Teams begin winter seasons, welcome new players

Alice Qu

Returning women’s ice hockey goalie Chloe Heitling ’22 had 532 saves in her 24 games played last season. (Photo courtesy of Sports Information.)

With snow now on the ground in the Purple Valley, winter season teams are preparing for competition, ramping up practice schedules as fall season athletes wrap up their post-seasons. 

Competition for winter teams starts as soon as this weekend, as wrestling takes on Trinity and men’s basketball battles against Worcester State. Men’s and women’s swimming and diving will also begin their season on Friday, competing at Springfield. Men’s and women’s ice hockey face Colby on Friday. Women’s basketball also plays first game against MCLA on Saturday.

With a new season comes new players as well. Men’s basketball, which fell to Amherst 74-69 in last season’s NESCAC semifinals, returns to the court with five first-year players. 

“I’m most excited about watching this year’s team figure out its potential together,” head coach Kevin App said. “They’ve been working hard, connecting and figuring out each other’s strengths and the group’s identity. Fans should anticipate seeing many new faces and personalities on and off the court. As coaches, we’re looking forward to seeing which combinations of these individuals help us be the best version of ourselves.” 

Women’s ice hockey, the defending NESCAC champion, has also added five new players to its roster and is looking forward to building on its momentum from last season. 

“We set a great foundation for our team culture and [competition] level last season, and we are looking to build off of that this year,” head coach Meghan Gillis said. “We have a strong core returning that will set the tone for what this team [can do].” 

Men’s ice hockey has also added five first-years to its roster.

Wrestling also hopes to continue to extend its potential after placing sixth at NCAA Northeast Regionals and sending a member to NCAA championships last season. 

On Saturday, men’s and women’s swimming and diving will compete in their first home meet of the season against Wesleyan, WPI and Tufts, as the women’s team seeks its 100th consecutive Div. III dual meet victory.  

Previously with only one diver between the teams, they have added three first-year divers to maintain a presence of Eph divers at meets. With their new divers, the teams hope to continue to dominate the NESCAC this season. The men look to secure their 18th NESCAC title while the women hope to secure their seventh straight conference title. The men and women also had success at nationals in the 2018-19 season, placing seventh and fourth, respectively. 

“I am excited about the first-year class and am looking forward to seeing them develop and compete,” head coach Steve Kuster said. “We had some very strong results last year.  If we hope to follow up on those results and improve, we’ll have to stay healthy and make sure the motivation is high throughout the year, especially in terms of making progress every day at practice.” 

Men’s and women’s squash will begin their seasons on Nov. 22, competing at Yale. The Nordic and Alpine skiing teams will begin their racing seasons during Winter Study on Jan. 16 at the Harvard Carnival in New Hampshire. 

Men’s and women’s indoor track and field have begun preparing for their first meet on Dec. 7 at the Boston University Season Opener. Nate Hoey, head coach of the women’s team, stressed the importance of teamwork and practice in preparation for their competitive winter season ahead. 

“We are focused on each individual day and the interaction with teammates,” he said. “The energy level of the team is on another level, and there is an excitement each day at practice. The most important thing for us as a team is to continue to be present each day and within each training session. To positively push and support each other on a consistent basis. To enjoy this journey.”