Social Justice in Athletics
There is a responsibility that comes with being a student-athlete at Springfield College. Student-athlete success is based, in part, on results from the competitive arena. The more impact they make in the pool, finding the end zone, or rounding the bases, the more elevated in stature they become.
When there is a pause in competition, a loss of identity in the athletic realm, student-athletes are able to write their impact on a blank canvas. In the 2020-21 academic year, our Springfield College student-athletes have amplified their voices through initiatives that have caught the attention of their classmates, and of people on campuses across the nation.
Through current events, the intersection between sport and social justice continues to strengthen. At the start of the academic year, Springfield College athletics provided a new platform for Black student-athletes and staff to share perspectives, insights, and experiences. The series, “My Story, My Truth“, featured the stories and views of student-athletes with the hope that viewers would be able to connect in a way that would lead to greater empathy.
Twelve videos produced totaled almost 40,000 views on Instagram and have sparked conversations about systematic racism, privilege, mental health, the importance of voting, and gender norms. The series allows individuals to look for the beauty in our differences.
In fact, while the videos were shared on social media and support on campus poured in for those student-athletes who were brave enough to share their experiences, the project also garnered the attention of others away from Alden Street, and Springfield College was honored with the 2020 NCAA Division III and D3SIDA Fall Recognition Award for the “My Story, My Truth” video series. Through the efforts of Brian Magoffin, assistant athletic director for communications, and Adaeze Alaeze-Dinma, coordinator of student-athlete leadership development and sports communications assistant, the project provided an opportunity to learn about the lives of Black student-athletes.
With growing social justice momentum on the campus, student-athletes wanted to provide a welcoming environment for all, including their own teammates who may be having experiences different than their own. The Springfield College Student-Athlete Leadership Team (SALT) created three new affinity groups to create a space for BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and international students to connect with one another, and to develop programming specific to their needs and interests.
Out of those conversations, and fueled by the success of My Story, My Truth, a new initiative, called “True Colors” was created as a way for student-athletes, faculty, and staff from the LGBTQIA+ community to talk about their individual journeys, allowing others to become more aware, as well as generating conversations that foster growth and support. Student-athletes, graduate assistant coaches, and faculty members spoke up and shared their experiences to an outpouring of support. Seven videos were viewed almost 20,000 times on Springfield College athletics social media platforms, reinforcing the inclusive environment being strived for on Alden Street.
Women’s Lacrosse Earns Major Honors In Reaching NEWMAC Championship
Three women’s lacrosse student-athletes earned New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) All-Conference honors. The Pride’s three honorees were the second-most in the conference as Kate Sarnacki (Granby, Mass.), Gabby Fogg (Wells, Maine), and Gianna Scialdone (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) were selected.
In addition, Sarnacki was named the NEWMAC Offensive Athlete of the Year, Fogg was tabbed the NEWMAC Defensive Athlete of the Year, and head coach Kristen Mullady was chosen as the NEWMAC Coach of the Year. Sarnacki became the eighth student-athlete in program history to earn athlete of the year honors, while Fogg was the third Springfield student-athlete since 2017 to be named the top defensive player in the conference. For Mullady, this marks her fourth conference coach of the year recognition and first since 2017.
In 2021, Springfield clinched the top seed in the NEWMAC Championship, and, in a season filled with uncertainties and paused due to COVID-19 protocols, advanced to the NEWMAC Women’s Lacrosse Championship for the sixth-consecutive season.
Men’s Volleyball Collects Two All-America Recipients
The men’s volleyball team had two student-athletes earn national recognition as the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) announced its 18th annual NVA/AVCA Men’s Division III All-America Teams.
Jarrett Anderson (San Jose, Calif.) and Brennen Brandow (Manorville, N.Y.) were chosen to the NVA/AVCA Division III All-America First Team as Springfield was one of only three programs in the country to have at least two first-team selections this season.
As a program, Springfield College has had a total 36 student-athletes garner AVCA All-America recognition 61 times, including 37 first-team selections. No other Division III program in the country has received more AVCA All-American selections than the Pride’s 61 honorees.
In an abbreviated season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Springfield owned a 5-1 record and spent the first seven weeks of the season ranked No. 1 in the NVA/AVCA Coaches Poll. As a team, Springfield owned the third best team hitting percentage in the country (.318) while holding its opponents to the fourth lowest hitting percentage in the nation (.096). Additionally, Springfield’s 2.500 blocks per set were second-best nationally.
A Unique Season
Competing in a virtual setting for the first time in program history, the men’s gymnastics team took on the University of California-Berkeley in Dana Gymnasium on February 17. The Golden Bears, competing on their own campus in Northern California over 3,000 miles away, turned in a score of 386.900, while Springfield opened the year with a 369.950.
It proved to be a historic event in the history of Springfield College athletics, as it was the first-ever virtual men’s gymnastics competition through the NCAA-approved Virtius platform, and it also marked the first intercollegiate competition since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down competition on March 11, 2020. Springfield would go on to have a total of five virtual competitions against the likes of Stanford, Army, William & Mary, and Navy before completing their season with an in-person competition at the ECAC Championships at West Point.
Back on the Course
The golf team finished tied for second at the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Championships on April 28 at the Ranch Golf Club.
It had been 555 days since the Pride were on the course competing, having previously last played in the NEIGA Championships on October 21, 2019. Corey Roya (Manchester, Conn.) had the best performance of the day for Springfield as he shot a 76 to finish tied for third. Roya, who also took third last season at the conference championships, earned all-conference honors after turning in a round of four-over par. Springfield, which claimed the inaugural MASCAC Championship a season ago, finished in the top two of a conference championship for the fifth-straight year, and head coach Joe Eadie was selected as MASCAC Coach of the Year for his efforts.
Cocca Earns Athlete of the Year Honors
Following impressive performances at the 2021 New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championships, Springfield sophomore Jaime Cocca (Sand Lake, N.Y.) was recognized as the NEWMAC Men’s Field Athlete of the Year. In his first NEWMAC Championship, Cocca was victorious in the shot put (14.51) and in the discus (42.14). The physical education major also picked up a third-place finish in the hammer throw (43.90) to total 26 points and help secure the Pride’s second-place finish.
Cocca became just the second Springfield College student-athlete in program history to be chosen as the NEWMAC Men’s Field Athlete of the Year, joining Kevin Coyle who was recognized in 2011.
Softball team returns to NEWMAC
The softball team returned to the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Championship series as it battled Babson in a rematch of the 2017 NEWMAC Championship. The second-seeded Pride owned a 9-5 record during the 2021 season and was led by all-conference selection Mackenzie Doyle (Glocester, R.I.), as the Community College of Rhode Island transfer made an immediate impact in her first season on Alden Street, hitting .424 on the season while striking out only once. Additionally, first-year pitcher Ashley Pugliese (Long Island, N.Y.) ranked second in the conference as she owned a 1.11 earned run average in the circle.