Wheeler and Coffin Set Pace for Friars Track and Field

by Joshua Lopes on April 15, 2021

Athlete of the Week

Runners Excel in Championship Races

By Joseph Quirk ’23 and Cam Smith ’21

Sports Staff and Sports Co-Editor

Last month, two Providence College athletes took their talents to the NCAA championships. Abbey Wheeler ’20GS finished fifth in the 5,000-meter at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. Maria Coffin ’21 placed 99th out of 253 runners at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. The Cowl sat down with each runner to reflect on their NCAA experiences, the challenges of racing in the COVID-19 pandemic, and their goals for the future.

Abbey Wheeler ’20GS:

During her illustrious career at PC, Abbey Wheeler ’20GS has been one of the most consistently dominant athletes on campus. Wheeler, recently named the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association 2021 Women’s Track Athlete of the Year, recently finished fifth at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships for the 5,000-meter race.

The fifth place finish earned Wheeler an All-American nod, her third in her PC career. The championships took place in Fayetteville, AR, and Wheeler described the experience as both “wonderful” and “different” from other meets she had been to  because of COVID-19 protocols. 

“It’s always so exciting to be at a meet where you’re truly among the best of the best,” Wheeler said. “That’s always a bit nerve-racking, but also exciting where you get to test yourself in a field where there are no soft spots.”

One would imagine that such a race would stir up a slew of emotions, but Wheeler kept herself composed, despite how difficult she said it could be. That would be needed, as she described the race itself as an “odd run” where the pack paced weirdly and stayed together for a lot of the race.

“It was really difficult to remain comfortable and composed with all those weird pacing things going on,” Wheeler said. She added that “with everyone getting a little aggressive with pacing, everyone was pushing and in your head you’re just trying to stay in it until the race actually gets going.” Despite it being easy to lose focus and composure, Wheeler was able to hang on for a strong finish, passing multiple runners in the final lap when the pack finally began to split.

PC Athletics

This was Wheeler’s first appearance at the indoor track championships. She had previously competed in the outdoor championships and had qualified for the indoor race last year; however, it was unfortunately canceled. She said that the finish felt like a “long time coming,” especially because she felt ready to make this breakthrough at last year’s event before its cancellation.

When comparing it to previous 5,000-meter races she had run, she called it her “best performance at the national level. I definitely leveled up a bit there,” Wheeler proudly said. “My last one I was second team All-American, so this was the first time I was first team All-American, so that was super exciting.” She also pointed to a major difference between the indoor and outdoor versions of the 5,000-meter, citing that the indoor race only features 16 runners while the outdoor race features 24.

Following nationals, Wheeler proceeded to again finish fifth overall at the Raleigh Relays, one of the first races of the spring track season. Her finishing time of 15:46.87, as well as previous years’ performances, should be enough to qualify her for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field First Round in Jacksonville, FL on May 27-29.

When asked about the meet, the humble Wheeler mentioned her excitement about her time and possible qualification, before expressing a lot of happiness for her teammates who she also thinks could qualify following their performances. “It was nice to get a bunch of my other teammates to get times that can be competitive to qualify for that as well,” stated Wheeler. “That was pretty much the goal of the meet.”

Wheeler made sure to give credit to her coaches and teammates for keeping each other “grounded” throughout the season, especially with the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic held over both the school and the track season. This was especially important with a short season and a hard winter, making it difficult to stay ready and having less chances to qualify.

When reflecting back on her racing career here at PC, Wheeler noted something interesting. Aside from all the other accomplishments she has, one of her proudest moments actually came from overcoming adversity at a regional meet her junior season. “I was in the 5k and I wasn’t in particularly fantastic shape, but I was racing to get a spot in outdoor nationals,” she started. “And someone stepped on my shoe early on in the race and so I was running with my shoe kinda off. In the last mile I just kicked it off and I was running with only one shoe.”

She said in those kinds of moments it is easy to give up on yourself, but vocal support from her teammates kept her focused and pushed her forward. She ended the race with a qualifying time, and while she said it was not her best race, overcoming that adversity made her really feel that she belonged competing at this level.

As for her goals for the remainder of the season, Wheeler is “just trying to run really fast, make the championship season, and make outdoor nationals. And if I can run fast there, that would be great.”

Maria Coffin ’21:

In October 2020, Maria Coffin ’21 finishing in the top-100 at the NCAA Championships in March 2021 would have seemed improbable. After a summer of hard training, Coffin suffered a femoral stress reaction in October, which effectively shut down her training for the foreseeable future. When she was finally able to ramp back up her training in January 2021, the cross country schedule remained murky as COVID-19 regulations stayed in flux.

Nevertheless, Coffin persevered. Coming into her trip to nationals, she had just raced once, in the Big East Championships. Her performance there booked her a ticket to Stillwater, OK to compete with the best cross country runners in the nation.

The massive field of 253 runners, and a distinctly challenging course, made the event a grueling one for all parties involved. “It was a very difficult course,” said Coffin. “Super windy, super hilly. I’d definitely say it’s the hardest one I’ve run in my career.”

Coffin’s plan going into the race was to stay middle of the pack for the first half of the event, explaining that “in a course like that you can’t really go out too quick, so I was trying to be conservative, stay in the middle, and then do most of my damage in the last half of the race.”

Coffin did just that, passing 28 runners in the final 3,000 meters of the race. “When I finished, I really had no idea where I was,” explained Coffin. “I was hoping I had gotten in the top 100 and luckily I just made that.”

This was not Coffin’s first trip to the biggest stage in the sport. In the 2017-2018 cross country season, her entire team qualified for the event, allowing her to participate in nationals in just her freshman year. That time around, Coffin placed 245th.

PC Athletics

“That was definitely a tough race for me as a freshman,” said Coffin. “I definitely did not do nearly as well [as this time].” Indeed, three years later, Coffin shaved off over a minute on her time, vaulting her up 146 spots. “It was cool to come back and really see that improvement,” she added.

 As much as Coffin was thrilled to be able to finish top-100 at nationals, she also lamented the fact that her team could not be there with her. It was always going to be an uphill battle for the team, as the Big East Championship was the only time they could all compete together as a squad. “We have such a young team, it was pretty difficult for the freshmen without much race experience to jump right into the Big East Conference meet,” said Coffin. “They still did really well there considering that was the first cross country race of their collegiate careers…I think that will help us next year having a few races under our belt.”

 Coffin, a senior who will be returning as a graduate student next year, will get the chance to again lead her team in a season that will hopefully resemble a normal one. She has high hopes for a squad that she says will return more experienced and more confident. Coffin’s goals: a Big East championship, an NCAA regional victory, and a whole team appearance at nationals.

For Coffin herself, “[I want] to improve upon my place and try to get around that All-American top-40 status at nationals.” With a full slate of races next season, and an injury far in the rearview mirror, Coffin has what it takes to do just that.

The Cowl Sports Staff Picks Its Winner

by Joshua Lopes on March 18, 2021


Gonzaga Bulldogs Will Take Home Their First Championship

By Jack Belanger ’21

Sports Co-Editor

Members of the sports staff put their heads together to come up with the third official The Cowl March Madness bracket. Thanks to Luke Sweeney ’24 for his analysis of the South region, Leo Hainline ’22 for the West, Ben Bilotti ’23 for the East, Joseph Quirk ’23 for the Midwest, and to everyoneelse for helping make the picks. Here is our breakdown of each region, the semifinals, and the championship.

South Region:

In the South region, things should get exciting as the first round boasts multiple strong teams and potential upsets. No. 3 seed University of Arkansas will squeeze by the surprisingly explosive offense of No. 14 Colgate University, before advancing all the way to the Elite Eight.

Villanova University at the No. 5 seed should dominate No. 13 Winthrop University even with all of the Wildcats’ injuries, but they will face a tough road in the later rounds. The 8-9 seed matchup will see the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill beat the University of Wisconsin-Madison after what should be a very competitive, high-scoring matchup.

West Region:

Creighton University is one of the tournament’s biggest question marks. The Bluejays are incredibly inconsistent but can out-shoot just about anyone in the tournament if they are on their game. It does not help that the team got embarrassed by 25 points in the Big East Championship and has been dealing with off-the-court issues.

The University of California, Santa Barbara has a star player in JaQuori McLaughlin, but the Gauchos have yet to be tested by elite competition.

The University of Kansas, University of Virginia, and Creighton could all very well pack their bags early this year, but the Kansas Jayhawks are in the most trouble. 

Eastern Washington University is a team full of balanced scoring. They have seven guys who all contribute and are a strong free-throw shooting team. Kansas has multiple players returning from COVID-19-related absences and may naturally get off to a slow start. The Eagles will be attacking from the start and will likely grab an early lead.

It is difficult to envision Luka Garza’s Hawkeyes struggling with any team before the Elite Eight. The University of Oregon Ducks could be competitive against the University of Iowa in the Round of 32, but Iowa has too much talent both inside and out to suffer an early exit.

When all is said and done, Gonzaga University is simply the most dominant team in the country and will represent the West region in the Final Four.

East Region:

There are several upsets in the East region of our bracket. In the first round, No. 11 Michigan State University (pending a First Four win) will upset No. 6 Brigham Young University.

From there, they carry their momentum all the way to the Sweet 16, where they will be taken down by the University of Connecticut. The Hoyas will use the momentum from their 73-48 victory over Creighton University in the Big East Championship Game to beat the University of Colorado.

In the end, an elite Florida State University squad gets in the Hoyas’ way, as the team, moving all the way to the Elite Eight, will face off against UConn with a trip to the Final Four on the line. 

Midwest Region:

The main story in this section is the No. 1 seed, University of Illinois. Illinois is expected to be one of the title favorites. That being said, they may have the most difficult road to the Final Four, facing a loaded side of the bracket.

The Midwest region features a number of threats, some obvious and some more underrated. We, as a staff, have Illinois making it through the gauntlet, beating out teams such as Loyola University Chicago, Oklahoma State University, the University of West Virginia, and the University of Houston.

There should be a number of wildly entertaining games in the first round alone from Loyola vs. the Georgia Institute of Technology, San Diego State University vs. Syracuse University, and Clemson University vs. Rutgers University.

Final Four:

Florida State may give Gonzaga its toughest matchup of the tournament. With a strong interior defense and one of the best teams crashing the offensive boards, the Seminoles are one of the more physical teams this year. The Bulldogs will have to hit their threes early, which is what they have been doing all year. They have proved they can beat top teams this season, and FSU is no exception.

If it were not for Gonzaga, Baylor University would be the best team in the country this year. Taking on an underdog West Virginia team, the Bears should have an easy time making it to the finals. Star players Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell were both named to the All-Big 12 First Team. Mitchell was also named the conference’s defensive player of the year. Despite their best efforts, the Mountaineers will not have the defense to stop the Bears.


This matchup is perhaps a little anticlimactic, but Gonzaga and Baylor are simply a tier above the rest of the country. The championship game should come down to the final minutes. Both teams are efficient on offense and both have good defenses. Gonzaga came up short a few years ago against North Carolina—that team was good, this team is better. Mark Few is one of the most underappreciated coaches of all time. This is his chance to put his name among the greats. Lottery pick Jalen Suggs will lead the Bulldogs to their first title ever.

End of February Sports Sports

by Joshua Lopes on March 4, 2021

Friar Sports

Week of 2/25-3/3

By Joseph Quirk ’23

Sports Staff

Men’s Soccer:

The Providence College Men’s Soccer Team opened Big East play on Feb. 27 at the University of Connecticut. The Friars beat the Huskies 2-0. Paulo Lima ’22 opened the scoring in the 13th minute, converting a penalty kick. In the 61st minute, the Friars would ice the game on Gevork Diarbian’s ’24 second career goal. The shutout win was the second of goalkeeper Rimi Olatunji’s ’22 career. 

Women’s Indoor Track:

On Feb. 25, the Providence College Women’s Indoor Track Team traveled to the University of Rhode Island to take on the Rams and Northeastern University. The meet was a resounding success for the Friars. Abbey Wheeler ’20GS dominated the 3,000-meter with a time of 9:17.17. Tessa Hunt ’23 secured victory in the mile, while Alex O’Neill ’23 never relinquished her lead in the 800-meter. Additionally, PC’s distance medley relay team also beat out their competition, capping off a phenomenal performance by the Friars. 

Men’s Basketball:

The Providence College Men’s Basketball Team got a much-needed win on Feb. 24 at home versus Xavier University. The Friars 83-68 rout improved their record to 12-11 overall and 8-9 in conference play. Noah Horchler ’21RS had a breakout game with 20 points (7-14 from the field, 3-5 from three) with nine rebounds and two blocks. The Friars also had fantastic production from all their big scorers including David Duke ’22 and A.J. Reeves ’22. 

Men’s Ice Hockey:

The Providence College Men’s Ice Hockey Team started their weekend pair of games with a win on Feb. 27 at Northeastern University and ended it on Feb. 28 with a tie in Providence. The Friars exited the weekend with a record of 10-7-5. On Feb. 27, the Friars defeated the Huskies 4-2, and were led by goalie Jaxson Stauber ’23, who had 11 saves. Northeastern scored with a minute left in play, making it a 3-2 game, but the game was iced on an open net goal by Matt Koopman ’22.

On Feb. 28, the teams headed to Friartown, where the Friars tied but dropped the shootout. Patrick Moynihan ’23 and Chase Yoder ’24 would each notch a goal and an assist, while Greg Printz ’21 would record a goal of his own that would tie the game 3-3 just over three minutes in the third period. Neither team could end it in overtime play, as the game went to a shootout that the Huskies won 2-0.


Fall Sports: Back in Action

by Joshua Lopes on February 25, 2021

Friar Sports

Volleyball and Field Hockey Among Fall Sports Starting Back Up

By Joseph Quirk ’22

Sports Staff

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions of people worldwide and has made competing in sporting events especially difficult. At Providence College, fall sports managed to complete a full season in 2019 prior to the onset of the pandemic. However, with the pandemic continuing throughout the summer and into the fall of 2020, having a new season start on time was nearly impossible. This led sports like volleyball and field hockey to switch their seasons to the spring, beginning their games in the snowy month of February.

For Margot Royer-Johnson, the head coach of the PC Women’s Volleyball Team, the biggest challenge was making sure her team was in the right condition for the start of the abridged season. In an interview with The Cowl, coach Royer-Johnson said, “Not having access to outside gyms, that kind of thing because of COVID, our bodies just aren’t in competitive shape just yet. That’s been a challenge because we have had to slow practices down a little bit to avoid injuries, and not cover as much as we would normally because we have to stay healthy.”

Photo Courtesy of PC Athletics

Royer-Johnson also noted that starting the season in late winter as opposed to mid-fall is “surreal,” and that other unusual issues have come up, such as scheduling conflicts with the men’s and women’s basketball teams. These are just some of the challenges many teams are now facing as a result of the pandemic.

Much like coaches from other teams at PC, Royer-Johnson had to get creative over the past year, especially when her team was studying remotely last spring semester and was unable to have formal practices this fall. “Our strength and conditioning coaches gave them workouts that they tried to modify as best as they could to support them or use the equipment that they have at home,” said Royer-Johnson. “We did a lot of Zoom calls where we did a lot of ‘get to know you’ sort of things. We also did a lot of diversity and inclusion work that I think we all truly needed and continue to need.”

Royer-Johnson also noted that while this whole experience has been difficult, she does try to find the silver linings. She mentioned that the team was given time to “reflect” and to “get in touch with reality,” in addition to feeling a deeper appreciation for the way things were pre-pandemic.

All of this hard work seems to have paid off, however, as the Friars started their season off right with a 3-1 victory over Bryant University on Feb. 14 before posting another 3-1 victory over the University of Rhode Island on Feb. 22. When asked about how confident she is in her team heading into the rest of the season, coach Royer-Johnson said, “I feel really confident with the process and where we are right now.” She emphasized that the team is pleased with their progress this season, especially considering the significantly lesser amount of practice time than usual.

While volleyball deals with its challenges as an indoor sport, head field hockey coach Diane Madl expressed her concerns as an outdoor fall sport starting in what has been a very snowy winter. “I think there’s definitely that component of things that is out of our control, and we tried to acknowledge that from the get-go,” Madl said. “We knew there was going to be a need for adjustment, and we did our best to prepare the team.”

That sentiment of adjustment was something coach Madl mentioned several times in her interview, saying that one of the biggest challenges to a delayed start is adjusting the routine that she previously used during a normal season. Much like Royer-Johnson, Madl got creative to help her players during the offseason.

One of the ways she did so was by doing team building exercises over Zoom. “We do the best we can to have good video opportunities over Zoom, not just showing some hockey but also doing some team building stuff,” said Madl. “Everything from family feud to Jeopardy, to whatever we could come up with.”

Madison Babineau runs up the field
Photo Courtesy of PC Athletics

In terms of any potential positives of a delayed season, coach Madl expressed the increased time frame to incorporate new additions into the team. “As a fall sport, a lot of times you’re coming in and you have a very short preseason for the newcomers to blend into the team in a way that takes time,” she said. “So, I think having that extended period of time, albeit very different and very unique, I think it did afford the opportunity for those newcomers to blend into the culture of our program and get to know everyone a little bit better.”

The field hockey team has their first game of the season on Feb. 28 against the University of Connecticut. Coach Madl feels confident heading into their season opener. “We feel good,” she said. “Again, it’s a unique year, and the one thing we learned is that we can accomplish a lot by sticking together and fighting for each other.” She believes her team has what it takes to push through any challenges the start of the season may throw at them.

For coach Hoyer-Johnson and coach Madl, the start of their respective seasons is a relief after a long and difficult wait. Despite the adversity caused by the pandemic, each has gotten creative, and their teams look ready to beat the odds in a very unique year.


PCI: Who Will Win Super Bowl LV?

by Joshua Lopes on February 4, 2021


Providence College Investigates

Kansas City Chiefs

By Joseph Quirk ’23

Sports Staff

Simply put, who will win this season’s Super Bowl should not even be a question. As much as one has to respect Tom Brady and what he has been able to accomplish, this is Patrick Mahomes’s time. Indeed, Brady will be reaching a remarkable 10th Super Bowl, a feat that is hard to even fathom. It is made more impressive when you consider that this is his very first year on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the debate should be about who is the best team: a debate that Kansas City wins.

Their advantage starts on special teams, a part of the game that is not glamorous, but is important, especially in the playoffs. Ryan Succop is the placekicker for the Bucs, and he is not terrible by any means. But compared to Chiefs’ kicker Harrison Butker, he is severely outmatched. Since entering the league, Butker has been among the league’s best kickers, and has experience kicking in the biggest moments. He has proven to be accurate and powerful, and his kickoff abilities should give the Bucs trouble.

Steve Spagnuolo, the defensive coordinator for the Chiefs, gives the Chiefs another major advantage. Spagnuolo has experience dealing with Brady in the Super Bowl as he led the 2007 New York Giants defense which famously stopped Brady’s Patriots from having a perfect season. His defense now features high-energy and versatile weaponry with the likes of Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu leads a Chiefs’ secondary that is far stronger than their Buccaneers counterparts. This was proven in their last regular season matchup.

It bears mentioning that Tampa Bay has a much better front seven than the Chiefs: Vita Vea, linebacker Devin White, and Pro Bowler Jason-Pierre Paul form a formidable trio for Tampa. However, Kansas City’s tandem of Frank Clark and Chris Jones is also very disruptive and works well with the Chiefs’ stronger secondary.

However, the real reason the Chiefs will win is because their offense is far superior to the Bucs. Although the Buccaneers have a very good duo in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans at receiver, other weapons like Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown are at the tail end of their careers. Meanwhile, the Chiefs feature a stronger and more mobile quarterback, a system that fits its players perfectly, a game-breaking tight end in Travis Kelce, and a trio of speedy wideouts led by Tyreek Hill.

One final point worth noting is Kansas City’s coaching advantage. While both coaches are experienced, Andy Reid proved last season that he may very well be the best coach in the league. All of these factors combined make it all but certain that the Chiefs will be crowned the champions of Super Bowl LV.

Tampa Buccaneers

by Cam Smith ’21

Sports Co-Editor

All eyes will be on star quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady as the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV. However, it will be the performances of other players that will ultimately determine the outcome. Specifically, the play of the Tampa Bay defense and Tampa running back Leonard Fournette will propel the Buccaneers to their second Super Bowl victory in franchise history.

The two teams last met in Week 12, when the Chiefs knocked off the Bucs 27-24. Kansas City wide receiver Tyreek Hill torched the Tampa defense to the tune of 269 yards and three touchdowns. Following that embarrassing showing, the Bucs worked hard during their Week 13 bye to address their issues with the deep ball. 

Following the bye week, the Bucs have played 2-man coverage for 18.1% of all defensive possessions, compared to just 4.8% in weeks 1–12. This increase in 2-man coverage will provide a challenge to Hill, as it allows for the cornerbacks to play more aggressively while also protecting against the deep ball with two safeties over the top. So too does it target Mahomes’s potential weakness, as the Kansas City quarterback’s 53.6% completion rate against the 2-man was his lowest rate against any type of pass defense in 2020. 

Tampa’s run defense, on the other hand, is one area that has refused to show any flaws all season. Coming into the Super Bowl, the Bucs have the league’s number one rush defense. In the Week 12 matchup, they limited the Kansas City backs to just 59 yards on 16 rushing attempts.

This trend will likely continue into the Super Bowl matchup, as the Chiefs suffered a brutal loss when left tackle Eric Fisher went down with an Achilles injury in the AFC Championship game. The Chiefs are also expected to be without right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, leaving two gaping holes in the line for the talented Tampa run defenders to take advantage of.

On the other side of the ball, Fournette has flourished since the start of the playoffs following an inconsistent regular season. Coming into the Super Bowl, the Tampa running back leads all players with 313 postseason yards from scrimmage. With a Chiefs defense potentially spread thin defending one of the best receiving corps in the game, Fournette should have plenty of room to continue his dominant run.

Indeed, with Tom Brady at the helm, the Bucs’ offense will remain effective, but it will be the Tampa Bay defense that brings home the trophy. Limiting big plays from perhaps the best offensive trio in the game in Mahomes, Hill, and tight end Travis Kelce will not be easy, but the surging Bucs defense might just have what it takes.


PCI: Tainted Titles

by The Cowl Editor on November 12, 2020


Should There Be an Asterisk on Recent Championships?

Yes, Too Much Missing

by Joseph Quirk ’23

Sports Staff

2020 has been a difficult year for everyone. The sporting world has faced many difficulties as well. After the initial COVID-19 shutdown in March temporarily paused the NHL and NBA seasons and postponed the start of the MLB season, all three sports resumed their seasons in the summer. The NHL and NBA resumed in “bubbles,” while the MLB severely cut down its schedule to only 60 games. These shortened seasons created longer periods of rest, prompted far less travel, and contained either none or a very small amount of fans. All of these reasons show why champions should have an asterisk next to their titles this year.

As an example, take the newly crowned MLB champs, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers had been continually struggling to get over the hump the last few years and finally did so this year. However, this may be in part due to the COVID rules the MLB had in place. The Dodgers managed to stay healthy through all 60 games, earning them a top seed in the playoffs. The lessening of games allowed the Dodgers to travel and play less, meaning that their oft-injured pitchers were more well-rested heading into the postseason.

Perhaps the MLB did make the season a little challenging by not giving any teams byes in the extended postseason, but the Dodgers were initially matched up with a Milwaukee Brewers team that had been struggling all year. The Dodgers then only had to beat the young and inexperienced San Diego Padres, an inconsistent Atlanta Braves team, and finally a Tampa Bay Rays team who paled in comparison talent wise. Also, the Dodgers had to travel far less during the postseason because of the MLB neutral sites that popped up later in the playoffs. They further benefited from the lack of fans. While the electrifying MLB postseason atmosphere can be exciting, it can also put pressure on players like Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who has been known to choke in past playoffs.

In the NBA and NHL bubbles, the rosters of playoff teams leagues clearly got extended rest. Players were given extra time to heal and even injured players expected to miss the playoffs were able to return. Then, both leagues had seeding games, which allowed teams already in lower seeding positions to quickly move up the standings to usurp teams with better records. And again, no travel and no home court advantage definitely took away from the atmosphere. This is not to say the NBA Finals champion, the Los Angeles Lakers, and NHL Stanley Cup-winners, the Tampa Bay Lightning, were not good teams. But, much like the Dodgers, the Lightning have struggled to get over the hump recently, and it is hard to imagine that the bubble did not help.

While the return of professional sports in the middle of a pandemic is a strong achievement, this year’s champions should have an asterisk next to their titles given the abnormalities of their respective seasons.


No, Too Many Sacrifices

by Scott Jarosz ’21

When sports came to a halt in March, both athletes and sports fans worldwide lost the ability to connect with their communities through the comradery of sports. However, when sports resumed this past summer, it was as if people were finally brought back together. Even though fans could not be in attendance, the return of sports brought back a familiar sense of comfort and unity. Athletes dedicated countless hours of training to prepare for the sudden resumption of their seasons and could not wait to get back on the courts and playing fields. Some athletes, such as basketball and soccer players, even had to live in a “bubble” for the duration of their seasons. Given the sacrifices athletes made to play with their teams, the championships won during the pandemic should not be marked with an asterisk.

Beginning with the NBA, the sacrifices that players had to make to continue the season were unlike anything that athletes had done before as players had to leave behind their friends and families. Once they entered the bubble on July 7, players, coaches, staff, and all other personnel could not leave the premises or see anyone outside of the bubble until their season was complete. Ultimately, the Los Angeles Lakers won the 2020 NBA Finals four games to two over the Miami Heat. With the win, the Lakers tied with the Boston Celtics for the most-ever championships won with 17 total franchise titles.

Major League Baseball was also significantly impacted by COVID-19. Because of the sheer number of players and staff for each team, a bubble format was not realistic for the MLB. Instead, each team played their regular season home games at their own stadiums with no fans. The normal 162-game schedule for each team was reduced to 60 games, which were played in a tight window. In addition, numerous teams dealt with COVID-19 outbreaks, which led to the postponement of more than 40 games. With this in consideration, players were competing under high stress and on limited rest. Despite this, players and staff powered through and completed a successful season, which concluded with the Los Angeles Dodgers defeating the Tampa Bay Rays to win the 2020 World Series.

To put an asterisk next to the 2020 NBA champion, the 2020 MLB champion, or any other champion crowned during this time would undermine the efforts made by the players and personnel of these organizations. Each of these championships were earned through hard work and dedication and are arguably even more valuable than any previous championships. Although the circumstances may have been different this year, players and personnel alike deserve to have their championships recognized as legitimate.

Playing Through a Pandemic

by The Cowl Editor on October 29, 2020


Leagues Successfully Navigate COVID Crisis

The NBA in Orlando

by Joseph Quirk ’23

Sports Staff

Back in March, the NBA suspended its season following increasing concerns over the onset of COVID-19, along with the first player to test positive, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert. The NBA, more than 75% through their 2019-2020 campaign, needed to then find a way to finish its season properly and safely. They did so by investing millions of dollars into creating a fun and entertaining, and most importantly secure, “bubble” at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

The bubble started with 22 teams, all either within striking distance of a playoff spot or already in one. The format was simple: each team would play eight seeding games in order to officially name those who would move onto the playoffs, which gave the outside teams a chance at the eighth seed. The Phoenix Suns, an afterthought heading into the bubble, went 8-0 in the seeding games as star shooting guard Devin Booker played some of the best basketball of his career. However, they would just barely miss out on the eighth seed to the Portland Trail Blazers, who used the bubble to revive a tumultuous season filled with underachievement. With a squad of Hassan Whiteside, Jusuf Nurkić, C.J. McCollum and, of course, bubble MVP Damian Lillard, the Trail Blazers were able to capture the Western Conference’s eighth seed thanks to a victory over Ja Morant’s Memphis Grizzlies in the play-in game.

The playoffs brought a batch of equally exciting games. Two young, up-and-coming teams in the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz went to seven games in a historic first round series. Denver would defeat the Jazz and move on to face the Los Angeles Clippers, a title contender led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Nuggets mounted a furious comeback to beat the Clippers in seven games before falling to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. In the East, things unfolded as expected until the Milwaukee Bucks, led by back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, were knocked off by Jimmy Butler and a scrappy Miami Heat team. Butler and the Heat went on to beat the Boston Celtics and advance to the Finals where they would fall to the Lakers.

It always seemed inevitable that the Lakers would win the Finals. Not only were they one of the most talented teams in the world, featuring generational stars such as Lebron James and Anthony Davis, but they also had strong veteran players such as center Dwight Howard and point guard Rajon Rondo. The title significantly helps the legacy of James, who now has four NBA titles and four Finals MVPs on his resume. Important to note is that the Lakers were also playing in honor of franchise icon Kobe Bryant, who tragically passed away in a helicopter accident earlier this year.

Indeed, the fact that anyone was crowned a champion at all in this year of turmoil is something that the NBA should be proud of.


The NHL in Canada

by Ryan Carius ’21

Sports Staff

On Sept. 28, the Tampa Bay Lightning shut out the Dallas Stars 2-0, ending a six-game series in an unprecedented yet entertaining Stanley Cup matchup. Tampa Bay’s victory completed a two-month playoff bubble, which began on Aug. 1 and included 24 out of the 31 National Hockey League franchises. The Lightning skipped the qualifying rounds and entered the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Tampa Bay avenged last year’s shocking defeat against the Columbus Blue Jackets, dominated the Boston Bruins, and then skated past the New York Islanders on the way to their second Stanley Cup Finals appearance in five years.

The Dallas Stars fought relentlessly, especially goaltender Anton Khudobin, but the Tampa Bay offense proved too much of a challenge for the young Dallas defenders. Tampa Bay centerman Brayden Point netted 14 goals and assisted on 19 other goals, a monumental performance for the young and rising star. However, it was Victor Hedman who took home the hardware awarded to the NHL’s most valuable player during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Hedman became the first defenseman to win the Conn Smyth trophy since Duncan Keith in 2015, when the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning. In just 25 games, the 6-foot-6-inch skater recorded 10 goals and 22 points, setting franchise records for both total goals and points by a Tampa Bay defender.

Besides the championship, the most important outcome of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs was the success of the NHL bubble that occurred in two cities. The NHL became the first of the four major North American sport leagues to complete a postseason in the COVID-19 pandemic. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the two Canadian cities, Toronto, Ontario and Edmonton, Alberta, created an environment that ensured the safety of the players and staff. All personnel involved in daily bubble activity were divided into categories based on their roles and the people to whom they were exposed.

The NHL conducted 33,174 tests with zero positive cases among category one and category two personnel. Players, medical officials, and team and league staff members made up these first two categories. However, there were a few positive tests among category three and four personnel, which included individuals who had little exposure to the players but still participated in the bubble as hotel staff, cooks, and security officers.

The NHL and the NHL Player’s Association implemented Jan. 1, 2021 as the start of the next season. Bettman is optimistic for a “full regular season, and to have fans in the building, but there are a lot of things that have to transpire, many of which if not most of which are beyond our control before we can finalize our plans.” However, if the NHL needs to return to a bubble, Bettman can follow the success of this season to provide fans with entertaining and competitive hockey.

PCI: Who Will Win the World Series?

by The Cowl Editor on October 16, 2020


The Atlanta Braves

by Leo Hainline ’23

Sports Staff

In a season that seemed destined to fail, Major League Baseball (MLB) thankfully got its act together and is now at the final stretch of the postseason. The National League Championship Series (NLCS) is set between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves. The American League Championship Series (ALCS) will feature the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays. While the Dodgers are favored to win and have won all five of their playoff games, they run into an equally hot team in the Braves, who will knock off LA and go on to win the World Series.

The MLB playoffs, while having some occasional upsets, have not produced any shocking results. The Braves upsetting the Dodgers in the NLCS will be the series that rocks the league. The team is peaking at the right time. While their pitching was subpar at times throughout the regular season, their rotation has found its rhythm in October, producing four shutouts in their five postseason games played. In 49 innings this postseason, the Braves have shut out their opponents in 46 of them.

Atlanta has more than enough power offensively to outscore anyone. From the top to the bottom of the order, the Braves possess guys opposing pitchers should fear. Ronald Acuña, Jr., Freddie Freeman, Adam Duvall, and Marcell Ozuna can all knock one out of the park at any given at-bat, and their supporting cast features almost no offensive liabilities.

The overall composition of the Braves squad is perfect for a postseason run. In Freeman they have a veteran leader who has been with the team for over a decade . They have an ace in Max Fried who can single-handedly win a game. The rest of the rotation is full of young pitchers who are gaining confidence at the perfect time. And the lineup is composed of players who embrace the spotlight while adding character and a winning culture to the dugout. This team will not back down against the Dodgers, nor will they back down from whatever team they face in the World Series.

The Braves have the advantage of having yet to play the Dodgers this season. Los Angeles only lost one series all year and will come into the NLCS with confidence. But Atlanta will give them a challenge they have yet to see this year, which could very well throw LA off their game. While the NLCS and ALCS, as well as the World Series, are all best-of-seven series that theoretically would work in the favor of the “better team,” the Braves winning a game or two off the bat could get the Dodgers discouraged. Indeed, Atlanta has the roster to beat Los Angeles and then go on to win the World Series.

The Los Angeles Dodgers

by Joe Quirk ’23

Sports Staff

The Los Angeles Dodgers entered this season feeling like they had an easy path to the 2020 World Series. After losing in the National League Division Series last season to the Washington Nationals, the Dodgers were left with a sour taste in their mouths. It was a tough loss to take after losing the previous two World Series. Somehow, manager Dave Roberts could not find a way to turn an already elite club into  world champions. But, with the help of president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, L.A. was able to improve their roster further.

This past offseason, the Dodgers traded Alex Verdugo, a talented, young outfielder, to the Red Sox for Mookie Betts, a former MVP and one of the best outfielders in baseball. Betts joined an outfield that contains recent high-profile signing A.J. Pollock and 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger. That is not even mentioning the rest of the lineup, which features Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Enrique Hernandez, and Max Muncy. The Dodgers are a team that can hit both for power and for batting average in addition to their strong defensive play in the field.

While it may seem like most of the Dodgers’ talent is on the offensive side, this is not the case. The Dodgers possess a strong rotation featuring Walker Buehler, a budding young star with playoff experience, and Clayton Kershaw, one of the best pitchers to ever play. Rookie Dustin May is also pitching very well, as he posted a 3-1 regular season record with a 2.57 earned run average. The bullpen also contains the likes of Joe Kelly, Blake Treinen, Brusdar Graterol and Kenley Jansen, one of the stronger closers in the league. While it is not the best bullpen in baseball, it is certainly capable of getting the job done. Combine that with some elite starters and arguably one of the best lineups in baseball, the Dodgers seem destined for the championship.

There is some cause for concern with Kershaw, however. The legendary pitcher was scratched from his game two start against the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday with back spasms. Getting him back and healthy will be key for Los Angeles moving forward.

This experienced playoff club has easily made it through the first two rounds of this extended playoffs, and now look to knock off the up-and-coming Braves in the NLCS. After that, all that stands between Los Angeles and the championship is the Houston Astros, who lack in the pitching department, or the inexperienced Tampa Bay Rays, who have a lineup that pales in comparison to the Dodgers.

100 Years of PC Basketball

by The Cowl Editor on October 4, 2020

Friar Sports

A Look Back at Some of the Team’s Most Memorable Moment’s

by Joseph Quirk ’23

Sports Staff

Providence College is known for many things: great academics, a friendly overall student atmosphere, and of course, its famed white-robed Dominican Friars who run the institution. Indeed, what makes Friartown so special is the pride that students have for the College, and one of the biggest sources of that school pride is PC basketball. A tradition in its own right, the men’s basketball team is a central part of life at the College, and has certainly provided PC with a fair share of memorable moments. Oct. 1, 2020 marks 100 years of PC men’s hoops, so let us take a look back at PC basketball’s storied history.


The Al McClellan Era:

Despite basketball being played for the first time at PC in 1920, the Friars’ first official varsity basketball season began in 1926. This upstart team was headed by Archie Golembeski, who at the time was also the College’s football coach. Golembeski left the following year to devote more time to football, so in came Al “The General” McClellan.

McClellan gave the program a much-needed boost in its early years: he helped lead the Friars to four New England Championships in 1929, 1930, 1932, and 1935. The Friars also finished in second place four times under McClellan. Vitally, he made the Friars one of the only New England colleges at the time willing to leave the New England area to play eastern basketball powers such as Seton Hall University, St. John’s University, Villanova University, and City College of New York.

McClellan also made the program one of only two New England schools to compete in the 1936 U.S. Olympic playoffs. Without McClellan’s willingness to push the boundaries, the PC basketball program may have died out much like Golembeski’s football program.


The Joe Mullaney Era:

A lot happened in the period between the initial success of McClellan and the hiring of Joe Mullaney. After McClellan left the team, the Friars were put into a “small school” conference, taking away their ability to play teams like St. John’s and Villanova. World War II shut the program down temporarily as well. Things started to change, however, when the sixth president of PC, Reverend Robert Joseph Slavin, O.P., recognized that the team could compete at the highest level of college basketball. A movement began to raise money to build a new gym on campus.

Then in 1955, the Friars took a gamble and hired Mullaney. Prior to joining PC, he had just one year of head coaching experience at Norwich University. Before that, Mullaney worked for the FBI. The young and unproven head coach would quickly prove the doubters wrong, as the Friars took off running under his coaching. They quickly notched a huge win over Notre Dame University, and the team climbed higher and higher from there.

Photo Courtesy of the Providence Journal

In 1959, Mullaney coached the team to a quadruple-overtime win over perennial powerhouse Villanova, leading to their first National Invitational Tournament (NIT) bid. The Friars soon followed that up with an NIT championship game appearance in 1960 and then finally an NIT championship in 1961. In the 1960s the Friars were consistently a top-20 team and even had a streak of nine consecutive 20-win seasons.

In 1963, the Friars won the NIT again before reaching the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament for the first time ever in 1965. They came into the tournament as the No. 4 team in the country. Jimmy Walker, one of Mullaney’s recruits and the leader of these mid-60s Friars, became PC’s first 2000-point scorer ever. Walker led the nation in scoring in 1967 and was soon drafted with the first pick in the NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons.

Mullaney spent 14 years with the Friars, leading them to a 271-94 record (.742) and two NIT championships. The only schools to post higher win percentages than Mullaney’s Friars in the 1960s were the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Kentucky. Mullaney would leave the Friars in 1969, riding his Friartown success to the head coaching job for the Los Angeles Lakers.


The Dave Gavitt Era:

Dave Gavitt was an assistant on Joe Mullaney’s staff in the early ’60s before moving on to coach at Dartmouth College. After Mullaney’s departure to Los Angeles, Gavitt was hired back as his replacement, which ensured PC’s continued success. Gavitt, much like his predecessor, led the Friars to eight consecutive 20-win seasons and posted a 209-84 (.713) record. His teams featured six All-Americans, as well as a Sweet Sixteen appearance and a Final Four appearance during his 10-year tenure as coach of the Friars.

However, perhaps his biggest contribution to the program was directing national attention toward PC basketball. Gavitt recognized that the 3000-seat arena in Alumni Hall was too small for the Friars if they wanted to become a perennial competitor on the national stage. So, he negotiated a deal to play in the Providence Civic Center (renamed the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in 2001), which allowed the team to play big-time opponents in front of sellout crowds.

Photo Courtesy of Providence College

In 1976, Gavitt and PC set up their own holiday tournament, the InBank Classic, where they upset the University of Michigan in double overtime. In 1979, Gavitt stepped down as the coach of PC to become the first commissioner of the newly founded Big East Conference, in addition to his responsibilities as the College’s athletic director. 


The 1987 Final Four:

PC was in a lull. Coach Gavitt had left the team right when its competition became tougher, as the creation of the Big East meant more games against teams such as Villanova, St. John’s, and Seton Hall. It also meant PC’s schedule was now filled with other basketball powerhouses from other big conferences such as the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big 10.

With this major increase in competition, it became clear that the Friars lacked the talent to contend with the best teams. That is, until they hired Rick Pitino, an assistant coach from the New York Knicks. Pitino would field a winning team in his first season as coach before completely revamping the team in 1987. Led by point guard Billy Donovan, a future head coach himself, Pitino’s Friars roared to a 25-9 record and their first top-20 appearance in years.

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

The team would dance all the way to their second Final Four ever. Although they lost to Syracuse University, the Friars were back on the map. Unfortunately, 1987 would be Pitino’s second and final season at PC, as he accepted an offer to return to New York to become the Knicks’ head coach.


The Ed Cooley Era:

After the Final Four run with Pitino in 1987, the Friars continued to have success, but to a lesser extent. The late 2000s featured a major lull in PC basketball history. However, the 2011 hiring of Providence, Rhode Island native Ed Cooley changed that.

Photo Courtesy of PC Athletics

Cooley has led Providence to some very successful seasons in recent years. This includes the College’s second-ever Big East title in 2014 and a string of five consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. He also led the team to big upset victories such as a win over third-ranked Villanova in 2018 and a historic run of consecutive wins against top-25 opponents in the 2019-2020 season. Additionally, Cooley produced top NBA talent such as Kris Dunn, and he continues to make the Friars a force in the Big East.

Cooley is now looking to build on the Friars’ 100 years of success as the team enters its second century of play.


by The Cowl Editor on September 17, 2020


Devin Booker

by Joseph Quirk ’23

Sports Staff

The NBA bubble is a unique circumstance which the league has never seen before. With a high demand for the return of sports, it also provided a big stage for a lot of players to break out and establish themselves as dominant forces. No one took advantage of this opportunity more than Devin Booker.

In the 2015 NBA draft, the Phoenix Suns selected Booker, a freshman at the University of Kentucky, with the No. 13 overall pick. This selection has turned out to be one of the smartest decisions in the history of the Phoenix Suns. Over his career, the 23-year-old shooting guard has averaged 22.5 points and 4.7 assists per game, while shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 35.4 percent from three. Booker also scored 70 points in a game against the Boston Celtics, making it the 11th game in NBA history where a single player scored 70 points or more in one game. He is one of only six players to do so and the most recent since the late Kobe Bryant.

At the end of an abysmal 2018 season, Booker famously stated, “I’m done with not making the playoffs.” Unfortunately, Phoenix missed the playoffs in 2019 and 2020 as well. However, this season felt different. Booker had a career year, with averages of 26.6 points, 6.5 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game on shooting percentages of 48.9 percent from the field and 35.4 percent from three. Booker had one of his more efficient seasons as well, mainly because he could play off the ball more with the addition of point guard Ricky Rubio. He also had advanced floor-spacers in Kelly Oubre, Jr. and rookie Cameron Johnson, and strong bigs in Deandre Ayton and Dario Saric. 

Indeed, the Suns were winning games and in striking distance of a playoff spot. When the bubble teams were announced, the Suns made the cut and made the best of their opportunity. Booker averaged 31 points, six assists, and five rebounds on efficient shooting splits while earning an All-Bubble First Team nod. He would lead the Suns to the only 8-0 record in the bubble. The stretch included wins over talented playoff teams like the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers, and Indiana Pacers. 

All in all, Booker has put in a superhuman effort, elevating both his individual game and his team’s overall performance. The only reason the Suns missed the playoffs was because the Portland Trail Blazers, the team just ahead of them, won a game on a last second missed buzzer-beater. 

Certainly, an argument can be made for other players to be named bubble MVP such as T.J. Warren and Damien Lillard, but Booker took the Suns to a new, unexpected level. He showed up when it mattered and beat some of the NBA’s best teams, which is why he should have earned MVP.

Damian Lillard

by Leo Hainline ’22

Sports Staff

The conclusion of the NBA regular season saw some breakout performances from players such as Devin Booker, T.J. Warren, and Michael Porter Jr. The playoffs have also brought some iconic performances, including Luka Doncic’s game-winner against the Los Angeles Clippers and Donovan Mitchell’s 57-point game against the Denver Nuggets. Any of these players are worthy of being considered the bubble’s best player, but the NBA got it right when they gave the award to the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard at the end of the regular season.

Even though the Trail Blazers were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round, Lillard’s performances reigned supreme and were the best in the bubble. In Orlando, Lillard averaged 33 points, eight assists, and 4.8 rebounds. Most importantly, he was able to lead his team into the eighth seed after entering the bubble 3.5 games out of the final playoff spot.

After missing two key free throws against the Clippers in their fifth game, Lillard not only stepped up his game, but became the best player in the league. Needing to win out to have any chance at making the 8/9 seed play-in game, the Oakland native dropped 51 and 61 points in his next two contests. Lillard channeled one of his many nicknames, “Logo Lillard,” as his shooting became automatic from everywhere on the court. 

He came up clutch against the Dallas Mavericks in his 61-point game, hitting an insane high-bouncing three-pointer to bring Portland level in the closing moments and then seized the victory with crucial plays on both ends of the court. He followed with scoring 42 points, leading Portland to a crucial come-from-behind one-point win against the Brooklyn Nets to seal their place in the Western Conference play-in game. Lillard then had 31 points and 10 assists against the Memphis Grizzlies to secure Portland’s spot in the playoffs.

Lillard’s most iconic moment came in Game one of the opening round against the top-seeded Lakers. With the game going back and forth all game long, it became “Dame Time” for the last seven minutes of the fourth quarter. Lillard started knocking down contested threes from way downtown. The game began to shift in Portland’s favor when Lillard buried a deep three to tie the game at 87 with five and a half minutes to go. After that happened, Lillard was locked in, and the Blazers never looked back, taking the first game 127-119 over the top-seeded Lakers.

Although the Blazers lost their next four games and got knocked out of the playoffs, Lillard’s performances were incredibly memorable. No individual player on any team made more of an impact than Lillard for the Blazers in the bubble.