Category Archives: Athletics News

Heartwarming Memories Mark Athletics Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

By Matt Liebowitz

Emotions ran high, and tears mixed with levity and laughter as the entire campus community, alumni included, gathered under the tent to pay homage to competitors of the past and induct a select group into Williston’s Athletic Hall of Fame on May 12, 2017.

Athletics Director Mark Conroy summarizes a successful Wildcat year.

Athletic Director Mark Conroy, in a brief introduction, shined a spotlight on a handful of current student athletes, including Gabby Mercier (diving), Nick Hill (cross-country), Devin DeVerry (skiing), David Fitch (swimming), and Hunter Adams (wrestling), whose accomplishments have set them apart in their Williston careers.

The first inductee in this year’s Hall of Fame group, given an introduction by Nick Hill, ’17 was Coach Alan Shaler. Shaler founded the cross-country program in 1963, and coached through 1999. Similarly, he had a 40-year track-coaching career. The Annual Shaler Invitational cross-country race is named in his honor.

Cross-country legend Al Shaler delivers a witty acceptance speech as he’s inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“I feel very humbled and a little strange,” Shaler said in his acceptance speech. “When I was the age of the students I coached and taught, I wasn’t like them. I was regarded as a good student and a musician, but not much else. But I always thought that anyone who went out for interscholastic sports got even tired or hurt.”

Shaler praised the grit and determination necessary to excel in cross-country, a sport, unlike football or basketball, nobody “plays.”

His lighthearted speech was an endearing, often hilarious representation of the humor and ease he said he always tried to bring to practices and meets.

“The word games and play suggest big grins, a million laughs,” Shaler said. “If someone is running a cross-country race and is grinning and waving his arms around like Big Papi on a homerun trot, something is very wrong.”

Shaler told the audience he “learned early that the good cross-country coach is who can inject a little levity amidst the pain.”

To that end, he recalled his habit of making “all kind of inane comments and witty remarks” as his runners warmed up.

“I think they kids liked this,” he said. “They did this often, often at my expense.”

Following the induction of renowned football coach Amos Alonzo Stagg, Saul Blain ’17 inducted David “Whitey” Felsen ’62.

In his senior year, Felsen, a soccer, basketball, and baseball player at Williston, shared the Denman award, given to the best all-around athlete. After Williston, Felsen went on to attend Haverford College, where he earned his undergraduate degree in 1966, and the University of Pennsylvania, where he got his Master’s degree in 1971.

Felsen taught, coached varsity basketball, and worked as an administrator at Germantown Friends School for 16 years, and recently was involved in creating a youth basketball center near his home in North Philadelphia.

“Returning to Williston Northampton and my hometown evokes a flood of memories,” Felsen told the crowd.

He then recounted the story, at times both heartbreaking and humorous, of his childhood. His father died unexpectedly when Felsen was 10; the headmaster of Williston at the time, Phillips Stevens, visited Felsen’s mother – the family lived on Park Street – and offered him a full scholarship.

He remembered dribbling a basketball in his Park Street basement, and another incident during which he was practicing his baseball swing in the living room and accidentally smashed his mother’s favorite flower vase.

“My passion for sport was boundless, and, I have to tell you, a little bit crazy, a little bit nuts,” he said.

Felsen praised the teacher-coaches who guided him through his time at school.

As a boy growing up without a father,” he said, “their care and encouragement meant more than I can express.”

Read Felsen’s full remarks here.

The 1981 varsity football team was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame

Also inducted in the Hall of Fame were Stephen White ’77, Abigal Ouimet Katuska ’99, Colleen Hession Thom ’02, and the undefeated 1981 Varsity Football team.

Athletes of the Week

Elin Blomquist ’18- Girls Varsity Track

At our second home meet of the year, Elin placed second in both the 100 and the 200 with very respectable times. She was also a member of the runner-up 4×100 and 4×400 teams. At a tri meet, that means she was responsible for 12 of the team’s 63 points. Not content with a string of second places, Elin would turn up the intensity at Saturday’s meet at Suffield. There, she won the 100, again took second in the 200, and was a member of the winning 4×400 team. These strong performances helped set the tone for a strong showing against Suffield and Miss Porter’s. A year ago, Elin and the girl’s team beat Suffield by 25 points, but on Saturday, they widened that margin to 55 points! Continue reading

A Lifetime on Skates Leads Nick Schofield to a Skyhawk Slot

Nick Schofield ’17

Nick Schofield, who on April 12 signed a letter of intent to play hockey at Stonehill College next fall, recalls a proud moment in the rink. It lasted only 10 seconds, but it made the difference in the game. Playing Millbrook School at Williston’s Lossone Rink this winter, the teams were tied, and 17 seconds remained on the overtime clock. Before the face-off, Nick told his defenseman he would take possession of the puck back and pass it to him. “’We are going to get it and win this game,’” he told his teammate. “The puck dropped and I won the draw back and we executed,” Nick said. “I scored the winning goal with seven seconds left, and it is a moment I will never forget.”

Unforgettable plays like that one can add up to a great mental slideshow of a lifetime spent on skates. Nick certainly has had enough of them. He started skating at age three and started hockey a year later. His older sister Caitlin and brother Kelley exposed their little brother to a variety of sports, and Nick picked each one up with ease, according to his mother, Bridget Schofield.

Nick and his parents, Bridget and David Schofield

For Nick, what kept him interested in playing was the feeling he got when he scored a goal. “The joy it brings me to this day is the reason why I love the game,” he adds. “The only thing I love more than scoring goals is helping my teammates score them, because I know how happy I get when I score, I love being able to see my teammates faces when they do.”

And what coach wouldn’t love that? Boys varsity hockey coach Derek Cunha has seen Nick transform from a sophomore to a senior. “Nick has been an impact forward for us for all three years combining skill, size, and a strong hockey sense,” he said. “He should head into Stonehill with the opportunity to be a top prospect as a freshman. I suspect that similar to his time at Williston, he will earn quality playing time right from the start and, as he quickly adapts to the college level, he will see similar success as he has had here.”

Hockey players congratulate Nick on his signing to Stonehill College.

Nick said he’s hoping to use his skills as much as possible as a Stonehill Skyhawk. The school is part of the NCAA Division II Northeast-10 Conference, one of the top Division II conferences in the nation. As he sees it, his strength is having a high “Hockey IQ.” “This means I am able to see the ice well and make plays when people are not expecting them,” he said. “Also, I like to think my passing ability is a strong point. Finally, being a center you have to know how to win face-offs, and I have worked very hard at making that a strong point in my game.

Cunha agrees. “Nick has adapted well to playing with different style of players in all three years at Williston,” he said. “He has a strong hockey sense of where to be on the ice and is able to make those around him better.”

David Schofield, Nick’s father, is excited for Nick’s future, and proud of his son’s hockey prowess. But he’s also thrilled that Nick greatly improved academically at Williston. “He’s always been a good athlete,” he said. “But the academics are important to him. He’s worked hard at it. He’s matured at Williston.”

If shining the light on others’ accomplishments is a sign of maturity, Nick has it in spades. After reflecting on his hockey career at Williston, Nick wanted to make sure he thanked his teammate, senior Jo Jo Carbone. “We have been line mates for our three years at Williston, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.”

Water Polo Brings Out Abbie Coscia’s Inner Warrior

Abbie Coscia ’19

By Matthew Liebowitz

The first time Abbie Coscia’s mom saw her daughter play water polo, she was horrified.

“She screamed, ‘That girl’s drowning my daughter,’” recalled Abbie.

Her grandfather, who Abbie cited as one of her “biggest supporters,” saw things differently, even from the first time she jumped in the pool as a seventh grader.

Well, maybe not right away. Water polo is, notoriously, a brutally hands-on sport.

“When I was a little seventh grader, he might have been worried,” Abbie said. It didn’t take long for her grandfather, who also played, and now regularly sends her tips and texts after games, to realize Abbie’s prowess in the pool would outdo any fears he had for her safety. Continue reading

Winter Sports Awards and Academic All Americans

The winter sports season is fading in the rearview mirror, and with spring storms leaving traces of snow around campus, it’s hard to believe winter sports are becoming a dim memory. But Athletic Director Mark Conroy wanted the Williston community to remember some exemplary sports achievements during the winter term and expanded the list of recognition-worthy students he offered in March.

JV Swimming
Most Valuable Player Award — Alan Martin ’20
Most Improved — Rachel Burke ’19
Sportsmanship — Toshiki Ayabe ’18

Girls varsity hockey players during its pink in the rink game
Girls varsity hockey players during a “pink in the rink” game

Girls Varsity Hockey
Most Valuable Player Award — Danielle Marquez ’18, Marielle McHale ’18
Most Improved — Madison Cardaci ’20
Sportsmanship — Alexis Ryan ’17 Continue reading

Fight and Flight: Mercier’s Record-Shattering Diving Success

By Matt Liebowitz

Gabby Mercier '17 and teammate Natalie Aquadro '17
Gabriella Mercier ’17 and teammate Natalie Aquadro ’17

Gabby Mercier made an indelible mark on Williston’s diving program this year. She broke the school record for the six-dive and the 11-dive events; she broke the pool record for the 11-dive event; she broke her own NEPSAC Division II 11-dive record; and she set the 11-dive New England Open record, landing the highest score of all time in NEPSAC history.

If the stats seem overwhelming, how about a more succinct encapsulation of Gabby’s four years of outstanding accomplishments from Williston’s Athletic Director, Mark Conroy: “She’s arguably the greatest diver in the school’s history.” Continue reading

Wildcat Swimmers and Divers Dominate Championships

swim team champsThe girls swimming and diving team traveled to Bristol, Rhode Island, this weekend and won their second straight NEPSAC Division 2 Swimming and Diving Championship with a meet-record 451 points, well ahead of second-place Dana Hall, which finished with 325.5 points.

The Wildcats dominated the meet from start to finish and set a number of meet and school records along the way. The 200 Medley Relay team of Sally Alrutz ’19 (Springfield), Natalie Aquadro ’17 (Northampton), Maya Soley ’18 (South Hadley), and Anabelle Farnham ’18 (Amherst) led off the meet with a victory, paced by the fastest 50 breaststroke split of the meet by Aquadro, to set a new school and meet record with a time of 1:52.09. Continue reading

Speed and Humility a Winning Combination for Skier Devin DeVerry

Photo of Devin DeVerry '17 by Ray and Harriet DeVerry
Photo of Devin DeVerry ’17 by Ray and Harriet DeVerry

By Matt Liebowitz

There are cars that shake and rattle at the speeds Devin DeVerry can reach on skis. At that velocity, upwards of 50 mph, the slightest misstep, the tiniest caught edge, can lose a race, and knock even the most experienced athlete off balance.

But that’s where Devin shines.

On Wednesday Feb. 15, Devin, 17, dominated the New England Class B Championships, held at Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Vermont. He won both the Slalom and Giant Slalom races, an incredible feat for the Williston Northampton senior from Southwick, Massachusetts. Continue reading

Athletes of the Week

Spencer Danforth ’17 – Boys Varsity Basketball

Spencer

Spencer continues his excellent play this season for varsity basketball.   This past week, he averaged 20 points a game in three wins over Canterbury, Deerfield and Hotchkiss.  While his consistent play on offense has been critical to the team’s success, it has been his efforts on the defensive end of the court that has been truly exceptional.   In Saturday’s win over Hotchkiss, he held their high scorer who came in averaging well over 20 points to 3 points.  Spencer’s tenacity, work ethic and commitment to being a complete player has been a huge part of the team’s recent success. Continue reading

Hunter Adams Marches Forth with 100th Wrestling Win

Guest Blog Post by Matthew Liebowitz

“March Forth.” It’s the Williston Wrestling team’s motto, a cheer shouted after practice, a pre-match rallying cry. It’s a simple phrase, a two-word shout that has characterized senior Hunter Adams’ illustrious six-year career on the mat.

Adams, 18, recently racked up his 100th win, a feat he began tackling when he showed up at Williston in 7thgrade with no prior wrestling experience. However, he had spent enough time around his brother, Connor, and his fellow team members to know it was a sport he wanted to pursue. Continue reading