Tag: Avon Old Farms

Noontime’s Senior Salute: Packy Witkowski (Coast Guard Academy)

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Coast Guard Academy senior Packy Witkowski, who is from Melrose, Massachusetts, averaged a career-best 17.7 points this past season with the Bears. (PHOTO COURTESY: Coast Guard Academy Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Packy Witkowski has always been a player to watch on the Coast Guard Academy men’s basketball team, but perhaps this was a season both he and fans of the program will remember the most.

The Melrose, Massachusetts native, who played high school basketball at Avon Old Farms in Connecticut, averaged a career-best 17.7 points per game. He scored a career-high 477 points in 27 contests to go with 120 rebounds, 34 assists, 20 steals, and five blocks.

Witkowski registered 20 points or more in nine games this past winter while sinking a season-best 33 points on 12 of 21 shooting in his team’s 80-69 win over Merchant Marine Academy. He scored 10 points or more in 21 contests while averaging 17.6 points for the Bears in three New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament games.

The senior guard concludes an impressive four-year run with the Bears, which saw him record 1,518 points in 93 games to go with 502 rebounds, 150 assists, 61 steals, and 15 blocks.

We recently spoke with Witkowski to discuss his final season with the Bears, as well as his future plans with the Coast Guard beyond graduation.


What will you remember most about your senior year with the Bears? 

It’s hard to narrow down to a single event from this past season, but I would say our team’s journey is what I will remember the most.

From starting out in Anchorage, Alaska to finishing in Brockport, New York, it was a journey made by a group of brothers. We did not start well but we kept at it. By the end, we were operating on all cylinders when we needed it most and founds a way through. This culminated in winning three road playoff games in five days to become NEWMAC Tournament Champions to earning an automatic bid into the NCAA D-III Tournament.

The journey was special and an experience I will take with me for the rest of my life.

Looking back on the 2019-20 season, what game (or games) will you remember most? Why these particular games? 

Our NEWMAC Championship game against WPI. To be down 24 points at the break and comeback and win was nothing short of incredible. I am very grateful to have been part of a win like that, but more importantly, on a team that was so resilient. It is difficult to put that one game into words but that is a memory that will bond us forever.

What have you enjoyed most about competing for the Coast Guard Academy men’s basketball team (and program) these past four years? 

Being able to compete (on a daily basis), but really just being a part of this team for four years. Having that competitive outlet and support network from the team and coaching staff has made my experience here at the Coast Guard Academy that much more rewarding and worthwhile. Having the privilege to go to the Academy and represent it while playing a sport that I love has truly been amazing. I will always be grateful for the opportunity I have been afforded and the experiences I have had during my time both here at the Academy and on this team.

Once you officially graduate later this spring, do you plan (or hope) to stay involved with your sport in some capacity? Any interest in coaching in the future? 

I will always love this game and do what I can to keep up with the team going forward. I can see myself getting involved in coaching to some degree down the road because I am passionate about helping and developing others. Coaching would allow me to continue that passion after graduation.

Tell me about your major. How did you choose it? Also, what are your future plans beyond graduation? 

I am finishing up my degree in civil engineering. I have always wanted to have a technical background that would allow me to develop real-world problem-solving skills and that is exactly what this major has provided me.

I believe studying civil engineering has set me up for future success, beginning as an officer with the Coast Guard. School has always been something that has meant a lot to me and I have worked really hard to be successful at it while balancing both my military and basketball commitments.

I will be serving aboard USCGC Reliance as a Deck Watch Officer in June and am very excited to begin my career with the Coast Guard. Beyond that, I am working towards making my dream of being a Coast Guard aviator come true, as well.

Mass. College Baseball: Wheaton’s Gibbons Signs With New York Mets

By NoontimeSports.com 

Wheaton College rising senior Mike Gibbons signed a free agent contract with the New York Mets of Major League Baseball (MLB) for the 2015 season, as announced in a release this afternoon (which we’ve provided below). The release is courtesy of Wheaton College’s sports information office:

NORTON, Mass. – Wheaton College rising senior and right-handed pitcher Mike Gibbons (Simsbury, Conn./Avon Old Farms) has signed a free agent contract with the New York Mets of Major League Baseball (MLB) for the 2015 season.

“It’s difficult to find the words to match the current emotions that I am feeling from signing with the New York Mets. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and something I have always dreamed about. I am ecstatic to be able to represent Wheaton College and Wheaton’s baseball program at the professional level,” said Gibbons. “Coach [Eric] Podbelski and coach [Ryan] Parker have helped mold me into becoming the pitcher that I am today, and I am grateful to have played under them for three years at Wheaton. My family has given me the love and support to achieve my goals, and the ability to attend a college with superb academics and athletics.”

Last season, Gibbons appeared in 12 games (nine starts) and posted a 4-1 record with a 1.89 earned run average (ERA) alongside 37 strikeouts in 57 innings pitched. Gibbons also held opponents to a .203 batting average and induced an 11.84 groundouts per game ratio. Overall in his Wheaton career, Gibbons compiled a 9-3 record for the Lyons and a 2.63 ERA through 106 innings of work.

“I’m really happy for Mike, and while we’ll certainly miss his contributions, I know that this represents an opportunity that is very difficult to pass up,” said Wheaton College baseball head coach Eric Podbelski. “I told Mike when this started to develop that he had our full support and to concentrate on making the choice that was right for him.”

“Mike’s talent and further potential is obvious. He has come so far since he first arrived, making big leaps in his development each year. That is a testament, first of all to his natural ability, but also to his determination to keep getting better. Nothing has been handed to Mike, he has earned every inning that he has pitched at Wheaton and has gotten significantly better as a result.”

This summer, Gibbons shined for the Torrington Titans of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) going 4-2 with 59 strikeouts – ranked third best in the league – in 50 2/3 innings pitched. Gibbons also held opponents to a .240 batting average, posted a 1.26 WHIP, a 10.48 strikeout per nine innings ratio and fanned a season-high 11 batters in two different games for the Titans.

“In the offseason this past winter, I worked hard to gain strength and stamina to help my pitching ability and I think it carried through this summer. I continued to work out and follow a regime to give my body the foundation to throw well. I gained a decent amount of velocity in the summer thanks to the regime I was following and becoming more fluid throughout my pitching delivery,” explained Gibbons. “Early on, I was not getting the results I wanted even though I felt like my stuff was pretty good, so I just kept persisting and looking forward to the next start and just trying to have a quality outing. At the end of the season, I started to string along quality starts which built up my confidence and allowed me to throw more aggressively. There are obviously things that I still need to work on, but that is the beauty of baseball and sports in general, because you can always improve and that’s what drives me.”

Gibbons joins Chris Denorfia ’02 and Jamie Baker ’06 as the only Wheaton student-athletes to sign with an MLB team in the program’s 17-year varsity existence. Denorfia was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 19th round of the MLB amateur draft in June 2002 and currently plays for the Seattle Mariners, while Baker inked a deal with the San Diego Padres in September 2006 after completing his first year of professional baseball with the Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball’s Nashua Pride.

Gibbons also becomes the eighth student-athlete in program history to sign a professional contract to play baseball, joining Mark Brown ’06Chris Martin ’06Adam Laplante ’07Chris McDonough ’08 and Jon Shepard ’10 and the aforementioned Denorfia and Baker on the list. In addition, among all eight student-athletes to sign a professional baseball contract, Gibbons is the first to be offered, and sign, a professional contract before his senior season.

“It’s further proof that if a young man chooses Wheaton as the place to further his academic and baseball career, and if you truly have the ability, you will not go unnoticed,” stated Podbelski. “You don’t choose Wheaton to ‘get drafted,’ you choose it for the whole package – the academics, the community feel in and out of the classroom, the beautiful campus and the chance to be part of a traditionally successful baseball program.”

“That said, it doesn’t hurt that we have some concrete examples which show that you can develop here and be noticed. For the majority who don’t get the opportunity, they walk away with a great education and four years’ worth of great memories, having played the sport they love at a highly competitive collegiate level.”

Wheaton advanced to the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament championship game for the 14th time in the 16-year history of the league after claiming its 15th NEWMAC regular season title in 2014. The Lyons also produced a 27-16-1 record which marks their 15th season in program history with 25 or more wins.