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
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
earler this week!
|Our friends Mark, Bri and Susan
some homemade turkeys with Rebecca
|Bridget Nicholson, Sophie Black,
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!)
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
Wheaton fall evening.
|Our favorite... ever growing puppy, Tucker!|
|FROM L to R: LP, myself, Camden and
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!|
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
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
|Matt McVety and I. Matt is working as
intern this summer at camp and will be a
junior at Wheaton next year.
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!
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!