we haven’t beaten in my four years here at Wheaton.  Right from the start of the game we just couldn’t keep up with Babson’s transition. They were so quick. Maybe it was because we had them at the end of a long week, or maybe we were still wounded from our loss against MIT, but either way, we simply never caught up with them, and as a result we suffered another loss. After the game Kiley’s mom, Pam was having some car troubles, so she ended up staying on campus until she could get it all sorted out. LP and I paid Pam and Kiley a visit to eat some delicious food that Alyssa’s aunt and uncle had brought and to play Yahtzee. It was a fun night and we were glad to have Pam with us.

Sunday we had a day off to rest our bodies and to take a mental break from things. I hopped in the car with LP and we drove to Burlington to meet her mom, Nancy, for a late Sunday lunch. It was nice to get in the car and away from campus for a little while. Sometimes you just need a little extra time to recuperate to get back into the swing of things.

Monday we were back in the gym for some full court work and a little help from our male practice player, Sergio. We ran some drills where we had to try and out rebound him (which is almost impossible) and we taught him our plays so that he can run them with us when we scrimmage. Tuesday we got down to business to prepare for Wellesley, the top of the NEWMAC.

Wednesday we hopped on the bus with our favorite bus driver (Jimmy) and traveled to Wellesley. For forty minutes the game went back and forth. The Wellesley defense shut our post play down almost entirely, but our guards stepped up and shot well from the arc. Special shot out to my roomie Becca for going 8-14 from the three. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough, and even though Brick hit some clutch foul shots to keep us in the game, in the end we were outplayed by a very good Wellesley squad.

Thursday we had a quick ab workout and a chance to do our arm circuit again, before we set up in preparation to referee a tournament for our Heller’s Angel’s friends and their Special Olympics friends. It was a long evening, but well worth our time. It’s a wonderful thing to watch these kids play a sport we all love so much and it’s nice knowing that our volunteering time helps them with their basketball skills. It was also a great thing for us after coming off three losses to have some perspective and just enjoy the game for a few hours with some great kids who adore us.

Friday we had Sarge in working some agility and reaction time with us along with the help of some tennis balls. Then we played a bunch of full court games and ran some drills before calling it a day.

Saturday we had an early practice and then had a chance to watch the second half of a great Coast Guard/Springfield matchup before we headed back into our home gym to watch our men’s team take on a big Babson squad. Although they lost, it was a great game and fun to watch them at home.

Yesterday we were home again in our very own Emerson Gymnasium to face for the second time against a well-rounded Springfield team. At one point we had the lead to up around 30, but Springfield fought hard the last ten minutes of the game and cut it very close before the final buzzer. It was nice to win again, our spirits are lifted and we’re headed on our way back up for the second half of our season. It was especially nice to win yesterday because my Dad, my little sister and her boyfriend, and a family I babysit for came out to the game and surprised me. It was a great day!

Today we have practice, Sergio is with us again and we’ll be prepping for a game against Mt. Holyoke on Wednesday after the start of our second semester of classes! I hope you’ve enjoyed this nice long post and all of the pictures along with it. Keep cheering us on and we’ll bring you home some wins!

Alyssa angry after
missing every single
pin!
LP, myself and Brick. Becca, Sticker and Sarah. Kenzie sitting pretty.

 

Baby Tucker is getting so BIG!

 

All of us during the National Anthem before our game against Springfield.

 

Some of the Special Olympics games we worked last week!

 

SECOND SEMESTER SET TO BEGIN

Hello, I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year! My blog welcomes you all back with exciting news and a few pictures J

The last time we talked we were all on our way home to spend time with our families! I had a great break with lots of snow and ice in Maine. I went on adventures with all of my siblings, got some bakery work in decorating cookies and Christmas goodies, hung out with my dog, and worked out hard to keep the Wheaton true team dream alive!

After a wonderful 10 days off with our families we were all reunited on Sunday, Dec 29th to work a 5th and 6th grade basketball clinic for some of our little Norton friends. We taught them how to shoot, how to pick and roll, how to move their feet and talk on defense and how to catch a pass to shoot on the run. After a great two hours with the little girls we all went out to eat (Without our Utah-ian diva as she was still en route back to Norton) and bond before our first day back to practice.

Mid-morning on Monday we met in the field-house with Sarge for an intense multiple interval workout and lift. After a quick lunch we were back at it for the second session with some full court work and lots of shooting. Tuesday, we slept in a little bit and got up for an afternoon practice that went really well and after practice we all went out to dinner to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Following dinner we met up in Everett lounge and played “Tellestrations” – which if you’ve never played is a game of guessing and drawing and it’s absolutely hilarious – and watched “New Year’s Eve” before watching the ball drop. We didn’t stay up much past that because we had practice the following morning with film.

A great day-before-a-game-practice on Wednesday had us all fired up and ready for a tough matchup at home against Roger Williams on Thursday. I want to give a big shout-out and thank you to coach Walmsley and the men’s team for showing up and supporting us, especially as their matchup against Gordon that afternoon was rescheduled for another day. After a tough first half against a really strong Roger Williams roster, our post play just didn’t quit and we came out with a huge win – one that Stick, Laura and I hadn’t seen in all of our time here at Wheaton – a great way to start the second half of our season!

On Friday, we had a late afternoon practice and a chance to finally see our grades from first semester. Congrats ladies on working hard in the classroom, and a special congrats to Kenzie Kuhn for working her Coloradian butt off and keeping her 4.0 GPA alive and well! It’s an honor to play alongside such scholarly athletes!

Today we all got up bright an early for our first team breakfast of the New Year in Chase immediately followed by a shoot around and a long bus ride to New London, CT to face a previously undefeated Coast Guard squad. We came out victorious but it was not an easy win at all. The women on the Coast Guard team fought us to the very last second and came within three points with the clock still winding down. Coast Guard is a very respectable team which makes us that much more thankful for the strength and composure to come out with a win. 11 straight wins from the truest Wheaton team I’ve ever played on and I can’t wait for more to come!

Enjoy the pictures and please come out and support us as we’ll be home for our next three games against WPI, MIT and Babson on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Keep on sending us good vibes as we head into a big five game stretch over the next nine days! And as always, thank you for reading!

Christmas cookies
decorated at the bakery.
My beautiful pup named
Maggie!
My little brother Camden, myself and my little
sister Kelsey on Christmas Eve.

 

Alyssa, Sophie and I running some shooting drills with our little friends
from Norton!

 

Here's a picture of a very snowy Wheaton after the big storm that hit us on Thursday!

 

A team picture of us with some alumnae - Nicole Cullinane, Gabby Barbera and a women's lacrosse
alum Katie Powers after our huge win against Coast Guard.

 

FALL SEMESTER WRAPS UP

­­­­­­­Hello everyone, and Happy Holidays! I’m so sorry again to be posting so late, but we’ve just finished our fall semester and the start of our 2013-2014 Season! Things have been pretty hectic to say the least! Anyways, I hope you’ll all forgive me and that this week’s blog will more than make up for the few that I’ve missed?

After a tough five practices back after Thanksgiving break, we took on Emerson College for the first time in our own Emerson Gymnasium. It was another great team win and we had a sizable crowd out supporting us, late Wednesday night. As a special treat for all of us, our favorite bus driver, Jimmy and his wife were in the crowd cheering us on, and Becca’s grandparents, Papa and Grammy were visiting from Florida! It’s so much fun to win, but it’s especially fun to win with a crowd of loving fans behind us.

The next few days we spent preparing for our matchup against Clark in Worcester on Saturday afternoon. For Stick, Laura and I it was an exciting week preparing because in our previous three years here, we’ve never been able to beat the Clark squad at their place. Knowing how hard we’ve been working as a team and knowing that with Clark we’d be facing two of the best guards in the NEWMAC, our excitement to prove that we’re contenders in the league was almost too much to contain. 

Our hard work paid off and we rode home to Norton victorious! Finally Stick, Laura and I could say that we beat Clark at home. However, our hard work was far from over because as soon as we returned to campus, we all had to start preparing for finals week, and a week without basketball. I myself had a paper due Monday, a research paper in the form of a website due Wednesday, an exam on Friday, (which was also my 22nd birthday) and the 4th of 5 chapters of my thesis due Saturday (Becca’s 20th). I know the girls had a lot of work too, and on Friday night we all went out to my favorite sushi restaurant as a team to celebrate mine and Becca’s birthdays. It was a hard and stressful week, but I think we all survived!

At the end of our stressful week, after dinner of course, we all reunited with the coaches in the Field House for practice before we took off to New York for our winter break games. The court in Emerson Gymnasium is being refinished so we had to practice on the Field House courts. Sarge was in early with us on Sunday morning running agility and lateral movement drills and on Monday we did some reaction time and ladders along with (finally) some full court stuff with Coach.

Tuesday morning we were all up early and raring to go, excited for our trip to New York! We hopped on the bus with Jimmy and his wife, along with our SID Shawn Medeiros and our sports information intern Matt Noonan and despite the snowy and windy conditions; we were on our way to New York! Upon arrival we were able to shoot around and get our legs moving with some shooting drills, then we had a chance to rest at the hotel for a couple of hours and by then we were ready to take on Manhattanville!

After another great team win we all piled onto the bus and headed to Stamford, Conn. to visit an alumni, Kristina Paolino ’12 and her family as they invited us into their home for some homemade Chicken Parm, pasta with vodka sauce and some desserts. We played our favorite on the road game, officiated by Coach herself, “The Roommate Game” – which Kristina and LP won – and we got to learn more about each other while we had some good laughs. A huge thank you to the Paolino’s for a delicious meal and for washing our uniforms! It was greatly appreciated and wonderful to see you all J

That night we all went back to the hotel (Hyatt Suites, the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in!) and crashed after a long day. This morning we were able to sleep in a little bit and around 9:30am we joined each other for breakfast in the lobby before we gathered our things, checked out, and headed into New York City! I’m sure for some of the girls it wasn’t a terribly exciting thing, but I heard that NYC is the most exciting and beautiful place to be at Christmas time, so I was thrilled and feeling blessed to be with my favorite girls in the world, roaming the city!

And boy was it awesome! We dropped our bags off at Hunter College and then we walked a few blocks for lunch at Tony’s di Napoli…which was SO BOMB! So much food I felt like I rolled around New York City not walked – at least for the first hour. After that Coach navigated us to Rockefeller Center so we could take pictures with the Christmas Tree and shop a little bit. It was so beautiful, and so much fun! One of the greatest trips I’ve ever been on. The walk back was freezing cold, but so worth it.

To end our already wonderful trip to New York, we defeated Yeshiva University at Hunter College and it truly was a team win, every single person on the team scored today! It was a great way to end our fall semester, and it’s been a great start to our season. Right now we’re on the bus back to Norton, and by tomorrow night we’ll all be home reunited with our families for ten days. Here are some pictures from the trip; I hope you enjoy them and Merry Christmas! Also a HUGE thank you to everyone who made this trip possible for all of us, it was truly unforgettable! Until next time…

Here's a picture of Sticker and I with the tree in
Rockefeller Center! (our SID posted some team ones
on Twitter and Instagram already!)

 

The ice rink at Rockefeller looking so beautiful and Christmasy!

 

All the girls at Tony's di Napoli! (Stick is not a fan of my picture taking)

 

Our delicious meal at Tony's, broccoli and pasta with a garlic/oil
sauce, chicken parm, green beans with roasted almonds, steamed
spinahce and for dessert a combination of cannoli's, tiramisu and
Italian cheesecake. Absolutely delicious. (Say hello to Kurt at the
end of the table ;)).

 

As a fun little treat, here are some pictures of the guys who fell asleep on
the bus ride to New York. (Kenzie, Bridget, Kurt, Emily and our SID, Shawn!)

THANKSGIVING BREAK

Welcome back and Happy (late) Turkey Day everyone! Please forgive me for being so late in posting this week; it was quite a busy one!

Last time we talked we were fresh off two wins and the championship title of our annual Cheryl Warren-Powers ‘95Memorial tournament. Since then we’ve had three NEWMAC games and a bunch of practices and two days off for Thanksgiving! I have to stop getting so behind!

We opened conference play on Wednesday, November 20th at Springfield College and it was a great first win of the season. Like before, the new fouling and 10 second rules were hard to get used to, some of us found ourselves in foul trouble early on in the game, but for the first time in what felt like forever since my time at Wheaton started, we finished a full forty minutes of basketball and managed a spectacular team win. On the bus ride home we got some of Coach’s favorite pizza, as she went to Springfield College and knows the best places around. Our favorite bus driver Jimmy took us on the journey and when we got back on the bus after our win, he had some dessert treats for us! It was all around a great day.

The Thursday following the Springfield game was our off day for the week which we used to go out and support our men’s team as they took on Salve Regina. On top of attending the men’s game, I used Thursday to work on my thesis which I’ve somehow been finding time for, even as this semester is dying down. As I told you all before, my topic is “How children’s roles change in a blended family situation,” and after writing the first three chapters, I’ve finally been able to start my data collection which involves in-depth one-on-one interviews with students from Wheaton who come from divorced/separated family backgrounds. It’s the most interesting work I’ve ever done, and I simply love studying sociology! I have less than two months to finish my thesis and then we present to the board…scary stuff! Anyways, Thursday was a productive day off, much needed too!

Friday we had practice, running through plays and preparing for our game on Saturday against Mt. Holyoke. We got up at 9 am for shoot around, and then we all went over to Chase for team breakfast. We had just a few hours to wind down and get ready as it was a 1 pm game. After warming up, (to the best warm-up CD I’ve had in my four years here) we took Emerson Gymnasium with a great home crowd. My dad made his way down for the game, and our Heller’s Angels stood with us during the National Anthem and for starting line-ups. At half-time they were able to scrimmage each other on the floor, and after we pulled out another great team win against Mt. Holyoke, we joined them for pizza and cookies with the $500.00 we won during the DIII Spotlight Poll. It was a really great day, I was so happy to see Heller’s, my Dad, and Coach K (Erica Kovach) who used to be one of our assistants made her way out to support us which was a wonderful surprise.

Sunday we didn’t have practice until the evening, so I was able to get some more homework done at the library with Rebecca Arnone after we met some of the girls for lunch in Chase. At practice on Sunday and Monday we spent time working full court preparing for a tough match-up against Smith College on Tuesday night. Smith has always been a grind of a game for us, and the last time we beat them was at home my freshman year, so we were excited to get out there and see if we had what it took to beat them. After an incredibly tough battle against the Smith roster and getting in to foul trouble, we were able to pull out at the end and take home a win for Turkey Day. It was a battle right up until the final buzzer and I couldn’t be more proud of my girls for yet again, playing a full forty minutes and taking home a true, team win.

I was fortunate enough to head to Litchfield, N.H. with Rebecca Arnone as she invited me to her house to share Thanksgiving with her and her family. Since we only had two days off, it would have been difficult to go all the way to Maine and back, so I’m grateful that I have teammates like Becca who invite me into their homes on such occasions without hesitation. Our two days off in Litchfield were full of laughs, good food, and quality family time. Becca’s family made me feel so welcome so this year for Thanksgiving I’m thankful for my wonderful family as I always am, but also for Becca’s because it’s not an easy task hosting and entire family and also feeding them and also having a house guest for three nights. Her mom Barbara did a great job and the food was absolutely delicious.

Make sure you wish Sticker a Happy 22nd Birthday! Her birthday was on the 29th, after practice we went out to dinner in Walpole (Bridget’s hometown) and we got to see our long lost pal Melissa who used to be on the team. I’d say between conditioning practice with Sarge and getting fish tacos, Sticker had a pretty great birthday!  

Wednesday, December 4th we host Emerson and until then we’ll be in the gym getting better and preparing ourselves with Sarge and the rest of our coaching staff. Also a friendly reminder that we’ll be at a table during the craft fair selling Women’s Basketball t-shirts and mini-basketball hoops for $10. Come out and support our program and get yourself one! I hope you all enjoyed this weeks (extra-long and extra-late) blog, Happy Turkey Day, and ‘til next time! Enjoy the photos!

All of us with the Heller's Angels after our win against Mount Holyoke. For more photos from the
day click here: Heller's Angels Photo Album.

 

The Thanksgiving Turkey treats that Becca and I made!

 

Sticker and I with Coach K after the
Mount Holyoke game!

 

Stick, Laura and I at dinner with Melissa!

 

CHERYL WARREN-POWERS '95 MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT

Hello again my loyal followers and welcome to this week’s entry of Fitzy’s Full Court Press! This last week was a good one so get ready to listen to me gush about it :)

Monday-Friday we were in the gym preparing for our first game of the season which was on Saturday. Sarge came in and worked us like she usually does, agilities, lifting, and core and on the court. Then, we ran our plays and defenses and continued to develop our team chemistry. Towards the end of the week you could feel the nerves and anticipation of the start of the season starting to set in, and our first game couldn’t have been more perfectly timed.

Saturday morning we got up for team breakfast in Chase Dining Hall at 9:15am, and then we all walked over together for our first team shoot around of the season! We were half an hour early for our shoot around, but I think that had a lot to do with our being anxious to just get started. After shoot around we had some time to go back to our rooms and mentally prepare, as well as put together some words of encouragement for the “secret sisters” we’d all chosen a week earlier. Secret sister is a tradition that we’ve been introduced to where we draw the name of someone on the team and for each game we anonymously draw up letters or find small gifts like gum or Gatorades to help pump each other up for the games. I can’t tell you who my secret sister is, but I promise she’s one lucky girl!

Before our game on Saturday we all watched part of the Men’s game to show our support as they played Endicott. After that we went into the field house and reunited with some of our former teammates as well as some Wheaton women’s basketball alumnae as they divided themselves up and played in a little alumnae scrimmage. It’s always fun to see what Wheaton teams of the past look like, and it’s even more fun to see old teammates. We couldn’t hang around for long, however, our nerves for the game were almost too much to handle! We just had to get into the locker room and finally put our uniforms on.

After we were finally able to suit up for the game, we took the court running out to our new warm-up CD (which is the best we’ve ever had in my four years here, for the record) and played a full 40 minutes of Wheaton basketball. Although the matchup with Lesley wasn’t quite so even, it was a good game, all the girls had a chance to play and everyone scored! I think a big part of our win had to do with Coach giving us some perspective and incentive to win. She brought in Jordan and Craig, the twins who lost their mother Cheryl Warren-Powers, a former Wheaton women’s basketball player when she died just days after they were born. To be able to play in a program full of tradition and pride means so much more when you hear about stories and people from the past, to see the faces of the actual “Little Angels” that we host our tournament for means so much. The Lesley team that we faced fought hard despite their obvious disadvantages, (having only 6 eligible players) and it was an exciting start to our season to be able to win a home game. Later that night, Trinity beat RPI in the second game of our tournament so we began to prep for our game against the Bantams on Sunday afternoon.

In between our two games, we were able to visit with our families. Becca and I went to dinner with Emily and her family as neither of our families were able to make it for the first day. I love being able to see all of the girls’ parents. It’s especially exciting to see Brick and Kenzie’s parents because they travel all the way from Utah and Colorado! An especially fun treat this weekend was being able to see Brick’s younger brother Daniel who was on a break from playing hockey in Canada!

Sunday we got to sleep in a little earlier, but we still got up for team breakfast and shoot around and set forth to work hard in a game against a strong Trinity roster. I’m proud to say that we fought again for another full 40 minutes, something we’ve struggled with in the past as a team, and I felt for the first time in a long time a true, Wheaton women’s basketball team win. It’s a great feeling to win a home tournament, especially for such a good cause.

We’re back at it with practice tonight and tomorrow, and Wednesday we start conference play with a game on the road against Springfield! Come out and support us if you can and it not, catch game updates on our athletics website! Thank you for reading, enjoy this week’s pictures!

Becca, Brick, her brother Daniel, Emily and I after our
game against Lesley!

 

A team picture of us after we won the Cheryl Warren-Powers '95 Memorial Tournament! Craig and Jordan are also
in the picture with our mascot!

 

FALL HARVEST FUN

Happy November everyone and welcome to another entry of Fitzy’s Full Court Press!

It’s been a very busy week for Wheaton women’s basketball. Since the last time we talked, we played in a scrimmage, worked at the annual Fall Harvest with our Special Olympics Heller’s Angels, watched the last show of Wheaton’s Clybourne Park and got our team pictures taken for the season.

On Friday, Stick and I stood in the student center next to homemade posters and talked to our peers, faculty, and staff about the internships we each worked this summer. Since we both used our stipends this past summer, we were part of what is called the “Internship Showcase” where we gather with all of the other people who used their stipends and share our experiences with anyone who has questions. My poster was right next to my friend Matt McVety, if you remember who also worked at Camp Sunshine this past summer, so we had a chance to get a photo together when we weren’t gushing about the greatest summer ever. The girls and coach stopped by to support Stick and I, even the SID guys made an appearance -to interview and further embarrass us.

This past week of practices went very well; we worked hard in the weight room and on the court improving our speed with Sarge, our strength and conditioning coach. Also on the court we’re continuing to develop more team chemistry while solidifying our plays and defenses. The positive energy has made the long practices well worth it and each day presents new and exciting opportunities for us to get better as a team, which leads me to the scrimmage we had on Friday. The new fouling rules and 10 second counts will take some getting used to, but each game is different and we’ll have to develop as the season progresses. This year’s team is very good at taking things in stride, so I have no doubt that we’ll adjust as we need to. If our style of play at our scrimmage is any indicator of how we’ll do this season, then I’m even more excited than I was before, we got a lot accomplished as a team, just in time for our first game of the season on Saturday, November 16th!

On Saturday night we gathered in Emerson Dining Hall to help our friends in SSSR (Service, Spirituality, and Social Responsibility) throw what’s known as the “Fall Harvest” for our Heller’s Angel’s friends and families. At the Fall Harvest we serve the families dinner and dessert, pass out prizes as raffle tickets get chosen, play games with the kids, make Thanksgiving arts and crafts, and best of all we get to dance to great music all night long. Our Heller’s friends definitely know how to bust a move! For dinner we had some delicious home-style chicken, pasta, salad and French fries and a huge cake to celebrate the relationship we have with our Heller’s friends. SSSR put together a great picture slideshow set to some tear-jerking music and when we weren’t sweating from dancing our butts off; we were laughing and enjoying ourselves with face painting and homemade hand turkeys. It’s always such a fun night, and I feel a little sad that it was my last one. I am, however, happy to get the chance to pass on the tradition to the younger girls.

On Sunday we got together as a team, Coach included, and went to the matinee showing of Wheaton’s Clybourne Park. The show was awesome, very funny and very raw. The actors and actresses who performed were absolutely wonderful and kept me interested the entire time. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the context of the play, it addresses many social and racial discrepancies in a very ironic fashion. I wouldn’t say that the play is for everyone, but it was wonderful all the same. I’m so happy we were able to go as a team and support the other members of our Wheaton community, and I know the other girls enjoyed it too! Many of us had friends who were part of the cast and crew, so it was a very cool experience to watch them get up and do their thing.

Like I said, it was a very busy week for us all, eventful, but busy nonetheless. We take it one day at a time, and make it as a team though, and this next busy week we have won’t be any different. We have our annual Cheryl Warren Powers ’95 Memorial Tournament that kicks off this Saturday and lasts through Sunday afternoon. We’re hosting Lesley, RPI and Trinity and we could really use the support of our friends and family!

I just want to quickly give a shout-out to our women’s soccer team who fought hard in their semi-final game against Springfield on Saturday and congratulate them on a great season despite their loss and a huge congrats to our men’s soccer team for winning the NEWMAC title; it’s a great day to be a Wheaton Soccer Fan!  Also –I almost forgot, check the athletics website at the end of the week for a video of Stick, Coach and I giving our preseason talk to our SID friend Matt Noonan, as well as the interviews from the Internship Showcase. Until next week my loyal fans, enjoy the photos (and videos)!

         
Matt and I at the Internships Showcase from
earler this week!
    Our friends Mark, Bri and Susan making
some homemade turkeys with Rebecca
Arnone!
    Bridget Nicholson, Sophie Black, Alyssa
Almario and Rebecca Arnone on the
dance floor with Bre and Susan (who
simple LOVES the camera)!
 

 

ONE STEP CLOSER

Hello everyone and welcome back to Fitzy’s Full Court Press!

Let me start this post off by saying thank you to any of you who voted for us in the NCAA Division III Special Olympics Spotlight Poll, because for the second year in a row, we won! Using the money we won in the poll we’ll be hosting Heller’s Angels for a pizza party on November 23rd and giving them all special t-shirts to honor the relationships we have with them. It is a huge honor for our team and for the Heller’s Angels and we wouldn’t be able to do it without the help of our loyal fans J

Over the weekend we had our first annual “Blue and White” scrimmage during which we played against each other. We played three 10 minute periods with different player combinations for each session. At the end of each period, the score was cleared and we started all over again in hopes to improve upon our teamwork.

A really exciting part about our Blue and White scrimmage was that our families were there to cheer us on, and to feast on some homemade goodies at our Wheaton women’s basketball family pot-luck which took place after the game. The parents that were in attendance (mine unfortunately could not go, my little brother had a swim meet at home in Maine) were able to officially meet all of the girls on the team, as well as mingle with the other parents. Laura’s mom made all of the adults and siblings name tags so we could identify each other, and it was a nice relaxing afternoon. I can’t wait for more family pot-lucks in the future and for my parents to meet the new girls on the team as well as their parents!

On Tuesday we had our first non-intersquad scrimmage! We played three periods against Worcester State University at our very own Emerson Gymnasium and I think it went really well. We started off slow, but by the end we were starting to mesh together well as a team and began looking more like Wheaton basketball. As always there is plenty of room for improvement, and Tuesday’s scrimmage was a great opportunity for us to figure out where those areas for improvement are.  It’s exciting that we’re one step closer to starting our season!

We have one more scrimmage against Salve Regina before we officially start our season in just three short weeks; mark your calendars for the 16th-17th of November as that is our annual Cheryl Warren-Powers ’95 Memorial Basketball tournament for which we’d love your support. Happy Halloween everyone, I hope you enjoyed this week’s Full Court Press!

(A group photo of everyone who could make it to the Blue and White scrimmage!)

SCHOOL EDITION

Welcome back friends, family members, and all of my loyal followers to Fitzy’s Full Court Press: school edition. Last time you were here you heard all about our adventures with Heller’s Angels at the Connecticut Suns WNBA game and listened to me complain about my thesis literature review. This week week’s blog, I promise you, is full of excitement!

Before I get into what I’ve been up to in the past few weeks, I’d first like to mention that for the second year in a row, Wheaton women’s basketball has been selected as one of the programs for this month’s NCAA Division III Special Olympics Spotlight Poll and if you click here http://www.ncaa.org/D3SpecialOlympics you can help us by voting. There’s only a week left and we would really appreciate your support! If we win we’ll get $500 to support the work we do with our favorite Special Olympics team, The Heller’s Angels.

A couple of weekends ago was Homecoming Weekend/Alumnae/i Weekend, a time where parents visit and alumnae/i return. My parents drove down from Bath, Maine with my 14 year-old brother Camden who just started high school. As per usual he was much more excited to see Stick, but I was beyond thrilled to see him. I cannot believe how much he has grown since August. The “fam” and I went out to lunch at one of my favorite sushi restaurants in Mansfield, and then we went back to campus and watched some alumni lacrosse on the beautiful new turf. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful visit, and I can’t wait to see them all again!

This past week was our first week of preseason basketball with the coaches, but the weekend leading up to it was our October Break. For many of the girls it meant taking a much needed break from school and the team to visit home and unwind a little. I made the executive decision to stay on campus and work some game management, because as I’m sure you know, college students can always use some extra money, and I spent the majority of my days in the library working on my thesis and other projects for school. Abbie Brickley was also on campus, as she’s from Sandy, Utah, so we had some post-to-post bonding during mealtime. It was a very productive and relaxing break, just what I needed before the start of my final season as a student-athlete at Wheaton.

At 8am on Tuesday morning, October 15th, we strapped on our ankle braces and laced up our new Hyper-Dunk sneakers to start our 2013-2014 journeys together in Emerson Gymnasium, 13 strong. It truly was an exciting day, kind of surreal for Stick and I, with it being our last, first practice and all, but there is no feeling in the world that parallels the excitement and nerves of the first day of practice.  The first day I feel went really well, our three freshmen Bridget Nicholson, Sarah Caron and Sophie Black really held their own and kept their cool in the midst of learning new drills, being introduced to some of our key plays, and staying focused first thing in the morning. I’m thrilled that the three of them are part of our Wheaton family now, officially. Also new to our Wheaton family is Sarge, our Strength & Conditioning coach, and Becky Aitchison ’08, who is a former Wheaton player that has come back to share her knowledge and of course as I mentioned in the last post, Coach Bilodeau whose enthusiasm just after the first week of practice is contagious. It’s going to be a great year!

Although, admittedly, it is hard to adjust to late practices, as we’re on the court typically from 8-10pm on weeknights, the past six days have gone very well and only solidified my pre, preseason excitement. We’ve gotten right back into the swing of things running our bread and butter plays, reviewing the key components of our defenses and conditioning during all of it. I can recall in my previous years preseason being very overwhelming and sometimes a little bit terrifying, but three years under my belt and teammates like Stick and LP who have been there the whole time really make for a solid, confident foundation. I can only hope that we’ve been positive role models for our younger teammates to help make their transitions into the new season as smooth as possible.

After a great week of practices and a very busy school week, Stick and I planned -with the help of Coach- a little team bonding after our Friday afternoon practice. As you all know, I work at a bakery in the summer months, so Coach suggested I whip up some of my fall special for the girls while we played some board games and bonded together. My fall special happens to be pumpkin whoopie pies with cream cheese filling, and although I don’t eat them myself, the girls raved, and so did the lucky others who got some of the leftovers. While Stick and I slaved over the baked goods (she made some peanut butter chip cookies) and the other girls set up a few rounds of “Tellestrations” which is a hilarious picture and word game that had us all laughing for hours afterward.  Six great practices, whoopie pies, Tellestrations, and positive thoughts really made for a great first week.

Today was our first day off, a time for us all to get ahead on our schoolwork, rest up, get some extra therapy done in the training room, and in my case (and also Rebecca Arnone’s) catching up on some laundry, it seems as though it’s never ending. I’m super pumped to get back after it tomorrow with practice and a lift with Sarge afterward; I hope the other girls are ready as well, but I also hope they all had a restful and productive day off.

While all of this is happening, the beautiful campus of Wheaton College is truly displaying its New England charm. The leaves are all turning; the fall breeze is so wonderful and the crisp fresh air means that the colder months are on the way! I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog and enjoy the pictures as well! Happy Autumn everyone!

       
A beautiful shot Bridget Nicholson took of a
Wheaton fall evening.
        Our favorite... ever growing puppy, Tucker!

 

           
FROM L to R: LP, myself, Camden and Stick
during Homecoming Weekend!
            Homemade pumpkin whoope pie!

 

HELLER'S ANGELS WNBA TRIP

Welcome back everyone, I hope you've all had a great start to the month of September, I know I sure have!

Right now I'm on a coach bus ride back from Mohegan Sun in Connecticut where the girls, our Special Olympic friends the "Heller's Angels, coach Hodgdon + coach Bilodeau and our wonderful SID (Sports Information Director) Shawn Medeiros and I had the pleasure of attending a Connecticut Sun WNBA game! The Sun played Indiana Fever and the game was thrilling!

At around ten this morning we met up with Heller's Angels and hopped on the bus donning our blue Wheaton dry fits and looking super sharp. The bus ride to Connecticut was about an hour and twenty minutes but it didn't seem long at all because we were all so excited! Once we got to the arena, we all got some Sun T-shirts, and they brought us out onto the court where alongside our Heller's Angel friends we made a tunnel and got to slap the hands of BOTH of the teams as they ran out for their pre-game warmup. The Heller's kids definitely thought it was cool, I think we all did! I was especially excited because I've never been to a WNBA game before today!

We were all given food vouchers for a hotdog, soft drink and a huge cup full of popcorn and our seats were a great birds eye view of the game. The halftime performance was a strange dancing blow up mascot group that had left most of us speechless but still fascinated, and there were three different dance groups that performed some pretty awesome dance routines. I won't name any names, but some of the girls on the team (Rebecca Arnone and Alyssa Almario) were absolutely dancing along the entire time.

The game itself was so awesome! We were on the edges of our seats the entire time because it was so close! Every time Rene Montgomery made a three pointer we went insane, and whenever Mistie Bass was wide open under the hoop we screamed our heads off hoping they would hit the open man! At the end of regulation the game was tied (it actually happened right on the buzzer) and after five minutes of over time the Sun came out victorious. We all got back down on the court and took a photo with the Solar Power dance team and the Sun mascot, Blaze.

It was an awesome day and I'm so grateful that the girls and Heller's and I got to experience it together. Huge shout out to those who made it possible because it really brightened everyone's days.

Looking ahead to this week, it's certainly going to be a busy one. I have a 15 page literature review (the first two chapters of my thesis!) due Wednesday, and Monday we're hosting a bunch of recruits! I'm so excited to welcome some new girls into the Wheaton family so we'll definitely show them a good time, not too excited for my literature review however...

Thank you for listening, I hope you enjoy the photos!  (Also enjoy some photos of baby tucker and watch as he gets so big each week!)

Stick (Lauren McClelland) and Blaze, Connecticut's mascot.

 

Heller's Angels, Wheaton women's basketball, Solar Power and Blaze pose for a team photo.

 

Tucker and I!

 

ANOTHER WEEK IN THE BOOKS

Another week down as a senior at Wheaton and things really are flying by!

Last week was another shortened week with the holiday on Monday, so there’s still one class of mine that hasn’t met yet, (Community in the Digital Age Soc 398) but all of my other classes are in full swing and have me really excited for the rest of the semester. As a sociology major, I find myself doing a lot of reading and writing a lot of papers. Lucky for me I like to write! My favorite class so far is definitely my Senior Seminar because although it is still very scary to think that in February I’ll be presenting to the board my Senior Thesis, the research thus far has been very exciting. My Thesis title isn’t exactly pinned down yet, but the research I’m doing is to find out how the role of a child changes when they’re introduced into a blended family setting. For example, I’m technically the second oldest child in my family, but because my parents are divorced and my dad is remarried I’m the oldest on his side. Through my research, I’m trying to see how one negotiates a similar situation. As geeky as it sounds, it is enthralling research and I actually love reading about it!

I think the freshmen are still doing really well with their transition into school and I enjoy watching them slowly come out of their shells as they get more comfortable with us older girls. It seems like every day they try something new like driving to the rim when they wouldn’t normally, cheering loudly for someone, or coming up to Emerson Dining to join some of us for lunch or dinner. I really enjoy each of them as individuals, but as a class I appreciate their competitive natures. I’m happy to say and to see that at every workout thus far there’s been crazy competition and it makes everything so much better! Each day we move closer to October 15th and the excitement for the start of the season is still very fresh.

On another note, one of our co-captains Laura Pierce (who we usually refer to as “LP”) is dog sitting for a couple that lives across town three days a week. It’s this beautiful little silver lab named Tucker, and he’s the sweetest most adorable little nugget! LP brings him by two of the three days she has him so we can run around with him on campus. Seeing a dog mid-week is a great mood lifter! Also exciting is that last time I talked to you guys we had one more day left at the PGA tour but now we’re finally done with that! The girls did a great job working nine hour days and even though our time went over all three days, it’ll be a huge contribution towards next year’s team trip. I can’t say that I’m terribly sad to have completed my fourth and final tour as a PGA worker, but it’ll be weird next year to have a free Labor Day weekend!

That’s all I have for this week, I have to go work on an assignment for my African American Literature course and finish my laundry so that I have clean clothes for lift this afternoon! Until next week, I hope you enjoy!

All the girls (minus Sticker and I) before the last morning of PGA work!

 

Laura Pierce (LP) Tucker

 

LET THE SCHOOL YEAR BEGIN!

Welcome back (finally) to Fitzy’s Full Court Press! If you’re reading this it means that you’re back after almost two months without hearing a peep out of me, and it also means that you’re tuned into the happenings of my fourth and final year as a student-athlete at Wheaton College!

After my wonderful three weeks at Camp Sunshine I headed back to my hometown in Bath, Maine and worked in the bakery of a restaurant called Mae’s Café. For the remainder of my summer I whipped up whoopie pies, pies and cookies and I also perfected the art of sweeping and mopping. I got a little break just a few weeks ago to visit school briefly and work Hoop Mountain basketball camp with some of the other girls on the team. I love teaching the little girls how to play all day long, it’s like a week of vacation for me!  Just this past week I moved back into my dorm room on campus, and I also kicked off the first week of classes and basketball! Also big from this past week, my best friend and fellow (only other) senior teammate Lauren McClelland (whom we all affectionately refer to as “Stick”) and I purchased and donned our black robes for the convocation ceremony in the Chapel here at school! It was a very weird and unreal moment. It feels like just yesterday we were meeting each other for the first time, and now we’re kicking off our last year as college students before the real world becomes our reality! It truly moves by faster than you think.  

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sociology major here at school. Because of that, and the fact that I’m a senior, my course load is fairly overwhelming this semester. It’s still new for me to think and to say that I am now a member of a senior seminar course, and I’m about to dive headfirst into my senior thesis paper which will essentially be a test of everything I’ve ever learned thus far as a sociology student. It is equal parts scary and exciting. I’m also taking a 200 level English course, a 200 level sociology course, and a 300 level sociology course. I am most excited for my senior sem class however, because all of the people who are in it with me have been by my side from day one at Wheaton and it’s both bittersweet and reassuring that we’re headed to the end together as well.

We have four new freshman on the team this year and it has been so exciting getting to know them all and helping them transition smoothly into life as student-athletes at Wheaton College. I remember when I first moved in, I was so nervous I probably didn’t speak for the first two days. I think the girls have all been handling it really well! We played pick up together for the first time the second night back and it’s got me (and the rest of the team, I’m sure) amped up and ready for the true start of the season! We were all rusty, as was expected, but the younger girls pick up on things very quickly, and it’s so fun and interesting to watch the returners (and myself) rediscover our chemistry and Wheaton Basketball by working out the kinks together.

The past two days the girls and I have been working at the PGA Tour in Norton as a fundraiser for our annual team trip. Half of us work the cash registers, while the other half prepare and serve food to the hungry golf goers. Each year we do this and each year we jokingly talk about how miserable the three, full days we work are, but in reality working this tournament is perfect because it’s a great time for us all to bond and work as a team without playing basketball and it helps us out financially much more than we could possibly know.  

I would love to stay and chat so much more, but I’m exhausted from our time at the PGA Tour and I need my rest as we’ll be getting up even earlier for our last day, and for our first week as Wheaton Women’s Basketball 2013-2014! There are lots of exciting things ahead, so please stay tuned for more blogs every week and thank you of course for reading!

(Sticker and I at Convocation!)

WEEK 4 - THE LAST WEEK AT CAMP SUNSHINE

Welcome back to the fourth and final segment of Fitzy’s Full Court Press: Camp Sunshine Style! If you’ve been keeping up with my adventures, then you know that this entry will be all about my final days at Camp Sunshine during Brain Tumor Week!

Prior to my last week at camp I had heard from some of the veteran volunteers that brain tumor week this year would be low key and potentially boring at times. I was prepared to sit around more than the first two weeks, and I was prepared for kids who maybe wouldn’t like to do as much. My preparation couldn’t have been more misguided, however, as I had the most eventful, wonderful week. The 9-12 year olds that I worked with did not stop moving from the moment camp programming started until long after it ended each night. Whether I was in the arts and crafts room teaching my kids how to make friendship bracelets, or out on the lake kayaking with my favorite campers alongside my favorite volunteers I could not have possibly had a better, more eventful week.

Just like my first week at camp, this week I was with the 9-12’s, and I have got to say, they’re my favorite by far. I think 9-12 is the perfect age to be at a summer camp, because there is just so much for them to do! And this week I got to do all of it with them because I wasn’t (although I did love it in the previous weeks) a one-on-one counselor. I also got to hang out with the volunteers in my group too because this week the volunteers outnumbered the families. The ratio was almost 3:1 counselors in the 9-12’s!

On the morning of the first day, we spent time getting to know the kids in the 9-12 room playing the standard air hockey, foosball, ping pong and pool games and also some Mario Kart Wii games. After we became familiar with our campers, we went out to the soccer field and played some initiative games (one of the kids pronounced it “IN-A-TIVE games” and some of the volunteers and I almost wet our pants laughing about it) like the Name Game, People to People, and a bunch of other made up activities that helped us solidify each other’s names and also loosen up a little bit. My favorite game is People to People because it is beyond hilarious to watch everyone try to match up the body part pairs without falling over. After we played on the soccer field, we moved inside to the air conditioned discussion room where a volunteer musical couple taught us how to play “Orf’s” and we began practicing a performance for the “Celebration Show” – on the final night of camp we all participated in a kind of talent show as a goodbye to everyone at camp. Following our Orf lessons went down to the Waterfront to kayak, canoe and/or paddleboat on Sebago Lake. After Waterfront activities we moved onto the heated pool which is located inside the main building and surrounded by bay windows. This week’s pool time was very fun because one of the counselors had a waterproof camera, we had a great time with the kids taking “selfies” and posing in silly ways for under water pictures.

It may sound repetitive, but each day’s schedule was very similar to this first day. Sometimes, however, the kids had the option of going to the rock wall and seeing how high they could climb, playing on the mini golf course, hanging out in the arts and crafts room, playing in the computer lab and on two of the days last week the Waterfront activities were replaced with the “Challenge Course” which is an amazing set up in the woods of low and high ropes courses where the kids work together to move/construct/avoid certain obstacles.

Although I wasn’t a one-on-one counselor this week, I met and became close with some truly spectacular people. I don’t mean to pick favorites, but because there were only 17 families it was very hard not to. As a result, I became best friends with this 11-year-old named Austin. Through spending time with Austin I learned that he prefers to be called Ozzy, he loves his big sister but he doesn’t tell her because he “doesn’t want her to get a big head,” he loves to sit in the middle of Sebago Lake in the double kayak, he likes to shoot around, his favorite color is purple, his favorite rapper is Eminem, and he has lived through six surgeries and is currently living with an inoperable brain tumor. Ozzy and I spent a lot of time out on the lake and a lot of time on the outdoor basketball court. I love all of the kids I met this past week, but there was something about Ozzy that made him more special to me than the rest. Maybe because he reminded me of my little brothers, or maybe it was because he truly appreciated the finer things in life, but either way I spent as much time with him as I could.

 My favorite time of the whole week was this one night when the activities council was playing a movie in the dining hall, some of the families were swimming and Ozzy, four male counselors and I were playing three-on-three on the outdoor court, under the lights in the rain. It gives me chills right now thinking about how special it was because I have never, ever, in all of my years of working with kids and playing with my younger siblings, felt like I made someone as happy as I did when we asked Ozzy to play three-on-three with us. I will never forget the look on his face after each of the male counselors feigned falling for his up-fakes so he could make a shot, and I will never forget the sound of his laughter as I pretended to dribble the ball of my foot/knee/elbow over and over again. It is a memory that I will always hold with me.

 I am truly grateful for the experience that Camp Sunshine has provided me with; I have met so many wonderful people and done so many wonderful things. If I could work there forever, getting paid only in the smiles on the faces of the kids I get to play with, I would because I’ve never been happier.

Since this is unfortunately my last blog of the summer, and my last little piece of Camp Sunshine, I thought I would take some time and write down a few more of my favorite memories from my time at camp. I would also like to take a quick second and suggest that anyone, anywhere who enjoys spending time laughing, smiling and being the highlight of someone’s day should go online to campsunshine.org and apply to work as a volunteer. It’s truly something special to be a part of and I promise you will never want to leave. I especially encourage males because although camp is always flooded with volunteers, there are never enough men. We could definitely use some men from Wheaton…

Okay enough of that. Now let me tell you a little bit more about my favorite parts of camp. From the first week, I would like to tell a story about my one-on-one with Kieran. As you know from reading my previous blogs, Kieran has retinoblastoma and Aspergers Syndrome. I was told before meeting him that I needed to keep him to his schedule because change and disorder stresses him out. So all week I did my best to make sure he felt secure in what we were doing. I did sense that he was getting stressed sometimes and on more than one occasion I thought he may have a meltdown when some of the younger kids messed up something he was drawing or if they moved the pool balls he was playing with. However, one day I watched from afar as Kieran swallowed his discomfort and stress and taught with great pertinence a half blind boy with Autism how to play pool. It was amazing to see Kieran put his problems aside and help someone who didn’t even understand the game of pool. He was so passionate about sharing his knowledge; the other boy seemed to enjoy it simply feeding off of Kieran’s enthusiasm. Kieran has taught me a great deal about patience, which ended up helping me in my next week with Danielle.

My favorite memory from my week with Danielle was simply Danielle’s sense of humor. As I said before, she did tell me she hated me, and I was almost in tears on multiple occasions but it was witty humor that pulled me back each time she sent me over the edge. Everyone I know at home and from school would have gotten a kick out of the way she followed around one of the male volunteers, Oraene (pronounced “OH-RAIN”).  He was a good sport and played along with her imaginary friends and even pretended that he was her “camp boyfriend.” She would say the funniest things to him holding his hand in between activities, winking and waving to him from across the dining hall and blowing him kisses at the lunch table. Danielle taught me a lot about letting go and having a good time.

I just want to reiterate everything I’ve said before by saying that Camp Sunshine truly is a special place. I think it takes a special person to volunteer their time and devote all of it toward making a sick child or his/her family enjoy themselves. I cannot be more grateful for coach Hodgdon for having found this place for me, and I cannot be more grateful for the staff at Camp Sunshine for allowing me (hopefully forever) to a part of their loving family. The people I’ve met, and the children I’ve spent my time with will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I can only hope they feel the same way. With that being said, thank you all for following me on this journey and sharing my experiences! Without you I would just be writing to myself and that would be weird so thank you for following me, and please stay tuned as I’ll be posting at the end of every week after the month of September as I embark on my senior year of college basketball at Wheaton!

 
The kids (with volunteers helping) practicing their "Orf"
routine to "On Top of Old Smokey."
  Ozzy and I listening to Eminem and exchanging conctact info on the
last day of camp at Camp Sunshine :(

 

Hanging out at the 9-12 camp out with my volunteer friend Mike and my buddy Brian!

 

An underwater "selfie" of Brian and I!

 

Ozzy wearing Matt's sunglasses, hanging out at the waterfront!

 

WEEK 3

Welcome back to Fitzy’s Full Court Press! If you’re reading this, it means you’re on week three about to hear what I did at Camp Sunshine during Oncology Week!

Originally my assignment was to be a general counselor for the Teen Group, (volunteers in the teen group are 20 years or older) but upon arriving for my second week I was thrilled to hear that I was placed again as a one-on-one counselor, just as I was with Kieran the week before. I was assigned to 19-year-old Danielle who has Down’s syndrome and has also been battling with leukemia for most of her young life. Kim, Danielle’s mother, tells me that they’ve been going to Camp Sunshine since 2000 and although it has been a couple of years since they’ve visited, she surprised Danielle this week and they couldn’t be more excited to return and see all their friends.

Danielle is a spunky, stubborn, hilarious girl who spends most of her time talking to her three imaginary friends Emma, Parker and Donna. It was very difficult to communicate with her at first because everything that I asked of her or said to her had to first go through her friends, but once she was comfortable, it became a little easier.  My ability to communicate with Danielle rests entirely upon a girl I met from Minnesota named Julie who works with Down’s syndrome children every summer.  She taught me an incredible amount of patience and throughout the week Danielle and I developed a different way of communicating through her imaginary friends as well as with the imaginary friends that we decided to make up ourselves.  To say that we were exhausted at the end of each day was a huge understatement and there’s no way I could have kept up with Danielle all on my own. I’m so grateful that Julie was here this week to help me out.

Before we meet our campers, the volunteers attend a huge meeting led by Social-Psych director Nancy and whichever doctor is also volunteering. Using their knowledge and experience they give us advice on how best to interact with our campers and/or one-on-ones. We’re encouraged at first to listen intently and chat modestly with the families because once they feel comfortable they’ll likely open up and tell us all about their lives. Even with the special way of communicating Julie and I came up with for Danielle, we learned very little about her life besides the Down’s syndrome aspect. It was however understandable, as Danielle and her Mom have been to camp for over 13 years and undoubtedly told their story a million times. I was just thrilled to learn what I did about them.

Some of our most enjoyable activities together included swimming in the pool (and the late night teen swim) dancing to “Wobble Baby,” Zumba, Mini Golf, (which I still have yet to improve upon from week one) Newcomb against the parents, and singing in the teen lounge. Let it be known that Danielle sings Katy Perry’s “Firework” very well, and Julie and I make great backup dancers. I have proof from our performance in the weekly talent show! Also this week, four other counselors and I decided to get together and embarrass ourselves a little by performing a choreographed dance routine to Justin Bieber’s “Baby” which turned out to be a huge hit, the kids were mimicking our dance moves for the rest of the week and the parents commended us for being so daring and funny. Although I know for certain my face was red during the entirety of both performances it was fun to go up and laugh with the kids laughing at us. I’ll definitely be doing something like it again.

Although this week was the hardest so far, it was still very rewarding in its own way. Danielle loves movies such as Annie, The Sound of Music and Titanic and she could oftentimes be found singing songs from each of the movies with her friends  – who by the way she refers to affectionately as the “new family” – or telling jokes to make herself laugh hysterically. At times she was difficult to the point of tears and Julie and I were oftentimes ripping our hairs out, but at the end of the day it was all worth it. I have a series of “seflies” on my phone from Danielle at the waterfront one day, and they never fail to make me smile. I’ve also picked up on some of her funniest phrases like “are you serious?” and “yeah, exactly.” After the first day I thought I would never make it through the week and on the third day I was on the verge of an emotional breakdown when I was stopped by another volunteer who was thoughtful enough to tell me she thought Julie and I were doing a great job with Danielle. She voiced that she knew how difficult Danielle could be at times and to stick with it because it would all be worth it in the end. She was right, although Danielle told me she hated me at least fifteen times, and she refused to wear the homemade bracelet I made her, it was one of the best weeks of my life. I can’t wait to come back next year and see her again, #newfamily.  

My last week at camp is Brain Tumor and there will be fewer families – 17compared to 33 this week – and the week is longer than the previous two, so hopefully I’ll get closer with more than just a couple families. I’m especially nervous for this week because I know that lots of the children will be very sick from all of the treatment they’ve had to live through, but just as before, I’m excited for new learning opportunities and ways to challenge myself emotionally by meeting new people and hearing of different experiences. I hope you enjoy my pictures and thoughts from this week! See you next time!

Danielle cheesin' for the camera!


Danielle and Julie rocking the headbands
that Julie and I wore a different way
each day of the week.
Some of the homemade Wish Boats from
the ceremony this week.

 

 
Stephanie, Katie (my roommate), Sarah, Julie and I performing our dance in the
talent show!

  Matt McVety and I. Matt is working as an
intern this summer at camp and will be a
junior at Wheaton next year.

 

WEEK 2

Before I dive into the details of my wonderful first week, I just want to give you all a little more background about what Camp Sunshine does.  Each week is represented by the children and families of those children with a different, specific life threatening illness. The families get to stay in roomy air conditioned suites and don’t have TVs or wifi which encourages them to spend quality family time. During camp, the members of the families are separated into six different groups divided by their ages; Nursery, Tot Lot (toddlers), 9-12, Teens and Adults. The volunteers who work each week are assigned to one or more of the families and within each family to a specific age group. The days at Camp Sunshine are very scheduled and split between time with the volunteers and opportunities to utilize the amazing facilities for optimum family activities.

This week I worked with the 9-12 year olds during “Retinoblastoma Week.” For those of you who aren’t familiar, Retinoblastoma is cancer of the eye. In most cases, the cancer develops in the retina of one eye, but sometimes the cancer will develop in both. This type of cancer is typically detected in early childhood most often before the age of five and is commonly recognized in the visible whiteness found in ones pupil. If the disease is detected early, as it most often is, it can be cured. If not, it will spread to other parts of the body and can be life-threatening. Retinoblastoma accounts for roughly four-percent of all cancers in children younger than 15 years.

Prior to this week, I myself did not know what Retinoblastoma was and to be quite frank I was feeling a little doubtful about my abilities and knowledge to handle such a heavy task. My doubts however were totally unnecessary because the 80 something volunteers – some who had been before and others who were first timers like me - could not have been more welcoming or helpful. Upon meeting most of them during volunteer orientation on my first day, all of my doubts vanished. Sporting bright yellow shirts and ear-to-ear grins they all showed me the ropes.

You wouldn’t believe the amount of stuff one group of 9-12 year olds can get into in just four days, so please bear with me as I try to fill you in as best I can. On the very first night we got to sit down and eat dinner with the families we were all assigned to and the dinner hour was also a chance for us to get to know some of the other volunteers. I was assigned to the Donovan’s – Kieran (12), Cameron (6) and their mother Angie. They left their father Louis and their younger, newly “adopted” brother Dane home in Edinburgh as Dane is still too young to travel overseas. Kieran and Angie both have Retinoblastoma and Kieran also has Aspergers Syndrome. I was assigned to be Kieran’s one-on-one counselor which was truly one of the coolest things I’ve ever had the chance to do.

Kieran is a very well adjusted, polite, absurdly intelligent 12-year-old who I now consider one of my coolest friends. He loves playing Minecraft, watching movies about World War II, and his absolute favorite activity the whole time here was the single man Kayak. You’ve never in your life seen a happier kid than Kieran in a kayak. Some of the other activities we did included mini golf, (which we’re both terrible at) frog catching, wish boat making, Newcomb Volleyball, running on the soccer field, shooting hoops and talking about life. Also very notable this week, Kieran solo performed Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” in the talent show.

The weather this week had us indoors for the majority of the time, but that gave me a chance to hang out with some of the other kids in my group and not just Kieran. I became especially close with a 9-year-old boy that had his eye right eye removed when he was a toddler and because of this, he has a fake eye that he wears at all times. He also wears prescription glasses to protect his sensitive “good” eye.  His name is Landon, but we called him “Lando” and he and I spent a lot of time in the 9-12 activity room perfecting our Air Hockey game and chatting about life in general. He said to me that “because he has a fake eye, he’s not 100% human and he’s okay with that because you can still be a good person even if you’re not 100%.” He was so insightful for such a young guy!

One thing that I find really great about Camp Sunshine is that not only is it a retreat for the sick kids, but for all of their family members, no matter their health status. I think it’s awesome that the kids who aren’t sick, but are rather the siblings of those who are sick, get just as much attention at Camp Sunshine which is oftentimes not the case in their everyday lives at home. So on top of meeting some incredibly inspiring, brave sick/previously sick children, I also met some truly wonderful siblings who stood out as individuals. It was a very humbling thing to witness.  

My favorite activity all week was the “9-12 Campout” which normally takes place in Pop’s Yurt Village – a “yurt” is a little hut-like building that houses 3-4 campers and two volunteers – but for our camp out, the weather was too cold and ALL 18 of the 9-12 year olds, the volunteers of the 9-12 group, and the lead counselors stayed in one room in a building called the gazebo. We volunteers thought it would be a huge fiasco with all the kids in the same room, but after we all got our mattresses down with sleeping bags and pillows, the kids were really great. All it took were two movies, (Monsters Inc. and Ice Age) multiple s’mores, some frog catching, saving a snapping turtle, and cleaning up after a fuel fire on the grill for the kids to fall asleep! The morning following that, we got to go to breakfast in our PJs where they served us waffles with ice cream!

It took me a very long time to sit down and decide which of my experiences I wanted to include this week, and I had a hard time cutting back, but I really hope you enjoyed hearing about my first week here at Camp Sunshine! Every single activity I participated in was so much fun, but the heart of Camp Sunshine really is the people you meet. From the parents, to the children, to the food service volunteers, I can honestly say that every single person I met has a special personality that makes this place what it is. General Oncology Week starts on Monday and I’m excited to meet an amazing new group of people!


Kieran holding his first frog ever!


Kieran and Cameron holding up their homemade “Wish Boats.”

(At the end of the week they put these boats in the pond and all the kids light candles and together blow their candles out with a wish to go along with it)


My pal Landon!


WEEK 1

Hello everyone, and welcome to Fitzy’s Full Court Press!

On this forum I will be keeping all the Wheaton Women’s Basketball followers entertained with my summer activities, as well as taking the reins of the team blog for the upcoming school year from my former teammate (a very close friend) and newly appointed Wheaton Alum, Gabby Barbera. I have some big shoes to fill, but I think I’m ready for it! I will post every Sunday or Monday so keep checking back to see what our team is up to.

For starters, my name is Sarah Fitzgerald, and I’m a senior forward from Bath located in the beautiful state of Maine. I graduated from Morse High School in 2010, and I’m right in the middle of the summer leading up to my final year at Wheaton College. I’m a sociology major with a particular interest in family and children and I’ve started this blog to tell you all about the wonderful opportunity I was afforded this summer as a volunteer at Camp Sunshine in Casco, Maine. I received a grant from Wheaton to serve as a volunteer at Camp Sunshine and I couldn’t be any more excited to start!

Camp Sunshine is a program that runs year round on Sebago Lake and provides support and optimism for children with life threatening illnesses and their immediate families. I heard about Camp Sunshine simply by word of mouth, and when I went and visited the camp website I knew right away it was something I wanted to do. Last year I applied to be a volunteer, but unfortunately, I didn’t have my ducks aligned on time. This year, I sent my application in as soon as possible and jumped for joy around my kitchen when I read the words: “Dear Sarah, Congratulations! Your application has been reviewed and you have been selected as a Camp Sunshine Volunteer!” Coach Hodgdon helped me a lot with the whole process so I sent her a picture of the letter moments after I read it myself.

My volunteer description says that I will be a one-on-one counselor the first week, a teen counselor the second week, and a 9-12 counselor the third week. On my checklist of what to bring to camp, one of the boxes is for “smiles,” fortunately that is something I can provide in bulk amounts as it’s well known that I’m the team optimist with possibly the biggest, most frequent smile.

Tomorrow is my first day of three weeks with Camp Sunshine and I cannot be more excited for the opportunity. I know it will be hard and there will be a lot of things I must learn in order to complete my volunteer time successfully, but I’m open to learning new things and I can’t wait to meet new people! I hope you guys enjoy my blog, I look forward to telling you all about my experiences!

Hello everyone and welcome back to Fitzy’s Full Court Press!

Let me start this post off by saying thank you to any of you who voted for us in the NCAA Division III Special Olympics Spotlight Poll, because for the second year in a row, we won! Using the money we won in the poll we’ll be hosting Heller’s Angels for a pizza party on November 23rd and giving them all special t-shirts to honor the relationships we have with them. It is a huge honor for our team and for the Heller’s Angels and we wouldn’t be able to do it without the help of our loyal fans J

Over the weekend we had our first annual “Blue and White” scrimmage during which we played against each other. We played three 10 minute periods with different player combinations for each session. At the end of each period, the score was cleared and we started all over again in hopes to improve upon our teamwork.

A really exciting part about our Blue and White scrimmage was that our families were there to cheer us on, and to feast on some homemade goodies at our Wheaton women’s basketball family pot-luck which took place after the game. The parents that were in attendance (mine unfortunately could not go, my little brother had a swim meet at home in Maine) were able to officially meet all of the girls on the team, as well as mingle with the other parents. Laura’s mom made all of the adults and siblings name tags so we could identify each other, and it was a nice relaxing afternoon. I can’t wait for more family pot-lucks in the future and for my parents to meet the new girls on the team as well as their parents!

On Tuesday we had our first non-intersquad scrimmage! We played three periods against Worcester State University at our very own Emerson Gymnasium and I think it went really well. We started off slow, but by the end we were starting to mesh together well as a team and began looking more like Wheaton basketball. As always there is plenty of room for improvement, and Tuesday’s scrimmage was a great opportunity for us to figure out where those areas for improvement are.  It’s exciting that we’re one step closer to starting our season!

We have one more scrimmage against Salve Regina before we officially start our season in just three short weeks; mark your calendars for the 16th-17th of November as that is our annual Cheryl Warren-Powers ’95 Memorial Basketball tournament for which we’d love your support. Happy Halloween everyone, I hope you enjoyed this week’s Full Court Press!

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