jump to navigation

Hollie Mershon: Just Traveling Country to Country November 13, 2013

Posted by Sam Angell in Uncategorized.
add a comment

Editor’s note: This blog was originally published by Hollie on Sunday morning.

So this has been a crazy week with a lot of traveling!  We left for Poland on Monday morning at 8am and arrived at 10pm! It was a 14-hour bus trip, but we stopped every two hours for at least 5-10 minutes.  Poland is a very large country so it made no sense to fly because the airport we would have landed in was still eight hours away from our destination.  When we arrived in Poland we had one free day before our game so we were able to walk around the town of Polkowice a bit.  The town was small, but very cute. 

Image

On Wednesday we had our first Euro-League game! It was very exciting, and the gym was packed!  We played against a Polish team who had Janel McCarville, who is  WNBA All Star and champion for the Minnesota Lynx.  We upset them which was the best part.  This is a top team in the Euro-League.  We were up by double digits the entire game until the last quarter.  They started to come back, but we hung on to our lead and finished with a victory.  The fans here really get into the game which I love.  After the game the fans were congratulating us, and some waited after to get our autographs.  I always find it amusing when fans of the other team do that.  What I like most about my team is that we are very team oriented.  We play team basketball, share the ball, look for the best shot possible in an offensive possession.  Our defense is strong as well, but we are still working on communicating better.  After the game we went back to our hotel, ate, then loaded the bus for another 14-hour trip back home.  We arrived in Lithuania at 12pm, and then I slept for the rest of the day.  I am a sleep-aholic, I am very good at sleeping haha. 

 

The same day we arrived home, Sophie and I went to our men’s game later that night.  They are also in the Euro-League.  They played a team from Israel.  Sophie knew one of the guys on the Israeli team because he played at the same college as her.  He also played for Conestoga High School which is right by my house at home.  I did not know who he was, but when I told my mom who I was going to watch play she told me that we went to the same pre-school and were friends when we were younger.  Such a small world let me tell you. 

 

The day after we got back from Poland, we had a three-hour bus trip to another part in Lithuania to play a game, which we won (we scored more than 100 points).  Then we had a three-hour drive back home and did not get in until 11:30pm.  So if you total the amount of hours I spent on a bus this week, 34 hours=Insane. I think I listened to every song on my iPhone three times in one trip.  I also read a lot.  I am reading a new book called Blink.  It’s about the power of thinking without actually thinking. 

 Image

The most exciting part of my week is about to begin.  MY MOM COMES TOMORROW!!!!! She is on her flight at this moment, and arrives Sunday at 1:40pm and I will be picking her up in my new whip, Camry Prius, VIP style.  I respect the Prius, nice and roomie inside, and the gas mileage is AMAZING.  I only have to pay for gas like once every two months.  Anyway, she is coming, and she is leaving on the 22nd, right before Thanksgiving, ughhh.  But the day she leaves marks one month till I get to come HOME!  Open house party, all are invited-hahaha.  Always wanted to have one of those.  

 

Ok well, I don’t think there is anything else left to say.  I have two games this week, and another Euro-League game the following week against a team from Spain I believe – guess I need to check that.  Still missing home, and still missing everyone back in America, but I like to think I am tough, so I am going to “keep on, keepin’ on.”  

 Image

OOO and congrats to my DREXEL BALLER DRAGONS on beating Toledo- you guys are simply amazing, what a great way to start off the season with a solid win!!! So proud of you girlies.  Shout out to Foners (Fiona) with a career high of 19 points!!!!!!  If you are reading this and you do not attend Drexel Women’s Basketball games, shame on you 🙂 haha it’s worth your time I promise!!!

 Image

Tootles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

For more up-to-date entries from Hollie as she continues her professional career in Lithuania, visit http://holliemershon.blogspot.com/

One Month in Lithuania: By Hollie Mershon October 28, 2013

Posted by Sam Angell in Uncategorized.
Tags: ,
2 comments

Labas! So I have official been here in Lithuania for one month!!! I arrived on September 26, which I could never forget because it was my birthday.  Crazy, who would have thought! Everything has been going well so far.  We had our first three official games in the Lithuanian League.   Our first game was against a team that played in dresses…We won, don’t worry.  The day I lose to a team who wears dresses will be the end of my career, haha kidding! The second game we won by about 30 points, and the third game we also won, but we started out the game down by 20 points.  Fortunately we turned things around in the second half and ended up winning by at least that much. We are still in the midst of building chemistry with one another and with each game I think it’s developing more and more so when Euroleague games start we should be ready.  

Image

The Euroleague is going to be very tough.  We actually played a “friendly” game against a team in Russia, and they recently signed Diana Taurasi and Candace Parker to their roster.  They were not on the team when we played them though, yet they were still amazing.  If you do not know who these women are, they are the top players in the WNBA.  So, that is the type of competition we will be going against.  No biggie… I am excited for those games to start though, competitive games are always more exciting.  Some of the teams we play are teams from Russia, Spain, Poland, Croatia, Turkey and Czech Republic. Our first Euroleague game is next week in Poland.  We play on Wednesday, November 6th.  We leave on Monday, and the team we are playing is only four hours away.  If there is a website to watch Euroleague games I will post it on my Facebook, if interested.

 Image

I have not done a lot of exploring lately.  We usually have two practices a day, or a practice and lift.  We also started to play games and soon we will be playing 2-3 games a week.  Basketball keeps me busy, and when I have time to myself I watch Scandal, haha.  Great show, so I am trying to catch up.  

 

I went to one of the men’s games. They lost to a Russian team, but it was a good game and they are fun to watch. The stadium gets very loud, and here they are allowed to have those loud, very annoying horns.  They actually bring them to our games too, and I am not sure if I’m a fan of it. After the game Sophie and I went to the mall searching for some store to fix my iPad.  On the way I was reading the name of the store off the paper, or attempted to, and some guy turned around that was walking in front of me to see who was speaking.  By the look on his face I obviously was not pronouncing it right and I am pretty sure he thought I was illiterate.  I was tempted to tell him I was American but I couldn’t stop laughing.  I didn’t really care, I was laughing at myself before he could even turn around to look at me. 

Image

My mom is coming to visit on November 10th for about a week and a half! I am very excited for her visit and to take her around the city!  It will be nice to have her here.  But then she has to leave so she can get home to prepare for Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday). 😦

 

I still miss home, but I get a Christmas break and my flight home is December 22nd! The day the Eagles play ‘da’ Bears aka Corey Wootton!! Honestly though, I do not know what I’d do without technology because the constant contact back home helps me so much! Also if anyone is curious about anything, like questions about the country or the basketball I can add them in my next blog!

 

Sudie Pasiilgau! (bye, miss you all)

 

For more from Hollie, follow her on Twitter at @hollieRancher, or visit her blog at holliemershon.blogspot.com/

Hollie Mershon: Settling In to New Surroundings October 15, 2013

Posted by Sam Angell in Uncategorized.
Tags: ,
add a comment

Labas,

So Sophie Alexsandravicius (my teammate from Davidson) and I moved into our apartment finally. Our apartment is nice, it is two floors and three bedrooms.  I took the room with the childish mouse wallpaper, naturally. We were left without Internet for about a week, which was terrible!! So everyday for a week we would go to the mall once or twice for a couple of hours just to connect with the world back home.  We were regulars at a mall and would sit at the Coffee Inn and skype and what not, it was pretty funny.  The mall we go to has a movie theater, bowling ally and ice skating rink, it is intense. Sophie and I are also sharing a car but it’s stick shift.  While my dad was here he taught me the basics of driving.  In my head I understand how to drive it but I struggle to remember to push the clutch in while changing the gear, so the car staled multiple times, whoops.  I will get it eventually..

The driving here is a tad more aggressive and I feel like they make up their own driving rules.  The other day my teammate and I were driving to practice and there was rush hour, but it was moving along.  We soon realized that we were driving in the middle of two lanes.  I guess here in Lithuania when there is traffic they create an extra lane on a 2 lane highway.  One thing is for sure, I am bringing that move back to American because I hate traffic.  So don’t be surprised if all the sudden you are driving in the middle of a highway because I will be setting the trend soon enough.  Also, there was a highway biker riding in between the cars…Oh, and since I have been here I have seen ONE stop sign.

Image

When I have free time to myself I try to practice my Lithuanian. I can count to twenty, name all the body parts, a few foods and some every day words (please, thank you, yes, no ect).  It’s funny because when my coach is speaking in Lithuanian to the team I stand there paying attention like I actually understand what is being said. Some of the girls call me out and tell me to stop nodding my head pretending like I know what she is saying.  I do try to see if I can make out any words, but it is a struggle.  Usually one of the girls on the team stands next to me and translates everything that is being said.  The coach translates in English unless she is yelling at us.  I guess that works in my favor…

Also on my free time I have been able to sightsee a bit.  I climbed a pretty steep mountain that overlooked the city of Vilnius.  At the top of the mountain was also “The Three Crosses,” which were built to honor monks martyred in the 14th century.  The original crosses that were built were removed by the Soviets, but then were rebuilt in 1989.  We also visited The Castle in Trakai, Lithuania which was very cool.  The Castle sits on an island on a lake. The town the Castle was in was small, but very cute, and looked like a vacation town.

Image

Image

Practices have been going well.  We have had a couple two-a-days, but nothing I am not used to.  The mens arena is connected to ours and they usually practice right after us.  I am assuming they are a big deal, considering that when I left the gym all of their cars were parked outside with their name and number printed on the side of the car. I guess in case they forget which car is theirs…I don’t know.  Anyways, our first game is Friday, for the Lithuanian League and our Euro-league games start in November I believe.

Image

I am still enjoying myself, but I am missing home which is normal I guess.  I mean I missed home at times even when I was 30 minutes away, but now I don’t have the comfort of being able to just go home when I want. Oh well…

Alrighty, well I miss you all and until next time..

Image

Tootles!!!!

 

For more from Hollie, check in at http://holliemershon.blogspot.com/

One Week in Lithuania October 4, 2013

Posted by Sam Angell in Uncategorized.
add a comment

Hello!

So I have made it a full week here in Lithuania, which is a good sign, I think.  The flight over here was not that bad.  I flew to Frankfort, Germany and then to Lithuania.  My second flight was quite interesting because I put my bag in an overhead compartment, sat down, and then some man came and took my bag out and threw it on the floor and started yelling at me in German.  The lady behind me realized I did not speak the language so she began to yell back at him so he took my bag and put it back.  I was completely confused but I just sat there and pretended it didn’t happen, haha.

When I arrived in Vilnius on my birthday, the guy who picked me up had bought me flowers and chocolate which was very sweet. He then took me to a nice birthday dinner.  The next day I woke up and met the entire team and had a short practice where they taught me all the plays.  I am playing point guard for this team so they had one day to teach me the plays before my first game the following day.  All the girls were very helpful and made sure I understood what was going on.  Everyone on the team speaks English, even the coach, so that is certainly helpful.  I arrived on Thursday, practiced on Friday, and Saturday we left for five days for a tournament in Druskininkai, Lithuania.  We played five “friendly” games against Russian teams. We did pretty well – not as well as we should have, but towards the end everyone was very tired. Throughout the trip the girls helped me learn Lithuanian words, and on the last day I was finally able to remember and pronounce every name on the team.  There is also one other American on the team, she is from New York and played at Davidson.  It helps a lot that there is another American!!!!

Image

Being new and playing point guard is a little overwhelming at times because you have the ball in your hands the majority of the time and you must make quick decisions considering the shot clock is now 24 seconds.  It’s overwhelming, because I am getting used to the style of play, and I still need to build chemistry with my teammates and understand the type of players they are and what they like to do on the court.  But I am catching on.  The basketball here is a lot faster and more physical, which I love.  They tell me that basketball in Lithuania is like a religion for most people.  Our guys’ basketball team is very good, too. They just played in European Championship and won silver, so that is pretty cool.

My team is currently in Russia.  They left the day after we got back from the tournament. I was unable to attend because my visa is not ready and you need a visa for Russia.  With them away I have been able to explore the city a bit.  Some of the buildings are different, but overall it doesn’t look that much different than home.  When I went to Italy with Drexel two years ago, it looked nothing like home.  Everything was different, but here in Vilnius there are similarities.  One thing that is confusing, especially for people visiting, are the street signs.  The street signs are on the side of the buildings, so you almost have to search for them.  Also, there are no stop signs, and people park with their bumper sticking out in the road.  There seems to be no rules about park jobs here.

Image

The food is different.  They love crepes, and I love them too!!! For every meal they have a salad, soup, and then the main dish. Some of the main dishes are unique, but very good.  It is still hard for me to explain.  Also, they have the best candy and sweets of all time!  They have this chocolate called “Milka” that is dangerous.  I will bring home a bunch at Christmas.  All of the food here is amazing.  I cannot complain one bit, and I love to eat so it kind of works out perfectly :).

Image

It is funny though, if you are an American living here, everyone knows.  They can sense that you are a foreigner and continue to stare at you.  The language barrier is not too bad, though, since most people here grew up learning the English language.  Overall everyone has been extremely friendly and helpful, and my experiences the last seven days have been good ones (knock on wood).  I am happy.  It is still a little weird that I am living in another country (I guess it has not hit me yet) but I am slowly adjusting.  I do miss home though every day, but the constant contact with everyone back home has certainly helped me along the way.

So far so good!

Sudie! (goodbye)

 

For more from Hollie as she continues her basketball career overseas, visit http://holliemershon.blogspot.com/

Happy Birthday to Me! The latest from Hollie Mershon September 24, 2013

Posted by Sam Angell in Uncategorized.
Tags:
1 comment so far

Labas, Labas (hi,hi)! So it is official, and although it has taken a while to sign with a team I am happy to say that I will continue to play basketball with The Euroleague team of Vici-Kibirkstis in Lithuania, Vilnius! (Don’t ask me how to pronounce that, I have no clue)  I will be playing in the Euroleague which is the most competitive league over there, so I will certainly have my work cut out for me.

I am going through many emotions, but I am very excited that I have the opportunity to continue my career. I was very hesitant to leave the country and start a new journey but at this point I honestly feel like this is what I should be doing. Change freaks me out, big time, but at least at the end of the day I know that this is a challenge I am up for.

This is the website of the team that I will be playing for:

http://www.fibaeurope.com/euroleaguewomen/cid_-tmRPCfrIrYRSO2M5V49E1.pageID_yv9w3TCqGj6EDOBjQZoUS0.compID_jr6ZiXqeGhMBtfq1yxqV83.season_2014.roundID_9680.teamID_97539.html

I will be leaving on Wednesday, tomorrow, a day before my birthday…Naturally, that would happen :).

Also if you don’t think you can go 5 months without talking to me get the app Viber or Tango or Whatsapp or facebook. Don’t worry I have all four on my phone just in case someone seriously needs to reach me. And if its urgent you can always hit me up on all four at the same time. I’m pretty sure ill get the picture.. And anyone who wants to COME WITH ME, my answer is YES!

Considering the 160+ hits I got on the first blog, I will continue to write while I am over in Europe.  Well, 100 of the hits may have been from myself, but 60 is still pretty good 😉

As for now, it’s not a bye, it’s I’ll see ya later! And if I get a chance to say “see ya” in person before I go, I would love that! ❤

Well, it has been real America! See ya soon!

——

To continue following Hollie’s journey, check back to the Dragons Den and follow her blog at http://holliemershon.blogspot.com/

Going International: A Blog from Hollie Mershon July 25, 2013

Posted by Sam Angell in Uncategorized.
Tags: , ,
1 comment so far

The following was written by Drexel women’s basketball Class of 2013 guard Hollie Mershon, and edited by the Dragons Den:

———

Hey Hey!!! For those of you who do not know, I have decided to leave all my family and friends and go to Europe for  6-8 months to play basketball professionally. Shocking, I know…the furthest I have lived from home was 35 minutes, and that was when I was playing at Drexel. Now I am going to a country in Europe. Kind of a huge difference in distance.

 

Playing basketball at Drexel was the best four years of my life so far, but playing overseas is something I have gone back and forth with so many times. Ultimately, I look at this way: In 10 years when I look back, do I want to possibly regret not taking this opportunity? Obviously, no!!!! I am not sure where I am headed yet. Hopefully it will be somewhere that will accept really cool people (which is not me of course!), but I wanted to create this blog for family and friends and whoever else is lucky enough to stumble upon it to share my experiences along the way. Hopefully I find out where I am playing soon and I will post it when I know. So if you think you will really miss me you should probably start hanging out with me NOW. 🙂

 

FYI…I know Europe is not a country, it’s a continent. But that’s beside the point – I hope the title shows that even though I am growing up, I still don’t know everything…or, well, very much (laugh here). Kudos to Abby Redick for the blog title idea!

 

Oh, for those who do not know me I am very sarcastic so I would 100% recommend not taking my jokes literally, but feel free to laugh!

 

(for more from Hollie Mershon as she begins her journey in professional basketball, visit http://holliemershon.blogspot.com/)

Pickens Blogs About Experiences in Morocco July 8, 2013

Posted by Sam Angell in Uncategorized.
add a comment

Alexandra Pickens, a freshman on last year’s Drexel field hockey team, is not having your typical offseason. She is in Morocco for an Arabic language program, and has had to get creative to keep in shape and ready for the upcoming season. Here, she shares her experiences with the Dragons Den:

 

Greetings from Tetouan!

 

The week I’ve spent in Morocco has been filled with so many eye-opening experiences. Initially, I stayed in the old medina (city) in Tangier for three days. An ancient, traditional way of life is preserved there like I’ve never seen before – many people live off of 15 dirhams a day (less than $2), and if you want toilet paper, you’d better bring your own.

 

Although these people have next-to-nothing in material terms, they have the time to speak to each other and devote their best efforts to every task they undertake. In the words of an American expat couple that has lived in the medina for seven years, “these are among the happiest people in the world.”  These three days really put things in perspective for me, and I gained a new appreciation for the life I am able to live.

 

All too soon, I departed from the medina in Tangier and headed for the medina in Tetouan to commence an Arabic language program. I attend classes in the dar loughat, (house of languages), where a typical conversation consists of no less than four different languages. My teacher speaks French, but not English, and teaches the class in Arabic.  Luckily, I have a Spanish classmate who speaks French and can provide me and my Latvian (but English-speaking) classmate with a Spanish translation. Although some locals exclusively speak Darijat (a dialect of Arabic quite different from the classic which I am learning), many Moroccans also speak French and Spanish. I have never felt so linguistically useless as an English speaker!

 

With August quickly approaching, I have to maintain and build my fitness during my travels. In the old medina of Tangier, I had a really cool experience. A female runner is just about the most exotic thing most of these people have seen, so running the steps to the casbah (castle) attracted a lot of attention. At first people just stared, but eventually they began to cheer me on each time I passed on my way up the hill. One young boy (maybe four years old) jokingly blocked my path each time I came down and laughed uncontrollably as I played along.

 

I found a gym in Tetouan, but it is open to women for only one hour each day. I’m pretty sure the seven or eight women in that gym think I’m the craziest person alive. On my first day, I began running on the sole treadmill in the small room.  However, the instructor/ head of the women’s gym soon stopped me and said the treadmill should not be used at that speed. Subsequently, I joined the rest of the class in stationary biking. After about half an hour, a while after the class stopped biking and began doing ab exercises, I looked up to see the entire class staring at me. Not many of them broke a sweat, so I’m sure it was strange to see the drops falling on the floor by my bike. The language barrier prevented me from explaining why I was not following the class, and I felt slightly rude at times (doing my own thing/neglecting to join the class when asked). However, at the end, I provided a more or less coherent Spanish explanation of my situation, which a few people were able to follow. I think the instructor understood, and she responded to my “thank you” with a kind smile.

 

Since the lone hour the gym is available to women is during my Arabic class three days a week, I’ve had to get creative with my workouts. Being a female athlete in Morocco has been a challenging experience, but I’ve learned to communicate, problem-solve, and understand the origins of diverse perspectives.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

-Allie       

Image

On the Road with Women’s Basketball January 15, 2013

Posted by Sam Angell in Women's Basketball.
add a comment

Last Wednesday, the Drexel women’s basketball team hit the road for James Madison and their second Colonial Athletic Association game of the season. A long bus ride, the trip to JMU is usually an adventure in and of itself, but this time, Drexel was going to be spending the better part of a week on the road. By the time they got back, after over 20 hours on the bus, the Dragons were exhausted, thankful to be home, and had two more wins in their pockets after visiting JMU and UNC Wilmington.

Leaving after practice in mid-afternoon Wednesday, the Dragons sailed through Baltimore and only had minor issues getting around to the western side of the Washington beltway. Nevertheless, the bus did not pull into Harrisonburg until too late to make their scheduled stop at L’Italia restaurant, forcing the team to have the food delivered to the hotel. It was waiting for them when they arrived, and they ate and quickly went to bed in advance of their showdown with the Dukes on Thursday evening.

Along for the ride was Drexel Director of Compliance (and, as the coaching staff pointed out before and after the game, noted Good Luck Charm) Jamie Lindsay. Meanwhile, meeting the team in Harrisonburg was her former assistant, currently the Assistant Athletic Director at Youngstown State, Jesse Potter. A vocal and supportive presence in the stands during his three years at Drexel, Potter picked up right where he left off when Drexel took the court at the JMU Convocation Center on Thursday evening.

A normal day on the road for the Dragons consists of breakfast in the morning, usually around 9am, followed by shootaround at the opposing gym later in the morning. After fine tuning the plans for that night and running some basic drills, everyone on the team – everyone in the travel party, really – closes practice by attempting a halfcourt shot. This time, it was Associate Head Coach Amy Mallon who hit the shot, the first attempt of the day. It was a good thing hers went in, as no one else could do better than hit off the rim.

IMG_2450

After shootaround, the team returns to the hotel where the players get off their feet for a few hours. They reconvene four hours prior to gametime for the pregame meal, which almost inevitably consists of a chicken dish, pasta, salad and bread. Finally, the team departs for the game sometime between 2 hours and 90 minutes before gametime, depending on how far they have to go to get to the gym.

That night, Drexel got one of the most dramatic wins in program history, trailing nearly the entire game before Hollie Mershon hit two free throws with four seconds left to give the Dragons their first and only lead of the night, 48-46.

The locker room was jubilant, and Head Coach Denise Dillon’s press conference, also featuring Mershon, was light-hearted after the stunning victory. Drexel went back to the hotel in time for several team members to watch their new favorite show, Scandal on ABC.

The next morning, the Dragons woke up and said good bye to Lindsay and Potter, who were not going on Part Two of the journey with the team. Then, they went back to the arena for practice before hitting the road for a six-plus hour bus ride to Wilmington.

It was after 7:00 p.m. by the time the bus rolled into Wilmington, and the Dragons went straight for the home of Janet and Barry Burkholder, Drexel alums whose name now graces the Athletics Hall of Fame outside the main entrance of the DAC. There, the team enjoyed a great home-cooked meal courtesy of Mrs. Burkholder. After dinner, the team gathered in the Burkholders’ living room, where Mallon took her spot at the piano and the team – particularly Mershon and Abby Redick – made up lyrics to the songs she played and enjoyed their evening as a team.

IMG_2468

A day off in Wilmington on Saturday saw the team go to the beach for an extended lunch, followed by practice at UNCW’s Trask Coliseum. On Sunday, the Dragons got back to work on the court, holding off a pesky Seahawks team 64-51.

As the team gathered in the locker room postgame, Dillon told her team that she had good news and bad news. The team requested the bad news first. “Our flight’s been canceled,” she told them, referring to the 5:30 direct flight to Philadelphia the team had been scheduled to take. “So we’re busing back to Philadelphia.” This was bad news indeed, except for freshman Rachel Pearson, who has never been a fan of flying in the first place. The good news, though was that “we get to spend more time together!”

Nine hours more, in fact, as the team loaded up on supplies at Wal Mart and hit the road for Philadelphia. The team got in around 1:00 a.m., tired but satisfied after a successful conference road trip.

“Getting those two wins was big for us, and it was very encouraging to see us come out focused and ready to play, particularly on Sunday,” Dillon said after the games. “That could have been a trap game for us, coming off a big win and with everyone excited to get back home. But we focused on the task at hand and took care of business.”

Dillon cited the leadership of Mershon and important contributions from senior Renee Johnson-Allen, junior Fiona Flanagan and senior Nicki Jones over the week. She noted that a road trip like that removed all the distractions of home life in Philadelphia, and kept the team together for important bonding time that would help them down the road.

The Dragons are off to a strong start in 2013 as they look to accomplish some lofty team goals. If they can finish strong in March, the Dragons can look back on this week on the road as an important time when they were able to come together on the court and enjoy each other off it, building a team chemistry they will need to become champions.

Wrestling’s Big Week December 17, 2012

Posted by Sam Angell in Wrestling.
add a comment

Wrestling MSG Grapple at the Garden pic

They walked down the hallways lined with pictures of those that had gone before them. Muhammad Ali. The Rolling Stones. Willis Reed. Wayne Gretzky. Bob Dylan. They came to the tunnel leading onto the floor of Madison Square Garden, introduced to the crowd with pyrotechnics going off around them and the New York Knicks dance team cheering them onto the mats. For most of the Drexel wrestling team, those few moments might be the highlight of their young lives. For head coach Matt Azevedo, it was only the second-biggest highlight of his week.

Just four days earlier, on the easy-to-remember date of December 12, 2012, Azevedo and his wife Brooke welcomed their second child into the world, a boy named Roman Lee Azevedo. At 7 lbs, 6 oz., Roman was not quite ready to make weight and suit up for the Dragons when they took part in the first-ever collegiate wrestling event held at the World’s Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden, on Saturday. Fortunately for Coach Azevedo, he had a team ready for the big stage as they won an important conference match over George Mason, 24-19.

“For us, it was cool to be in that arena and put ourselves on a par with some of the top teams in the nation,” Azevedo said afterwards. “That was huge for our guys. Zach [Sheaffer] pointed out that it really simulated what our guys will experience at the NCAA Tournament. The arena was loud and chaotic with a lot of different mats going on at once. You don’t really get that experience unless you’re at NCAAs, so the more we can something like that, it’s huge for us.”

The history books will show that Drexel’s 125 pounder, Jacob Goodwin, collected the first-ever collegiate wrestling pin at Madison Square Garden, as he took down Mason’s Rich Lavorato just 1:04 into their match. Drexel held onto a back-and-forth match, getting four straight victories from Connor Moran, Kevin Matyas, Bryan Sternlieb and Brandon Palik to ice away the win. Frank Cimato also had a victory at the 141-pound spot, a 6-1 decision.

Following the match, more than 50 Drexel alumni and family members joined the team at Mustang Harry’s, a restaurant two blocks down Seventh Avenue from the arena. They celebrated a historic victory for the Dragons, taking over the upper floor of the restaurant.

Aside from the history and the pyrotechnic show surrounding the event, the Dragons were able to remember that they were visiting New York on business, and grabbed an important conference victory despite missing two of their starters. With that now in the rearview mirror, Drexel can look back fondly on its first experience at Madison Square Garden – just one of the memories from a big week for Coach Azevedo and the Dragons.

US Open Returns October 5, 2012

Posted by Sam Angell in Men's Squash, Women's Squash.
add a comment

On Thursday, John White competed in the first round of qualifying at the 2012 Delaware Investements U.S. Open Squash Championships. The second-year Drexel head coach put up a strong fight against Colombia’s top-ranked player, Miguel Angel Rodriguez, but ultimately fell to the up-and-coming star, 11-8, 12-10, 12-10. It was a hard-fought, intense match that drew a large crowd of supporters out to cheer on White and while the campus favorite came up just short, the match was a thrilling kickoff to the week at the DAC.

 

Squash is a game that may be unfamiliar to many Philadelphians, even though the sport has its roots in the United States right here in the City of Brotherly Love. But with a week of world-class squash ahead of us, Drexel Athletics Director Dr. Eric Zillmer gave denizens of Philly an impassioned primer on the sport in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer. With the best players in the world descending upon the DAC this week, the hope is that the message has the stands full all the way through the championship matches next Friday.

 

Squash is a tough game with simple rules. At the elite level, two competitors are confined to a rectangular glass enclosure. With the semisoft squash ball traveling at speeds up to 170 m.p.h., and with all walls and angles in play, it is mesmerizing to watch.

The athletes perform with a beautiful combination of agility and power. Their footwork is as graceful as ballet, and their stamina rivals that of triathletes. With the struggle for points often lasting 20 to 30 rallies, extreme fitness is the price of admission to world-class squash. The winner, however, is often the player who outfoxes his or her rival.

 

Zillmer was the emcee last night at a reception held at the Paul Peck Center to kick off the Open. A room full of illustrious guests, representatives of U.S. Squash, and players in the upcoming tournament listened as he and other speakers including University President John Fry welcomed the tournament back to Philadelphia. With last year’s event under their belt and a year to prepare for the 2012 Open, Zillmer and his staff promised an unparalleled atmosphere in the main arena at the DAC for the matches. Tickets still remain for the competition, and Drexel students and faculty are reminded that they can get in for free with a valid Drexel ID. For more information, visit www.usopensquash.com.