MIDDLEBURY, Vt. (WCAX) - Middlebury College held its graduation ceremony on Sunday, but three members of the Class of 2023 were a little busy that day.
Senior captains Jane Earley, Erica Barr, and Annie Enrietto got their chance to be honored Tuesday, in what has become an almost annual tradition for the Panthers women’s lacrosse program. Those three missed the full graduation ceremony because they were down in Salem, Virginia, capturing the Panthers’ ninth NCAA title in program history and third in the last three completed seasons.
Family, friends, administrators, coaches, and teammates were on hand to see the three Panthers earn their degrees, taking some pictures with their caps and gowns...plus those national championship trophies.
It was a long road to this point, especially for Earley and Barr, who had to take a full year off from school during COVID to even get the chance to play this season. But they say they wouldn’t trade their experiences.
“When Covid hit, I took a year off and waitressed for an entire year just so that I could come back and be on that field this year,” Earley said. “It means everything to me, we made huge sacrifices to be able to do that. Again, it’s a dream come true.”
“My emotions are kind of all over the lot at the moment,” Barr added. “Just very overwhelming feelings, joy, gratitude, it’s just been an incredible ride. And given that we lost two seasons in the middle of our college experience, it’s just been so nice that we could cap off with two really incredible seasons with each other.”
“We were able to come together so well because we all genuinely care about each other, both on and off the field, which I believe makes a difference,” Enrietto said. “You could see that in our play how much we truly wanted to support each other. And whenever one of us made a mistake, we always had each other’s backs, which I felt really carried us through.”
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - We are closing in on the end of September, which at the college level means its almost time to drop the puck. UVM brought back its in-person hockey media day for the first time since before covid, and there was a lot to get to.
We’ll start on the women’s side, where there are once again very high expectations for the Catamounts. UVM was picked to finish second in Hockey East again this Winter, with the US College Hockey Online poll ranking them 12th in the country coming into this season. It’s a great demonstration of the level of respect UVM’s rivals and the general college hockey community have for this Catamount program...but it might take a little while for Vermont to reach their peak.
Gone is a large group of senior and 5=fifth year leaders from last year, including Theresa Schafzahl and Sini Karjalainen, just to name a few. Head coach Jim Plumer is on record as saying the preparation for this year has looked a little different with eight freshmen and a couple new faces on the coaching and support staff. But there is still a large chunk of veteran leadership ready to step into even bigger roles and help this program continue marching forward.
“I think being a fifth year and a captain, I just wanna make sure that everyone’s having fun,” said Hailey Burns. “If i can be someone that people ask questions to, I’m more than willing to do that. um, but my priority is just to make sure that everyone is bringing the energy, the competitiveness, and fun to practices.”
“I am someone that really looks after my teammates,” added fellow alternate captain Alaina Tanski. “My main priority is always my teammates and making sure they feel supported and loved and cared for. So, even though I’m a junior and probably have some like veteran tricks in my sleeve, I guess I’m always gonna give that to my younger players on the team and just everyone in general.”
The men’s side also revealed its leadership group on Wednesday, and while it is a very experienced group...not all of that experience has come here in Catamount Country. Senior Will Zapernick will wear the “C” with Joel Maatta wearing an a in his junior season...but the other two alternate captains are both grad student transfers. Zach Dubinsky joins the squad from Michigan State with a previous stop at RPI, while Jeremie Bucheler joins the Cats after four years at Hockey East rival Northeastern. It’s a sign of just how much this team will rely on its 14 newcomers to step up...but both of those new leaders are very much looking forward to their first chance to skate onto the ice at the Gut, wearing the green and gold this time.
“Yeah, I’m really excited,” Dubinsky said. “I’ve actually played here against Vermont a couple times in my career, and it’s always a fun environment to come here. The crowd is electric and it’s awesome. It’s an awesome rink to play in.”
“Even when I was at Northeastern, we looked forward to this trip,” Bucheler said. “It was our favorite trip. No matter what the day was, if it was a Tuesday or Friday or Saturday, we played here on every single day of the weekend. There’s always a full rink of fans and stuff like that. So I’m looking forward to be playing in front of these people.”
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - It has been about two and a half months since Vermont Green FC wrapped its 2023 campaign, but on Monday, the club got tapped for a special honor.
The British Broadcasting Corporation just announced the nominees for its “Green Sport Awards,” a program that seeks to recognize athletes, teams, and sporting organizations from around the world shining a spotlight on environmental issues. VGFC is nominated for the “Grassroots Organization of the Year” award for their work on reducing carbon emissions and focus on sustainable materials.
They’re nominated alongside groups from the UK, Africa, and California.
“This is a recognition not just of the work that’s being done by our club and our players and our staff,” said club co-founder Pat Infurna. “It’s really a recognition of Vermont and the community that’s that’s attached itself to this club. Because what we are is really just a reflection of work that’s being done at multiple levels all across our state. We hope that this model is prioritizing environmental justice, prioritizing kind of a bigger mission and a bigger drive to get the community behind something that’s more than just a sport. We hope that’s something that can be a model for other clubs around the country, around the world. And hopefully recognitions like this from BBC Sport will serve as some inspiration.”