Joseph Quirk ’22
The Providence College Field Hockey team had a rough week, dropping a Big East game at the University of Connecticut this past Friday before losing a home game to Virginia Commonwealth University on Sunday Oct. 3. The Friars were shutout in both games, meaning they have now been shutout in three straight games. After the two losses, the Friars dropped their record to 5-7 overall and 1-2 in conference play. They lost the game Friday in Storrs, CT by a score of 3-0 and the home tilt Sunday 1-0. The Friars next play Friday, Oct. 8 at home vs. Temple University.
Men’s Ice Hockey:
The Providence College Men’s Ice Hockey team kicked off their season at Schneider Arena this past Saturday, Oct. 2 against the United States Marine Academy, also known as Army West Point. The Friars won their home opener in routing fashion, beating the Black Knights by a score of 7-0. Goals were scored as soon as a minute into play and six different Friars put the puck into the net. Sophomore Brett Berard ’24, a New York Rangers draft pick, led the scoring notching two goals himself. The Friars next take on Merrimack College to open their Hockey East play at home Thursday, Oct. 7.
Women’s Ice Hockey:
The Providence College Women’s Ice Hockey Team also began play this weekend with an exhibition this past Friday, Oct. 1 at home against the Boston Pride. The Boston Pride is an LGBTQ+ hockey organization that creates a supportive environment for people of different sexual/gender orientations to have fun and play hockey. The Friars won the game 3-2, when Hunter Barnett ’22 scored the game winner with only 13 seconds remaining in regulation. The Friars were out-shot 23 shots to 31 in favor of the Pride. The Friars open Hockey East play this Friday, Oct. 8 at home against the University of New Hampshire.
The Providence College Men’s Soccer team tied a Big East game against Marquette University this past Saturday, Oct. 2 in Milwaukee. The score ended tied at two goals apiece and sent the Friars record to 6-1-2 overall and 2-0-1 in conference play. Both teams scored their two goals in the second half of regulation play and would remain scoreless throughout the overtime period. Providence held the edge in shots and corner kicks while Marquette fared better in the saves and fouls categories. The Friars’ next game is Wednesday, Oct. 6 in Queens, NY to face St. John’s University.
Men’s Soccer Excitement for Things to Come
Interview With Big East Offensive Player of the Week Davis Smith
Justin Bishop ’24
The Providence College Men’s Soccer team has been competing at a high level all season, which has earned them the No. 24 team ranking in the entire nation. Moving to 6-1-1 overall and 2-0-0 against teams in the Big East conference after beating Xavier 3-2 on Saturday, the team is looking forward to the next half of the season.
To recap how the team got here, they started the season with a 3-0 upset win at Fordham University, at the time ranked no. 23. Two goals from midfielder Luis Garcia ’23, one from graduate student Davis Smith ‘21, and two saves from goalkeeper Lukas Burns ’24 were the keys to the victory. One of Garcia’s goals was a rocket of a corner kick that the Rams goalkeeper could not handle and deflected off him.
The following match against St. Peter’s was no match at all because the Friars took care of the Peacocks with a dominating 6-2 win for the home opener.
Six different Friars scored and Smith ‘21, Kevin Vang ’22, along with Gevork Diarbian ’24 each had one goal and one assist in the routing of St. Peter’s. The combination of the first two games for Smith earned him the honor of being named the Big East Offensive Player of the Week.
After starting out the season with two straight wins, the team traveled to Durham, New Hampshire to take on the then-ranked no. 14 University of New Hampshire.
The Friars fell to the Wildcats 2-1 where Paulo Lima ’22 cut the lead in half late in the 86th minute on a penalty kick. The team showed grit and never gave up even when they were down two with less than 15 minutes to play.
The team then went on to tie the following game against cross-state rival, the University of Rhode Island, 1-1 with a goal from Diarbian.
Rough play from both PC and URI, as one would almost expect in a match featuring these two rivals, allowed for the game to get out of the Friars’ control.
Smith received two yellow cards which kicked him out of the game and prevented him from playing the next game as well. There were 10 yellow cards given out throughout the match, and URI was at fault for 18 fouls in the game compared to PC’s 19.
That, however, was not the story of this game. The real story was the 12 saves from PC’s sophomore goalkeeper, Burns.
Burns stood on his head and made saves that even a veteran senior goalkeeper would have a tough time making. The sophomore’s performance in the previous two games, holding the No. 14 ranked team to only two goals and making 12 saves on 13 shots against a cross-state rival, earned him the Big East Goalkeeper of the Week.
The team has won the past four games since the tie at URI thanks to two players who have raised their game to the next level. These two players are the aforementioned graduate student out of Amherst, MA, Davis Smith, and Brendan McSorley ’24 out of Randolph, NJ.
Both Smith and McSorley are huge offensive components of the team.
McSorley leads the team in goals and points, and Smith leads the team with four assists and is second in goals and points. However, Smith holds all these statistics while playing one fewer game than McSorley, which earned him the title of Big East Offensive Player of the Week this past week for a second time this season.
I was able to sit down with the now two-time Big East Offensive Player of the Week on Thursday to get an inside look on how well the team has felt so far and to get some insight into how they are preparing for the rest of the season.
Davis Smith ‘21 transferred from the University of Massachusetts Amherst two years ago to PC. When asked about the biggest change when arriving in the Big East from the Atlantic 10, Smith said, “The pace of play is definitely faster and the quality of the players around me are [sic] a lot better than when I was at UMass.”
Smith ‘22 mentioned that he struggled to adapt to how fast the game had become after playing in the Atlantic 10. He said that he used the COVID-19-shortened season to train with his brother down in Texas and grinded every day, trying to make himself better.
The training seems to have paid off with the way he affects and produces in every game in which he plays. Davis said that it is nice to have recognition, referring to being ranked no. 24 in the country and his personal accolades. However, that is not the goal of this season, he says.
“The goal of this season (right now) is to win the Big East regular season and the Big East tournament,” says Smith. “We have just as good a team, if not better than the 2019 team and I think we can really go far.”
The 2019 team, at the end of the season, was ranked no. 14 in the nation and went to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament before a heartbreaking one-goal loss to no. 2-ranked Clemson.
Smith said the team only looks to the upcoming game and not down the road, but he revealed excitement for the Georgetown game at home on Oct. 13. Not only is it a matchup of the top two teams in the conference, but Georgetown is ranked no. 1 in the nation as of Sept. 26.
Smith also praised the play of his goalkeeper Lukas Burns, saying that Burns’ Goalkeeper of the Week award was well deserved and that Smith knows his teammate will keep playing at a high level.
He also commented on how well Brendan McSorley has been playing and hopes they can keep the momentum going as they only play Big East teams for the rest of the season. “Every game in the Big East is a grind and there is no reason why we can’t beat any team in the country,” Smith says.
The Friars resume playing at Marquette University in Milwaukee on Friday, Oct. 2.
What It Means Now for College Athletes
Ben Bilotti ’23
On Jun. 30, the NCAA approved a policy known as names, images, or likeness (NIL), a deal that will allow college athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness.
The president of the NCAA, Mark Emmert, was quoted saying, “This is an important day for college athletes since they are now able to take advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities.”
Since the approval of the policy, many college athletes all over the country have profited in some way or another. Many athletes are partnering with local small businesses while others are creating their own merchandise lines or getting involved in commercials.
Jackson State defensive end Antwan Owens was the first to take advantage of the new policy. As soon as the clock struck midnight and the policy was official, Owen signed a deal with Three Kings Grooming.
Some believe female athletes will have more chances to profit off of NIL given many of their impressive social media followings.
Hanna and Haley Cavinder, known as the Cavinder twins, are a perfect example of female athletes who have a major opportunity to make the most of the NIL policy.
Across TikTok and Instagram, the twins collectively have over 3.8 million followers. They have since been able to partner with Boost Mobile and Six Star Pro Nutrition.
LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne is another female athlete who is expected to make a lot of money from the NIL rule changes.
She has 4.4 million followers on TikTok and 1.3 million on Instagram. Dunne is likely going to earn more compensation than any other athlete.
In August, Dunne signed to be represented by WME Sports. Not long after, on Sept. 14, she announced her first NIL Brand Deal with an activewear company, Vuori, with whom she will take part in marketing campaigns over the next two years.
The Vuori deal includes promotional photoshoots, social media takeovers, and in-person events. It is rumored that the deal is in the “mid six-figures.” Many believe Dunne will be the first student-athlete to reach $1 million in NIL deals.
Providence College is doing their part to help student-athletes reach their full earning potential.
On Aug. 8, the Providence College Athletic Department launched a program to assist athletes with education, protection, and monetization of their name, image, and likeness.
The platform is called AdvantEdge and is powered by Opendorse. The platform will be administered through the Friar Edge student development program.
PC’s Women’s Basketball head coach Jim Crowley said, “Our players will be positioned well in this new environment with the education and resources they need to build their brand and take advantage of the opportunities that are ahead of them.”
PC’s Men’s Basketball head coach Ed Cooley also stated how pleased he was with the addition of Opendorse.Providence College Men’s Basketball center Nate Watson is a student-athlete who is in a great position to be compensated for his NIL.
Watson has over 51,000 followers on Instagram and over 680,000 followers on TikTok. Watson has already partnered with PSD Underwear and Playmaker. He has also launched an account on Cameo where anyone can request a personalized video from Watson.
The new NIL rule changes are a huge step in the right direction for student-athletes.
Even athletes from smaller schools have the opportunity to be compensated and partner with brands.
These partnerships are expected to be beneficial to both student-athletes and the brands with which they sign; student-athletes will be compensated for their hard work and companies will expand their name-recognition.
The future is bright for NCAA athletes.
Volleyball Veterans Lead the Way
Friars Look to Continue Hot Start to Season
Joseph Quirk ’23
Last year, the Providence College Friars Volleyball team faced the daunting challenge so many other collegiate sports teams had to face: a season in the wake of a global pandemic.
The Friars spent all of last season playing in masks, having a schedule constantly in flux, and starting their practices much later than usual with no summer training camp to help players get acclimated before the onset of the season.
It was a completely different way to go about doing a Division I sports season, and there were many differences between this season and last. “Well, the biggest difference is we don’t have to practice or play in masks,” said head coach Margot Royer-Johnson. “So that’s definitely different. And significant.”
And in terms of differences on the court, the five new freshmen on the team seem to have had a big impact on their dynamic and successful play so far this season, building off last year’s 7-3 record and fourth-place finish in the Big East. “The biggest difference right now is we have five new freshmen and we only lost one player from last year,” said coach Royer-Johnson. “So, we pretty much brought back everyone who was with us this past year and we’ve added five new players. And they’ve all gotten playing time,” added coach.
Yet, despite all the COVID-19 difficulties last season, Coach Royer-Johnson led the Friars to their first Big East Tournament appearance in years. Unfortunately, a COVID-19 outbreak prevented the girls from being able to play in the tournament, but that disappointment seems to have provided them with extra motivation and confidence going into this season. “Yeah, it’s definitely stuck with them. I think it’s given us the confidence that we need to mentally know that we can qualify for the tournament and be successful in the Big East Conference,” said coach Royer-Johnson. She then added, “I think confidence is a big part of this game, and so it is a mental game in a lot of ways.”
That confidence has certainly shown up in the play on the court thus far. So far this season, the Friars are 12-1 in non-conference play, with their only loss so far to the United States Military Academy, also known as Army. However, since that loss to Army back in August, the Friars are 11-0 and winning games in dominant fashion with 10 out of their 12 wins being decided by four sets or less.
Coach Royer-Johnson points to added depth as another reason for the team’s tremendous start. “Well, we have a lot more depth than we’ve had in the past,” said the coach. “We have a lot more depth and a lot more talent. A lot more experienced talent, so we don’t have to play certain players in certain positions, we have options” she added. On the topic of depth, Coach Royer-Johnson mentioned last season how the team only had two outside hitters, and while they had players that could play there if necessary, she feels much more comfortable allowing players to play their own positions.
Coach Royer-Johnson also discussed the team’s experience as a big factor in its performance. “The two biggest experience factors are our setter and libero,” said coach Royer-Johnson. The team’s setter Allison Barber ’23 is a grad student, using her extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19, and Coach Royer-Johnson pointed out that she had been the team’s setter since her freshman year. “When you have basically your quarterback coming back, that’s obviously an experience boost,” said the coach. As for the team’s libero, Mackenzie Taylor ’22 is a senior who has been playing crucial minutes since her freshman season. “The leader of our defense is the libero and she’s a senior this year and she too has been starting for us since her freshman year,” said the coach. Coach Royer-Johnson then added, “So the leaders of both our offense and defense are our veterans, and yeah, I think it most certainly makes a difference.”
The Friars now get the week to prepare before starting Big East competition this Friday, Sept. 24 on the road against Xavier University. When asked about the impending Big East Conference play and whether the team was going to keep using their current strategies, Coach Royer-Johnson showed respect to the competition before saying that the Friars only wanted to be better before conference play began. “Yeah, it’s definitely going to be a step up in terms of level of competition,” stated the coach. “I think we’re just hoping that by that time we have a lot of our skills honed a little bit, that our connections that we’ve been making with our hitters are a little more precise and our passing is a little more precise, our serving is a little bit tougher,” explained coach Royer-Johnson. However, immediately after this remark she was quick to point out how the Friars are leading the conference in aces per set and that it is a strong part of their game–she just wants the team to perfect it.
The Friars now have the rest of conference play and hopefully tournament play to look forward to. After a great season last year and a fantastic start this year, Coach Royer-Johnson said that their expectation and hope this season is to prove the haters wrong. “We have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder given how well we did in the spring, and what we believe in ourselves, we were picked only eighth in the Big East. We felt like we were pushed down a little bit by that, so I think one of our goals is to just prove ‘em wrong,” emphasized Coach Royer-Johnson. She also mentioned what the coaching staff is looking for going forward in the season. “We’re just looking for everyday improvement. You know, that one-percent-better-every day improvement.”
The Friars look to continue their fantastic start into Big East play this Friday against Xavier University in what will hopefully be the first of many Big East victories for Providence College this season.
Will Murphy ’23
The Providence College Women’s Soccer Team played one game this week, picking up a 2–1 win at home against Brown University on Thursday, Sept. 16. The Friars went down 1–0 in the 17th minute, but were able to battle back and take the win thanks to two clutch second-half goals. Meg Hughes ’24 scored the equalizer in the 62nd minute, and Hannah McNulty ’22 netted the go-ahead goal in the 71st minute. Looking ahead, the Friars will take on Xavier University on Thursday, Sept. 23.
The Providence College Field Hockey Team went on the road to face Villanova University on Friday, Sept. 17. After trading goals in the first quarter, the Friars went into the half-tied 1–1. Each team scored two goals in the third, but Villanova pulled away in the fourth with two more goals for a 5–3 win. Sophia Pompeo ’23 scored two goals and Amanda Collins ’22 scored the third. The loss dropped the Friars to 4–3 on the year. Looking ahead, the team has a matchup with Monmouth University on Sunday, Sept. 19, and Georgetown University on Friday, Sept. 24.
The Providence College Men’s Soccer Team traveled to South Orange, N.J. to face No. 19 Seton Hall Pirates on Saturday, Sept. 18. The Friars were trailing 2–1 until the 81st minute when they were able to break through with two unanswered goals in two minutes. Brendan McSorley ’24 scored the first and Paulo Lima ’22 was able to notch the go-ahead goal in the 83rd minute. The win pushed the Friars to 4–1–1 on the year, and 1–0 in Big East play. The Friars next take on Brown University on Wednesday, Sept. 22.
The Providence College Volleyball Team continued their strong play as they traveled to the Bronx for the Fordham Tournament on Saturday, Sept. 18. The Friars started the day with a match against St. Francis College and won in straight sets. In the next match, they faced the host, Fordham University, and after four sets they entered the pivotal fifth set tied 2–2. In the deciding set, they were able to win 15–13, taking the victory. The undefeated weekend pushed the Friars to 12–1 on the year.
Women’s Soccer in Full Force
Women’s Soccer Preview and Update
Leo Hainline ’22
The Providence College Women’s Soccer team has fared well early in the season despite having played a competitive out-of-conference schedule. Their 4-2-1 record has produced many positives in the early part of the season, many of which they will aim to carry over to Big East play.
The Friars opened their season on the road against in-state rival University of Rhode Island, a game that they would draw 1-1. With PC coming off a serviceable 2020-21 campaign and the Rams only winning in two matches the previous season, the Friars were disappointed not to leave Kingston with a victory.
The team bounced back the next game, however, in their home opener against Sacred Heart University, defeating the Pioneers 4-0. The Friars’ attack looked cohesive and showed glimpses of their potential with great team play while also showcasing a beautiful individual effort by Angie Suaza ’23, who scored an absolute beauty by striking the ball from outside the box with power and movement, giving the Sacred Heart goalkeeper zero chance at a save.
PC struggled in their following match against Rutgers University, a team that is currently ranked No. 12 nationally, losing 5-1. However, Coach Sam Lopes’ squad turned their performances around after their tough trip to New Jersey, following the loss to the Scarlet Knights with three consecutive wins against Stony Brook University, Monmouth University, and Boston University. Among these three games, the Friars bagged 12 goals, expressing their attacking capability.
Meg Hughes ’24 helped lead the scoring charge, scoring three goals during this stretch. She also tops the team in scoring, grabbing five in seven games. Her play was recognized as she received Big East Offensive Player of the Week. Hughes’ impressive form is hardly a surprise after she starred for the Friars as a freshman, earning accolades including an All-Big East Second Team selection and a spot on the All-Big Freshman Team. She was also the only Friar selected to the preseason All-Big East Team.
Friars’ goalkeeper Emma Bodmer ’24 also enjoyed a good run of form, earning a spot on the Big East Weekly Honor Roll. The sophomore stopper has enjoyed some standout games so far this season, highlighted by her performance against URI in the Friars’ opener where she saved a total of nine shots. Both Bodmer and Hughes headline a star-studded sophomore class. Forward Kyla Gallagher ’24, midfielders Avery Snead ’24 and Emily McCalligett ’24, and defender Grace Murphy ’24 have also all made significant contributions the Friars team this season.
On Sunday afternoon, PC traveled to the midwest to square off against the University of Wisconsin. The Badgers are projected to finish in the top half of the Big Ten, and this was anticipated to be a closely contested match. Both teams entered with similar records, with the Friars 4-1-1 and the Badgers 4-2-1. Maria Paveglio ’25, a freshman from Lake Orion, Michigan, opened the scoring as she grabbed her second career goal in a Friars uniform. Despite entering halftime with the lead, the Badgers struck back with two quick goals to reclaim control. The scoring would not end here, as the Friars kept applying pressure and forced a Badger own goal to level the match back up. The game would go into extra time, marking Wisconsin’s fourth consecutive extra time match of the season. Unfortunately, the Badgers would grab the golden goal and send the Friars back to Providence empty-handed.
Looking ahead, the Friars culminate their non-conference schedule on Thursday, Sept. 16 at Chapey Field against city rivals Brown University. PC will be eager to enter Big East play coming off a win, especially with 23rd-ranked Xavier looming on their schedule. The Musketeers look to have been underestimated in the Big East Preseason polls, having been predicted to finish No. 7 in the conference. The team hailing from Ohio boasts a perfect 7-0 record, a winning streak that the Friars will be eyeing to cease when they square off in Providence on Sept. 23.
The Friars were projected to finish fourth in the Big East. Such a finish would see them qualifying for the Big East Tournament, which only features four teams. Defending Big East Champions Georgetown University are projected to top the conference, receiving ten of eleven first place votes. Interestingly, the only other team to receive a first place vote was the Providence Friars.
Butler University and University of Connecticut were the other two schools projected to finish above the Friars in conference play. PC will square off against both of these opponents in mid-to-late October.
Although the squad is relatively young, the Friars will rely on a few veterans who could be catalysts for the team’s success this season. Fifth-year senior forwards Amber Birchwell and Hannah McNulty are staples of PC’s attack. Both have provided two assists this season, and Birchwell has provided two goals to her name as well. Christina Rogers ’GS is a rock of the Friars’ backline and will be instrumental in stifling the opponent’s attack. She was an All-Big East Second Team selection this past season.
Alexis Rothmann ’23 is another player to keep an eye on. The Friars’ No. 10 received All-Big East First Team accolades last year, making her the fourth woman ever selected in program history, and was also the youngest to ever be recognized on the First Team for the Friars. Her playing in midfield can dictate much of PC’s success this season and she will have the opportunity to follow up her 2020-21 campaign with another outstanding season.
The Friars have produced great performances so far this preseason, perhaps revealing their potential for this season. This roster has the ability to assert itself permanently in the record books if they can translate these positive performances into conference play.
Field Hockey Looks to Continue Fast Start
Field Hockey Update and Preview
Ben Bilotti ’23
The Providence College Women’s Field Hockey team is enjoying a strong start to their season. The team won their first two games against Bryant University and Boston University. The Friars outscored their opponents 6-1 in the first two matches. After losing their next two games, they beat Long Island University on Sunday, Sept. 12, 5-2 to improve their record to 4-2.
The Friar’s early success indicates that the team has great potential to make big strides in the BIG EAST Conference. The team currently has the fourth best winning percentage in the league.
In the season opener against Bryant, the Friars set the tone by besting the Bulldogs with a score of 4-0. Roos Michiels ’24 and Celia Preveza ’25 each scored the first goals of their collegiate careers to aid the Friars in their win. Both of the goals were scored in the second quarter. Six Providence players collected at least one point by a goal or assist.
PC continued their success in their second match against Boston University, defeating the squad 2-1. Olivia Ward ‘21GS collected her second goal of the season, giving the Friars an early lead in the second quarter.
The game was a regional battle. It remained scoreless until Ward scored in the second quarter. BU tied it up shortly after that and the game remained tied until Niamh Gowing ’22 scored early in the fourth quarter. The Boston University Terriers pulled their goalie shortly after, but the Friars defended well to hold out for the win.
The Friars collected their fourth win of the season this Sunday when they beat Long Island University 5-2. Ward and Gowing led the charge with two goals each. The match started off fast-paced as LIU scored two goals early in the first and second quarters. Goalkeeper Asia Porter ’24 helped the Friars maintain their late lead with six saves.
Porter has had great success since joining the Friars last season. In the COVID-19-shortened season, Porter had a save percentage of 0.756. She had a career day against Boston College on Apr. 14, notching a career-high 17 saves.
In order to continue with their early success, the Friars will rely on Porter’s goalkeeping ability. With a strong goalie in the net and leading scorers Ward and Gowing at the charge, PC has victory in their sights.
The Friars are in good shape to stay in the top or middle of the pack of the BIG EAST. Their toughest opponents appear to be undefeated Liberty University and Temple University. PC takes on Temple Oct. 8 at Lennon Family Field. They then take on Liberty Oct. 22 at Liberty’s home turf. These two matches will definitely be ones to circle on the calendar.
Providence College’s next match-up is set for Friday, Sept. 17 when they take on Villanova. The Friars will face the Wildcats in Pennsylvania at 5:00 p.m. Villanova is currently 2-4 and will look to inch closer to .500 when they play the Friars. PC will have to watch out for Meghan Mitchell ’24, Villanova’s leading scorer.
Be sure to stay updated on Friars Field Hockey; it looks like a promising year.
Swim Across America Rhode Island
PC Swim Team Continues to Raise Money for Cancer
Liam Tormey ’22
For the past 12 years, Swim Across America has hosted an annual charity swimming event in Rhode Island. The organization, dedicated to raising money for cancer research at the Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island through swim-related events, has been around since 1987.
Providence College Swimming and Diving head coach, John O’Neill, has been a part of Swim Across America Rhode Island since the beginning. He was a part of the initial consultation to start it in Rhode Island.
“It’s a great organization to be partnered with,” O’Neill said. “The most well-known research centers in the country partner with SAA like Dana Farber, John Hopkins, and Sloan Kettering. The doctors and researchers I’ve met are fantastic.”
There are open-water swims all across the country, but the director wanted to open one in Rhode Island, O’Neill said, and from there, everything grew and he became a board member with SAA-RI.
O’Neill wanted the event to be open to as many schools as possible to help such a great cause. “I suggested we could expand the participation to college teams and we invited every college within an easy driving distance to come.”
Swimming and Diving athletes from schools like Brown University, Bryant University, Roger Williams University, the University of Rhode Island, and Providence College were all featured in the event.
Last Saturday, Sept. 11, at Wheeler State Beach in Narragansett, RI was the host of the 12th annual SAA in Rhode Island.
Coach O’Neill said, “It winds up being a celebratory day and the start of the college season.”
This is an important event that is not just about kicking off the college season. “The cause is still the cause,” as O’Neill points out. “There aren’t too many families I know who don’t have a cancer situation within the family.”
Being able to help out in any sort of way is important to O’Neill. “It wasn’t personal on my level, my family is all healthy, thank goodness, but we get into the extent we’re not unlike anybody else as we’ve had family members with cancer. Our team, our families, and our alumni have embraced this beyond anything I could have imagined.”
In speaking about why O’Neill felt passionate about this specific method of service, he explained, “I felt very strongly about targeting an organization we can make a big impact on.”
Spreading the word has been the most beneficial way to receive donations for SAA. Athletes, families, and alumni register online and spread the word through social media and family members.
O’Neill wanted to find a way to keep his alumni a part of their alma mater. He said, “I wanted our alumni to be a part of something special. We’re bringing the Friar Family back.”
As of three days before the event, the Friars had already raised $53,000. Since the swim was founded, the Friars have raised over $260,000 altogether. The Facebook Fundraiser tool, along with Instagram and other forms of social media, have been key to raising awareness.
The day starts early for athletes, but “When the teams get off the buses and see everyone, it just becomes this electric event. You’ve been swimming with your teammates for a bit, but it’s like flipping a switch. The competitive juices come out and everyone’s energy is really high.”
Student-athletes will have an enjoyable experience while still bringing their competitive nature out. Even for alumni, the case remains the same.
“Although some will race, it’s not a race. A lot have been out of competitive swimming for a while, but they’re recreational health swimmers and it helps them to get going again.”
Last year, the event was canceled in-person at the beach due to COVID-19. However, the Friars still managed to find a way to keep it going in their own pool.
“We broke it up into pods,” O’Neill said, but “it wasn’t about money, it was just about staying engaged.”
Even in an off year, the Friars still managed to raise $25,000, which is an outstanding result considering the tough circumstances.
The seniors were the only class before Saturday who had experienced what they call “the beach.” Before the COVID year, the 2019 event was canceled due to a hurricane. This only meant the excitement and atmosphere surrounding being in person was so much higher this year.
On the day of the event, the athletes and participants in the event get off the bus and head to registration. Each registrar is given an ankle chip that tracks their swim both for safety and timekeeping while in the water.
Groups will go out in waves into the water and the event is then underway.
In asking Coach O’Neill how he and his team will continue to help the great cause after the event is over, he chimed in to say, “Our kids become walking billboards for Swim Across America. The towels they get, the shirts they get, they have an enormous amount of pride in.”
All across America, any location you can think of, holds a SAA event. The events begin in the spring and continue throughout the rest of the year. Last Saturday, both Rhode Island and Seattle hosted their event.
Coach O’Neill was also appreciative of another team on campus: Coach Gabrielli’s Lacrosse team.
Gabrielli and his team were there last Saturday to help out in all the background scenes that make the event so successful.
“We couldn’t be more appreciative of them. Just a really, really great thing they’re doing.”
The team woke up very early and arrived at the beach before everyone else to help set up.
“It’s one thing to walk across campus and watch a game, but it’s a whole different story when they’re waking up at five in the morning to come and help us.” It’s the definition of Friars helping Friars, and Coach O’Neill couldn’t be more grateful for their support.
The event this past Saturday was blessed with beautiful weather and a perfect atmosphere to raise money for a great cause.
COVID-19 Ends PC Volleyball’s Incredible Year
Magic Season Comes to an End Too Soon
Luke Sweeney ’24
For the Providence College Women’s Volleyball Team, adversity struck when they were sent home for the 2020 spring semester last year. This meant that they would not have the chance to practice together or to engage in any in-person, team-building activities in the lead up to their next season. However, head coach and former player Margot Royer-Johnson was able to adapt to the situation by creating an online fitness and team-building program that allowed her team to remain in contact with each other while improving their skills in preparation for the 2021 season.
When asked about her team and how they responded to the challenges of COVID-19 protocols, coach Royer-Johnson could not say enough about how pleased she was with the way the athletes adapted and committed themselves to being successful: “Every member of our team completely bought into our offseason program and were more than excited to compete once allowed back on campus.”
Their hard work in the offseason clearly paid dividends as the shortened, 2021 spring season came to a close. It was a special season for the Friars, as it was the first time they had been invited to the Big East tournament since 1999. In a dramatic, five-set victory over the Villanova University Wildcats in late March, the Friars punched their ticket to become the No. 2 seed in the tournament.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 complications, such as players testing positive and being close contacts of positive cases, Royer-Johnson and her team were forced to pull out of the tournament just a week before they were set to begin. This was a devastating moment for all members of the team, especially the seniors who will not be returning to compete next year.
Although the season did not end quite the way they had hoped, two players, as well as the entire coaching staff, were awarded Big East All-Conference Honors to highlight their exceptional performances this season.
Allison Barber ’21 and Emma Nelson ’23 were both named to the All-Big East First Team.
Barber was highlighted as a dominant player in the Big East because of her ability in the backcourt, ranking fourth in assists in the Big East, while also racking up 115 defensive digs. Nelson has proved to be dangerous near the net in her first two seasons with the Friars, tallying a total of 128 kills in her sophomore year as well as carrying a .226 hitting percentage.
Although both players were tremendous this year, coach Royer-Johnson emphasized that their success as a team was not dependent on any individual’s performance, rather, their success was the product of a complete team effort. “Every player on this year’s team contributed to our success,” said Royer-Johnson. “There was very little focus on individual accomplishment.”
The coaching staff, headed by Royer-Johnson, was recognized for their 7-3 season by being named the Big East Coaching Staff of the Year. The team, picked to finish fifth in the preseason poll, far exceeded expectations by finishing second in the east division.
When asked what she thought contributed to this accolade, Royer-Johnson remained humble by insisting it was a full-team effort. She also explained that it was not only the coaching staff that was crucial to the team’s accomplishments, but also the Providence College athletic training staff, calling them “one of the best in the entire country.” The trainers played a huge role in keeping the members of the team healthy and in peak physical shape throughout a difficult offseason and into the end of the year.
Although their run came to an end in a heartbreaking fashion, PC volleyball produced fantastic results in a trying time, and now look well positioned to build on their success next season.
Best Friar Moment/Storyline of the Year
Providence College Investigates: PC Athletics
Women’s Hockey Makes NCAA
Joseph Quirk ’23
There have been a lot of impactful events that have happened in Providence College Athletics this year, but few are as impactful and program-defining as the PC Women’s Ice Hockey Team’s run to the NCAA tournament. The Friars made the national tournament for just the second time in program history, and their first appearance since the 2004-2005 season when they lost to the University of Minnesota 6-1 in the first round.
That year, the Friars, led by Bob Deraney, went 21-11-5, finished second in Hockey East, and won the Hockey East Conference Championship. But that was then, and now the Friars are under the tutelage of head coach Matt Kelly. In a shortened season caused by COVID-19, Kelly’s squad boasted a 12-8-1 record. The Friars had a fantastic season all around, highlighted by the performances of forwards Bailey Burton ’23, Sara Hjalmarsson ’22, and Caroline Peterson ’22, defenseman Brooke Becker ’24 and Claire Tyo ’24, and goaltender Sandra Abstreiter ’21.
They would ultimately reach the Hockey East Championship game against Northeastern University. The Friars would fall in that game 6-2, but luckily their season would not end there.
The second-place finish at the hands of an elite NU squad would earn the Friars the No. 7 seed in the NCAA tournament.
The women’s ice hockey tournament is only eight teams deep, making it incredibly difficult for teams to qualify, and the Friars were just able to edge in at the seven spot. The Northeastern team that had defeated them in the Hockey East Championship would earn the number one seed, and Boston College, who had been upset by the University of Connecticut in the Hockey East Quarterfinals, would round out the Hockey East representation at the tournament. The Friars would match up with the number two seed, and the eventual champions, the University of Wisconsin Badgers.
Unfortunately, the Friars would be blanked 3-0 by the Badgers, who would go on to defeat Northeastern in the National Championship 2-1. While the outcome was not much different than the last time they qualified for the tournament, making the tournament under this new coaching staff and fielding a team capable of doing so is not only the biggest moment of the year for PC Athletics, but also a vital building block for the program for years to come.
With COVID-19 affecting so many sports on campus—limiting teams’ preseasons, practice, and travel, as well as cutting games out of the schedule—many teams struggled to find consistent success this season. However, the women’s hockey team rose above, having one of their most impressive seasons in recent memory, attaining a goal that had only been accomplished once before in program history.
David Duke Enters NBA Draft
Ben Bilotti ’23
Providence College Friars guard David Duke Jr. ’22 has always had a bright future ahead of him. The 21-year-old already has a very impressive resume and is looking to add one more accolade to his growing list. Concluding this year’s college basketball season, Duke declared for the NBA Draft. Overall, Duke’s performance this year and subsequent entry into the NBA Draft is the highlight of the year for Friars athletics.
Duke’s first season for the Friars was not one to scoff at. Heading into the 2018-19 basketball season, Duke was named the Preseason Big East Co-Freshman of the Year. In 34 games he averaged 7.1 points and made 38.7 percent of attempted field goals, an impressive line for a freshman. Concluding Duke’s inaugural season, he earned the team’s Coca-Cola Most Promising Prospect Award.
David Duke’s success continued in his sophomore campaign. On top of being awarded the team’s Ryan Gomes Most Improved Player Award, and being named to the U.S. Basketball Writers Association All-District I team, Duke also competed as a member of Team USA in the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, where he helped the squad earn a bronze model. During PC’s season he improved his field goal percentage to 40.9% while making 42% of his threes.
Duke’s success peaked in his final season. The junior ranked first in the Big East in minutes played, averaging 37.1 minutes per game. He ranked second in the league in assists and finished second on the Friars for scoring. On Feb. 24, Duke scored his 1,000th career point. On that day he became the 52nd Friar to reach the 1,000-career-point mark. He earned USBWA All-District I honors again and was named to the All-Big East Second Team.
Despite all the success on the court, what makes David Duke’s looming selection in the draft so special is that he grew up right in Providence, RI and has always given back to his community. This past February, Duke helped to publicize a GoFundMe that he and his classmates made for a class project, with the goal of raising $5,000. The money donated would go to Crossroads Rhode Island, the leader in homeless services organizations in Rhode Island. Duke and his classmates surpassed the goal of $5,000 with ease, raising over $14,000.
The NBA Draft will take place on July 29. Many suspect Duke will be selected in the 60-player, two-round draft, and coming off a breakout junior campaign, Duke certainly has much to look forward to in his basketball career. Friar fans will be glued to the TV, waiting to see where Duke lands next as he leaves behind a substantial legacy in his city.